FINDING GOD'S WILL IN LIFE PREACHED AT FELLOWSHIP M.B.C. JUNE 1983
BY: ELDER CALVIN PERRIGO
METHODS USED TO REVEAL HIS WILL
Tonight we will be looking at the method that God uses to reveal His will to mankind. On the surface it is very, very simple, He just talks to us. That's how He reveals His will to us. That's the method that is found in the Bible and we are primarily interested in the New Testament way that God revealed His will. He just simply speaks to us. That sounds easy and it sounds very simple, like there would be nothing to it, but it's a little more complex than that when we consider some things about God and about us.
We want to call your attention to a few verses of scripture found in the 16th Chapter of John for a reading lesson that will help us to look a little more in detail toward this method that God uses to reveal His will to His people. In the 16th Chapter of John, beginning in verse 12, the Lord Jesus Christ is talking to the eleven Apostles after Judas had left the upper room. He had been with them, or they had been with Him almost three years at this time. They followed Him wherever He had traveled. They had watched His work and He taught many things. The 12th verse of John 16; "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father." Now in this reading lesson we read where the Lord said that He had a lot of other things to say to these eleven Apostles, but He said "You can't bear them now." But He didn't leave them hanging like that, the next verse He clarifies the circumstance and tells them that the Spirit of truth is going to arrive. And when that happens, that Spirit of truth will guide them into all truths. He says the Spirit will not speak of himself but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak and he will show you things to come. He said the Spirit would glorify Him. He shall receive of mine and shall show it unto you. This will be a foundation for our thought tonight concerning the method that God uses to reveal His will to us. Now when the apostles were present with Lord here, they could listen to His oral voice and learn from Him. There were some things that they could not understand and could not comprehend while He was with them, but Jesus spoke of a better time, that was when the Spirit of truth would arrive in the world and He would guide them unto all truth.
So, we need to think about the Lord speaking to us to reveal His will to us. We need to remember that God is a Spirit. We are flesh. God is a Spirit and He must be considered as such. When we talk about Him speaking to us, we're going to have to look a little deeper than just the oral voice of Jesus used on the apostles and the oral voices that you and I use. We have a spirit speaking to flesh. God is a spirit. Jesus declared Him to be such to the Samaritan woman in the 4th Chapter of John, the 24th verse tell us that God is a Spirit. So we have God being a Spirit now. We have Him speaking to us and a method of revealing His will to us. We also note that Satan is a spirit and here is where the thing gets complex. God is a Spirit. Satan is a spirit. One is the Spirit of love and truth and mercy and kindness. The other is a spirit of evil. We are then confronted by two voices coming from the spirit world, so to speak. God speaks to us to reveal His will. Satan speaks to us to confuse us and to hinder God's will. We might need to establish a fact or two that Satan is a spirit, that we might get the red man with the forked tail and horns out of our minds and realize that Satan is a spirit, just as God is a Spirit, but he's just the opposite of God. What God is in reality, Satan is just the opposite of that. We have a statement or two that we'll look at to show us that Satan is a spirit, and because he is, he speaks. That confuses the circumstance and it's not as simple as a lot of people think it is when you say that God speaks to us to reveal His will to us. There is a confusing spirit known as Satan that gets in our minds and allows us to be confused too often. In II Corinthians we have a statement concerning Satan and his being a spirit. In the 11th Chapter of II Corinthians, the 3rd verse tells us something about Satan and his method. Paul writing to the church says: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." So he goes back to the first appearance of the devil in the realm of mankind. He beguiled Eve through his subtlety, which means his smartness or his craftiness. In the 14th verse of this same chapter, Paul says: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." So we have this information that will show us that Satan also is a spirit. He's transformed into an angel of light. An angel, the definition of an angel is a ministering spirit, but Satan is transformed into an angel of light. Also his ministers are, it says in the next verse. In Ephesians Chapter 2 verse 2 we find another indication that Satan is a spirit. In Ephesians 2:2 Paul writes to these people and says; "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:" So we have God as a Spirit, we have Satan as a spirit, we have one true and one false and that is where the problem arises when we listen to a spirit's voice in giving us direction. We have to know the voice of God and also the voice of Satan. They both are able to speak to mankind. The serpent spoke to Eve there in the beginning. God spoke to Adam just a little later so we see it all right there in one little short discourse, where Satan through the serpent, spoke to Eve and God coming on the scene and calling out to Adam, asking where he was. So we have both voices speaking. Then that brings you and me into this position. We have to have ears to hear what the spirit says. In the Book of Revelation, the seven letters that were written to the seven churches, we'll find that statement repeated there several times. In the 2nd Chapter, the 7th verse, to the church as Ephesus, the Lord said this; "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches;" So we must have an ear tuned to the Spirit of God if we're going to hear God speak to us, to reveal His will to us in our life. Not only does God speak, but we also have to have ears tuned to that spiritual voice of God in order to know that it is God. Now that's the problem. How do we know it is God and not Satan. There are a lot of people in the world today that have trouble discerning between the two spirits. Let's see if we can get some evidence from the scriptures that will tell us that we shouldn't have any problem whatsoever if we have been born again, we are in tune with the voice that spoke peace to our soul. John tells us about this, the Lord does in the recording of John, in the 10th Chapter of John's gospel, we note that the sheep hear a particular voice. In the 3rd verse of John Chapter 10, Jesus teaching here concerning the sheepfold and the porter opening the doors, and those things, we mentioned already in this study, but He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. "And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him; for they know his voice." So we have the Lord here in the position of a shepherd leading His sheep. He goes before those sheep and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. The next verse says; "And a stranger they will not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers." Now we're qualified tonight to know emphatically, the difference between the voice of the Lord and the voice of Satan, if we remember the still small voice of the Lord when He spoke peace to our soul. If we can remember that and relate to that communication, I think it will give us great advantage over Satan when he may talk to us as if it were God being transformed as an angel of light.
The sheep that follow Jesus will not follow a stranger. What will they do, rather than follow him? This verse says that they will flee from him for they don't know his voice. So we have some assurance here now that we know the voice of God and we don't know the voice of a stranger. We won't follow that voice because we don't know the stranger, but we do know the one that saved our soul. We do know the shepherd of our lives and we can detect His voice.
Let's look now at a text for our study tonight. In the 12th Chapter of the Roman letter, the 1st verse we have something mentioned there by the Apostle Paul that will give us text to build from through the rest of this study tonight. Paul said; "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Now if we could reach this point that Paul prays for here, the word beseech is just another word for begging, and he said; I beg you brethren by God's mercies, to offer your body as a living sacrifice. Now as we can get in that condition before God, we have an opportunity to hear the voice of the Lord. It's that part in our service that we are most likely to be able to read the true voice of God as He directs us in life. If we are where that we can present ourselves as a living sacrifice, at that point offering ourselves as a reasonable service to God, our heart and our mind can hear the voice of the Spirit clearly and distinctly. It's very seldom that most of us get to that point to where we can present our bodies as a living sacrifice, which is our reasonable service unto God. But, if we get to that place, and while we are at that place, we have a blessed opportunity and privilege to hear God speak to us. When He speaks to us we can thereby follow what He asks us to do and the way that He would have us to go. It becomes important then that we think about the type of life that we live in order to be in tune with the spiritual voice of God. God desires that we live a sanctified life. He wills our sanctification. The Apostle Paul told the church at Thessalonica that God wills our sanctification. The word sanctification just means a setting apart, a separation from the world, and God wills our sanctification, I Thessalonians 4:3 tells us that. So if He has a desire that we be set apart from the world, I believe we can understand when He would be most likely to talk to us in a distinct voice that we could hear Him and know that it's the voice of God, rather than the voice of Satan. If we can reach a point of our lives being sanctified from the things of this world, then we can listen to the voice of the Lord. He'll get our attention when we are that way.
Let's look at Moses for an example. Moses left Egypt a fugitive from justice. He killed an Egyptian and he had to flee. He separated himself from Egypt in other words and he went to the backside of the desert of Midian. And there, God got his attention. God spoke to Moses. You remember how He got his attention. Now that is a peculiar circumstance there. The bush that burned and was not consumed. But He had Moses away from Pharaoh, He had Moses away from the thought of Egypt and the crime that he had committed, and he was there on the backside of the desert and God appealed to Moses from the bush that burned and was not consumed. I wonder if we have understood in a similar circumstance in our life that God really wanted to relay a message to us for a service of some type in this world? If we are where we ought to be, presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, God can get our attention in similar fashion as He did Moses here on this occasion. The thing that attracted Moses toward the place that God spoke to him was the fact that the bush was on fire and it didn't burn up. And Moses said this; "I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." Now look at what the Lord saw in this circumstance; "And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I." When God noted that this man stopped to see this peculiar circumstance, He then called his name. So we have no mistake in who God is talking to here because He called him by his name. Moses, Moses, and Moses replied, Here am I. We have a peculiar circumstance getting the attention of Moses and now God is speaking to him. So, God reveals His will to Moses here, orally, from this circumstance. This is when He told him He wanted him to go down into Egypt and bring His people out. We have that as an Old Testament situation. We have a New Testament circumstance in the 16th Chapter of Acts, about the same kind of situation existed with the Apostle Paul. Paul was a very zealous Apostle, and he was continually preaching the Gospel of Christ to anyone that would listen to him and all of a sudden God stopped him. We find that He wouldn't let him preach in Asia any more. Acts 16:6 tells us that they were forbidden of what? To preach the Word in Asia. The reading is; "and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia." The Holy Ghost stopped them from preaching the Gospel in Asia. Well, we find that Paul continued and tried to go in a different direction. He wanted to go north into Bithynia. The 7th verse tells us that he assayed, that means tried or attempted to go into Bithynia but again the Spirit suffered them not. So they went from Mysia down to Troas and there we find a peculiar circumstance happening in the life of the Apostle Paul and God revealed His will to Paul. In the 9th verse of Acts 16; "And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us." Now that's just a dream. A vision in the night. Has God ever got our attention like that? I wonder if God has ever made an appeal to you and I in the stillness of our life somewhere and asked us to do something and we failed even to recognize that it was God involved in what we had heard. But here the Apostle no doubt was troubled about not being able to preach in Asia. He couldn't go into Bithynia, and there he was at Troas, kind of stalemated there and God in this peculiar circumstance got his attention. In a dream or a vision he saw a man across the water there in Macedonia, heard that man saying in that vision; Come over into Macedonia and help us. Let's see what they decided had happened by this circumstance. The 10th verse of Acts 16; "And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them." So here we have the Spirit speaking to the Apostle Paul in this vision or dream about his work in Macedonia. They didn't waver, they weren't taking odds, they weren't voting, but it said after that he had seen the vision, "we endeavored to go there assuredly gathering or understanding." Now they were assured in their hearts that the Lord had called them to go over there and preach the Gospel to those people in Macedonia. So we have these two examples, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. God, being a Spirit, if He gets our attention, He'll speak to us and to our pure spiritual minds. The message will come from one spirit to another. We need to understand the medium therein that God is Spirit, and that when He speaks to us, He'll speak to our pure spiritual minds. If He gets our attention, and if we respond to His words, it will be through our spiritual part and not our fleshly part.
Alright, how do we know that it is the voice of the Lord? We've already looked at it just a little bit. How would we know tonight if God spoke to us and how would we keep from being confused that it maybe was Satan? In Hebrews Chapter 1 verse 2 we have some information about how God speaks to the age that you and I live in. It tells us in the 1st verse about him speaking to the world in the Old Testament. "God, who in sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the father by the prophets," Alright, that's Old Testament. In the past time, God spoke to people by the prophets. Verse 2 "Hath" (meaning now God hath) in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;" Alright, He has spoken to us now by His Son. We read in our reading lesson where Jesus spoke to these eleven Apostles, orally, and said you can't understand all that I need to say to you but take courage, the Spirit of truth will come and will guide you into all truth. So the Lord is still speaking, although He's not bodily present with us tonight, the Holy Ghost came on the Day of Pentecost and HE speaks to us. It's Jesus speaking to us through the medium of the Spirit, rather than the fleshly body that Mary gave Him. He still speaks to us tonight through the office of the Spirit. If we consider then how to recognize the voice of the Lord, surely we're going to have to go with the familiarity of the sound. When did we first hear the voice of the Lord? Did not we in a sense hear His voice when we became convicted of our sin? Maybe we didn't recognize it as being the Lord Jesus Christ, but when salvation came to our heart, there was a still small voice that spoke to us and said in effect "Peace be still". If salvation is peace, joy and happiness, if those things are the fruit of the Spirit, then we understand that the Lord spoke to us. So we can look and listen for a familiar sound. What are its characteristics? What will the voice of the Lord sound like? Will not it be gentle, peaceful, coming to a troubled heart in salvation, won't there be a gentle still voice speaking to our soul, "Peace be still"? If we have experienced that peace of God, then we have an advantage. We have the familiarity of the voice of the Lord. Back in the 10th Chapter of John, the 14th verse, we have the Lord speaking once again concerning the ability of His to hear Him and the 14th verse says this: "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." So there was a relationship there. He knew His sheep and His sheep knew him. We have a familiar voice to listen to. We have a statement in the Old Testament that helps us to consider the leadership of God's Spirit as He speaks to us. In the 30th Chapter of Isaiah we read these words from the prophet. Back when God was speaking to His people through the voice of the prophets. Listen to what is recorded in the 30th Chapter and the 21st verse of Isaiah. "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." So the prophet says here our ears would have been able to have heard a word behind us saying: This is the way, walk you in it. Turn you not to the right hand and turn you not to the left. Does the Spirit have the ability tonight to make the same communication to you and I? Can we hear a word behind us, spiritually speaking now, "This is the way". Can we hear the Lord Jesus Christ saying "I am the way the truth and the light"? We have His voice to listen to and that's the method that God uses to reveal His will to us. Do we have any other medium of God talking to us upon this earth? He being a Spirit, we being in the flesh with His Spirit abiding in our soul, is there any other way that God would reveal His will to us in our age? I don't think that we can find one and have scripture to back us up in saying that God would reveal something to us in any other way. Surely we wouldn't look for any other thing. Would we look for a sign? The Jews sought for a sign. Would we look for wisdom? The Greeks sought for wisdom. But we are listening for the voice of God to direct us in this life.
Now let's consider that voice just a moment. We mentioned a while ago concerning its gentleness and its stillness and those things that reflect the Lord. What should we listen for then when we are trying to get direction from God? Should we listen for the thunder? Should we listen for the lion to roar? We should not be deceived by this type of voice because we know that Satan is described in the scriptures as a roaring lion, but his purpose is to seek whom he may devour. So, his purpose is to roar to seek whom he may devour. So we might think about the type of voice that we're going to be listening for if we are going to listen for the Lord of glory to reveal something to you and me. Let's look at the prophet Elijah as we consider God's voice. In I Kings Chapter 19 verse 9 we have Elijah down in that cave in Sinai. We've talked about him frequently here in the last couple of weeks, but we have Elijah running from the threat of Jezebel. He's down there in the cave and what happened while he was in that cave? God spoke to him, then God instructed him to go out and stand upon the mount before the Lord, verse 11 of I Kings 19. The Lord passed by. When the Lord passed by we have these events recorded. "a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind:" Now would we be confused tonight if God had told us to go somewhere and stand and a great event like that took place, would we immediately arise and say "That was the Lord"? "a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:" Would the earthquake have been convincing for us to pick up and move a thousand miles on a moments notice? Would we have gotten the voice of the Lord confused with an earthquake, just as we did the strong wind that rent the rocks and mountains there? Most likely we would appeal to something like this rather than the voice of the Lord. "And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire" what do we have? "A still small voice." Another translation says "A sound of gentle stillness". So, rather than being influenced by the wind, rather than being influenced by the earthquake, rather than being influenced by the great fire, what was Elijah influenced by? A still small voice. And that's what he responded to. And Elijah heard it and he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance into the cave and a voice came to him and God asked him what he was doing there. So, when we think about what we're going to be listening to when we listen to the voice of God, let's remember that God speaks in a still small voice. A Spirit speaking to that spiritual part of you and me for direction. He has something for us to do, He'll speak along that line rather than thundering out in an earthquake or in a fire or in a great wind. Let's listen for that still small voice and be familiar with its sound.
Does anyone here know how the Lord's voice sounds to your heart? Can you tell on a moments notice that it is the Lord and not Satan? Now remember Satan is a real good faker. He was the first to take up the art of camouflage. He was beautiful there in the garden. He was smart there in the garden and he's added to those things in all the experiences he's had down through the world to this moment in time and he's a real good faker. He can camouflage and he has a voice that almost is identical to God. The only way that you can tell the difference is to be one of the Lord's. That is why there are so many things taught in the world tonight, because people think that they are listening to the voice of God when Satan has got them blinded and deceived and he sets up this religion after that religion. He gets into the true doctrines of the Lord's church and people listen to voices and they think "Surely that's God." And they get off in feelings and move this way and move that way and jump here and jump there and they're constantly saying "I was led to do this and to do that". But let me ask you this question, how many do you hear say "I was led of the Holy Spirit"? They leave that part off. "I felt impressed to do this, I was led to do that", but you don't add the Holy Spirit to that, you see how silent they become, because very few people that have been born again, then go out on their own and do things and say "God led me to do that" dare use the Holy Spirit when they make that statement. You check them from now on. Those people are always saying "I was led to do this, I was led to go there, I was led to do that", you see if they say the HOLY SPIRIT led me to do that, and you'll be surprised how silent those two words become in those people's vocabulary. It's a dangerous thing to accuse the Holy Spirit of something that the flesh desires or something that the outer man can't put up with anymore, and he says: "Well, I can do this and I can do that because nobody can see the spirit, nobody knows how the Lord speaks to me and I can say I was impressed or I was led to do this or to do that." But, when you put the Holy Spirit in that statement, then you have committed yourself to the direction of God and if He's not directing you, you're in trouble. Because He will surely, surely chastise you for using His way of communication to lead contrary to His will. Listen for the still small, familiar voice. That one that you can go back to that rang clear in your soul salvation. When the stillness came where the storm had raged, when the raging seas of conviction ceased, and there was a calm in your soul. Listen for that familiar voice to speak to you, to lead you and to guide you into the perfect will of God.
We can say then that God is a Spirit. He that has ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches. Should not hearing ears hear, and then do what God asks us to do? Surely we wouldn't be content just to hear God. Surely to hear the still sweet voice of the Spirit of God tell us to go left or to go right or to stand still and see His salvation. Surely to hear those voices wouldn't be enough, it would compel us also to obey that voice. God uses His mouth, spiritual mouth, to reveal His will to us. He speaks to our heart. The communication is from God, who is a spirit, to the spiritual part of man. God doesn't speak to my finger, but He will speak to my soul and in turn the Spirit of God will control those things about my physical body to allow me to be used as an instrument of God. That's why it is so important to understand that the spirit in us, that is of God, is stronger than the fleshly part of us. We can bring the body under subjection and follow the Spirit of the Lord.
In this lesson tonight remember that God reveals His will to His children through the medium of voice speaking to them. A spiritual voice, without a sound to those around about us. It won't mean a thing if He calls out to Moses. Joshua won't answer if He calls Moses, Moses. Samuel answered when God called his name. If God calls a name in a spiritual sense, just remember that that person will respond to that, not somebody across the room. God doesn't necessarily do business that way. He can speak to one individual here in this group tonight to do one thing, He can speak to another one to do another thing, those things will be in harmony and God will be glorified when the two things are done and He will be uplifted in the world in which you and I live in. So, when we are in a condition where we are able to present our body as a living sacrifice, our reasonable service, we are able to be in tune with the voice of God. You can understand that if we are in a condition to listen clearly to the distinct voice of the Lord. Do you have a question, anything on your heart? Do you have an experience of God revealing His will to you outside of talking to you? Did God strike a dead tree and it fall in four pieces and that meant go north, south, east and west? Any other way that God has ever asked you to do something without talking to your heart? I've heard a lot of wild things advocated in my life about how God did this and how God did that, but if He's a Spirit and He speaks to our spirit, then we know that the method that God uses to reveal His will to us will be through the spiritual voice. Now we shouldn't listen for the oral sound of God. We shouldn't expect God to call our name over a P.A. system, but remember He will speak to us and to our heart, and that we can respond to that familiar voice. Is there a word?
Was it the psalmist that said something to this effect, that God was far from him and couldn't hear his roaring or something of that nature? I think David had a communication gap in the 51st Psalm. He asked the Lord to restore unto him the joy of his salvation. If you are not joyous in your salvation there is surely a communication gap between the heart and God in those circumstances. The prescription is given clearly in Psalms 51 concerning what it takes to get back that communication with the Lord. It is a good short Psalm to read when you get to feeling that the Lord is a long, long way away from you and doesn't seem to be concerned at all about what is going on in your heart and life. Someone else? Lord what would you have me to do? Hear it and then perform the doing of it by the help of God. Remember it is important to have our ears tuned to the right channel. We have to be in a particular circumstance before that we can hear. You've certainly got to want to hear, there will be a need to hear, a desire to hear and then we have to think seriously about that sanctification process we mentioned and be where we can hear that still small voice clearly and distinctly. It would be good if every time the Lord moved on us, if it was as clear as it was to Paul when the Macedonian call came. If we could see a burning bush and move near it and hear God talk to us in that locality, it would be real good if it was that easy, but it gets complex, especially when we conform ourself to the world and we are somewhere besides where the Lord would have us to be, and we really get into a problem with hearing the voice of the Lord. There's no problem with God's voice, it'll be on the hearing end of it if there is any problem. I don't believe that we would have a right to say "Lord, what did you say? Would you repeat that to me? We know the nature of God, I suppose that if we didn't hear Him He would probably tell us again. Someone else have a word?
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