Of the nine spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, God infrequently uses me to speak words of wisdom and knowledge, and prophecy. A supernatural gift of faith often manifests itself in connection with my evangelistic and missions ministry (I think I am far too timid to travel to third-world countries alone as I do, were it not for the encouragement of God), and from time to time God heals someone after I have prayed for them.
Discerning of spirits is a gift that I rarely hear anyone claiming to possess, but this inner witness of the Lord is very strong in my life. I have given a few words of encouragement now and then when counselling at the altar, knowing what to tell a person after the Lord has revealed to me the thing that burdens them (Isaiah 50:4 is a very precious verse to me), and it is rare that I presume to say
thus saith the Lord, but I must confess that I am often given an understanding of the spiritual nature or disposition of a person, ministry, church or situation, an understanding that few others seem have.
I have been sensitive to the Lord's Spirit since the day of MyConversionExperience,, and honing this skill has helped me greatly in my walk with Him.
I can walk into a church and instantly know whether the ministers and congregation are yielded to the Lord or not. Likewise, in this day of rampant apostasy and glut of false television prophets and teachers, my spirit is grieved when I have the displeasure of being near a TV when any of these false brethren are on the air.
Just last week I met someone on IRC (old-school internet chat) that sounded like a solid believer. Everything he said in the channel was scripturally sound, but I felt warned of God that something was not right with him. Saturday he called me aside in private chat to ask about my end-time beliefs. I told him that I of course believed in a pre-tribulation rapture, and he replied that he was post-trib. The next day I asked him if he would present arguments defending that viewpoint, but instead of a rational discussion, what I got was an attack on the pre-trib rapture. He said that pre-trib doctrine was dangerous and of the devil. When pressed, all he could do in defense of post-trib was quote exactly three scriptures, two of which he took out of context. He demonstrated a complete ignorance of basic eschatological concepts and was unable to defend his viewpoint from the bible. At some point he quoted some pastor, who google later revealed to be a small-time cult figure who makes up for his ignorance of scripture by regularly debating other crackpots in public meetings.
At times God will caution me while I am speaking or writing, or when trying to make some decision. Unfortunately I am often too dull to understand the Lord's leading, At times I will be speaking with someone and will think of something to say, but the Spirit will somehow let me know that He would have me say something else. I do strive to edify others with my speech (Isaiah 50:4), and I know that the Lord's ways are higher than ours, and that He knows better than I what to say to others, to encourage them in the things of God. Jesus knew precisely what to say to the woman at the well, and told his disciples that they would be given what to say in their hour of testing. I often fail miserably at it, but it is my desire to speak
as the oracles of God.
While I value these wonderful gifts the Lord has given me, they often bring me sadness. I at times know things that other Christians cannot discern, and sometimes folks get upset when I do not go along with what is being preached or exhorted.
I feel that I must mention that while I believe in and strive to be led of the Spirit, I do not practice any type of new age or Latter Rain techniques such as journalling, or
practicing the presense of God, or
centering prayer, or
personal prophecy or other foolishness. I do not have a
spirit guide and I do not hear voices. I feel that those that rely upon such techniques open themselves up to demonic oppression or outright possession. As an aside, it is interesting to note that those claiming to have been abducted by aliens return to Earth to espouse the same doctrines and message that new age astral planers and acid-dropping hippies promote. Satan still walks about like a roaring lion seeking to deceive any and all that forsake the clear teachings of Scripture.
God does indeed speak to the Christian, but only in the context of the written Word of God which is found only in the Holy Bible. God will never tell anyone to do anything that is contrary to the bible, or which does not magnify Jesus Christ. The following scriptures are relevant:
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 shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (John 16:13-15)
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)
I can probably count on one finger the number of times I've heard the audible voice of God. I began seeking God about 6 months after I got saved, asking the Lord to speak to me like He spoke to Moses and others in the Old Testament. A few months later God did indeed speak to me. I was sitting on a bench outside Stubbs Halls in the LSU Quadrangle after class, asking to hear God's voice, and I did hear a voice plainly say
read My word. I turned around, but there wasn't anyone within 50 feet of me at the time. I figured I imagined hearing anything, but a few minutes later I heard the same voice say the same thing. I finally figured out that it was the voice of God, and immediately left campus for my apartment, When I got home I sat on the couch with my bible and asked God where I should read, and I heard the voice somewhat impatiently ask
where to you normally begin reading a book?. I haven't forgotten the lesson, and often teach believers that if they want to hear the voice of God and to be led of His Spirit, it's to be found in the pages of His Word.
On my radio broadcast I taught a series on spiritual gifts, and another on John chapters 14-16. It is my hope that these lessons prove to be of some help to believer.