THE GIFTS OF THE BODY
Part One & Two – Proving the Will of God & The Manifold Grace of God
If anyone knows the importance of having a physical body that is in good health and working properly right now, it is your pastor. Sadly, we don’t usually realize this until something isn’t working the way it was designed to. And as in my case, when something as important as our back gets hurt, it seriously compromises the overall function of one’s body.
Well, the truth is—all of us who are born again Christians don’t just have our physical bodies, but are a part of the body of Christ, which is called to work together in the same way our physical bodies do. And likewise, if one part of the body isn’t doing its part—particularly those hidden and unseen parts of the body—then the rest of the body can suffer for it. Amen?
So, this is the way we need to see every member of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ—as valuable and important parts of the church. No, not one of us is expendable and none of us are irrelevant. We ALL play a vital role in the health and growth of the body of Christ, not just those who hold the microphone or stand on stage.
So, from the example I just used, just like our spine & vertebrae are in the back and unseen, there are members of Christ’s body that might be in the background and unseen as well. And that’s what I want to start talking to you about today—the gifts that God has given each one of us and our function in the body of Christ.
Again, I’m not referring to the gifts that are the face of the church that everyone sees and esteems, but to the internal bones and organs of the body that provide the support that it needs and help with the overall function of the Lord’s church. We will learn what these gifts are and how God has designed them to work together for the building up of His church.
TWO KEYS TO KNOWING GOD’S WILL
So, let’s start today in the beginning of Romans chapter 12:
Verses 1-2 say, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
In these verses, what the apostle Paul was encouraging his readers with is that in light of all the mercy and grace the Lord has showered on our lives, we have a reasonable service—and that is to walk in that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. That means that the Lord has a plan for each one of us and expects us to walk in His will for our lives.
But the fact is that most Christians don’t feel like they know what God’s will is for their lives. I’ve found that most believers are confused as to what their purpose and calling is. But these verses not only teach us how important it is do His will, but how to know His will as well. This happens as we both lay our lives down for His sake and as we learn to renew our minds to His plan and purpose for our lives.
Sadly, the truth is that most don’t ever do these two things contained in these verses. They don’t truly present their bodies as a living sacrifice, by laying their lives down for the cause of Christ. They still want to do things their way and the way they feel but don’t resolve to give it all to Him.
Church, this is the first step to discovering God’s will for our lives—laying down our wills. Jesus had to do this, didn’t He? He could have succumbed to His feelings and said, “Father, I don’t want to present My body as a sacrifice for them. I’d rather do it this way or that way.” And guess what would have happened—or in this case, what wouldn’t have happened? No, crucifixion. And sure, that would have been more pleasant for Jesus, but it certainly would not have been good for us. But because Jesus prayed that oh so powerful prayer— “Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done”—we have had God’s good, acceptable, and perfect will be done for our salvation. Amen.
Let me give you a great example of how this works: I’ve seen this happen numerous times in how someone finds their mate.
There have been a few ladies whom I know who had a difficult time finding their husband. They dated and dated and dated, and it seemed like they would never find their Boaz. But when they finally came to the place where they laid that desire down on the altar and truly made seeking first the kingdom of God their priority, it was amazing how quickly their Boaz showed up in their field. It was as if the Lord was not going to let them find him while the desire for him had too great of a place in their heart.
And I believe this works in so many areas of our lives—if we would lay down our own desires and delight ourselves in Him, then He would give us the desires of our heart. Sounds like a Scripture, doesn’t it (See Psalm 37:4)?
So, finding the will of God begins with losing our own lives and laying down our own wills, but then there is another step to proving it—and that is found in Romans 12:2. According to this verse, our lives must be transformed by the renewing of our minds in order to prove His will. That describes us truly learning to think like God thinks and letting His Word—His thoughts—transform the way we look at things.
You see, I’ve found that one of the reasons people miss God’s will is because of the way they think. They still see things the way they always have and have not allowed God’s way of thinking influence their own mind.
For example, if one’s thinking never changes to understand that in God’s kingdom, we are all servants, then they might be confused to thinking that things work in His kingdom like they do here in this world. Therefore, their idea of what is being successful might not be the same as God’s. If one never comes to realize that love is the only true way, they might live their entire life trying to acquire the very thing that they are called to give.
Church, there are a lot of ways that a Christian might not have the mind of Christ, once we start thinking like God thinks, discovering His will will be so much easier. This is why we see so much in the Scriptures about meditating on His Word day and night when it comes to possessing the land promised to us and prospering in all our ways (See Joshua 1 & Psalm 1). It is because the renewal of our minds is key to experiencing His good, acceptable and perfect will in our lives.
So, that is what we are going to begin doing over the course of the next few weeks—renewing our minds to God’s will for our lives and discovering our place in the body of Christ.
THE GRACE GIVEN TO EACH ONE OF US
Now let’s move on to the following verses in Romans chapter 12 that begin to get into the various gifts and callings of God in our lives that prove His will …
Paul goes on to say in Romans 12:3-8, “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”
In verse 3, the apostle Paul starts off by saying, “For I say, through the grace given to me.” He was saying that it was through the specific gift of grace that he had received—which was obviously His calling to be an apostle to the body of Christ—that he was about to give this authoritative breakdown of how God distributes His grace to the rest of the body.
Then he goes on to say, “… to everyone who is among you …” This is an important phrase because as this verse goes on to say, God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. In other words, “everyone” who was a part of this church had been dealt a measure of faith for the grace given to each one of them.
Now we will get more into that in the weeks ahead, but the point I want you to see from these verses is that just as it was for the church in Rome, everyone among us have been given a measure of faith for the differing gifts of grace given to each of us. That doesn’t sound to me like any of us are left out. Does it to you? No, these verses make it apparent that we are all a part of the body of Christ and because of that, we all have certain graces and a measure of faith that has been given to us. (I’ll get back to this in a moment)
But let’s continue: “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly …” So why did Paul say this? It is because there is a tendency that creeps into all of us who are in the body of Christ to magnify our part of the body and our position in the body in a disproportional manner.
Let me give you an example: Let’s say for teaching purposes that the left arm of the body of Christ emphasizes the importance of teaching in the body of Christ and the right arm emphasizes the importance of evangelism. What happens a lot of times is that those are a member of the left arm in the body of Christ will be so inclined towards their gifting that they believe that teaching and instruction of the Word is all that is important, and they disesteem the power of evangelism. On the other hand (no pun intended😊), those who are a part of the right arm, tend to think that evangelism (which is witnessing and getting people saved) is all that is important and that we shouldn’t spend a lot of time studying the Word but rather should be “hitting the streets” to bring people into the kingdom. How many of you know that both of these mindsets are both correct and incorrect? What do I mean by that?
It is a correct way of thinking because evangelism and discipleship are both vital, integral, and important. It’s also incorrect because one should never say one is any less important than the other.
Let me give you another example: There are also different parts of the body that emphasize different teachings themselves. For instance, there have been and are different ministries that are called to emphasize certain subjects. One example is Brother Kenneth Hagin, Sr. God told him to go and teach the subject of faith to the body. So, he emphasized and threaded that subject throughout his entire ministry. Then I think of Andrew Wommack. God has obviously called him to teach the body about His grace and unconditional love. And there are many other examples, but my point is that the problem comes when ministries that are called to emphasize certain things in the body of Christ start to disesteem and devalue those who teach or emphasize anything else because I have news for you: as great as the subjects of faith, grace, etc. are, there are more subjects in the body of Christ than those. Therefore, we need to recognize that, and while we certainly should continue to focus on the things that God has put in our hearts and inclined us towards, we should also recognize that there are other parts of the body that are needful as well.
Now don’t get me wrong: It’s not wrong to esteem and value our part in the body. In fact, I believe that is a point Paul is actually making here—that we need to “think highly” of our place in the body of Christ; just not more highly than we ought to think. No, it is not wrong to magnify our ministry and to think highly of our place in the body of Christ. The apostle Paul himself said that he magnified his office (Romans 11:13). So, if the apostle Paul magnified his office, we should also magnify our office!
This is why the apostle of faith said that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. He was not condemning us thinking highly of our place and grace in the body; he was correcting the attitude of thinking more highly of our place and grace in the body than we ought. Yes, we should think highly of our gifting and office because if he said that we should not think more highly than we ought to think, then evidently there are high thoughts that we ought to be thinking! And that is what Paul himself practiced as he continuously magnified his office and gifting as an apostle.
This is thinking “soberly” as Paul went on to say in Romans chapter 12 because to not think soberly is to think with an exaggerated and unrealistic perception as people who get intoxicated tend to do. One can do that both ways—either by thinking they are more important than they truly are or not thinking they are as important as they truly are.
THE MANIFOLD GRACE OF GOD
But the fact is, everyone has a special gifting! Every man and woman in the body of Christ has been given a specific function and a specific ability that is to be used for the building up of the body. Yes, everyone of us has a good, acceptable, and perfect will of God for our lives.
Let’s now go over to a passage of Scripture in First Peter chapter 4 that reiterates this point …
First Peter 4:10-11 says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belongs the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Notice that verse 10 clearly shows us that each one has received a gift from the manifold grace of God. So, again, contrary to common belief, it is not just some believers that are gifted. “Each one” of us has received a gift! That means that every born-again believer has a gift that they have received from the various kinds of God’s grace.
And notice that Peter says that each one “has received a gift.” These gifts that we all have are not gifts that come after we have been saved for multiple years etc. We have received them! In other words, they were evidently given at the moment we were born again and became Christians.
Then we notice that Peter goes on to call them “gifts”—that is, something that we did not earn or that has to be worked for. Our gifts are free gifts of grace! This is why Paul, in describing our gifts and callings, said that these gifts and callings are “without repentance” (Romans 11:29). This means that they are irrevocable and will not be taken away. Why? It is because they are gifts of grace! They are not something that we have to work to keep. We can make the decision to go into the world and that gifting that God has put into us, of say singing, stays with us.
But what is God’s intention for us to do with that gift? Peter said that we are to “minister it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Notice, first of all, that Peter said “minister” it. This tells us that not only are we all gifted but that we in all actuality are all “ministers.” We like to refer to those who stand behind a pulpit as the ministers, but the truth is we are all ministers because this word denotes being a servant. And no one would argue that every believer is called to be a servant, right? Yes, we are called to serve one another; therefore, we are called to be ministers.
And “ministers” (i.e., servers) of what? Ministers of the manifold grace of God that we have been made stewards of! You see, as we saw in Romans chapter 12, to each one of us grace has been given. And each one of us have been given different graces based on our calling. This is what Peter is referring to when he refers to the “manifold” grace of God. The word “manifold” literally means “many kinds or a variety.” So, the manifold grace of God is a reference to the many kinds or variety of giftings that come from the grace of God.
GIFTS, NOT WAGES
But here is the point I want to leave you with today: Yes, we all have been blessed with a specific calling & function in the body of Christ, but these things are called “gifts” that come from the variety of God’s “grace.” So, the first thing we need to understand about our gifts is that they are indeed that—they are gifts of God’s grace.
The reason I want to make this point is because far too many believers do not see the things God has given us this way, but rather see them as a “wage.” What do I mean by that? I mean that most Christians think that you and I have to “work” to either gain or maintain the graces given to us by God; that we have to do something to see them manifest in our lives. But that is simply not true. The gifts that God gives us are free gifts! They do not have to be earned, worked or paid for! They are gifts, not wages! Amen?
For instance, when we see the word “gift” used in the New Testament, oftentimes it comes from the Greek word charisma. Now when you look this word up, you find that it is defined— “a favour with which one receives without any merit of his own; the gift of divine grace; a free gift.” This sounds an awful lot like the grace we receive at salvation, doesn’t it? Now we know that this grace is not obtained by any good works of our own. Rather, it is a gift given to us by God. Well, if these other things we are called with are also called “gifts”, then they should be understood to be the same way—gifts of His divine grace, freely given without any merit of our own. Amen.
Now when we use the word “charisma” in our modern-day language, we use it to describe someone who has flare and a gift to influence and attract people’s admiration. It is often tied to people in positions of leadership—specifically because their magnetism is what launched them into that position.
And, you know, when it comes to “charisma,” this is not something that people usually claim to have themselves. Rather, others are usually the ones to ascribe it to them. In other words, the person who possesses “charisma” does not usually go around saying, “I’ve got charisma!” No, it is recognized more by others around them.
Likewise, with the “charismas” given to us by God, most people don’t believe that they already got ‘em! They see other big-wigs and super-dupers in full-time ministry as possessing “charisma,” but they do not see themselves as having the goods too.
Which holds a great point as to how we can figure out what our “charisma” is: Ask others! Inquire of those you respect around you and those who know you best. Let them tell you what you are best at and where your gifting lies.
But the truth is, if you have been born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit, then you have “charisma!” Amen? So, guess what that means? It means that you are gifted! It means that you’ve got flare! Yes, you’ve got charisma! Amen!
Do you have Scripture for that, pastor? You bet your bottom dollar, I do. Hallelujah!
I looked up the various times that this Greek word charisma is used in the New Testament and guess what the common usage is? That we’ve already got it! Let me give you some examples:
First of all, First Corinthians 1:4-7 says, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So, Paul starts off this letter thanking God for the grace of God that was given to them by Christ Jesus. And notice He is addressing a church body, not just it’s leaders. So, it is to be understood that these verses are applicable to everyone in the church.
And notice that he doesn’t say, “I pray to God always concerning you that God would someday give you grace by Christ Jesus.” No, he is saying they’ve already got said grace! Amen?
Paul continues that they were enriched in everything by Him—not hoped to be enriched in everything someday, but they already had been given everything and were enriched in this! In what? In all utterance and all knowledge! What does this mean? Well, “utterance” describes “speech,” which is an obvious reference to the various vocal gifts in the body of Christ such as the preachers, teachers, tongues, prophecy, etc. The term “knowledge” is a likely reference to the other gifts such as the wisdom and understanding given to others in the body. But my point is that this church was already enriched in all of these gifts.
Now was this just true for the Church of Corinth or is this a reality for all of God’s Church today? It is for all of us today just like it was for them 2,000 years ago because God does not include these things just for the benefit of one select group! No, He is no respecter of persons! Amen?
Let’s look at some other New Testament verses:
Later on, in First Corinthians 7:7, Paul begins to explain the principles of marriage, saying that a man has his wife and the wife has her husband. In verse 7, he says, “But each one has his own gift from God …” The word that is used here for “gift” is again the word charisma. So, Paul also calls our spouses our gifts from God, which beautifully illustrates the point I am making.
You see, if you are a man and you are married, you’ve already got a wife! It would be considered immoral for you to go around trying to find another wife when you already have your “gift” from God, right? Likewise, since we are married to the Lord, have His Spirit living in us, and have been given our own gifts from God, we need not go around trying to get something else! Amen?
But how many people do this very thing? They feel insignificant and useless to the body of Christ, so they try and operate in someone else’s gift because they want to feel like they are making a significant contribution to Christ’s church. That’s not right, church! Like we should with our spouse, we should recognize what we have and be thankful for it—understanding the good things that are already being brought to the table.
So, it is not a matter of you and I having or doing something else. It is simply a matter of believing that the Lord has already put good things on the inside of us and letting those graces be manifested in and through our lives the way God designed them to—by grace!
So, if we don’t earn them—not receiving them by our actions—then can we lose them through our works? Nope! For Romans 11:29 says, “For the gifts (Greek, charisma) and the calling of God are irrevocable.” This means that any “charisma” of God (including the gifts of the Spirit) is unable to be changed or reversed. Another way of saying this is to say—God’s not an Indian giver! Once He gives it, He doesn’t take it away.
Finally, let’s look at one more instance where this Greek word charisma is used, and in so doing, learn how to release the gifts within us:
In Second Timothy 1:6, the apostle Paul exhorts Timothy with— “Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” Again, the gift of God is already in there; put in us by the anointing of the Holy Ghost. However, as good stewards of these gifts, we are called to “stir up” the gift! One might describe this as “unwrapping” the gift that we’ve been given!
Therefore, I believe we can see a principle here: When it comes to any of God’s gifts that are in us, you and I “stir up” those gifts through our faith that’s in us!
The final point I believe that the Lord is making today is that we do not need to have the mentality that we are trying to get these gifts from God. No, we’ve already got them—for if we already have Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then we have the gifts that He gives. Amen?
Well, someone will say, “Yeah, but how can we say we have something if we don’t see it?” Good question, but wrong perspective. We are called to walk by faith, not by sight—simply believing what God says is ours no matter if we are walking in the reality of it or not. So, I submit to you that we need see the gifts of the Spirit as God’s gifts to us—not things He might give us in the future, but gifts that He’s already given. Then, understanding that the Holy Spirit is just looking for an opening to let these gifts flow in our lives, we invite Him to do so in us.
Church, this is when I believe the gifts will begin to flow like rivers of living waters—when we tear down the dam of unbelief, complacency, and indifference. Let us believe God when He says that we have charisma and walk in that favor today! Amen!
WHAT IS TRUTH?
PART FIVE – THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
What is truth? This is the question we have been asking for several weeks now, and it is absolutely a critical question for the hour we are living in. The reason why is because we are living in the last of the last days and this is a time period where the truth will be harder to come by, as deception will be more prevalent. So, what we are learning is what the truth is and how to know it even in the midst of this dark and perverse generation.
A few weeks ago, we began answering the question—What is truth?—and I gave a specific definition that the Holy Spirit gave me when I asked Him this same question that Pilate asked Jesus. He told me that the “Truth is—that which is not hidden, which makes God known.”
So, as we considered this definition, we saw that the Holy Spirit began by telling me what the truth was not. In other words, truth is the exact opposite of a lie as God and the devil are the exact opposite and contrary to one another.
Then two weeks ago, we got into the second half of this definition of truth where the Holy Spirit said that the truth is that “which makes God known”: I explained how when the Holy Spirit shared this with me that I began seeing how all the examples of truth that I had come to know in the Scriptures all illustrated this.
And the first one of these biblical examples we covered was JESUS. Yes, I suppose that most of us would immediately gravitate towards Him first because in John 14:6 we have one of the most powerful proclamations of Himself that He ever uttered— “I am the way, the truth, and the life …” That’s right, Jesus didn’t just have truth or speak truth; He was the truth. So as Hebrews 13:8 states that He was the same, yesterday, and forever, then that means that the truth does not change. So, as Jesus came full of truth—He showed us that God is good and merciful and loves the sinner, but it is also to tell the sinner to repent and to declare the true way to God. Amen.
Last week, we looked at another example of the truth from the Scriptures—the Word. We looked at John 17:17 where Jesus told us that God’s Word is truth. We also saw in Psalm 119:160 that the entirety of His Word is truth.
Church, this is something we can absolutely hang our hats on—that God’s Word is the absolute truth. If we want to find truth, we go to the Scriptures. If we want to be better equipped to avoid the lie, we give heed to the Scriptures. His Word—the entirety of it—is truth. Of this, we can be certain.
We also learned last week that His Word is what breaks up the fallow ground of one’s heart and what thoroughly equips us for any storm of life. Yes, His truth—the Word of God—has the power to set us free from both the power and the deception of sin.
THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE
And that’s where I would like us to pick up today—in John chapter 8 where Jesus gives us some powerful words about the power of His Word.
You see, it’s important for us to realize that we are not just talking about having heard His Word in the past. The way that we stay equipped and prepared is continuing in His Word. Jesus spoke along these lines in the Gospel of John:
In John chapter 8, we have a powerful statement by the Lord: In verse 30, we are told— “As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.” So, notice that as He testified to the truth of who He was, many of the Jews that heard His words believed in Him. This is when we are told what we are in verses 31-32— “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”
So, these Jews heard the words He spoke to them and believed as a result. But then, Jesus said to those who believed His words, “If you abide (i.e., remain or stay) in My word …”—meaning, if then they would continue in His Words and not allow themselves to be moved away from them. Then what would happen? Jesus said, “you are My disciples indeed.”
You see, there is a difference between believers and disciples. Believers might believe when they hear something, but disciples follow after that word they’ve heard. They stay in it! They abide in it! And it is those disciples who are given the following promise— “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
So, who is it that’s going to know the truth? No, it’s not just any believer; it’s those who are really His disciples. You see, in order for one to really know the truth, they must really follow after the truth. These are those who are promised to know the truth, and these are the ones who are also promised to have that truth make them free.
THERE IS FREEDOM
Now when we hear about the truth making us “free,” that might bring to mind something else—How about Second Corinthians 3:17 where we are told that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (i.e., liberty).”
And this certainly is right in line with everything else we have seen the truth to be because Jesus has absolutely been the One responsible for having us free, the Word also makes us free, and where we find the Spirit of truth, we also find freedom.
So, this week, I want us to move into looking at this other One who brings freedom in our lives. Let’s look over at John chapter 16:
In John 16:12, Jesus told His disciples— “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” And the word “bear” here literally describes taking something up with the hands. Therefore, you could translate this phrase as— “I still have many other things I want to tell you, but you cannot handle them at this time.” And the reason they could not handle these other truths Jesus had to share with them was because they were still carnal and could not handle these spiritual truths. In other words, this describes their inability to receive certain spiritual meat because they had not received the help of the Holy Spirit.
Now many of us could attest to this as well: There was a time where we might have been Christians, but the spirit, life, and truth of God’s Word alluded us. We could read our Bible and not understand what we were reading. But when we received the Spirit of God, it was like the Bible opened up to us like a flower in the springtime. That’s the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives!
That is why Jesus went on to say in John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth…” So, when Jesus starts off by saying “however” in verse 13, He was again pointing them ahead to the ministry of the Holy Spirit coming in His place and picking up where He left off. So, while they could not handle the spiritual truth that Jesus desired to show them because they were still unregenerate and unspiritual, the Spirit of truth’s soon arrival would unlock all of these truths for them.
What this shows us is that the Holy Spirit is our key in being ushered into spiritual things. Without Him, we will be severely limited in understanding spiritual things—which is what I believe the Lord wants to teach us about today.
Now notice that Jesus calls the Holy Spirit here “the Spirit of truth” and said that He would guide us into all truth: You see, the Holy Spirit came to bring the revelation of God the Father and God the Son. As Jesus said, He speaks not of Himself but came to glorify Him (Jesus). So, His intentions are certainly not hidden. He is here on the earth today to make the truth Himself known to us. Amen!
So, the Holy Spirit’s commission to “guide us into all truth” means what? It means to guide us into all of Jesus, as He is the Truth. We have seen that it also means to guide us into all of the Word, as His Word is truth as well. But one could also say that the “truth” that the Holy Spirit guides us into is the opposite of the “lie”—meaning, if we are walking in the truth, we are not walking in a lie.
HOW TO BE GUIDED
Now unfortunately most Christians are like many of us men—we don’t like to ask for directions. We would rather waste an hour trying to find it ourselves rather than simply stop and ask someone who has been there for directions. Humility will acknowledge when it needs guidance.
So, it all goes back to asking for directions and inviting the Holy Spirit to lead & guide us into all truth. But another important truth that Jesus gives about the Holy Spirit’s ministry to direct us is found in the word “guide.”
Notice John 16:13 does not say—the Holy Spirit will “drive” us into all truth, or He will “drag” us into all truth. No, Jesus said He will “guide” us into all truth. To guide someone carries more of the idea of leading them. On top of that, you cannot guide something or someone that is not already moving.
Take for instance, a boat: You can turn the rudder one way or another, but if the boat is not already moving it will not make a difference in the direction that the boat goes. Yes, you can turn a rudder as far as it will turn, but if the boat never leaves the dock, it will remain pointed in the same direction. Likewise, we have to be “moving” in order for His guidance to become effective.
What do I mean by “moving?” I mean that there must be cooperation on our part because some of the responsibility has been given to us. Say, for instance, if we desire to know the truth of God’s Word. Well, we can’t just sit back and do nothing and expect the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth of His Word. No, we must seek the truth through reading, studying, and meditating God’s Word. When we get our “boat” started in that direction is when the “Rudder”—the Holy Spirit—can guide us through teaching us and bringing things to our remembrance. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate study guide!
But this is what we must understand: The Holy Spirit’s job is to guide us, not to drag us. In other words, His ministry is to help us stay on God’s path, not to tell us every little step to take.
You see, He is not interested in “making” us do anything. He is not “the good cowboy”—driving and corralling His flock and making them go in the direction He desires. No, the Holy Spirit—similarly to Jesus’ proclamation of Himself because they are one and the same—is the Good Shepherd. Yes, like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is commissioned to lead us beside the still waters and into greener pastures. And, just as a shepherd does, He leads us, but we are responsible for following Him as He guides us.
This describes the Holy Spirit’s ministry toward us! His nature is to gently guide us in the direction that we need to go—whether that be leading us into a fruitful, abiding relationship with Jesus or leading us into increasing in our wisdom and understanding of the Word. He guides us into all the truth!
GUIDED FROM SAMARIA TO ETHIOPIA
This word for “guide” is also used in Acts chapter 8 in the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. You remember the story: Philip was in Samaria preaching Christ in many villages and an angel spoke to him to go south, to the road which goes from Jerusalem to Gaza. And when he went, he saw this eunuch travelling in his chariot, reading the Book of Isaiah (vs. 28). So, as he saw him, the Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake the chariot.”
So, we pick up now in verse 30: “So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’ So, the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:30-35)
Philip’s question to the eunuch is very practical to what we are talking about today—for I have come across many Christians who do not feel like they understand what they are reading. Well, just as the eunuch answered Philip, I believe this is true for all of us as well— “How can we, unless someone guides us?”
You see, the reason many believers do not understand the Word like they can is because they have never taken advantage of this particular role of the Holy Spirit—to guide us into all the Word. In other words, the Holy Spirit is the key to understanding the Bible.
So, as we’ve said, being guided into all truth would be (and is) being guided in all the Word of God, based on John 17:17. Which we know is at least part of what Jesus was saying here, because of how these verses parallel what we saw in part two of this series when we learned that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things.
So, when we read our Bible, we don’t have to do it alone. We ought to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us throughout our reading and studies—inviting Him to unfold the truth that is behind every passage of Scripture. Amen.
For example, we wake up in the morning, get our cup of coffee, and sit to read, but before we do, we might say, “Good morning, Holy Spirit! Thank You for being my teacher, and I thank you that one of your assignments in my life is to guide me into all truth. Well, Your Word is truth. So, as I read Your Word—Your Truth—this morning, I thank you for guiding me. YOU are my study guide! Amen!”
Again, would it make any sense for me to expect the Holy Spirit to lead me through the truths contained in the Bible if I never occasionally read my Bible? No, if I want to capture a spirit of wisdom and revelation of God through His Word, then I must first seek to grow in knowledge which comes through reading and studying (Ephesians 1:17). While certainly He could reveal the truth to us through some sort of miraculous revelation if we were in a situation where the Word of truth was not readily available to us, this is not the common way He will reveal His Word to us. I would be foolish to expect God to instruct me this way if I have the Word of God sitting on my nightstand collecting dust because I never take the time to read it. No, in order for me to take advantage of this ministry of the Holy Spirit, I must give Him something to work with. I must begin reading, studying, and meditating the Holy Scriptures. Then, and only then, will I be in position for the Holy Spirit to guide me through the Bible’s books, chapters, and verses and into all the truth contained in them.
But there is also another lesson regarding being guided by the Holy Spirit in the account we are looking at: How was Philip guided by the Spirit to have this encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. It began as Philip was busy about his Father’s business. Now not only was Philip preaching the gospel and doing his part in fulfilling the Great Commission, but when the angel spoke to him and told him to go even further south to the “deserted place,” he went. It was then that the Holy Spirit gave him the reason for this particular assignment and spoke to him about overtaking the eunuch’s chariot.
So, here’s my point: What if Philip would have still been in Jerusalem hiding out in a house, and not doing what Jesus had already commissioned us to do? Further, what if, even though he had gone to Samaria, he hadn’t heeded the instructions of the angel of the Lord and not gone down to the desert? Well, I can all but guarantee you that he would have not heard “the Spirit said” in verse 29.
So, I believe this shows us how the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth—because if Philip would not have already been moving, the Holy Spirit would have not been able to guide him to minister to this eunuch. Amen?
But the Holy Spirit is not only with us to guide us into all truth but also to guide us out of all error.
So, let’s go back to First John, where we began this series from, because this is one of the main points that we see the apostle John making in his first epistle.
Beginning in First John 2:18, we see how John let his readers know that there were many antichrists already present with them in that it was the last hour. So, how many do you suppose we have in these last minutes of the last hour?
As he states in the following verse, the spirit of antichrist would not just be in the world but would come from the church itself—showing us that this spirit of error is found both in the world and in the church.
Then John makes a powerful point in verse 20—that we all have an anointing from the Holy One and know all things, meaning that because we have the Holy Spirit, we have the capability of knowing what we need to know. And in the context here, that would be knowing the spirit of truth from the spirit of error.
So, some of the key points John makes that show us how to know error is that we already know the truth (verse 21), so we don’t need to go looking for it. Number two, the truth is found in Jesus. That means that it will always point us towards His deity and Lordship. Number three, as we learned earlier, it is abiding in the Word we had in the beginning. In other words, not deviating from the Word we received in the beginning. Error will always try to introduce something new and exciting, but just because it appeals to our senses, doesn’t mean it is true.
In verse 26, John again reiterates that these things He was writing to them about are concerning those trying to deceive them (and us). But in verse 27, He shows us how the Anointing Himself has become our teacher and we don’t need someone else to interpret truth to us—for He is the Spirit of truth and will always lead us into abiding in Him.
THE TRUTH WE HAD IN THE BEGINNING
Then if we move on to First John chapter 4, where we began this series:
Again, John says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore, they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (First John 4:1-6)
So, we can clearly see how we know the spirit of truth from the spirit of error. It is by knowing the Holy Spirit—for when we know Him—the Spirit of truth—we will know the truth and that truth will make us free. Amen.