In the message last night, I told a couple of brief stories about a man named John – a man I had the privilege of working with in Pennsylvania. He was a man that had those direct promptings of the Spirit much more often than I. So, that leaves me wondering, “Why?”
If I’m honest, there have been times when I thought that he was more spiritual than I was and felt a guilt for not being more like John. As I’ve grown up a little, and as I’ve studied more, I have more answers – or one answer in many parts (whichever you prefer).
First, I think part of it was his age and experience. He had walked with God for three or four decades more than I had. It makes sense that he would be more a tune to the voice of God.
Second, I think he listened more than I do. This goes hand in hand with number one, but not entirely the same thought. Through the years, he developed his gift and ability to hear the Spirit. I think we can begin to develop that at a younger age.
Third, I think he had the gift of prophecy (though, due to his theological paradigm, he would never have called it that). I think this is an incredibly important point, but one that no one seems to be making. The debate about guidance seems to be two sided: either God directly leads people through promptings, revelation, etc, or he doesn’t. Maybe there’s a third option – maybe he leads some people in those direct ways more than others.
Remember how we defined the New Testament gift of prophecy. Grudem broke it down into two parts: first there is some direct revelation to the believer through the Spirit, and then, secondly, there is the report of this communication. When we talk about direct guidance by the Spirit, we’re talking about the first part of that gift called prophecy. And Paul goes to great lengths in 1 Corinthians 12-14 to establish the truth that while every believer has a spiritual gift, there is no one gift we all posses. That would include prophecy and the direct promptings of the Spirit. Not everyone is a prophet and not everyone gets those direct promptings – nor should everyone expect to.
This thought will be not be compelling to those who reject that the gift of prophecy is for today, but may help temper the fervor of those that do. Please feel free to comment, especially as I’m just offering this as my thoughts, still unrefined and in process…