Impacting Cities & Communities thru Prayer
A Community of Prayer Champions, Praying Churches, Prayed-for Communities
Several months ago I wrote a blog post that was primarily on Jeremiah 29:11. I was reacting to something I heard said from the pulpit. The preacher said we could not take this as a promise if we were not Israelites being sent into exile. I took exception to this in my blog, showing that this verse has universal application. But in this post I want to apply this truth to Scripture as a whole. Look with me at something Jesus said in Matthew 22:31-32
And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.”
Jesus addresses the Sadducees in these verses. But he quotes the words spoken to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3. Jesus asks them, “Have you not read what was said to you by God.”
It is crucial to understand that God speaks to you in His word. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that,
“These things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
Some of you are rightly thinking, “But we need to approach Scripture with spiritual discernment.” Most of us know examples of misusing Scripture. The old joke tells of someone opening the Bible for direction and blindly stabbing his finger in and landing on, “Judas went out and hanged himself.” This startled him enough that he thought he had better look for another. So he stabbed his finger again. This time he landed on, “Go thou and do likewise.”
But God's people can discern. We are enlightened by the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 reads,
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
That is a powerful statement. “We have the mind of Christ.” Let me point out how these verses say God speaks. Verse 14 concludes that the things of God are, “spiritually discerned.” Let me suggest what this means. Spiritual discernment is only given by the Holy Spirit. It means the Spirit of God speaks to us personally and as gathered believers in the church. This does not mean we will never misunderstand Scripture. But it does mean He will speak to me in His word correcting my thinking.
You might ask, why then do we have so many denominations? I don't think I am qualified to answer that comprehensively. But let me tell you an experience I have had. Many years ago our church participated in a National Day of Prayer gathering and another pastor invited me to join a pastors’ prayer meeting. I started meeting with them weekly. The group had two Episcopalian pastors. There were some Congregationalists. There were a few more Presbyterians from several Presbyterian groups. There was a Lutheran pastor. And in those early days, I was the only Baptist. I prayed regularly with those men for over ten years. A week never went by when we did not quote or read aloud some scripture. And my impression was that we never disagreed on how to apply a verse in our lives. That was because God speaks through His word.
More than 40 years ago I was leading a group of adults in my church to memorize Scripture in our mid-week services. One week I was helping them memorize Acts 27:25.
“Wherefore sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God that it will be even as he has told me.”
A lady in the group shook her head saying, “What does it mean?”
I answered, “God has said some things to you, too.” And this truth immediately dawned on her. God will speak to you in His word. And you can confidently apply it to your life.