Wednesday, September 7, 2016

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In this blog, I provide training and instruction on Who the Holy Spirit is, why we need Him, and how to receive Him, as well as His holy fire.  You will learn about the new wine, the biblical basis for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, the role of the triune Godhead in drawing people to Himself, and the supernatural power available for all disciples.  I also discuss the importance of correctly discerning the things of the spirit and testing the spirits.

As the Scripture says:

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. "Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? "Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luk 11:9-13)

The Person of the Holy Spirit Baptized with the Spirit Holy Fire Baptism
Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the Difference? Supernatural Power for All Disciples Discerning the Things of the Spirit
The New Wine Testing the Spirits of False Prophets The Holy Trinity
The Role of the Trinity in Drawing People to God The Bodily Form of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit Speaks
The Spirit without Limit  The Laying on of Hands International Impact of Pentecost
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit False Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit The River of God
The Witness of the Spirit Judging Revelations, Visions, and Prophecies Led by the Spirit - Part I
Led by the Spirit - Part II

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Please read Opportunities to Serve the Body of Christ.  You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Led by the Spirit - Part II

In my previous post, Led by the Spirit - Part I, I defined what it means to be led by the Spirit of God, according to Scripture. Now I would like to give some examples of people actually being led by the Spirit.

Jesus Led into the Wilderness
Christ in the Wilderness
Our Lord Jesus was always led by the Spirit, but the Scripture specifically says He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness. Luke wrote, "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry." (Luk 4:1-2)

In Matthew's gospel, he wrote, "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry." (Mat 4:1-2). Matthew indicated that it was the Spirit Who led Jesus into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted by the devil. That was a difficult, forty-day fast, during which Jesus ate nothing at all. Yet it was the Spirit that led Him to do so.

Moreover, He was living by Himself with the wild animals with angels attending Him. This was not like a fast where you live at home and get to sleep in your own bed. Mark uses a word that seems to emphasize that the Spirit drove Him or sent Him away to the wilderness. "Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him." (Mar 1:12-13). As we can see, the Holy Spirit may lead us into some very difficult situations.

Peter Led to Meet Cornelius
The apostle Peter was led by the Spirit to go with the three Gentiles to the home of Cornelius the Roman centurion.

"Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate; and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, 'Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.'" (Act 10:17-20)

First the Holy Spirit gave Peter a vision, so that he would be willing to go into the home of a Gentile. And then when the three Gentiles came from Cornelius to call for him, the Holy Spirit told him to go with them.

Paul and Barnabas Led to the Mission Field
In Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were led by the Spirit to go and preach the gospel to the nations.

"Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus." (Act 13:1-4)

This leading from the Holy Spirit came during a time of corporate fasting and ministering to the Lord. Thus the Holy Spirit sent them out.

Paul and Silas Led into Macedonia
The Spirit led Paul and Silas into Macedonia.

"They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas."  (Act 16:6-8).

First the Holy Spirit forbid them to speak the Word in Asia, then He did not permit them to go into Bithynia as they intended to do. Afterward, the Spirit gave Paul the famous vision of the man from Macedonia, and they went at once to Macedonia, concluding that God had called them to preach the gospel to them.

My Own Experience
I have also experienced what it is to be led by the Spirit, as every child of God has. A couple examples will suffice.

During a mission trip to Bulgaria in October 2007, I went to a small town called Hisarya, where I ministered in a church one evening. I was led to preach on purpose, and the Lord touched lives through His Word. Afterward a lady said she had been feeling useless and wondered about God’s purpose for her life since she had family issues and had just lost her job. Someone at the meeting testified that they were amazed the Lord would bring me all the way from “the ends of the earth in America to come and minister to us on this night.”  She said “you were in the right place at the right time, talking to and praying for the right group of people.” The pastor and his wife testified that the previous night they were praying and asking God to help them.  They were “expecting Him to intervene in some way, but did not think it would be so soon!” Praise the Lord for what He did that night! Anything good that happened was because of Him, and all the mistakes are mine.

The Lord had put a burden for Eastern Europe on my heart back in 1986 while I served in Berlin, Germany as a soldier in the US Army. Subsequently, during Bible school and graduate school, I received many confirmations from the Lord that I was supposed to go there one day. In fact, I did go to both Bulgaria in 1993 and Ukraine in 1995 on missions trips.

After finishing Bible school and graduate school, getting married, starting to raise a family, and being in the corporate world for a decade, the Lord began to lead us to the mission field of Eastern Europe. Specifically the Lord was leading us to be based in Budapest, Hungary. In June 2006, here is one of the many amazing things that happened through the leading of the Spirit.

I had sent an email to one of my friends from Regent University named John, telling him, “We've been praying and seeking the Lord for guidance and believe the next step is the mission field full time.  We are praying through this and investigating an open door for ministry with another couple over in Eastern Europe.”  Then I received an email from John in response saying, “Wow Len, big change maybe. I have a friend who wants to rent his house over in Budapest. That's not where you are thinking of going by any chance is it? The house is large and modern and would suit the needs of your family.  My friend is a former Regent student and is Hungarian. Right now, he lives in Austria doing a Ph.D. The house is only about 10-12 years old and is pretty nice...I've been there twice--in fact, I was in Budapest two weeks ago.  He has been hoping a missionary...could be found to rent it. He is buying a new house in Austria, so you could probably stay as long as you need to.”

There was no way John could have know that Budapest was the exact city in Eastern Europe the Spirit of God was leading us to go to. Just the day before getting that email from John, my wife Jennifer was praying that if the Lord wanted us in Budapest that He would provide us with a home big enough so we could have a place to let guests stay who may come from the US to visit and minister. This place that we now discovered for rent by a Hungarian brother in Christ had four bedrooms in addition to the living room plus two full and two half bathrooms. And since my friend John had just been there two weeks earlier, he was able to send me photos of it by email. When we saw the photos, we could plainly see it would meet our needs perfectly.

Then three months later in September 2006, Jennifer and I visited Budapest as a couple and stayed at that house, so that we could see if this was where God wanted us. The Lord arranged the whole weekend in a supernaturally amazing way. We were able to assess the home that the Hungarian brother wanted to rent to us, in order to determine whether it would adequately meet our needs. Jennifer's assessment was that she had a very positive experience there. She sensed that this was the place the Lord was calling us to live. The grace of God was there. She enjoyed it and wanted to go back there. 

As it turned out, we spent the next two years raising support, and by August 2008 we only had a small fraction of our total support raised. We prayed and fasted, asking the Lord what we should do. The Lord spoke to us clearly and indicated that we should "Just go" and He would support us. We received many confirmations of this direction. So our board released us to go, which we did in October 2008. The Hungarian brother held that house for us for those two years while we raised support, and it was there waiting for us when we arrived in October 2008. We lived in it for our first two years in Hungary, and the Lord sustained us there supernaturally for four and half years there in that country, although we never raised more than a fraction of our full budget.

The Lord used Scriptures, dreams, visions, prophecies, and even unpleasant situations, as well as amazing coincidences to lead us to go there. And the proof that it was of Him was in the results that happened while we were there, and the way He sustained us.

Leading You By Eye
Another point I would like to make is this. We all want to get a spectacular vision or dream from God to lead us. And God does use those sometimes. But He wants to be able to lead you by eye. He says, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." (Psa 32:8. KJV). This is the subtle, gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit that we must learn to respond to. We learn to do this by practicing it each day in the moment-by moment situations.

Let me explain this with an illustration. When a maestro conducts an orchestra, he doesn't want to have to wave his baton wildly every time he needs a particular section or instrument to play their part. He wants the members of the orchestra to be so cued in to him that he can simply give them a certain glance with his eyes and they respond immediately.

This is the way the Lord wants us to be. He can give spectacular visions and dreams to lead you, but He prefers to lead you by eye. He wants your attention to be so fixed on Him that any time He wants you to do something, all He has to do is give you a certain look and you know what He means. He can gently nudge you or prompt you with that still, small voice and lead you where He wants you to go, and have you do what He wants you to do. You must first learn to respond to Him in the little things, before you are able to respond to greater things. He who is faithful in the little things is faithful also in much.

Lessons Learned
Here are some lessons I would like to leave you with about being led by the Spirit. Lead a life of prayer, worship, fasting, and reading God's Word. As we walk each day, we must pray. Walk in humility.  Focus on the spiritual, not what’s happening in the natural.  Don’t focus on finances, opinions of men, results, or attacks. Prayer is key.

You need to learn to walk through the doors the Lord has opened for you and not kick down any doors that God has His heel on. When you are led by the Spirit, it is like there is a voice behind you saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it." Be very attentive to the voice of the Spirit. Listen to it. The things you are sensing in your heart that God wants you to do will be confirmed by Scripture, other brethren, and circumstances, as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as prophecy and the word of knowledge. For major decisions in life, such as ministry and marriage, ask the Lord to confirm His will by the mouths of two or three witnesses. You should also be accountable to others, such as your elders, for what you sense the Lord is saying.

As you pray each day and ask the Lord what He wants you to do today, He will show you.  And as you do that tomorrow, He will show you what you are to be doing tomorrow.  And as you do that each day, His plans will gradually unfold, as He takes you on into His greater purposes for you.

Be sure and keep a journal of what the Lord is saying, so you can pray over it and look back on it later to assess what God is saying. I have many pages full of documented leading from the Holy Spirit and confirmations of His leading. This has been indispensable to me in knowing God's will for my life. I hope that somehow these examples I have shared will be helpful to you as you learn to be led by the Spirit.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated. Christ in the Wilderness image by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi - Google Cultural Center, Public Domain.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I also recommend reading Led by the Spirit - Part I, Keeping a Prayer Journal, The Ways of Life, The Way, Will, and Word of God, The Law of Christ, The Spirit's Law of Life, Obedience by the Spirit, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, The Straight and Narrow Path, The Wardrobe of the Saints, Faith Works!, Fruit in Every Season, Practicing Your Righteousness, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, The Voice That Changed Everything, Covenant Prayer, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, and Law of Love in the New Testament.

You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog, such as Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Holy Spirit Speaks, The Holy Trinity, and The Spirit without Limit. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Monday, September 5, 2016

Led by the Spirit - Part I

An expression that is often used by people is being "led by the Spirit," which may mean different things to different people. To some people, this may simply mean that you do whatever you feel you are supposed to do, whether or not it agrees with Scripture. In practice, that may effectively be no different than the way things were in Israel during the time of the judges, before they had a king. Scripture says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Jdg 21:25, NASB).

During those days, as we learn from the book of Judges, there were many wicked abominations committed by the Israelites. The sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord (Jdg 2:11). They provoked the Lord to anger by forsaking Him and following other gods, the gods of the people around them (Jdg 2:12). They turned quickly aside from the way in which their fathers had walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord (Jdg 2:17). They acted corruptly and played the harlot. There was idolatry (Jdg 8:27,33; 17:5; 18:30), mass murder (Jdg 9:5), robbery (Jdg 9:25; 17:2; 18:17), harlotry (Jdg 11:1; 16:1; 19:2), homosexuality (19:22), violent, group rape (Jdg 19:25-27), and deceit. They did not remember the Lord their God (Jdg 8:37). Therefore, the Lord's anger burned against them (Jdg 2:14). He gave them into the hands of their enemies, and no longer drove them out before them. The hand of the Lord was against them to do evil, so that they were severely distressed (Jdg 2:15).

A certain cycle repeated itself over and over during those days. Because of their sin, God allowed their enemies to oppress them. Then they would eventually cry out to God for help. The Lord would hear their cry and raise up a deliverer, who would deliver them from the hands of their enemies and be their judge for a period of time. But then they would eventually forget the Lord, they would not listen to their judges (Jdg 2:17), they did not listen to the Lord's voice (Jdg 2:20), and they would not abandon their practices or their stubborn ways (Jdg 2:19). They would return to their evil ways. This would result in another cycle of sin, oppression, repentance, and deliverance. And so this cycle was repeated over and over throughout this period when everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Unfortunately, it seems that this is what the situation has devolved into in the Church, where "everyone" does what is right in his own eyes. They often do so under the guise of being “led by the Spirit.” For example, we even have Christians who say God told them to divorce their wife and marry another woman. One pastor even thought he could do so and remain in his role as pastor of the church, which he tried to do until the board of elders removed him. It's no wonder so many Christians have become oppressed.

Therefore, I'd like to take a moment today to put some definition around what it means to be “led by the Spirit” according to Scripture. It comes from the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans, in which he wrote: "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (Rom 8:14, NIV). That's one of the evidences that we are sons of God, or "children" of God, as the NIV puts it. So what does it mean to be led by the Spirit? In order to further explain this, let's look at several biblical expressions that mean essentially the same thing, beginning with those in the immediate context of Romans 8.

Living in Accordance with the Spirit
One biblical expression that means the same thing as "led by the Spirit" is to be "living in accordance with the Spirit," as Paul wrote when he said, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." (Rom 8:5, NIV). That means to be led by the Spirit is to live in accordance with the Spirit, having our minds set on what He desires.

To live in accordance with the Spirit is also synonymous with walking according to the Spirit, which is another expression Paul used in this same passage when he wrote, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:1, NKJV). The Greek word for "walk" in this verse is "peripateō", meaning "to tread all around, that is, walk at large; figuratively to live, deport oneself, follow, go, be occupied with, walk (about)." The Greek word for "according to" is "katah" which here means "according to or after".

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk according to the Spirit -- in other words, live according to the Spirit. This is set is contrast to walking or living according to the flesh or sinful nature, in which case the promise of "no condemnation" does not apply. The Greek word "katah" in verse 1 is the same word Paul used in verse 5, which I have just mentioned a moment ago. In verse 1, Paul referred to those who "walk (live) according to the Spirit," and in verse 5 he referred to those who live "according to the Spirit," which means exactly the same thing. While the English translations may use different words in the translation, they mean the same thing.

Controlled by the Spirit
Another expression that means the same thing as "led by the Spirit" is to be "controlled by the Spirit," as Paul wrote when he said, "The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom 8:6, NIV). The 1978 version of the NIV says, "The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." That means our minds must be controlled or governed by the Spirit, if we are to be led by Him.

Governed by the Law of the Spirit
Since we know that to be "led by the Spirit" is to be "governed by the Spirit," I want to show you how that is synonymous with being governed by "the law of the Spirit." As Paul wrote, "...through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Rom 8:2, NIV). That means the same as what he said in Rom 8:6 in the same passage, that our minds must be governed by the Spirit, if we are to be led by Him. When we are governed by the law of the Spirit, it sets us free from the law of sin and death.

Submitted to God's Law
Now that we have established the fact that being led by the Spirit is synonymous with our minds being controlled or governed by the Spirit, as well as the law of the Spirit, I want to prove to you how that is closely related to "submitting to God's law." We will approach it from the opposite angle, by looking at what one cannot do, whose mind is governed (controlled) by the sinful nature. "The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so." (Rom 8:7, NIV). That means that anyone controlled by the sinful nature does not and cannot submit to God's law, because they are hostile to God, which is obviously a negative thing.

Conversely, if we are led by the Spirit, we will certainly be submitted to God's law. This is not the same as being "under the law," which is another expression Paul used in his epistle to the Galatians, when he wrote, "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." (Gal 5:18, NIV). If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under the law of Moses, but we will be subjected to the law of the Spirit, which is God's law, or the law of Christ. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "...I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law..." (1 Cor 9:21, NIV). (See The Law of Christ and The Spirit's Law of Life).

Submitted to God's Righteousness
Having established the fact that those who are led by the Spirit are submitted to God's law, let us turn our attention to another expression that is closely related to "submitting to God's law" (if not synonymous with it), which is to "submit to God's righteousness." Paul wrote, "Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness" (Rom 10:3, NIV). That means that anyone seeking to establish their own righteousness does not submit to God's righteousness, but if we are led by the Spirit, we will certainly be submitted to God's righteousness. We will walk in the way of righteousness. This is a righteousness that comes from Him and is by faith.

Walking by the Spirit
One more thing I would like to say relates back to my first point that to be "led by the Spirit" is to live according to the Spirit. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit" (Gal 5:25, NIV). Another version has it, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" (NASB).

Those who walk by the Spirit cannot fulfill their fleshly desires. Paul wrote, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Gal 5:16). The reason for this is that the Spirit and flesh are in opposition to each other as if set in battle array against one another. "For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please" (Gal 5:17). The desires of the flesh and the Spirit are contrary to one another and are in conflict with one another.

Those who walk by the Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit, which is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law" (Gal 5:22-23). On the other hand, "The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God" (Gal 5:19-21).

If we are led by the Spirit, we will walk by the Spirit, which means to keep in step with Him. We will do what he desires, not what the flesh desires. We will not do whatever we please. We will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it.

Having the Mind of Christ
Moreover, to be "led by the Spirit" is to have the mind of Christ. For the Spirit knows the thoughts of God. Paul said, "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." (1Co 2:11).

He also said, “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1Co 2:16). Therefore, as the Spirit leads us, controlling our minds, He gives us the mind of Christ, enabling us to know the very thoughts of God in each situation.

Responding to His Promptings
Finally, we are not like the Israelites during the time of the judges who had no king. We have a King and His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. He has sent us His Holy Spirit to help us abide by the ways and decrees of His Kingdom. If we are led by the Spirit, we are responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit moment by moment. These promptings are His bidding, commands, mandates, or directives. To be led requires a leader. You cannot be led by the Holy Spirit unless He is the Leader of your life.

The Lordship of Christ must be absolute. Nothing less will do. As the Scripture says, "See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks" (Heb 12:25). And if you hear His voice today, do not harden your heart (Heb 3:15). His promptings are not ideas or suggestions to be considered. They are directives to be followed and dictates to be obeyed.

The Holy Spirit will always lead you in paths of holiness, righteousness, and truth. He will always lead you to do what pleases the Lord and agrees with Scripture. He will always lead you in the straight and narrow path, which is the will of God, the ways of God, and the Word of God. He will never lead you to do what your flesh desires, nor any thing that is sinful, or that contradicts Scripture. He will lead you to obey God’s commands. He will lead you to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. He will lead you to follow in the steps of Christ and put His Words into practice. He will lead you to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. He will always lead you to walk in the light, not in the darkness. He will always lead you to keep the demands of the New Covenant, never to violate them.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen in God's Word, there are several expressions that all speak of the same thing. To be led by the Spirit of God is to live in accordance with the Spirit, to walk by the Spirit, to be controlled by the Spirit, to be governed by the law of the Spirit, to be submitted to God's law, to be submitted to God's righteousness, and to have the mind of Christ. The benefits of this for us who do so are that we will be set free from the law of sin and death to experience life and peace. We will bear the fruit of the Spirit. There will be no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk by the Spirit, not according to the flesh, for they will inherit eternal life.

Hopefully this has helped put some definition around the expression "led by the Spirit" for you. Now by God's grace, may we, who are children of God, be Spirit-baptized, Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit-controlled, Spirit-governed, and Spirit-directed.

See Led by the Spirit - Part II

Attribution notice: Most Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. Most other Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I also recommend reading Led by the Spirit - Part II, The Ways of Life, The Way, Will, and Word of God, The Law of Christ, The Spirit's Law of Life, Obedience by the Spirit, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, The Straight and Narrow Path, The Wardrobe of the Saints, Faith Works!, Fruit in Every Season, Practicing Your Righteousness, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, The Voice That Changed Everything, Covenant Prayer, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, and Law of Love in the New Testament.

You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog, such as Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Holy Spirit Speaks, The Holy Trinity, and The Spirit without Limit. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Judging Revelations, Visions, and Prophecies

In my previous article, I explained the biblical method for Testing the Spirits of False Prophets. It's important to ensure that any prophecy, vision, dream, or revelation you hear from anyone is genuine. In order to do so, there are specific things to look for and test, including the fruit of the messenger, as well as the conformity of their message with Scripture. Now I would like to build on that further by emphasizing the universal need for this practice.

To begin, in this article, I will use the word "message" to refer to prophecies, visions, dreams, and revelations in general. This will allow me to use a single word for the sake of conciseness, rather than having to repeat this entire series of words. I will also use the word "messenger" to refer to those who deliver such messages.

There is ample evidence of it in Scripture that God still speaks to us in supernatural ways like He did in Bible days. We know that there are both true and false messages today. The key is to discern properly, so that we may know which ones are true and which are false.

Our Lord warned us to beware of false prophets, and He did so with good reason. He said, "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Mat 7:15). We would do well to heed His warning.

Pass Judgment
Likewise, the apostle Paul taught us to judge prophecies. He said, "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment." (1Co 14:29). This refers to how we conduct ourselves in corporate gatherings, but it also teaches us the need to judge prophetic messages of all kinds at all times. No matter who gives a message, they must accept the fact that it must be judged, and there are no exceptions. It doesn't matter if the person is our pastor, favorite preacher, best friend, proven prophet, relative, or famous minister. We must not show favoritism when judging.

Weirdness or oddity of a message is not enough alone to disqualify it, as I explained in my article, Discerning the Things of the Spirit. All the factors I mentioned in my article about testing the spirits must be examined.

Targets
Once a person has received a gift of prophecy, or a genuine revelation from the Lord, and others judge it to be valid, the first thing that happens is that they establish a reputation. That reputation may cause others to elevate them. While we are not supposed to do this, the fact is, it happens.

When people know of a person who has been to heaven or hell, or who has received a visitation from an angel, or had a face-to-face encounter with the Lord, or a vision from the Lord, the tendency is to esteem that person more highly than others who have not had such supernatural experiences. The tendency is also to accept any future messages that person may deliver, either as from the Lord or their own opinion. Once they have established credibility with their audience, then people tend to believe nearly anything they say and follow them. I know for a fact that this happens, and it is more common than you may realize.

The devil knows this, too. He knows that people will easily follow a person, and trust a person, once they have received a supernatural message, whether it was genuine or false. Therefore, the devil targets those who have received genuine messages from the Lord.  He knows that if he can deceive that person, he can use them to deceive all the people who are following them. The opportunity for the devil is too great for him to pass up. Through one person, he can bring down many others.

Another reason the devil targets those who have received a genuine message from the Lord is to discredit their message. If he can deceive that messenger with a false message, and the person delivers the message, then when people judge it to be false, they will also tend to assume that the previous message was also false, even if it was genuinely from the Lord. Likewise, if the devil can corrupt that messenger's life, so that the person falls into sin, then this also discredits the person's previous, genuine message. Therefore, these people become big targets of the enemy.

No "Blanket Approvals"
That is why such messengers must remain vigilant and be very careful themselves to avoid being corrupted. They must also always test the spirits, so they can be sure that any future message they receive is truly from the Lord, and not from the enemy. Likewise, their followers must also be careful to do so. There are no "blanket approvals" allowed. In other words, just because someone has received a message previously that has been proven to be genuine, that does not give them a free pass on all future messages they deliver. We still need to judge all their messages in the same way we judged the first one.

Even if someone has been proven to be correct on many messages they have delivered, and they have done this over the course of time, and no message of theirs has ever been found to be false, that does not mean that we can let our guard down. Each individual message must be judged separately, based on its own merits. If it is found to be false, it must not be accepted, no matter how excellent the messenger's "track record" of accuracy has been in the past.

That may be difficult for the messenger to accept, which is why they must always walk very humbly before God. It may also be difficult for their followers to accept. That is why it is possible that if a message is proven to be false, by use of the methods we are taught in Scripture, and the messenger has pride in his or her heart, that messenger may still insist that the message is genuine. If that happens, and they are not willing to accept that their message is not genuine, then others who trust them can easily be led away to follow them in their error.

Conversely, if the messenger is humble, and accepts that a given message of theirs is not valid, and they repent before the Lord for delivering it, then they can still be used by God in the future. So just because a person has once been wrong in a message they have delivered, it does not mean that we need to reject all future messages from him. But we should be all the more careful with that person afterward.

In my opinion, once a person has been proven to be a false messenger by their fruit, then unless they repent for the bad fruit in their lives, you should not listen to any further messages they give. You can assume they are corrupted and that all their messages are tainted as well.

One Error Does Not Make All Messages False
At the risk of being redundant, I want to be very clear about something. In the same way that one genuine message does not automatically mean that all other messages from that messenger are genuine, likewise, one message that is found to be incorrect does not necessarily mean that all other messages from that person are false. Just because a messenger has given a message that is questionable or unbiblical, this does not invalidate any previous message that has already been judged as genuine. Put differently, once we have properly judged a message and found it to be true, then even if that messenger later delivers a separate message that we determine is not true, that does not mean we should discard the previous, genuine message.

Nobody is Above Correction
We must all be accountable, correctable, and teachable. There are no exceptions! The apostle Paul said, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!"  (Gal. 1:8). Even Paul, who had received all of what he preached through divine revelation according to Gal. 1:11-12, said not to listen to him if what he said did not agree with the gospel he had preached.  Even Paul, one of the greatest apostles who ever lived, realized that he could be in error.

The Bereans realized this, too. Even though they received what Paul said that had been given to him by divine revelation, they still "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."  That was in no way held against them. In fact, they are commended in Scripture for doing so. It says: "Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)  They did not believe it simply because Paul was an apostle, known for receiving divine revelations from God. This seems to be a mark of noble character, versus those who blindly accept divine revelations, without testing them against Scripture.

And even when an apostle, such as Peter, was found to be in error, he was not shown favoritism. Paul wrote, "When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned." (Gal. 2:11). No one is above correction in action and belief, even if they have had a great revelation and they are a well-known follower of Jesus, or a leader in the Church. 

Since we are all human and subject to mistakes, nobody is infallible, nor does any one disciple possess all knowledge. "For we know in part and we prophesy in part" (1 Cor. 13:9). Even if Jesus actually appears to someone and shows them things, these things that are revealed must be filtered through an earthen vessel, which still only sees and interprets things in part. Therefore, based on these Scriptures alone, we should not blindly accept everything a person testifies to, proclaims, and practices just because they have had a divine revelation.

The Lord does not give to any one person a revelation of all truth. Rather He reveals these truths to various members of His Body by the Holy Spirit, according to His will. Just because one person receives a divine revelation about certain truths, and has partial knowledge, it does not mean that if they did not receive a revelation that was given to someone else about certain other truths that the other person's revelation is false.  Therefore, we cannot compare one person's message to another person's message, in order to judge whether it is genuine. And we cannot rely on any single messenger to determine for us whether all other messages are genuine or false. We rely on the Word of God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Judge by Scripture Not Your Theology
Finally, I want to caution you not to judge messages according to your theology, or your Church's theology, but according to Scripture. There is a difference. If your theology or doctrine is not perfectly Scriptural in some area, then it can lead to a wrong assessment of someone's message, if you use your theology to judge their message.

For example, some people believe in "once saved always saved." According to this unbiblical theology, once a person is saved, they can never drift away or perish in hell. They are guaranteed to make it to heaven. If such a person hears a message about corrupted Christians, who have perished in hell, they may incorrectly reject it, since it does not agree with their theology. But if they go to the Word of God and search the Scriptures to see if these things are true, they would find that it is indeed accurate. For more on this example, please see my articles Drifting Away and Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian.

So you must lay aside your own doctrines and beliefs, and prayerfully use the Scripture alone to judge messages, as the Holy Spirit guides you. For more on this, please see Scripture Alone and By the Spirit of God Alone.

Putting it All Together
This means our task is a difficult one that requires great carefulness. The enemy doesn't take a vacation from trying to deceive mankind. We must be vigilant and diligent. As Peter said, "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1Pe 5:8)

Therefore, in closing, I would like to leave you with these words from the apostle Paul: "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good." (1Th 5:19-21)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. I want to express my sincere gratitude to my wife, Jennifer, whose positive feedback on this article was the basis for the section, titled "Nobody of Above Correction."

Author's note Also see Testing the Spirits of False Prophets, Discerning the Things of the Spirit, Exposing Heresy, Accountable Correctable and Teachable, A Warning to the Nay Sayers, Scripture Alone, The Rise of Antichrists, By the Spirit of God Alone, and Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the Difference?  And I invite you to visit Eternal Destinations, where you will find many testimonies of people claiming to have a revelation from God, a vision, or a dream.  You can find the Main Directory for this blog at Home, and also access my complete blog collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Witness of the Spirit

I’d like to explain something called the witness of the Spirit. It’s very important that every disciple have this witness, so I want you to be clear what it is and how to have it.

The apostle Paul wrote, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” (Rom 8:16, MKJV)

The Spirit of God actually testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God. But let’s not forget what the Scripture says in the next verse:

“And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.” (Rom 8:17, MKJV)

If the Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God, then you should expect to suffer with Christ. The Word says, “IF” we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.

Thank the Lord for the witness of the Holy Spirit! This is the blessed assurance that Fanny Crosby wrote about in her famous hymn by that title, describing it as “echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” It’s when you know that Jesus is yours and you are His. You know that you’ve been born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. Therefore you are praising your Savior all the day long, perfectly submitted to Him and perfectly delighted to be so.  All is at rest between you and your Savior, and you’re happy and blessed. You are filled with His goodness and caught up in His love.  You spend your time watching and waiting for His return, looking above for that glorious day when He will come with power and great glory with all His holy angels with Him.

When some people are asked if they know where they would go if they would die today, they say they hope they would go to heaven. But when asked why they think so, they often say it’s because they are a good person who helps people. We cannot get to heaven by our own good works. (Eph 2:8-9).  Of course, we must do good works once we are saved, because we were created for this purpose. However, it’s by grace we are saved through faith, not by works. Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Only then can we do the good works we were created to do. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph 2:10).  But we don’t trust in our own good works to save us. We trust only in His blood, only in His cross, only in His mercy to save us.

Nevertheless, there are many ways you can know you are saved. I believe these are all part of the witness of the Spirit. John wrote about some of them:

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” (1Jn 3:14)

“But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;” (1Jn 3:17-21)

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1Jn 2:3)

“The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” (1Jn 3:24)

“But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:” (1Jn 2:5)

By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” (1Jn 4:13)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.” (1Jn 5:2)

Putting it All Together
To summarize what John said, we can know we are children of God that abide in Christ and are in the truth if we love the brethren in deed and truth. That’s how we know we have passed out of death into life. We know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. We know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. We know that we will be glorified with Christ, if we suffer with Him. We know we abide in Him, because He has given us of His Spirit. That’s how you can have the blessed assurance, the witness of the Spirit. That’s how the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.  "Receiving the Spirit" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the other posts in this blog available through the Main Directory for this blog, such as Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire Baptism, The Holy Spirit Speaks, The Holy Trinity, and The Spirit without Limit. I also recommend Faith Works!, Practicing Your Righteousness, Is Practical Righteousness a Lost Truth?, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, The Law of Christ, and Law of Love in the New Testament. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org