Whatever is said needs to agree with the written Word of God, needs to be given in the enablement of the indwelling Holy Spirit, needs to exalt the Lord Jesus, and be given in His power and for God's glory.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright today? Well, bless your heart. I have been praying that God might take something from His blessed Word as we look at it, and fit it especially for some need you may have. One of the great verses of the Bible is, “Before they call, I will answer.” Have you recently had an experience where God had been working in preparation for you? Something so simple as a parking space?
Just yesterday I was driving along a busy street, and I had to make a stop. The traffic was choked up, and people were edging in here and there, trying to find a place. And I said, “Oh God, I need a place to park.” And just as I said that, someone pulled out ahead of me from the parking place, and I pulled in. I said, “Thank you, blessed Lord.” Oh you say, “That’s coincidence.” No, that’s my Heavenly Father. He takes care of the small details of life. He’s working ahead of you to get things ready. Trust Him today, will you? Our Savior said, concerning Himself the Good Shepherd, “When He putteth forth his own sheep, He goeth ahead.” God is always ahead of you, never late. Always before things happen he has plans for you. It’s a great truth, isn’t it?
Well, you and I are in the fifth chapter, 1 Thessalonians, we’ve come now to verse 20. Last time we got together, we were in 19, “Quench not the spirit.” Don’t put off the urgings of the Spirit of God. My father used to call it a hunch. I would say to him with the direct naivete of a child, “Why’d you do that, Pop?” [chuckle] He’d say, “Just a hunch, boy.” But oh, as he prayed, something moved in his heart, and he felt he ought to do this or that. And he did it. Now, I’m not saying that you should forsake all the rational processes of thought and planning. Donald Grey Barnhouse used to say, “Fanaticism is not too much religion, it’s too little brains.” You don’t have to forsake the intelligence God has given you. By all means, think. Most people don’t think, they only think they think. Use your brains, and plan, and be as intelligent as you can. But do remember that the Holy Spirit of God dwells within the believer. The Bible says, “What know ye not, that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which ye have of God. And ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, both of which belong to God.”
So the indwelling Holy Spirit within you, Jesus said, will teach you all things and guide you into all truth. The Spirit of God guides you. Romans 8 says, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” You can invert that sentence or change if you wish to use it as a figure of speech. Change the equation and say, “As many as are the sons of God, they are led by the Spirit of God.” Yes, God guides by the indwelling Holy Spirit. And when he says something to your heart, it will always, number one, it will always be in agreement with the written Word. Number two, it will always be something that will honor the Lord Jesus, rather than honoring you, intrinsically. And number three, it will always be something that you better do without delay. The Spirit of God does speak in your heart. Don’t quench Him. Don’t fight Him off. Don’t postpone action. Don’t say, “Oh yeah, that’s right, but some other time.” Don’t quench Him, alright?
We also talked about grieving the Spirit. In that connection, we went over to Ephesians 4. You recall that. Things that grieve the Spirit are the respectable sins that people get away with. Paul mentions stealing, and lying, and bitterness, and anger, and wrath, and clamor, and unforgiveness. These are things that human nature has, routinely. He says that grieves the Spirit of God. Live in an atmosphere of love. Walk in love as dear children, forgiving one another as God also for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Love, and forgiveness, and gentleness, and tenderness, are the hallmarks of the Spirit’s control of your life.
Well, we come then to verse 20. He says, “Despise not prophesyings.” Little grammar lesson here: Greek word “despise” means utterly put down. To put at naught, one commentator has rendered it. Don’t put down what God says. Now, obviously, this refers, in our day, to the written Word. But it also refers to what we call preaching. Prophesying is not only foretelling, but forth, F-O-R-T-H, telling. Giving out what God says the ancient prophets had as their trademark verbally, thus saith the Lord. God says this. And you and I have as our only mark of real credibility the ability to say, “This is what God says in His Word. This is what God says.”
Our brother Billy Graham came into my life back in the early 1940s. We became dear friends, and we are to this day. And I followed his meteoric rise to international recognition and prominence as God guided him in this monumental ministry of evangelism that is his to this day. But then as well as now, he would often say, “The Bible says. The Bible says.” Why? Because the Word of God is our only basis for having people listen to us. Your opinion and mine matters very little, because we’re often mistaken, but the Word of God will endure, Jesus said, “forever.” “Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven,” said the psalmist. Well then, prophesyings in our day are those utterances that are based upon the written Word of God, impelled by the Holy Spirit of God, giving out the truth of God, in the enablement of the Spirit of God. [chuckle] That’s quite a mouthful, but I think that covers the basis, does it not? Prophesyings, we would call it preaching.
Now, there are those who believe that the Spirit of God speaks in direct and divine fashion through people who have that gift of prophecy, and I don’t doubt that that may be so. Years ago, someone spoke a word of prophecy about me, of all things, in a meeting. The proceedings were going along, and this man was introduced to speak, and he said, “First of all, I want to say something that’s laid on my heart by the Holy Spirit.” And he launched into a strictly prophetic utterance, which, it turned out, was largely true in the months that followed. I don’t doubt but that God enables some people whom He has gifted to speak with particular relevance to people and to events that see into, may I say, that look into the very process of life that’s going on in somebody’s life or in some situation. And you may very well call that prophecy.
Remember, however, that God speaks today through his Word. Anything that is extra-biblical is automatically suspect. And so, if somebody says, “I have a prophecy about you,” and it doesn’t agree with the Word of God, well then you have to come down to the next verse that we’ll talk about pretty soon, which is, “Prove all things and hold fast that which is good.” You have the right to ask, concerning anybody that’s talking to you on behalf of God, “Does this agree with God’s written Word, the Bible?” Isaiah 8:20 says, “To the law and to the testimony. For if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” That’s what Isaiah said. So what am I saying? God may gift you particularly in having that spirit-guided insight into things and situations, which could legitimately be called prophecy. But in any case, everything you and I say has to be based on the written Word of God, the Bible, has to agree with it, and has to be guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.
Does that make sense to you? I have to say that I have personally known times when immense personal suffering and damage has been done by someone, well-meaning perhaps, who said, “I have a prophecy.” And they would then say things that resulted, actually, in damage to somebody else’s life, and reputation, and ministry. The Holy Spirit of God doesn’t work that way. There were false prophets in the days of the Old Testament prophets. Bible talks about them. And the New Testament says that in our day there will come up false prophets. So there is no shortage, beloved, of people who, either deliberately or naively, are counterfeiting the work of the Spirit of God. And you and I need to be on our guard. Whatever is said needs to agree with the written Word of God, needs to be given in the enablement of the indwelling Holy Spirit, needs to exalt the Lord Jesus, and be given in His power and for God’s glory.
Well, I’ve come a long way around there. He says, “Despise not prophesyings.” Now, that word “despise” means put down. Don’t put it down. How easy it is for us because we may know that the preacher has certain… Either characteristics that take away from the effectiveness of his delivery, or we may know a little something about his personal life. How easy it is for us to say, “Oh, yeah. He’s preaching again, but… ” And then put it down, in terms of not really taking in the truth. We talked about the old days about having roast preacher for Sunday dinner, and we would criticize what the preacher had to say in the morning sermon. Don’t put down your minister. Paul says in another place, “We beseech you, brethren, know them which labor among you in the Lord, and are over you in the Lord, and esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.” Don’t put down your pastor because you think he has some faults. Pray for him, and love him, and uphold him. I’ll come back to that the next time we get together. Dear Father, today may we honor the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit. And what we say, oh, may it be based upon Thy Word and enabled by Thy power. In Jesus’ name, amen. ‘Til I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing.
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