I. The Gift of the Holy Spirit
The greatest and most influential person in the pastor’s life should be the Holy Spirit. One would think that the physical presence of Jesus would be the greatest gift any minister could ever receive, yet Jesus said in John 16:7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” In Jesus’ estimation, it was more important for the disciples to have the presence of the Holy Spirit than it was to have the physical presence of the Son. It is the Spirit of God that is to be our comfort (John 14:16-17) when no church member or fellow pastor can comfort our hearts. The Spirit of God is to be our teacher and reminder of the teachings of Jesus (John 14:26). He will point to Jesus (John 15:26) when no other example will do. He will prepare the hearts of those to whom you bring the truth (John 16:8-11). He will guide the Christian by speaking to him and showing him specific direction (John 16:13-15).
II. The Voice of the Holy Spirit
I am not speaking of an audible voice here. I am speaking of the voice that comes from above and speaks to the heart of man. If you have been saved, you have heard this voice. Do you remember? Jesus said in John 10:27-28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Some call it the conscience, others call it conviction, but the Bible calls it the Spirit’s voice. Do you remember sitting in that church service as the preacher explained the gospel and you “knew” that you should receive Christ? Or perhaps you were alone and you came across a Bible or gospel brochure and you “felt” that you should believe and call upon Christ. Oh yes, my friend, if you are a sheep, you have heard the shepherd. Perhaps He spoke to you after your salvation about a sin in your life that you needed to confess or a ministry that you needed to begin. He was specific! How did you know so specifically? Was it not that He was speaking to your heart?
How did I know that God wanted me to preach His gospel? Perhaps you might say, “it was written in His Word to preach the gospel to every creature.” Ah, yes, this is true, but how did I then know He specifically was calling me to Las Vegas? Was it not by the voice of the Spirit of God? You see, the Spirit speaks specifically where the Scripture speaks generally. The Scriptures told me to preach, while the Spirit told me Las Vegas. The Scripture told me to love, while the Spirit told me it was Heather. Though it is true that the Spirit speaks, we must understand that He will never contradict that which He has already written. The Spirit will never contradict the Scripture! Yet, where the Scripture is vague, the Spirit will bring clarity!
There are those who mock the idea of God’s Voice. I’m not speaking of the atheist or the agnostic. I am speaking of the believer who has so rejected the voice of God in their own life (I Thes. 5:19) that they no longer hear His voice and doubt that others do. Self-deluded and biblically mistaken are these sad and lonely souls. They desire rather to be told by other men what to believe, where to live, where to work, and what to buy. Their preferences are not dictated by the voice of the Spirit, but rather the convictions of another. They are guided in their television consumption, music choices, and clothing options by the voice of an institution, denomination, or spiritual leader, and not by the Spirit. This is dangerous, because it leads to empty religion every time!
III. Obedience to the Holy Spirit
This is why it is essential for a minister’s #1 influence to be the Holy Spirit of God. We have the Scripture and the Spirit, and we must obey, for it is God alone we will one day answer to. Also, understand that the Spirit may say something different to you than He says to me. My friend Matt Lahmann and I were both called of God to start a church. When I asked God to give me direction, the Spirit said Southwest Las Vegas. When Matt asked God for direction, the Spirit said St. Louis. Am I wrong because I came to Las Vegas? Is it possible to speak to the same Spirit and be told different things?
Some may question the fact that I like watching Star Wars, going to Disneyland, and drinking Starbucks coffee, because they have spent a great amount of prayer and have heard the voice of the Spirit say “no” to these things. Then, if they misunderstand the concept of personal conviction, they might assume that I am disobeying the Spirit’s voice because I participate. When, in fact, the Spirit simply spoke to me differently. If these Christians become overly preoccupied with their personal convictions, they may even go out of their way to find a Bible verse that supports their convictions and accuse those who don’t agree with their convictions that they are disobedient to the Bible. Again, I am not talking about those things the Bible clearly teaches. The Bible is purposefully vague in some areas so that the Spirit is able to apply personal convictions to each individual person as needed for the sake of the ministry.
Pastors, we must be obedient to the Spirit! We must also teach our people to walk in the Spirit! Against this thought many will argue, “But it’s your job to protect the flock and therefore you must be specific where the Bible is not specific and draw lines where the Bible does not draw lines.” Understand, as a shepherd, I want nothing more than to protect my sheep. However, I believe the best way to protect the sheep is to be specific where the Bible is specific, and show people how to listen to the Spirit were the Bible is not specific. Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
How in the world can a church learn to walk in the Spirit and listen to the Spirit if their pastor is not setting the example? We must be less concerned for what others (denominational leaders or angry church members) may think and more concerned for what the Lord thinks. For the sake of His people, we must be led by the Spirit and allow others to be led as well!
(Disclaimer, I am not speaking to children or teenagers who are bound by Scripture to obey their parents in all areas. I am also not speaking to any staff member of an institution that is bound by their own word to follow the standards established by their leadership.)
Do I have it wrong? What would you add to the conversation? Is it possible to hold to this position and still believe in the sufficiency of the Scripture?
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Hear are the past posts from this blog series.