Tuesday, July 24, 2018

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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 gifts of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit, 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 being led by the Spirit, 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 The Baptism of Christ The Gift of Speaking in Tongues

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: 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.

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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.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Gift of Speaking in Tongues

Over a hundred years ago, at Charles Fox Parham’s Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kansas, the question was put forth to the students for consideration as to what was the initial evidence of receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit, based on the biblical accounts of what happened in the first-century church. After three days of considering this, the students concurred that if any individual were to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the initial evidence would be speaking in tongues.

They held that this manifestation was mentioned four times in the book of Acts in connection with the baptism with the Holy Spirit. So on New Year's Eve, Parham and  his students set themselves to praying to receive the Holy Spirit baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues. One outcome was that on January 1, 1901, Agnes Ozman received the baptism with the evidence of speaking in tongues after she received prayer and laying on of hands. Afterward Parham and nine of his students also received this gift.

Parham opened other Bible schools, including one in Texas, which led to Lucy Farrow speaking in tongues, and by 1906 an estimated 13,000 others also received this gift at Bonnie Brae Street in Los Angeles, California. This was just the beginning of what later became the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles, California, which took place at the Azusa Street Mission under the leadership of William J. Seymour with the assistance of Lucy Farrow. By 1909, an estimated 50,000 people had received this experience of speaking in tongues at that particular location. Of course, all of this was the beginning of what became the modern, worldwide Pentecostal movement.

Please take a look with me at the Scriptural basis for speaking in tongues as the initial evidence of the Holy Spirit baptism.

The Day of Pentecost
In Acts 2, when the 120 disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit, they all spoke in other tongues.

"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Ac 2:1-4, NIV).

The Outpouring in Samaria
Then there was the incident that took place in Samaria, as recorded in Acts chapter 8, in which those who had earlier believed through the preaching of Phillip received the baptism with the Holy Spirit when the apostles Peter and John laid their hands on them.

"When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, 'Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.'” (Ac 8:15-19, NIV)

Key points:

1. The apostles prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

2. The new believers received the Holy Spirit through the ministry of Peter and John when the apostles laid their hands on them.

3. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money. This means there was observable evidence that Simon could see when the people of Samaria received the Holy Spirit. We should understand from the context of Acts 2 that in this passage the powerful evidence Simon saw was the people of Samaria speaking in tongues. He was willing to pay money so that everyone on whom he would lay his hands might receive the Holy Spirit like that. If it was some quiet experience in which you could not be sure anything at all had happened, then this former sorcerer would not have sought to buy such an ability like he did.

The Home of Cornelius
Later, in the home of a Roman centurion named Cornelius, the same thing happened while the apostle Peter was preaching.

"While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God." (Ac 10:44-46, NIV).

The way that Peter and the other Jewish believers with him knew that "the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles" was that "they heard them speaking in tongues."

When Peter later explained his actions to the elders in Jerusalem, he said this:

“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” (Ac 11:15-17)

Key points:

1.  "The Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning." This means that the Holy Spirit came on the Gentiles just as He had come on the 120 gathered in the upper room in the beginning, which was 10 years earlier. The same experience of speaking in tongues occurred.

2. Peter understood this to be the fulfillment of the Lord's own words when He had said, "you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

3.  God gave the Gentiles the same gift he gave the Jews who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, namely the 120 who had been gathered in the upper room in Acts chapters 1 and 2.

The Outpouring in Ephesus
Another incident that is recorded in Acts is what happened to the believers in Ephesus. "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying." (Act 19:6)

Key points:

1. Paul laid hands on them.

2. The Holy Spirit came on them.

3. They began speaking in tongues and prophesying.

Jesus' Teaching on Speaking in Tongues
In fact, the Lord Himself taught on speaking in tongues right in the gospel of Mark. He said, "And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” (Mk 16:17-18, NIV). He clearly and explicitly said that these signs would accompany those who believe in Him, including speaking in new tongues among all the other ones He mentioned. This is a promise from the Lord Himself that you can count on. Why don't you take Him at His word and claim this promise for yourself?

Paul's Teaching on Tongues
Just as the Lord did, the apostle Paul also taught that we should all speak in tongues, while he acknowledged that not all believers do so. He stated that:

1. "I would like every one of you to speak in tongues..." (1 Co 14:5). This means Paul wanted all believers, including you and me, to speak in tongues.

2. "Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries by the Spirit." (1 Co 14:2) This means you utter mysteries to God when you speak in tongues.

3. "Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies himself." (1 Co 14:4). This means you edify yourself when you speak in tongues.

4. "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding." (1 Co 14:14-15). This means that when you pray in tongues, your spirit prays, but your mind doesn't understand what you are saying. That is why Paul said he would (and we should also) pray in the Spirit and with our understanding in our own native language.

5. "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you." (1 Co 14:18, NIV) This means Paul spoke in tongues more than all the Corinthians, even though they were very big on speaking in tongues and seemed to think it was the greatest gift of all. While Paul explained that it was not the greatest gift, and that there were greater gifts like prophesying, which he encouraged them to desire, he still said he spoke in tongues more than them all. That means it was very important to him personally and should be to us, too.

6. "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." (Eph 6:18a), This means we should pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. Praying in the Spirit (in tongues) is necessary and important.

Jude on Praying in the Spirit
Likewise, Jude said, "But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit..." (Jude 1:20). That means that Jude, the natural brother of Jesus, also taught that we should pray in the Spirit, building ourselves up in our most holy faith. When we pray in the Spirit, we build ourselves up just as Paul taught in 1 Co 14:4 (see point #2 above).

Ask for the Gift of the Spirit
Jesus taught us to ask for this gift.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Lk 11:9-13)

This means our Father in heaven gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! This is for all believers, not just a select few. Jesus said your Father in heaven will not give a snake to you when you ask for a fish. He will give you the Holy Spirit. So ask for the baptism with the Holy Spirit WITH the evidence of speaking in other tongues! And then receive the free gift with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gives you utterance.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Tongues of Fire image may be copyrighted, used for educational and commentary purposes under the Fair Use Act.

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 at Home, such as Baptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire BaptismThe Laying on of Hands, Gifts and Fruit of the Spirit: What's the Difference?, and Supernatural Power for All Disciples. 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.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Baptism of Christ

There are some things that God does, which seem deep and mysterious. The baptism of Christ is one of those. Perhaps you have even wondered about it before. So let's consider its significance together, beginning with the account of it in Matthew's gospel:

"Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?' But Jesus answering said to him, 'Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he permitted Him." (Mat 3:13-15)

Why did Jesus Christ need to be baptized, since John's baptism was for repentance and Jesus did not need to repent of any sin? When He said that they should fulfill all righteousness, what kind of righteousness was He talking about, and to whom was He referring?

In response to these questions, I would like to share some of the answers given by Matthew Henry, John Wesley, and F.B. Meyer in their commentaries. What follows is a compilation of their comments on the matter along with my own.

The Lord seems to have meant that it becomes us to receive baptism (for Jesus to receive it and John to administer it), in order that He may fully perform every part of the righteous requirements (law) of God, and the commission God had given Him. He was also our example in all things, so that we might follow in His steps (1 Pe 2:21).

Though John denounced sins, he was humbly conscious of his own and tried to forbid that his own impure hands would baptize the One in whom he as a prophet of God could find no trace of impurity. Although Jesus knew no sin, He identified with us and stood with us and for us as sinners and assumed our guilt. He identified with our human condition in every way, and this was one such instance of Christ's great humility, whereby He graciously condescended. As the proverb says, "Humility comes before honor." (Pr 18:12). Therefore, before He received honor, He first abased Himself.

In doing this, the Lord also honored John in return for the work He had done, by allowing John to baptize Him. He set His seal of approval on John's ministry. John had honored God, and now God was honoring Him. Even though John's name had become great, he still remained very humble and did not consider himself worthy of this honor, but the Lord persuaded him to accept it.

John saw and publicly confessed his need to be baptized by Christ with the Holy Ghost, even though he was filled with the Holy Ghost from birth. The purest and best of souls recognize their own need to be washed by Christ and filled with His Spirit. And the better they are the more they recognize that need. Jesus did not deny that John needed to be baptized by Him, but insisted that He now be baptized by John.

Christ fulfilled the righteousness of the ceremonial law and it's requirement for various washings. He honored it and justified God in doing so. Then He later instituted it as a gospel ordinance and showed the virtue that He had designed to put into it. And the Father put His seal of approval on the baptism of Christ by baptizing Him with the Holy Ghost immediately afterward as Jesus came up out of the water. The Father honored Him in that way, even making the Spirit's descent visible, and by His own approval that was audible to those present. Scripture records:

"After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'" (Mat 3:16-17)

I hope this has helped to explain the reason why Jesus came to John to be baptized and how his baptism was a fulfillment of righteousness. Hopefully it also sheds light on its significance to us for our own lives today. If Jesus needed to be baptized in water and with the Holy Spirit, then so do we.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Holy Spirit" and "Baptism" paintings © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note If you enjoyed this article, I also recommend reading Holy Washings - Part I, Holy Washings - Part II, By the Spirit of God AloneBaptized with the Spirit, Holy Fire BaptismThe Son of Man, The Temptation of Christ, and The Bodily Form of the Holy Spirit. For more articles like this, please see the Home page of this blog. You can also access my complete blog directory 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.

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 the topic of "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