The person who speaks a word from God…
How do you know that person is really speaking that word? How do you really separate a moment that is special from times when someone has an ego that has gone bonkers, when someone has become a little emotionally unbalanced, when someone is using God to manipulate you just to get their way?
As we read in Chapter 5, Dr. Willard explains three ways we can be assured that a human word is God’s word.
God will use an unlikely person.
Over and over in the Bible, there are examples of God using the least likely person to express His spiritual eloquence. The examples are many: Joseph is the youngest of his family yet God chose him to be a leader that influenced the most powerful nation at the time and Joseph wound up saving the Israelite people. Moses with his lack of speaking and his weak personality is chosen to be the leader of the Israelites despite his attempts to say “I can’t do this God.” David was the youngest family member in a family devoted to herding sheep and yet he was chosen by God to be king. Abraham was a doubter who wondered if God would deliver yet he became the first Biblical patriarch.
Would you expect any these people to be God’s chosen?
Dr. Willard uses Paul as a perfect example of the unlikely. Paul is an effective persecutor of Jews. He is a rough and uneducated person. He had tremendous stage fright as seen in his words in 1st Corinthians he [Paul] came “in weakness and in fear and much trembling.” Yet he becomes God’s advocate, God’s church planter, maybe the greatest apostle.
What do all these people have in common?
They are to use Dr. Willards’ word “ordinary”.
The spokesperson for God will not be a boaster.
Paul said in 1st Corinthians “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” The key to the real voice of God coming from a human is the human will not take credit for the communication. When people take credit, they are getting in the way of God’s glory. When people take credit, they don’t have a real God connection. When people take credit, the person speaking is using God to further their own agenda and that is not really God using them.
When I have felt moved by a person who speaks a word from God to me, I have often said something to them. How do they handle that compliment is a revealing thing. Do they reply in a way that indicates that they have done something special or do they reply in a way that expresses that it is God working through them?
It is God working through them.
They are the branches. God is the vine. They will bear much fruit if they know the source of their words, their strength, their wisdom.
If they take credit, they don’t know the source.
They don’t understand John 15: 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
The person chooses to be used.
Several times Dr. Willard emphasizes this point. He wants us to know that God speaking through people is not “God overpowering people” to speak God’s message.
People have a choice in the matter.
They can choose to use their skills and abilities to further God’s Kingdom here on earth or they can deny that God has chosen them to further His Kingdom.
In my mind, it is the choosing that makes the biggest statement. If we had to do what God commanded, it would mean little. The person with no choice has to speak for God. They are without control. They have no will. They are like a megaphone that God has picked up and He is using the megaphone. That megaphone is an object; that is all.
With all the alternatives that God give us, it makes such a strong statement when a person says to God “Ok, use me. I will do what You want. If You see something in me of value, I will be that person. If you think I have the ability, I trust Your judgement. Let’s go. Where You lead, I will follow.”
That is real Christian living in my estimation.
Let me close by saying that when an ordinary, humble person chooses to speak for God, it can result in what the world calls “great things.” I guess at the root of major spiritual movements are people who feel The Spirit moving them forward. Leaders of large congregations may say that their huge church is the result of God working through them. World-wide evangelists on the television who bring people to Christ over tv and in person may credit God for their powerful message.
But I also believe this. The poor woman who gets an encouraging God word from you when she is beyond hope is an example of you speaking God’s word. The drug addict who gets a hamburger and prayer from you is an example of you speaking God’s word. The friend who gets your acceptance and love when they want to talk out their aches and pains and mostly you have listened is an example of you speaking God’s word.
Don’t be confused about speaking God’s word.
Make yourself available. He will give you the opportunity.