“We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent.” ~ unofficial motto of (most) churches of Christ.
“Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff – and nudge me when I’ve said enough!” ~ prayer of the probably mythical old preacher
“If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” ~ 1 Peter 4:11a
Isn’t this one of the heaviest burdens carried by those who truly desire to speak for the Lord? Whether preaching, teaching, writing a blog, or just conversing about matters religious with a friend?
How do we know when we’ve stopped speaking for Him and started rattling off our own perceptions about what He’s said?
Isn’t it pretty important to stick to what He’s said?
And after all, aren’t there plenty of powerful speakers with advanced degrees in biblical studies who don’t agree on what He’s said?
I wonder from time to time if this doubt isn’t one of the most powerful tools Satan has in shutting us up about the Savior. I wonder if it’s one of the un-discussed root causes for preacher burnout and parishoner abandonment of evangelism.
I wonder if we’ve made the gospel more complex than it is.
Would you like to know what gives me hope when I try to write or speak on the Lord’s behalf – however imperfectly, humbly, and haltingly?
“Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” ~ 1 Corinthians 12:3
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people!'” ~ Acts 4:8
” … for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” ~ Matthew 10:20
The Spirit of our Father speaks through us. We just leave it to Him. It happened just as Jesus described it to His followers. And Paul writes to Corinth that it still works that way. It’s a simple message (“Jesus is Lord!”), delivered in a simple manner, through simple people like you and me. No advanced degrees required; just the Holy Spirit speaking through us.
And all we need do is ask for His help.
“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!” ~ Luke 11:13
You can even ask for that help to be given to others:
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” ~ Ephesians 1:17
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” ~ Colossians 1:9
I have resolved to take a new approach when disagreeing with others about scripture, or when trying to argue toward a common understanding of God’s message, or whenever I feel compelled to speak for God. I’ve resolved to pray for the Holy Spirit’s discernment for all parties involved, including (especially!) myself.
I can be as opinionated and pig-headed and closed-minded as anyone else I know. I need to be more open-minded … no; not so much that my brains fall out, but so much that His Spirit can fall upon me. I need to make room for God’s understanding, even if it pushes my understanding out through my nose and ears.
So I’m asking you to pray the same thing for me.