Acts 1:24-26 ESV
24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
Here’s something deep- you’ll never know what God thinks unless you ask Him.
That said, how does God actually speak to us? It’s a good question. Depending on the tribe you follow, you will answer this question very differently. My tribe would say this- God speaks through His Word and His Spirit. His Word opens with “In the beginning, God…” and closes with “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.”
39+ writers, 66 books but only one Author.
Jesus was concealed with God in the beginning (Jn 1:2) and is revealed along the way. He is the beginning and the end (Rev 22:13). Everything we study in scripture (2Ti 3:14-17) has a place in the Gospel story. It’s all about Jesus. All. This is why we study and meditate intently and pause when a certain text resonates with greater intensity. It’s why we take time to actually discover what it all means. Because this is how God speaks to us. In part. We must engage the text with the fullness of soul and spirit until our minds have been renewed and our pursuits transformed. This is a very intellectual exercise.
But along this intentional, academic discovery emerges another deeply spiritual experience. The Holy Spirit of God. God’s voice is known by His Word and His Spirit.
Let’s unpack the application here.
A common drama- everything is going OK, we become content in enjoying whatever we can produce. We make decisions, we choose paths, we even acknowledge God along the way (ish). Then, something BIG happens and suddenly we are calling on His answer, His intervention. Now, I’m not talking about stuff that just happens, I’m talking about the stuff that happens as a direct result of something you chose. I’m talking about fraternizing with that friend and picking up that habit until suddenly life is a mess. That stuff. In the hustle of all that stuff, you never considered if God might have thoughts regarding that person or that place or that job. A transfer or promotion is always a great idea, right?
Sometimes your marriage isn’t strong enough for that traveling job. Sometimes your kids can’t devote themselves to that sport and that academic club and that job at the same time. Not every opportunity is for you (or your family).
These are the kinds of decisions that tend to go answered without any input from God. And why not- after all, the Gospel doesn’t mention the best job for us or the right balance of activity for our kids. It doesn’t. And that is no insinuation of some deficiency of the Gospel. But it is to say certain specifics aren’t a function of the Gospel. Yes, the Gospel is our path; it is the way we walk (Ps 119:105). The Gospel brings us to peace with God. And as we follow the Gospel in these weightier matters common to us all, we supernaturally develop a relationship with the Inspiration of the Gospel (2Pe 1:20-21).
Your relationship with the Holy Spirit (who dwells in you) allows your heart to be trusted to hear the will of God in matters unique to you.
So, the Gospel isn’t a step towards the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel is the ministry of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 12:3). There is no competition in heaven between the Word of God and His Holy Spirit. None. As the written word of God replaces our thoughts with His thoughts, we become aware of His otherwise unfathomable knowledge. The presence of God’s knowledge in us then awakens our capacity to hear Him and discern His spoken word from among all the noise of life (He 4:12). This is what we call following the Holy Spirit.
Following God is a process. A miracle is a moment but it takes a lifetime to live by faith.
USE CAUTION AHEAD
This is usually the space where I flood folks with caution. However, because we have all met the morons who constantly say, “God said this and God said that” with reckless abandon, I don’t think it’s necessary to give any more mention than that- don’t be stupid. Test the spirits (1Jn 4:1, 1Th 5:20-21). Absolutely.
But, don’t let your revolt of foolishness drive you to a corner of deafness either.
Our unwillingness to hear is just as much mutiny as refusal to obey.
Without a passion to hear, we start to look like those rebellious, stiff-necked people who constantly frustrated God. Remember when the first generation of God-followers met Him (Ex 20:18-19)? They stood afar off. They didn’t want to experience God. In a similar way, we stand afar off, afraid to allow God’s voice to speak to our situation when we refuse to hear His divine whisper.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO
Peter said, “Lord, show us.”
Such a prayer is always an invitation to a conversation with God. These super-apostles put forth two choices, Matthias and Justus. Afterwards, they paused and did what we should all do. They let God choose. Lord, which one?
When you believe God will show you what to do, you’ll wait until He does.