(1 Corinthians 12-14)
• Our son James and a friend were once having a conversation in the back of our (very long) car. It went something like this: 'God is big!' 'Yeah!' 'No, he's really big!' 'I know!' 'He's so big, he wouldn't even fit in this car!' 'Wow!' God is much bigger than we can imagine (cannot be reduced to a human construct, or put in a box). Colin Saxelby was talking a bit about this in church yesterday.
• God speaks all the time. Primarily through His Son (Heb 1:1-2). Also through creation (Psa 19:1-6; Rom 1:20), and through the Holy Spirit (1Co 2:13; 12:8).
• God uses the Holy Spirit to speak to us through other believers using words of knowledge, words of wisdom and prophecies (1Co 14:6, 12:8). These can include appropriate words from scripture, or a sense of what is right for a person (wise spiritual advice). Sometimes it is much more than that, and will be confirmed by the person as a direct word from God.
• Prophecy, as a gift, is highly valued in the Bible (1Co 12:28ff; 14:1-5). It will never end this side of heaven (13:8-12). Nor will tongues, but I'll write about tongues another time. The basic rule is that tongues are for an individual’s benefit, unless there is interpretation, in which case the whole church can benefit (14:4-5). Once when visiting a thriving free evangelical/charistmatic church in the South Downs God gave me a very clear message to give them. I said, 'Lord, I can't, I don't even know these people. You'll have to give me a sign to make it clear.' We had a time of worship in song, and some prayer time, then a leader stood up and said, 'Unfortunately our speaker this morning was double-booked, and is speaking elsewhere, so if anyone feels they have a message for the church, please speak up now...' !!!
• All these gifts need to be used, not in an atmosphere of chaos, but in an orderly way (14:26-33). If someone senses that God has a message for the church, or for an individual (as yet unknown) in the church, what should they do? The church leadership need to be involved, either before the message is given, or afterwards to confirm it or otherwise.