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I want to explain one way the Holy Spirit communicates to us today but let me begin with a bigger picture: how God sees people. People who don't know the Lord tend to think he's a vengeful Old Testament judge. This stereotype is a misrepresentation of God. They think God is out to get them; he's an angry Deity eager to punish their sins. Not so.

Yes, sin has consequences. We reap what we sow. Foolishness or rebellion brings its own pain. Far too many lives are filled with needless suffering because they transgress God's law or fail to live right. But God has provided a way of escape for us through Jesus. Being saved is based on God's love and on what Christ did for us on the cross. Jesus came to save us from our sins. When we become saved, he indwells us. I've experienced it and it's the best thing ever!

Now that we know God loves lost souls and wants to rescue them, we can consider what might happen should the Lord speak to us. What would it be like? Have you heard the voice of God? I know that you already have. Everyone has heard, they just didn't recognize it at the time.

The Bible says our human dispensation changed after Jesus was crucified and raised. We're no longer under law but under grace. "The Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." The Law shows a code of conduct. Jesus empowers us to live right. The gospel, "Jesus is Lord," is good news. Jesus came to set things right in our lives. If all you hear is condemnation at church, that's not good news. You may be sitting in the wrong place.

In this new era since Christ, the function of God's prophets is different than before. Instead of pronouncing judgment, God's prophets today announce good news of peace and blessing. Prophets are servants of Jesus who know the mind of the Lord, discern the times, and speak by the Spirit to individuals or to churches. "Hear what the Spirit is saying (present tense) to the churches." This is an ongoing activity in the modern church. Prophets are more than preachers teaching the Bible. Any knowledgeable believer can do that. Prophets understand the times, see by the Spirit, and speak God's timely personalized word. Sometimes that word is foretelling but often it is revelatory, to confirm God's will.

Here is how a prophet speaks to warn people: "If the church keeps doing what it has been doing for the last 20 years, it will only serve to accelerate the destruction of America."

The Bible says the guiding principle for the ordinary gift of prophecy is that it is to build people up, not tear down. Spiritual words are positive: for edification, exhortation, and comfort. Whenever I pastored, I would host conferences and teach about God's voice. The Bible says that Christians are to strongly desire to prophesy. The apostle Paul said trained Christians can prophesy by means of the Spirit's gift. We should grow in faith and ability to do this. Why? Because it has enormous power to build up fellow believers. It has tremendous power to help evangelize sinners such as Jesus did for the woman at the well in John 4.

Take off your critical eyeglasses and put on new lenses to see the world through the eyes of Jesus. Suffering people need to hear God's voice. Speak by the spirit of prophesy, the testimony of Jesus.

• • •

Ron Wood is a writer and minister. Email him at wood.stone.ron@gmail.com or visit www.touchedbygrace.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Religion on 10/09/2019

Print Headline: Graceful words

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