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It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2011)
Peter Lawrence was a vicar in the Church of England for 32 years. After serving in Birmingham, England, the largest city outside of London, he spent his last 14 years as leader of the three churches of Canford Magna in Dorset. Lawrence authored ten books, including The Hot Line, Doing What Comes Supernaturally and The Spirit Who Heals. The Spirit Who Heals is his first book to be published on both sides of the Atlantic—something he was delighted to know would happen. Peter was a man with a great gift for teaching Bible doctrine in an accessible way. His goal was always to help people put into practice the things he taught, highlighting many of the principles through his stories of both success and failure. Lawrence died from a brain tumour on February 22, 2009.
Many Christians today wonder if they are receiving all that God has to offer in the form of the Holy Spirit. Some even believe that the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a symbol of God’s power. Peter Lawrence, who was once a vicar in the Church of England, recounts his amazing journey to truth in The Spirit Who Speaks: God’s Supernatural Intervention in Your Life.
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (September 1, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
The speaker at our conference looked like Santa Claus. He had a big belly, a full beard, a jovial smile, and an American accent. There were several thousand of us in the Sheffield Centre in Britain in 1985 who had been persuaded against our better judgment to attend a conference with the not-at-all-British title “Signs and Wonders.”
Santa played a keyboard to the highest standard and led us in a time of musical
worship. (I discovered afterward that he arranged songs for the Righteous Brothers and actually had three top-ten hits in America, all at the same time.) He then came to the lectern, told the story of how he had become a Christian, and regaled us with all kinds of stories and jokes for an hour. I was captivated and enjoyed myself immensely.
In the evening there was much more teaching from the Bible, emphasizing Jesus’
dependence on His Father. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19).
Our speaker placed the emphasis on Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, taking His
orders from His Father. Jesus teaches us what the Father teaches Him (John 7:17), He speaks what the Father speaks (John 8:2–11), and He says what the Father says (John
14:10). All of which comes from the Father through the Spirit: “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:34)
And then the speaker, whose name was John Wimber, had a go at speaking a
“Is there a lady here,” he asked, “aged thirty-two, with a bad throat, with a name beginning with L, who would be willing to come out?”
I had never witnessed anything like this before, so it was good we had heard
John’s testimony and his teaching from the Bible beforehand. It could have been a put- up job, but I trusted him. When the “word” was given, Linda sensed the Spirit speak to her, and she came down from the back quite quickly.
During the interview it was obvious she had a bad throat, but she was adamant that her age was thirty-one, not thirty-two. A team prayed for her; she went down on the floor, and when she came up her voice was clear and seemed to be healed. It was impressive. But there was no way I could have possibly guessed what Santa’s sack had for me next.
“Is there someone here,” John asked, “whose testicle did not drop as a teenager?” What a question! What an embarrassment! It was me. Fortunately the stage was full of people receiving prayer for other “words,” so John said it might be better if the person saw him privately afterward. Good job!
Just before the conference a surgeon had seen me and advised that I have my testicle removed in case it turned cancerous. He booked me in for an operation when I returned from Yorkshire. After the service, I checked to see if anyone else had claimed the word—apparently not.
Sadly, nobody could find John Wimber to pray for me, so I saw a curate, and the next day a bishop. I wasn’t healed and I had the operation, but I had much to think about. It appears not only that God can still speak to us today, but He is willing to do so.
I came home from Sheffield on Wednesday and had one day to prepare for a celebration meeting in our church, at which our bishop was preaching. Should I or shouldn’t I—have a go, that is? I decided if God gave me a word, I would give it. During the meeting I got a twinge in my left thumb and thought it might be from God. The speakers at Sheffield
had told us that pain in our bodies can sometimes be a word from the Spirit of God for
somebody He wants to heal, so I tried it.
“Is there anyone here who has something wrong with their left thumb?” I asked hopefully, after the bishop had spoken.
Now you would have thought that in a group of 150 people there would be somebody with something wrong with a left thumb, but apparently not. The bishop looked at me—should he close with the blessing? I nodded, and he dismissed the crowd.
As people began filing out, a young man made his way forward to see me. “I cut
my left thumb opening a tin,” he said apologetically, “but I didn’t like to mention it in front of all those people.”
Go away, I thought, it’s no good now. Inwardly I was screaming, Come back, everyone, the thumb’s here! But it was too late. I thanked him for coming forward, prayed for him, and then crawled home, mumbling as I went.
Greg, a man from our church, rang to encourage me the next day, which was totally unexpected and very welcome, as I thought I might need to start looking for a new job. Thus reaffirmed, and having thought things through a little, I tried again, this time with our young people on Sunday night.
Roger Jones, our director of music, had come to talk to the youth, and after he’d finished we waited upon God. Immediately thoughts flashed into my mind: Toe, back, eye. This was crazy stuff. It was a young people’s meeting and there were only nine or ten present. If I’d received such words at our over-sixties group, I’d have felt more confident. At this point Roger began to cough painfully, and I knew he often suffered from a sore throat, so I said to God, “What about this man, Lord?” The answer came back, “Not on the agenda.” So I gave it a try: “Anyone here with a pain in the toe, back, or eye?” I asked, feeling very unsure of myself. Three teenage lads claimed one each and we divided up to pray for them.
The one with the pain in the back said he’d only begun to feel pain when he sat on
the chair in the room. We were very slow to realize that these three were our most skeptical members; two of them claimed to be unbelievers. With hindsight and more experience, I now believe the Holy Spirit gave those three words about very small complaints to show three people, who in varying degrees were struggling with unbelief, how much He loved them. Clearly, if I’d had a word about “two unbelievers and a skeptic,” everyone would have said I knew that anyway. No one knew of the physical complaints mentioned, especially as one had only cropped up at the time. Had we not been so dimwitted we might have used the Spirit’s words more lovingly and profitably.
Nevertheless, I was encouraged. We carried on with the ministry on Sunday
evenings and in our small midweek meetings, and learned not to “despise the day of small things” (Zech. 4:10). I enthused about the conference and shared with my friends whenever the Spirit came and did something significant among us. Occasionally people received a picture or a sense of peace, but most commonly we received “word[s] of knowledge” (1 Cor. 12:8 NKJV).
I shared a few of these things with an acquaintance from another church and then half-jokingly said, “Get me an invitation to one of your services and I’ll come and do a Wimber on your congregation.” This was a very silly thing to say. She took me seriously and a letter arrived from her vicar inviting me to speak and minister at a Thursday night celebration in January. I was too embarrassed to refuse.
I meditated upon the problem and then ransacked my library in search of
confidence-boosting fodder. I was looking for something on words from God. I needed some quotations to add authenticity to my message, and eventually my eyes rested on a book by Stuart Blanch, a former archbishop of York. Like several of the books in my study, it was unread, but I thought a casual aside from an archbishop would sound impressive. I read the first eleven pages, usually enough to find a decent quote, but then found myself putting the book down in total amazement. One sentence stopped me in
my tracks: “The Bible.… rests on the assumption that God speaks.”1 With all the “words
of knowledge” we had been getting, this spoke volumes to me.
It was what my friend Bishop John Finney would describe as a “blob” experience—a moment of insight, a sudden encounter with truth. In the past few months I had been thrilled to hear the Spirit speaking to me and had paraded my stories in the pulpit like a centenarian with a telegram from the Queen. Most of us think God may, from time to time, beam in with a special word on special occasions for special people. I had likewise exhibited my words from the Holy Spirit as trophies or rewards for good conduct, as evidence of my high spiritual standing, but suddenly that lie was exposed. God is a God who speaks! Just as I am a man who eats, God is a God who speaks. On Sundays nobody asks me if I’ve eaten anything in the past week; everyone assumes I have. I am a man who eats; it is part of my very nature as a man and something I do without thinking. God is a God who speaks; the Bible declares it from beginning to end.
As the penny dropped I recognized in myself a wrong-thinking about God. People are inconsistent. Even the mature saint fails to do good all the time. We cannot always discern accurately who a person is from what a person does. If a Christian preacher confesses to spending a night with a prostitute, as some have done, we cannot easily tell if it is the confession of a “con man” who has been found out or a sinner who is repentant. There are two kingdoms at war within us, and at different moments either might be seen to have the upper hand.
But God is not like that. His nature is perfect, incorruptible, and totally consistent. He always reveals His true character in everything He does. We may not interpret all He does correctly, because we see through a glass darkly due to our sinful natures, but when so many believers over so many centuries have encountered the God who speaks by His Spirit, it seems right to conclude this is part of who He is. The Bible rests on the assumption that God is a God who speaks.
My whole being thrilled to this new concept, but with the excitement came a
twinge of fear. If this is true, I thought, then I can expect the Spirit of God to speak to
me regularly. And if I preach it as true, the congregation will expect the Spirit to speak to them. This was a moment of truth for me! I began to realize why some of my
ancestors had denied the present-day existence of spiritual gifts and settled for a more comfortable way of life. It is always much easier to claim that God has spoken and God will speak than that God speaks. All my past hurts, fears, rejections, and psychological hang-ups surfaced at once, as my yearning for security sought to bury this simple, luminous truth in the ground, like the man in the Bible did with his one talent (Matt.
25:14–30). As a vicar, I had always sought to hide my insecure emotions by commenting
on life rather than risk taking part in it, and yet I couldn’t bear the thought of spending the rest of my days running away from truth in search of a quiet life.
I decided to think through this new concept and prepare my sermon for the
evening service at my friend’s church accordingly. If, after investigating, I still thought God is a God who speaks, I would expect Him to validate His word. I asked myself three important questions:
1. Does the Bible rest on the assumption that God speaks?
2. Does God speak by His Holy Spirit today?
3. In what way does the Holy Spirit speak today?
Does the Bible Assume God Speaks?
The Bible opens with these words: “In the beginning God created.” The way He created was by speaking: “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen. 1:3). As the psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1).
As soon as mankind appears, God speaks to them. He speaks to Adam and Eve and to their family; He speaks to Noah, Abraham, and the patriarchs. From Moses to Malachi, the prophets thunder, “Thus says the Lord.”
He speaks to the world through Jesus, the Word of God. The writer to the Hebrews says, “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb. 1:1–2 RSV). On the day of Pentecost the Spirit of God was poured out for all believers: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39), and it is through the Spirit’s gift of tongues (languages)—God speaking—that the world is alerted to this truth.
Paul assures us that God, the God who loves to speak, is now dwelling in every
believer by His Spirit. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Rom. 8:9). “We were all baptized by one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13); “You are the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27). The gifts of the Spirit that Paul talks about are nearly all gifts that enable us to hear God speaking or discern what He is doing. And the final book of the Bible continues on the same theme: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 2:7).
This revelation about God is present from beginning to end of the Bible—and it is present as a powerful truth. If we compare the statement “God speaks” with other biblical statements like “God heals” or “God loves” or “God forgives,” we can appreciate its strength. Anyone who says “God heals” has to have something to say about the plagues He sent upon Egypt (Ex. 9:8–11; 12:29), the leprosy He gave to Gehazi (2 Kings
5:27), and the blindness He gave to Elymas (Acts 13:9–12). Even in Revelation, John
tells us that at the end of history God will not heal everyone (Rev. 20:11–15).
Anyone who says, “God forgives” has to have something to say about “God judges,” and those who claim “God loves sinners” can never forget that “God hates sin.” It is far easier to claim that God “speaks” than that God heals, forgives, or loves. Whether He is saving Daniel (Dan. 6:22), killing Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5, 10), forgiving a woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:11b), urging the stoning of a man to death for collecting sticks on the Sabbath (Num. 15:32–36), whipping the money-changers with cords (John 2:15), or accepting lashes Himself (Mark 15:15), God is speaking. Even when He is silent He communicates: “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites” (Judg. 6:1). Verses 7 and 8 continue, “When the Israelites cried to the LORD because of Midian, he sent them a prophet.”
There are times in Scripture and in the history of the church when the word of the Lord has been rare (e.g. 1 Sam. 3:1), but it seems to have been the result of people’s sin rather than God’s unwillingness to speak (1 Sam. 2:12–36). In Genesis 1–2 Adam and Eve had fellowship with God, but after they sinned in chapter 3, they hid from Him. It appears that sin causes us to turn our backs on God, while the saving activity of God enables us to turn round, face Him, and call Him Father. God has recalled us into fellowship through His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:9); Paul prays for the “fellowship of
the Holy Spirit” to be with the Corinthians (2 Cor. 13:14); and John says, “Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). God’s desire is to have fellowship with His children, and salvation through Jesus restores us into that fellowship. A God who creates us for fellowship—and calls us back into fellowship through repentance and faith—is a God who loves to communicate with His children.
Jeremiah 10:10 says, “But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God,” and
Paul teaches about God’s spiritual gifts that enable us to discern His activity and hear
The God of Isaiah (Isa. 37:17), Jeremiah (Jer. 23:36), Daniel (Dan. 6:26), Hosea (Hos. 1:10), Jesus (John 6:57), Peter (Matt. 16:16), Paul (Acts 14:15), the writer to the Hebrews (Heb. 12:22), and John (Rev. 7:2) is a “living God.” He is not a dumb idol but a God who speaks.
If we accept the biblical revelation, it seems we are on firm ground when we claim
that the living God, who lives in all believers by His Holy Spirit, is a God who speaks.
Does God Speak Today?
In a world of changing pressures and insecurities, the Bible has always been very precious to me. Ever since my conversion at fourteen, the foundation of my Christian faith has been the Scriptures, and I firmly believe the Spirit speaks to us today through them. Every day I try to spend time reading from the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me through God’s Word.
Most Christians accept that God communicates through the Bible, but some go on to say that today God speaks to us only through the Bible. It is this “only” that concerns me. I was brought up to believe in a God who has spoken and will one day speak again, but for the present speaks only through His written Word—lest we should be tossed about by every whim and fancy. I believe the main way God speaks to us today
is through the Bible, but I do not believe it is the only way God speaks. I spent some time
thinking about this and found three reasons why I could no longer accept that the Spirit speaks today only through Scripture.
We present an enormous credibility gap to our secular age if we preach a different God from the one found in the Bible. It is very difficult to convince the world of a God who spoke directly to Moses and Elijah and Peter and Paul, but will not speak directly to us today. If people learn of a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, who speaks directly to people for several thousand years, but then stops because He’s got a book out, it is not surprising if they turn away. The unbeliever is often very quick to see through logical inconsistency. If a book cannot be validated by experience it is normally classified as “fiction.” If the Bible rests on the assumption that God speaks, it seems logical to believe He still speaks today, unless the Bible has told us otherwise.
Historical and contemporary experiences support the view that God did not stop speaking upon the completion of the New Testament. George Fox, founder of the Quakers; Evan Roberts, whom God used in the Welsh Revival of 1904; Smith Wigglesworth, who brought Pentecostal revival to many; and Paul Yonggi Cho, pastor of the world’s largest church, in Korea, are just four of the many people who have claimed the Spirit of God spoke to them with signs following. The faith of all of these men was rooted in the Bible; Smith Wigglesworth would read no other book. All four were Bible- based believers, teachers, and preachers, but none were “Bible-only” advocates. Their experiences validated the Bible, and the Bible validated their experiences. They all encountered the Spirit who speaks in the Bible and in their own Christian lives.
Biblical Christianity is about being sons and daughters of the King, being the bride of Christ, having communion with God, knowing God, and being known by Him. Through the Spirit we may know God (Heb. 8:11), know His voice (John 10:4), know the truth (John 16:3), and know the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). I was unable to find anything in the New Testament to suggest the promises God made to the disciples and the early church are not meant for us as well. After the Spirit speaks on the day of Pentecost, Peter promises that the gift of the Holy Spirit is “for all” (Acts 2:39). When we see God face-to-face, then the spiritual gifts will cease, but the New Testament gives no indication of this occurring before then (1 Cor. 13:9–10).
The canon of Scripture is closed. This means the promises and teachings of the
New Testament must apply to us today, otherwise we would need a third set of canonical writings to explain the new rules. The people in the Old Testament lived under the old covenant. The people of the New Testament lived under the new covenant. As there has not been a third covenant between God and His people, it is right to assume we also live under the new covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. This must surely mean the promises and teachings of the new covenant apply to all Christians today.
To say the New Testament teachings no longer apply to us is to add a new interpretation of Scripture, invariably based on experience—or lack of it—rather than what the Bible teaches. “I have not heard the Spirit speak,” so God does not speak. “I have not healed the sick,” so God no longer heals the sick. “I do not speak in tongues,” so the gift has died out. At the conference in Sheffield John Wimber exposed the woolliness of this thinking when he said, “We do not seek to bring Scripture down to our
experience, but rather we seek to bring our experience up to Scripture.”
This is what the Bible encourages us to do. It teaches us that anyone who has
faith in Jesus will do what He did (John 14:12); the Holy Spirit is promised to “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord.… for you and your children and for all who are far off” (Acts 2:21, 39); all under the new covenant will know God “from the least of them to the greatest” (Heb. 8:11) and receive His words in their mouths:
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 59:21)
I believe in the Bible. I believe God speaks to us today through the Scriptures. I
believe God also speaks to us today by His Holy Spirit.
In What Way Does the Spirit Speak Today?
After deciding I believe in a God who speaks today, I began to feel the ground shaking a little beneath my feet. If God speaks today by His Spirit, does this undermine the authority of Scripture? What is the relationship between the written Word of God and the living word of God? Does a word from the Lord today equal the importance of the Bible? I recognized some of the dangers immediately.
In the last book of the Bible we read these words:
I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Rev. 22:18–19)
We should be very cautious about anyone who claims to have subsequent revelations from the Holy Spirit that either add to or take away from Scripture. Muhammad and Joseph Smith claimed subsequent revelations from God that produced the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon, respectively, and the list of today’s self-styled cultic prophets who seek to lead people away from God’s truth is endless.
Heeding the New Testament’s warning against adding to or taking away from its
message, I turned to that message again in an attempt to understand the relationship between the Word of God and a word from God.
The holy Scriptures … are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:15–17)
One of the reasons the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of Scripture was for the purposes of doctrine and teaching, especially the way of salvation through faith in Jesus. This is the Word of God. It is God-breathed and therefore carries the authority of God Himself (cf. 2 Pet. 1:20–21; 1 Cor. 2:13). But there is another reason for treating the
Bible as authoritative:
We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.… We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Pet. 1:16, 18)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. (1 John 1:1)
The second letter of Peter and the first letter of John appeared at a time when false teachers and prophets were becoming active (2 Pet. 2; 1 John 4:1). It was no longer sufficient for the disciples to say their writings had the authority of the Holy Spirit, because many other heretical teachers were claiming the same thing. The unique authority of the New Testament writers came from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and their credibility as eyewitnesses to the earthly Jesus. They could match up the words of the Spirit with those of the earthly Lord Jesus whom they had known and loved. Until the second coming of Jesus, this authority will remain unique.
The canon of Scripture is closed because it carries the unique authority of Jesus Himself. The Old Testament anticipates and prepares for His coming, the Gospels describe His coming, and the Epistles testify to the effect of His coming. The Gospels and Epistles have authority because they came from those in touch with the early disciples who knew the earthly Jesus.
In Acts 1 Peter outlines the necessary requirements for election as an apostle:
It is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection. (Acts 1:21–22)
An apostle therefore had to be an eyewitness of the life and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. They were the special people whose role was to teach (Acts 2:42; 4:2) and to be guardians of the faith (e.g. Acts 15:2). There are obviously no such eyewitnesses alive today and the canon of Scripture is closed.
Paul’s writings were accepted into the New Testament because others who knew
Jesus gave them authority. Although we believe that Paul did not know the earthly Jesus, Peter authenticates Paul’s letters as Scripture.
Our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures. (2 Pet. 3:15, 16)
If for no other reason, then, Paul’s letters stand as the Word of God because those who knew the earthly Jesus, such as Peter, validated them. He described them as “Scriptures.”
This means the Word of God has the authority of the earthly Jesus, plus that of the Holy Spirit who inspired their writing. The same Holy Spirit is present among us today, as He was in the early church, but the earthly Jesus and witnesses of His earthly life are no longer present to check things out. Jesus is here by His Spirit, but not in the flesh; we cannot see Him face-to-face, so we cannot test words from God except by Scripture. Thus a word from God today must not contain any new teaching; neither must it add to or take away from the doctrines of the Bible. It seems right to say that a present-day word from God may therefore illustrate Scripture, help to apply Scripture, authenticate Scripture, and enable Christians to fulfill the commands of Scripture, but must always be tested by Scripture. This enables us to understand the different purposes behind the Word of God and a word from God.
In Romans 10:9 Paul writes, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is doctrine and teaches us the way of salvation. Such teaching is one of the main purposes of the Word of God.
In Acts 8:29 we read, “The Spirit told Philip, ‘Go to that chariot and stay near
it.’” Although it is part of the Word of God and teaches us the value of letting the Holy Spirit direct evangelism, this also provides an illustration of a word from God. It is a piece of local and particular guidance given to Philip by the Holy Spirit for one man in one place at one time. It is a word from God that enables Philip to fulfill the Word of God, going to that chariot, witnessing to that Ethiopian, and leading him to faith in Christ.
Through the Bible God speaks about the way to be saved and to live as
Christians, and through His Spirit God applies that truth to the right person in the right place at the right time. We could say a word from God released by the Holy Spirit supports the Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit, helping Christians to live out its principles.
The example of a word from the Spirit that I witnessed in Sheffield illustrates
this. The Bible tells us to proclaim the kingdom, heal the sick, and cast out demons. The Spirit’s word about Linda helped John Wimber do those very things, in the name of Jesus, on the first night of the conference. The Bible gives doctrinal truth and general guidelines, whereas God sends a specific word by His Holy Spirit to give particular guidance. We should therefore keep, study, and regularly teach from the Bible, but discard words from God once we’ve acted upon their messages. The Bible teaches us doctrine and basic truths, and the Spirit speaks today to help us put those biblical truths into practice. Anything that contradicts Scripture or takes away from it is to be rejected at once as not of God, but a current word or nudge from God by His Spirit can help us apply the teaching of the Bible to our daily lives. A word from God can be expected to support the Word of God.
My thinking and sermon preparations were now complete. Biblically, logically,
theologically, and, in a limited way, experientially, I knew God to be a God who speaks. I knew that God wanted me to proclaim this truth when I went to my friend’s church in January.