The Role of the Spirit

“Wait a second. What about the Holy Spirit? Aren’t you leaving Him out of this whole discussion?” The challenge came, not once but twice, from friends who read last week’s column where I emphatically argued that God’s call is not a feeling. And if two people said it, I’m sure probably more people thought it.

It’s a great question, and it’s exactly the one I was hoping you would ask. If God’s call is not a feeling, then how exactly does the Spirit come into play, leading us and guiding us and conveying to us God’s calling on our life?

First and most important, the Spirit leads through the word of God. His voice is a mediated voice; it’s not an unmediated impression, a spontaneous urge, or a random impulse. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the medium of the Bible. Else how can we distinguish between our own desires, temptations from the devil, and the “feeling” of God’s Spirit leading us? The command of Ephesians 5:18 to “be filled with the Spirit” finds its parallel in Colossians 3:16, which says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” The Spirit filling is synonymous with the word dwelling.

People sometimes object at this point that many individuals in the Bible received specific direction from God apart from the conveyance of the Bible. He spoke directly to them. To which I respond: “Exactly. He spoke to them, either through a dream, an audible voice, an angelic messenger, etc. He didn’t lead them with mere feelings. Whatever the means, He conveyed specific propositions to them in unambiguous ways.” Today, we have a whole repository of specific propositions from God: His word, the Bible. When it speaks, He speaks.

Second, the Spirit magnifies Christ. When your intake of the Bible produces in you a desire to sing Jesus’ praise, to spread His fame to your coworkers and neighbors, to repent of sin and live worthy of your Savior, or to forsake something for the advancement of Jesus’ kingdom, you can rest assured that you are hearing the call of the Spirit.

And finally (for this column), the Spirit disrupts our comfort. If you’re hearing a summons to risk, if you’re being stretched, or if you’re moving outside your comfort zone, there’s a good chance God’s Spirit is at work. His call always beckons us to humble ourselves, give up control, and let Him take over.