Joseph Herrin (08-06-2012)
The hearing ear and the seeing eye, Yahweh has made them both.
Spiritual hearing is absolutely essential to those who are disciples of Christ. It is impossible to walk as a disciple apart from being led of God’s voice. This testimony is seen profusely throughout the New Testament.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…”
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
It is significant to note that Paul did not adjure the saints to “walk by the Bible,” nor to “walk according to Torah.” The most basic premise upon which all Christian life is based is that the saints are indwelt, empowered, and guided by the Spirit of Christ within them.
For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
From the very beginning of Yahweh calling me into ministry He has stressed this fact. The only life that is pleasing to Him is a life yielded, submitted, directed, and empowered by His Spirit. This is a pattern we see in all who are pleasing to the Father. Yahshua could not begin His ministry until the Holy Spirit came upon Him at His baptism and remained upon Him. From that moment forward Christ was guided by the Spirit in all He said and did.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing…”
As we examine the lives of each of the apostles we find that they embarked upon their ministries in the very same way. They received command from Christ to go and make disciples. However, this work could only begin AFTER Pentecost when the Spirit came upon them.
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
The Promise spoken of by Christ and His Father was none other than the Holy Spirit who was to indwell mankind. Prior to Pentecost the Spirit had been WITH many men, including the prophets of old, yet He had not yet been given to indwell mankind. Christ was the first to receive the indwelling Spirit. Afterwards, those who were born of the Spirit of Christ became temples of the Holy Spirit as well.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
These words of Christ were spoken prior to Pentecost. The Spirit was abiding with the disciples. By the power of the Spirit abiding WITH them, Christ had sent out the twelve and the seventy and they were able to cast out demons, heal the sick and perform miracles. Yet they were to experience something far better. The Spirit would indwell them. From their innermost beings would spring up rivers of living water. The very thoughts of God would be revealed in them as they took on substance and became spiritual words communicated to them by the Holy Spirit. Christ’s sheep would hear His voice, a voice no longer external to them, but a voice that arose from their innermost being.
Christ and the original twelve apostles were all sent forth in the same way. The Father commissioned them, but they could not begin their ministry until the Spirit came upon them. Later we find that the apostle Paul was also chosen by God to fulfill an apostolic ministry. This same pattern was revealed in His life. All ministry must be initiated by the Spirit and performed in the power of the Spirit.
Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
People of God, how different is this experience from that of most ministers today? The majority of men (and women) who enter into ministry pursue it as if it were a career to be chosen at the whim of their own soul. This is presumption, and God will not honor it. One of the prerequisites for ministry is an end of personal initiative. Christ did not come to earth of His own will. The Father initiated His being sent forth.
Yahshua said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
The twelve apostles did not proceed forth on their own initiative. They were sent by Christ. Paul and Barnabas did not choose to enter into ministry of their own initiative. They too went forth only as the Spirit commanded them to do so.
Many today have adopted the Bible as a substitute for the Spirit. The Bible did not send Christ forth. It was not the Torah that initiated the ministry of the original twelve apostles. It was not the Scriptures that sent forth Paul and Barnabas. In every instance it was the Spirit of God who was the initiator. Each one heard the voice of God and obeyed the heavenly command.
Lest one argue that this is a pattern for apostles or ministers only, I urge you to go back and read the Scriptures already cited in these posts. Christ and the apostles were speaking to all who would be disciples. “All those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.” The life of a disciple of Christ is a life lived in the Spirit, guided by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit.
The second book the Spirit of Christ directed me to write, and one that I consider the most foundational, is titled Sabbath. This book, written over a decade ago, reveals the spiritual substance of all of the types and shadows of Sabbath rest in the Old Testament. Paul summed up the substance of Sabbath rest for the Christian when he wrote the following words:
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
On the Sabbath Yahweh ceased working, for all of His works were complete. We are also called to cease from OUR WORKS. We are to do nothing of our own initiative. The Christian is called to cease being led by their own soul and enter into a Spirit directed life. ONLY then can they cease from striving and enter into rest.
This is such a critical matter that Paul said, “Let us FEAR lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1). One unavoidable truth becomes evident when the Christian discerns the call to cease their own works. They MUST be able to hear God’s voice, and they MUST be able to discern the difference from the counsel that arises from their own soul and that which arises from the Spirit of Christ within them.
Understanding the vital need to divide between soul and spirit in order to enter into the substance of Sabbath rest, the apostle Paul concluded his treatise on this subject with the following words.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Are you able to discern where your thoughts arise from? Is it your own soul, or the Spirit of Christ that is leading you to pursue a particular career? Is it your soul, or the Spirit that initiated the decision to purchase the home you live in, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the food you eat? Was it your soul, or the Spirit of Christ that led you to marry the man or woman who is your spouse, to engage in the hobbies or leisure activities that fill your life?
As we go through our lives there are a million decisions we have to make. We will either yield to the will and desire of our own soul, or the will of the Spirit of Christ in all that we say and do. To be led of the soul is the broad path that ends in destruction. “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof is death.” To be led of the Spirit is the narrow and afflicted path, “and few there be that find it.”
I ask you, “How can you know the path of life apart from hearing God’s voice? How can you discover the specific walk Yahweh has determined for you unless you are hearing from His Spirit?”
Now we begin to see why so many Christians are dull of hearing. To hear God’s voice is to know His will. When Yahweh’s will is known the saint must decide to obey, or disobey. The will of God will ALWAYS lead the disciple of Christ to an afflicted path. To hear God’s voice is to be led into suffering. Christ gave, and continues to give, only one invitation. “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me.”
If you are led by the voice of God, you may hear Christ speak to you as He did to the young man who had much property.
“One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
Have you counted the cost of discipleship and accepted it? Are you willing to give up home, and lands, and possessions, your job, and even your family in order to follow Christ and do His will? Yahshua said the cost is exceedingly high for all who would walk as He walked, becoming His disciples.
“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his possessions.”
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
The apostles continued to speak forth this same message.
I Peter 2:21
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…
If you and I are to follow “in His steps” we must yield our lives wholly to be guided by the Father into those experiences He has chosen for us. I speak from experience when I say that it is a fearful thing to yield one’s life to the Father. If we say “Father, I will go wherever You direct me, and do whatever You ask me to do,” then the Father may literally ask us to go anywhere and do anything. There are many things our souls do not wish to do. There are many experiences from which our flesh recoils.
For many years I hesitated to embrace the cost of discipleship. I crept up to Christ cautiously. I would ask Him to guide me in decisions that I carefully framed so that nothing too painful or unpleasant would be required of me. My own soul set the criteria. My mind determined how much would be offered to God, and what would be held back. Never did I give the Spirit carte blanche by surrendering myself wholly to the Father’s guidance. Not surprisingly, I did not hear God’s voice very much in those days. Neither will your spiritual sense of hearing function properly as long as you have come short of a complete surrender of your life to Christ.
It is one thing to ask Christ whether you should own a particular house, or rent; whether you should attend a specific university, or work at a trade. It is something altogether different to say, “My life is not my own. You have bought me with a great price. What do you want me to do? Where do you want me to live?”
If you are not willing to hear anything and everything God would speak to you, you will cause yourself to be spiritually deaf to His voice. We will refuse to have those conversations with God that He desires to have.
Most people who are reading my blog have been raised in spiritual Babylon. Yahweh knows that the churches and her ministers in this hour have led His sheep astray. He is patient and merciful, yet He will not diminish the cost of being a disciple of His Son. There is a cross for you and I to bear. Christ said “no man can be My disciple unless he hates… even his own life.” God will lead us where we would not choose to go ourselves. He will direct us to speak and to act in ways that our soul would not choose.
I believe the chief cause of spiritual deafness among saints is that they have not begun their Christian life by counting the cost of fully yielding their lives to Christ. Failing to begin at this point, the saints have never made the commitment to lay down their lives and take up whatever life Christ would choose for them. It logically follows that those who have not surrendered to follow Christ down an afflicted path will not hear His voice when He would speak to them of that path appointed for them for their perfecting as sons and daughters.
If you would have your spiritual hearing fully opened, you must be willing to hear anything and everything Christ would speak to you. Are you willing? I challenge you to test this matter. Examine your heart. Ask God to reveal if you are holding back in any area.
I know the response my words will be met with, for I know my own shrinking heart. Fear will raise its terrible head, and the passions and desires of the flesh will also make their objections known. Let me comfort you with this truth. Having surrendered to follow Christ wherever He would lead me back in 1999 I have since found that He is very tender and compassionate toward our weaknesses. He will surely make us face the giants that we dread, but He will lead us with wisdom and grace. He will take us through the smaller skirmishes before He leads us to engage in greater combat. He will equip us and fit us for the things He wishes us to do. He will never leave you or I to our own strength, wisdom, or devices. He fully intends to supply everything you will need to walk that path He has appointed to you.
Satan would make the surrender of your life to Christ to appear more dreadful than it actually is. Remember, you are surrendering your life to One who loves you with a perfect love. Yahshua will never choose any course for you that will lead to eternal harm or loss. All is chosen and appointed for the welfare of the sons of God. He has also promised to never leave us or forsake us. I can attest to this truth. In all the afflictions I have passed through, Yahshua has walked through every one of them with me. I have known His precious fellowship in the midst of my suffering.
Let me end this post with a parable. How well would your natural hearing be if you had a fold of flesh that had grown over your ears completely covering them? Everything would be muffled and muted. In the same way, it is the flesh that stands in the way of the Christian’s spiritual hearing. We must settle the matter by committing to the crucifixion of our flesh if we are to have our ears opened. As long as there are things that our flesh is preventing us from receiving from the Father, we will remain diminished in our capacity to hear His voice. Make up your mind that you will accept all that the Father may speak to you, choosing to obey before He even discloses what His will is, and you will find that your ears will be opened.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.