Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Led by the Spirit (1)

I have been doing some further study, part of which will involve a dissertation on the topic of guidance.  As a result I have tried to read a number of books on this subject.   One book that I would highly recommend if Led by the Spirit by Jim Elliff.  I thought I would write a brief overview of its teaching.

Elliff begins by admitting how he used to seek to be guided.  He would sit in trance-like stillness with the Bible on his lap waiting for a some verse or passage to jump out at him.  'I was not overly concerned with about the context or even the content of what I was reading, for my purpose was not to know the Bible's words but to be directed by hearing God speak through them.'  Since then he has come to a new position on guidance by the Spirit that he believers is closer to the Biblical norm.

Elliff draws our attention to Romans 8:14, ... those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God.  He points out that this leading is true for all genuine believers, for both those whose experience with direct spiritual impressions is legion and for those who have gotten none.   Moo explains that to be “led by the Spirit” probably means not to be guided by the Spirit, but as in Gal. 5:18, to have the direction of one’s life as a while determined by the Spirit.  However Moo does suggest that included in 'being led' may be an 'inner compulsion' and the involvement of the emotions, 'but the context and the parallel in Gal. 5:18 make it unlikely that the idea is specifically "ecstatic" or "charismatic."'

Elliff points to Philippians 2:13, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  'The Word of God teaches that the Spirit does this work of sanctification ... not by direct inner impressions or "voices," but by working within the mind and affections of the person.' 

Commenting on John 10:27, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me, Elliff again highlights that what is being spoken of here is the experience of all Christians.  This is 'a metaphor of the assumed communion between the believer and Christ that leads the believer into a lifestyle of obedience ... he is speaking of the normal experience of all sheep who have genuine fellowship with him.' 'If we say, therefore, that every real Christian is led by God in this way ... we are certainly not requiring anything mystical in that leadership at all.'

'Genuine believers who do not have a long list of mystical experiences of guidance to report can thus take heart.  You have not been forgotten by God nor are you second-class Christians in any respect, you are among those who are authentic followers of the Lord Jesus.  You are being led by the Spirit.'

I realise that this blog is getting too long so I am going to continue this review in a further blog that I will post tomorrow.

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