While on vacation, on my way to and from a fishing trip, I listened to a sermon by Martin Ban out of Christ Church Santa Fe, NM . He unashamedly proclaimed that God’s people, were indeed God’s first letters of the New Testament. His text came from Acts 2, the story of Pentecost, but he also referenced Paul’s 2nd letter to Corinth to borrow some of the same terminology.
“2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” -II Cor 3:2-3
Paul describes the believers at Corinth as God’s letters. But of course the only reason this can happen is if God puts His Spirit inside of them-and that of course made possible by Pentecost, hence the connection. If that is true, then we can be confident we can hear God speak to us through other believers. While this sounds a bit on the charismatic side of things, we probably shouldn’t be uncomfortable with this type of thinking.
God does speak to us through other people. Ban challenged us to think through the great number of times when we learned something not simply from reading the bible, but by hearing instruction from another Christian. Now of course when people say things that aren’t consistent with the scriptures, we know their words clearly aren’t from God. But sometimes such words can actually clarify, and help us apply God’s words.
Let me give you a recent example.
I have been pondering the words in the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians during my devotion time. They have been helpful in thinking through evangelism, and the suffering it may take to minister the word or even to receive the word. I was further reminded of the incarnational component to ministry and evangelism where Paul and his team loved, labored, and lived among the people. Great stuff, but theoretical until applied.
Last night one of my neighbors came by at the usual undesired time at 7 pm (right when the boys were getting ready for bed). He rang the door bell to drop off some popsicles: the kind that you buy by the 100’s. But there were only 4 of them. Connar was hoping for more.
I told Amy, “Why would someone want to bring by 4 popsicles? And during the kids bed time? How dare he?”
Amy responded, “Geoff, because he just wants to spend time with us.”
I responded, “Oh….”
God spoke to me through Amy. God was telling me about incarnational living, and loving, and spending time-when it wasn’t necessarily convenient. He spoke to me that I needed TO do it in my time in the Word. But he spoke to me WHO I needed to apply this passage to THROUGH Amy. For some reason it just didn’t click until God spoke through her.
Don’t ignore God’s written Word. But don’t forget that we ourselves are His letters which need to be read by His people in relationships. If you do ignore God speaking to you THROUGH others, you’ll miss out on following and experiencing the Living Word made flesh: Jesus.