We Just Need to Be Listening
“The men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.”—Acts 15:30-35 One of the greatest challenges believers face is how to determine the will of God.
How do we know what God is saying? How does He communicate?
We know He speaks through His Word, but He also communicates through people.
In the book of Acts (chapter 15) we find the church in the middle of a huge argument over circumcision, and the bigger issue, law versus liberty.How did they handle dissension and dispute?
First, they “came together to consider this matter” (15:6). Then they gave everyone a chance to express their opinions.
Peter reported how the Holy Spirit was saving the Gentiles by faith alone. Paul and Barnabas confirmed this. James summed everything up so rationally and with such great wisdom and insight, that “it pleased all the apostles and elders, with the whole church.” They wrote a letter with their conclusions and sent it off to the believers who needed some answers.
Such a huge issue needed prayer, discernment, wisdom, and discussion. Determining the will of God and setting a satisfying policy could prevent division in the church.
But God did not write the answer in the sky or even speak to them through a vision or signs and wonders.
He used people! People who were willing to speak honestly, listen, be open to the Spirit, and come to an agreement. It required a certain amount of compromise —not in God’s principles, but in giving up stubborn views that were rooted more in tradition and culture than the Lord. The legalistic Jews finally agreed that circumcision was not a requirement for salvation, and the Gentiles accepted some dietary changes. Unity in the church was preserved.
You never know how God will use people to speak to you. We expect it from pastors and preachers, prophets, and apostles. But everyday, God puts people in our paths who in some way might remind us of His love, confront us with the truth, stretch our preconceived ideas, or nudge us to do His will.
We just need to be listening.