Guidance (Spiritual Disciplines Study)

Corporate Disciplines

Guidance

  • George Fox
    • Dwell in the live and love and power and wisdom of God, in unity one with another and with God; and the peace and wisdom of God fill your hearts, that nothing may rule in you but the life, which stands in the Lord God.
  • In our day heave and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emergence of a Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people. All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up of a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God. It has happened before. It can happen again.
  • Much of the teaching on divine guidance in our century has been noticeably deficient on how God leads us through Scripture and through reason and through circumstances and through the promptings of the Spirit upon the individual heart. There has also been teaching—good teaching—on the exceptional means of guidance: angels, visions, dreams, signs, ad more. But we have heard little about hour God leads through his people, the body of Christ. 
  • Perhaps the preoccupation with private guidance in Western cultures is the product of their emphasis upon individualism. The people of God have to always been so.
  • The people of the Church in Acts were gathered who lived under the immediate, theocratic rule of the Spirit. With quiet persistence Jesus showed them what it meat to live I response to the voice of the Father. He taught them that they, too, could hear the heave sent voice and most clearly when together.
    • Matthew 18:19-20
      • 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.”
    • In those words Jesus gave his disciples both assurance and authority. There was the assurance that when a people genuinely gathered in his name his will could be discerned.
    • The superintending Spirit would utilize the checks and balances of the different believers to ensure that when their hearts were in unity they were in rhythm with the heartbeat of the Father.
    • Assured that they had heard the voice of the true Shepherd, they were able to pray and act with authority. His will plus their unity  equaled authority.
    • Acts 4:32-33
      • 32 Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. 33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them.
    • Acts 13:1-3
      • Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, a close friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after they had fasted, prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them off.
      • It was beautifully illustrated in the calling forth of Paul and Barnabas to take the good news of the Gospel throughout the Roman Empire
  • With all our modern methods of missionary recruitment we could profit by giving serious attention to this example of corporate guidance. We would be well advised to encourage groups of people to fast, pray, and worship together until they have discerned the mind of our Lord.
  • Acts 15
    • Great example of corporate guidance.
    • 6 The apostles and the elders gathered to consider this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he also did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way they are.” 12 The whole assembly became silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describe all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they stopped speaking, James responded, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for his name. 15 And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written: 16  After these things I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. I will rebuild its ruins and set it up again, 17 so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord—even all the Gentiles who are called by my name—declares the Lord who makes these things 18 known from long ago. 19 Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those among the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For since ancient times, Moses has had those who proclaim him in every city, and every Sabbath day he is read aloud in the synagogues.”
  • It was more than a victory regarding an issue; it was a victory to the method used in resolving all issues. 
  • They had dared to live on the basis of Spirit-rule; not fifty-one percent vote, no compromises, but Spirit-directed unity. And it worked.
  • The Spiritual Director
    • In the Middle Ages not even the greatest saints attempted the depths of the inward journey without the help of a spiritual director.
    • What is the purpose of a spiritual director?
      • Dom Augustine Baker
        • In a word, he is only God’s usher, and must lead souls in God’s way, and not his own.
      • He is the means of God to open the path to the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit.
      • The relationship is of an adviser to a friend.
      • Spiritual direction is concerned with the whole person and the interrelationship of all of life
      • Spiritual direction takes up the concrete daily experiences of our lives and gives them sacramental significance.
      • The ordinary kinds of caring and sharing that belong to the Christian community are the starting point for spiritual direction. Out of them will flow “kingdom authority” through mutual subordination and servanthood
      • Like Paul who thought of Timothy as his “beloved child,”they must be prepared to take on certain parental responsibilities. Theirs must be a tough love that refuses to give approval to every whim. They should also know enough of the human psyche that they will not reinforce unconscious and infantile needs for authoritarianism.
      • If we have the humility to believe that we can learn form our brothers and sisters and the understanding that some have gone further into the divine Center than others, then we can see the necessity of spiritual direction.
        • Virgil Vogt
          • If you cannot listen to your brother, you cannot listen to the Holy Spirit
      • It is helpful to realize that there are many forms of spiritual direction.
        • Preaching is a form of spiritual directions as is the ministry of many small groups
        • John Wesley established the “class meetings” and “bands” as forms of spiritual direction
        • The Bible itself functions as spiritual direction, for as we read it prayerful we are being formed more and more into the image of Christ.
  • The Limits of Corporate Guidance
    • Dangers exist in corporate guidance as well as individual guidance. Perhaps the most menacing danger is manipulations and control by leaders
      • It becomes a kind of quasi-magic formula though which leaders can impose their will upon individuals, an authorized system through which all different opinions can be brought into line.
      • It is not the way of Jesus to crush the weakest person or to snuff out the smallest hope. Tenderness toward each individual situation must inform all our deliberations.
    • There is also danger in the opposite directions
      • It is possible for a hard-hearted and stiff-necked people to hinder Spirit-inspired leaders
      • Leaders need the freedom to lead. If God has called them to lead, they should not have to bring every detail of life to the community.
      • God appoints authoritative leadership in the Church so that his work may be done upon the earth.
    • Another danger is that corporate guidance will become divorced from biblical norms
      • The one Spirit will never lead in opposition to the written Word that he inspired
      • There must always be the outward authority of Scripture as well as the inward authority of the Holy Spirit
      • Scripture itself is a form of corporate guidance. It is a way God speaks through the experience of the people of God. It is one aspect of “the communion of saints”
    • Corporate guidance is limited by our finitude
      • Despite our best efforts, our own prejudices and fears keep us from a Spirit-led unity
      • Paul and Barnabas, for example, could not agree on whether to take John Mark with them on their second missionary journey
      • Acts 15:39
        • 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus.
      • We should not be surprised if we have the same experience in our ministry efforts
        • We should be kind to one another when this happens
  • Dallas Willard
    • The aim of God in history is the creations of an all-inclusive community of loving persons, with Himself included in that community as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant
    • Such a community lives under the most immediate and total rulership of the Holy Spirit. They are a people blinded to all other loyalties by the splendor of God, a compassionate community embodying the law of love as seen in Jesus Christ.
    • They are tenderly aggressive, meekly powerful, suffering, and overcoming. Such a community, cast in a rare ad apostolic mold, constitutes  a new gathering of the people of God. May almighty God continue to gather such people in our day

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