The Leading Of The Holy Spirit

The Leading of the Holy Spirit

14th March 2019

The book of Acts in the New Testament is an account of the life of the early church and shows us what the church and the Christian life is meant to be like. And we find in this book that the Christians that feature in it often received instructions from God about what they were to do or about what to expect in the future. This came in the form of dreams, visions, angelic visitations, prophecies and direct instructions from the Lord. These were specific to the Christians receiving these revelations and they helped them to make the right decisions and take the right action. For instance, in Acts 10:1-7, Cornelius was told in a vision to send for the Apostle Peter. That was something that happened in the past and for Cornelius only. It will never be repeated and it is not something that you and I could be told to do. It became part of the canon of scripture to teach us a lesson. And that lesson is that God has always spoken to individuals about things that are unique to them. I could give many more examples from both the Old and the New Testaments. And because God is unchanging, He still wants to do that today for us if we will listen.

In addition to the methods of communication I have given above that can be found in the Acts there is another one that I want to focus on. In the Acts there are plenty of examples of the leading of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians and I would like to draw your attention to them:

Acts 8:29
Here we read that the Holy Spirit told Philip to go to the chariot of the Ethiopian eunuch and stay near it. Notice that the Holy Spirit ‘told’ Philip what to do. The Holy Spirit spoke to Philip directly. Has the Holy Spirit ever spoken to you like this? If you are a Christian this is something that you can expect to happen but do you believe it can?

Acts 10:19
Here we are told again that the Holy Spirit spoke to Peter. Notice how the Holy Spirit gave detailed and specific instructions to Peter, telling him what to expect and what to do.

Acts 13:2
On this occasion the Holy Spirit spoke to the church at Antioch as they were worshipping the Lord and fasting. This time the Holy Spirit spoke to all of those taking part in this worship and gave specific instructions about two of the teachers amongst them, Barnabas and Saul (Paul). And the instructions were about ministry. This is how Barnabas and Paul became apostles.

Acts 16:6
As Paul, Silas and Timothy went about their work, the Holy Spirit stopped them from preaching in the province of Asia. So in this instance, the Holy Spirit intervenes to stop them going in the wrong direction. This is a negative example of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Instead of leading them towards something He leads them away from something.

Acts 20:22-23
Paul tells the elders of the Ephesian church that the Holy Spirit has ‘compelled’ him to go to Jerusalem. This is a very strong word and it indicates that on occasions the Holy Spirit is very forceful in His leading.

Acts 20:28
On this occasion Paul is addressing the elders of the Ephesian church and he reminds them that the Holy Spirit has made them overseers. Notice that it is the Holy Spirit who does this. There is no mention of any human involvement in this. First and foremost the Holy Spirit makes someone an elder and then it is just a matter of the church recognising it. It is not for men to appoint elders.

Acts 21:10-11
On this occasion the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul through a prophet. The Holy Spirit tells Paul exactly what is going to happen to him in Jerusalem so that Paul knows what to expect. The prophecy is for Paul alone and it is very specific.

There are some who say that this kind of leading of the Holy Spirit does not apply to us today. However, there is no scriptural basis for saying that. There is nothing in the scriptures which says that this only applied to the apostolic age. No, the truth is that God has always given instruction to individual believers, right from the creation of Adam and Eve and throughout church history. But sadly, in today’s church, far too often the expectation and belief that God wants to give us personal leading through the Holy Spirit, has been lost. And that has had disastrous consequences resulting from too many Christians making decisions for themselves in the flesh.