God's Guidance
by Robert J. Young

What do you believe about Corporate Guidance?

How can we know God's will, way? How discern?
Seems world waiting with bated breath for emergence of Spirit-led, Spirit drunken, Spirit empowered, Spirit filled, Spirit indwelt, people. All creation waits expectantly for the revelation of the Sons of God. A disciplined, free, gathered, loving, supportive, martyr people with a message, a song, and a testimony. Know what it is to life the life and power and fulness of the kingdom of God. We want to be that people. How?

Foster writes of "The Immanuel of the Spirit," God with us. Not God with me. First, consider that if the church is to be the church, at times, individual guidance must give way to the guidance of the community. We are being led together, not apart. We see guidance collectively, not individually. Where is the corporate prayer for such guidance? Let us add it. God has always led his people in this way--unless they could not hear, and then the prophet comes forth with the special blessing.

God led Israel as a people--all saw and followed the cloud and fire. Not gathered individuals who happened to be going in the same direction, but a people together with a sense collectively of their allegiance to the theocratic rule of God. His presence was immediate, and they were fearful.

That leading was through Moses, and through the great ministry of the prophets who heard God's word and brought it to the people, but today we have so emphasized the priesthood of the believer that we have forgotten the priesthood of believers. Let me flesh out that distinction. Luther, in focusing on "priesthood of believers" was teaching that the church functions as a priest for the individual believer. We have not made distinction, to our detriment.

God has prepared a people, in Christ a new day dawns with the morning star, the people are gathered under the immediate rule of the Spirit. Is the distinction between the OT and NT. In the OT, the distant God, in the NT, the immediate God, the Spirit among us, dwelling in us. Matt. 18:20, not justification for worship at the lake, but the fact that God's message is most clearly heard when we are together. No accident that preaching occurs in assembly. The church is the place where the gospel is preached.

All who embrace the authority of Jesus become a gathered people, church. See it clearly in the NT, sense of corporate guidance, Act 13:1-3, Paul and Barnabas are called forth by the church to tramp the length and breadth of the Roman empire with the euangellion, good news, gospel. People together, extending fellowship, listening, waiting, hearing, praying, fasting, worshiping. Missionary recruitment might work better with the church body.

Then in Acts 15, early church faced and resolved most explosive issue, listening together. They assembled, not to jockey for position or play one side against the other, but to hear the mind of the Spirit. No small task, intense debate, and individual guidance was insufficient. Individuals together reached the decision of God. Acts 15:28.

More than a victory over an issues, victory in method. People deciding together to live under the direct rulership of the Spirit whom Jesus has sent as his representative. Not to deny Christ, but to reject human totalitarianism and anarchy, and so far as the church goes, even to reject democracy, and to live on the basis of spirit rule.

Eph. 4:1ff. Unity by the spirit. 1 Cor. 12--no one person will possess every gift, so that the body can be the body. Interdependence, even the most mature needing the help of others, an empowered community, even the most insignificant having something to contribute. The whole counsel of God cannot be heard in isolation.

Rev., the great believing community had cooled, and by the time of Constantine, willing again to accept a human king, and in one sense perhaps, the church, big picture, Catholic, western, eastern, Protestant, even Restoration, has ever since struggled with the exaltation of the individual.

But the church as God desires the church is just such as gathering as God desires. Ekklesia.


*Suggested and developed in part from notes from Richard Foster. Some phrasing is his.

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Last updated August 25, 2000.