Following the Witness

Yesterday I began talking about listening to the RHEMA, the spoken Word of God. This is extremely important. Many will tell you that RHEMA is your spoken word. But that is not completely accurate. According to E.W. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament words:

The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Ephesians 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture.

As Paul explained, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit . . . (Romans 8:16). Yes, yes. I know that the verse goes on to say that he testifies “we are God’s children . . .’ but it still illustrates the principal that the Spirit of God speaks, or testifies, things to our spirit.

In fact, as you develop your relationship with the Lord, you will discover that this is the Lord’s  primary means of guidance. In the Old Testament, the prophets would say, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying . . .” But did you ever wonder how it came to them? I mean did they hear a voice from a cloud? Was it thundering and somehow the Voice of God came to them? Then again, one of my former co-workers simply viewed them as being schizophrenic.  Hmm, well I don’t think he understood the reality of our God. But the point is that if everyone could hear that voice, there was no reason for the prophet to repeat what the Spirit said, right?

No, the Word of the Lord came to the prophet’s spirit. Now sometimes when this happens it does seem so real that you may think it is audible at the time. A perfect example of this was when the Lord called out to Samuel.

The boy Samuel was serving Yahweh under Eli. In those days a prophecy from Yahweh was rare; visions were infrequent. One night Eli was lying down in his room. His eyesight had begun to fail so that he couldn’t see well. The lamp in Elohim’s temple hadn’t gone out yet, and Samuel was asleep in the temple of Yahweh where the ark of Elohim was kept.

Then Yahweh called Samuel. “Here I am,” Samuel responded. He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So Samuel went back and lay down.

Yahweh called Samuel again. Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am. You called me.”

“I didn’t call you, son,” he responded. “Go back to bed.” Samuel had no experience with Yahweh, because the word of Yahweh had not yet been revealed to him.

Yahweh called Samuel a third time. Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am. You called me.”

Then Eli realized that Yahweh was calling the boy. “Go, lie down,” Eli told Samuel. “When he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Yahweh. I’m listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his room.

Yahweh came and stood there. He called as he had called the other times: “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak. I’m listening.”

Then Yahweh said to Samuel  . . . (I Samuel 3: 1-11)

Obviously the Lord’s voice wasn’t audible because only to Samuel could hear it. It was so real, Samuel had no idea what he heard. He thought Eli was calling him. But it was late at night, and Eli was fast asleep when Samuel woke him up. So as you can imagine, he was probably a little groggy. But once he was alert enough, it dawned on Eli that Samuel was hearing the voice of God. After that, Samuel had a wonderful experience.

Now, here is something I should address. I admit that the prophet in the New Testament is similar to the prophet in the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophet was called a seer because he was allowed to see and know things supernaturally. The prophet of the New Testament will also see and know things supernaturally. However, and here is the big difference, the prophet of the New Testament does not have the same status or role as the prophets in the Old. Jesus never set prophets in the Church to guide the Church. That is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit.

So Christians — born-again believers — those living with the Spirit of Christ within them do not seek guidance through prophets. Yes, they might receive guidance through prophets, but they should never seek it. Do you hear the difference? They are to be led and guided by the Spirit of God that is within them.

The ministry of the New Testament prophet only confirms what people already have in their own spirits. An excellent example of this is in Acts 13, where the Lord told the prophets to set aside Saul and Barnabas “for the work that he called them to . . .” The implication was that Saul and Barnabas had already heard the call, and the prophets were confirming this call.

Under the Old Covenant, only the priests and the prophets were anointed by the Holy Spirit. What you would call the laity — the common Joe — did not have the Spirit of God on them or in them. So, they had no choice but to seek guidance through the prophet. Even the Kings were required to consult the prophet!

But today, believers not only have the Spirit of God upon them — they have Him in them! The Scriptures do not say, “As many as are led by prophets; they are the sons of God.” No, it says, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” As you are led by the Spirit of God, it will confirm you are God’s child.

As I began to say at the beginning of this message, the primary way we are led and guided is by the inward witness — a “check” — a red light or green light — an inward intuition . . . I don’t know how else to describe it. The Amplified Version of Colossians 3:15 says that we are to, “let the peace — the soul harmony which comes from Christ rule — to act as umpire continually in your hearts. Deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state to which as members of Christ’s one body you were called to live. And be thankful, giving praise to God always.”

I am continually telling people to follow that peace. When you are praying for wisdom or guidance on an issue, allow that peace to guide and, as the Amplified Version says, that “soul harmony,” to “act as an umpire.”

If you learn to follow that inward witness it will guide you in every aspect of your life — spiritual, physical, emotional and financial. It will influence the relationships between you and your spouse; or you and your children. It will also guide and direct you in ministering to the needs of people around you. It empowers you for every situation. However, this won’t come overnight, or by next Saturday night. But as you learn to develop your spirit, renew your mind and follow that inward witness, he will guide you.

But here’s the thing: You must be willing to wait. Remember, “. . . it is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises . . .” You must learn to follow your deepest premonitions. The inward witness is just as supernatural as guidance through visions and visitations. It’s just not as spectacular.

Many people are looking for the spectacular and missing the supernatural that is right there all the time. According to I John 5:10, anyone who believes in the Son of God has this witness in himself . . . has this testimony in his heart . . . inwardly confirms . . . possesses this divine attestation . .

Romans 8:14 promises that “All who are guided by God’s Spirit are God’s children. . .” So the sons of God can expect to be led by the Spirit of God! The Holy Spirit is going to lead us. How does he lead us? Verse 16 tells us: “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit . . . testifies with our spirit . . . touches our spirit and confirms . . . speaks to us deep in our hearts . . . (Romans 8:16). But here’s the thing, you can ignore that voice. However, the more you ignore it, the less you will hear it.

Sometimes, when God is leading you, you can’t explain how you know — you just know, right down on the inside of you. You know! You know it by the inward witness.

Let me ask you, have you ever sat in a service and notice someone and just “sense” there is a need in their life? You can’t explain it, you just feel they need something; a hug; a word of encouragement; it could be anything. Did you act on it, or ignore it? That is important to know, because it will hinder your ability to hear that voice later. Can you be wrong? Absolutely. But that is how you learn. You may even receive this guidance, not just in a church service, but while you are walking through the grocery store!

That has happened to me many times, and I was amazed to see it happen to my mom! She would never consider herself “super-spiritual,” but a few months ago we were walking through the grocery store when she saw a woman and just “felt” she had a deep pain. My mom could never have explained it, but she sensed that woman was hurting. So instinctively, my mom went to her and just said, “Hi, are you okay?” The woman broke down in tears.

I bet this has happened to you many times, but you simply passed it off as being just “you.” “Just a silly thought . . .” Maybe it wasn’t. It may have been a witness of your spirit.  When that happens, you need to have to courage to respond to that leading. Yes, you may be wrong. But that is okay. Eventually, you will grow to discern the difference between your voice and the Lord’s voice.


With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.

The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.

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