|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|GOD SPEAKS THROUGH THE CHURCH
Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King
I AM REVEALED
Apr 24 2013
Speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head – Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted
and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the
proper working of each individual part. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
GOD SPEAKS THROUGH A REFUGEE
When I lived in Vancouver, I served as the interim pastor of a church with less than fifty in attendance. A Laotian
refugee family had joined the church the week before I came, and I knew God never adds members to a church body by
accident (see I Corinthians 12:18). Those God adds are my ministry, so my responsibility as pastor was to see what
God was doing when He brought them to our congregation. I (and others) had the opportunity to witness God’s activity
in this family.
Thomas, the father of the Laotian family, had been converted in a refugee camp in Thailand. When he became a
Christian, His life was so gloriously transformed that he immediately sought to help Laotian people know Jesus. He went
all through the community trying to lead his fellow Laotians to Christ. In the first week, Thomas led fifteen adults to the
Lord. The next week, he led eleven more, and he wept because he felt he had been unfaithful to his Lord.
The Lord led Thomas to immigrate to Canada, where he became a member of our church. We asked the Lord why He
had added this fine family to our congregation. As our small congregation talked with Thomas and observed his life, it
became clear God was at work among the transplanted Laotian refugees in our city. We prayed with Thomas and
discovered that God had given him a pastor’s heart. He had a burden for evangelism, and he had just enrolled in a local
theological college to obtain ministerial training in order to do whatever God wanted. Our church voted to call Thomas
as the pastor of a mission to the Laotian community, and Thomas accepted.
Two months after becoming the pastor, Thomas was invited to a meeting for ethnic pastors being held in the United
States, several days’ drive away. He asked if our denomination had funds that would allow him to take some of his
church members to the conference. I thought that was an excellent idea but had no idea he was thinking of taking
eighteen people with him! Thomas told me he had Laotian relatives and friends in all the major cities across Canada.
On his way home from the conference, he wanted to drive through several of those cities and share Christ with them.
God had already given Thomas a heart to establish Laotian churches in every major city. Later that year – at Christmas
– Laotian people came from all over Canada to Vancouver to celebrate with Thomas their new life in Christ.
Years later, I visited Vancouver and asked about Thomas. By then, the Laotian government had granted permission to
start churches in his home country. Thomas returned to Laos, preached the gospel, and one hundred thirty-three
friends and family members came to know the Lord! He started four mission churches and linked the church in
Vancouver with the Laotian churches, sharing his heart’s desire to see all Laotian people come to know Christ.
All of this began when one Laotian refugee joined our church. But what did God see? He saw a whole nation being
drawn to Himself. When God honors your church by placing a new member in the body, ask God to show you what He is
up to. Then share what you sense of God’s activity. God speaks through the members of the body to help others know
and understand God’s assignment.
THE PARABLE OF THE TRAIN TRACKS
Suppose the eye could say to the body, “Let’s walk down these train tracks. The way is clear. Not a train is in sight.” So
the body starts down the tracks.
Then the ears says, “I hear a whistle coming from behind us.” The eye argues, “But nothing is on the track as far as I
can see. Let’s keep on walking.” The body listens only to the eye and keeps on walking. Soon the ear says, “That
whistle is getting louder and closer!” Then the feet say, “I feel the vibration of a train coming. We’d better get our body
off these tracks!” If this were your body, what would you do?
No – you would get off the train tracks. God gave our bodies many different senses and parts. When each part does its
job and when each part pays proper attention to the others, the whole body works the way it should.
A church is the body of Christ. It functions best when all of its members are able to share what they sense God is doing
and saying. Members of a congregation can’t fully know God’s will for their lives apart from the testimony of other
members. A church needs to hear the whole counsel of God through its members. Then it can proceed in confidence
and unity to do God’s will.
THE BODY OF CHRIST
Many Christians today feel that their walk with God is private and independent. They see no need for joining a church or
making themselves accountable to other believers. Some view the church in terms of how it can help them accomplish
the ministry God has given them personally, rather than seeking how their lives fit into the larger work the Lord is doing
in the congregation. The Bible teaches that our walk with God is personal, but it is not private. Sin makes people
independent. Salvation makes us interdependent on one another. Scripture teaches that the church is a body in which
each member is vitally important to the others.
While Christians have personal access to God through Christ as their one Mediator (see I Timothy 2:5), God created the
church as His redemptive agent in the world. He is at work accomplishing His purposes, and He places every member in
a church to accomplish His purposes through each congregation.
Jesus Christ is present as Head of every local church (see Ephesians 4:15), and every member is placed in the body as
it pleases God (see I Corinthians 12:18). The Holy Spirit manifests Himself to every person for the common good (see I
Corinthians 12:7), and the whole body is fitted together by the Father. Members are enabled and equipped by the Holy
Spirit to function where the Father has placed them in the body. Then the body functions as Christ leads, until every
member becomes spiritually mature (see Ephesians 4:13). Believers need each other. What one member lacks, others
What God is doing in and through the body is essential to my knowing how to respond to Him. Where I see Him working
in the body, I make the necessary adjustments and put my life there too. In the church, I let God use me in any way He
chooses to complete His work. This was Paul’s goal when he said, “We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone
with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). Paul constantly urged believers
to become vitally involved with his life and ministry. The effectiveness of Paul’s ministry rested on them (see Colossians
4:3; II Thessalonians 3:1-2; Ephesians 6:19).
THE CHURCH HELPED ME KNOW GOD’S WILL
While in seminary, I was involved in a local church. In the first year, I was asked to teach teenage boys, which I did with a
willing heart. The next year, the church asked me to be the music and education director, something I had never done
before. I had sung in a choir but had never led congregational music, and I knew nothing about directing the
educational program of a church.
Here’s how I approached the decision. The people of God at this church needed a leader. As they prayed, they sensed
that God had put me in their congregation on purpose so I could meet that need. I, too, saw the need and realized God
was leading me to serve in that position. As a servant of Jesus Christ, I did not have an option to say no. I believed that
the Head – Jesus Christ – could speak through the rest of the body to guide me to know how I should function in His
body. So, I said I would do the best I could, and for two years I served as music and education director.
Then the church voted to call me as their pastor. I hadn’t preached three sermons in my life and hadn’t gone to
seminary with a calling to be a pastor. I had, however, felt called by God to maintain a relationship with Him so I would do
whatever He asked me to do. To that end, I sensed I needed to get seminary training so I would be better equipped to
serve God. I didn’t say, “I am going into foreign missions.” I didn’t say I would pursue a music ministry or do youth work
or preach. I said, “Lord, whatever You direct me to do in relation to Your body, I will do. I am Your servant for Your
purposes.” And God responded by leading me in ways I had never anticipated. I agreed to be the pastor and
thoroughly enjoyed serving as a pastor in various churches for the next thirty years.
Apart from hearing from other members of the body, you can’t know how you are to function in the church.
Every member needs to listen to what other members say. If the members are not sharing what they sense God is
doing, the whole body is in trouble. I depend on others in the church to help me understand God’s will. Likewise, I take
seriously my role to help other believers in the same way.
DEPENDING ON GOD TO SPEAK THROUGH THE CHURCH
It is important to note that a need does not constitute a call. Without proper guidance, many well-meaning Christians
see every need in their church as a divine call for them to respond. Don’t ever be afraid to let the body of believers
assist you in knowing God’s will.
Sometimes God may speak through one person. Keep in mind, however, that one individual is not the church. Usually,
you need to take all the counsel of people for clear direction. What you will find is that a number of things begin to line
up. What you are hearing from the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church will all point to the same thing. Then
you can proceed with confidence.
You may say, “Henry, you don’t know my church. I can’t depend on them to help me know God’s will.” Be careful. When
you say that, you have said more about your opinion of God than about your church. You are saying, “Not even God
can work through these people.” But I don’t think you really believe that. You place yourself in danger when you
isolate yourself from the counsel of God’s people. Trust God to give direction through other believers.
Turn to them for advice on major decisions. Listen to anything the church has to say to you. Then let God confirm what
His message is for you.
SHARING IN THE BODY
As a pastor in Saskatoon, whenever God moved and expressed His will to church members, I guided them to share with
other members what God had said to them. We could not adjust our lives to God if we did not know what He was
saying. When the Head spoke to any member, all of us listened and heard what He said to our church. All were given
an opportunity and encouraged to share. Each member was welcome to respond as God guided him or her.
This happened not only in worship (usually at the close of a service) but also in prayer meetings, committee meetings,
business meetings, Sunday school classes, home Bible studies, and personal conversations. Many called the church
office and shared what God was saying to them in their quiet times. Still others shared what they experienced at work or
at school. The entire church became experientially and practically aware of Christ’s presence and guidance in our midst.
Often relating what God is doing in your life may help someone else encounter God in a meaningful way. For instance,
when someone made a significant commitment to the Lord in one of our services, I gave that person an opportunity to
share with the body. Sometimes that testimony prompted others to respond in a similar way. This is how God spoke
through the church to other believers.
EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.