Robert Jeffress - Who Speaks For God? - Part 1
Hi, I am Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. When you're wrestling with a difficult decision, you can always find someone who's willing to offer their unqualified advice. So whom can we trust to provide sound wisdom? Today we're going to identify the three groups of people we should consult before making any major decision in life. My message is titled, "Who Speaks for God?", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
If you're a parent, you know the drill. Your son or daughter comes to you and says, mom or dad, would you please help me with my math homework? Translation: would you please do my homework for me so I can get on the computer and talk to my friends or whatever? Now, as a parent, you're always faced with a dilemma with that question. It would be easier to just go ahead, do the work, give them the answer so you can go on to more important things like watching Larry King Live, or you know, reading the newspaper, whatever you're doing. But even though it would be easier to give them the answer, to do so would be the short circuit their academic development. Because you see more important than your child receiving the right answer is for them to develop the academic skills that will help them discover the right answer for themselves.
That analogy often helps me when I'm frustrated with God. A lot of times I'll ask God, God please show me what to do, and he doesn't seem to answer my request for direction. I mean, God could tell me the right answer to whatever dilemma I'm facing. He could write it in the sky or thunder it down from heaven. Why doesn't God immediately answer our desire for direction? Because God knows that even more important than our receiving the right answer is developing the spiritual maturity that comes from discovering the right answer for ourselves. You see the whole process of reading the Bible, praying, looking and evaluating signs and circumstances, that develops in us spiritual maturity. And that's certainly true when we come to the subject of today's message.
Today, we're going to look at another way that God reveals his will for our lives and that is through other people that he places in our life. Did you know many times God speaks to you through other people? Now admittedly, that's a risky proposition, for God to trust other people to deliver his message to you. Remember the old game of gossip? You'd sit in a circle and you would whisper a message to somebody next to you. Then they were supposed to repeat the message to the next person and the next person. By the time it comes back to you, any resemblance between the original message and your message you received is purely coincidental. It gets mangled in the transmission.
Well, many times it seems like, for God to depend upon other people to speak to us would really risk us getting the wrong message. And yet nevertheless, in scripture, we're told that a wise person listens to the counsel of other people. For example, Proverbs 12, verse 15 I want you to jot these down on your outline, it says, "The way of the fool is right in his own eyes but a wise man is he who listens to counsel". Or Proverbs 13, verse 10: "Through presumption comes nothing but strife, but with those who receive counsel, there is wisdom".
Today we're going to talk about three groups of people whom God will use to speak his word to you. And what we're going to see is with each of these groups of people learning how to listen and evaluate their counsel develops some specific character qualities in our life that God is interested in developing. Who is it that speaks for God? Well, the first group we ought to consider whenever we're trying to make a decision in life are the authority figures that God has placed in our life.
You see, God has placed every one of us in this room, every one of us watching by television, all of us are under some human authority. And quite frankly, it doesn't matter whether that authority figure is a Christian or a non-Christian. God can still use him to communicate his will for our life. Proverbs 21, verse 1 says, "For the heart of the king is in the Lord's hands to turn whichever way he wishes". The Bible mentions at least five authority relationships that we need to consider whenever we're trying to make a decision in life. The first relationship is that of husbands and wives. Husbands and wives.
Now I realize I'm getting ready to enter a minefield here when I talk about submission. Anytime I hear the subject about submission, I'm reminded of the story of the man who was attending a men's conference at his church, and when he walked into the foyer to register, he noticed there were two lines. There was one line and it had a sign above it that said husbands who had been dominated by their wives. And that line went all the way out of the church and wrapped three times around the building. And then there was another line that had a sign above it that said, husbands who have never been dominated by their wives.
And there was one guy standing in that line. And this man walked up to the guy and he said, congratulations buddy, how did you do it? He said, I don't know. My wife just told me to stand here. And listen, the truth is wives are not to dominate their husbands and husbands are not to dominate their wives. Turn over to Ephesians, chapter five, Ephesians, chapter five. Let me disabuse some of you about this whole notion of submission. Let's see what the Bible really says in Ephesians, chapter five, verses 22 to 23. Paul says, "Wives be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, he himself being the Savior of the body".
By the way would you notice it does not say wives obey your husbands. Did you know Paul never says for wives to obey their husbands. Now he goes on to say, children, obey your parents. And he says, slaves, obey your masters. But it does not say, wives, obey your husbands. Instead, Paul uses a different word that's translated be subject to your husband's, hypotasso is the Greek word, it's a military term that means to arrange under rank. And Paul is saying that in a household, just like the military, there has to be a clear chain of command. And in the house it is for the husband to be the head and for the wife to place herself underneath the headship of the husband.
Now, to give some further illumination on this idea, Paul gives us a word in 1 Corinthians 11, verse 3. If you wives are kind of bothered by that idea of the husband being the head of the wife, listen to what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:3. He said, "For Christ is the head of every man and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ".
Notice that last phrase, just as the man is the head of the woman, God is the head of Christ. Now let's take a pop quiz here, theological pop quiz. Is God the Father superior to Jesus Christ, the son. No, God is not superior to Jesus Christ. That was heresy. We believe that God the Father and God the son and God the spirit are all co-equal with one another. But the Bible also says that Jesus the son who is absolutely equal to God the Father, he voluntarily came and placed himself under the authority of the father, and that's why he came to the cross and gave himself as a ransom for our sins. He did so out of submission to the father. They were equal but the son chose to submit to the father.
Now that's what you have in the marriage relationship. Nowhere does the Bible teach that men are superior to women. Nowhere. In fact in many relationships and in many ways the woman may be superior to the man. But in the relationship, the marriage relationship, you have two equals who come together and the woman voluntarily places herself under the headship of the husband. And God says one of the ways, wives, he's going to lead you is through that husband he has placed over you.
Now, if you don't trust the man you're with to give you spiritual direction in life and to speak to you through God, don't marry him. Nobody puts a gun to a woman's head and says, you have to marry this person. You should only marry somebody that you have great confidence in, especially in their spiritual relationship to God because you are to subject yourself to that husband. You know, there are a lot of marriages today, even Christian marriages that are in deep, deep trouble because the husband will say, well, I think this is the way our family ought to go, and this is what we need to do. And the wife said, well, you know, I've prayed about it and God's leading me a different direction. Doesn't work that way. It doesn't work that way.
Whenever you have people claiming God is leading them in two different ways, you're going to have friction in a marriage. The Bible says God is going to direct the wife through her husband. Now obviously there's some exceptions to that. Ladies, if your husband asks you to do something unscriptural, you're not to obey him. If your husband asks you to do something immoral, you're not to obey him. But except in those extreme circumstances, one way God speaks to you is through that authority figure. You see, and it's like a friend of mine said, in nature, anything with two heads is a freak and anything with no head is dead. There has to be an authority relationship in any organization including the home.
So one way God speaks is through husbands and wives. There's another authority relationship in the Bible and that is between children and their parents. Look at Ephesians, chapter six, verse one. "Children, obey your parents and the Lord for this is right. Honor your father and mother for this is the first commandment with a promise". Now there he uses the word, obey. "Children, obey your parents".
I told the group over at center stage today, I said when I was a youth minister, questions that always came up from the teenagers, they would ask me, "Robert, how do I know what college I'm supposed to go to? Or how do I know what profession God would have me to enter into? Or how do I know for sure whether this person is the right one to marry? And I would say, "Oh, what do your parents say"? And they would always look at me like, what planet did you arrive from? My parents? What did they know about my situation? And yet the Bible says one of the ways God leads us and leads children is through the parents he has placed over them.
Children obey your parents. Now obviously as children grow, that relationship changes. As children become more and more independent, the parent transforms from being an authority figure to being an advisor. And while adult children are certainly under no obligation to obey the commands of their parents, it is wise for them to at least listen to the counsel of their parents because God can communicate that way.
A third relationship that's talked about in the Bible is between employers and employees. Look again at Ephesians six, verse five. "Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, and sincerity of your heart as to Christ". If you're an employee, one way God's going to direct you is through that employer that is over you. And notice what Paul says, he says, when you obey that boss, it is just as if you are obeying Jesus Christ. You see that. You are to obey your employee as employer as unto the Lord. God directs that way.
A fourth relationship, authority relationship, is between government and citizens. One way again, God communicates his will to us is through the governing authorities he has set over us. Listen to the words of Romans, chapter 13, verse one: "Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities for there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, he who resists the governing authority has opposed the ordinance of God and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves". That is an amazing statement when you think about it. Paul said, governing authorities exist because God has placed them there, and to resist the government is the same thing as resisting God. Need I remind you who is the ruler of the world when Paul wrote these words.
Nero, the most evil Roman emperor of all time was on the throne in Rome. And the Bible says that we are to obey those governing authorities. Paul said we are to obey governing authorities even like Nero. Why? Because Nero's not there except God placed him there. There is nobody who's going to be in a place of authority except God allows it. We don't know what the purpose is, but God is in control, okay? We don't need to worry. And again, there are limits to this idea of obeying government. Peter said in Acts 5:29 when he was told by governing authorities not to preach the gospel, he said, we must obey God rather than men. So there are exceptions to that. But unless you're asked to do something illegal or unbiblical, you're to obey that governing authority.
Number five, another relationship, authority relationship we're to follow is that between spiritual leaders and the congregation. Hebrews, chapter 13, verse 17, "Obey your leaders", talking about spiritual leaders in the church, "And submit to them for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief for this would be unprofitable for you". God directs the church, the local church, through the spiritual authority he has placed over the local church. And let me just take a moment right now to brag on you all a little bit. In the 140 year history of this great church, this church has always followed the leadership of its pastor. Doesn't matter who the pastor has been, you have done well in following his leadership in the church.
Quite frankly, you can look back and you can see some mistakes that pastors have made in this church, and I promise you I will continue that tradition. I'll make mistakes, I'll make bad decisions. No doubt about it, I am very much imperfect. And yet you have followed the leadership of your pastor, and I think that's one reason God has blessed this church in such a significant way. Now again, if the pastor does something immoral or if the pastor does something unscriptural, I don't mean we blindly follow after that, but except for those cases, we're to follow the spiritual leadership in the church.
By the way, pastors watching on television or listening to this message, we have a responsibility to the congregation as well. 1 Peter, chapter five, verses two and three say that we are to exercise oversight over the church but not Lording it over the people. No pastor is to be a dictator. We're not to be dictators we're to be shepherds leading the people. We are to feed the sheep, not beat the sheep. That's our responsibility. And you know when the pastor fulfills his responsibility in being the shepherd and the congregation follows their responsibility in following, you have a beautiful relationship in which God can work.
God encourages us to listen to the commands of those in authority over us. What quality does that develop in us? By looking at authority figures for God's direction, it teaches us the quality of obedience. I want you to write that down, the quality of obedience. Again, going through this exercise of discovering God's will listening to authority figures teaches us obedience. To paraphrase the words of the apostle John, if we can't obey the visible authority figures that we see, how in the world will we ever learn to obey the invisible authority of God? It's one reason God places us all under somebody's authority so that we can learn how to obey even when we don't feel like obeying.
There's a second group that we ought to consider whenever we're seeking God's direction in our life, and that is wise counselors, wise counselors. A businessman one time wanted to improve his golf game, and so he hired a golf pro to give him some tips. But with every suggestion the golf pro made, the businessman had some argument, some reason not to follow through on the suggestion. About halfway through the session, the golf pro just began to compliment the businessman. When the session was over, the businessman pulled out a couple hundred dollars, gave it to the pro, and he walked away.
A man who was watching this exchange came up to the golf pro and said, I noticed you just told that man what he wanted to hear. Why is that? And the golf pro smiling as he stuffed the $200 in his pocket said, I've been at this long enough to know what people want. This guy didn't want help, he just wanted an echo. If you really want to know God's will for your life, you'll surround yourself with people who will do more than just simply be an echo to you. They'll give you the wise advice that you need.
We have a tragic story in the Old Testament of someone who didn't follow that principle. His name was Rehoboam. If you have your Bibles, turn over to 1 Kings, chapter 12. One king, chapter 12. You remember Rehoboam was the son of king Solomon. Some people say David was the most successful king in Israel. Other people look at Solomon and say look at his massive expansion projects. He built the temple. Look at all that he did. And so Rehoboam assumed the throne, realizing he had some pretty big sandals to fill. And so he had to determine what he was going to do. And early in his reign, some of the people came to king Rehoboam and they offered him this counsel.
Look at verse four, 1 Kings, chapter 12: "Your father made our yoke hard, therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yolk which he put on us and we will serve you". They were saying in effect, Rehoboam, your dad was a great guy. He helped us build this great temple and all of these other projects, but our people are taxed to the max. They're tired. Give the people a little bit of a break and then we'll follow you anywhere. Now to Rehoboam's credit, he listened and he said, well, I'll get back to you on that.
And so he called in a group of advisors. He called in some older men who were his father's advisors and asked them what they thought. And they said, Rehoboam, the people are right. They've been taxed to death, they're working hard. Give them a break and they will follow you anywhere. But that's not what Rehoboam really wanted to hear. He wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. He wanted to have progress that everybody could could see. So he called in a younger group of contemporaries, advisors. He said, what do you think? And they said, oh, Rehoboam you better show these people who's boss from the very beginning. You've got to show them that you are in charge. Work 'em hard, let 'em know who's boss.
So Rehoboam considered that advice and he stood before the people and he said, you thought my father was tough. He's a cream puff compared to me. You thought you were working hard. I'm going to work you so hard you're going to be wishing for the days of dear old dad. And the result was the kingdom revolted. He listened to the wrong advice. You know, Rehoboam's sad experience kind of points out to me at least four principles about seeking wise counsel. I want you to jot down on your outline: first of all, when faced with a difficult decision, seek advice from experts, seek advice from experts.