The Scripture Communications Protocol
The first and most important protocol that I will discuss facilitates our being led by the Holy Spirit to all religious truth by way of the Scriptures. When I argued in "Really all Truth?" that the Holy Spirit would lead us unto all truth and not just only unto all religious truth, my purpose was to broaden our expectations of what the Holy Spirit can do for us, not to deny the importance of religious truth and the vital necessity of knowing it and obeying it. Certainly religious truth is the first kind of truth a new Christian must learn and the most important to get right, but moving it from "most important" to "the only thing that's important" to "the only thing we should expect" is not supported by scripture.
The need for being led to truth in all areas of life is enormous. Solomon himself notes that "there is a time for every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8), so the self-righteous pacifist (who believes war is never an answer) is as wrong as the rabid nationalist (who never saw a problem that couldn't be solved by killing people and breaking things) because there is a time for both war and peace (v8). Scripture mandates war in places and forbids it in others, and recommends peace in some cases and condemns it in others, so both pacifist and nationalist can claim scriptural warrant, with the discussion complicated by the fact that each side refusing to recognize that the other side does have scriptural warrant. This dilemma is repeated in many other areas of life because God, who caused those Scriptures to be written, was aware that life gets complicated because the right-ness of many actions is rarely visible on the surface, but must be discerned by a process of analysis that the Hebrews called "judgment". The atheist who declares that the Bible contains contradictions, and who seeks to prove it by focussing on the different ways that God acts over time is partly right in observing such differences, but is completely wrong because he ignores that God reacts differently because of differing circumstances. This is not the same as "situational ethics", where the principles are allowed to flex with the circumstances (and the whim of observers/participants/beneficiaries). If the speed limit is 35, Hebraic Judgment would ask "how fast were you going? Did you have a good reason for going 85 that is allowed by law?" Situational ethics would temporarily change the speed limit to 90 depending on who was speeding.
Still, the conscientious Christian has good cause to be concerned, for if the Scriptures were designed to be this flexible, then Thomas' question of "How shall we know the way?" that he asked at the Last Supper becomes our question as well. The answer Jesus gave him suffices as well: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life". For us who live between His Ascension and His Return, this means learning how to interact with the Counselor that He asked His Father to send to us, having assured the disciples, and us through them, that this Counselor would do a better job of leading them to all truth than He could Himself.
The process of that leading is what I call here "Illumination", and the purpose of these essays in this section dealing with it is to describe my understanding of the ways that the Spirit uses to accomplish this leading. I call these "ways" Communications Protocols because it is my experience that the ability to be reliably led requires a level of rigor that is implied by the word "protocol" as it is understood in its technical sense. The ones I will document in detail will be the ones that I use on a daily or weekly basis, or from which I have personally experienced and derived fruit. At the same time, I beg your indulgence if I do not touch as deeply on others that are documented in Scripture but which I have not personally experienced or exercised, and be assured that if I ever start being reliably led or taught by the Spirit through dreams and/or visions, I will document it.
The Necessity of Rigor and Follow-Through
I regret that I cannot give the source for the following explanation of the motivation of the proto-methodists for the rigorous and sytematic way that they approached their acts of Christian charity and personal devotions: they did what they did methodically to ensure their accountability to God. While there is always a danger of slipping from a spirit of Rigor (good) to a spirit of Legalism (bad), I very much agree with the spirit of those earnest men who realized that their core problem was not that God did not answer prayer, but that they would not properly respond when He did answer. Here is Ecclesiastes 5:1-7:
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God; to draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few. 3 For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words. 4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. 6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands? 7 For when dreams increase, empty words grow many: but do you fear God.
Although this has to do with the making of vows to God, the warning given there on the necessity of follow-through is pertinent here: if by the processes outlined here the Holy Spirit God makes known to you things you should be doing, you should not expect progress if you foolishly believe that Divine Grace will make up for disobedience to that revelation. To be sure, you will be led to information, facts, and promises that you will need to believe, but believing is not a substitute for doing when doing is what is required (James 1:22-25, Matthew 7:21-27). In fact, it is often the case that doing is not only a logical follow-up to believing, but actually strengthens it when the key to victory is faith: While Gideon's experience with the fleece was able to give him enough faith to call out the Israelites and cull them down to a dedicated 300, it did not really give him the faith necessary to expect victory if he did attack. It took less faith, and gumption, to put out a fleece than to put himself (and an optional companion) into the camp of the Midianites at God's command. Yet doing so got him outside of the tent where he heard a conversation that transformed a little man of little faith into a great warrior with great faith (Judges 7:9-15).
I speak thus from personal experience: if there is something God wants you to do or to believe, rest fully assured you will not make any progress until you do what God wants you to do or believe what God wants you to believe. In cases like this, I find God an immovable object, and the sooner you learn that you are not an irresistable force, the sooner you will stop wasting your valuable time and energy trying to get around His requirements. During such periods of time, you will be tempted to doubt God's love, grace, and care (I certainly did). However, when I reflect back on those periods and the lessons that I learned from them, I inevitably conclude that sparing me from them would have demonstrated a lack of true love on His part.
While material blessings require time to appear (which is consistent with their nature), I have found that the times of difficulty have become considerably shorter and less intense when I adopted the general principle that, if there seem to be any delays or difficulties, then there is either a demon to be rebuked or a lesson to be learned. While demons are quickly and easily flushed, the learning of the lessons proved considerably more resistant until I stumbled across the methodologies that I outline in this essay. Indeed, I suspect that many such periods of difficulty may never have happened because I "pre-emptively" believed or obeyed the scriptures that these methodologies brought to my attention.
A final warning: do not believe that the goodness of Divine Grace will waive the above requirements to believe or to obey. Grace is like an umbrella that has a fixed and delimited "area of coverage," outside of which one must exert some effort, employing one's strength, knowledge, wisdom, and abilities. Rather than expend effort in devising biblically dubious arguments to support the fantasy of costless, obedience-less Grace, I recommend that you will more profitably spend your time and energy figuring out how to leverage grace within its "area of coverage" to lead one to believe and to obey. Forget about "gaming the system", for God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7-9). You have been warned!
With those necessary cauthions out of the way, I will now outline the various levels of the Scripture communication protocol.
Level One: The "Blue Light Special"
If anyone has patronised K-Mart often, one is familiar with "The Blue Light Special". From time to time, the store greatly marks down selected items for a short period of time, and announces the existence of such "great deals" through a page announcement and the deployment of a flashing blue light visible from most parts of the store. To enjoy the benefits of these "Blue Light Specials", one must expeditiously move to the blue light, obtain the product before it runs out, and actually purchase it.
Of course, all of the above benefits are useless to you if you are not in the store in the first place.
Of course it is with tounge firmly in cheek that I have called this sub-protocol of communicating with the Spirit through the Scriptures "The Blue Light Special," because I want to help you remember this one key aspect of this protocol: if you want the Holy Spirit to communicate to you through the scriptures, you must necessarily be in the Scriptures in the first place.
While I do not doubt that "reading my Bible every day" is probably one of the most common resolutions that Christians make every New Year's Day, I also do not doubt that it is almost always on those lists every year because of failures to finish satisfactorily what one has started. In my experience, it is not necessary to read through the entire bible to gain the benefit of these protocols, but a set daily bible reading program at a given pace will be of benefit to some. However, I believe that the worst thing one could do is start at Genesis and plow straight through to Revelation. Certainly we have the liberty to read the Scriptures by sections, such as the gospels or the epistles. I highly recommend the "The Chapter from Proverbs of the Day" plan as one that greatly benefitted me and others, while obviously recommending that one does not confine oneself to Proverbs exclusively.
If one is committed to reading through the entire bible in 52 weeks, or was challenged to do so as I was by my Pastor, Allen Cason, I highly recommend this bible reading plan that he found on the Internet. Michael Coley, the creator of the plan, divided the Scriptures into seven sections and reads a passage from a different section each day based on chapter divisions. My only reservation, and warning, is that you be aware that the passages for Tuesdays and Thursdays almost always seem to be "thicker" than other days, covering 4 to 5 chapters. To handle this, I have a paper print-out of the PDF version with check-offs, and "read ahead" when I have "thin" passages or extra time, pencilling in corrections. For instance, I read chapters 47 through 49 of Jeremiah last Sunday and pencilled in "50" in place of "47" to remind me from where to continue reading in that section. Nothing, of course, is preventing me from "reading ahead": My preference is to read 7 or 8 chapters a day, but not more than 3 from any single section.
The "blue light special" level of the protocol works as follows: as one reads the scriptures, one will be struck by a verse or passage that "speaks to you". You may get a feeling of urgency or a "flash of insight". A thought of how a passage you are reading relates to a long-standing question you have suddenly comes to mind. One way or another, the Spirit "lights up," "targets," or "illuminates" a specific verse or passage for you to concentrate upon. Its as if the K-Mart staff is following you with the cart and flicking on the blue light when you get into an asile with a deal they believe interests you.
How do we know that the "yield" of this protocol is from the Spirit? For sure, the thoughts that come up as you read the scriptures are not currently from the Holy Spirit (though they come indirectly via His working on the original authors), but naturally arise from your mind as it is being made to think those thoughts as part of the process of processing the words being read or spoken: atheists prefer to not think about God, but physically hearing the preacher will force them to think about God when they hear the preacher say "God". What is from the Spirit is the "sensation" felt in response to the reading or hearing. Recall the time immediately preceding your decision to follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You probably were reading a religious document or listening to a bible-based sermon. The thoughts that the reading or the sermon "initially" produced in your head were very likely not the Holy Spirit speaking, but rather "set the stage" for the thoughts that were from the Holy Spirit that convicted you that the words your were reading or hearing were "important" and "worth following" or "considering seriously". Certainly the words you heard audibly or read with your eyes told you what you had to do, but the impression you felt that you should do them was not from you or from the Bible or the semonizer, but from the Spirit "following through" on the words being spoken or read. (The words of the Bible do not inherently have power, and to believe otherwise would be to believe in magic. The power comes from the One who backs those words up with power (Jeremiah 1:11-12).)
How do we know that the Holy Spirit will even give such a signal in response to reading an appropriate scripture passage? There are three good reasons. The first has to do with the fact that such a signal would be an aid to understanding a passage from a set of writings that the Holy Spirit inspired in first place (1 Peter 1:10-12, 2 Peter 1:19-21). The second is that we have proposed the giving of that signal as the trigger portion of a protocol to which we have agreed to respond in a specific and consistent way. That the Holy Spirit is willing to participate in a firmly held and followed protocol that contributes to Him successfully prosecuting His mandate within us has already been established by His doing so when it comes to Suppression (Romans 8:13). In short, we have effectively made what the Ancients called a vow to God, and the fact that He would react badly if we don't keep it suggests that He would react positively we do keep it. Thirdly, the mechanism/medium through which we are asking the Holy Spirit to communicate to us is indistinguishable from the mechanism/medium He uses to to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement, and which He used to convict us of our need to confess our sins and follow Jesus, and which He uses to implement Suppression. He convicted us that way without our express permission, so why would He suddenly acquire scruples when we expressly beg Him and give Him permission to use that same way to lead us to Truth?
Why does the Holy Spirit wait until the recipient is thinking certain thoughts? The best way to appreciate why the Holy Spirit follows this strategy is to consider the fate of the thoughts He would produce that do NOT logically fit in with the thoughts currently being thought: they would be without context, appearing to "pop out of thin air". A flashing blue light in K-Mart means something positive, but a flashing blue light in your rear-view mirror is not as promising or rewarding. Context is everything, so anyone unacquainted with the way the Spirit naturally works would rank such "Out of K-Mart" "blue light" thoughts as being random, in the same class as those thoughts of hamburgers, candies, dessert, or nekkid ladies that pop into the mind "on their own" in response to bordom or random stimuli. People may entertain such thoughts if those thoughts amuse them or relieve them of boredom, but they are not taken seriously. This is not to say that all thoughts that "pop out of thin air" are worthless: Kekulé, the scientist who proposed that benzine and other similar carbon compounds were rings, had been thinking about the problem without success until he (reportedly) dreamed of snakes biting their tails and rolling away. In a sense, a thought is regarded as 'random', and thus discarded and ignored, if it does not have a context within which it can naturally lodge and subsequently illuminate. These thoughts become like "the seed that fell by the wayside", producing nothing because they do not fit into a hospitable context.
To believe that the Holy Spirit can drop thoughts "at random" into a person's mind and expect to have that person take what looks like "random" thoughts seriously is one of several unreasonable expectations about hearing from the Holy Spirit that I need to address. Another unreasonable expectation is that the Spirit forces a person to think a thought that would lead to repentance or would represent repentance: such behavior would be indistinguishable from that of demons, and being likened unto a demon is something unto which the Spirit does not care to be likened. (Matthew 12:22-32). While the Holy Spirit, being God, can certainly do such a thing, and as the Creator of the human race has the right to do such a thing, the Spirit will never force repentance or love out of a human being because He is the Spirit of Truth: He would simply KNOW that such a repentance or love was fake and not true, and a love or repentance that was forced, or even bought, would not be worth anything (Song of Solomon 8:6-7). Calvinists who believe that God "wins" when He produces this sort of "love" in his worshippers fail to see that McCullen never really "had" the Baronness in the movie "G.I. Joe-The Rise of Cobra". The Spirit of Truth cannot be so deluded, nor will permit the rest of the Trinity to delude Themselves or indulge in mental masturbation with the Creation.
Another unreasonable expectation is to expect that the Holy Spirit, in this context, would speak in a voice that is audible: a man would think himself going mad if he "heard" such a voice outside of a reasonable context. Such levels of manifestation are reserved for men and women mentally pre-prepared to hear God in person or in a vision, such as Moses, Elijah, Job, and the prophets. Angels are sent to those who are un-prepared to expect the divine, and even then the almost universal opening line ("fear not") is indicative of the natural reaction of people to the unexpected. At the beginning, expect wordless "flashes" or "surges" of emotion or feelings to signal a verse worth further rational and systematic examination. Also expect such "flashes of insight" if, later in that day or the next, something happens and your mind suddenly "recalls" a passage you read earlier: the Spirit bringing to mind a bible verse is exactly what He did for Jesus during the Latter's temptations in the wilderness by the Devil, and what Jesus promised to the Disciples at the Last Supper (John 14:26). Expect a lot of head-slapping and mutterings of "oh DOH!"
And don't feel bad when those times (inevitably) come: I still get those on a semi-regular basis myself!
Tips, Pointers, and Cautions Regarding "Blue Lights"
Biblically true doctrines and understandings are supported by a multiplicity of scripture passages, so concentrating on one verse for a specific interpretation while ignoring others that obviously argue against the interpretation is as error prone as focussing on a favorable experimental outcome while ignoring a multiplicity of counter-findings. If the Spirit "blue lights" separate independent but related verses across a period of serveral days, He is clearly building up a "portfolio" of verses that you must consider either as a connected whole or as two or more complimentary supporting sets. This is why I favor the bible reading plan that reads the bible in sections, for it gives the Spirit the opportunity to "blue light" otherwise unrelated passages that actually support each other or provide contrast to illuminate a principle. Conversely, a single "blue light" supporting a heterodox interpretation of a verse that is contradicted by multiple "blue lights" supporting the opposite is most likely a "false positive".
Be ready to receive "Blue Lights" that appear apart from reading the Bible, and consist of you recollecting a Bible verse or passage that you recently read when you encounter some happening or circumstance during the day. I believe the Holy Spirit did precisely that for Jesus during His Temptations by the Devil in the Wilderness by helping Jesus remember relevant passages from the book of Deuteronomuy. It is what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do with His Words for the Disciples after His ascension in John 14:26. It is one of those side-benefits of being led by Someone capable of perfectly remembering the future. (And yes, you read me right. Read this for my reasoning.)
Growing In Level One
As you mature and grow in getting, detecting, and correctly interpreting scriptural "blue lights", you should expect to start getting "scriptural" negative "blue lights" and non-Scripture "blue lights" of both sorts.
The "scriptural" negative "blue lights" need some explanation: the promulgation of false doctrine within a church conditioned to accept only doctrine that is supported by scriptures necessarily requires the misuse and wresting of scriptures to be convincing enough to be accepted in place of the complimentary true doctrine. The fact that a scripture is being misused is itself a truth that is necessary to know to continue being led unto all truth. Thus, when you hear a sermon where you are getting a lot of "blue lights" of a negative sort, then it is time to seriously question and examine the sermon, the doctrine, and its use of scriptures. As usual, one should not treat "blue lights" as unquestionable truth or with complete skepticism. In addition, the timing of the "blue lights" during the sermon needs to be considered, since some portions may be true, some false, some partially false, and some requiring further examination. Sometimes, a correct doctrine will be stated mal-adroitly, and the action that needs to be taken when receiving a "blue light" would be a gracious and discreet pointing out of alternatives and better ways of stating it. However, it should be obvious that basing one's objections to a sermon that cites scriptures upon "a feeling I got that you are wrong" is precisely the wrong way to address the "blue light": "Blue lights" are intended as indicators to direct and focus our attention to problems and opportunities, but do not necessarily give us the requisite information to fully resolve the issues indicated. In a nuclear plant control room, there are arrays of boards of lights called annunciators that indicate various off-normal conditions. An operator is expected to notice when an annunciator goes off and to respond to it, but the response that is followed is outlined in a separate document called a procedure that is tied to the specific annuncator or sets of annunciators. "Blue lights" are the annunciators of the Symbiotic Christian lifestyle, but the specific response to follow is outlined in Scripture.
There is, of course, the problem of "misinterpreting" a "scriptural" "negative" "blue light": It just might be the heart trying to get you to question a sermon that is too close for comfort! In either case, examine the underlying scriptures and accept the possibility that the "blue lights" may be the Holy Spirit warning you that the sermon DOES apply to you. After all, being led by the Spirit can also mean being led to a church or bible study from whose pastor or teacher you must learn (or re-learn) some things! What you may be asked to learn may cut across your pet sins and failings, so don't mistake carnal resistance for a valid "negative blue light".
The appearing of non-scriptural "blue lights" is exactly what one would expect if the task of the Spirit is to truly lead us unto all truth, and it is to prevent the recognition of such that otherwise religious people attempt to limit the leading of the Holy Spirit only unto religious truth. However, just as it is necessary to follow up a religion-oriented blue light with an examination of it by the scriptures, a non-scriptural "blue light" must be examined and judged based on "scriptures" relevant to the subject matter. My research associate, Ken Fuqua, occasionally got "blue lights" while reviewing control rod position recommendations (though we didn't call them that at the time), but did the re-review, performed the discovery, and implemented the corrections by following standard reactor engineering methods and procedures. In his case, the "blue light" prompted him into undertaking a deeper and more thorough review than normal. I vividly recall driving back from a Fourth of July party held by in-laws in their country house, getting lost, and getting the sense of being "pointed" in a certain direction. My mother-in-law was stoutly sure, at every turn, that I was going the exact opposite direction. Finally, at one intersection, I "sensed" I had to turn right, while my mother-in-law insisted that we turn left. The sense of needing to turn right flashed insistently, then I got an "inner voice" message that advised me to turn left, stating that doing so would establish peace, which was far more important than being right. I did so, and within a block she noticed a traffic sign that made her realize she was wrong and I had been right. There were a few more questionable turns that I had to consult my spiritual "GPS", but we got to where we needed to go, and without further comment from my mother-in-law.
Mentioning that "inner voice" that clarified why I had to disobey the "blue light" is a good lead-in to the next level of operating this protocol.
Second Level: Affecting The Inner Voice
After a long period of time of doing this, you may start sensing your "inner voice" seeming to take on a life of its own and taking the initiative to "talk" to you on occasion. Mind you, your heart "talks" to you already in a continuous stream of mental words that some psychologists call your "inner voice," "mental voice," or "self-talk". It may talk positively, though if you are a struggling Christian, it will be negative most of the time. This "voice" is the heart attempting to talk to the Inner Man, and will sometimes be accompanied by thoughts being co-generated by the Holy Spirit that would initially use a similar tone of "voice".
Like anyone who speaks and claims to be talking on behalf of God, such speech must first be tested against the Scriptures. We are urged not to swallow all the things this "thought voice" tells us, but not to reject all of them either. We are urged to "Judge not according to appearance, but Judge with righteous judgment," (John 7:24) and to test everything while not quenching the Spirit nor despising prophecy (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21). Given that the voice you "hear" will be generated by both the heart and the Spirit, we must reject the extremes of gullibility and ultra-skepticism to walk the middle line of "trust but verify" while slightly favoring the "verify" side of the road.
It is here that the process gets a bit tricky, challenging, and thus more interesting and potentially rewarding: just as in geometry we use the axioms to prove a first layer of geometric proofs, and the first layer of proofs to prove a second layer, so we use our ordinary reasoning processes on the scriptures to establish the veracity of the first level of this protocol (or debug it). In turn, we then use our mastery at the first level of this protocol, in addition to the scriptures, to establish the veracity of this second level (or debug it). More specifically, if we are experienced in interpreting scripture and getting sensitive to the Spirit giving us "clues and cues" in the forme of Blue Lights, we should be able to use these abilities to confirm or question everything the Inner Voice tells us while claiming to be the Spirit.
The necessity of validating the second level is due to the fact of "co-generation": While you can only hear one "inner voice" at a time, who is generating that "inner voice" will alternate between the Holy Spirit and the natural human heart. If the message seems to alternate between two positions, its a sure sign of the natural conflict between the human Heart and the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:16-18, Paul describes this conflict as the flesh lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, but assures us that we are still under the Holy Spirit's leading when such a conflict leads us to inaction born of reasonable indecision. That is, we are not to feel that we have sinned or are sinful having a heart that suggests thoughts contrary to the Spirit, or which cannot help but receive temptations from the Devil.
How this works is the mutual commitment by ourselves and the Holy Spirit to cooperate, within our spheres, to the task of being led by the Spirit unto all truth. It is up to us to make sure we are following the Holy Spirit, but it is also up to the Holy Spirit to ensure that He can be "seen" by us. Since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, He will know when we are not following Him. Thus, in the process of sincerely trying to follow the Spirit of Truth we become victims of someone faking that Spirit, then the Spirit of truth will then attempt to lead us to the truth about that someone faking His work. One of my pet peeves are people who say "Follow me!" when they hop into a car, but subsequently drive as if they are NOT the leader or have NO followers! A leader does not have the obligation to make an inherently difficult path easy to navigate, but he does have the obligation to make himself easily followable. Suffice it to say, when *I* say "Follow me!" when I hop into a car, I pay attention to matters like driving through a light and pulling over when it turns red behind me, using my turn signals, driving at the legal speed, and checking the rear-view mirror for followers. A "God" who doesn't realize that the people following him are lost cannot claim Omniscience.
Tips, Pointers, and Cautions Regarding The Inner Voice
Eschew haste. We are trying to figure out what is biblical and life truth here, where we have plenty of time to get our evaluation correct, not figure out how to get out of a burning building. The reason why con-artists make "incredible, once-in-a-life-time opportunities" appear to be ready to vanish in 24 hours or less is that time spent by potential victims thinking about the upsides and downsides of this "incredible deal!" is time that the money of the victims stays in their own pockets instead of moving into, and staying in, the cons' pockets. Demons and the carnal heart are no different.
Be sure to distinguish between biblical truths and religious doctrines. Ideally, the doctrines should be founded on biblical truths, but there is such a thing as false doctrine. These doctrines take on the form of "blinders" or "glasses" that filter how those who hold them understand (and even read!) the scriptures that support them or refute them. If our understanding is false or deficient, you can count on the fact that the Spirit of Truth Who leads us to all Truth will have to address that falsehood/deficiency sooner or later, AND on the fact that such correction will appear to be heretical. And trust me, there are people out there who sincerely believe and promulgate untruths who can make those opposing them look like heretics. While the negative scriptural "blue lights" help flag most erroneous doctrines, others are so subtly wrong that the Holy Spirit using the Inner Voice will be required to flag where the pitfalls, traps, misconceptions, and preassumptions lie and point the way out of the mess.
Do not expect to have stuff handed to you "on a platter"! One sure way to distinguish between the carnal heart controlling the Inner Voice and the Holy Spirit is that the former will attempt to stop any inquiry or imply that it is useless or pointless, while the Latter, while varing the methodology, will lead. There are benefits in the journey as well as at the final destination, and the Holy Spirit is attempting to ensure you encounter them and profit from them. "Socratic" dialogues should be expected as the norm rather than the exception.
There may be times when the Inner Voice is accompanied by a strong emotion, such as guilt, conviction, hope, hopelessness, or faith. Generally speaking, feelings of conviction or guilt where they are accompanied by the Inner Voice identifying a questionable (or outright sinful) practice, is a good indicator that the Voice, and emotion, is correct. However, a feeling of hopelessness is definitely demonic, as is feeling guilt without the identification of a specific sin. One must trust the inherent economy, and compassion, of a Spirit who built a universe based on conservation laws, and thus will not expend effort bringing conviction upon someone whose positive response to it would be rejected outright or who cannot follow through on that positive response. This is another reason why the Spirit will not impose a 'blue light' or conviction on someone whose mental context is not amenable to considering it: the context is usually being generated by a Pastor, an Evangelist, or a religious book that will present Jesus Christ and trust in him as the proper response to conviction. In other words, conviction will nver come apart from the presence of someone or something that will explain the origin of the conviction and point the way to Jesus Christ. At the end of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul names the big three: Faith, Hope, and Love. He rightly points out that the greatest of them is Love, and the importance of Faith is well established. However, "Hope" is sometimes forgotten when it never should be: A man under conviction and without hope is Judas looking for a rope to hang himself. In such situations, the better strategy to follow is that of Peter who, while probably too scared to kill himself like Judas, did nothing drastic until Jesus was raised again from the dead and was able to rescue him.
There will be times when the Inner Voice will ask you to do something that you are uncomfortable with, but you cannot positively identify as sinful or unhelpful. Never proceed in the absence of faith or in the presence of doubt! Instead of outright dismissing it, make a sincere effort to establish the moral, ethical, and religious basis both for and against obeying it, keeping in mind that the struggle is sometimes the point of the challenge, not in the doing. Sometimes, the requests are actually the initiators for Simulations, a communications and learning protocol that I will discuss in another essay.
In the process of evaluating the message brought by the Inner Voice, the absolutely best policy to follow is to treat the Inner Voice exactly the same as you would treat any physical person making the same case! Symmetry and equality are at the core of Justice (as well as the universe!), and the purpose of God giving Solomon understanding was to correctly judge the people over whom God set him. We are familiar with injunctions against favoring the rich, but Leviticus 19:15 is often overlooked:
15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
"Social Justice" must necessarily use the word "social" as an adjective, since the process by which those who advocate it is clearly neither just nor equitable in the ideal and proper sense. God clearly commands that a judge demonstrate equality and impartiality, so it behooves us, when considering an argument that is purportedly coming from the Holy Spirit, that it be treated respectfully, not pre-judged or pre-weighed positively or negatively. There is a benefit for doing so, that I will give below.
Growing in Level Two
One of the benefits of treating the Inner Voice that comes from the Holy Spirit the same as if it was a physical human being is that, as you mature in Level Two, you stop getting pronouncements and start getting conversations. That is, instead of getting a statement or a suggestion, you start getting rhetorical questions (and possibly responses to your own questions or responses) whose intent is not only to illuminate the subject at hand, but also illuminate the person and character of all involved. Conversation has always been the best way for people to come to know, understand, and enjoy each other, and it was for these very same purposes and with a similar intent that God met Adam and Eve in Eden during the cool of the day. Thus, it should not be surprising that the Holy Spirit will attempt to revive that pleasant custom between the two of you. Suffice it to say, pay attention to everything with as much intent and motivation that you spent courting your spouse! (It doesn't hurt that this tends to spill over into the other "forever" relationship in your life, and your spouse starts noticing!)
Another sign of maturity in level two is what I call "individuation": At the beginning, the Inner Voice will "feel" and "sound" the same as the mental inner voice you have always "heard" in your head, even though the content of what it is saying comes from the Holy Spirit. It is that similarity that makes identification difficult, obligating us to judge the veracity of the words by their content. However, after a while, the Inner Voice will seem to take on a different "timbre" and sound different and more individual. The Inner Voice in my head individuated from sounding like a cross between my father and I to sounding distinctly feminine. The moment I noticed it and remarked on it, the Holy Spirit, through the new Inner Voice, gave a rhetorical reply that led me to the conjecture that Solomon's Inner Voice "individuated" similarly, though certainly not sounding exactly the same.
As it was with maturing in level one, you will start getting conversations leading you to question certain interpretations of scripture, as well as conversations whose subjects are secular. Again, this is necessarily the case if the Holy Spirit's task is to lead us to all truth, and not just only to Spiritual truth. Obviously, the necessity of judging the content remains, and the same cautions and validation issues apply in this case as applied to maturity regarding Blue Lights. I should mention that, even though a specific conversation between you or a specific Inner Voice communications may not relate directly to Scripture, the scriptural criterion of "By their fruits you will know them" still apples.
Finally, do not assume that Blue Lights will disappear or that the necessity of doing the necessary background reading regarding the Scriptures with and without the Blue Lights and Inner Voice will go away. My experience is that all three methods continue to be used by the Holy Spirit, and that one should be prepared to listen for and heed any single one or combination of them. Remember, sometimes learning from making the journey is as important, or more important, than arriving at the destination.
I am not aware of, and do not believe that there exists, a Level Three protocol that involves the scriptures that goes beyond the Inner Voice, and I conjecture that anything beyond Level Two would involve the Spiritual gift of Prophecy as explained in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. As mentioned at the beginning of this essay, since I have not experienced visions or prophesying, I will not comment on either of them until I have. If you get there ahead of me, Paul gave his own list of validating methodologies in those chapters that I suggest you follow to the letter. While you may come up with additional methodologies at a later date, do not depart or leave off performing the ones Paul gives, for it is extremly unlikely that any additional validation methodology you or I come up with would be valid if it contradicts one of those.
I will close by recounting an experience I had during the writing of this essay. My church started participating in a group study program called "One Month To Live", in which one is challenged to live for 30 days with the conviction that one has only "one month to live". The intent is to replicate the priority-changing re-look at ones life and values when one gets a diagnosis of terminal cancer. While I did not doubt that such a "simulation" would be useful, I was not prepared for the real-life impact when, about 10 days into the study, the online 3D world I participated in announced that they were shutting down March 9, 2010, essentially giving all the digital avatars living there literally one week to "live". People's views and values literally changed before my eyes, and one individual came up to me and apologized for not paying attention more to what I had said! It was sobering to have others come up to me and mention how devastated they would be not being able to come online with the comfort that, if there was a problem they had, they could come talk to me about it and get answers, or comfort, beyond understanding. I, for myself, am taking it calmly, having already worked out the issues related to the vanity of life in this essay (again, one of those fringe benefits that comes from being intimately joined with Someone able to remember the future.)
Thus, it should not be a surprise that, when I seriously considered the question of what I would do if I had "One Month to Live", my list was quite short. I had four issues. Two of them had to do with each of my two sons, each of which was, within days, resolved by a conversation with each that suddenly, for no "apparent" reason, became quite intimate, honest, and relieving. The third issue had to do with compiling a list of insurance policies I had made out to me that my wife would need, and had been on my to-do list for an embarassingly long time.
Unsurprisingly, the fourth had to do with the research being reported here. What would God have me do regarding this website if my ability to pursue this research program and report it would end in a month? Spend the last four weeks madly pounding out essays? How many? Which subjects?
After some prayer, and talking with the Spirit via the Inner Voice, I can say, with certainty, that only one more essay was required. If I was still around after writing that one, my subsequent essays would be gravy and save time and effort. And if I was gone after writing that one, the Spirit assured me that He could "take it from there, using that essay."
That "one more essay", is this one.
This one is the most important because, regardless of what experiences the Spirit gives to anyone, that experience cannot be duplicated in someone else until it is analyzed and the reasons for how it is initiated, behaves, and ceases, is discovered. At the end of the day, when it comes to ANY Christian experience, it will never be accepted, or understood (nor should it be!) unless a satisfactory analysis of it by the Scriptures is performed. However, such analyses are potentially flawed because they are done by fallible human beings, and are not inherently flawless just merely because they happen to use the bible as a source, or their subject matter is God: The book of Job is an example of how a group of men who knew about God came to realize that none of them knew God Himself because sincere ignorance of the truth necessarily includes ignorance of the fact of one's own ignorance! The significance of this essay lies in how it makes our key methodology for knowing what is true or not by the Scriptures more reliable and fault resistant by interacting with the One who knows all truth, and Who wrote those Scriptures in the first place.
He did it for me, is doing it for me, and He will do it for you. The key is neither me nor you, but Him.
As of the publication of this essay, I have lived less than two years in the Symbiotic lifestyle. In living it, I have come to realize that what I have learned and partly recorded in these essays is not as important as about Who I have learned while doing so! Thus, I find myself understanding completely what Paul was talking about when he said, in 2 Timothy 1:12: "...I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed unto Him against that Day."
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