What is the Spirit saying to the church today?
Wirtten by: Alex Tinson | Updated: 24/07/2010
Do we have ears that can hear what the Spirit is saying?
Jesus finished every message He spoke to the churches in the book of Revelation with these words,
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches," Rev.2:7.
He repeats it seven times. To each of the seven churches He addresses. The only phrase He repeats time and again. If we have an ear, a spiritual ear that can hear spiritual things, let us hear with that ear, what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Not just to our church but to all the churches. But the problem is, the Spirit can be speaking and is speaking. But most of us don't have an ear that can hear what He is saying. We don't have ears that are attuned to a spiritual frequency.
There are some churches around today that actually do preach a message of repentance. Who have a standard of Christian behaviour and witness that is generally higher than in other churches. Yet often there are people in that church who seem to think being friends with the world is okay if you're a believer. There are people (and I would even add the phrase 'many people') who really think they are great Christians on their way to the Promised Land but who in reality are not going to make it. You see Jesus warning about it time and time again throughout the gospels. Many will have the most horrendous wake-up call possible when the Lord Jesus returns and they find themselves standing on His left and not on His right where they supposed they should be.
Just being in a good church and hearing worthy sermons is not enough; we have to be doers of the Word as well. Many today comfort themselves with the fact that they're in a 'cutting-edge' church that really preaches the Word, but their heart is as lifeless and lacking in the overwhelming, all-consuming love of God as the next person in the so-called 'dead' church down the road. So what is the problem? Why is it that people can listen to good ministry, sit under anointed preaching and declare themselves to be a 'full-on' believer, yet still end up thrown out of the Kingdom? Indeed why did many of those who followed Jesus and listened to the gracious and powerful words He spoke, end up abandoning Him further down the line? Why do some people who hear the message of repentance not respond to it as they should?
We live in an unusual time in history, when all manner of Christian messages on a whole host of subject areas can be easily accessed with just a PC and a mouse. Unfortunately much of what is out there is just hype, false doctrine and the traditions of men. This is the reality of our modern 'Christian' world. If we have the means (a computer and access to the world-wide web) we can eventually come across some good spiritual food if we keep looking. It may be stuck somewhere in a corner or obscured by the myriad of messages promoting the foreign and fake gospel so prevalent today. However the good food can be found if we look hard enough. The question is, once we discover the good food, once we find something worth feeding on, do we have ears to hear what the Spirit may be speaking to us through it?
This is probably the biggest problem we have at the moment. Not that we cannot find or hear a good message if we really look hard enough, but that most of us don't have ears that can hear the message properly.
Many people are sitting in churches today saying, "Yes," and, "Amen!" to the preaching they are hearing, looking incredibly spiritual when they are in reality completely fast asleep in their faith. They may give the loudest agreement with what is being spoken, they may be a 'hard-core' Christian radical and agree whole-heartedly with what is being said but are they really hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches? Is the Word hitting them in the heart and producing a deep response in their soul, or are they just giving mental assent to a message they technically agree with but are not hearing properly?
You may ask, "Well, how do you know people don't have ears to hear?" How do you know people are hearing but are not truly hearing the Word of the Lord? To answer that, you've just got to look at what people do when they hear God's Word. We see when people in the book of Acts heard the Word of the Lord they were, "Cut to the heart," (Acts2:37) and their lives changed radically. Devout Jews from every nation under heaven suddenly became radical disciples of Jesus the Jewish Messiah. Saul the murderer and persecutor of the church became a transformed individual whose preaching was so powerful he himself became the target of persecution. People changed when they truly heard the Word of the Lord; when they had ears to hear.
The Bible is described as a sharp double-edged sword for a reason. When the Word of God ministers to us it will pierce us deep in our soul. It will wound our heart, slice, cut and chop out any selfishness, pride or sin we are harbouring there. When we truly hear the Words of God as we are supposed to, they will convict, energise, compel and revolutionise our lives.
So what happens today? People hear messages, they agree with what is said, they go home and they continue as they always have been. They continue to lie, cut people down with their words and defile themselves with what they watch. There is no change. Why? Because people are hearing messages, but they are not really hearing them deep in their soul or in their spirit. They are hearing the message with their physical ears, but their spiritual ears are completely closed over and blocked up. They are spiritually deaf but don't realise it because they are hearing good messages but they are not really hearing them. They have physical ears alright but their spiritual ears are dulled and closed up.
So how can our ears be so blocked and unable to hear? Why is it we are generally deaf to the voice of the Spirit? We need to realise the default natural position for man is to be deaf and ignorant to the things of God. This is normal for the natural man. When you add to this years of spiritual neglect, a highly developed self-centred lifestyle and a corrupting worldly environment surrounding and constantly defiling us, it is no surprise the voice of the Spirit is pretty faint within. To become conscious and aware of the things of the Spirit, to become a spiritual man takes time, effort, discipline, dedication and a continuous deliberate decision to follow the path of holiness, the way of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately many people are not prepared for this and never learn to hear what the Spirit is saying.
When speaking about the generation amongst whom He was living, Jesus spoke these words from the prophet Isaiah,
"Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them," Matt.13:14 - 15.
Bearing in mind these people were usually a lot more versed in the scriptures then we are today, and they had the very Son of God Himself preaching and working mighty miracles amongst them, these are pretty pointed words indeed.
If you are a Christian in the West, there is a high likelihood that you have spiritual ears that are dulled and even closed, unable to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches in this day. I would say we have an epidemic of people in the church today who have little if no idea what the Spirit is saying because they cannot hear His voice. How can we hear if our ears are deaf? It is impossible.
Many people reading at this point will probably say, "My goodness, I know some people in church who need to read this!" No doubt we all know those who need to hear a message like this. Unfortunately it is a message too rarely heard today. Yet how often do we even dare consider the slightest possibility that perhaps or maybe just maybe our own ears may be spiritually deaf? Do we ever? Could it possibly be that our own ears are closed to what the Spirit is saying and we don't even know it? Jesus said to those closest to Him, "He who has ears to hear let him hear," (Matt.13:9). Jesus knew that the most important issue for His disciples was whether they could actually hear what He was saying spiritually. For sure they could hear Him as He spoke in the fields and the synagogues and they even wrote down what He said. But could they hear the spiritual message contained within His words?
I wonder when you read God's Word, do you feel the sharp point of that double-edged sword in your soul, the fire burning in your bones as Jeremiah did, or the satisfying wholeness and sweetness of the heavenly bread in your spirit? Or are they just words you read because you're supposed to? Do you struggle and have to force yourself to study the Bible or is it a delight to your soul? This may well indicate whether you are truly hearing what the Bible has to say. Jesus said,
"Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him," Lk.8:18.
There are many believers today who think they're pretty good Christians. They know quite a bit of the Bible, go to church a lot and live a relatively moral life yet have never really heard what the Spirit is saying to the church today. How many believers have their own specific favourite subject be it deliverance, holiness, revival, creationism, spiritual warfare, the Sovereignty of God, prophecy, Israel, evangelism or end times, something they are able to talk long and hard about, yet actually know very little of what the scriptures as a whole point to? Many today confuse knowing all about their pet subject with the more important issue of whether they truly know God or not. They imagine that just because they can give a complete chronology of end time events or have spiritually mapped out their city's demonic strongholds that makes them a great Christian. It does not. Knowing God and loving Him with literally everything we have, and loving our neighbour as ourselves is what defines us as a great Christian or not.
Of course if you can give a complete chronology of end time events this can be great (so long as it ties up with all the scriptures and is not just a rehash of someone else's revelation). However this does not make you a man or woman who walks with God and who hears His voice. No, grieving over sin and walking humbly before God will give us ears that hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. God opens the ears of those who choose to walk with a broken and contrite heart, but shuts those of the proud. If we were really honest with ourselves and with those around us, do I have a humble heart and do I have ears that can hear? I'd say it's pretty important for us to know the answer to these questions.
As I spend time with the Lord and invest time in His Word, the one thing I sense over and over is that many church people will not be ready for His return.
It is something I sense often. As I consider the imminency of the Lord's coming I feel a sobering burden for the many who will be shut out on that day. Yet who were assuming everything was fine as they sat in their pews and considered their busy lives, but gave little thought to the prospect of eternity. I sense the Spirit saying, "My coming is near. It is time for My people to get serious with their God, to humble their proud unrepentant hearts that they might clearly hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches." He says if we don't repent of our lukewarmness, He will vomit us out of His mouth.
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches," Rev.3:19 - 22.
The Lord is sounding an urgent call in these days to those who wish to overcome and inherit the Kingdom, a call to repentance, holiness and single-minded devotion to Him. A call to humility, a contrite spirit before Him and a tender heart towards others. The question is do we have ears that can hear it?