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For Receving Counsel
By Paul Collins
God has designed the Body of Christ so that we give mutual encouragement and comfort. We help each other grow in the Lord (read Ephesians 4:15-16). There are, however, some clear guidelines on how this is to be done. Much damage is done in the Body by those who give counsel, often sincerely, but violate these guidelines.
No authority without responsibility
Authority and responsibility go hand in hand. Some people give "words from God" which are expressing authority over another's life, yet never take responsibility for that word.
Words of direction must be judged
The Bible encourages every believer to give words of "strengthening, encouragement and comfort" (1 Cor.14:3). But when a believer brings a word of specific direction to another Christian, then he has stepped beyond his measure (Rom.12:3-6) into the "office of the prophet, a ministry protected by God with checks and balances. The Bible says "Let two or three prophets speak and let the others judge" (Cor.14:29, KJV). Words of direction should never be given one on one, but only with experienced ministries there to judge it.
Don't receive words automatically
Whenever you are given a word that is not simply encouragement, comfort and strengthening (in other words, direction) do not just receive it as from God, even if the person tells you "This is from God" (see 1 John 4:1). This applies even in a meeting situation, where a word of prophecy is given in a situation where it can be judged. Any word or prophecy comes simply as a confirmation of what God is already speaking to you about; if not, then put it on the shelf. If it really is from God, it will prove itself without you needing to bring it about yourself.
God wants you to hear His voice
God's desire is for each believer to learn to hear from God themselves. God, of course, will sometimes use others to speak to us, but we should never become dependent on others for direction for our lives.
You are responsible to decide
In all counsel, you are always responsible to decide before God as to what you should do. No one else can take this responsibility for you. Others may give advice, but you should never expect them to make a decision for you. You must make all final decisions for your life.
Guidelines for true godly counsel
True counsel will always point to Jesus and the key provisions of the Cross. It is not problem-centered, but answer-centred. True counsel will also bring clarity and simplicity to the situation, not confusion and further entanglement.
Beware of split counselling
Some people seek counsel from multiple sources, which is not wise if these sources are not conferring. "Doing the rounds" can bring confusion, or a tendency to pick what we want to hear.
How God works
The Holy Spirit leads; the Enemy pressures. The Holy Spirit convicts (to bring a solution); the Enemy condemns.
Remember: The Lord encourages us to share with one another, but not to usurp the other's decision-making responsibility. If someone does come to you with a word of direction - "God has told me that you should..." - then you can tell them to come and share it together with your pastoral leadership. Outside of direction, we can all share our experience with one another, bringing words of encouragement and comfort.
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Copyright & copy; 1996 Paul Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these studies are from the New International Version of the Bible, & copy; New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.
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