Missional God at Work
How His speaking always brings us back to the gospel
by Arthur A. Ellison
Our God is a missional God. So it should not surprise us that when we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, He is saying something more than just about our personal faith, encouragement or comfort.
We know that God has already told us much of what He wants us to do and be through the Scriptures. If the Holy Spirit never said anything else after the close of the canon, there are many things we’d know to do, because He’s already spoken through objective revelation, in the Scriptures. Thus we know we are to evangelize and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28).
We believe that one reason for God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is to offer further personal leading and direction (John 16:12-15, Romans 8:14). If you ask believers why they chose a particular ministry, or why they serve in Congo rather than Brazil, they will come back with a variety of responses. Some have to do with practical reasons or how it is well suited for them. But in addition, often you’ll hear, “I feel the Lord led me” or, “He told me…”
They will use terminology that reflects subjective revelation—a personal communication from the Lord of where He wanted them to serve. It’s not just that they read Scripture and applied it. But they heard His “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). They knew it was Him and that He had uniquely called them.
The Holy Spirit’s words never conflict with Scripture, because Scripture is an expression of His nature and character, and He never changes.
This is one of the reasons our hundreds of EFCA ReachGlobal staff members serving around the world can endure the hard adjustments and trials of being a missionary. They know that they know … that God spoke to them personally and uniquely. They heard His voice calling them to the field.
That is our experience as evangelicals. All of us have had the experience of hearing God’s voice because He lives in us and He is not silent. He never has been.
Whatever God has already said through Scripture, many times the Holy Spirit will personalize or apply it to us. It is His sword. The Holy Spirit’s words never conflict with Scripture, because Scripture is an expression of His nature and character, and He never changes. Instead, like a good father, He sits down eye to eye with me and personalizes the conversation—after I’ve read from Scripture—about Matthew 28 or sexual purity or loving my wife or many other issues.
Over the past decade in local churches and internationally through ReachGlobal, we’ve led prayer retreats called Quiet Waters. I’ve noticed an interesting pattern when these Quiet Waters events last longer than a day.
God first begins to speak to us about our relationship with Him. Then He’ll start talking with us about our relationship with other people. And then it’s not unusual that He begins speaking to us about external ministry; He will speak about how we are both being and sharing the gospel around the world.
He always takes us toward those things that are on His heart. After all, as Scripture says, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Our God is indeed a missional God.
Arthur A Ellison, MDiv. serves on the senior team of EFCA ReachGlobal as the director of PrayGlobal. He and his wife, Karen, are founding members of Two Rivers Church (EFCA) in Knoxville, Tenn.