This sermon is number 2 in a series of 4
The Wonder Of His Name - Part 2
by David Legge | Copyright © 2011 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Well, thank you Colin, good evening all. It's good to be back again, and it was a delight to renew fellowship with all of you last week, and good to come back each Monday night. I'm looking forward to this evening, and the next two weeks after this night, as we look at 'The Wonder Of His Name'. So we're turning again tonight to Isaiah chapter 9, and our text for this series, verse 6: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace".
Let's come before the Lord in a word of prayer - and I want you to come, as I've invited you last week, and will do in subsequent weeks, to come to the Lord now and ask Him to speak to you. I believe that is a prayer that God usually answers, and we want to claim again this promise in Malachi 3 and verse 16. So let us pray: Father, we thank You for Your holy word. We thank You for the Holy Spirit who inspired these pages before us tonight. Lord, as we come to You, we come in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus, that name that is above every name. Lord, we ask that through the power and ministry of the Holy Spirit, that we would have something imparted to us in our consciousness of the wonder of His name. Lord, we want to know Jesus more, we want to experience more of an intimacy with Him, we want to grow deeper in our relationship with Him through the revelation that is in these various names. Lord, we saw last week that there is not only something revealed of Your character in these names, but there is something revealed of Your provision for us in Yourself. So, Lord, meet our need tonight, whatever our needs may be, to the glory of the majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.
If you were with us last Monday night, we looked at 'A Child Born And A Son Given'. Tonight we're looking at the first two designations, some would say it's only one, in this verse: 'Wonderful, Counsellor' - so that's our title tonight, if you want one, 'Wonderful Counsellor'. These designations are not names, per se, in a literal sense, rather they are descriptions of the character and nature of the prophesied Messiah here in Isaiah 9, of course: our Lord Jesus Christ. Men are usually satisfied with only having a name, but the difference in our Lord Jesus Christ is that He always lives up to His name. Tonight we're going to look at the first two designations: 'Wonderful, Counsellor' - some believe it's actually one designation, and I favour this view: that He is 'the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace'. But we are going to look tonight at these as two designations of our Saviour: 'Wonderful and Counsellor' - because both of them are applicable, aren't they? He is Wonderful, and He is the Wonderful Counsellor.
So let's look at the first: 'Wonderful'. I think I ended last Monday evening by saying that you can never really look at the Lord Jesus Christ, you can never study Him, you can never behold Him or see Him with the eye of faith without considering Him as Wonderful. Or, conversely, you can never look at Him, really see Him, and be bored! The glory of who He is and what He has done for us should fill us with wonder. He will fill your heart and your mind with amazement. Yet I think it is true, as we look around us in our society, that there is a lack of wonder. Even in the Christian church, among believers, there is a loss of wonder in their lives. We need to ask the question: why are we so bored, if our Saviour is the Wonderful?
It was Bertrand Russell, the godless philosopher, who claimed that at least half of the sins of mankind were caused by fear of boredom - I think there's a measure of truth in that. With all the scientific discoveries that we have made by now, the technological feats, all the stimulating experiences and amusements that we can have, most of mankind is in a perpetual state of boredom. We hanker after the latest new toy, gadget, and sensual thrill, but once we have indulged them we toss it away into the corner of our playrooms, and then begin a new pursuit toward meaning and satisfaction. Lives that ought to be unbearably exciting in this 21st-century, are often intolerably boring. Why is that? Well, I believe it is because mankind, still, is blind to the wonder that is in Jesus Christ. Sadly many Christians are no different. I want to ask you tonight: do you see the wonder in Him? Or are you bored? Let's be honest here tonight, because I meet an awful lot of bored Christians! Are you bored with Jesus Christ? Are you bored with your Christianity? Are you bored with church?
I want you to turn with me quickly to - put a marker in there in Isaiah 9 - to Numbers chapter 11. In Numbers chapter 11 we have the account of the children of Israel who have been delivered from Egyptian bondage, and they are now travelling through the wilderness toward the Promised Land, and they have got bored with God's provision. There is great typological teaching here in this chapter, because God has been providing food for His pilgrim people by the gift of manna - which was a strange angelic food that was sent down from God from heaven, bread from heaven. Of course, it represents, in the New Testament, our Lord Jesus Christ - in John chapter 6 He says: 'I am that bread that came down from heaven'. But I want you to see the reaction of God's people here in the wilderness to this special bread, verse 5, they said: 'We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except' - and I want you to hear the disdain, there is an intonation of despising here, look at it: 'there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!'.
They were fed up with the bread of God that came down from heaven! Now it would be a very strong statement to say that Christians are fed up with God's bread that came down from heaven. Perhaps that is too strong, but I don't believe it is too strong to say this: many believers are bored, because they do not see the wonder of Him. In the first epistle of John, John writes about communion with God - just like his gospel in John 17 verse 3, 'This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent'. In 1 John he still talks about this fellowship that we can have with God as our Father through the Lord Jesus, and the consequential fellowship that we have with one another as brothers and sisters. He talks about how we can enjoy this fellowship and communion with God, but it always intrigues me how he ends this epistle in chapter 5 and verse 21, I'll quote it to you. Here's how he ends it: 'Little children, keep yourselves from idols'. Why does he end it like that? Simply because an idol is a substitute for God, an idol is something that comes between us and our communion with God. We are to have this wonderful fellowship and communion with Him, but, if you like, an idol is something artificial that takes God's place.
I think you'll agree with me that we live in an artificial world in general. Warren Weirsbe says: 'Most people are living on substitutes and don't know it. Stupid, vulgar comedy has replaced true wit and humour. Cheap amusement has replaced wholesome recreation. Propaganda has replaced truth'. He goes on to say: 'When you exist on artificial stimulants, you gradually lose the ability to recognise and enjoy the real. When you live on the false, you can't appreciate the real thing'. I believe in my heart of hearts that few Christians are really seeing Christ's wonder - and because of that, many of us are accepting substitutes, artificial replacements, idols. That explains why there is a lust for more than Christ in the Christian church today - and there's no doubt about it: many are hankering after wonderful experiences, and there are experiences in the Christian life. Some are hankering after wonderful knowledge, and they think that they will satisfy their soul by feeding their brain. Many are seeking wonderful abilities and gifts, or wonderful success in ministry - and it's not that those things in and of themselves are inherently wrong, but many are seeking the wonder of these things at the expense of Christ! It is these things without Jesus, without intimacy with Him, without fellowship, without communion with God!
Sometimes one of the artificial substitutes is busyness. Warren Weirsbe goes on to say: 'We boast about the quantity of our activity, without admitting the lack of quality in our experience'. Could that describe us? We're so busy doing things for God and in God's name, but where is the depth and the quality of the experience? I heard Zac Poonen, quite a famous Indian preacher, recently quote the second president of India who revered Christ but wasn't a Christian himself. This is what he said: 'You Christians make such extraordinary claims, but live such ordinary lives'. In a sense, it is idolatry when we substitute the real for the artificial - and that is what we are doing if we don't see the wonder of our Lord Jesus.
Here's another lesson here concerning idolatry: we become like the God we worship. Did you know that? That's why - well, we'll not refer to any particular religions tonight, but you can pick out the ones that you like, and understand their conception of God and how it has thwarted their humanity. The engendered kindness that is in most people, just from being a man or a woman, it has been robbed from them because of their conception of a cruel, dictatorial, hateful God. But you know, as Christians, we need to be aware that we become like the God we worship - so if we worship something artificial, we ourselves become artificial too. The very senses that ought to wonder in worship at the Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Father as He is revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ, those senses become jaded and then eventually paralysed until they are dead.
Now I really want you to understand the process of idolatry and how it can affect us. I think the Psalmist explains this well, if you turn with me to Psalm 115, he speaks about idols made with men's hands, idols of silver and gold. Look at what he says in verse 5 of Psalm 115: 'They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell' - now, look at this statement in verse 8 - 'Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them'. Do you see it? If you worship something artificial, even as a Christian, if you come to take wonder from something other and over Jesus Christ, and Christ alone in all His glory and the wonders of His name, the senses that you once found wonder in will become jaded, paralysed, and then dead. You will become like the idol you worship.
This is the effect of not seeing Christ: essentially you become a dead Christian. If you worship your brain, you'll become a boffin, cerebral Christian, purely on the mind level. If you worship experience, you'll become an experiential, overly emotional Christian, bypassing the brain or even all truth. But, you see, if you seek Christ as He truly is - and that can only come through a personal walk with the Lord Himself, an intimacy, a communion, a fellowship; well, you'll see His wonder, and you'll begin to appreciate Him. Here's the greatest miracle of all in Christianity: you will become like Him.
Now, let's delve a little bit deeper: what is this wonder that we're talking about? Well, there is a depth to it that goes beyond mere sensational amusement. We're not likening this to the pleasures of life that give us a buzz, a momentary distraction from the hardships of life - but this is a wonder that brings a depth of meaning with it. This wonder enriches us. This wonder changes us. It is to be overwhelmed with an appreciation of Jesus Christ, like Peter was, when we fall on our faces and say: 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!'. Do you have an appreciation of the Lord Jesus, like Peter had?
What do we need to appreciate? Well, quickly: we need to appreciate the wonder of His birth. We will be thinking of it a lot in the weeks that lie ahead of us. There are so many wonders, aren't there? The wonder of His conception: of the Holy Spirit in the virgin's womb. The wonder of the circumstances: an unmarried mother, though she was betrothed; no room for them in the inn; and being born in a stable. The wonder of the wise men, the Magi, coming and worshipping Him. The wonder of the shepherds, you remember the shepherds spread the news - and we see the wonder of the reaction of the people to the birth of the Lord Jesus. In Luke chapter 2 we read: 'All those who heard it marvelled at those things which were told them by the shepherds'. There was wonder at the birth of the King of Israel!
Then there is the wonder of His life. Where do we even begin? Where do we end? Well, one place we could begin is the first miracle that He performed, that sign in Cana of Galilee at the marriage feast when He turned the water into wine. Effectively what He did was, He turned the ordinary into the extraordinary. What wonder in all of His miracles! He touched blind eyes and made them see, deaf ears and made them hear, dumb tongues and made them talk. He touched atrophied arms, and the gathering, the congregation in Israel in the synagogue, saw that withered hand grow before their eyes. He walked on water. He fed 5000, and more, women and children besides, with five loaves and two fish. He even raised the dead! Everything Jesus touched, He made wonderful.
Not only were His works wonderful, but His words. We could talk about the Sermon on the Mount - never surpassed. Other philosophies and religions have pinched many of the principles, but none of them have been able to better them. They wondered at His words. We read in Luke chapter 4 and verse 22: 'All bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, 'Is this not Joseph's son?''. They couldn't get over the authority wherewith He spoke! You see, what the rabbis would do was, they would appeal to ancient authorities of respected rabbis in Judaism - but the Lord Jesus didn't quote other rabbis, He spoke with divine authority! His words were infused with power, and in fact, He said Himself, with life! These were not just points of discussion! He said in John chapter 6: 'It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life'.
That, of course, was the case, wasn't it? When, on the night and which He was betrayed, He took bread, and He brake it, and He said: 'This is My body'. He took wine, and He poured it out, and He said: 'This is My blood that I will shed for you, the blood of the New Covenant. Take and drink it'. He took ordinary bread and ordinary wine, and He endows them with sacred significance that never before was known by mankind. He goes to a cross - and I don't want to be, in any shape or form, sounding crude; but do you know what the cross was? It was the equivalent to a hangman's noose or an electric chair. Yet He turned that contemporary mode of execution into the greatest symbol of God's love that humankind has ever known. Everything He touched, He made it wonderful.
Of course, that brings us to His cross: the wonder of His life led to the wonder of the cross, because He was born to die. We saw that last week, a child had to be born not only to experience what it is to live as a human being in this world, apart from sin of course, but He had to bleed and die - as children are partakers of flesh and blood, He likewise partook of the same, so that He may die and defeat him who had the power over death, even the devil. He was born to die, and He was willing to die, and He did die. I came across a song recently by Vicky Beeching, it's called 'The Wonder Of The Cross' - it goes like this:
'O precious sight, my Saviour stands
Dying for me with outstretched hands.
O precious sight, I love to gaze
Remembering salvation's day.
Though my eyes linger on this scene,
May passing time and years not steal
The power with which it impacts me,
The freshness of its mystery'.
The chorus goes like this:
'May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross.
May I see it like the first time,
Standing as a sinner lost,
Undone by mercy and left speechless,
Watching wide-eyed at the cost:
May I never lose the wonder,
The wonder of the cross'.
Now let's be honest: we do lose the wonder of the cross, don't we? Whether it's when we sit around the Table and remember Him, or whether it's in the Gospel, or whether it's in the songs we sing, or the reading of the word of God in our daily experience - we come across the cross, we've heard about it so much, we've meditated on it so much before, and it loses the wonder!
Then, of course, there's the wonder of His resurrection - where do we even begin? The greatest miracle of all time and eternity: that Christ comes forth, the Author of a new creation, never to die again - offering eternal life to those who believe in Him. Not just a spiritual resurrection, but a bodily, physical resurrection - and then He goes, 40 days later, to His Ascension, and a Human Being enters heaven and is enthroned on the Throne of God in heaven! He becomes our Great High Priest, and intercedes for us. Do you see the wonder of it?
You see the dullness, if there is dullness in our lives, is not caused by the circumstances outside us, but by the spiritual condition inside us: when we no longer see the wonder of Jesus, as believers when we substitute the wonder of Him with idols, whatever those idols might be. I have to say to you that those idols can be spiritual habits, those idols can be doctrines that are devoid of the presence and communion and fellowship of Christ. Is there someone here tonight, and you want to know more of Jesus Christ? We all should, shouldn't we? It would be very naive for us to take for granted that we all do. Are there any here who want to see more of the wonder of Jesus, who want that experience of Ephesians chapter 1, that the eyes of our understanding should be opened and - as Paul said in Ephesians - that we should be filled with all the fullness of God? Do you want it? Well, ask God for it! Ask God for the Holy Spirit to show you the wonder of Jesus, because that's the Holy Spirit's job - not to focus on Himself, but to shine the spotlight on the One whom God is fully delighted with, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said it in John chapter 15: when the Helper, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, the Encourager, the Strengthener comes, 'whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me'.
Ask God the Father for the Holy Spirit to show you the wonder of Him. Now, do that, will you? Don't run out now to the Faith Mission Bookshop, and buy a book about Him, and think that by reading that book you're going to see the wonder of Him. I'm not saying it's wrong to read books about Christ, I'm reading books about Christ at the minute - but don't substitute books, or mental knowledge, for an experiential intimacy and a spiritual revelation in your soul of the wonder of Jesus Christ that is displayed in His marvellous names. Don't feed your mind, though it's not wrong to feed your mind, that's not what we're talking about. We're speaking of the wonder that only the Holy Spirit can give: a deep appreciation of Jesus Christ in His glory - do you have it? He is Wonderful! Do you see Him as Wonderful? Or are you bored?
But He's not just Wonderful, He is Wonderful Counsellor. I think that's probably the designation here: 'Wonderful Counsellor'. Now there are many ways that we could talk about how He is a Counsellor. For instance, He sits on the High Council of the Godhead: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit have been in counsel for all eternity. They are counselling together for our good, they have counselled together concerning our salvation; and it was their counsel that issued forth the plan of God to save us. You know that, don't you? How they cooperated together, how the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world; and how the Son said: 'Though I go to do Your will, O God', 'As it is written in the volume of the book, 'I go to do Your will''. He willingly came and, for the first time ever - we saw it last week - the Godhead took into itself humanity, flesh, and Jesus came in the flesh, bled and died on the cross, bore in His body our sins on the tree, was buried, on the third day rose again, ascended onto heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit who now appropriates that great plan of salvation. The Godhead, in counsel, devised all of this: that the Father should send, that the Son should come, and that the Spirit should implement all of it - bringing conviction of sin upon sinners: 'He shall convince of sin, righteousness and judgement', and He shall testify to the minds and hearts of unbelieving men the wonder of Jesus Christ as Saviour! Is it any wonder He's called 'Wonderful Counsellor'?
The counsel of the Godhead in the past over our salvation, He also counsels for our good. We're very familiar with that verse: 'All things work together for good to them that love God' - and we do believe, though with the naked eye we often can't see sense in what's going on in our lives, we have to believe that God is sovereign and that God is in control. Though tonight, whatever you're going through, your life might seem as you look back with hindsight like a zigzag path, and you haven't understood where God has been bringing you from and where you're going to - but as God looks down tonight upon your history, God sees it as a dead straight line. He knows what He's doing. He's counselling for your good, for His glory.
But that's not what I want to really get at tonight when we think of the Lord as 'Wonderful Counsellor'. I want us to consider His counsel to us. Now a counsellor is a profession that we're all very familiar with in our modern age, because so many people are seeking guidance in their life, or help with just the burdens and the loads that they shoulder. Where people turn to when they need help tells us a great deal about them. One will turn to the bar, or a bottle, and drown their problem - inebriate themselves or turn to drugs to try and bury hurtful memories. Others will run to a medium, or a clairvoyant, or a fortune-teller, to try and make sense of what's going on in their life. Some will just look at the daily newspaper horoscope and see if there is another power that can direct them, or tell them what's going to turn out of this life that seems to be pointless that they're living. Others go the medical route to therapy, they have a psychiatrist, a shrink. Others get good advice - maybe you have a good, trusted friend, a confidant. Some go to the doctor, Christians often go to the pastor - but the point of this title here, 'Wonderful Counsellor', is, listen: Jesus is the One who is fit to guide our lives, and He is the One who should be our first port of call, the Wonderful Counsellor.
Is He? When your back is against the wall, when you have a problem, when there is a dilemma, when there is a crisis - what's the first thing, often, we do after the panic? Maybe we lift the phone, call a member of the family - but we ought to really come to the Lord, and seek the Lord, because the counsel that He offers is second to none. Now counsel is offered to us on every hand these days. The world will always offer its counsel, and that's epitomised in popular culture and advertising that clamours for our attention, and seeks to condition us with the philosophy of the age. It's very easy to take on the worldview, and the advice that the television, daytime TV, and the modern-day gurus like Oprah, and whoever else there is, what they're saying about how to cope, how to get through life. If there is the world, there is the flesh, our own flesh or the flesh of others, that counsels us toward selfishness, comfort, ease, the indulgence of every appetite and passion without any restraint. Our flesh will always tell us: 'You ought to do this', 'You ought to do that', and the flesh in others will advise us readily - but the word of God says in Jeremiah 17: 'The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?'. You can't trust it!
Not only is the heart unstable, but the mind is limited. No matter how brilliant you are intellectually, God's word is clear in Isaiah 55: 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways', says the LORD'. Do you know what that means? We don't have what it takes to live our lives. We can't go it alone. No matter what counsel we receive from the world, from our flesh, from the intellects of others, it's not enough! Jeremiah knew this, in Jeremiah 10 he says: 'O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps'. If the world gives its advice, and the flesh in us and in others, you can be absolutely sure that Satan and his demons give their advice as well. You can always rely on him to be there when we least need him, and of course he has been the ruin of humanity, and he is still being listened to! Do you know what I find as I move around churches and meet Christians? In a general sense Christians will believe the devil's lies, before they will believe God's word! You say: 'That's shocking!' - well, it's true! That's the reason why so many believers are wrecked with anxiety, and fear, and debilitating, paralysing care - because they're listening to the lies that the devil is telling them, rather than the truth of what God's word says. The truth of God sets us free, that's what Jesus said.
Satan deceived Eve in the Garden, that she would be as God, and she believed him. It brought sin upon humanity, and death into the world, and consequential suffering and pain, and the mess that we all find ourselves in - and Satan's objective, still, is to blind unbelievers. If you're not a Christian here tonight, you've got to understand this: Satan has an objective, an agenda for you. He wants to blind the minds of those who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine into you, and you should believe. In short, he doesn't want you to see the wonder of Christ, and he will do everything in his power to prevent you.
He also seeks to deceive Christians. I haven't got time to look at, but we could look at 2 Corinthians 11 where Paul says: 'I fear for you, Corinthians, that, just as Eve was beguiled by the serpent in the Garden, you should be deceived from the simplicity of devotion that is in Christ'. Sometimes I wonder do half the believers actually know the devil exists! Yet he is a very real foe who seeks to destroy us, and he will give us all sorts of counsel if we will heed it, if we will obey it - but we have the Wonderful Counsellor! You don't need the world, you don't need to listen to the flesh, and you certainly shouldn't be heeding the devil!
Do you understand that this is a privilege of the New Covenant, the Lord Jesus as the Wonderful Counsellor? In Hebrews chapter 8 and verse 11, listen, the author to the Hebrews, he quotes Jeremiah 31 where there is enshrined the New Covenant blessing that was made to the Jews, but that we become partakers of by grace as the sons and daughters of Abraham by faith. This is one of the promises in the New Covenant: 'None of them shall teach his neighbour, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD', for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them'. Do you know what that means? There is a personal intimacy and fellowship of communion with the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Covenant - as believers, that's what we have: Him as a Wonderful personal Counsellor.
So, how does it work? How does He counsel us? Well, of course, He counsels us through the word of God. Primarily that is the supreme way that God speaks to us. We read in Psalm 119, listen: 'Your testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors' - God's word! He goes on to say: 'You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies; For they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Your precepts' - through the word of God we have the Wonderful Counsellor of the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, we get counsel when we come to hear the preaching of the word of God. How many times in your life - maybe that's how you were converted - God spoke very definitely to you, and arrested your spirit through the preaching of the Gospel in the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost. Of course, in our daily life, as we read our Bibles day by day - as is a good habit to be in - often there is a personal application of Scripture to us. The way we often describe it is that the word of God seems to jump out from the page and hit us, and speak to us right in the midst of some circumstance that we're going through. God's word can have an application in so many ways, even when we're not reading the word of God; because we have read it and put the input, the Holy Spirit can bring the output. Whenever we need a verse or a word from God, He can remind us of things that we've learned and we have read in the past.
Through the word of God we have God's counsel, and we can so often avoid so many common pitfalls by heeding the word - but the word of God is not the only way that God speaks to us and counsels us. He can counsel us through our circumstances, through providence, through how He leads us. There is supernatural guidance from God, and the Bible does speak of things like visions and dreams, and God actually speaking in audible voices. It's a very rare thing - what is more common today than God speaking with an audible voice is the Holy Spirit speaking within. I believe one of the reasons why it's more common for God's people is because we, now, are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and God resides and dwells within us - so we ought to expect to hear an inner voice from God. Is that not what the Lord Jesus promised in the New Covenant? John chapter 10 in verse 27: 'My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me'.
It has been called 'the still, small voice', attributed to 1 Kings 19 where Elijah, fleeing from Jezebel, is depressed - and God comes to him and reveals Himself to him, but He doesn't reveal Himself in the earthquake, or the wind, or in the fire, but in a still, small voice. Wiseman translates that: 'The voice of a gentle whisper'. Do you receive the counsel of the Lord Jesus Christ through the witness of the Spirit? That's how He becomes, along with Scripture and these other things that I've mentioned, this is one of the main ways in the New Covenant that we can know this counsel of Jesus Christ: through the witness of the Spirit with our spirit. Some people have called it a sort of internal intuition, a knowing of the will of God, an impulse that comes to us that something is right or something is wrong, a nudge, or an impression that comes to us - a check on our spirits that tells us: 'Beware, that's going to harm you!', or 'That's the wrong road to take'. It might come in a word, it might come in a thought, it might come in a feeling - but listen: Jesus can help you with your problems, Jesus can help you with your decisions. The Wonderful Counsellor is there for you! If, as we said last week, you put the government of your life upon His shoulder, He will make this real to you, and He will guide you!
Believer, do you know what the witness of the Holy Spirit is internally? In the Old Testament we have, I think, a wonderful illustration of this, where God sometimes spoke through the High Priest using two stones that were called 'Urim and Thummim'. I believe it corresponds to the New Testament witness of the Spirit. These two stones were contained in a pouch which was placed behind the breastplate of the High Priest, which was close to his heart. When there was a need for divine guidance or a decision on behalf of the people, the Priest, this is what he would do: he would look behind his breastplate, and he would peek into the pouch behind the breastplate to see if the Urim glowed. If the glow was present, he knew that the Lord was speaking and saying 'Yes'. You might say that the glow was 'an inner burning'. If there was no glow, then he knew that God was speaking not to take action.
Now don't misunderstand this Urim and Thummim, or the witness of the Spirit - it is not an automatic mechanism that you can switch on and switch off at will. Saul found this out to his detriment, for in 1 Samuel 28 you remember the Philistines were coming against the King, and he didn't know what to do. He enquired of the Lord, and the Lord did not answer him 'either by dreams, or by Urim, or by the prophets'. Then, do you know what his next port of call was? He said to his servants: 'Find me a woman who is a medium', and he went down to the witch of Endor. The reason why that inner burning witness did not work for Saul was: he was not walking in covenant with God. Do you know what 'covenant' means? It just means 'agreement' - Amos chapter 3 verse 3: 'Can two walk together except they be agreed?'. If you're wanting guidance and wisdom from God, you can't switch it on and off, you've got to be seeing and appreciating the wonder of Christ.
Warren Weirsbe said: 'God doesn't give His counsel to the curious or the careless, He reveals His will to the concerned and the consecrated'. What Christian doesn't want to know God's will? There are things in Scripture that you cannot find guidance for, in the sense that it's not going to turn up one day and say: 'Marry Rodney', or 'Bertha', or 'Move three blocks down the road'. We want to know these things, don't we? But here's the crux of the matter: God reveals His will for the purpose of obedience. One of the greatest lessons I've ever learned in my Christian life is that obedience is the instrument of revelation. If you want to know the will of God in your life, what to be and where to go, you need to be obedient in what God is already showing you. Here's the crux of the matter: guidance is based on a relationship with the Guide, the Wonderful Counsellor. By the way, that sums up the whole of what the Christian life is: it is relationship with God! Some of us treat God like a Satnav, we really do. We want God to say 'Left here, and right here, and go round the roundabout and up the road, 300 yards on your right will be the decision you need to make, or the place you need be, or the career that you need to follow'. Like Saul, we try and switch it on and switch it off - but we're not pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ! That's why many don't have guidance, because they want all the answers to their questions but they're not prepared to pursue the Guide - and you can't have a relationship with a GPS, sure you can't?
God is more interested in who you are in relationship with Him, than what you become or where you become it. Guidance is based on relationship, seeing and appreciating the wonder of Christ. Do you know what it involves? Daily repentance, daily surrender, daily dependence, daily faith - it's manifest in a humble, prayerful dependence upon God. That's why James exhorts us in James 1:5 'If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him'.
We have the Wonderful Counsellor, do you know that? Sometimes I hear people say: 'Who would you go to for godly counsel these days?', or 'I have a serious spiritual problem, but I don't know who to turn to'. Now, don't misunderstand me, it's good to have godly counsellors and we should always seek out help if we really are in need, and we also need not neglect this fact: that often the Lord ministers to us in His counsel, His wonder, His grace and love, through the body of Christ when we are His arms, and we are His feet - but that's getting increasingly scarce today.
If you're needing help, you already have - if you're a Christian - One who is competent to counsel you. He's qualified because He's the all-knowing God in human flesh. You have One compassionate to counsel you. You know, you can have a doctor who might know your condition and treatment that has to come, but he has no bedside manner - and there are plenty like that, aren't there? He doesn't love you. But not only does Jesus know and understand because He was flesh and blood, but Jesus loves you. You have a competent, compassionate - wait for this one - confidential Counsellor. He'll not put it on the front of the Belfast Telegraph, what you tell to Him. Competent, compassionate, confidential and continuous - 24 hours, seven days a week, you have the Wonderful Counsellor in your heart. That's why John said in 1 John 2 and verse 20: 'You have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things'. He is Wonderful, isn't He? Wonderful counsellor - next week, God willing, we'll look at 'Mighty God', and perhaps 'Everlasting Father'; then eventually in the last week, 'Prince Of Peace'.
Lord Jesus, You are Wonderful, and we worship at Your nail-pierced feet. O God, we are unworthy of Your love, but we thank You that You have lavished it upon us in grace. Let us not be lost to the wonder of Your majesty, and Your greatness. Lord Jesus, open the eyes of our heart to see Your wonder, for Your glorious name's sake we pray. And for those who need Your counsel tonight, Lord Jesus, may they receive wonderful counsel from the Mighty God. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at the Iron Hall Evangelical Church in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the second recording in his 'The Wonder Of His Name' series, entitled "Wonderful Counsellor" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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