THE INITIATION OF SPIRITUAL WORK
It is not a small matter to initiate anything. A believer should not rashly do something just because it is good, needful, and profitable to others. These are not sufficient reasons to prove that a work is according to the will of God. Perhaps God wants to raise up others to do the work, or He may prefer to allow the work to stop temporarily. Although it may be hard to let go from the human point of view, God knows how to take care of it. Therefore, goodness, necessity, and profitableness are altogether insufficient to be the guidelines to our work.
The book of Acts is the best pattern for our work. In Acts we do not see someone "consecrating to be a preacher," "deciding to do the Lord’s work," "becoming a missionary," or "becoming a pastor," etc. Rather, we see the Holy Spirit Himself appointing people and sending people to work. God does not recruit men to give themselves for the work; God only sends the persons whom He wants. We do not see anyone choosing to do a work himself; only God selects the laborers for His work. There is no place for the thought of man’s flesh. If God wants something, even a Saul will not be able to resist. If God does not want something, even a Simon will not be able to buy it with money. As the Lord of all, God controls His own work, not allowing even a little part of man to be mixed in with it. Man does not come to work; rather, God "sends out" the laborers. Therefore, spiritual work must begin with a personal calling from the Lord Himself. One must not go forth to work because of the entreaty of preachers, the urging of relatives and friends, or the affinity of his own nature to the holy Word. Only those who are not wearing fleshly shoes can stand upon the holy ground of God’s work. Much failure, waste, and confusion happen because man himself comes to work rather than being sent to work.
Even if a man is selected, he cannot then begin to act freely. From the viewpoint of the flesh, no other work in the world is more constricting than spiritual work. We read in Acts phrases such as: "the Holy Spirit said," "the Lord said to him," "the Holy Spirit said to him," "sent out by the Holy Spirit," "forbidden by the Holy Spirit." Other than obeying, the worker has no authority to offer any opinion. At that time the work of the apostles was nothing other than knowing the mind of the Holy Spirit in their intuition and then following it. How simple this was! If spiritual work needs a believer to somehow use his own effort to devise, calculate, maneuver, and worry about it, then only those who are naturally gifted, intelligent, and educated will be able to work. However, God has completely put aside everything which is of the flesh. As long as a believer’s spirit towards God is holy and clean, lively and full of power, he will be able to follow the Lord’s direction and do a very effective work. God has never given believers the authority to control the work; He only wants them to listen to what He says in their spirit.
Samaria had a "great revival," but Philip was not responsible for the continuing work of nourishing. He had to leave immediately and go to the wilderness to save a Gentile eunuch. Ananias had never heard of Saul’s conversion, and according to his reasoning, it meant death to go and intercede for him; however, he did not decide for himself. The Jewish rule prohibited Jews from going to a Gentile home to associate with them, but when the Holy Spirit spoke, Peter could not resist. Paul and Barnabas were sent by the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit still had the authority to forbid them from going to Asia and the authority to later lead Paul to Asia to establish the church in Ephesus. All the work is in the hands of the Holy Spirit; a believer should just obey. If the work was according to human thought, likes, and dislikes, then in the early days, they would not have gone to many places where they should have gone, and they would have gone to many places where they should not have gone. These experiences show us that we should not follow our own thought, reason, preferences, and decisions; rather, we should follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our spirit. They also show us that the Holy Spirit does not lead through our thoughts, preferences, and decisions; on the contrary, our thoughts, preferences, and decisions are completely opposite to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our spirit. If the apostles could not work according to their mind, emotion, and will, how can we?
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)