Our God speaks! It’s as natural for him as it is for me. He made me, after all!
There is no doubt that the one, true and living God is a God who speaks. The Bible often emphasises that the idols of the nations are dumb. They cannot speak! In contrast to dumb idols the scriptures set the activities of a God who communicates – who speaks! This is our God! We are on good ground when we claim that the true and living God is a God who loves to speak to us!
The whole Bible rests on the assumption that God speaks. The first chapter of the first book, Genesis, repeatedly tells us, ‘God said..’ In the last book of the bible, Revelation, we find this challenge: ‘Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ In between we find again and again God speaks to individuals. Most of the prophets announce, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ Then in the New Testament Jesus is presented in this way: ‘In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.’ Finally, from the day of Pentecost onwards we notice that the gifts of the Spirit are nearly all gifts which enable us to hear God speaking or to discern what he is doing. Clearly God loves to communicate with us!
There are times in Scripture when God doesn’t seem to speak much, ‘the word of the Lord is rare’. However, this always seems to be the result of people’s sin and rebellion rather than God’s unwillingness to speak! Sin causes us to turn our backs on God and become spiritually deaf. It is the mercy of God that he has provided a way for us to turn around, face him and re-experience fellowship with him. A God who creates us for fellowship and calls us back into fellowship through repentance and faith in Jesus, is a God who loves to communicate with his children.
I expect God to speak to me through the Bible, and he does! The Bible is certainly the main way God speaks to us but it is not the only way. It would not be logical for the Bible to be full of God speaking in direct and exciting ways to all sorts of people, but for this same God to now shut down to a book which you have to learn to read! The Bible tells us God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Logic would tell me God still speaks to us in a variety of ways.
Experience backs up logic. Multiple thousands of Christians throughout history, and in the world today, have heard God speak to them, have recorded their experiences and give evidence of it’s impact. There have been many, many Bible based believers who do not ONLY hear God through their Bibles. Biblical Christianity is about coming into an intimate relationship with God. We come to know him personally, he becomes our Abba Father. The Bible tells us that through Jesus we can know God, know his voice, know the mind of Christ.
Of course the Bible is unique and all other communication with or from God must be tested against it. There will always be a harmony between the written Word of God and any true ‘now’ words of God. We should be very suspicious of anyone who claims revelations equal to the Bible. The canon of scripture is closed because it carries the unique authority of Jesus himself. A word from God today must not contain new teaching that adds to or takes away from the clear doctrines of the Bible.
Having said all that the exciting truth is God is eager to speak with his children. He will make the Bible come alive to us personally, and sometimes dramatically illuminates a scripture for us. He will also speak to us through insights and impressions on our minds and spirits that we somehow sense to be his voice. Our consciences will be one of the ways God speaks to us. God will speak to us through his Creation, through providential circumstances and, of course, through the words and actions of other people. He particularly uses our fellow believers as a channel through which he’ll speak to us. Almost all and any of the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to the body of Christ can be used by our Father to communicate with us.
God is a speaking God and he wants us to listen for his voice, to treat it seriously and, once we are sure it is him, to respond in love and obedience. The object will always be to enable us to love him more dearly and follow him more nearly. To be where he wants us to be and to be doing what he wants us to do. The true voice of God will never lead us to do anything that contradicts the clear truth of his Word, the Bible. However, it will often help us to understand the Bible, and live in the good of it, in the here and now reality of our daily lives.