God speaks to man

When God speaks we should be listening. We should by all means be tuned in, on the right wave length, to receive, assimilate and translate into obedient action whatever instruction or admonition God sends our way.

Although I do not claim to be an authority, I will make some observations on this subject. I cannot but have questions when I hear of the variety of strange messages men are claiming that they receive from God. Pilgrimages, mass suicides, polygamous marriages, “holy” wars, etc. have been proclaimed to be responses to divine messages.

We are forced to the conclusion that men often make plans, decide what they want to or think they should do, and then manage to convince themselves and announce that such was revealed to them as God’s will. The same process has, I fear, even been true regarding doctrines that relate to salvation, worship and Christian living.

There is a difference between being open and receptive to God’s communications and looking for and expecting his support for preconceived plans, ideas and concepts. Whatever the manner of communication, it is important that the message not be “wrested” to fit our agendas. When someone tells you that God spoke to them, that they heard his actual words, do you wonder why you never had such an experience?

Through the history of his dealings with humans, God has communicated in a variety of ways. Certainly, “what has been made” speaks to us of “his eternal power and divine nature” (Rom.1:20). He had a conversational relationship with Adam, Enoch and others. He spoke to and through patriarchs (fathers of families), prophets and chosen people. He communicated in visions, dreams and demonstrations. In considering this the writer of Hebrews began the letter, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,” (Heb.1:1). However, these former processes are contrasted with, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” (v.2a).

Since Jesus is not physically with us today, it appears that he has made provision for us to hear his message from others whom he chose for the purpose rather than in some mystical way, perhaps “better felt than told”. The inspired writer proceeds to point to the “binding” nature of the messages received “by angels” and uses this to warn us of the grave consequences of ignoring “such a great salvation,” (Heb.2:2,3), the message by his Son.

The message of God regarding our great salvation was spoken by Jesus himself, refreshed in the memories of his apostles by the Holy Spirit (Heb.2:3,4) and confirmed for us (its source established) by means of miracles. The New Testament scriptures have long been recognized as the end result of this process, written by those that heard Jesus and saw his great works and later were enabled to do similar works to establish what they spoke and wrote. This body of teaching, “the faith”, is described as “once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Hence, it appears that we should not expect any new or different message from modern day theologians, scholars or “prophets”.

There are those who are seriously asking whether God is speaking to churches today through “theological voices” as he did through Paul and the other New Testament writers. Today’s scholars cannot be God’s messengers in the same way that the apostles were. They have not seen or heard Jesus nor has he promised them a Comforter to put his message in their minds.

On the individual, personal level, communication from God via the scriptures may seem too general and to God by prayer, too one-way. Because of this some claim that God actually responds verbally or, perhaps, in some still small voice. Others, having no direct message, feel that they do not experience God in an intimate way. Current literature on “Experiencing God” appears to be an attempt to respond to these feelings.

Some are urging us to practise “listening prayer”. Certainly, we should, while praying, let God know that we are open to his message and really do seek his response whether it is through scripture, circumstances or our brothers and sisters. It is not uncommon to hear, in a prayer, the request that God “guard, guide and direct us”. Yes, we need protection. Yes, we fumble around and are lost without his guidance and direction. God has taken care of much of this through the scriptures and our relationship with one another in his family.

God’s message is provided to and for the seeker. (John 7:17, Matt.7:7,8). Cornelius’ prayer resulted, not in God telling him what to do to be saved, but in his coming to this knowledge through God’s chosen agent (Acts 10). God’s medium today is the New Testament scriptures and not individual direct messages and not some modern day prophet speaking differently then those scriptures, either more or less.

We must tune in, - study with open minds and receptive hearts. Let us, first of all, be willing to receive and submit to the clear and obvious rather than look for less likely messages delivered in some other way.

God speaks to us today through Jesus and those he appointed. Let us tune in, be receptive and humbly obey.

Eugene C. Perry

Published in The Old Paths Archive