It isn’t rocket science. God speaks.
It’s a defining divine characteristic. The whole thing started with speech. ‘And God said… and it was so…’ (Genesis 1)
Not only did he start everything with words, but he continues everything with words.
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, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Hebrews 1)
All things are sustained by Jesus’ powerful word, the word that he continues to speak, because he is the Word.
Not only that, but because Jesus ‘sat down’ at the Father’s right hand, the word that he speaks is a final word – the sitting down speaks of finality and completion.
So, it all began with speech. It is all sustained by speech. And there’s no new speech to come.
And this God speaks to us. That’s not rocket science, is it – we know this, don’t we. Don’t we?
This short post is about how I hear God speak to me all the time, directly, personally and regularly. As regularly as I allow him to speak to me, really – because every time I read the words of the Bible I hear God’s words.
Still not rocket science, is it!
Why then do we have a church culture (in mainstream evangelical churches of Europe and North America at least) that uses the language of God speaking to me to refer to almost anything other than his written word being his actual word?
At a conference this year, every pastoral conversation I had with those seeking guidance boiled down to the question of ‘how do I know what God wants me to do about…’ Fill in the dots with issues of struggles against sin, major relationship choices and future employment plans. The desire behind each question was ‘I want God to tell me what to do, where to go, how to live’ and so on.
Good questions – that he has already answered.
In the Bible.
Another example: it is extremely rare (granted, in my limited experience) to meet people in full-time gospel ministry who don’t attribute their involvement to a specific voice or word or sign from God.
It’s as if the Bible is an encyclopaedia – a reference book, full of (true and inspired) information about God. We consult it to find out what God is like, what the gospel is, how he has worked in history, what the answers are to Sunday school quizzes, what we’re to believe or not believe. But if we want to ‘hear’ God, we look up to the heavens or into our consciences, because we think that’s how God speaks to me.
And yet does the Bible for one moment lead us to understand that this is how God speaks to us? Or I should say, rather, that nowhere in the Bible does God tell us (see what I did there?) that we should expect him to speak to us apart from what we have written in his word, the Bible, about the Word, his Son.
God speaks to me whenever I open that big old book. It’s full of things that he actually wants me to hear – especially the gospel message of promised rest (Hebrews 3 and 4).
If only I’ll listen.