To assert that God speaks today, many consider either the height of arrogance or wild imagination. Yet it is true; God does speak into our world. However, as I indicated in the previous blog, Christians generally don’t mean that God speaks to them in an audible voice. God speaks in many ways—if we have ears to hear.
The main bottlenecks to hearing God’s words are either human inattention, hearing impairment or bias against the very possibility of receiving a message from God. “Hearing, they do not hear or understand”(Matt. 13:13). Of course, few humans admit their impairment, just as people who are hard of hearing often delay getting hearing aids, blaming their difficulty in hearing on the way others speak.
Are we listening? Do we want to hear God’s voice? Do we have an innate bias against even considering the possibility that God would speak? Or conversely, has our response to the gospel rendered our heart tender and open to God’s entreaties?
Assuming that we want to hear God’s voice, what means does He use to speak to us?
Firstly, God speaks through the created universe. ”Day after day they pour forth speech…there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth…to the ends of the world”(Psalm 19:2-4). In this case He is speaking through the stars, sun, moon which “declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”(Psalm 19:1).
Romans explains further; “What may be known about God is plain…for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse”(Rom. 1:19,20).
Has the Holy Spirit helped us to feel a sense of awe at the greatness and glory of God manifest in creation? Has He helped us to learn something about what God is like?
Secondly, God speaks to us through His Word, the Bible. In order to properly interpret events as diverse as suffering or prosperity, sin or judgment, we need to assimilate biblical content—theology. We desperately need a balanced and comprehensive understanding of the whole counsel of God. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” Have we spent time reading, meditating, and storing the wisdom of the Bible in our minds?
Thirdly, God speaks through history—the ebb and flow of world events. The Bible gives us a template to use in interpreting events. In the record of early history in Genesis, the story of Israel, and later the story of Jesus and the establishment of the Church we find principles that illuminate world events. Even the record of Israel’s misunderstandings of God’s purposes and may help us today.
But what about our own personal lives? On a micro level, biblical characters and general biography give us a sense of how God works in the lives of individuals. Interpreting events in our lives is not easy. Job’s three friends completely misinterpreted his sufferings.
Clearly, we need the Holy Spirit. He alone can interpret the events we confront and give us guidance about how to react or what direction to take. He also uses experienced and godly counselors to guide us. We should be humble and open enough to accept counsel while avoiding dogmatic declarations; “God told me to do this or go there.”
We need to be cautious and humble, careful to ensure that what we believe God is saying is consistent with Scriptural revelation. God will not contradict what He has already said in the Scriptures.
A further caution. Even mature Christians may misinterpret what God is saying. We are imperfect until we get to heaven. Preparing to hear God’s voice requires faith in Him, complete submission to whatever He may reveal as His will, a heart that is cleansed from sin, and a mind that is sensitive and not arrogant. Sometimes our faith lags, or sin clouds our perceptions, or we are so overconfident that we trust too much in our own interpretation.
Learning to hear the voice of God is a very large subject that will require more than this blog. What about dreams and visions? What about mystery? What about God expecting us, as we mature, to require less and less special guidance? Why not join the conversation?
(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )