It is not uncommon in today’s society to hear someone say that God has spoken to them. Preachers of TV and radio even claim that they have heard God speak to them vocally. Some have very specific messages.
The purpose of today’s article is to understand just how God does speak to us today. Does God actually speak to us vocally? Can we actually hear the voice of God speaking to us? Does God speak to us subconsciously? And if God does speak to us, does this mean that there is new revelation being given to us? Is the Bible incomplete? Do we need further instruction from God? Why does God speak to some people while others received no messages at all? These questions and many more are relevant to our study today. How can we know what is truth? The Bible surely must be out of date.
It seems as if all one has to do is to say that God has spoken to him and instantly there is a new following, teaching a new doctrine. People are led astray and some will believe anything. Of course, this may be only a small percentage of the people, but it is a real problem. Many of you may remember the Jim Jones event that occurred Nov. 18, 1978. Over 900 men, women and children died in a mass suicide. They were led astray by this man’s deceptions, lies, and misrepresentations. They sold all their possessions and gave them to the Jim Jones church. Maybe you are aware of other events or followings that were not so tragic.
We need to start with the Bible first to understand what it states for itself. The word itself, if we have a proper understanding of it, will be able to defend itself as being the word of God and all that is necessary in God’s communication for peoples of all time.
Second Timothy 3:16 states, “all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In this particular verse, we are instructed that the Scriptures are the inspired word of God. Therefore, it is the instruction of God that is profitable for all areas of life. The word helps to complete the individual to maturity, to make us righteous, gives us our doctrine (that is what we believe) for reproof and correction. All that we need spiritually is found within the word of God. This is what the Bible claims.
The Bible teaches us about Jesus and what we must believe in, how we are to worship and conduct our lives. The Bible teaches us about morals, relationships, and matters of the heart, meaning purity of heart and motives. The Bible can help us in business and finance. Also, there are some common sense health practices found within its teachings, relationship issues, among many other things.
Second Timothy 2:15,” be diligent to present yourself approved to God a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Jude 3 tells us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the Saints.”
So the truth has been completed, it has been delivered, and we are to contend for the faith which has once for all time been delivered to the Saints.
The book of Hebrews 1:1-2 states, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his son, whom he had appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”
Here we have in these two verses were the message has been once delivered once and for all time, and also that God speaks to us today through His Son. How does God speak to us today through his Son? It is through the words of Christ, the message of Christ. I am not trying to limit God to tell God that he cannot speak in any other way than through his word. On the other hand, he has told me how he speaks to us today, through the message of his son Jesus Christ. So when someone tells me that they heard God speaking with them, I have major question marks to go off in my head.
I am here to say that no one hears the voice of God speaking with them today. If they maintained this, they are delusional, and the truth is not in them. Otherwise, the word of God is of no value to us today. We might as well discard the word of God if we fail to believe it and accept all the various types of teaching of those claiming to hear God. The revelation of God through inspiration has ceased. It ended with the death of the apostles and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. There is no new revelation from God. Furthermore, if there were new revelation from God, it would have to be in complete harmony with the Bible.
Galatians 1:8-9 states, “but though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Jesus himself warned against false prophets; he said “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”
Throughout the Bible, various warnings are given against false teachers and false prophets. We must use caution to be able to spot a false teacher and to correct their teachings. How do we know what’s true and false? By a knowledge of the word of God. We are to know and understand the word. We are to put forth effort to acquire this knowledge and understand the message of God. This message is the words of life. We certainly don’t want to do anything to hinder the soul from inheriting it’s eternal abode in heaven.
Larry Graves is the minister at Riceville Church of Christ. He can be reached at 865-300-0642.