Summary: Part 3. When we are in relationship with God we should expect to hear God speaking to us.
If we are not experiencing God’s abundant life we need to ask ourselves why? I think we can boil the problem down to one of three issues: 1) We might have a relationship problem with God. Over the last couple of weeks we have looked at the importance of knowing God, having a personal relationship with God through Christ and how that alone impacts every other area of our life. You might know about God through reading the Bible or believe certain things to be true, but you are not in a relationship with God through Christ, or perhaps it is a distant relationship (kinda like with your second cousins). 2) We could have a hearing problem. No, I don’t mean you are going deaf, or losing your physical hearing. I am referring to your ability to understand when God is speaking to you and what he is saying, so you can do what he wants you to do. 3) We could have an obedience problem. We know what God wants us to do, but we are unwilling to step out in faith and make the adjustments in our life and do what God wants of us and because we do not do what God wants we don’t see the power of God working in our life.
We’ve already looked at the relationship part first because if you don’t have a close personal relationship with God you will definitely have a hearing problem. You will not be able to understand what God is trying to say to you. However I’ve noticed in my own life that having a relationship with God does not mean I automatically know what God is saying. You may be like me and struggle with recognizing God’s voice.
I guess at this point I have to back up and ask, does God speak to his people today? There are Christians who believe God does not speak to us anymore. They argue that God only spoke to people in Bible times, but now that we have the Bible, God’s communication is limited to what we read in the Bible. Or some believe God doesn’t really speak, he just gives us freewill to make all our own decisions without much guidance. Unfortunately, the reason people believe God doesn’t speak today is not because of what the Bible says, it is because it is not a part of their experience. They haven’t sensed God speaking to them, therefore God must not speak to us today. They interpret the Bible through their experiences rather than interpreting their experiences through the truth of the Bible. Just because you have not heard God speaking to you the way God spoke to people in the Bible (such as with an audible voice) does not mean God is not speaking to you.
When we look in the Bible, we find over and over again that God communicates with his people because God desires relationship, not mindless obedience, that’s religion.
1. God Spoke to People in the OT
God spoke to people in the Bible in many different ways. What are some ways God spoke to people in the OT? God spoke directly (i.e. Noah, Abraham, Moses) or through angels (Gen. 16), visions (Gen. 15), dreams (Gen. 28:10-19), the use of the Urim and Thummim (Ex. 28:30), a gentle whisper (1 Ki. 19:12), miraculous signs (Ex. 8:20-25), and through the prophets.
What about in the NT?
2. God Spoke through Jesus
NIV Hebrews 1:1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
Jesus himself said:
NIV John 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
Jesus was saying these aren’t my words, they are my Father’s words. I am telling you what he is telling me. Even as a human being Jesus had such a perfect relationship with his Father that he knew what his Father wanted him to say, and he said it. Why did at least four different people feel they need to write down Jesus’ life and teachings? Because they wanted to make sure there was an account for future generations because they truly believed he spoke the words of God.
3. God continued to Speak After Jesus’ Ascension
What about after Jesus ascended to heaven, did God quit speaking to his people because they had received the perfect revelation of Jesus and his teaching? No. Even after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension we see evidence of God speaking to his people directly (Acts 9:15-16), through angels (Acts 5:19-20), dreams & visions (Acts 10:3,10), miraculous signs (Acts 3:6; 10:44), and prophets (Acts 11:27). God spoke to his people the same way in the NT and the OT. These were not everyday experiences, they were rare, but they were still a means through which God spoke to his people.