by Clem Thurman
via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 58, No. 49, Dec. 4, 2009.
One person claims that God revealed to her in a dream what she was to do with her life. A man says that God spoke to him, openly, telling him what he was to do religiously. Yet another sees signs in the clouds telling what God wants him to do. Another says that God speaks to him "in a still, small voice." Still another man claims that God speaks directly to the heart of each individual to reveal God's Will to him.
Many modern-day religions have begun because some religious leader claims God has spoken to him and has revealed what he and others are to do to please God. So, which one is right? Or, are any of them right? If God speaks to man, how does He do it? Let's find out, as we look in His Word.
Solomon, inspired by God, wrote about his search for the meaning of life. After looking at all of his riches, his accomplishments, entertainment he had, and all his possessions, Solomon wrote: "So I hated life, because the work that is wrought under the sun was grievous unto me; for all is vanity and a striving after wind" (Ecclesiastes 2:17). Again, he wrote: "I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind" (Ecclesiastes 1:14). In other words, nothing that Solomon did counted for anything "under the sun" (in this life).
But when he came to the last chapter of that book, Solomon wrote: "Remember now; thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them...Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 13,14). There is the conclusion of the matter, the result of Solomon's search for the meaning of life.
The only thing in life that really matters is your relationship with God. Everything else will perish -- your wealth, your works, your accomplishments, etc. To "fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man." What a shame to live your life and miss the most important reason for living!
But HOW does God reveal His Will to you in this 21st century? Although some claim that God has always spoken in the same way to man, the Word of God shows that changes have been made in the way God has delivered His Will to us. With Adam and Moses (and possibly others), God spoke: "mouth to mouth" (Genesis 3:9; Numbers 12:8). In other words, God spoke directly to them. With the prophets of old, God often spoke in visions and in other ways (Isaiah 1:1). But the Word of God declares: "God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in His Son, Whom, He appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
God Speaks Through Jesus Christ, His Son, Today
Jesus, during His ministry on earth, also confirmed that God spoke to us through Him: "He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the Word that I spoke, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I spoke not from Myself but from the Father that sent Me, He hath given Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak" (Jno. 12:48,49). What Jesus taught during His ministry on earth was exactly what the Father authorized Him to teach. As Heb. 1 declares, God speaks to us today through Christ. Jesus, meeting with the apostles after His death and resurrection, told them: "All authority hath been given unto Me in heaven and on earth ... Go ye, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, teaching them all things that I have commanded you." (Matt. 28:18,19).
Jesus knew that He was not going to stay on earth to continue to teach, so He chose twelve of His disciples to be His apostles, His messengers, and to speak through them. Just as Jesus is the spokesman for God, so these apostles were to be the spokesmen for Jesus Christ. That their message might be correct, infallibly accurate, He promised to send unto them the Holy Spirit to bring to their remembrance all that He had taught them and to guide them into all the truth.
"I will pray to the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and shall be in you ... These things have I spoken unto you, while yet abiding with you. But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said unto you ... And He, when He is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, of judgment ... Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He shall guide you into all the truth: for He shall not speak from Himself; but what things so ever He shall hear, these shall He speak" (John 14:16,17,25,26; 16:8,13).
When, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles as promised, they were "filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak ... as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). Jesus had told the apostles earlier, "He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that rejecteth you rejecteth Me; and he that rejecteth Me rejecteth Him that sent Me ... For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say" (Luke 10:16; 12:12). The apostle Paul later wrote: "Which things we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth" (I Corinthians 2:13). Christ was now speaking from God (Hebrews 1:2) through the Holy Spirit by the mouth of the apostles (Acts 2:4).
The Apostles Spoke The Word Of God
Knowing that the apostles would not always live here on earth to personally direct man's steps by the Spoken Word of God, our Lord insured our instructions by committing His Word to writing: the Scriptures. This writing the apostles did. And in their writing, just as in their speaking, they were guided by God: "All Scripture is inspired of God" (II Timothy 3:16). John wrote of the miracles which Jesus did during His stay here on earth: "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in His name" (John 20:30,31). Notice that there was no promise that these miracles would be performed during your lifetime in order that you might believe. They are written that you might believe. That written Word that tells of the life of Jesus Christ also tells of His miracles which confirm that Word, and contains His commandments for us (John 14:26).
The apostle Paul said of the gospel which He and the other apostles preached and wrote: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). James encourages us, "Receive with meekness the implanted Word which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21). And the apostle Peter writes: "His divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that called us by His own glory and virtue" (II Peter 1:3).
God Guides Us Today By The Scriptures
Many today are looking for some "mystical revelation" from God to guide their lives. Some say, "We need something more than the Bible to guide us." But, as the above passages show, God uses His written Word to speak to all men today. Paul declares that the Scriptures are "able to make the man of God complete, completely furnished unto all good works" (II Timothy 3:17).
Another insists that the Bible is just a "dead letter," without relevance in our modern society. But God answers that: "For the Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:12,13).
Still, another asks: "How do we know that the Scriptures are complete, that they give us all of God's Will?" Well, God answers that one, too. "And that from a babe though hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (II Timothy 3:16,17).
Again, "His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and righteousness" (II Peter 1:3). And the apostle Paul wrote to some who were departing from what God had revealed. "Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written" (I Corinthians 4:6). The apostle John also addressed this matter: (II John 9-11). Thus it is clear that if one "goes onward" beyond the Scriptures, he "has not God."
Again, John writes: (Revelation 22:18,19). Even though John was writing specifically of this Book of Revelation, still the principle is clear. We dare not add to the Word of God, nor do we dare to take from it.
Where can we find the commandments of God? Where can we find His Will for our lives? Where can we find what God wants us to do? The answer is simple. In the Book which He has given us, the Book we call the Bible. And so God urges all of us,"Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the Word of Truth" (II Timothy 2:15). The Lord Jesus urges us to "search the Scriptures" (John 5:39) because the Bible contains the Will of God for our lives.
God speaks to us today only through the inspired Scriptures. Don't expect Him to speak in some other way or through some other medium. So, respect His Word, study His Word, believe His Word, obey His Word. Then, you have His promise that you can live with Him in eternity.