More and more evangelicals have come to expect personal words from God. Even thirty years ago, such expectations were limited to Charismatic circles, but Baptist teachers like Henry Blackaby, Rick Warren and (yes) Beth Moore have convinced more conservative Christians that all believers ought to experience God to speak to them apart from the Bible.
Thirty years ago people who claimed that God spoke to them were considered mentally ill. Now, however, those of us who deny extra-biblical revelations receive sideways glances. Most believers see us as abnormal and spiritually deficient. And someone like me, who has come away from Charismatic teaching, puzzles the bulk of evangelicals even more. Now we are the crazy ones! Our spiritual sanity requires questioning more than the sanity of those who supposedly hear from God directly.
Commonly, people accuse us of believing that God no longer speaks at all. They say that we worship a lifeless book rather than a living Savior. To such charges, I would counter that they make disastrous charges against both the Holy Spirit and the Scripture He inspired.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~~2 Timothy 3:14-17 (ESV)
The Holy Spirit Himself breathed out each precious word of Scripture, and He faithfully speaks every time we open it’s pages. Sadly, so many of us seek after personal words from Him to such a degree that we completely overlook the things He wants to say to us through His Word.
If you’re someone who desires to hear from God, let me ask you a few questions. You don’t need to share your answers with me, but I’d advise you to answer them for yourselves.
Do you open your Bible with an attitude of excitement, anticipating that the Lord will speak to you as you read and study it (in context, of course)? When your pastor got up to preach Sunday morning, did you listen with expectancy, knowing that he would explain God’s Word in faithfulness to the text so that it would do its work of transforming you?
We can, and should, come to the Bible with an eagerness to hear from the Lord. Through it, the Almighty God reveals Himself. He shows His greatness, His majesty and His holiness, while also affirming His love and compassion toward us. He lets us know His standards of right and wrong, but assures us of His grace in dying as our substitute to pay for our sin. In short, whenever someone reads or preaches the Bible correctly, the Lord does speak.