When someone says that the Lord told her something, it’s good to feel uncomfortable. Occasionally, but all too rarely, she means that she learned more about the Lord during her time in His Word. Usually, however, she means that she received a personal message from Him, quite separate from anything He said in the Bible. If people challenge her claim, she’ll usually counter that God spoke directly to Abraham, Moses and Paul. Since “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), it stands to reason that He would also speak to Christians now, she explains.
Well, God does speak to Christians now. He speaks every time we read His Word. Although many 21st Century evangelicals dismiss comments like that by adding that we mustn’t “put God in a box,” we should celebrate the wonderful truth that His Holy Spirit breathed His very words out through the pens of Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles so that we could hear what the Lord would say to us.
Many people would concede that the Lord does speak to us through Scripture in a general way, but would then argue that the Bible alone doesn’t address specific circumstances. Therefore, they conclude, He augments His Word with personal revelations, just as He spoke personally to people in the Bible. And we need to challenge that line of thinking.
Perhaps a passage you read this morning didn’t apply to your present situation, and perhaps it wasn’t what you wanted to hear from Him, but you read His Word! Obviously, since you read His Word, God spoke to you.
He just didn’t tell you whom to marry, what car to buy, or what to fix for supper tonight.
You may sincerely believe He told you not to get a COVID shot, or that He told you to get one. You may sincerely believe He told you that He would be your Husband, or that He would bring the right man to you if you’ll attend a certain Christian conference. You may sincerely believe He told you to brush an old man’s hair in the middle of a busy airport, for all I know. And you may be sincerely wrong.
Psalm 19 tells us that God speaks to us in two ways: through His creation and through His Word.
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
6 Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned;
In keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.
13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins;
Let them not rule over me;
Then I will be blameless,
And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. (NASB95)
Then why did God speak directly to people like Abraham, Moses and Paul? Were they more special than the average believer today? After all, Romans 2:11 says there is no partiality with God. (Never mind that the context of Romans 2:11 focuses on God’s equity in judging Jews and Gentiles against His standard of righteousness.)
But this perception that we should expect God to work with us in the same way He did with them is questionable. Consider, for instance, the fact that God spoke to people in Biblical narratives only in relation to His plan of redemption and His kingdom. His conversations with them weren’t everyday occurrences, and they always had a purpose of revealing His plan for His people as a whole. Even when He led Abraham’s servant to Rebecca as His chosen wife for Isaac, He did so in order to produce Jacob, who would eventually become Israel.
Evangelicals who claim that God speaks to them apart from Scripture can’t assert that He furthers His kingdom by supposed personal words for them. Even when those purported words, visions or dreams apparently result in another person making a profession of faith, we need to be extremely aware that such conversions generally lead to a faith based on mystical experience rather than on God’s Word. God values each of us as highly as He valued Abraham, Moses and Paul, but He doesn’t use us in the special ways He used them.
Since the apostle John wrote Revelation, Christians have the complete Word of God. In fact, Revelation ends with a very severe warning against adulterating God’s Word:
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. ~~Revelation 22:18-19 (NASB95)
This warning applies to the entire Canon of Scripture because Revelation was the final book to be written. God doesn’t speak less authoritatively in one venue than He does in another, so anything He would say to someone personally carries the same weight as the Bible.Therefore, when someone declares that God spoke to her, she is essentially adding to Scripture. Consequently, if God actually did speak to someone personally, He would violate Revelation 22:18-19 and, in so doing, contradict Himself. Since we know God, in His holiness, could never contradict Himself, we must reject all claims of personal words from Him.
At the same time, we must rejoice that His Holy Spirit speaks clearly and daily to us every time we open our Bibles. He gave us His Word in written form, and the Holy Spirit to illuminate His Word whenever we read it, precisely because He wants to speak to us! Praise the Lord for His faithfulness to give us His Word so that we can hear from Him every day!Follow my blog with Bloglovin