God spoke . . . and there was creation
God spoke . . . and so appeared the light
God spoke . . . and then still became life
God spoke . . . and from dirt arose man
We speak “Trust God in our nation”
We speak “Shun the dark, seek His Light”
We speak “Seek the Truth and the Life”
We speak “Praise our God and His Plan”
In Eden, God spoke to Adam and Eve
And then to Cain, for a curse to receive
God spoke to Noah to build Him an ark
Then scolds Job – he made God’s counsel dark
God spoke to Abraham to leave his land
And for Isaac to settle, all His plan
God told Jacob to return in His care
And Moses, in Egypt, to leave from there
After Moses, God spoke to His prophets
To pass on His Word, just as He saw fit
Then, as a voice from heaven or a cloud
Heard by disciples and even a crowd
Some say “God never speaks now. Not today.”
Though we all know that He speaks every day
God speaks through other things, all by His choice
Through people, events, music – not His voice
God speaks through His Word; there for us to read
And then through His Son, by both words and deeds
God speaks by His Spirit, our Teacher and Guide
To us through prayer, our small voice inside
God’s creation and nature speak, clearly seen
And the learning from music, visions and dreams
Other believers speak with wisdom in words
And events teach lessons not audibly heard
God is not silent, He speaks to us all
For sinners to believe, God makes the call
For believers to grow, give thanks and sing
All for God’s glory and the joy it brings
Do we need to be listening for God’s voice to speak to us outside the Bible?
I am going to say something positive here and not just negative. In fact, most of what I have to say is positive and the first and main thing is to say: God really has spoken. And this word is living and active. It is not a dead word. He really speaks today through the inspired Scriptures. He really, really does. He really does. Not just with information, but with himself by his Spirit.
The Word Speaks
“The Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:21). That really happens. God stands forth from his inspired word as we read it prayerfully and dependently. And, I would add this: the word in the Bible is more sure than anything you can hear outside the Bible. I base that on 1 Corinthians 14:37–38: “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.”
That is amazing. Paul is saying you can call yourself a prophet and get messages from God. You can call yourself spiritual and be tuned in to God, but if anything you say doesn’t accord with what I say, you are not recognized, which means that outside the Bible we have fallible, uncertain impressions and messages. Inside the Bible we have rock-solid, dependable messages. So there are treasures and wonders and glories and dimensions of God to be seen in the Bible that we have scarcely seen.
It seems to me to be folly to crave the lesser authority and the lesser riches outside the Bible than the riches and the greater authority that we have barely tasted, let alone digested, inside the Bible.
Now having said that positive thing about the Bible that I love — I just love the Bible so much and I know that after, what, sixty years of reading my Bible I have barely scratched the surface of its glories — I kind of get ticked, frankly, at myself and others who are craving stuff outside the Bible as though there is something better to be had out there.
Having said all that, I don’t see anything in the Bible that would say God can’t communicate with us in extraordinary ways outside the Bible. He can. And if he does, we should test it by his infinitely authoritative risen word and we should commend it to those whose lives show a deep, long wisdom in Christ. There is this community dimension to testing all things like Paul said. Don’t despise prophecies. Test all things. Hold fast to what is good. That is just not a private thing. That is something we do with others as well.
Don’t Seek Signs
But I will close with this. Beware of craving the sensations of a voice. Jesus warned against those who seek a sign (Matthew 12:38–39). So here he is. He is standing there in front of the Pharisees and scribes speaking and they say: Give us a sign. What does that mean? It means that the voice of Jesus Christ the Son of God wasn’t adequate. They needed something more. They needed to feel more, touch more, see more. They wanted more. And Jesus wouldn’t give it to them.
And I think we are in a situation today not unlike that. We hear more of the Son of God than anybody in Jesus’s day ever heard, because we have all four gospels and those people got it in snatches. Therefore we have the wholeness of the revelation that Jesus meant to communicate, and it is speaking to us every time we read the Bible. And if we turn away from that and say: But I need a sign. I need a voice. I need a tree to fall down in the woods when I am talking. I need something. We are putting ourselves in the position of those who demanded a sign.
Watch and Pray
As Christians, we know the greatest commands,
“Love our God with all our heart, mind and soul”
And then “Love your neighbor as yourself”
These fulfill the Law and Prophets of old.
To fully love is impossible to do,
Our innate nature is not in this way.
We understand what is right in God’s sight,
But that’s not what we do, day after day.
Those who Christ loves, He’s sure to rebuke,
And those He rebukes, He counsels and calms.
Once he has shown us that we were wrong,
He holds us close in His loving arms.
How can we live with this weakness of ours?
Our spirit is ready, but our flesh is weak.
To avoid temptation, watch and pray,
For God has all the strength that we seek.
When our souls are weary with failures,
To renew our strength, we hope in the Lord.
He’ll stand by us, no matter our troubles,
And see us home safe to our final reward.