One of the important questions we all wrestle with is How do I discern the voice of God speaking to me? Over the years people have shared dreams with me that they interpreted as messages from God. I have received emails from another person who regularly claims to hear from God messages that explain certain phenomena and what believers need to know based on them. Others are big into visions they believe God gives them to interpret their circumstances.
Over Christmas break I had an interesting conversation with my sister about a devotional book for women entitled Jesus Calling. The author writing the daily entries in the book has written them in the first person because she believes they are personal messages from Jesus speaking directly to her heart from heaven though not in an audible voice. My sister and I discussed how this is quite a bit different than normal daily devotionals. Our Daily Bread, for example, is filled with inspirational messages but none of the authors would claim Jesus is communicating messages directly from heaven to their hearts. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is likely the best-selling devotional of all time, but neither would Chambers have claimed his entries were current communications from Jesus directly from heaven.
What are we to make of all this? One thing seems certain. If Jesus is communicating new messages in addition to the Bible then revelation is ongoing and we are to look not just to the Bible to discern God’s voice, but to these additional communications as well. In fact, if Jesus is giving additional messages for the church or other believers, as some claim, then it is imperative that we listen to these revelations for they are authoritative coming from Jesus Himself. We should all be reading Jesus Calling rather than Our Daily Bread which are just the devotional thoughts of humans. Of course, I am not suggesting that at all. In fact, let me offer two thoughts from the Book of Hebrews that I think put us on more solid ground.
The first is that there is no ongoing, new revelation from Jesus that we ought to be listening for. Hebrews 1:1-2 says that “God…in these last days has spoken to us by his Son.” Notice the past tense “has spoken.” It does not say that God’s Son is speaking, but that He has spoken. God’s revelation thru His Son has finished. Jesus Christ has said everything that He needs to say. Jude adds that our faith “was once for all entrusted to the saints,” v. 4. With the completion of the New Testament we have a sufficient Word from Jesus given “once for all” for our guidance.
The second thing to note is that the Bible IS the ongoing communication of the voice of God. In Hebrews 3:7 the Apostle writes, “So, as the Holy Spirit says.” Then follows an exact quotation from Psalm 95:7-11. Again the grammar is significant. Psalm 95 was written 1000 years before Hebrews 3:7-11. It should be “as the Holy Spirit SAID.” Why “SAYS?” Because the Holy Spirit, who gave His Word to the Psalmist, was still speaking in that Word 1000 years later. And, I might add, is still speaking thru that Word to us 3000 years later. In other words, the Bible is right NOW the ongoing voice of God to us. We listen to the God who speaks thru His Word, and then as we apply and obey the wisdom taught there the Holy Spirit leads us to know and do God’s will in the daily choices of life. This is the more solid ground to hear God today.
Your friend, listening in the Word, Pastor Brian (:-}).