More on hearing the voice of the Father.

April 11, 2007 at 10:08 am 4 comments

I must admit, as I begin to write again on hearing the Voice of God, that I am no authority on this topic.  Perhaps no one is.  But over the last few months I have spent a lot of time “inclining my ear” to hear His Voice, read diversely on the subject, had multiple conversations about listening well, written a few blogs on the subject and listened very carefully for His Voice.

There seems to be a prevailing belief, in one stream of the Family, that God only speaks to His children through the Bible.  Take for example this good piece of writing by John Piper that you can find here.  In it he sets the reader up with the idea that he actually heard the audible voice of God, only to chastise us with the reality that what He heard was the Biblical voice of God, which he says is profoundly better than any other Voice.

Let me be clear before I go on. The Father does speak to us first and foremost through the written Word, we call the Bible.  The basis of our relationship with Him is formed in our deep acquaintance with the written Scriptures.  The Bible is the eternal and unchanging Word of God to us.  If we are getting any other word, that is in contradiction with the Bible, then we know immediately, it is not to be trusted.  I do not in any way minimize the authority of the Bible or that it is the essential way in which to expect to hear the Voice.

What I find difficult to accept is that many are unwilling to acknowledge that the Voice can and should be heard in other ways as well.  “The watchman opens the gate for him, Jesus says in the Gospel of John, and the sheep LISTEN TO HIS VOICE.  He calls His sheep by name and leads them out.  When He has brought out His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him BECAUSE THEY KNOW HIS VOICE. (John 10:2-4)

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone HEARS MY VOICE and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

I am in no position to argue with the articulate and gracious Dr. Piper, but does the Bible not clearly say that we, who are known individually, by name, by the Father will hear His Voice?  I know the dispensational arguments that attempt to persuade that these are metaphorical verses and/or relegated in meaning to those who first heard them, but I don’t buy those arguments.

The Bible is full of stories of the Father talking to His Family.  Abraham, Moses, David, Gideon, Noah, Haggar, an obscure disciple named Ananias who we read about in Acts 17, among many others.  What I fail to understand is, if the Father is not going to speak to us, why does He give us all of these dramatic stories of Him speaking to other people that wet our appetite for His Voice, only to not speak to us anymore in that way? 

As John Eldredge puts it so eloquently in a recent letter to his constituents: “Look, here are inspiring and hopeful stories how God spoke to his people.  Isn’t it amazing?! But he doesn’t speak like that anymore.”  That makes no sense at all.

Is the Bible not a book of examples of what it looks like to walk with the Father?  Are the stories not intended to teach us what to expect in relationship with the One who calls us by our own name?  Would it seem reasonable to expect that the Father would speak with clarity to His children in Biblical times, only to tell those of us who live in the complexity and confusion of the 21st century that He no longer has anything to say to us, through His other Voices?

Again, I know the arguments that say the Bible says it all and we don’t need anything else.  I am blessed beyond measure to sit with the written Word in my hands and drink deeply of the Truth for life and Godliness. But I do find it helpful to get direction from hearing regularly the Voice of God, as it comes to me in prayer, in the quiet sense of a response to a question I pose to my Abba or in a “word fitly spoken” by a sister or brother that clearly bears the stamp of the Father in its words.

Dr. Piper closes his comments with these words: O God, don’t let us be deaf to your Word and so unaffected with its ineffable, evidential excellency that we celebrate lesser things as more thrilling.

He will get no argument from me.  I would just suggest, however, that anytime we hear the Voice of God, in whatever way He chooses to speak to us, that we expect it to affect us in very deep ways through its ineffable, evidential excellency and thrill us beyond measure!

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Entry filed under: Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, The Father.

Fifteen thousand. Learning to hear the Voice.

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. renversgirl  |  April 21, 2007 at 4:13 pm

    Absolutely does He speak to us, what kind of a God would abandon us to the confusion, complacency and craziness that surround us today. i talk to Him constantly, and i know He answers even when the subject seems “unworthy” because (a friend said this to me recently) He is too busy with more important things. He is omnipresent in all our lives and what matters to us matters to Him so of course He speaks to us, in a multitude of ways, directly, through the Word, and through, a friend, family member and sometimes even a stranger.

  • 2. Mimi  |  April 11, 2007 at 7:18 pm

    What a great way to put it! Thank you for the beautiful illustraton – I don’t want my husband to just point either! I want the words, the touch, the intimacy!

  • 3. Mark S  |  April 11, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    To suggest God does not speak to His people in fresh tones today is comparable to a spouse no longer speaking to his/her mate because what needs to be said has already been written in previous love letters. If God is impersonal and just out in space somewhere, I suppose a theology of relational distance works, but if we are called to intimacy, lack of communication makes the heart ache for something more. Frankly, in my pursuit of an intimate relationship with my wife, I don’t want her response to consist of simply pointing her finger at something she wrote 10 years ago.

  • 4. Mimi  |  April 11, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Don’t you think that when some of us say the following: The Spirit moved me to… I felt moved to… I was prompted to… I have a sense that I am to… I was led to… – that we really mean we have heard from God?

    I know I am becoming aware that I have been hearing the voice of my Abba, my Shepherd, for many years, I just didn’t call it that; I used the “acceptable forms” of saying I knew/had heard something from God. I am NOW saying it like it is – God told me, the Spirit told me!

    Question: How do those who believe that God only speaks through the Word make decisions about things that aren’t covered specifically in the Word? Say, what house to buy, what job to take, what missionary to support, how many kids to have, who to marry, etc.? Don’t they have a sense of what God wants them to do? Isn’t that God speaking? Just asking.

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