HOW DOES GOD SPEAK TODAY?

Pastor Laurence A. Justice

"BELOVED, WHEN I GAVE ALL DILIGENCE TO WRITE UNTO YOU OF THE COMMON SALVATION, IT WAS, NEEDFUL FOR ME TO WRITE UNTO YOU, AND EXHORT YOU THAT YE SHOULD EARNESTLY CONTEND FOR THE FAITH WHICH WAS ONCE DELIVERED UNTO THE SAINTS." JUDE 3

"AND TAKE THE HELMET OF SALVATION, AND THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, WHICH IS THE WORD OF GOD." EPHESIANS 6:17

Some people claim that God speaks to them in dreams or visions. One time I asked a woman how she knew that she was saved and she said she knew she was saved because she was in the hospital one night near death and in the middle of the night the Lord appeared to her in a vision and told her not to worry because she was going to get well.

Some people claim that God speaks to them by special revelations or by the gift of prophecy, they claim that God gives them the same type of special revelations which He gave the apostles in New Testament times.

Some claim that God speaks to them through audible voices. I used to know a preacher who was constantly saying "God told me to do this" or "God told me this was going to happen."

Some people claim that God speaks to them through immediate impressions on their minds or what they like to refer to as 1'a still small voice." They talk about the fact that they did this or did that because suddenly they just felt strongly impressed to do so.

How DOES God speak today? How does God reveal his will to us? How does God speak to men today calling them to preach the gospel? How does God speak to us in times of sorrow and death in order to bring comfort and peace? The two verses of our text give us the answers to all these questions.

THE BIBLE IS GODíS FINAL WORD TO MEN

Jude 3 says "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." "The faith" here does not refer to the faith by which a person receives salvation. It does not refer to the belief in and reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ by the sinner for salvation. THE faith or literally the ONE faith here speaks of the sum of all the doctrine which the Lord has given his people in his revelation. It speaks of the body of revealed truth. This faith is sometimes referred to in the Bible as the WORD OF FAITH. The FAITH here is an objective term and it refers to the totality of what Christians believe.

Jude speaks of the fact that this faith, this word of God, was DELIVERED to the saints. The Greek word which is translated "delivered1' here means an act completed in the past with no continuing element in it. The force of the word once in the Greek here excludes all thought of repetition. Once for all it means.

God's whole truth for man is contained in the scriptures and has been once for all delivered to man in the Word of God, the Bible. Everything we need to know about God and our relationship to him is found in the written word of God. God's whole truth is contained in the scripture. The Bible is the only special revelation God has given us. God has said his last word to man in his revelation of Jesus Christ in the scriptures. God has said his last divinely inspired word. He has nothing further to add to what He has already said in his written word. No new revelations are to be expected. The word of God has been delivered once for all. The faith has been delivered once for all.

We're not saying that God could not give further revelation if He wanted to. That is not the issue here! We are saying that He does not because that is what Jude and others say in the Bible. The Bible is the full and complete Revelation of God to man.

EVERYTHING necessary for man to know about God, his work, and his will is contained in the scriptures. Nothing more is needed. The scriptures are absolutely sufficient for knowing the things of God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..." Paul says in II Timothy 3:16-17 "...that the man of God may be perfect (Spiritually mature), throughly furnished (totally equipped) unto all good works."

The Bible is the full and complete revelation of God to man. God has nothing more to say to man this side of glory that is not found in the Bible. I love the words of that great old hymn

HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION YE SAINTS OF THE LORD IS LAID FOR YOUR FAITH IN HIS EXCELLENT WORD WHAT MORE CAN HE SAY THAN TO YOU HE HATH SAID TO YOU WHO FOR REFUGE TO JESUS HAVE FLED.

Now, if God's revelation is complete there can be no further visions, revelations, sign miracles, or infallible predictions. Visions and dreams from God and audible voices and special gifts of prophecy are actually claims to receiving special or inspired communications from God. Yet the Lord Jesus plainly states in John 15:15 that "All things that I heard from my Father I have made known unto you." How can anyone claim the possibility of more revelation in light of this statement?

Proverbs 30:6 warns us "Add thou not unto his words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Our text in Jude 3 says that the faith has been once for all delivered to the saints. How can one add to faith that has been once for all delivered to the saints? On top of all this the Lord Jesus places an anathema, a curse on anyone who would add to what is written in the Bible. .... If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book..." the Lord says in Revelation 22.

Why is this anathema placed on those who would add to God's book? Because the revelation is complete! Nothing more is needed. God has closed the Book! Revelation is the last book to come from an Apostle. Any prophecy after the times of the Apostles has the anathema of God upon it.

The position which Baptists have taken on this matter throughout history is expressed very plainly in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.

"The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, manís salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the spirit, or traditions of men." Many people today want "a fresh message from heaven" rather than the Holy Scriptures. Some blinded eyes read the very sayings of the Son of God and look away for more exciting things! People who seek dreams and VISIONS as revelations from God are implying very strongly that the Bible is not able to make a man perfect and throughly furnished unto all good works. They are denying the sufficiency of the scriptures!

One of the leading writers in the modern Pentecostal movement, Mr. Henry W. Frost, has made this very revealing statement in his book "Miraculous Healing" (pg. 109-110):
 
 

"1t may confidently be anticipated as the present apostasy increases that Christ will manifest his deity and Lordship in increasing measure through miracle signs including healings. We are not to say, therefore, that the word is sufficient! It is so to those who know and believe it but it is not so those who have never heard of it or who having heard have disbelieved it. To those persons a dramatic appeal may have to be made and on the plane where such will most easily be understood, namely the physical." This way of thinking openly and without apology denies the absolute sufficiency of the scriptures to meet all the needs of man.

GOD SPEAKS TO MEN TODAY THROUGH THE BIBLE.

The means or the instrument by which God speaks to men today is not visions, not dreams, not voices or special gifts of prophecy. The means by which God speaks today is the written word of God.

Paul says in Ephesians 6:17 "And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God." Paul is saying here that the Holy Spirit of God uses the word of God to speak and to do his work in this world today. The written word of God is the sword, the instrument, the tool of the Holy Spirit by which He works in this world speaking to men today. The scriptures are a sharp sword convincing men of sin, threatening the wrath of God, refuting error and heresy, repelling Satan's temptations, and revealing God's will.

The BIBLE and the BIBLE ALONE is the word of God today. And 'the only way the Holy Spirit speaks in this world today is thr6ugh the written word of God, the Bible. It is only in and through the scriptures that we have any knowledge of or contact with Him who is the image of the invisible God.

How do we know God's will today? How do we discover Godís specific will for our own lives? Pastors and counselors and parents and friends may help us to see Godís will and message and meaning but ultimately all these must be based upon the written word. There is no knowledge of Godís will needed by man today which is not either directly stated by the Bible or else may be deduced from the Bible by prayerful consideration.

Every spiritual need that we could possibly have is covered entirely in God's written word. God's word is absolutely sufficient for every possible need that we could have, if not in direct statements then in principles laid down. Again II Timothy 3:16-17 says "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine1 for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect throughly furnished unto all good works." Listen! The Holy Spirit never reveals anything to the soul that is not in the scriptures! That's right!

Now, what about God's will for your life and mine? How does God reveal his will to us today? First we need to recognize that Godís will is always consistent with God's word. God will not deal with us regarding his will apart from the written word!

What then are we to make of dreams and visions and impressions and gifts of prophecy, etc? What about dreams? Many people take their dreams as being messages from God. We need to understand that at one time or another everyone has dreams. This is a phenomenon which God has built into the human psyche.

There is a lot involved in the matter of dreams. When I worked in the state penitentiary at Granite, Oklahoma I came to realize that the inmates have a high incidence of serious dreams and so I began to do some thinking and study on the subject of dreams. One thing I found was the fact that in our sleep our minds and especially our subconsciousnesses run free and uninhibited. Many times what we have heard or thought of or have been reminded of in the previous 24 hours comes back into our dreams at night.

I also found that such things as guilt and especially guilt stir up the subconscious mind so that its thoughts in dreams become much more vivid and serious many times. Men who feel their guilt have nightmares and visions and other serious dreams more frequently than others. Several other things produce and stimulate dreams many times, such things as indigestion and worry.

I also found that dreams are a device which God has built into our minds which aids us in remaining asleep when we are about to wake up or are in a shallow or light sleep. So dreams have a purpose in God's scheme of things but this purpose is not to reveal Godís message or Godís will!

What about the strong impressions we sometimes get encouraging us to do things for the Lord? The danger in relying upon impressions as being messages or directions from God is that there are other spiritual beings and influences besides the Holy Spirit which can give us impressions. I John 4:1 says "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." And the standard by which we judge the spirits is, of course, the written word of God.

When a woman feels "impressed" or "feels led" to preach she is not moved by the Holy Spirit but is led by "another spirit" because the written word of God through which the Spirit of God speaks strictly forbids women to preach in I Timothy 2:12. If a Christian young person "feels led" to marry an unbeliever he is moved by "another spirit" than the Holy Spirit because the written word of God strictly forbids this in II Corinthians 6:14-18.

No we must not live according to our own intuitions and impressions apart from the written word of God. We must measure these impressions by the word of God. We must seek what God says in his word. The criterion for judging the Spirit's leadership in all things is the written word of God. Everything must be measured by the word of God. The Holy Spirit does impress people to do things. But His impressions are always in connection with and based upon and consistent with the written word of God.

The Holy Spirit disposes the heart to the truth and to the duties that are taught in the scriptures. When we receive a strong impression to witness to someone about the Lord Jesus Christ it is because the Holy Spirit is using the word of God which tells us to preach the gospel to every creature. At some point we have read or heard that command in God's written word and He is impressing this upon our hearts in relation to some particular individual.

But let's think a little more about the work of the Holy Spirit speaking through the written word. How does the Holy Spirit speak through the word? How does He speak through the written word of God?

It is possible for a man to know the Bible and yet not always know the will of God. The Jews in the Lord's day had the scriptures and knew them to the very letter and yet they did not know God the Son when He appeared in their midst. What was wrong?

The word of God is a sword, a sharp two-edged sword but its effectiveness depends on the Holy Spirit. Without the working of the Holy Spirit in the word the word is not effectual. The Holy Spirit makes the word of God effectual and powerful. One preacher puts it like this: THE SPIRIT WILL NOT TEACH US WITHOUT THE WORD. THE WORD WILL NOT TEACH US WITHOUT THE SPIRIT.

This teaching work of the Holy Spirit, this wielding of the word of the Spirit which is the word of God, is what we usually refer to as the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Spiritís work of illumination. John Owen has defined illumination like this:

"The effectual operation of the Holy Spirit, freeing our minds from darkness, ignorance, and prejudice, enabling them to discern spiritual things in a proper manner." The inward illumination of the Spirit of God is necessary for a saving understanding of the things that are revealed in the word. We cannot have any proper understanding of the word at all without this work of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit enlightens our understanding and moves our wills to do what pleases God. The Holy Spirit works in and through the word opening our understanding to the teachings and warnings and condemnations and invitations in the word of God. God speaks today by the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit opening the understandings of those in whom He works to do his will as revealed in his word.

SOME APPLICATIONS

First if God speaks through the written word, the sword of the Spirit, then we must become diligent students of the word if we want to know his will. In this matter of finding and knowing the will of God most problems could be solved if instead of asking "is this GOD'S will?" we would ask "is this according to God's Word?"

In every decision we make, in every plan we form, in every action we execute, let us ask "is this in harmony with God's written word?" If something is in harmony with God's word then we can be sure that it is Godís will because God's will is revealed in his word. If I am doing what the scriptures teach then I must be led by the Spirit of God because the Spirit never leads anyone to act contrary to God's written word.

Second if God speaks only through his word today then it is essential that we pray for the Holy Spirit to illuminate and enlighten us so that we may profit from the revelation which we already have. We do not need further revelations from God. We need to pray for the Spirit of God to illuminate us to understand his word which we already have. We need to earnestly pray for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to open the eyes of our understanding. We need to pray with David in Psalm 119:18 "Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." This is a prayer for the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly if the Bible is the faith once for all delivered to the saints as Jude 3 says it is then we must preach and teach and distribute the word of God with all our might. In no other way can the world ever be conformed by the will of God in salvation, in everyday living, in everything.

Fourthly if we are called upon to earnestly contend for the faith which He has once for all given to the saints, the faith about which He has given us his last word, then we must reject every claim to new revelations from God. Neither angels nor miracles should lead us to accept any further additions to the written word of God. The written word of God is perfect, it is complete, it is sufficient and the man of God must thus refuse all other revelations. Because the revelation of God is complete and because the Holy Spirit works only through the written word of God every claim to have revelation in addition to what God has already given in the Bible is false and must be rejected.

Some cults claim God has spoken through other books written since the Bible was written. Thus we have "Science And Health With Key To The Scriptures" and "The Book Of Mormon" and "Doctrines And Covenants" and "The Pearl Of Great Price," etc. One of the marks of a cult is their claim that there are other books and other revelations needed in addition to the Bible and that God has spoken since the Bible was finished.

CONCLUSION

The Bible, the precious word of God is so very important. Everything involved in salvation and life in the here and in the hereafter depends upon the Bible.

God speaks to lost sinners through the Bible. The Bible tells men and women, boys and girls that they are lost in sin and bound for hell because of their sins. The Bible tells us that there is nothing a sinner can do to save or to help save himself. It tells us that salvation is a matter of Godís grace and that only as the Holy Spirit regenerates a sinner and gives him spiritual life can he ever repent of his sins and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved.

Sinner friend, the Bible both commands and invites you to repent of your sins and come to Christ for salvation. May the Holy Spirit illuminate your heart today enlightening your eyes so that you may understand and respond to God's will as it is revealed in his word.

Victory Baptist Church
9601 Blue Ridge Extension
Kansas City, MO 64134

Laurence A. Justice, Pastor
Phone & Fax: 816-761-7184

  Return To Main Study Page
       Source: http://www.woosterbaptisttemple.org/studies.html