Does God Still Speak to Us Today?


speak“The Lord wants me to tell you something.”

“I’ve got a message from the Lord.”

“God has laid it on my heart to do this.”

Most of us have heard someone uttering a phrase like these.  Spoken by well-meaning Christians, these people are convinced that God has singled them out with a particular message.  They have “heard” His voice.  He has communicated with them.

If you pause to think about it, it’s a pretty remarkable thing to insist that the great Author of the Universe has bent low to whisper into the ear of one of His servants.  Yet, the claim is frequently made.  What do we make of it?  The Bible records numerous occasions when God spoke to various people. But does He still speak today?

There are some Christians who believe that the simple answer is “no.”  They make this declaration based on a passage of Scripture.  In 1 Cor. 13:8, Paul suggested that prophecies would one day cease.  He identified this as happening “when that which is perfect has come” (vs. 10).  These Christians insist that “that which is perfect” is a reference to the New Testament. They believe that upon the completion of the New Testament the miraculous gifts of God have ceased.  Of these is prophecy – which is God speaking to and through His people. Therefore, they would say that God no longer speaks to His people because we now have His Word.

I agree that His Word can “speak” to us.  However, I believe that the above understanding of 1 Cor. 13 has some problems. First, no where else in Scripture is the New (or Old) Testament described as the ‘perfect.’  Why, then, would anyone insist that this is a code word for ‘New Testament’ here? In fact, Paul never even suggested that he was aware of a New Testament being formed. Furthermore, Paul indicated that after the ‘perfect’ had come, we would see “face to face,” while in his day he saw only dimly.  Does someone actually believe that the writings of the Apostle Paul were what he saw ‘dimly,’ while we see ‘face to face’ today? I think I would prefer to have Paul’s “dim” vision than my ‘face to face’ sight any day!

I think Paul probably had in mind our full salvation in Christ when he talked about the coming of the ‘perfect.’  When we are glorified with Him there will be no more need for the miraculous gifts, and we will truly be seeing face to face.  Jesus used this same word when He said that we are to “be perfect even as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 4:48).  Quiet obviously, Jesus was not referencing the New Testament. Rather, He was setting a goal for every Christian.

1 Cor. 13 is the only Scripture passage that I know of that some might use to suggest God no longer speaks to us.  Therefore, I am not aware of any passage of Scripture restricting God from speaking to His people today. In other words, I believe that Scripture would allow for it.

So, if Scripture allows for God speaking to us, the question still remains: does He do it?

A number of years ago, I attended a rather charismatic worship. Someone gave “a prophecy” that on the day of his inauguration, Pat Robertson would look into the camera and prophesy over our nation.  I went home that night feeling privileged that I had insight into who the next U.S. President would be.  The problem, however, is that Mr. Robertson never even made it past the primaries, let alone into the Presidency!

I eventually came to the conclusion that I had heard a false prophecy.  Even though it was spoken in church during a worship service by a man who probably loved Jesus, it was still false. God had not been speaking to that man that night.

On the other hand, there have also been times when I’ve witnessed people acting upon what they claimed was the voice of God and were vindicated by those actions. In other words, it seems that some have rightly heard God speak.

The conclusion I have reached is that I believe God sometimes speaks to His people. I say ‘sometimes’ because I have a hunch that it’s less often than many claim it to be. This is probably so because our fallen nature is very self-absorbed. We have a tendency to think quite highly of ourselves. As a result, it is tempting to interpret one of our own thoughts as the thought of God.  We like to think that our own thoughts are rather divine.  That’s probably what I heard in that church service so many years ago. The man confused his own thoughts for God’s.

Claiming to hear from God is probably a matter of pride for some people. If they can convince others that God has spoken to them, then they feel elevated in the eyes of others. Jesus warned about this kind of showmanship when he cautioned us to pray and fast in secret (Matt 6). Quite frankly, I believe that there are generally very few occasions that would be benefited from us telling someone we’ve heard from God. Ask yourself if it’s really important for your listener to hear you say, “The Lord told me…” Why not just say it and let them decide if the message was from God or not?

So, how do we recognize the voice of God?  Well, like anyone else’s voice, we recognize it only when we are familiar with it.  The closer you get to God, the more likely you will be in recognizing when He speaks.

The voice of God is also recognizable because it is fairly consistent.  Our own thoughts have a tendency to edify ourselves, or to compliment the things we are interested in. God’s voice will generally edify the Church, or illuminate His life among His people. Although there will be exceptions, I suspect that God will make it quite clear when He is giving us a specific word regarding a specific matter.

So, as you seek to follow God, listen for His “voice.”  Get to know God better. Get to know the Scriptures better. Try to recognize His thoughts from your own. Don’t claim that God has spoken to you until it has been confirmed, and share it with others only when you believe it to be necessary.  If in doubt about what you’ve “heard,” get input from some mature Christians. And, always keep your “ears” open.

Peace,

dane

Dane Cramer is a backpacker, Christian blogger, jail chaplain, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us.

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