In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Why would someone think God doesn't talk to us today?

Now I understand why someone who is not a Believer would think that God does not talk to people. But I'm totally puzzled why Christians would say God doesn't speak to individual Believers.

Today I read a blog that was criticizing a well known woman who writes Bible Study curriculum for women. I don't want to even say who the well known woman was, because the bigger issue for me as I read the post was the reason the writer was criticizing this woman. The author criticized the woman because she has periodically, as she is talking, said something to the effect of "God told me ______". The author basically went on to say how if you believe her, then what God told her is new revelation, and therefor devalues the validity of the Holy Scriptures, so it can not be of God. As I checked out this particular blog, and other sites it was linked to, I was stunned that it appears that this type of thinking has a huge following in what would be considered conservative circles.

I've never heard the specific woman Bible Study instructor to whom they were referring ever say anything that God revealed to her, that was in contradiction to what is already written in the Bible. It may be that she's said something and I missed it, but I really do not think that was the issue. The issue was that these people thought it was wrong for her to act as if God spoke directly to her; the author even went so far as to say that perhaps this woman did indeed hear a voice, but implied that it must have been the voice of the enemy - I was shocked at this thinking.

When I open up my Bible I see Jesus telling us in John 10:26-28:

26"But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.

27"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

When I read these verses, it sounds to me like God speaks to His followers and they will recognize His voice.

Then there's also the passage in John 16:5-25 when Jesus is speaking about the fact that He was soon to be leaving the earth. He promised that after He left He would not leave His followers alone but would send the Holy Spirit to them. He went on to say in John 16:13-15:

13But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

Again it sounds like the Holy Spirit speaks God's truth into the heart of the individual Believer.

I think there are lots of ways God speaks to His followers. I've experienced Him speaking to me through the Bible, through circumstances, through godly counsel,through people He brings into my life, through a still small voice in my spirit. Whenever I think God is telling me something, I always go to the scripture to ensure that what I think I'm hearing is in the line with scripture.

I'm grateful that scripture indicates repeatedly that the creator of the universe, is interested in having a relationship with people, a relationship with me.

What about you, what are some experiences you've had with God speaking to you?

25 comments:

JD Curtis said...

Nice post Tracy. I believe that God does speak to us through His written word.

Sometimes, mere coincidence does not adequately explain how certain things happen in our lives in such a timely manner. We are left to wonder if God is trying to teach us something. It's happened in my own life.

RCUBEs said...

I also believe He speaks to every believer's heart through His Word. But I believe some have their preconceived ideas before reading the Word that they only get to hear what they want to hear and not what He is trying to say. Have a blessed week sister Tracy. God bless.

ilovepink1078 said...

Very inspiring thoughts...
God is always there for us...
He waits for us to talk and lessen.

Let us, find time to talk with Him.

More power!
http://uchsmapeh.blogspot.com/

May said...

Hi Tracy,
I am a true believer in God and beleive that God speaks to us through the scriptures. When we pray to him, He is listening and then in turn He is answering our prayers. He might answer them when we want Him to, but He is always on time.

***-Christina-*** said...

God speaks to me, but I have to admit I am human and don't always listen like I should. When I ignore that still small voice I always end up asking myself why didn't I listen? I think that the world would be a very scary place If god didn't speak to us.

GCT said...

And people who say that god tells them to kill their children or invade foreign countries?

Being Me said...

I interpreted scripture about God's plans for us 2 posts ago.

Then I am somehow validated when I read Job 33:14-18 which affirms that God constantly watches us and sometime places obstacles to keep us to the right path.

BM

Deborah Ann said...

Amen to that! We are supposed to hear God's voice, there is nothing strange about that. He'll speak directly to us, through others, and in dreams and visions.

Mike said...

Tracy, I think your last few phrases sum it up best: that God primarily speaks to us thru His written word, godly counsel, circumstances, etc.

I have a hunch that the author of the blog is challenging Beth Moore's position that God literally speaks audibly to her, "God told me to _____". My wife has a friend who said something like this to us once..."God told me you should _____". Funny, cuz He never said it to us.

Good post.

John Cowart said...

Hi Tracy,

Oddly enough this morning I began writing page 362 in my book manuscript, If God Leads Me, Why Do I Run In Circles?

It's a book about divine guidance.

The title of the chapter I'm working on is "Kooks And The Will Of God".

Therefore, I find your post this morning particularly helpful in examining my own questions.

Question: May I quote your post in this chapter? I'd like to cite you as an authority... or at least as a person with good insight who thinks clearly on the subject.

Tracy said...

I appreciate hearing what you guys think. I'm reminded of Proverbs 27:17-"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I fell like I'm sharpened by you.

Had to laugh GCT, you always run true to form. Although I actually figured you'd ignore this one and figure those crazy Christians are hearing voices again!

Christina - I so agree. I think that's why my heart felt so sad when I read that blog - because I'm so grateful that God does choose to have a relationship with me and talk with me (even though I can also relate about not always being the best listener).

Deborah Ann - that's right, you've shared before about God speaking to you in dreams. I see that pattern of communication in the Bible too; it's just not one that I've personally experienced.

Gee Mike, you must have read the same blog. It's just I didn't want to get into something about a specific Christian. I have this thing about not putting down "public Christians". I think of the words of the apostle Paul recorded in Philippians 1:15-18; in the middle of verse 18 he makes the point: "The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.". Because of this passage, even if I don't agree with every single thing another Believer does, or says, as long as that person is clearly presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ, then I am supportive of them. My thought is that once the gospel is out there, and we respond to it, then God gives us His Holy Spirit to guide us into truth and we're each accountable to Him for what we believe and He can show us our errors (believe me, He's shown me plenty of mine!). I have however, had the same experience, more than once, that you allude to where someone has come to me with something God told them about me, only that was not what I believe God was telling me. I figure that the person just missed it, and move on. It doesn't make me doubt that God speaks to us, just that we are imperfect listeners with mixed motives through and through.

Jenn said...

I do believe that the Lord speaks to individual believers...and he does so through scripture. I believe that the Lord wants us to be in a relationship with him and he can speak to us and reveal somethings to us...but we know it is God talking because it is through His word that he reveals the truth. God isn't a concept...He is real and desires us into a relationship with him, to know him and the truth and the love he has for us.

Marty Duane said...

Oh, that's just sad.

Absolutely God talks to His children. Sometimes even in an audible voice! I have had many times when I didn't want to hear God's voice and undeniably He was there telling me words of advice. Even when I was so rebellious and determined that God didn't exist. So, yes, I know he talks.

GCT said...

"Had to laugh GCT, you always run true to form. Although I actually figured you'd ignore this one and figure those crazy Christians are hearing voices again!"

OK, so how about it? People claim that god tells them to kill their children, invade foreign countries, etc. Are we to believe that this is really what god wants? When a woman drowns her children and claims god told her to, should we give her a pat on the back for obeying god and being such a good Xian that she listens to god, even when god tells her to do something horrible, like drowning her children?

Tracy said...

The reason no one responded GCT is because people who do things like that are typically considered crazy and dangerous - no matter what reason they give.

The standard Christian thought is that anything you believe you hear God telling you, needs to be in line with what He has said in the Bible. (I can almost hear you saying now that in specific instances in the OT God told Israel to genocide people so someone could say he told them to genocide people.)

dsjohndrow said...

Do not short change yourself in your ability to hear from God by assuming that He will only speak through the book. Here is a brief list of how God speaks to His sheep:

-1 The scriptures - The infallible guide to Christianity. There is no other authoritative text.

-2 His people - As God assembles his saints locally and regionally, they have a voice. Hopefully it is Him.

- 3 Your circumstances - Because God knew you before your were born, He will continually try to set up circumstances that bring you closer to Him.

- 4 The internal audible voice (sense or feeling - direct revelation) - often during prayer or during times of direct ministry. Revelatory utterances from on High: for the edification of the church and sometimes individuals.

- 5 Tongues and interpretations, words of wisdom, knowledge and faith (internal revelation).

- 6 Spiritual Song, both vocal an instrumental (internal revelation) - a form of prophecy.

- 7 Dreams and interpretations (internal revelation) - a form of prophecy

- 8 Prophets (internal/external revelation) edification and correction for the individual, the body, and even nations.

- 9 Angels (direct revelation) - Generally reserved for significant information to be brought to earth.

- 10 His audible voice (direct revelation) - Generally reserved for significant information to be brought to earth.

-11 Sermons and books (biblically based of course)

-12 The beauty of creation

-13 My blog abd yours. ;o]

dsjohndrow said...

@GCT - Even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. We judge the things of God by there fruit, not by what people say.

David
www.fireandgrace.com

GCT said...

Tracy,
"The reason no one responded GCT is because people who do things like that are typically considered crazy and dangerous - no matter what reason they give."

How can you determine that? What, besides special pleading, would you use to delineate between "god talks to me and I'm crazy" and "god talks to me and I'm sane?"

"The standard Christian thought is that anything you believe you hear God telling you, needs to be in line with what He has said in the Bible."

Do you think that Bush doesn't believe his wars of adventure in Iraq could be Biblically supported? How about those people who kill their children? It's not like god hasn't commanded people to kill their children before, or set examples where one should cast out demons, etc.

Finally, in accord with whose interpretation of the Bible?

dsjohndrow,
"@GCT - Even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. We judge the things of God by there fruit, not by what people say."

I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you are saying here. If you believe in a Satan that "masquerades as an angel of light" then how do you judge things by their fruit? In a larger sense, how would you do that anyway? Do you simply decide that anything that you agree with as being good must have come from god and anything else is delusion? That would be special pleading. And, if Satan can masquerade as a good-guy, how can you tell that good actions (as defined by you again) didn't come from Satan? Perhaps only Satan speaks to people? Please clarify.

dsjohndrow said...

@GCT - I believe that about Satan because in says: 2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

The context is talking about those who falsely claim to be prophets, the Christ and various others sent by God.

The fruit of the spirit of the everyday believer is thus: Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

The misconceptions come in defining what is good. The Scripture speaks of what is pure in speech, in motive, in action and calls that fruit. Man does not get to designate what is good, God does. Therefore; it is not enough to do something good for the wrong reason.

Satan speaks to people, that is confirmed. He also speaks to God as he used to be an angel. No surprises there.

You used two very specific examples. You can be certain that God does not tell a parent to murder a child. The Bible does, however; prescribe the taking of the life of a murderer as judgment for his crime.

The other one was Bush's decision to declare war on Iraq. This is a political debate which I am not going to enter into. The rise and fall of nations is also in the hand of God.

I have scriptures for all of these, but I suspect that you have no real interest in Scripture, just debate.

If you have any interest in knowing a real God instead of railing against empty religion, feel free to comment on my blog.

God bless you.

GCT said...

dsjohndrow,
I'm afraid that your response didn't clear up a lot for me.

"The fruit of the spirit of the everyday believer is thus: Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

What does this mean? How do you judge this? How do you know this is so?

As a side note, is this a claim that the Holy Spirit changes lives and makes people be good...which would be a violation of their free will?

Let's say that supernatural beings exist and talk to people and tell them to do things. How do you differentiate between one supernatural being and another? Could not Satan imitate god to the extent that you could not tell the difference? Could it not be the case that Satan is the only supernatural being and the whole idea of god is a trick he's playing? Etc.

"Satan speaks to people, that is confirmed."

What do you mean by it being confirmed? I'm unaware of confirmatory evidence that Satan exists and speaks to people.

"You can be certain that God does not tell a parent to murder a child."

Murder is the unlawful taking of a life, but if god commands it, it's not murder, right? So, I can be certain that god didn't command murder in that sense, can I not? OTOH, that doesn't say anything about god asking people to kill their children.

But, I know what you are saying here, and I don't mean to quibble over semantics. The problem is that I don't see any support for your assertions. How do I know that I can be certain god is not asking parents to kill their children? How do you know? It's not like god hasn't asked that before, and if those people really are talking to god, then he is asking them to off their children. You don't know that he's not talking to them.

Now, you might claim that it's not a good thing, but isn't a standard apologetic that god's ways are higher than our ways? I mean, that's one attempted defense of the genocide in the Bible, so why not here?

"The other one was Bush's decision to declare war on Iraq. This is a political debate which I am not going to enter into. The rise and fall of nations is also in the hand of God."

We don't have to go into whether going into Iraq was a good political decision, but it sounds like you are implicitly leaving the door open here - that you believe god might have spoken to Bush and told him to go to war. Is that correct?

"I have scriptures for all of these, but I suspect that you have no real interest in Scripture, just debate."

I'm interested in support for arguments. If scripture is support, then use it when appropriate. Yet, the problem with using scripture is the circularity that usually comes in as well as the problems of interpretation, which version you use, the autheticity of the passages, and the origination of the passages.

"If you have any interest in knowing a real God instead of railing against empty religion, feel free to comment on my blog."

I'm interested in truth and reality, not in coming up with conclusions and then trying to fit the facts to those conclusions.

Tracy said...

Gee GCT, there's so much here, I'm at a loss how to begin....So I'll just go with a few things that hit me as I was reading your comments.

The whole Galatians 5:22 fruit of the spirit thing. You are correct - God does not take away our free will and impute these attributes to us. Historic Christianity teaches that as a person deepens in her relationship with God, the Holy Spirit changes her character and people will see these specific attributes, or fruit, in her life. This is why when we've spoken before I've always been clear that I come into relationship with God purely by faith in Him (and Ephesians 2:8-9 tells me that He even gives me the faith to believe in Him), but if that relationship is real, over time, there will be evidence via the "fruit of the spirit" in my life. However, I think it is difficult to judge another person with regard to the "realness" of the their personal relationship with God, or if the fruit of the spirit is present. For example, there's a man named John Cowart who periodically comments here, that I posted his account of his experience with a man named Lewis. This was posted, not this past Tuesday, but the one before - March 2. John tells about this man coming into a relationship with God, but then falling back into his old addictions. I love this account because it underscores how relationship with God does not change the fact that we live in a fallen world and are fallen human beings. So I think you are spot on when you ask how could one judge the fruit of the spirit in someone's life - very difficult indeed - it seems that you would at least have to take the baseline into account. So maybe a person is not as patient as you are, but he's way more patient than he used to be as God is working the fruit of patience into his life. Not sure if I'm being as articulate as I'd like to be.

Tracy said...

I also actually agree that God's ways are higher than our ways and so I'm not always exactly sure what God will do. I can't imagine God telling someone to kill their own child; in the OT account, Abraham never actually had to kill Issac - it appeared that God was testing Abraham's willingness.

I think your questions about if supernatural beings exist, how can one be sure which supernatural being one is hearing are really good questions. I have to go back to John 10:27 where Jesus promises that His sheep hear His voice. As I choose to live a life devoted to Him, spending time in prayer, meditation, Bible reading and obedience to what I do know, I think it makes it easier for me to know God's voice. A guy named Photogr, who comments here sometimes, writes on his blog and compares the voice of God to a radio frequency; the idea being the more tuned in you are (time in His Word, time in prayer, time in praise, meditation, etc.) the easier it is to hear God. John Cowart is writing a book about hearing from God and has a chapter about kooks who say they've heard God say thus and such, and I'm interested in what he has to say because I know him well enough enough to know that he and I are both award that we don't have all the answers and are still seeking.

There have been times GCT that thoughts have come to me that I know are not of God. I'm not always clear if these thoughts just came from my human flesh and desires or from a demonic source - but I know they are not God thoughts. When that happens I choose to purposefully turn my thoughts toward God; praising and thanking Him or speaking aloud Bible passages I've memorized (or, if the setting is not appropriate to be speaking aloud, I'll just think on these things).

As far at war in Iraq - I'm at a total loss as to what God spoke to former president Bush. I think one could definitely say there have been many mis steps in this whole process - even Bush would probably say that in retrospect. Yet, there have been times in my own life when I believed God told me to go in a specific direction; yet I still made mistakes as I went along that path.

I don't think these are easy answer questions. These are the issues that I come back to time and time again as I seek to become closer to God, more yielded to His will and calling.

GCT said...

Tracy,
I appreciate that you seem to take my questions and probing with a measure of seriousness.

I'm not sure that the free will discussion is really on topic, so I should probably shelve that for now, although I find your explanation to be problematic in that you're saying that one will definitely change according to the holy spirit, which would, in essence, be a free will violation.

"So maybe a person is not as patient as you are, but he's way more patient than he used to be as God is working the fruit of patience into his life."

I guess the point is that I don't think you can even make this claim. I'm not seeing the connection between having the specific belief that Jesus died for our sins and having that somehow improve a part of one's life - thus giving some sort of fruit by which to measure one's sincerity.

"I can't imagine God telling someone to kill their own child; in the OT account, Abraham never actually had to kill Issac - it appeared that God was testing Abraham's willingness."

But, that doesn't mean that it hasn't happened. With Isaac, god did give the order, even if he rescinded it later. Also see Judges 11:29-40. Or, maybe god is testing those women too, and they simply didn't get the message to stop? Either way, it's seems a stretch to completely rule out the idea that god would ask someone to kill their children. Our culture that says it is bad to do things like that is informing your religious beliefs. Not the other way round.

"As I choose to live a life devoted to Him, spending time in prayer, meditation, Bible reading and obedience to what I do know, I think it makes it easier for me to know God's voice."

Maybe, or maybe you've been mistaken all along. Maybe Loki made up the whole Bible story in order to have a lark at your expense (and Odin's). Maybe Satan is very good at making people believe they are hearing god's voice. Maybe it's just your internal brain working and there's no god at all.

"There have been times GCT that thoughts have come to me that I know are not of God."

How? That's the whole question. Would you say that the thoughts that are not of god do not align with what your already established beliefs are?

"As far at war in Iraq - I'm at a total loss as to what God spoke to former president Bush."

I was just making the point that he did claim that god told him to do it.

dsjohndrow said...

@GTC - when it comes to hearing from God, no man can do it without the Holy Spirit. There are some cases where God speaks to people before they "know God", but these are rare, such as with Paul, and they preceed the knowing of God. Paul said that creation itself leaves all mankind without excuse.

Without the Holy Spirit we cannot judge anything as being from God - or not. Even when you know God, it is not always easy. The Bible say that the soul and spirit are like bone is to marrow. Only the word of God can tell the difference.

You are correct, we are imperfect listeners.

In the last few days we have some debate and I see that you have a lot with others as well - and I know that you are looking for truth and reality and probably have some previous religious baggage - why else would you hate Xians? It may be from failed religion - or maybe you are like I was, an intellectual and a devoout atheist. The difference was that when I was faced with death, I met a living Jesus.

The Bible says this - And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2.4-5

Are you looking for a display of power, would that convince you? Are you looking for real "loving" Christians - ones that lack hypocrisy? If God talks to you, will you be convinced? I am just wondering.

I find that most folks don’t have a problem with ghosts, horoscopes, the paranormal and even psychics. What they don’t like, is the fact that Christianity has a moral code, one which they can easy find some claiming to be a Christian, who is not following it.

The Holy Spirit can change those that are willing to change - He however can do far more than mind control, hypnosis, psychology and will power. You may have noticed that God goes where He is invited - the hearts of those that choose him. And let me reiterate, we can be poor listeners.

If you are looking for God, it will take faith, and you will witness his power. If you are looking for debate - it is doubtful that you could ever be convinced - words would never have done it for me.

GCT said...

David,
"@GTC - when it comes to hearing from God, no man can do it without the Holy Spirit. There are some cases where God speaks to people before they "know God", but these are rare, such as with Paul, and they preceed the knowing of God."

OT question: are there actions that one takes in order to bring the holy spirit, or is it solely up to god?

"Without the Holy Spirit we cannot judge anything as being from God - or not."

How do you know you have the holy spirit? As you admit, we are imperfect listeners, and it seems like a supernatural being with powers beyond our imagination could make us believe anything - including that we are speaking to some holy spirit. Like I said above, Loki might be laughing at us all right now.

"...why else would you hate Xians?"

Whoa, what gave you that idea? I don't hate Xians.

"It may be from failed religion - or maybe you are like I was, an intellectual and a devoout atheist."

How does one become a devout atheist? Isn't that an oxymoron.

"The difference was that when I was faced with death, I met a living Jesus."

Huh?

"Are you looking for a display of power, would that convince you?"

What kind of power?

"Are you looking for real "loving" Christians - ones that lack hypocrisy?"

That is not my concern, no.

"If God talks to you, will you be convinced?"

Yes. Actually, god, being omniscient, should know exactly what kind of convincing I need. Additionally, since god is omnipotent, he can provide this without consequence to himself. He does not do this.

"What they don’t like, is the fact that Christianity has a moral code, one which they can easy find some claiming to be a Christian, who is not following it."

Which moral code would that be? Would it be the one in the Bible that calls for death to homosexuals, children that talk back, and non-Israeli tribes (as well as upholding slavery, subjugation of women, etc.) or would it be the one that modern day Xians have taken from our modern day culture and claim comes from the Bible?

Also, let's be realistic here. Do you really believe that people really do (or at least want to) believe in the Xian god, but convince themselves that they don't believe because they don't wish to be moral? Do we really see hordes of non-Xians indiscriminately killing each other and killing Xians in this country?

"If you are looking for God, it will take faith, and you will witness his power."

IOW, I have to believe in god before I will have belief in god?

"If you are looking for debate - it is doubtful that you could ever be convinced - words would never have done it for me."

Why would that be the case? If Paul's words are true (that we are all without excuse) then we should be able to be convince through rational argument and appealing to the evidence. Yet, that's simply not the case, is it? Why not? If god is true, then shouldn't the evidence indicate as much? Shouldn't we be able to reason and/or experiment our way to the conclusion that god is true? Why would faith be a necessary requirement for something that is true?

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