I'm not sure where it was that I heard it first, but I've always liked that statement: God speaks for God.
Yet, while it is true that God speaks for God, in one sense don't Christians also speak for God? To someone who does not know God, and does not have knowledge of Scriptures, God seems silent. So many Americans frequently assume, that if there is indeed a God, then perhaps it is Christians or the religious, who are the ones speaking for Him. If this is true, God must be confused; because the messages "from God" are not all in agreement.
To name just a few of many examples: In 1095 Pope Urban II was certain that from Jerusalem to Constantinople there was "an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God" and so he cried out for what was launched into the first of the Crusades. In the 1400s you've got Joan of Arch saying God called her to lead the armies of France against English occupiers. In the mid 1600s you've got Oliver Cromwell capturing the town of Drogheda and massacring it's residents calling his actions the "righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches". In the 1700s there's Jonathan Edwards calling the Catholic Pope the antichrist. You've got Joseph Smith who claims that as a young man in 1820 he went out into the woods to pray which of the sects were right. The churches in his area were Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian; Smith claimed that God told him that "all of their creeds were an abomination in his sight". You've got John Brown in 1855 who was certain that God told him to go into battle and so he engaged in that famous raid on Harper's Ferry to obtain temporary control of that federal arsenal to use in his fight against slavery. Brown was later hanged for treason. In the 1980s many saw Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as speaking for Christians and for God. Then there was Paul Hill who testified at his trial for killing an abortion doctor that he was certain that God told him to do so. Hill was put to death by lethal injection on September 3, 2003.
Most Christians will say that the test for if someone is speaking for God is that what the person says will be in accordance with scripture. I have both said and believe this myself. But as I'm reading through God Talk by Ruth A. Tucker I find these words of hers interesting:
"The way to differentiate the voice of God amid mixed messages, many people would argue, is to test the message of the voice by Scripture. So by that means, Joseph Smith Jr. fails while the individual whose message does not violate Scripture passes. But even when we pass on the voice of God, we get mixed messages that are all too often prompted by mixed motives. We do not easily understand our own motives, and this is a factor that should prompt us to remain silent even in instances where we believe we have heard the voice of God. If our silent expression of that voices comes forth in a way that radiates the love of Christ in word and deed, we can conclude that God has truly spoken"
For what it's worth, these words ring true for me.
Aside from my husband sometimes, although I believe God talks to me, I rarely share what He says in a "God told me" format with others. I simply pray, search the Scriptures, and then if I'm still sure it's God, act in obedience. Sometimes that searching the scriptures doesn't actually take place in terms of me sitting down for an hour or so with a Bible in hand, sometimes it does. Sometimes, because I've spent years studying and memorizing Scritpture, I run what I think God is telling me by the Scripture that is already in my mind (I'm especially likely to do this when there is a timing issue involved).
But to be totally honest there have been times I've acted on what I believed God told me that later, in retrospect, I'm not so sure about. There have also been times when I know that I know that God told me something and still to this day remain steadfast in my belief. But the bigger issue for me is that I'm not convinced that I need to use the "God said" language when appealing to others for support. Because, once I've done that, I'm setting myself up as the mouth piece for God. If God really did say it, how then could they deny me their support? It seems much healthier to me to simply put forth what I ask from them and have them pray concerning their response and leave their actions between them and God. If God really told me, can He not also confirm this word in their hearts?
Somehow I also think relationship ties into this. Throughout the Bible I see this relationship theme. God is constantly seeking relationship with mankind and tells those who follow after Him to be in relationship with one another. The directive to Christ's followers to love one another is repeated numerous times in the New Testament. So it seems to me that if I'm in relationship as I should be to others in the body of Christ that I don't need to use the words "God told me" to get them to listen; they'll listen because they already know my life lived out before them, because they respect me and know that I love them.
What about you, do you believe that when God speaks to you, you need to tell others that "God said"? Why or why not?