The question, “does God speak to us today?” is rather simple but the answer may be not quite simple. Consider three practical instances:
(a) A sincere Christian man seeking marriage has to choose between two or more girls and he desires to know the girl according to God’s will.
(b) A job-seeking sincere Christian has to choose the job that’s according to God’s will.
(c) A sincere Christian seeking to invest his money has to choose the investment option according to God’s will.
As you well know, the difficulty in these situations is this. The Bible does not personally or specifically tell us whether we are to marry ‘A’ or ‘B’ or choose this job over that or whether to invest here or there.
God Will Speak When We Seek
On the contrary, the Bible mandates us to seek God’s will in all matters, “…your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 10, NASB). We are aware that the incarnate Son of God, the Lord Jesus always sought to do the will of God the Father, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22: 42, NIV, emphasis mine). That we ought to always seek God’s will is further amplified in the Lord’s own words, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3: 35, NIV).
This then is our existential dilemma:
A. We have choices to make; often these are difficult choices.
B. The Bible mandates a sincere disciple of Christ to seek God’s will in all matters.
C. The Bible does not offer answers to our personal instances.
D. Should not God speak to us when we seek HIS will? (God will speak to us when we seek HIS will)
God has already broadly spoken to us, although not specifically and personally. For instance, God has mandated Christians to marry Christians (2 Corinthians 6: 15-17; 1 Corinthians 15: 33), to serve in a job that glorifies God (1 Corinthians 10: 31; Colossians 3: 17; not being a smuggler, contract killer etc.) and to invest money in a business that does not propagate evil in any form or manner (Cf. Psalms 1: 1, Proverbs 4: 14).
Since these mandates are from the Bible, it is important to know the Bible. To know the Bible is to interpret it accurately. Therefore, since God has revealed HIS will through the Bible, the Bible offers answers to all broad aspects of life.
God’s audible speech to man would never contradict the Bible, for God will never contradict HIMSELF.
The Bible reveals that God has spoken audibly to people (Genesis 8: 15, 12:1; Exodus 3:14, 24: 12; Joshua 1:1; Judges 6:18; Isaiah 38: 4; Acts 8:26; 9:15 et al.). Moreover, the Bible reveals that God will reveal HIS will to us when we seek HIM (Cf. Matthew 7: 7-8). Hence there is no rhyme or reason to doubt God’s audible intervention in our lives today.
We are now concerned about knowing God’s will for the specific aspects of our life i.e. which doctor do I consult or which person do I marry or which job do I consider etc. When we endeavor to seek God’s will, we should surrender our lives to HIS leading and guidance.
When we seek and surrender our lives to God’s will and leading, HE would most surely lead us. One such leading of God is by speaking to us. So God will speak to us (Job 33: 14a; John 10: 27; Luke 6: 46). This is an undeniable fact.
Should God Always Speak To Us?
There are approximately 2 billion Christians in the world. If a few million Christians are seeking God, then God should be speaking to one or the other at any given point in time. Therefore, God should be speaking always (Cf. John 16: 13; 1 John 2: 27).
However, God is not always mandated to speak to us audibly. As we know, there are various other means of God’s guidance in our life. God speaks through the Bible (2 Timothy 3: 16-17), lots (Proverbs 16:33; Acts 1:21-26), dreams (Genesis 20:3), visions (Isaiah 6:1), angels (Daniel 9:20-21), events (Micah 6:5), prophets, and of course, the Lord Jesus (John 14: 26 et al.).
Patience should be our chief virtue while seeking God. Expecting God to audibly speak to us always is an unwise expectation. For reasons best known to God, and without violating HIS love, grace and justice, God can choose to remain silent when man seeks HIM earnestly. In this instance, the seeker ought to exhibit patience – sometimes even for months or years together.
God’s audible silence could imply HIS desire to speak to us through the Bible or through events (Cf. James 1: 5; 1 Corinthians 16: 8-9) or through people (1 Samuel 13:13-14, 15:23; 2 Samuel 12:7-15; Acts 9:10-18, 10:1-33). Hence, our goal should not be particularly limited to hearing God audibly.
God’s audible silence does not imply HIS universal silence. If we do not hear God audibly, then it does not imply God is silent with everyone. To say that God does not speak to me and hence God does not speak to anyone is a case of ‘genetic fallacy.’1
There could be moments when God would not explicitly reveal HIS will to us. In such instances, we should continue doing what is right and pray that God would prevent that which is not according to HIS will from happening in our lives.
Listening To God Through Fellow Christians
Then there are some who may approach us saying that they have heard God and that HE wants us to do this or that – marry this person or that, take up this job or that etc. In such a situation, the big question is the depth of our godliness.
If our relationship with God is not mature and deep (if we are unable to hear God by ourselves), then we are almost left with no option but to listen to them.
In this instance, the credibility of the source matters. If the source of God’s word is credible / godly then it would be wise to sincerely consider their counsel. If the source of God’s word lacks credibility then it would be wise to reject their counsel.
There’s another difficulty here. If our relationship with God is immature and shallow, we may not be able to identify a godly person.
Here are a few tips to identify godly people. They will…
1. …fear God and not man.
2. …seek God and never the material benefits.
3. …be a diligent student of the Bible.
4. …be pure in heart, lover of the Lord, with good character and clean conscience.
5. …be courageous against evil, will stand for the truth, and will never give up.
6. …be loving, gracious and humble.
When we are confounded with a dilemma of choice in marriage or job search etc. we may as well consult godly people.
Some may argue that God speaks through donkeys so why not sincerely consider the words of a not-so-godly-person.
First, it was a miracle that the donkey spoke i.e. God opened the mouth of the donkey (Numbers 22: 28). Second, God did not speak through the donkey per se. The donkey did not bring the word of the Lord to Balaam instead the donkey merely justified its disobedience to Balaam.
(Those skeptics who deride the Bible for the miracle of talking donkey would gladly accept a talking parrot or a talking dog but would conveniently deny a miraculous instance of a talking donkey. If a parrot can talk, then why not a donkey? Some evolutionists argue that they cannot sight a talking donkey now. Really? Neither can I sight men evolving from apes now. So much for their skepticism!)
Coming back to our point, if the source of God’s word lacks credibility then it would be wise to reject their counsel. But if the person approaching us with God’s word is credible or godly then it would be wise to sincerely consider their counsel.
Learning To Listen To God
We should learn to master the art of listening to God, which is an art acquired by virtue of surrendering our lives and remaining in Christ always. There is no excuse to not listening to God.
God is not an answering machine. While we strive to listen to God, we should not reduce God to an answering machine.
In other words, God could be speaking to us even when we not actively seeking God. So do not expect God to speak only when we speak with HIM.
In the days of Eli and Samuel, the word of the Lord was rare (1 Samuel 3:1), so one would surely not expect God to talk. But it was precisely then God spoke to Samuel. Hence, we should expect God to speak to us anytime, especially when we least expect it.
The greatest task of a Christian is to live a surrendered life to God. The greater the surrender of a Christian life the greater will be the communication between God and him.
In other words, the Christian’s will (and his conscience) should constantly be lost in God’s will. Thus God’s thoughts should become our thoughts. This should be the endeavor of every Christian. The hymn (I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice) should be the anthem of every Christian.
May the good Lord enable us to hear HIM, love HIM and obey HIM all through the days of our life. Amen.
1 A Genetic Fallacy is a line of "reasoning" in which a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself. It is also a line of reasoning in which the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence for the claim or thing. (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/genetic-fallacy.html)
Lyrics of the hymn “I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice” (Draw me Nearer)
I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice,
and it told thy love to me;
but I long to rise in the arms of faith
and be closer drawn to thee.
Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
to the cross where thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
to thy precious, bleeding side.
Consecrate me now to thy service, Lord,
by the power of grace divine;
let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
and my will be lost in thine.
O the pure delight of a single hour
that before thy throne I spend,
when I kneel in prayer, and with thee, my God,
I commune as friend with friend!
There are depths of love that I cannot know
till I cross the narrow sea;
there are heights of joy that I may not reach
till I rest in peace with thee.