Tuesday, May 5, 2020

38. Is God Speaking to Me?

Is God Speaking to Me? How To Discern His Voice and Direction. Lysa TerKeurst. 2020. [September] 64 pages. Harvest House. [Source: Review copy] [Christian Nonfiction]

First sentence: Hi friend, Have you ever wondered if God still speaks to us today? Or even more so…whether what you’re hearing is really God speaking to you, or just your own thoughts? I understand. I’ve wrestled through these very same questions. But what I’ve discovered through my own study of Scripture is that God absolutely does still speak to us through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16), through His son, Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2), and through the Holy Spirit that lives in us as believers (John 14:16-17, 1 Corinthians 3:16). Yes, the Lord is speaking to us and inviting us into a more satisfying relationship with Him than we’ve ever known before. And our job is to respond in obedience. But you don’t have to learn how to do this alone!

The question isn't a negligible one. It is a question with some significance. Will readers agree with Terkeurst's conclusions? Perhaps. Perhaps not. (I know Justin Peters would not.) Essentially this is what she says:

Though I hear from God all the time, I’ve never heard His voice audibly. When God speaks to me, it is a certain impression on my heart that I’ve come to recognize as Him.
I’ve also learned to ask five key questions to help me determine if what I’m hearing is from God or not: 1. Does what I’m hearing line up with Scripture? 2. Is it consistent with God’s character? 3. Is it being confirmed through messages I’m hearing at church or studying in my quiet time? 4. Is it beyond me? 5. Would it please God? Asking these questions helps me tell the difference between my thoughts and God’s impressions. Let’s look at each of these to unpack what they mean a little bit further.
This is a tiny little book! I consider that a plus. It is actually an excerpt from another of her (previously published) books. If you wanted to be introduced to this author--this tiny book might give you an idea of if you'd be a good match.

I shared my thoughts on the subject as a reaction post to a Justin Peters' sermon I listened to in February this year. But essentially, here is where I stand on the subject:

1) I believe in the Sufficiency of Scripture.
2) I believe that God is not speaking to us in the same way as He spoke to the authors of Scripture. That the way God spoke to and through believers then--and by believers I mean the human authors of the 66 books of the Bible--Old and New Testament--is not normative; that we should not expect the same revelation. I don't believe in continuous revelation, new revelation. God is not going to be adding more books to the Bible.
3) I believe in the authority of Scripture. I believe the Scripture should judge us and NOT that we should judge Scripture.
4) I believe in God's Sovereignty.
5) I believe in God's Providence.
6) I believe that all believers are filled with the Holy Spirit and joined to Christ.
7) I believe that the Spirit living in us helps us spiritually see and understand the Spirit-given text in front of us. We are indwelled with the Author of the Book. I believe that the Bible takes SPIRITUAL sight to understand, to interpret, to apply.
8) I believe that we are called to store up God's Word in our hearts and minds. That we are to meditate on it, "chew the cud," to memorize it, to really let the Word saturate our hearts, minds, lives. We are to be people of the Book. We are to know the book. The Bible is our meat and drink--it is nourishment for our very souls. By it--and through it--our minds are renewed and lives are transformed. Scripture should interpret Scripture. The Scripture teaches us how to interpret it, how to make sense of it.
9) It would be impossible for the Spirit to speak contrary to the Revealed Word of God. The Holy Spirit will never tell you something that is contrary to what the Bible says. It will never disagree with Scripture. It will never be in opposition to Scripture. If you've got the Word of God in front of you and Spirit inside of you disagreeing--then it is not the Holy Spirit at work. The Spirit will never green-light sin in a believer's life, it will never make excuses or justification for why you can keep on disobeying God's Word. It won't happen. It's a false spirit, a lying spirit, a spirit perhaps masquerading as an angel of light, but it's a deception.
10) Discernment, discernment, discernment. Always. Everywhere. Never slack. Never surrender.

I can only speak from my experiences, but when I say--or when I think--of using the phrase, "God spoke to me," or the "Spirit revealed to me" what I really mean is the Spirit brought to my mind a specific text of Scripture, that a truth within Scripture is being illuminated by the Spirit, I am having a spiritual "aha" moment, a light bulb has lit up, a truth that has always been truth has been realized. I am not having a "new" or "special" revelation. I am just having my eyes opened to the Word of God--which is one of the things that the Spirit does in the life of the believer. It is perhaps lazy to think of it as "the voice of God speaking to me." But I would imagine that most believers have been guilty of using this phrase innocently enough.

I think it is also possible that what we think of as God speaking to us falls more into these categories a) God providentially working things out in our lives b) God answering our prayers. For example, when God is "putting someone into your mind" that you need to pray for that person--maybe God is using you as an answer to someone else's prayer. Maybe it is part of God's providential plan for you to speak encouragement, to build up, to give comfort to another. Or another example, a guest speaker might come into a church saying, the Spirit wanted me to preach from this text. This could very well be an answer to prayer. They've prayed for discernment and "help" on knowing what to teach/preach. They have prayed for the Spirit to work through them and their message.

I would hope that most people would recognize that the Spirit speaks to us in the words of the Word. The Spirit is teaching us--as we read the Word; the Spirit is guiding us and interpreting for us as we read, study, and meditate. The Spirit is illuminating the Word so we know how to apply it. The Word is indeed Sufficient. But the Spirit's work is ongoing. Not in giving NEW revelation, but in opening our eyes, opening and renewing our minds, working in the heart, working and transforming our lives.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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