Tozer and ‘The Speaking Voice’ (by Ken Hamrick)

by Guest Blogger on November 14, 2013 · 6 comments

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The Bible is foundational to our faith. But it is more than the written word of God that brings us to that faith. Apart from the Holy Spirit’s witness heard in our spiritual heart, the Bible is just words written about God. By the Holy Spirit speaking to our heart, the words of the Bible become God’s word personally spoken to us. It is one thing to read about God; it is quite another to hear Him spiritually speaking to us. Though the former is factual, the latter is piercing, life-giving and life-changing.

A. W. Tozer, in his book, The Pursuit of God, (Camp Hill, Pa: Christian, 1993), taught the following in the chapter entitled, “The Speaking Voice:”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

An intelligent, plain man, untaught in the truths of Christianity, coming upon this text, would likely conclude that John meant to teach that it is the nature of God to speak, to communicate His thoughts to others. And he would be right. A word is a medium by which thoughts are expressed, and the application of the term to the eternal Son leads us to believe that self-expression is inherent in the Godhead, that God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation. The whole Bible supports this idea. God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God is speaking. He is, by His nature, continuously articulate. He fills the world with His speaking voice…

…The Bible is the written Word of God, and because it is written it is confined and limited by the necessities of ink and paper and leather. The voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is free. “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). The life is in the speaking words. God’s word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God’s word in the universe. It is the present Voice which makes the written Word all-powerful. Otherwise it would lie locked in slumber within the covers of a book…

…”Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). Again we must remember that God is referring here not to His written Word, but to His speaking Voice. His world-filling Voice is meant, that Voice which antedates the Bible by uncounted centuries, that Voice which has not been silent since the dawn of creation, but is sounding still throughout the full far reaches of the universe…

…God is here and He is speaking–these truths are back of all other Bible truths; without them there could be no revelation at all. God did not write a book and send it by messenger to be read at a distance by unaided minds. He spoke a Book and lives in His spoken words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to persist across the years…

…We have not given sufficient attention to that deep utterance in the book of John, “That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (1:9). Shift the punctuation around as we will, the truth is still there: The Word of God affects the hearts of all men as light in the soul. In the hearts of all men the light shines, the Word sounds, and there is no escaping them. Something like this would of necessity be so if God is alive and in His world. And John says that it is so. Even those persons who have never heard of the Bible have still been preached to with sufficient clarity to remove every excuse from their hearts forever. “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Romans 2:15). “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understod by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (1:20)…

…The Bible will never be a living book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in His universe…
I believe that much of our religious unbelief is due to a wrong conception of and a wrong feeling for the Scriptures of Truth. A silent God suddenly began to speak in a book and when the book was finished lapsed back into silence again forever. Now we read the book as the record of what God said when He was for a brief time in a speaking mood. With notions like that in our heads how can we believe? The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. The second Person of the Holy Trinity is called the Word. The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind for us put into our familiar human words.
I think a new world will arise out of the religious mists when we approach our Bible with the idea that it is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking

…It is more than a thing; it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living God.

1 Ken Hamrick November 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Unless God is, as Tozer said, “continuously articulate,” we would have no certainty that the Bible is His true word. Evidences of all kinds can go no farther than mere probability, but the witness of the Spirit to the truth of Scripture provides our sure and certain foundation.

Furthermore, Scripture itself witnesses to the fact that it was never intended to be God’s only communication with us. God was not content to merely write to us, but goes far beyond that and indwells believers with His very self, putting His Holy Spirit inside us, joining us to Christ in a mysterious union more intimate than we can comprehend.

2 Christiane November 14, 2013 at 7:56 pm

” . . . God was not content to merely write to us, but goes far beyond that and indwells believers with His very self, putting His Holy Spirit inside us, joining us to Christ in a mysterious union more intimate than we can comprehend. ”

This, I believe.

3 Max November 15, 2013 at 10:11 am

The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.

Education does not produce one ounce of revelation. It’s not by intellect, but by the Spirit, that we are led into Truth. The written Word must be connected to the Spirit of Truth for it to become Truth within us.

When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the Truth … and the Truth will set you free.

4 Ken Hamrick November 15, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Max,

Yet, it is the truth of what is written that the Spirit leads us into. Education does not provide the revelation, but that revelation comes by both letter and Spirit, as it is the Spirit that has produced the letter.

Without intellect, we can comprehend no truth. Both the Spirit and intellect are needed. You have well said, “The written Word must be connected to the Spirit of Truth for it to become Truth within us.” And of course, even those who have not had access to the written word have had enough of the truth revealed to them to leave them without excuse.

5 Max November 16, 2013 at 11:13 am

“Without intellect, we can comprehend no truth. Both the Spirit and intellect are needed.”

Amen, Brother Hamrick. I don’t have a problem with education (I even have some). My concern is that we’ve had an outbreak of intellect in both pulpit and pew which has not been connected to the Holy Spirit. Thus, as parsonsmike comments in this thread, “many read and hear the written word and remain blind to its truth.” It is by truth that men are set free, but reading/hearing truth does not result in spiritual change working alone. In order for truth to transform a sinful man, it is necessary for the living Spirit of God to be engaged … to touch the truth which has been lodged in his intellect. When Truth gets in our “knower” by the Spirit, we know it!

6 parsonsmike November 15, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Ken,
You said,
“And of course, even those who have not had access to the written word have had enough of the truth revealed to them to leave them without excuse.”
How true and a point Tozer made as well.

But also, having access to the written word does not mean that the Spirit has lead that person to the truth of it. Thus many read and hear the written word and remain blind to its truth.

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