What is God’s main purpose for us? To have a relationship of love with Him.
Romans 5:11 (NLT). So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
Has anyone ever heard of a meaningful relationship in which both participants don’t communicate with each other? If we are going to have a love relationship with God, that means we must talk with God. But not only talk to God. It would not be a very healthy relationship if one of the participants did all the talking, and the other always listened. In order to have a healthy love relationship with God, we must both talk to God, and learn to listen to God. And, in this age, God speaks by way of the Holy Spirit.
There is a God, and that God communicates with us as humans. God is not silent. Christianity is based not only on the existence of God, but also the possibility of knowing God, communicating with God, and hearing what He has to say to us.
Hebrews 1:1–2 (NIV). In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
What are some of the ways in which God spoke to men in the Old Testament?
Genesis 3:8. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Genesis 18:1–2. The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
Genesis 32:24–30. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”
Exodus 3:1–4. Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”
Job 33:14–18. For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, he may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.
Hebrews 1:1–2 tells us that today, the supreme way in which God has spoken is through Jesus. That is, we who live since Jesus came to Earth have access to the most sublime and complete communication of God to man. God Himself took on human flesh, lived among us, and died on the cross in order to communicate His most important message: “I love you.”
But God not only has spoken through His Son. He continues to speak to us through His Son. In the Bible, we have the perfect revelation of God. But, in the Bible, we see that God, after Jesus had risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, continued to speak to men, at times through dreams, at times through inner impressions, and, at times, through words of prophecy.
Acts 10:1–3. At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”
Acts 10:9–11. About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners.
Acts 13:1–2. In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 16:9–10. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 11:27–29. During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea.
Hebrews 2:1–4. For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
1 Corinthians 1:4–8 (NASB). I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, God has not stopped speaking to us, and through us, by means of special circumstances. But, according to Hebrews 1:1–2, the criterion by which we discern the voice of God is and always will be Jesus Himself: the Jesus of the Bible.
We don’t have a subjective gospel, which is subject to our private interpretation. In the Bible, we have an objective, clear, and unchangeable message. And this message is the canon—the measuring stick by which everything else is measured.
But there are certain things the Bible doesn’t tell us. It doesn’t tell us, for example, what career we ought to pursue. It doesn’t tell us who to marry. Although, in some aspects, it does tell us who we shouldn’t marry. But there are a series of things that vary from individual to individual and case to case that the Bible doesn’t tell us. The Bible is not a mystical or magical book with a hidden message that is distinct for each individual. It is a book of principles. It is the responsibility of each of us to know those principles and apply them to our personal lives.
As Christians, in addition to what God has already spoken to us by way of Jesus, God continues to speak to us by way of the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is never going to contradict what Jesus has already said. He is the representative of Jesus on the Earth today. He only speaks what Jesus tells Him to say. And the Holy Spirit is never going to contradict what is written in the Bible. It was the Holy Spirit Himself who inspired the Bible.
If God has spoken to us, and continues to speak to us, then we ought to pay attention and listen to what He is saying. Hearing God is not something of secondary importance in our life.