Does God Speak Directly to Mankind Today?
by Abraham Smith
Earlier, we studied Scriptures that show we have an obligation to read the whole Bible. In order to do so, we must eliminate whatever might hinder our doing so. Even so, some of us have false beliefs that reject this obligation.
There are those who believe that God still speaks directly to us as He did in the first century as the New Testament was being written. Some believing this see no need to study His communication to us through the Scriptures – and, so, they do not read the entire Bible or feel that the Scriptures do not cover all modern-day situations.
Friends, there was a reason God communicated directly to men in the first century. The information He intended for us was not previously known (Romans 7:7; Ephesians 3:5; I Corinthians 2:9-11; Nehemiah 9:14), and He wanted to insure that it was provided accurately (Matthew 24:35; II Peter 1:15). In the Scriptures, we are assured that we have the complete will of God for man today. His apostles were promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to “guide them into all truth.” (John 16:13) Unless He lied, they had all truth in the first century!
Paul tells us in II Timothy 3:16, 17, “all scripture was given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, completely furnished unto all good works.” If we have in Scripture the instruction for all good works, what else can we possibly need? In Ephesians 3:3-5, Paul tells us he received his message by revelation from God, and that it can be understood by its readers. If we have all truth in the writings of the apostles; if the scriptures furnish to “all good works” and make the man of God “complete”, and it is written so we can understand it, there is no need for God to continue to reveal to mankind over and over again that which He provided completely. In fact, Jude 3 tells us the “faith” was once for all delivered unto the saints. Peter was able to say that God “hath given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him that hath called us by glory and virtue...” (II Peter 1:3).
There are some who believe that God must speak to guide us in daily choices. Such a view ignores the scriptural process which develops maturity with the growing spiritual person that provides the ability to “discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Others point out that the Scriptures themselves teach that the Spirit must lead and guide the Christian. While they do so, it is important to understand HOW the Spirit does so. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul tells us to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...” As the instrument through which a soldier does battle is the “sword”, so the instrument through which the Spirit operates is the word of God.
How did this happen? The Bible says the Spirit was to convict the world of sin (John 16:8). On the day of Pentecost, in carrying out this promise, the words of the Spirit pricked men in the heart, and led them to seek salvation (Acts 2:36-38). See also Acts 24:25.
John 3:3-5 says we are “born again” of the Spirit. But, I Peter 1:22-25 shows that we are born of the “incorruptible seed” of the word of God. Again, the Spirit providing the “sword” to be used in bringing about the new birth.
John 6:63 tells us the Spirit gives life, but Christ says “...the words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life...” Psalms 119:50, 93 shows that thru “words” we are given life.
We are commanded to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). We accomplish this when we walk in truth (II John 4; Psalms 26:3). Jesus says “thy word is truth” (John 17:17).
The damage of these false ideas can not only hinder us from more Bible reading, it will even lead us to reject what we read in the Bible in favor of an imagined message we claim to be from God.
As an example, the Bible says that a bishop must be “the husband of one wife” (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:5-7). Some of those who are not the husband of one wife (female “bishops”, single men, etc.) claim that God “led me to be a bishop.” This overrules the Scripture which actually comes from God!
Claiming a personal “leading” from the Spirit will inevitably lead to division, which is in itself contrary to the will of God (I Corinthians 1:10). Let us put aside these false notions and depend upon the Bible as the means whereby we are led by the Spirit. As Paul teaches in II Corinthians 10:5, let us “cast down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ...”
[Article lightly edited by Jeff Hamilton]