Does God Speak?
Over the last forty years, from time to time, people have asked me, “Why can’t God speak to me?” This has sometimes been meant to ask, “Why can’t God let me know directly that He exists?” Sometimes this question has been meant to ask, “Why can’t God direct me what to do?” The wrong answer to these questions is that God doesn’t speak. As a matter of fact, God has spoken, God speaks, and God will speak. The reality in which we all live is alive with the speech of God. In the beginning God said, “Let there be light.” Genesis 1. It would be very strange to live in this world that was spoken into existence and say, “Why can’t God speak and let us know that He is there?” The psalmist says, “Day unto day uttereth speech.” All around us and in us, the sentences God has spoken reverberate. They are living sentences. The wisdom of these words play out every day in the marvels we see in God’s world. The sea. The sky. The forest. The field. The birds. The fish. All the creatures. Everything gives form to what God has spoken. And the Bible says that everything continues because it is sustained by the word of His power. If this were not enough to make us feel permeated and enveloped by the speech of God, oscillating in every movement of nature and of our soul, then let us take account of this. God came to fallen man and He said things. He never stopped dealing directly with mankind. With this, the whole grand historic panorama of God’s speaking is recorded in the Old Testament. As if that were not enough, finally he gave us a living Word. He sent a living embodiment of what it meant to be, both a Word of God spoken and a Word of God faithfully heard. He sent His only begotten son into the world. This we have beautifully recorded in John 1:1-3,10,14, and 18: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. …He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. …And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. …No one has ever seen God; the only begotten God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.” In addition, these things are said of Jesus in Hebrews 1:1-3 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” These things have been written down for all time as the very words of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
Is this written word just a dead letter? Well apparently, God doesn’t think so. In Hebrews, the past word spoken is described as a continuing of God speaking today. As we read in Hebrews 3 “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness…’” The writer of Hebrews speaks of the Holy Spirit speaking in the present tense, even as He recalls the ancient words of the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit then continues to say what was written way back when. What would be the effect of the design of words already written being God’s present message to us? The writer of Hebrews himself gives us the answer in Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” If all of creation, every blade of grass, every amoeba in the ooze, every sense of the human soul and all that of which we are an inseparable part is redolent with God’s speaking, and if God has given us His definitive statement that He feels to be sufficient, wouldn’t it make sense that we should listen? I wonder is there not some impertinence in the question, “Why can’t God speak to me personally so that I know He’s there and what He asks of me?” My question is not without some importance. I say this because, not only has God spoken, and not only does God speak, but there is a day coming when God shall speak again.
The Bible says that every eye will see him and every ear will hear when the Son of Man returns. Jesus will come with His saints from glory and then we shall all hear Him. So we await God speaking once again. The one who speaks has formed the world. The one whose word upholds the universe. The one who has continued to speak through scripture will come again to speak with the call that will raise all the dead, pronounce final judgment, and announce the vindication of the righteous. Then He will speak the Word by which all things are made new.
One might say that there is a certain irony when we ask, “Why can’t God speak to me?” for after all, all of reality is grounded in God speaking. All of human history is bounded by God speaking from the “Let us make man.” all the way through to the shout from heaven when Jesus returns. God speaks.