Does God Still Speak To Us Today?
Have you ever heard the voice of God? Is God still speaking to us today? We’ll examine these questions in this episode and understand a little bit more about God’s revelation to us.
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Hello, and welcome to the By the Slice Podcast. My name is John Gallo. I’m the Dean of adult and online programs at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. In today’s episode, I’m going to answer the question does God still speak to us today? I’m going to answer that question with a resounding yes, but perhaps it’s not the yes that you were anticipating. Before you tune this out and think this is the shortest podcast in recorded history, let me explain a little bit by what I mean.
What we’re really talking about here is revelation. In other words, how does God reveal himself to us today? Theologians have typically identified two broad categories of revelation. The first is called general revelation and the second is specific revelation, and so I’m going to start with general revelation. Now, please know that as you start to kind of dive into theology a little bit deeper, there’ll be subcategories within general revelation. There’s what’s called immediate, and then there’s mediate revelation, and things like that. I’m not going to get into that today.
But general revelation basically just means that God reveals Himself, and we see glimpses of Him throughout creation. So we can learn about God, in a small sense, by looking to the created order. For example, if you think about it, if you think about going into a museum and maybe looking at a painting, we examine famous paintings to learn what? To learn a lot about the painter, right? So we take a look at their brush strokes, and we take a look at their style of painting, and that gives us a glimpse as to whether or not they were an impressionist, or how they addressed curvatures and a variety of other kinds of things. Well, the same thing happens in creation. As we take a look at creation, it gives us small glimpses of understanding about God.
I think about the alternative rock band from the 1990s, a band called Live, and I used to follow this band. This band was from the Pennsylvania region, so I used to always get their latest albums and things like that. And the lead singer of the band, Ed Kowalczyk, who is, and I hope I’m saying that name right, he was the main lyricist, was not a Christian per se. In fact, he was actually very much involved in Eastern mysticism and new age-y kinds of things. I have read some articles in which he’s since kind of gone back to his Catholic roots, his upbringing, and things like that.
General and Special Revelation
But he wrote a song, and the song was called Heaven, and the chorus of the song goes like this. I don’t need no one to tell me about heaven. I look at my daughter, and I believe. I don’t need no one to tell me about God and truth. I can see the sunset, and I perceive. Now that’s a great example of general revelation. The idea that we can see glimpses of God, snapshots, if you will, of God by examining his created order. It’s one of the reasons why all throughout the world, in all various cultures, even primitive cultures, there tends to be some understanding of a godlike presence. They may not attribute it to the Christian God, Yahweh, but they understand that there is something beyond just the natural order that they ultimately then worship and things like that. That, in a general sense, is what’s called general revelation.
But to understand God more in depth, He has to tell us what to know about Him. Therein lies what’s called special revelation or specific revelation. This is where the voice of God, what’s called Verbum Dei, or the Word of God, basically tells us what we need to know about Him. For Christians, we believe that comes in the form of the Bible. The Bible is actually God’s words to us, speaking to us. It was written by human authors, and those human authors used their own style, their writing style, their own way that they would go about doing things. But the Bible wasn’t really written by men as much as it was written through men. Christians believe that when those authors, Moses, et cetera, et cetera, Paul, John, all the various authors of the books of the Bible were writing, they were actually under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Which means that it was the Holy Spirit, it was God Himself who was speaking to us.
Christians typically affirm the infallibility, which means that they couldn’t make a mistake while they were doing this. They were infallible while they were writing, and the inerrancy of the Bible, and inerrancy means it’s without error, and in future podcasts, I’ll talk a little bit more about what that means. But ultimately, the source of the Bible was God.
So when we say, “Is God speaking to us today?” and I say that the answer is a resounding yes, it’s because we have the Bible. The answer is if you want to hear God speak to you, read the Bible. We also know that those of us in Christ, when we read the Bible, it is not just us that is reading it. It is the Holy Spirit who basically then works through those words in the Bible to reveal things to us about God that goes beyond the narrative that we’re reading. In other words, the more you read the Bible, the more you learn about God. And the more you read the Bible, the more the Holy Spirit speaks to you through those words to help us understand a little bit more about God.
Now, the question that sometimes people will ask is does God specifically speak to us today? In other words, do you hear this booming voice from heaven that comes in sounding like a Darth Vader, Luke, I am your father, sort of voice? There are two camps typically in Protestant Evangelical Christianity. The first camp would say yes, that God does have the ability to speak to us today because He’s God, and He gives us special words of knowledge and things like that. The other camp would say no, God no longer needs to speak divinely to people because He has already done that in scripture. With the closing of scripture, and the fact that we now have the actual words of God written down for us, there is no need for any new revelation, if you will, because there is nothing new that God can tell us that He hasn’t already shared with us and wants us to know by reading his actual own words in scripture.
Now, for those who are in the camp that say that God does speak to us today, I think all Christians, regardless of what view they view in terms of revelation, they would all agree that God certainly has the power to speak to us supernaturally today. I mean, He’s God, and so if He chooses to want to speak to someone, we can’t limit Him, we can’t put a limit on him. But I will say this, that if you’re curious about whether God is actually speaking to individuals, there’s two basic principles that I would give you to kind of govern and understand that. Those principles really come from scripture themselves.
The first principle is that whenever God revealed Himself to His people in the Bible, the first and foremost reaction that those people have is to be absolutely terrified. If God is speaking to you, it is not typically in this soothing voice that calms you. It is abject terror, whether it’s Adam and Eve in the Garden after they sinned, hiding from God, whether it’s Moses and the burning bush, or whether it’s even the nativity story in which the shepherds were abiding their flocks at night, and the angel of the Lord appears to them and says what? “Do not be afraid. I bring you great news of great tidings.” Why did he say to them do not be afraid? Because they were afraid.
Because when confronted by the God of the universe, the God of the universe who exists beyond time, who can be anywhere that He wants to be, to talk to anyone that He wants to, when He confronts you, and you are metaphorically and spiritually naked in front of Him, all of your thoughts He knows, all your actions He knows. Everything, every hair on your head He knows. The first reaction you’re going to have to that is you’re going to be very, very afraid. That’s the first principle is that if God speaks to us, historically in scripture, every time that happens, the first reaction, the normal human response is to actually be terrified.
The second principle that guides you is the fact that God never contradicts Himself. God cannot be telling people things that contradicts what He already says in scripture. I’ll give you an example of this. My dad, in the late 1970s when I was a young child, revealed that God had come to him in a dream, and told him that the world was going to end in 1979. Now, I was in grade school at the time, and you can imagine what my 1979 must’ve been. I probably slept two hours a night because I was so scared to death that that night was going to be the night. And then, miraculously, 1980 came, and then 1981 came, et cetera, et cetera. The fact is that in scripture, Jesus himself tells us that no man knows the day or time that Christ is going to return.
Christ is most definitely going to return, and this world is most definitely going to end as we know it at some point, but God will never contradict Himself. God’s not going to tell us in His holy word, that is without error, that no man knows the date and time, and then all of a sudden change His mind and decide to tell a factory worker in Scranton, Pennsylvania in the 1970s, some divine revelation of when it’s going to end. That’s a contradiction, and that can’t happen, so that was not the voice God, unfortunately. Praise God we’ve lived beyond that, and I was able to get through 1979.
God’s Revelation To Us – Christianity
Regardless of how you approach revelation, the important thing, and by revelation, I don’t mean the Book of Revelation, I mean God’s revelation to us. The important thing to recognize is that you can learn about God, and He reveals Himself both through the natural order, so today it happens to be a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, the plants are out, they’re growing, they’re blooming, the bees are unfortunately out as well, and all the summer insects that come with it. But with that, I can see God. And then when I want to know specifically about God, I can go to His word.
And then for those of you who believe that God is still speaking directly to us today, I would definitely caution you to make sure that you use those biblical principles to guide you in that. The fact that when God does do this, it’s not a pleasant thing to a human, a sinful human being, to be confronted directly by God. And then secondly, God is never going to contradict Himself in His word because it’s against His character to contradict himself. Hopefully that helps explain a little bit more about the nature of God and how He reveals himself to us today. Thanks so much for listening to this By the Slice Podcast.
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