Arminian Today

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Being Careful With Our Words

People often use the phrase, “God spoke to me and said.”  Sometimes (and few times) people actually mean that they believe God did speak to them.  Yet most of the time people simply mean that they got an impression.  I heard one guy call it a “holy hunch.”  Yet this would not be the same as direct revelation from God.  Most people, I think, are well-meaning when they say that God spoke to them yet their use of God speaking to them makes it seem like they actually heard from God and not from themselves.

In reality, the Bible is where we hear from God.  Certainly God speaks to us through life, through pain, through joy, through circumstances, through creation, etc. but this flows from the biblical data and not outside of the Bible.  The Bible is where God speaks!  Scripture is clear that God speaks to us in His Word.  The Word claims to be speaking for God so that when Scripture speaks, God speaks.  Jesus Himself held that the Bible (the Old Testament at His time) was in fact the Word of God (Matthew 4:4).  Jesus upheld the absolute authority of the Bible (Matthew 5:17-20).  Jesus even said that the Bible cannot be broken (John 10:35).  When Jesus was asked theological questions, He appealed to Scripture (see Matthew 19:1-9; 22:23-33).  Even as Jesus died on the cross, He was aware of the fulfillment of Scripture (see John 19:28-30).  After His resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples about Himself and His suffering and resurrection from the Scriptures (Luke 24:26-27, 44-47).

So if we claim to follow Christ, we should have the same view of the Bible as Jesus held.  Jesus believed in the authority of the Bible, the sufficiency of the Bible, the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible, and He quoted the Bible when combating theological errors and even Satan himself.

Hebrews 1:1-3 is clear:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 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. 3 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.

Notice that the writer of Hebrews points to Jesus as God’s final word.  The last days are not now.  They have been since Jesus began to reign from heaven until the end (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14, 18).  Jesus fully reveled God because He is God (John 1:1; Colossians 1:15-20).  When Jesus spoke, He was God speaking to humans as a human.  Jesus was both fully God and fully man.

Jesus promised His Apostles in John 16:12-15 that the Holy Spirit would help them to record all that He said.  Notice what Jesus says:

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Some take verse 13 and try to apply this to modern disciples but the context is clear that Jesus was speaking to His Apostles.  It would be the Apostles (or their close associates) who would write the Scriptures under the inspiration of the Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16).  Peter would later write in 2 Peter 1:20-21 this:

20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter the Apostle placed the authority of the Scriptures over even his own experiences (2 Peter 1:16-19).

This is powerful for us in our day when people use the phrase, “God spoke to me and said…”  I don’t doubt that God speaks to us and I hear Him speak always and faithfully in His Word.  2 Timothy 3:17 even says:

That the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible makes us complete!  The Bible make us equipped for every good work!  This is why I stress that we should build into our lives and in the lives of our children the authority of the Bible (Matthew 7:24-27).  I want my boys to look at everything through the lenses of the Word of God.  When my boys are faced with naturalistic evolution (or other issues), I want them to look at it through the lenses of the Word of God.  When it comes to evangelism, I want to evangelize based on the authority of the Word of God.  When it comes to money or my marriage or my job, I want to honor God by studying and applying the Word of God.  The Word of God is my foundation so that when I am reading and studying my Bible, I am hearing from God!  I don’t need an impression to know that God is speaking to me.  I don’t need a vision.  I don’t need a dream.  I don’t need a prophet.  The Bible is sufficient, faithful, inerrant, infallible, and makes me complete, equipped for every good work.

So a better way would be not to say that God spoke to us but to quote the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  “The Bible says” is God speaking.  If you want to hear from God, read the Bible.  If you want to hear God speak out loud, read the Bible out loud.  God’s Word is final. God’s Word is faithful because it comes from Him who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19; 2 Timothy 2:13; Titus 1:2).

In conclusion, I hold that our wording is the problem.  Most people I know who say, “God spoke to me and said” would say that it was an impression, a hunch.  They would not place their “hearing God” with the authority of the Bible nor on the same level as the Apostles hearing from the Spirit.  Yet this subtle “hearing from God” can undermine the authority of the Bible if we are not careful.  I recommend we modify our language.  I no longer say at all, “God spoke to me” apart from quoting the Bible.  When I want to express hearing from the Lord, I use the Bible.  The Bible is faithful to speak for God.  I hold firmly the principle of sola scriptura or “Scripture alone.”  Dr. Jack Cottrell writes about sola scriptura:

Sola Scriptura means that Scripture alone is an adequate source of truth and moral knowledge, but it means more.  It means that Scripture alone is the authoritative source of such truth and knowledge.  Because of its unique nature as the inspired, inerrant Word of God, Scripture is the sole norm, the ultimate and final authority for faith and life. (Solid: The Authority of God’s Word, pp. 82-83).

May we go now and read our Bible and hear from God simply as we read.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/20/2015 at 10:30 AM

One Response

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  1. I am bothered when folks attribute the word “holy”, to anything apart from the Godhead and His attributes. The phrase “Oh my God” (or OMG), also bothers me 99% of the time, because it being used casually and not addressing God in all of His Holiness;
    I don’t feel it’s nit-picking to call that kind of casualness “taking God’s name in vain”, because the associated activities or references are equated with what Solomon called vanity.
    We do need to be careful how we speak, what we say, especially when it comes to our Creator, the Lord of All!.

    Steve Orwig

    02/20/2015 at 10:53 AM


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