How to listen and hear God
The best blessing believers inherit in Christ is the gift of communion with God. The Apostle John in his first epistle reminds us of this great blessing by assuring us that our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son (1 John 1:3).
The Greek word for communion is koinonia which interpreted means having a fellowship or an intimate relationship. Thus, in Christ, we have this great blessing of an intimate relationship/fellowship with God. This relationship like any other humanly relationship consists of perpetual communication between both parties. In our relationship with God, we can speak to Him and He can speak to us; we speak to God through prayer and He speaks to us through His Word.
All Christians agree with the belief that God is still speaking today, but due to various interpretations of the Bible disagree on the authentic way God uses to deliver His Word to us. In the Old Testament God spoke to His people through His appointed representatives called prophets. God would often summon his prophet to the mountain and would entrust him with His Word to be delivered to His people.
God would begin His statement by first quoting “Thus says the Lord your God…” (Exodus 4:22) followed with the message He wanted to be delivered to His people or audience. When the prophet was back to his community, he would not deliver God’s message in past tense but would address the community or God’s audience as if it were God Himself speaking.
The prophet would begin God’s message by quoting “Thus says the Lord your God…” (Exodus 5:1) the congregation/ audience would receive this Word as a now Word [not God said but God is saying]. Ancient Israel esteemed this event of listening to the prophet equal to listening to God Himself. After the last prophet in the Old Testament prophet Malachi, God went silent to Israel for four hundred years. For about four centuries Israel had to survive without a single direct word from God but used God’s written Word Torah as God’s current speech for that time until God raised John the Baptist.
In the New Testament God began to raise Apostles who would act as His messengers to His upcoming church. God entrusted these men with His Word for the growing church which would later be known as the Apostles doctrine. God used these Apostles to lay down the foundations of the church. The Apostles had walked with God incarnate (Jesus Christ) for three years learning from the lips of God Himself the mysteries of the Church. After the death and ascension of Christ, God gave these direct revelations through the Holy Spirit where everything they heard from God and had learned from Jesus for the three years, they were His students, penned it down as the New Testament.
We also have few instances recorded in Scripture where we see God bring a direct message to an individual who was not a prophet or an Apostle. God did this only on special occasions, it was not an everyday thing and whenever He appeared to individuals it had to be in line with His drama of redemption for example sending a message to Elizabeth on the birth of John the Baptist or to Mary on the birth of Jesus was all part of the drama of redemption.
Considering all these, we see that God only spoke directly on special occasions, it was the habit of God’s people both in the Old Testament and New Testament to go back to Scripture when they needed to know anything. This is also true for us today; God is speaking to us through His written Word since and is no more revealing His Word or giving direct messages to anyone.
This is because the canon of Scripture has been closed and nothing is to be added nor deducted from it. Whenever God speaks, He does so authoritatively, if God spoke a Word to a certain people through any man of God, then that Word should be added up in the Bible and Revelation 22:21 should not be the last verse of the Bible because that word is not less authoritative than any verse of the Bible for God speaks authoritatively at all times.
In the same manner, God went silent in the gap between Malachi and Mathew, so is God silent now in the sense that He is not giving direct messages. The only way God is speaking is through His written Word (the Bible). The Prince of preachers Charles H. Spurgeon articulates this by saying, let that man who would want to hear God speak read Holy Scripture. Justin Peters one of the top Christian apologists quotes by saying, “if you want to hear God speak, read your Bible.
If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud”. The Bible is the only means we can use to listen and hear from God. For example, God spoke to me this morning from the book of Romans 12:1 and He reminded me to continually present my body as a living and holy sacrifice acceptable unto Him which is my spiritual service of worship.
“Long ago at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Hebrews 1:1-2
Long ago God spoke to our fathers in many ways even though a donkey and prophets but has in these last days spoken to us through his Son who is the written word.
Joseph Ngugi – ABLI Mentee