3 Questions – Does God Still Speak Today?

Jeff Bible, Holy Spirit 4 Comments

I have really been wanting to get to this portion of the blog series that I’ve been in over the last few weeks. It’s time to address what God is speaking to this present generation. Each previous post has addressed 3 Questionsthat all Christians should seek to know the answers to. Those three questions are

What is God doing?

What is God saying?

How should I respond to what He is saying & doing?

Today, I want to begin to touch on what God is saying in this present day. While I am always committed to going first to His written Word to know what God is saying, that is not primarily what I will be addressing in this post. God is always saying what is written in the Bible. Those words are inspired, infallible, authoritative and absolute expressions of His nature and will. When people tell me that God does not speak to them, I always point them first to the Bible. He never stops speaking to us there. God’s Word is never to pass away, therefore His word is always His voice.

But there is another facet to how God communicates.

While the written Word of God is often referred to by the Greek word logos (see Luke 8:11, Philippians 2:16, Hebrews 4:12), there is also the clear example in Scripture of the spoken word of God, translated by the Greek word rhema (see Luke 1:38, 3:2, 5:5; Acts 11:16; Romans 10:8, 17). Rhema always refers to the spoken word, whether divine or human, when it is used in Scripture. Solid Christians often disagree about the role of rhema in the current era, but the Bible goes to great lengths to establish the clear distinction between these two ways through which God communicates. My conviction is that Christians today must have skill in both logos and rhema – the written-down communication of God AND the voice of God speaking to each individual believer. Any Christian who desires to know God’s communication can hear God speak through the written Word. The Bible is God speaking directly to you. While we must learn how to properly interpret Scripture, it is the greatest material gift ever presented to humankind, and it is the voice of God to us today. The Bible is the written and preserved disclosure of the heart, mind and desire of the Creator God.

Rhema comes in a different way. Rhema can be understood as the word and voice of God which He imparts to us through various means. I will be specific here and submit that I believe rhema is primarily the voice of Holy Spirit speaking to our redeemed human spirit. You might have heard someone say, “God spoke to me today about…” Many people in the Church cringe when they hear that kind of statement because they believe that God no longer personally speaks to people. There is nothing in the written Word that teaches that God no longer operates in the spoken word. Nothing. A muted God is not found on the pages of Scripture. My personal belief is that most people are averse to the concept of rhema because they feel it runs great risk of undermining the authority of logos. Can I be perfectly honest? The presentation of something as a rhema word might do exactly that. Someone may say that they have a word from the Lord that is not remotely close to having come from Him. However, the abuse of rhema, or the immature misuse of rhema, should not force us to conclude that there is no longer any such thing as God speaking to people. Additionally, every single instance of someone declaring that God has spoken to them should be submitted for evaluation to the authority of the eternal written Word of God. If anyone says that they have a word from the Lord that finds itself in contradiction to Scripture, that person is either deceived, deceiving or both. The Bible remains the litmus test for all other possible spoken words which God might speak to us. He cannot contradict Himself.

So, do I need to be able to hear the voice of God if I already have the commitment to the Bible as the authoritative voice of God to me? Many have told me over the years that they have no need to hear His voice when they have His book. I will leave the following verses as a primer to me answering this question in my next post. It may be time for you to decide for yourself if God intended for you to not only be studying His written Word, but also to be listening for His spoken words to you.

“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word {rhema} of God.” – Romans 10:17

In Romans 10:17 above, the Apostle Paul teaches that our very faith is connected to being able to hear the rhema of God. Even in our coming to Jesus initially for salvation, there is a component of God speaking into our very spirit, making it aware of its deadness as He simultaneously quickens it to life. It is not the words on the pages of the Bible that convert us. It is the voice of God and the power of God through those words that make us aware of our need for Him and His offer to us. His voice does not stop bringing us to faith after our initial salvation. Rhema is used to impart to us greater maturity, wisdom and deeper levels of faith. He never stops speaking to us.

“That He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word {rhema}.” – Ephesians 5:26

In this final verse I have listed, Paul connects our practical holiness and maturity as believers with the activity of God washing us through rhema. God speaks to us about our spots. We need His voice to us to communicate His heart concerning specific things in our lives which may not be addressed in Scripture. Friends, if internal conviction about sin in our lives is not God speaking directly to us…then what is it? We must know His voice. It is just as important as knowing His written Word. Why? Because Satan knows the Bible and likes to twist it for his own purposes. If we know both the written word and the voice of God, Satan cannot use the Scripture to deceive us.

More to come.

Comments 4

  1. Bro. Jeff it is becoming a habit, that I go to your blog page everyday to see what is next. Today I actually read the posts before reading the blog. I love one of the scriptures you used about the wilderness. It just happens I was over on the backside of our land the Lord gave us when I got saved. My wife said my husband left to walk the dogs and another man came back.
    I believe God speaks to us about our sin, and gives us total insight into his Word. The Word is spirit and I have told other people you need to be in the Spirit to understand the full Word. Pray and Pray. Well enuff said I am looking forward to the next blog. God Bless.

    1. Ricky, what an encouraging salvation testimony, brother. Your insight about the Word of God and the Spirit of God are spot-on.

  2. Hi Jeff, thank you for this, especially the distinction between logos and rhema – this is the first time I’ve heard this and I look forward to studying more. While in seminary years ago, when studying the inspiration and sufficiency of scripture, I memorized Hebrews 1:1-2. This passage was interpreted to discourage listening to anything other than what is written in Scripture. (My paraphrase of the seminary’s teaching). Ironically, even as I write this sentence, I think about the books written by professors at that seminary, or the classes themselves… were those not examples of rhema? Hermeneutics pointed to the word “but” at the beginning of verse 2 and concluded that speaking to us “by His Son” is in contrast to other means discussed in verse 1. And then somehow that translated into “only read your Bible.” Fast forward to today, and I am actively seeking to better understand the work of the Holy Spirit today, and I’m certain that it includes rhema but I don’t quite know how to live in that yet. (BTW I know it when I see it and it was happening in your church and at IHOP when I visited a couple of weeks ago). Lastly, I tie this all together by mentioning how key NT Wright has been in my understanding of what God is doing. In contrast to what I was taught growing up (ask Jesus into your heart and then you’ll go to heaven someday as a spirit creature, spend the rest of your life convincing others to make the same declaration), NT Wright tears down this false teaching and replaces it with a more robust, more (I believe) correct theology of what happened on the cross AND our final destination.
    All this to say thank you for what you are doing. And thanks to Amy for her teaching when I visited!
    Nola

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      Author

      Super points, Nola. So blessed to hear of your ongoing pursuit of truth and deeper experience of what God offers all of us. We are all to be growing together!

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