Is God Talking to Me? (3)

Here’s a guaranteed way to save lots of money on your grocery bill: only buy every third item on your grocery list.  Would that save money?   Yes.  Would it be practical?  No. You would end up not having two-thirds of the things you need.

What if you only heard every third word of a conversation?  (Ever had cell phone reception like that?)  It’s impossible to get the message.  As God speaks to us, we want to be sure we get the whole message.

You’ve likely noticed by the title that this is the third post in a series.  It all has to do with God speaking to us. Here’s a very quick recap:

  • God is speaking to us in His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2) [see this post]
  • To hear Jesus, we must focus on the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) in the New Testament. [see this post].
  • Jesus also directs our attention to the remainder of the New Testament.  To hear His message we must go there too. [see this post]

But now the question is, What about the rest of the Bible? What about the Old Testament?  Isn’t it important too?

Absolutely yes!  Of course it is.  As a matter of fact, we cannot fully understand Jesus apart from the Old Testament.

So how does that work?

The Old Gives Way to the New

The Old and New Testaments of the Bible are connected to the two primary covenants between God and man.  A covenant is an agreement or an arrangement that allows for a relationship to exist.  They were quite common among people in biblical times, but these two are between God and men.

In the Old Testament we learn about the covenant God made with the people of Israel through Moses at Mt. Sinai.  It involved the law of Moses, the 10 commandments, the priesthood, sacrifices, and so on.

God never intended for this covenant to be a permanent system.  It was to be replaced by another one – a better one.  God explains this in Jeremiah 31:31-34 (also see Hebrews 8:6-13).

The New Testament shows us the new covenant. This one is made through Jesus Christ.

The Old is Necessary for the New

The covenant God made through Moses plays an extremely important role in preparing man for the coming of Jesus and the relationship we are able to have with God through Him.   As a matter of fact, the old is said to have served the purpose of being our “tutor to lead us to Christ” (Gal. 3:24; NASB).

To say it another way, the things associated with the old covenant were “a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:17).

That does not render the Old Testament useless to us.  Far from it.  Paul writes, “For whatever was written in former days [a reference to the Old Testament] was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).

So, there is a reason an emphasis is given to the New Testament as it shows us how we are able to have a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  All the while the Old Testament remains very important because it helps us understand much of what the New has to say about Jesus (as a Priest, and as our sacrifice, and so on).  Not only that, but it gives us good instruction and encouragement as we read about God’s gracious and faithful dealing with man, which then strengthens our hope.

If we are going to hear Jesus, through whom God is speaking, we need to spend time in the entire Bible.

God is talking to me.

I need to hear Him.

I need to be in God’s word.

God bless,

Is God Talking to Me? (2)

I’ve been told I suffer from a hearing disorder – it’s selective hearing.  I think it’s a universal human condition.  We all hear what we want to hear.

If God were talking to me, would I want to hear Him?  Boy, I’d hope so!

Well, He is talking to me.  So, if I really do want to hear I need to know how He’s speaking.

The Bible plainly affirms that God spoke in times past in a variety of ways to men, but that has all changed.  He’s now speaking to us in His Son (Heb. 1:1-2).

There is no way we can claim to be hearing God – who speaks in His Son – if we’re not in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (see THIS POST).  But that’s just a small part of the Bible…doesn’t the rest of it play a role too?  We previously used a target as an illustration: Jesus is the bull’s eye, the Gospels are the first ring immediately surrounding it.  Now we move out to the next ring.

Actually, it’s Jesus Himself who directs us first to the remainder of the New Testament.

Follow Jesus’ Lead

Jesus promised His apostles that after He left this earth He would still provide for them in their work.  That help would come in the person of the Holy Spirit (He’s even called “the Helper” – John 14:26).  What the Spirit would do is to guide them into “all truth” and to cause them to remember all the words Jesus has spoken to them (John 14:26; 16:13).  Consequently, when these men spoke and wrote, their message was in reality the message of Jesus.

And that’s what we find in the rest of the New Testament – things written by these Holy Spirit inspired men.

As one would expect, that’s exactly what the Bible claims.  The apostle Paul says that anyone who is “spiritual” should “acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).  He also said, “we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thess. 2:13).

The message in all of the New Testament is the message of Jesus.  God is speaking in His Son through these men.  If we ignore or neglect them, we’re ignoring and neglecting God’s speaking to us.

Another Way To Think About This

There’s another way to look at this.  Think about this: the Gospels introduce us to Jesus as God’s Son and the one through whom God provides salvation.  That’s Matthew through John.

Following that, after Jesus leaves this earth, His apostles begin to spread His message (as per his instructions – Matt. 28:19-20).  In the book of Acts we get to see what happened when people heard about Jesus through the preaching of men.  We see their coming to faith and their faith response to the message they heard.  That’s the book of Acts.

Next come the letters written both to congregations and individuals who have come to faith (Romans to Jude).  These are instructions on Christian living and for the church.  It’s Jesus’ instruction to His followers, His church.

Finally comes Revelation, a book of prophecy focusing ultimately on the eternal hope we have in Jesus Christ.

So, in order to hear God we need to listen to Jesus.  In order to listen to Jesus we need to read the Gospel accounts as well as all of the New Testament.

We’re not yet quite done are we?  How about the other half of the Bible?  What about the Old Testament?  Does it play a role too?

As you might have guessed, yes, it does.  So, let’s learn what that role is.  And we will.  Soon

But for now,…

God bless,

Is God Talking to Me?

“You talk to God, you’re religious.  God talks to you, you’re psychotic.”

Leave it to the cynic.

Any valid communication demands speaking and being spoken to.  That’s dialogue.  Relationship demands dialogue.

God wants a relationship with us as His creation and He has made considerable effort to make that possible (see John 3:16).  So, yes, God is talking to us (and wants us to talk to Him – that’s prayer, and a subject for another time).

Yes, But How So?

The question is, how does He do that?  How does God talk to me?  Well, don’t be listening for a voice inside your head – that is psychotic.

Here is how the Bible says it happens: “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” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

God used a variety of means to communicate with man in the past.  We know about these from the Bible.  They included things like angelic messengers, visions and dreams, using chosen men (prophets) to deliver His message, and so on.  One time, He even used an animal to speak to a man (that was Balaam’s donkey).  Does that mean we should expect the same kinds of things today?  No, it does not.

Remember, the Bible actually says that a change has taken place.  At one time God used these various means, but He now speaks to us through His Son.

Speaking Through Jesus

Ok, but how does that work?  In what way does He speak to us by His Son?  Should I expect to hear a voice?  Should I anticipate having a vision or a dream?  Will I somehow “see” Jesus and He will speak to me?  Or, am I going to somehow “just know” what God’ wants me to know?

It’s very important to remember that this is not a question of what God could do.  He can do anything (as long as it is consistent with His nature – so, for instance, God cannot be tempted with evil and He tempts no one; see James 1:13).  We have to pay close attention to what God says He does.  If not, we may miss what He is saying to us.  What if I told you I was going to mail you a letter?  Good, old-school US Postal mail.  But you kept checking your e-mail?  Looking for a text or a tweet?  And never looked in your postal service mailbox?  You would miss my message.  In the same way we have to be looking for God’s message where He told us He is communicating.

Where Can I Hear Jesus?

So, if God is speaking to us “by His Son,” we need to pay particular attention to Jesus.   So, how do we know about Jesus?  Of course, the Bible is our source of information about Jesus.  Specifically, we might think about the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  That would be most appropriate.  We need to know all we can about Him.  We need to know what He said and did.  That’s exactly what the Gospels are all about.  For instance, Luke is referenced in the opening of the book Acts (the same man wrote both) by saying it “dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1).

In John’s gospel, he tells us that there were many other things that Jesus did that aren’t recorded “in this book” (John 20:30), but, as He goes on to say, the things that are recorded are so that we can believe and in believing have life in His name (John 20:31).

If we’re going to hear God speaking, we better tune in to Jesus and to do that we better be spending time in the place where we can learn most about Him and from Him – and that’s the Gospels.

And Then…?

“But wait,” you may say, “isn’t that just four books out of the entire Bible?”

Yes, that’s true, and we’re not going to leave the others out by any means.  But, we do need to know exactly where to start.   You might think of it as a target with a bull’s eye.  Jesus is the bull’s eye.  Moving out from there are the rings that expand further and further outward.  Immediately surrounding our bull’s eye are the gospels.  From there we expand, eventually to incorporate the entire Bible. (Be sure to check the following posts!)

God is speaking and He’s speaking “by His Son.”

Let’s be sure we’re listening!

God bless,

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