the weblog of Alan Knox

How Does God Communicate?

Posted by on Mar 6, 2007 in discipleship | 46 comments

Last week, as I was talking with a group of friends, someone asked the question (or one similar to it), “How does God communicate with us?” This is a very interesting question. We all want to obey God, but how do we know what God is telling us to do?

One of the things that our group discussed was the ways that God communicated with people in Scripture. We came up with several different ways: Scripture, prayer, dreams, visions, audibly, reason, logic, experience, angels, other people. We saw God communicating to people in Scripture through each of these different methods, and probably others.

God spoke directly to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others. God sent angels to communicate with several people, including Joshua, Daniel, Mary, and Joseph. Daniel and other prophets had dreams and visions. The children of Israel were instructed to seek God in the Torah, and the Bereans continued seeking God in the Scriptures. Jonah learned about God’s will through the experiences of a storm, a great fish, and a withering plant. Paul taught the Corinthians that they have the mind of Christ, and he taught the Romans to use their renewed mind (reason/logic). The Jerusalem church listened to the advice of the elders and apostles (including James, Peter, Paul, and Barnabas) in order to determine God’s will.

This is only a sampling of the many instances of God communicating in Scripture. God revealed his ways, thoughts, and plans to His people in many different manners. This is one of the most amazing characteristics of God: He is a communicating God.

Of course, this raises other questions, so I will ask these to you: Can God still communicate in these ways? If so, does He still communicate in these ways? How has God communicated with you? How do you ensure that it is God who is communicating with you?


46 Comments

  1. 3-6-2007

    Alan -

    Yes … God still can and He does communicate with His people. I know you didn’t mean to include everything in your post, but just to add that He also speaks through His creation.

    I see nothing in Scripture to indicate that He has ceased communicating. He speaks to me all the time. He speaks to me through Scripture, through music, through people, through a still, small voice, through His creation, through circumstances… and there have been times that He has spoken to me in prayer so clearly that it might as well have been audibly (but it wasn’t, it was just very clear).

    Just a couple of “for instances”: when we were in LA on our trip and our very first day when we were distributing food to the hungry there, suddenly right in the middle of it I heard James 2:16 over and over again in my spirit. The Lord right then and there did a great work in my heart.

    Again, on our trip we were talking to an ex-gang member about going out into the community and he said, “… We just love on them, because love never fails…” … God, again, spoke to me that indeed love never fails. And that is what sparked such a passion in my heart for people.

    Those 2 examples are Scripture, but He spoke them to my heart and through other people. Another time not too long ago I was really struggling with my temper and lack of self control and guilt over it. One day when I was praying about it I said, “Lord, I feel like, as David said, my sin is ever before me.” And God said, “It is, because my Spirit is convicting you, but your enemy is condemning you. You are listening to the condemnation more than the conviction.” I knew right then that I had truly been feeling guilty and beaten down (which led to more anger on my part) because all I was hearing was condemnation, but if I had been listening solely to God’s conviction instead of just feeling guilty, I would have seen it, had Godly sorrow and repented and pressed on. God knows that is a problem that I have and He reminds me of it all the time… to the point now here I have freedom from that guilt and condemnation.

    There are countless other times. Truly way too many to list here. That’s just 3 of many, many communications I have had with the Lord.

    Now, how do I know it’s God and not me (or satan)? It totally lines up with Scripture. There is fruit from it … there is TRUE peace … there is freedom …

    I see Him communicating in verious ways throughout Scripture with people and I have no reason to believe that He has stopped … I see NOTHING in His Word to say that He has stopped. Just like the song “I know My Redeemer Lives” … I spoke with Him this morning … and no one can or will convince me otherwise! He’s such a truly awesome and wonderful God. And I call Him Abba, Father!

  2. 3-6-2007

    I definitely believe that God continues to speak through many of those same means, if not all.

    I shared on a previous post the way I believed that God directed me with regard to ministering to homeless people on the streets of Austin, TX. In those situations, it was almost as if there was an audible voice, although it wasn’t audible.

    I respect the convictions of my brothers and sisters who hold to a strict cessationist view and who believe that God only speaks through Scripture today, but I just don’t see any indication in God’s revelation that He would speak to us any less in this new covenant relationship than He did in the old.

    Comments by Jesus such as “My sheep hear my voice” and that the Spirit would “remind you of all the things I said” and “guide you into all truth”, etc. seem to me to point to a much more intimate relationship than merely a written record to continue to review.

    That is not to diminish Scripture at all!! But rather, I think it puts it in its proper place.

    I’m open to disagreement on that, however.

  3. 3-6-2007

    God told me that he doesn’t speak in these ways anymore.

    Just kidding. His sheep are supposed to hear his voice. As Heather and Steve and you have said already he is communicating all the time. The great shame of our generation is our lack of discernment to hear him speak everyday. We need a lot of humility to hear him in all the ways he wants to speak to us.

  4. 3-6-2007

    Heather,

    Thank you for giving us some examples of how God has communicated with you. I’m glad you mentioned some ways that you “test the spirits” to see if it is actually God who is speaking.

    Steve,

    I need to ask this one more time… are you aboslutely sure you were in Austin?

    Seriously, thanks for bringing up John 10:27. I almost quoted that verse in my post.

    Strider,

    Welcome back! Thanks for chiming in. By the way, I love the new post about apostle Balin on your blog. I’m still chewing through some of it.

    -Alan

  5. 3-6-2007

    Alan,

    I guess for me God speaks mostly through scripture. If I am moved in any way I always ask first, “is it something God commands in scripture?” Well, I guess that deals more with God’s will than him speaking to me.

    Also, I’ve been in those times of extreme emotional pain where God has comforted me. But again, it is always connected with his word. Though at first it was not his word comforting me, but perhaps what people call his voice?!

    I’m not saying that I have to be reading God’s word for this to happen. I am just making a note that usually I can always trace those things (comforts, words, speakings) back to scripture.

    On the other hand, I have had a friend who told me about a dream they had right before they were saved that told them Jesus was the way. So, God uses dreams still as well.

    I’m just trying to communicate what I see in my own life. I’m not trying to say if anyone has a different experience they are wrong.

    Great Question!!! And, one that is refreshing!!!

    Dougald

  6. 3-6-2007

    One thing that I wanted to add was that we have some dear fiends who minister in an unsafe (for believers) part of the Muslim world far from the U.S. They have many testimonies to share about how the Lord speaks through dreams to Muslims they have encountered and that is how they have been drawn to the Lord. Why is it that here in the U.S. we have removed God’s supernatural nature?

  7. 3-6-2007

    Alan, that’s funny because I almost typed “Austin (aka Reno)” when I commented above. Your comment makes me wish I had gone through with it! :)

  8. 3-6-2007

    Dougald,

    You said: “I’m just trying to communicate what I see in my own life. I’m not trying to say if anyone has a different experience they are wrong.” This is a great comment and a great reminder!

    Heather,

    I have heard about Muslims having dreams about Jesus as well. Thank you for the reminder.

    -Alan

  9. 3-6-2007

    Steve,

    Perhaps that was Spirit revealing truth to you… maybe you really were in Reno.

    -Alan

  10. 3-6-2007

    Alan, this is exactly the question I’ve been wrestling with for several weeks now, and the topic of my recent post divination, inclination, or indigestion? I am not a cessationist since I do believe that God uses visions and miracles to convey and authenticate His word, especially to those without scriptural revelation. But I think for the most part He wants those who have His word to embrace it, to strive with it, to search out His heart through it. I also think, based mostly on my own experience, that God “coddles” new believers who don’t have much scripture knowledge with sensations of intimate communication to encourage their fledgling walk. Though eventually we are supposed to grow feathers and fly, held a loft by scripture and Spirit—though should we be knocked out of the air and fall in a crumpled pile we are always allowed to cry out for our Abba, to be coddled through our darkest trials.

    I am very much in line with what Heather has expressed, that God uses His Spirit to use His word to convict and to instruct. In each of the three instances she was exercising godly wisdom, i.e. the right application of knowledge—scripture imparted knowledge. My only hesitation is when someone says and God said “…” and the material in the quotes is not scripture. I don’t say this as a slight to Heather, I’m just saying I am uneasy with it and don’t understand it. I do believe that the Spirit and the word testify to the truth of the quote she used, “It is, because my Spirit is convicting you, but your enemy is condemning you. You are listening to the condemnation more than the conviction.” Amen, that is scriptural truth drawn from multiple places, recast together and applied. But if we begin with, thus saith the Lord, why do we not include this recasting in the next edition of the Bible?

    My real concern is when we are asking for fresh knowledge, an answer that can’t be found in scripture, how do we authenticate that the answer is from the Lord. Case in point, our pastor search team has committed to following God to recognize the man He has for our church. Now, I assume that means that as they are interviewing candidates they will first apply scriptural filters and exclude these (fictional) candidates, Gary, Chris and Sam since they are not qualified according to 1 Timothy. But both Bob and Tim seem well-qualified, and equally suitable. Scripture does not say, “Messiah Baptist Church, set aside Bob for the work to which I have appointed him” (in Acts 13:2-style). Is our team going to await such a message from God? And if they are, how do they authenticate that message? Is it by consensus? If so, how do you know it’s not just an unconscious inclination each has against Tim’s left-handed part, Damien Omen III-style hair. Nobody can put their finger on it, it’s just something that makes you less than 100% comfortable, and all five agree, so it must be the Spirit.

    I ask this in all sincerity, I have no soapbox speech to make nor miracle pill to sell. I frankly miss the continual sense of intimate communication I had as a new believer. But His word is a vast treasure, a storehouse spilling over with His loving communication—one which I have in many ways just begun to explore. Why would I forsake that for a one-liner that I can’t really distinguish from my own vain imagining?

  11. 3-6-2007

    Just an addendum: at the end of my last comment, when I said sense of intimate communication, I meant 2-way communication. I still feel that I am intimate with the Father and that He is present and concerned for me.

  12. 3-6-2007

    Absolutely He does. He is the same today as He was then. He is speaking all the time. The question is whether we are listening, depending, asking, seeking. We have the luxury of having His written revelation against which to weigh the voices we might hear, but He definitely still speaks in all those ways today.

    It was awesome the other day hearing in a Baptist pulpit stories of the Muslim dreams being shared. All too often we dumb down such supernatural happenings in our church culture for fear of “the crazies.” I think we shouldn’t operate in fear and rather simply trust the truth of God’s word about how He speaks to humanity.

  13. 3-6-2007

    Shannon,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree that God communicates through Scripture. I think He communicates with us in other ways as well, even when he is not coddling new believers.

    By the way, Acts 13 is a great example of God communicating. The believers in Antioch did have Scripture, and Paul found this Scripture useful for teaching, reproof, etc. But, this communication (i.e. sendig Paul and Barnabas) did not come through that Scripture.

    Bryan,

    You said: “We have the luxury of having His written revelation against which to weigh the voices we might hear, but He definitely still speaks in all those ways today.” I think that’s a great way to look at both Scripture and other ways that God communicates with us.

    -Alan

  14. 3-6-2007

    Shannon,

    You asked the question: “But if we begin with, thus saith the Lord, why do we not include this recasting in the next edition of the Bible?”

    1) God has said much over time that is not included in Scripture (See Jn 21:25 for an example: yes, it talks about actions, but I believe that that could be expanded to words too). So the question is, why is His communication today more important than the communications back then, that it should be included in Scripture?

    2) I don’t believe that many people would boldly say “thus saith the Lord.” More often, I think that they would say that the Lord lead them in a direction or spoke to them, etc. This is not just semantics. This should be a reflection of a humble attitude which presents this information as from the Lord in fear and trembling and which should be open to the judgment of the body.

  15. 3-6-2007

    Maël, thanks for your reply. I agree that Jesus said far more during His minstry than is recorded in scripture, and certainly far more than that over the course of His whole life. The difference I see between those un-inscripturated words and those received today is that those from the lips of Jesus could have been inscripturated, since the source of the words is authenticated by His person. He spoke them, so they are the incontrovertable word of God. By contrast, someone says today ‘God said to me “…”‘ and there is no way to authenticate it, unless the content in the quotes is scripture.

    As for your second point, I see little difference between “thus saith the Lord” and “God told me”. Either one should certainly be spoken with great humility… which, lest it be thought otherwise, I think Heather did well. Again, to her word of ‘prophecy’ I add my Amen. But that is something I would be lothe to do if the content of the prophecy were unsubstantiated by scripture. I don’t know what I’m missing, but the fact that I am not in step with godly men like you and Alan tells me I am missing something. I remain cautious but open.

  16. 3-6-2007

    Maël,

    Thank you for your comments. They are always well-thought and applicable. I look forward to discussing this with you further.

    Shannon,

    We should always be nervous when we say “God told me…” I liked Maël’s suggestion that we only suggest something is from God with “fear and trembling”. And, like he said, we should always be willing to compare it to Scripture (God will never contradict himself), and allow others to judge. “Cautious but open” is probably best for everyone.

    -Alan

  17. 3-7-2007

    Just found this blog and thought it interesting. I’m hesitant to say that God speaks directly to us in the same ways He did. However, I do believe that through the ministry of His Holy Spirit He certainly convicts and brings to mind certain things. I believe we call this “God speaking,” but really the Holy Spirit is applying certain truths of Scripture to our lives at particular moments in our lives. I would be hesitant to make a claim that God is speaking, because if by that we imply special revelation I believe we are opening up a pandora’s box.
    Robert

  18. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  19. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  20. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  21. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  22. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  23. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  24. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  25. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  26. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  27. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  28. 3-7-2007

    I appreciate the insightful and balanced comments to your questions.
    One of the tests I would suggest applying to to whether communication is God-given or not is to compare it to what I already know to be true in Scripture. God is truth and He will not lead me into a lie. He will not violate His own character. The challenge for me is to know Him well enough to recognize a counterfeit.
    It’s a little like some recent emails I got from my bank, telling me to go to a website and “reinstate my account”. I knew that they were part of a phishing scam because I know my bank well enough to realize that they don’t operate this way. It would violate their stated methods of operation.
    If I have invested the time to get to know God through His Word, I will know whether or direction I am getting is really God-directed.
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

  29. 3-7-2007

    Robert,

    Welcome to my blog! Feel free to comment here any time. I agree with much of what you say. I believe that the Spirit often reminds us of Scripture in order to convict us or help us.

    I have a question. In Acts 16:9, God communicated to Paul through a vision. Paul saw a man from Macedonia urging Paul to come to Macedonia. How would Robert communicate to you, Robert, today if he desires for you to go to another location?

    elder’s wife,

    Welcome back. Thank you for the comment. I agree that God will never contradict himself.

    -Alan

  30. 3-7-2007

    Robert,

    My question should have read: How would God communicate to you, Robert, today if he desires for you to go to another location?

    -Alan

  31. 3-7-2007

    Awww, man, Alan. You corrected your blunder before I had a chance to pick on you! ;) hehe

    elder’s wife wrote:
    Maybe the question isn’t, “Does God still communicate?” Maybe it really should be, “Do I listen when He does”

    Wow, this is good!!! That’ll preach!

  32. 3-7-2007

    I believe He could do it in a number of ways. Taking a general approach to how I believe God makes His will known, I would say that Scripture is our first source. Second, if Scripture doesn’t lay out specifics, i believe we are to us the wisdom, the counsel of others, and much prayer (of which I do believe the Lord can impress upon our hearts a peace, or a lack thereof). I believe we have great freedom and that God doesn’t necessarily have a specific will. If we walk by faith – grounded in the Word – we are going to do okay. Now, if there is a specific place, or person God wants us to go to, I’m not sure how I would describe it, but I believe that God could bring a strong conviction in our hearts for the lostness of a city (this is not reveleation, but more of application to His Word), or perhaps in a particular setting the Lord could direct our own thoughts to a particular person to share the gospel with (again, God has given us the call in Scripture to love, or share the gospel with others, so I would say in this situation He is simply applying this truth to our life in a very specific way). I struggle with my own terms, in that I like to say that I believe God has spoken to me, but I’ve tried to more careful in my language, to say that I believe God is leading me to…, or that I came under conviction to share with…
    Again, I believe there is much at stake when we claim that “God told me ________.” I believe somewhere in all this, we are trying to communicate the same thing, I just would say it is the Holy Spirit applying, or convicting, versus God giving us direct revelation apart from Scripture.

    Robert

  33. 3-7-2007

    Robert,

    I understand your struggle with terms. I believe that Scripture does show us that God can communicate with us in many different ways. Even in Scripture, this communication was not applied to every person. Everyone was not required to leave their home and move to Canaan (Gen 12) – but Abraham was because this is what God communicated to Abraham. Everyone was not required to go to Macedonia (Acts 16:9) – but Paul was because this is what God communicated to Paul.

    So, either God does not tell people today to go to specific locations not mentioned in Scripture. Or, he does communicate that today. These communications will not contradict Scripture, just as God’s communications with Abraham and Paul did not contradict Scripture. Similarly, these communications will not apply to all believers.

    Can we misunderstand what God is saying? Certainly. Can we hear something other than God? Yes. Does this mean that God does not communicate with us? No. It means we must listen carefully.

    I have a very high view of Scripture. I do not see any indication in Scripture that God has stopped communicating with us except through Scripture.

    -Alan

  34. 3-7-2007

    Steve,

    At least I spelled my own name correctly this time. I agree with you about what elder’s wife said. Very challenging!

    -Alan

  35. 3-7-2007

    Alan, I would not deny that God communicates with us. He certainly does. I would just put it in different categories. To say, “God said” implies something far greater than to say, “God impressed upon my heart.” Or the Holy Spirit lead me to…”

    Would you consider God’s communication to us today as special revelation, apart from Scripture? This is what I want to stay away from. If we say, “God said” it would be hard NOT to say it was special revelation. If it is special revelation, what distinguishes it from Scripture? We would both, I think, affirm that it is different, but I’m not sure how to distinguish them from each other, which is why I believe He communicates with us, but that His communication is through His Spirit, and is in a different category today.
    Again, I do believe He communicates, but that it is in a different way than He did before we had Scripture…but of course I could be wrong:|

    Robert

  36. 3-7-2007

    Robert,

    I think I am beginning to understand why we differ on this topic. I think the difference lies in our understanding of the term “special revelation”. It looks like you equate “special revelation” with Scripture. If not, please correct me on this.

    I believe that Scripture is one type of special revelation. However, there are other types of special revelation as well.

    This is Wayne Grudem’s definition from his book Systematic Theology: “Special revelaion… refers to God’s words addressed to specific people, such as the words of the Bible, the words of the Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles, and the words of God spoken in personal address, such as at Mount Sinai or at the baptism of Jesus. Special revelaion includes all the words of Scripture but is not limited to the words of Scripture, for it also includes, for example, many words of Jesus that were not recorded in Scripture, and probably there were many words spoken by Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles that were not recorded in Scripture either.” [123]

    So, Scripture is special revelation, but any time God communicates with someone it is also special revelation. Some special revelation is not Scripture.

    -Alan

  37. 3-7-2007

    Once a few years ago Brandon and I were going through a very difficult time financially. It’s a long story that I won’t go into here. There came a day when we had ignored our electric bill so long (due to the fact that we had no money to pay it) that we received notice that our electricity would be cut off if we didn’t pay XXX dollars by XXX date. We didn’t know what we were going to do. Not too many people in our church at that time knew about our struggles because we had only been there a short time. But the Sunday morning before the $$ was due on Monday a friend handed me an envelope and told me that someone told her to give it to us. In it was the amount of $$ we needed to pay our bill due the next day. How did that happen? Was it a coincidence or did God communicate the amount that person was to bless us with?

    ~Heather

  38. 3-7-2007

    Heather,

    Thank you for sharing that testimony of God’s provision. I do believe that God could have revealed your need to your friends. Giving to those in need certainly does not contradict Scripture, but there would be nothing in Scripture to specify that your friends should give a certain dollar amount to you and Brandon. Of course, I suppose, your friends could be lying…

    -Alan

  39. 3-7-2007

    Well, this comment string has certainly gone on and on. It is a good topic for us because it is so important if we are to be His children. But for those who have seen the ‘The Lord said…’ abused too many times it really doesn’t matter. Jesus said that his sheep ‘hear’ his voice. And we do. He does not say that his sheep ‘read’ his word. He is speaking. We, through our selfishness and self-centeredness confuse it all the time. We need to have a truckload of humility, a deep knowledge of the Word of God, and a hunger and thirst for a relationship with Him and then maybe we can hope to see the discernment necessary to hear Him well. Oh, the council of the Church is also needed. Boy, this hearing God thing seems complicated. It usually starts with us being like a child.

  40. 3-7-2007

    Strider,

    Are you suggesting that we may not hear from God without a childlike faith, humility, and obedience? If so, I agree completely.

    -Alan

  41. 3-8-2007

    I agree, too, Alan, with how you just summed it up.

  42. 12-15-2007

    Alan,

    Thank you for the link to this post. The post and discussion were excellent! It’s encouraging to know that others are seeking that same intimate communication with the Father that I am seeking. Hope you have a great weekend.

    Jeff

  43. 10-5-2011

    Maybe I started reading your blog in 2008 because I am sure I would have remembered this post. Great post and comments.

  44. 1-9-2012

    Over and over again God keeps communicating to me Future things to come.. All the information is supplied to me to help me do Gods will.. such as helping me avoid sin, or help me make to make correct decisions or to communicate to information so I could prepare for the future, or information that would lead to a deeper message.

  45. 1-17-2012

    Mael says:

    “1) God has said much over time that is not included in Scripture (See Jn 21:25 for an example: yes, it talks about actions, but I believe that that could be expanded to words too). So the question is, why is His communication today more important than the communications back then, that it should be included in Scripture?”

    Very true! And how interesting to see this comment, since I’ve been exploring this issue in-depth for a few weeks now, and came to the same conclusion. I would add that we can be sure Jesus DID say a lot of things that weren’t included in Scripture, because we see in the Bible that He didn’t minister to people in silence. The Bible records Jesus speaking almost every time He did something for people. Much of what He said during His lifetime on earth wasn’t written down, so we can conclude that not everything God communicates to us is authoritative. Not all His words are meant for all people in all times in all places.

    Furthermore, one of the things the Holy Spirit does for us is to teach us how to apply God’s word to the circumstances of our lives. He can’t do that without communicating to us in some way apart from the Scriptures themselves. It would be too arrogant to think that as soon as we’re born again, we can figure everything out on our own. That’s not in the Bible.

    Finally, 1 John 1:8 tells us we have fellowship with God the Father and with Jesus Christ. That’s not a metaphor; it describes a real relationship with real interaction. Jesus is Emmanuel, God With Us, not God far away and aloof. I see nothing in the Scriptures that says God has taken a vow of silence like a monk in the wilderness.

  46. 5-10-2013

    Allen, God has spoken to me several times in several different ways. I think though the most amazing time was when I was 28 years old and my mother lay dying in her hospital bed. She had been diagnosed with cancer eleven years earlier when I was just seventeen. The day we found out she had cancer I went home and prayed. I prayed so hard that I might just have ten more years with her. I told God I was not ready to not have a mom anymore and begged Him for more time. Well time went by and years passed she made it through her five years cancer free and we thought we “We Made it” she is fine. Then one day just eleven years after she was first diagnosed she got sick again. The breast cancer had traveled to her kidneys. Well I found myself praying in the parking lot of the hospital for God to give me just ten more years as I was not yet ready to lose her. It was a dark day hard for the whole family. So as I was pacing and praying I felt a tap on the back of my head. I then heard as clear as day, ” I gave you eleven years she is mine now.” My heart settled and I was Ok with it that fast! He gave me peace right then. It was the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. Since that day God has used many means of communicating with me. I have been told I have what people call simple faith, I don’t why things happen, but I believe that God is always letting us know what he wants from us we just have to be open and excepting and trusting in Him.

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