I recently listened to a less than stellar sermon which raised many questions. I’m not trying to disparage the brother who gave the message. This isn’t about his delivery, his style, the length, the excitement, or any of those things. It has more to do with his handling of the text and the over all impression of God he left us with.
I really don’t want to go into a lot of detail about the several questionable aspects of this message. I really don’t want to attack or demean the brother, whom I respect. But in the midst of this message, the statement was made that “God told me to…” Really it doesn’t matter what the rest of the sentence said. The question is, did God really tell you to do whatever? Is that an accurate way to state something? Especially when what follows is not a direct Word based on Scripture but something totally different.
I know that God speaks to us. He does. He says He does. But how does He speak? Does He give audible words saying, “wear the blue sweater today.” Does He give us a soft, inner prompting to go ahead and order the chicken instead of fish?
I’m always uncomfortable when I hear a sentence that starts out “God told me…” Now, if you say, “God told me that…the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing wit the glory that is to be revealed in us” then I’m with you. Scripture states that in Romans 8:18. And what God has said in His Word, He continues to say today.
It’s providential that Tim Challies has just finished a series of articles about the issue of God speaking today. I’d be wasting my time, and yours, to try and repeat or duplicate what he has already so adequately written. I urge you to read this four part series (part one, part two, part three, part four). Parts two and three are especially relevant here.
The basic point to remember is Hebrews 1:1-2 “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.” (ESV) Yes God did speak audibly to His people. Yes, He clearly could still do that. However, what He has told us is that He speaks to us now through His Son, through His Word. His Word is our guide. I don’t need Him to “tell” me to do this or that regarding any situation when He has already given me the basic principle in His Word. I don’t need God to “tell” me to do something nice for my wife when He has already told me in His Word to love my wife as Christ loved the church.
I know sometimes it’s only a matter of semantics. We mean to say that based on God’s Word and in obedience to that Word in this situation, I feel led by God’s Spirit to act in a certain way. But to say “God told me…” implies something very different. And implications have consequences.
We send people home with the idea to “wait on God” and to look for some mystical experience where God “speaks to us.” We’re not mystics, folks. We are people of the Word. Pick up your Bible and let Him speak to you. Then obey His Word for His glory. God told me to tell you that!