For it is by grace you have been saved...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

God Told Me To Write This

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!


allthyngs said...

Could NOT agree with you more. I'm mostly concerned about when people tend to use the mystical "God is telling me...." or "God is leading me..." when they have to make a tough decision like quitting a job or leaving a church and you can tell they don't want counsel or want anyone to tell them they're making a bad decision. It's like the "God told me...." is the spiritual trump card to silence anyone who would say, "are you sure you're being obedient in this area?"

thanks for the great post, brother!

Persis said...

Good post! Reading and obeying the word is a challenge enough without making things even more complicated with mysticism.

I agree that very often saying "God told me" or "God led me" is inaccurate semantics. However, I did have a friend who believed she had to have "a word" from the Lord about everything, even down to which scriptures she could count on for herself. Sadly she lived under constant fear of not "hearing" correctly which ultimately led to spiritual paralysis.

Gregg said...

I think allthyngs is right. God does not speak, He does not give revelation. We use the "God told me" card in order to put the "fault" on God relieving them of personal responsibilities.

Scott said...

Just to clarify, Gregg, God DOES speak, but He speaks through His Word, not in new revelations. I'm sure that's what you meant. God is certainly not silent, but His Word is the source of His communication to His people. I know He "speaks" to me in that Word, in the proclamation of it, etc. Not in "audible" sounds as in "Scott, wear the black socks," but certainly clearly as His Spirit convicts and directs based on His Word. Just wanted to clarify.

Alex said...

God does speak thru His inspired Word which is as applicable today as the moment it was penned. The Holy Spirit also speaks bringing illumination and understanding to the Word, His prompting/leading and convicting. God also uses His church to speak - not saying a new revelation, but a spoken voice in the flesh. Ours is to make sure what we hear is aligned with what we know of God - His Word and His heart, for there is also another voice that tries to steal our affections away from the One who they are due. I didn't wear black socks today, but that isn't because God told me to wear white socks.