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Hearing God’s Voice Inside and Outside of Scripture

Does God speak today, or only in the Bible? Since becoming a Christian a short time ago I've been doing my best to grow steadily in Christ and walk closely with Him every day. I really want to know what it's like to hear His voice and carry on an intimate conversation with Him in every situation. But it's precisely at this point that I've become seriously confused. Some of my Christian friends say that, if we listen closely, God will speak to us directly, just as He did in Bible times. But others insist that His Word can be found only in Scripture, and that "divine messages" of any other kind are completely bogus. What do you think?

Here at Focus on the Family we take the position that it’s crucial to find a way to embrace both propositions. In fact, both ideas are clearly represented in our Statement of Faith, which runs as follows:

We believe the Bible to be the inspired, only infallible, authoritative Word of God;

We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit;

We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father and in His personal return in power and glory;

We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful humanity, regeneration by the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ is absolutely essential;

We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life;

We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost, they who are saved unto the resurrection of life and they who are lost unto the resurrection of damnation;

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. *

Point #1 speaks for itself: “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” But it has to be held in tandem with Point #5: “We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.”

Does God speak to the individual believer through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Undoubtedly. Jesus tells us so in John 16:12-15. But can these inward “guidances” or “revelations” be regarded as authoritative for all believers in all times in the same sense as Holy Scripture? This is the crucial question, and we think the answer is no. To affirm that they can is to move beyond orthodox Christianity. And that’s not to mention the difficulty (even the impossibility) of discerning the difference between a person who has genuinely received “a word from the Lord” and someone who is simply claiming that he has in order to promote his own agenda.

If you’d like to discuss this subject at greater length with a member of our team, call our staff of pastoral counselors. They’d love to speak with you over the phone.

 * The Statement of Faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of Focus’ faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, our Board of Directors is Focus’ final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.

 

Resources
If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

The Mystery of God’s Will: What Does He Want for Me?

What Every Christian Ought to Know Day by Day: Essential Truths for Growing Your Faith

The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why They Believe It, and Why It Matters

Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know

Mere Christianity

Referrals

Christian Research Institute

Insight for Living

Lee Strobel

Articles
Becoming a Christian

Christian Worldview

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