How does God speak to us? 31

How does God speak to us and reveal his will? I’ve written about how preachers should talk about God’s revelation, so this will extend that to consider how we think and talk about how God speaks to us as laypeople.

Has God stopped speaking to us?

Just because God closed the book on his written revelation does not mean that the book is dead. The question assumes that God has thought of more things to say in the past two thousand years. It also assumes that what he as said is at least a little bit worn out now.

God’s Word is eternal and imperishable. That means that it is as powerful and present as the day it was written. Our words do pass away (if we’re speaking, they die on our lips), are forgotten, and sometimes contradicted. God’s words are not.

One of the ironic aspects of liberal complaints against the sola scriptura position is that they say that we think God no longer speaks. To the contrary, we think that God continues to speak so powerfully and completely that he need not say anything else.

For example, one especially awful passage in The Shack is its characterization of seminaries.

In seminary he had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper. (p. 65)

I would argue that seminaries exist because they do think that God’s Word is alive and a suitable object of focused study. The author of The Shack is the one who might more accurately be said to believe that God’s Word is dead, which is why he saw a need to write a new version of God for us.

Is God’s Word the foundation for personal revelation and guidance?

God’s Word should be a foundation for our faith in God, but it is not a foundation for additional words. We can use it as a measuring stick against which to measure words spoken by man. It cannot be a measuring stick for measuring additional words from God for two reasons.

First, we cannot bifurcate God’s words into any hierarchical system. New or old. Written or spoken. Perfect and pretty good. If God says something, it is always perfect, so cannot be inferior to anything else he’s ever said. If we are to say that God speaks something outside of the Bible, it would be blasphemy if we didn’t treat it as being as authoritative and permanent as the Bible.

Second, God has told us that he has finished his revelation. Revelation 22:18 warns us not to add anything to the Bible. Jesus tells us in Luke 16:17 that his Word is perfect down to the dot on an i. God’s revelation to us is also complete. God, who reveled himself to us through his Word, describes himself in Revelation 21:6 in literary terms–he is the Alpha and Omega, the A to Z, the whole story.

God’s Word is complete, perfect and unalterable. He need not add anything to it.

Does God speak to us when we ask for wisdom and guidance?

God has given us his Word, which is sufficient for both wisdom (Proverbs 1:1-7) and guidance (Psalm 119:105). Wait, you say, Psalm 119 doesn’t tell me whether I should marry Betty or Sally, or whether I should take the job in Iowa or Texas. How can I know what God wants me to do?

Pray that the Holy Spirit would give you wisdom, which we assume you’ve been developing through studying God’s written Word.

If you ask God to “tell you” what you should do, how do you know when you’ve received your answer? How do you distinguish between the effects of God whispering to you, caffeine, last night’s pizza, or Satan? How can you be certain that your deceptive heart is properly recognizing the speaker?

You can’t be sure. As 2 Peter 1:19 tells us, God’s Word is certain. If you can’t be certain, it’s not God speaking.

(I’m not including in this discussion some other ways God speaks to us, which would include general revelation, our conscience, and preaching. To keep the discussion reasonably simple, I’m just thinking about gut feelings or meditative states that tend to be translated into “God told me…” moments.)

How do we speak of God’s guidance?

First, don’t preface statements by telling us that God told you something. He probably didn’t, but you also put him on the hook for all kinds of nonsense.

Second, take ownership for your own thinking and planning, and treat God’s Word as sufficient for developing and sanctifying your wisdom and decision making.

Instead of saying, “God told me to be a missionary to India,” say, “God told us to go into all the world, so, based on my love for India and its culture, I think that the best way for me to serve him is to be a missionary to India.”

Instead of saying, “God told me to be an electrician,” say, “God told us that we should work to support ourselves and our families, so, based on my personal aptitudes and interests, I think that the best way to serve God through work is to pursue a career as an electrician.”

You honor God by submitting your desires to his Word, yet you don’t risk dishonoring his name should you or your plans fail.

Anyway, that’s what I think. You’ll need to ask God to tell you what he thinks.

31 thoughts on “How does God speak to us?

  1. James Downing Oct 22, 2009 8:59 am

    Bing to tha O

  2. keitho Oct 22, 2009 1:00 pm

    I have often thought in the past (and to large extent, still do), when I heard someone say “God told me this…” that it usually was nothing more than the person trying to make personal application of biblical truth to the specific situation at hand. It brings a sense of authority, completeness and assurance to the person, as well as an attitude of “don’t argue with me because I got it direct from God”.

    JDuncan, your points sound reasonable, but someone will ask then, why do we pray and what answers should we seek? And in what form should we seek them? Maybe I am missing an old truth and just need to be reminded.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this much important subject.

    • James Duncan Oct 22, 2009 1:42 pm

      I think we pray that God would grant us wisdom, as Solomon did, and that the Holy Spirit would illuminate his Word to our hearts and minds.

      Another advantage of prayer is that it recognizes that everything that happens is submitted to God’s will and providence.

  3. Mike Oct 22, 2009 2:22 pm

    the problem with so many that you have addressed throughout this site, is that to them scripture is a guideline and helpful suggestion, but not really the authoritative inerrant word of God, and there seems to be no real need for a crucified savior.
    So, feelings, vision, motivation, and new revelation are nearly mandatory and welcome.
    I read a constant rebut, “we just want to teach about Jesus”, but that doesn’t seem to be THE Jesus of scripture, sent by God, to glorify Him.
    This new jesus is much more temporal and smaller. I am sure that many lives and communities are changed, but are many souls won?
    I pray that the Sovereign God will help us with our rebellious misbehavior.

    your summation is solid and a great reminder of how we fit into God’s plan and purpose.

  4. JT Oct 23, 2009 12:00 pm

    Good post, Duncan.

    My only follow-up question is: What about the parenthetical issues that you’ve left out for the sake of brevity (general revelation, our conscience, and preaching)? How do they fit in?

    • James Duncan Oct 23, 2009 2:03 pm

      OK, very quickly.

      General revelation tells us about God’s divine nature and eternal power. It convicts me of sin, but it doesn’t tell me what I church I should go to next weekend.

      Conscience can be corrupted, so, while it can be helpful, it can’t be relied on.

      Preaching doesn’t involve new revelation, but it’s one of the ways that God ordained for us to learn of his revealed Word.

  5. JT Oct 23, 2009 4:31 pm

    Duncan,

    Thanks for the reply.

    For the most part I agree with what you’ve written in this post. I especially enjoyed the section entitled: “How do we speak of God’s guidance?”

    However, I can’t completely write-off the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. I do believe that He speaks to us at times. Sometimes with words, other times by working in our hearts, but never with anything that contradicts God’s word. And I doubt that God is telling young seminarians whom they ought to marry, or telling pastors which hymnal to purchase. Call me a Deist if you must, but I think God allows us free-choice enough to make those decisions. I do not believe His eternal purposes are hindered by our failure to “hear His voice” regarding our automotive purchase. He does however, convict us of our sins in very audible and emotionally palpable ways. I suppose this might be categorized as “conscience.” So be it.

  6. James Duncan Oct 24, 2009 12:07 pm

    I hope I’m not writing off the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. My basic position is that the Holy Spirit speaks through the Bible (he breathed it). Beyond that, he does work in our lives giving us wisdom and guidance.

    Some may interpret that work as him “speaking” to us, but I don’t think we have warrant to go from there to say that “God told me…” Even if he did, I think there’s much to be said for keeping that to ourselves.

    I once interviewed an employee for a promotion, and he told me that God had told him that he was going to get the promotion. I smiled, but thought that perhaps God had told the wrong person.

  7. Heath Norment Oct 25, 2009 2:22 am

    Thank you so much for this post. In a nutshell, it summarizes a lot of what I’ve been trying to mentally articulate to myself for the past few months. Very helpful for someone like me who is just coming out of a church and culture where I served and was on staff for 4 years, and though it was crazy if one DIDN’T speak with the “God told me…” style. Truth is soooo refreshing. And as we know it, it sets us free. Thanks again.

  8. Corner Coffee Oct 25, 2009 11:26 pm

    Duncan,
    Your argument is persuasive. At some level, I’m with JT in that I don’t live as if God gives us answers to all of life’s little forks in the road. He gave us a brain for a reason. I don’t mind going so far as to say I basically operate as a deist, in that regard.

    But I believe this, under the knowledge that there is no scripture that would restrict God from personal revelation (though, no scripture necessarily allows for it either). To me, it’s just one of those things that the Bible is kind of silent on.

    And it looks like you too have found very little scripture to support your position. Rev. 22:18 was written before the New Testament was canonized. Plus, Martin Luther wanted to remove books from the canon. Was he in violation of 22:19? On top of all that, no one is really talking about adding to scripture. We’re talking about personal revelation.

    Luke 16:17 does not say the scriptures are complete. How could they be? Paul had yet to write the bulk of the New Testament.

    Your assessment of 2 Peter 1:19 is wrong too. If he was somehow indicating that extra-scriptural revelation was untrustworthy, then how do you explain 1:18? Plus, he would have been referring to the Old Testament, since not all of the New Testament had been written at the time. The timeline doesn’t support your thesis.

    Again, I tend to agree with your argument. It was persuasive. But your proof-texts are lacking. It’s as if you took all scriptures that indicated that scripture is good/beneficial and tried to make it say something more.

    That seems inconsistent with the general message of this blog to me.

  9. James Downing Oct 26, 2009 8:26 am

    First, I love what Duncan wrote here and agree 100%, but I feel the need to point out that this isn’t a new concept. This is orthodox Christianity 101. One of the defining points of the Reformation was the belief in the sufficiency of Scripture. It’s a shame that Duncan’s post here seems to be challenging the majority opinion rather than reinforcing the common belief of the church at large.

  10. Mike Oct 26, 2009 10:10 am

    CC, you wrote “no one is really talking about adding to scripture. We’re talking about personal revelation.”
    what kind of revelation are we talking about?
    corresponding and supported directly by scripture?
    or something new, maybe not directly opposing scripture, but certainly not supported by It?

    if the latter, and it is truly from God, then why would it not be added to the canon? if the plan and purpose of God is not known to all, why not write it in and share it?

    usually if we truly look, we will see that our personal revelations are simply our personal thoughts and plans put into action, with the stamp of divine approval from our own hand.

  11. JT Oct 26, 2009 1:09 pm

    >>Downing: “It’s a shame that Duncan’s post here seems to be challenging the majority opinion rather than reinforcing the common belief of the church at large.”

    Actually, it appears that most everyone has agreed with Duncan.

  12. Corner Coffee Oct 26, 2009 1:46 pm

    Mike,
    Assuming personal revelation is real …

    1. Scripture says it’s good for a man to find a woman to marry.
    2. God tells me who I should marry.

    The first is relevant to all Christians, and is therefore canonized.
    The second is relevant only to me (and my potential spouse), and is therefore personal revelation.

    I’m not saying that sort of thing actually happens. I’m just answering your query as to a personal revelation that wouldn’t necessarily belong in the canon of scripture.

    Downing,
    this isn’t a new concept. This is orthodox Christianity 101. One of the defining points of the Reformation was the belief in the sufficiency of Scripture.

    Orthodoxy is of little interest to me. You can be orthodox and be wrong. For example, orthodox Jews.

    While I may be persuaded by the arguments in Duncan’s post, we’re merely dealing with opinion here.

    What dead saints believed and what the reformation was about is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not Scripture indicates personal revelation happens or not. An organization can believe something for hundreds of years and still be wrong about it.

    Sola Scriptura, indeed. This sounds much more like tradition and legend to me.

  13. James Downing Oct 26, 2009 2:23 pm

    The word that came directly after “orthodox” was “Christianity”, and yes, it would be stupid for me to not be concerned with what my brothers and sisters have believed for the last 2,000 years.
    Do you think everyone else had it wrong, and suddenly you figured it out all by yourself? Shortsighted and naive, to put it kindly.
    Accepting revelation outside of Scripture is the first step towards apostasy. I would prefer to take the known Word of my Lord over 10,000 possible new prophecies that may or may not be true. If you believe that The Bible is true, why would you ever want to depend on anything else?

  14. Mike Oct 26, 2009 2:25 pm

    CC,
    I don’t think we differ enough on most of this to chase very far,
    the only stipulation being, if God told me who to marry, and i chose a year of mission work instead, would i be in sin, as i had defied the direction of God? It can get very muddled and Blackaby-ish.
    My true concern is for the church leaders who claim the vision/ direction from God to pursue the lost in ways that are frankly oppositional to the directions of the pastoral letters, and to attempt to create an atmosphere that people who are at odds with God will find comfortable and nonconfrontative.
    i cannot accept that God simply thought of a new and better way to handle salvation in our modern times.

  15. James Downing Oct 26, 2009 2:25 pm

    JT- I wasn’t referring to the few people who have commented here. Talking about at large in the Church.

    • James Duncan Oct 26, 2009 5:18 pm

      This will be interesting. Noble’s first sermon in his upcoming series for singles is entitled, “Don’t Get Married Until…You Hear From God.”

  16. Mike Oct 26, 2009 5:38 pm

    this is all very harmless except when it isn’t. like when people are involved.

    my friend, went on a short term mission trip about 30 years ago. someone somewhere on the trip, recieved a word, and dutifully shared it with hi. “you are being called into the mission field”, he was told, wow cool a direct word from God.
    except it was really just a guy, SOOOOO, my buddy was young and broke and stuff so he went and got a job and met a girl, and all these years later has a family and a lanscape maintenance business, and much of the time feels that he disobeyed God.

    how do you apologize enough to God for 30 years of disobedience?
    at least he didn’t find out later that God wanted him to marry someone else.

  17. Corner Coffee Oct 27, 2009 12:08 am

    Downing,
    it would be stupid for me to not be concerned with what my brothers and sisters have believed for the last 2,000 years.

    Except, a good 1200+ of those years were dominated by Roman Catholicism. In light of this statement:

    Do you think everyone else had it wrong, and suddenly you figured it out all by yourself?

    … Luther might should have stayed home and kept his mouth shut. Yes, people can be wrong, and they can be wrong over many many generations. I’m not saying it’s not wise to take their beliefs into consideration, but when making any final decisions as to whether or not I am going to believe something, I will repeat … the beliefs of dead saints are irrelevant.

    If you believe that The Bible is true, why would you ever want to depend on anything else?

    You keep presenting it as an either/or situation. Personal revelation doesn’t have to be anti-scriptural. If God chose to speak to someone, I doubt very seriously He’d contradict Himself.

    Mike,
    My true concern is for the church leaders who claim the vision/ direction from God to pursue the lost in ways that are frankly oppositional to the directions of the pastoral letters

    Changing time, Changing culture, Changing methods, timeless truth. It can happen. But that’s another discussion for another day, I think.

    if God told me who to marry, and i chose a year of mission work instead, would i be in sin, as i had defied the direction of God?

    Do you believe that God has plans for you? Specific plans? Does he have an opinion on who we should marry? Where we should live? What our trade should be? If no, then I’d like to see some scripture to back that up. If yes, then how does he reveal those plans to us?

  18. Mike Oct 27, 2009 11:26 am

    changing time, changing culture, UNchanging God.
    the same provision for Abraham, thru the last guy saved, is Jesus Christ, on the cross.
    Abraham did not know, as it had not happened yet, but that sacrificial atonement once for all, does not, will not change.
    the burdon of proof that God’s avenue of salvation( preaching the gospel, that rock of offense, to the world so that some might believe)would lie with anyone who would claim to have the new plan.
    the absence of any time sensitive qualifiers, “do this as long as it is effective, for now do this, etc” is fairly clear.
    God has a plan for the world, but if God has my day totally figured, then i must become a hypercalvinistic robotron, or be prepared to deal with blatant disobedience all day everyday.
    if God has the specific wife, house and job picked out, then why would he stop there. why not also have the parking space, lunch selection and shirt to wear.

  19. Corner Coffee Oct 27, 2009 1:22 pm

    Mike,

    1. Why does God’s unchanging nature require that the methods not change. The Gospel is not preached in Greek to English speaking people, because that would be ineffective. Likewise, other methods have become largely ineffective as well, and should be abandoned. The truth never changes. They ways and means of communicating that truth can, and sometimes, must.

    2. Do you not think that who you marry is a bit more important than where you park? And just to play devil’s advocate here, scripture does say pray without ceasing. Perhaps the little things are subject to his guidance too. Perhaps where you park will affect who you bump into, which might affect that person’s spiritual status. You know, the Butterfly effect. Is obedience vs. disobedience now being characterized as robot vs. non-robot?

    3. The only difference between a Calvinist and a Hyper-Calvinist is in the actions that follow the belief. Both believe the same things … one just ignores their beliefs when making behavioral choices because of duty.

  20. Mike Oct 27, 2009 2:09 pm

    CC,
    RE: #1 i wrote;
    My true concern is for the church leaders who claim the vision/ direction from God to pursue the lost in ways that are frankly oppositional to the directions of the pastoral letters.
    that is not at all the same as now we use electric guitars and projectors, and i don’t realy believe that was what you thought i said. frankly, the message has changed at many buildings on sunday mornings, and that should not be so.
    accepting any Christ that is not The Christ, fully God fully man, crucified and ressurected, has no eternal value, and bluntly is not the gospel of Jesus Christ. it is meerly temporal self help.
    #2 of course i believe that the choice in marriage is far more important than steak or chicken. but that is just my opinion, how could i presume to tell God where He should draw the line. i don’t believe that either of us would argue that the eternal destination of a poor lost soul may actually hinge on whether i wear jeans or shorts to the mall? there is obviously a line between God’s determined descriptive will, and his permisive will.
    #3 sorry, but no. it is because i am a Calvinist, and not a hypercalvinist that i make that very arguement. God is truly soveriegn, and acts as He wills, but also allows as He wills as well. if after all that i have seen and done, i choose to turn from God, and turn apostate, it is I that have chosen my destination, God did not create me to be firewood in hell.
    BTW, i would like to say that i appreciate the tone of this interaction, i have almost abandoned replying to blogs because of ungraciousness.
    It is my intent that God be glorified in all that we do, especially in His name.

  21. Corner Coffee Oct 27, 2009 5:39 pm

    Mike,
    1. OK, I see what you mean now. You don’t necessarily mind changing the means, just not the message, correct?

    2. On some level, I do agree with you. I can, however, conceive of a scenario (albeit a stretch) where your presence and opportunity to share the Gospel might be a person’s last opportunity to hear and receive it. In such a case, it’s possible that God would somehow communicate that urgency to you. Potentially.

    3. If God has chosen to exercise his Sovereignty (complete control), then nothing can happen without Him making it happen. If he makes it happen, then no one has free will. It’s a logical paradox to assume that he is both in complete control and allows choice.

    …but if God has my day totally figured…

    Not only figured, but orchestrated. Choice is, at best, an illusion.

    God did not create me to be firewood in hell

    He may not have created you to be firewood in hell, but according to 4 of the 5 points of Calvinism, he created some to be.

    If all men are Totally depraved and unable to seek God, God’s election for salvation is completely Unconditional, and his atonement is Limited, and his grace Irresistable, and many end up in hell, then he obviously wanted them there.

    The Calvinist believes this, but for duty, ignores it and is a witness despite it.
    The Hyper-Calvinist believes this, follows it to its logical conclusion, and accepts his role as ultimately unnecessary and inconsequential, ignoring duty as futile.

  22. Mike Oct 27, 2009 6:49 pm

    CC,
    #1 yes absolutely
    #2 and He can and will use a donkey if He wants. we are close enough for now.
    #3 Dude, i apologize for whoever explained Calvinism to you, cuz even i don’t like that guy right now.
    total depravity, yes, we are all born with a sin nature and without the work of the Holy Spirit within us, we cannot and will not seek God.
    Unconditional election, yes, because at our best, no one deserves that much grace or mercy.
    limited atonement, yes, only ths sins of the repentant man who trusts in Jesus Christ for his salvation aree atoned. if all sins are atoned, then no one can be in hell.
    irresistable grace, yes, His sheep know his voice, and all that The Father gives Him will be saved.
    preservation of the saints, yes there too.
    all of that is far too quick and shallow, but without question Romans 8 and 9 are true, as is all scriture.

    a soveriegn loving God, has planned and purposed salvation for those that believe.

    God is soveriegn, and He said whosoever believes, they are both true.
    God is soveriegn and says that he will hear the counsel of no man, yet tells us to pray without seacing, again both true.
    100 % God, 100% man, again both true.
    some stuff stays above our pay grade.

    so here is where i live; who acts, and who responds?
    does the wicked man dead in sin (all Pauls words) one day look around because of who knows what, and call out to God “save me”, and the Father God reacts positively and all is good for now.
    or
    does the infinite soveriegn God reach out to the wicked dead man, and pour a measure of light into that dead soul, and then that man reacts.
    and since that same God has chosen as a vessel of grace the same once dead men to spread His good news, we run (not out of duty, but out of love and gratitude that we are given even the most humble job in God’s kingdom) to tell all men so that some might be saved.

    see, the wierd part, and we could do this for 20 or 30 years before we actually flesh this all out, but my viewpoint causes me to see God as more merciful than i did for about 20 years when i believed what you wrote.

    God does not want any in Hell, but He does allow it.

  23. Corner Coffee Oct 28, 2009 1:00 am

    Mike,
    Dude, i apologize for whoever explained Calvinism to you, cuz even i don’t like that guy right now.

    I’ve had several people explain it to me, and I’ve read up pretty extensively on the subject. Some are pretty blunt about it, as I was above, and some explain it more like you did.

    I honestly mean no disrespect by this, but what you wrote above is essentially the same thing I said, just sugar coated. To expand …

    limited atonement, yes, only ths sins of the repentant man who trusts in Jesus Christ for his salvation aree atoned. if all sins are atoned, then no one can be in hell.

    Every Calvinist I’ve ever talked to (at least the solid 5-pointers) will say that the atonement is not limited in its effect, but in its intent. It was only intended to cover the elect, who were of course chosen by God unconditionally. Those not elected were never intended to be atoned for. Ever. They were damned to begin with.

    irresistable grace, yes, His sheep know his voice, and all that The Father gives Him will be saved.

    And those who the Father doesn’t choose, won’t.

    without question Romans 8 and 9 are true, as is all scriture.

    For the record, I’m not arguing against the validity of 5-point Calvinism. I just try to be honest about what exactly the implications of the belief system are. For the sake of argument, I’ll assume it’s scripturally sound.

    a soveriegn loving God, has planned and purposed salvation for those that believe. God is soveriegn, and He said whosoever believes, they are both true.

    But He gets to choose who believes. The rest are out of luck. If I were trying to argue FOR free will, you would have pointed that out (or someone else would have).

    does the infinite soveriegn God reach out to the wicked dead man, and pour a measure of light into that dead soul, and then that man reacts.

    Sure, but again, He chooses who gets in. And the people He chooses get in regardless of whether or not I ever share the gospel with them or pray for them. He’ll find another way to save them if I stay home. If a person doesn’t accept Christ, it’s because God never extended the grace to believe to that person.

    we run (not out of duty, but out of love and gratitude that we are given even the most humble job in God’s kingdom) to tell all men so that some might be saved.

    Regardless of the motivation, the fact still remains … when a Calvinist shares the Gospel, he doesn’t do it because of the 5 points … he does it despite them … despite knowing that doing so is an exercise in futility. He has to willfully ignore the fact that his participation is unnecessary for the desired outcome … that if he stayed home, nothing would turn out any differently.

    God does not want any in Hell, but He does allow it.

    This is the ultimate question. No doubt God is powerful enough to control everything. The question is, does he control everything? If God is truly exercising his sovereignty, then He doesn’t “allow” anything … He makes it happen. That’s what “sovereign” means.

    I know it makes it more palatable to say that God is completely sovereign and we still have free will and responsibility, but those are two diametrically opposed viewpoints. They are NOT compatible.

  24. Mike Oct 28, 2009 1:19 pm

    sorry if i was too vague,
    we do not have free will, in height, race, or salvation. we have some will that exists within the allowed parameters of God’s provision.
    to quote DA Carson’
    “Compatibilism teaches that the following two propositions are both true and mutually compatible, even if we can’t fully reconcile them:

    1. God is utterly sovereign, but his sovereignty never functions to mitigate human responsibility.
    2. Human beings are morally responsible creatures, but their moral responsibility never functions to make God absolutely contingent.”

    but to race to the end game, i agree with you on this, someone is the ultimate determiner. Obviously, i believe that it is God. to quote from Chartiots of fire; Aye, God may be a dictator, but he is a benign loving dictator.

    see
    if Satan chooses who believes = no one believes
    if man chooses who believes = as per biblical teaching on slave to sin, dead in sin, no one seeks e… no one believes
    if God chooses who believes = some believe, this cannot diminish His love and mercy in light of His truth and justice.

    OR, at least what i believe, and you have not offended me yet

  25. JT Oct 28, 2009 3:59 pm

    And then there was the traveling evangelist who was asked by the church elder if he believed in predestination. When the evangelist answered affirmatively, the elder asked him why then he bothered to preach. “The more I preach, the more are predestined,” was his reply.

  26. Corner Coffee Oct 28, 2009 5:14 pm

    JT,
    Then the church elder asked the traveling preacher to go back to school and learn what “pre” and “destined” mean. 🙂

  27. Seth Oct 28, 2009 6:45 pm

    This is how I view if God speaks to us.
    1. Numerous times in the Bible it clearly says that God spoke to someone, whether it be to their heart or in a verbal matter or it be when he or an angel actually appeared.
    2. God does not change. He is the same then that he is now.
    3. That for me means that he has not stopped talking. Yes, the Bible is complete.
    4. If God told someone to do it, and it does not go against scripture, then how can one say that it is not from God if it doesnt contradict him.
    5. With that being said, God speaking to us today can mean anything from him putting a burden to reach a certain person or to do something for someone to hearing an literal voice. Once you hear this voice, I would recomend searching scripture to see if it contradicts with anything in the Bible.
    So if God tells you to plant a church or reach out to someone, then I do not see how you could say it was not God speaking to you, better to Him the credit than to say that you came up with it all by yourself.

  28. Corner Coffee Oct 29, 2009 12:16 am

    Mike,
    I don’t buy the compatibilism thing. If a man is totally depraved, then he has no choice. If election is unconditional, then he has no choice. If the atonement was limited (in intent), then he has no choice. If grace is irresistable, then he has no choice.

    He has no ability to seek God, therefore he has no responsibility to do so. Ability is the root word of responsibility. You cannot demand that a man is has a responsibility to repent if God doesn’t extend the ability to him to do so.

    we have some will that exists within the allowed parameters of God’s provision.

    That is, by definition, not free will. There are no parameters. Our “choice” is predestined, and as such is not a choice at all!

    For example, let’s say I set up a rat maze, and at one point in the maze I give the rat 2 choices … one that will lead to poison, and one that leads to freedom.

    But here’s the kicker … the rat is dead, I’ve implanted a magnet in his body and am controlling his every move from under the maze.

    The rat has no choice. Sure, there are options, and the rat will end up at either the poison or the exit, but he NEVER had a choice in the matter. Ever.

    Words mean things. In the context of God’s sovereignty, you can’t legitimately use the word “choice”. Choice demands control, personal control. God’s sovereignty prevents any personal control, and therefore prevents choice.

    The big can of worms, of course, is the idea that God controls everything, but is responsible for none of the bad stuff like sin. That’s just something I’ll never be able to accept. But I’ll completely ignore that one, if you don’t mind. 🙂

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