By: Deji Yesufu
One blessing that social media offers us today is the opportunity for us to have access to information. Someone said that this generation has access to so much information but people appear to know very little. There was a time there was little access to information. To write a paper you had to go to various libraries across states and sometimes countries. At the end of the day, the individual possesses deep knowledge from his research and delivers a solid paper on a subject. Google has made it all easy now and with the ease come with little depth in our understanding.
My field of expertise, besides electrical engineering, is theology. And I am watching with dismay all around me how a theology of how God speaks is gaining popularity in my day and time. This opinion has always existed; it is however becoming more popular these days. I want to use this article to correct the notion that God is still speaking to every Tom, Dick and Harry today. I’ll be arguing that this is not so and I’ll be suggesting to you, biblically, how God is speaking to us today. Before I go into my argument, let me recount a few of such testimonies I have heard of God speaking to people.
A friend on Facebook, a Grandmother, living outside Nigeria, recounted how the voice of God to her ears saved her one day as she walked on a lonely street. She said she didn’t realize it was that late and here she was all by herself on the road. Suddenly a voice came to her: “run!” And she began to run until she reached a place of safety. Someone at this place then said to her that they actually saw people pursuing her and that it was her quick reaction that saved her. This lady then wondered why anyone will question the fact of God speaking to us today.
There are many other instances people have relayed of how they saw dreams of certain incidents and those things coming to pass. Others were restrained by voices not to travel and when they obeyed, they were saved from motor or plane accidents. A plethora of people are called into Christian ministry today because God, through an angel or a dream, spoke to them and told them to go and serve him. I once had a Muslim artisan who told me God speaks clearly to him and that he never takes a job God has not instructed him to do. The most moving testimony of these so called “God told me” is this one I heard recently.
This man had been a member of Pirate Confraternity on campus. One day some Christians preached to him. He was slightly moved and so he went to his room to clear his head. While there he heard a voice that told him to open the Bible to Romans 10:8-10. He said his Roman Catholic background opposed the voice because Roman Catholics do not read the Bible themselves – they considered it too sacred. As he thought on this thing, his roommate’s girlfriend came in. So he asked the girl to take the Bible and see if there was indeed a book called Romans there.
He did this thinking if this lady was struck down while reading the Bible, he will escape. The girl took the scriptures, searched through and found Romans. They were both surprised. Then they traced out the verses and saw: Romans 10:8 “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” That is that mighty scripture on salvation. Subsequently he was convicted and converted.
Was it God that spoke to this man? Does God still speak audibly to people today? What do you and I do with dreams, visions, premonitions and the likes? I hope to answer these questions subsequently.
A World of Spirits
We live in a world where humans dwell in and where spirits also operate. The Bible calls Satan the Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). He controls these medium and he will do everything to deceive men. This is what the Bible says about these spirits:
1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
The first verse of this scripture tells us that there are indeed spirits in our world but their primary duty is not to cause barrenness, accidents or kill people. Their primary calling is DECEPTION. They possess men and turn them to false prophets, and these men themselves go ahead and produce false converts to false religions, so that ultimately Satan might have more souls perishing in hell with him. John gives examples of the gnostic deception of his day in verses 2 and 3. But the reality is that these spirits are still deceiving people. That is why Christ’s warning concerning the end of the age is that we should beware of deception (Matthew 7:15; 24:24). So how do these spirits operate?
Simple. One of the ways these spirits operate is that they speak to men. They give you a word and they make you believe that that word is from God. Subsequently you begin to trust the words they are speaking to you and those words become for you divine revelation. Divine revelation leads you to a new religion, which leads you not to trust God’s true revelation, the Bible, again. Then you are deceived and your soul is lost.
The biggest scam of our day is not spirits speaking things outside the Bible to you; it is spirits speaking things in the Bible to you. So that rather than go and check scripture for confirmation, you begin to trust the words you are hearing in your ears. Holding the view that one can hold the Bible as God’s word and trust voices in our ears is the biggest deception of our time. Before I proceed with how God speaks to us today, let me end this section with the story of a man.
It is 7th century Arabia. A man who had had a tumultuous childhood decides that he has had enough with his community. He then goes to a mountain for private meditation. While he was there, an angel appeared to him and subsequently this angel begins to give him revelation purportedly from God. This man is not lettered but he memorizes these words and soon gets his family and acquaintances to learn them. That man is Mohammed, the Prophet to Muslims. The revelation he received is the Qur’an.
You may argue that the revelation in the Qur’an is different from the Bible but you miss Satan’s modus operandi. You fail to see that the enemy capitalizes on what we know and our environment. Satan will give a biblical illiterate man revelation that might contradict the Bible, but he will give a supposed Christ revelation in line with scripture. All the scriptures Satan quoted to Jesus in Matthew 4 were all in the Bible! But his aim is the same: making people to question divine revelation; make people to not rely on the Bible; make people to trust other so called mysterious encounter, instead of the ordinary written revelation of scripture.
How God Speaks to Us Today
If we cannot trust the voice of spirits, or dreams, or promptings, etc, what then do we look to as source of divine revelation? The answer is simply this: the Bible. The Bible is God’s word. The Bible is a compilation of Redemptive History. What this means is simple: right from the creation of the world and the fall of Adam, God has sought to save fallen humanity. His dealings with Abraham and subsequently with Israel, were all aimed at saving fallen humanity. At last, two thousand years ago, in ancient Palestine, God came in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. He lived, died and rose from the dead. In the process, he obtained salvation for all men – particularly those who trust in Christ as their God and Savior.
This is where it gets interesting: the account of all these four thousand years of redemptive History is recorded in the Bible. Numerous authors where saying the same thing: God seeking to save lost humanity. When you and I trust scripture alone as source of divine revelation, we open ourselves to the blessings of salvation through Christ. When we do not trust scripture, or we have other sources of revelation to us, we open ourselves to deception and damnation. The whole “God told me” movement is an attack on the Bible and subsequently an attack on truth and ultimately an attack on God’s saving works among humanity.
So the first step to hearing God clearly is to trusting scripture as the only source of revelation to you and I. God’s words are in the Bible. If you want to hear God speak, read the Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly to you, read the Bible out loud to yourself. The first thing that the sovereign God wants to do to the sinful man is to save him. Men are naturally dead in trespasses and sins. Dead men do not hear anything; talk less of hearing God speak to them audibly.
When the sinner is saved, he receives spiritual life and is given ears to hear God. Because he is saved by the word of God preached to him, his heart is then open to hearing God in the Bible. This is the main distinction between hearing spirits and hearing the Holy Spirit. The unconverted person will hear spirits; demonic spirits that will deceive him. But he will not hear God. The first thing that the Holy Spirit says to a sinner is: “LIVE!” He converts him. Gives him ears to hear. Gives him love for the Bible. Gives him love for the Church. The Spirit brings sinners to living faith in Christ. Demonic spirits lead men away from Christ.
Then the converted soul begins to train himself to hear God in the Bible by becoming knowledgeable of scripture and biblical truths: theology. When the heart is steeped in this, hearing God becomes natural to him. If he is tempted to flirt with a lady at work, he hears God’s word: though shall not commit adultery. Etc. There are occasions when God’s word is not clear on a matter but he might hear in his heart, “delight yourself in the Lord and he will grant you the desires of your heart”. That means if I endeavor to walk uprightly as a Christian, loving God, I am free to do whatever I like. It means that if I am walking holy, I am free to marry whatever girl I like. Of course knowing she is godly and a Christian, first.
I end with something I like to call the objective and subjective voice of God to us. The objective voice of God is his word: the Bible. Every Christian must desire the milk of the word of God and be steeped in its truth. As this reality is being formed in us, we begin to be led subjectively by God. A man who will be a missionary to foreign nations, will develop a love for missions. Everything about him will orbit around missions.
Subsequently he might get trained as a missionary and the moment an opportunity arise, he simply fits. He doesn’t need long praying for this. I am saying a heart steeped in objective truths of God will be led naturally subjectively by God. Some other decisions might be more difficult to take but by praying and waiting, things will get clearer and one simply steps out in faith and follow God.
Beware of Deception
Are you saying that God did not give that man the Romans 10 scripture that led ultimately to his conversion? Here I must say that I do not know. I am not God. God can do whatever he wishes and if it will lead to the salvation of a sinner, all well and good. However I must warn against the deception that testimonies like these bring. It opens people up to hearing spirits and thus leading them away from the truth of scripture that can save them. Second, this story is this man’s account. It is not scripture. The man could as well be lying just to embellish his conversion story. Our faith is in God’s word and not people’s experiences.
The biggest problem with our world today is deception. While our world is weighed down by a plethora of religion, the fastest rising philosophy of our day is modernity and science, and the discarding of all religion. They argue that if all religion claim to be the path to heaven, why should they believe us all or even just one of us? Satan has perverted God’s truth by producing numerous religions and is further using the plurality of religion against religion itself. What then is the way out? The Bible.
We must hold scripture as the very words of God. We must regard the Bible as inerrant, inspired and sufficient. Anything short of this will open you up to voices and those voices will lead you away from God.