Reach the Isles
How Does God Speak Today?
Recently, I was asked a question about how God speaks today. Does God speak through dreams, visions, angels, prophets? Should we listen to the message of those today who claim to have had some dream, message, or vision from God that is not contained with the Bible?
Here are a few passages of Scripture that teach us that the Bible is: 1) more reliable than personal experience, 2) the way God has chosen to speak today, 3) all that we need, and 4) complete.
1. The Bible is more reliable than personal experience (2 Peter 1:16-21)
2 Peter 1:16–21 16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
v.16 Peter says that he was not following some “fable” (made-up story).
v.17-18 He was an eyewitness of Christ’s majesty – on the mount of transfiguration.
v.19 But he says that “we have a more sure (secure,) word of prophecy. What could be more reliable than personally seeing Christ in his glory?
v.20 This more sure word of prophecy is Scripture (holy writings – the Bible), and it is not of “private interpretation” (man’s opinions/ideas).
v.21 The Scripture (Bible) is the message of God given through men moved by the Holy Ghost.
So if Peter the Apostle who saw the transfigured and resurrected Christ would say that Scripture is more reliable than personal experience, then we should look to Scripture not experience for God’s message.
2. The Word of God is the way God has chosen to speak today (Hebrews 11:1-2).
Hebrews 1:1–2 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
v.1 At different times in the past and in many different ways, God has spoken to men by His prophets.
v.2 But now, in these last days (the time from the first coming of Christ until the second coming of Christ), God is speaking to us by His Son.
The rest of the book of Hebrews will go on to explain why we should listen to the message of God given to us in Jesus, but what we learn from this verse is that Jesus was God’s final and full revelation of Himself to us, and the way God speaks today is through Jesus.
So how does Jesus speak? Well, He is the living Word (John 1:1-3,14), contained in the written Word (the Bible, Scripture – John 5:39). His followers (the apostles) knew His teaching and recorded what He taught them in the pages of the New Testament (Acts 2:42 “apostles doctrine”; Eph 2:20).
In other words, the way God is speaking today is through the Word, the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, whose life and teaching is contained with the pages of Scripture. This does not mean that God cannot use other means to speak, but that He has chosen to use Scripture as the way He speaks today.
3. The Bible is all that we need (sufficient) (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
God has certainly used dreams, circumstances, creation, man’s conscience, suffering, angels, prophets, and even a donkey to speak to men and women in the past. But God has always expected that men would listen to His Word. Many times the apostles and even Jesus would say, “It is written,” appealing to Biblical authority rather than personal authority to validate their message. The reason for this is that God has designed the Bible to contain all that we need.
2 Timothy 3:14–17 14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
v.14-15 Paul is writing to Timothy and encouraging him to keep looking to the Scriptures which brought Him to salvation through faith in Christ.
v.16 He tells him that all of Scripture is given by inspiration (the very breath/words of God) and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.
v.17 The purpose of Scripture is to make the man of God perfect (complete/whole) or fully mature. And the Bible furnished use to all good works – makes it where nothing is lacking in our spiritual lives.
So, the conclusion is that the Scriptures are God’s words to us, and they contain everything that we need to become the people God’ wants us to be. So why are we looking for more revelation, more truth, more messages when everything we need is found in the Bible?
4. God’s written revelation is complete (Revelation 22:18-21).
Revelation 22:18–21 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The last book of the Bible to be written was Revelation, which is “The revelation of Jesus Christ…” It details the return of Christ and His final programme for mankind, for the earth, for the universe, and for eternity.
v.18 As Jesus finished giving this message to us through John, He said that no one is to add to the prophecy (message) of His book and no one is to take away.
Of course, He could have been saying that of just the book of Revelation and there might be other books that could be added, but it is significant that in this last of His prophecies to the last living Apostle, John, Jesus would say, “Don’t add any more.”
The idea we take from this is that God’s Word was completed with the Book of Revelation, and there should be no further adding to it and therefore no further prophecy from God to man. And Christ was very serious about it. He said those who add to God’s Word will have plagues added unto them. Those who add to God’s Word and try to claim they have fresh revelation from God are playing a dangerous game. We don’t need any more revelation; we need to respond, believe and obey the revelation we already have found in the 66 books of the Bible.
Travis is a church planter and Bible teacher. He and Teri have served as church planters to the UK since 2002. The purpose of their ministry is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, teach the Bible, plant churches, and train leaders. They are currently working at Downham Baptist Church in southeast London.