God speaks to us through the Bible.
If you’re a Christian, then I doubt that sentence surprises you. But read it again. There are at least two parts of that sentence which should stop us in our tracks, and make us fall to our knees in awe.
1. God speaks to us through the Bible. The Great God, the Holy One, the uncreated and infinite God, who is supreme in majesty and splendour, speaks to us sinful, finite, lowly creatures. Yes, he created us above all other creatures (Genesis 1, Psalm 8), but the distance between us and God is so great that the very fact he has dignified us with his voice should in itself inspire our worship.
2.God speaks to us through the Bible. Did you notice that the sentence isn’t in the past tense – God has spoken to us through the Bible? Of course, the sentence is still true in the past tense. Hebrews 1:2 says, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son”. This shows the once and for all nature of the revelation from Jesus, that nothing more needs to be added. God kept speaking to the prophets because the revelation to them was incomplete, but God has stopped speaking that way because the revelation through Jesus is complete.
But still, though the revelation is complete, though God (in one sense) has stopped speaking, (in another sense) God is still speaking today! I wrote a critique a few months ago on what I commonly hear from Charismatics and Pentecostals about their so-called revelations from the Spirit, and one of the push-backs I received was along these lines: ‘our relationship with God is like a marriage. If we only had the Bible, it would be like only having our spouse communicate to us through a letter, without ever being spoken to directly.’
I have to disagree with the sentiment behind this! The Bible is God’s Word being spoken directly to us through the Spirit!
In Matthew 22:31-32, Jesus quotes from Exodus 3:6, God speaking to Moses, and declares that God was speaking to the Sadducees (“have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?”).
The writer to the Hebrews in 3:7 instructs the people of his day with the words that David wrote in Psalm 95: “as the Holy Spirit says…”
Paul says that the events in the Old Testament were examples for “us” in 1 Corinthians 10:6.
If we read the Bible, God is speaking to us. But it’s not like a letter that we would write to our spouse. They aren’t simply words that were written long ago that are still wonderfully applicable to us (although they are that). They are words that were written for us and are spoken directly to us by the Spirit. It is through the Bible that the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
God has spoken and still speaks through that completed word. No new revelation is promised, and no new revelation should be sought. But why would we want to? What a wonderful word we receive whenever we read our Bibles! How wonderfully intimate that the Spirit speaks to us directly whenever we read the Bible.
In the Bible, we discover our God; his character, his actions, his plans. We discover ourselves; our sinfulness, our privilege, our value. We discover the eternal destinies awaiting those who reject Jesus, and those who receive him. And we discover how we are to live in the light of all this, while we wait for his coming.
Do we worship God for speaking to us in the Bible? Or do we long for God to ‘really’ speak to us?
Jesse Walz is married to Bec, and they have a four-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. They attend Surrey Hills Presbyterian Church. Jesse is studying theology at PTC, and Bec is a stay-at-home mum.