I know that you’ve heard the expressions before. “God told me.” “God revealed to me.” “God spoke to me.” Now, if those expressions are coupled with “through His Word,” i.e. “God revealed to me through His Word,” then I don’t have a problem. However, I’m concerned about the impression we give to others by throwing out such catch phrases all the time, especially when we so often have to backtrack and clarify. “I misunderstood.” “I was confused.” “I don’t remember saying that!” “I was wrong.”
It’s not that I don’t believe that God speaks to His people, but I do believe that the primary way that he speaks is through the Bible. If we aren’t continually in God’s Word, then we won’t hear from God! But beyond that, I believe that God’s Spirit can impress certain ideas and feelings upon us, but the best way for us to understand that is after the fact. Let me explain how this works in real life.
Up until March, 2010 I was ministering in Queens. During that time both Valerie and I had some concerns, and began to wonder if it might be time to make a move. One of those concerns was her father’s health, so we focused on the Midwest and ended up being called to a church that is only an hour from her parents. Now, seven months later, her dad has been diagnosed with colon cancer and is facing surgery in the next two weeks.
During the time we were struggling with the idea of moving and leaving Queens, I was very careful to say things like: “I feel,” “I believe,” and “I think” when it came to talking about what God wanted us to do. Why? Because I didn’t want to lay anything at God’s feet that I’d have to backtrack on later! There has been too much of that in Christian circles. However, seven months later, I believe that I can say with some certainty that God moved, called, worked, and perhaps even spoke, albeit in that still small voice of His.
So, if you want to know what God is saying with certainty, here is the formula, with the understanding that God’s Holy Spirit uses the Word of God, other people, and our circumstances to speak to us: 5 parts God’s Word, 1 part Holy Spirit, 1 part circumstances, 1 part other people’s insight, 1 part reflection, and 1 part retrospect!