What Happened to the Still Small Voice?

What happened to the still small voice? When I was growing up, I would occasionally hear a sermon on the still small voice of 1 Kings 19:12. Almost all those sermons included an explanation that it is hard to hear God in the hustle and bustle of life, and that to hear Him, we need to be quiet and listen. Those sermons have all but disappeared. What happened? Why don’t preachers teach us about God’s still small voice any more?

In reality, the question is bigger than that. God does not only speak to us with a still small voice, but oftentimes, His voice is louder – as expressed by Newsboys in their hit song: “My God’s not dead, He’s surely alive, He’s living on the inside, Roaring like a lion.” From the close proximity of our hearts, Jesus pours out His love on us. He shows us His glory. He calls us, challenges us, inspires us, leads us, guides us, teaches us, encourages us, and warns us of things to come. He convicts us, corrects us, and comforts us. He empowers us, satisfies us, sustains us, and gives us hope. The bigger question is, “Why don’t preachers teach us any more about the deeply satisfying intimate personal relationship with the living God that His presence in our hearts creates?”

A quote from John MacArthur helps explain why:

“God no longer is speaking. If you are listening for a still small voice, you better be careful because what you think might be God might be some other spirit. […] Now then, can God impress things on us? Of course. If God’s Spirit in us wants to direct us one way or another, certainly He can impress us our thoughts in one way or another. But there’s no functional manifestation of that in the human body. That is to say, I can’t know when I’m getting an impression from the Holy Spirit and when it’s just my own mind because there’s there’s no indicator. I don’t have a red light in my head spinning around saying it’s God.” [Transcribed by me from audio at http://www.gty.org/MediaPlayer/questions/QA001].

The prevailing sentiment among evangelical leaders today is that God has given us the Bible as the full and final revelation of Himself and His will to mankind. If you want to know God’s will, they say, you must go to the Bible to find it. Although this philosophy is unscriptural inasmuch as it relegates God to silence, this view has gained widespread acceptance. So, if your preacher does not teach you about God’s still small voice or about God’s personal and intimate interactions with you from inside your heart, it’s probably because he agrees with John MacArthur that God no longer is speaking.

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Through His Spirit

Last week, a preacher on the radio endorsed the Bible as, “the way God speaks to us today.” He may have meant well, but his statement undermines the fact that God reveals Himself and His truths to mankind only through His Spirit:

9 But as it is written:

            “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
            Nor have entered into the heart of man
            The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. [The New King James Version. 1982 (1 Corinthians 2:9–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.]

A Christian’s relationship with God is enhanced when he realizes that God personally interacts with him through His Spirit who lives in his heart. God reveals “the deep things of God” to us through His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10). No one can learn them with his eyes by reading a book, with his ears by hearing a sermon, or with his heart by having a high emotional experience (1 Cor. 2:9). The only way we learn the things of God is when God personally teaches them to us through His Spirit. The Spirit of God knows more about God than anyone else because the Holy Spirit is God’s Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11). He came to live in our hearts so He might declare those very things to us (1 Cor. 2:12).

It should not seem strange to those in whom God dwells that God reveals Himself to us through His Spirit. But if it does seem strange to you, and if you are a Christian, then practice this: As you read and study the Bible, look for the activity of God’s Spirit in your heart. Look for Him when the eyes of your understanding are opened because He personally opened them. Look for Him when you are convicted because He personally convicts you. Look for Him when you are awed by His glory because He personally showed you His glory. If you look for the activity of God’s Spirit in your heart, you will find it. And this will enhance your personal relationship with Him.

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Are You Perfect in God’s Eyes?

Are you perfect in God’s eyes? Most people would probably answer, “No” – and for good reason. We all are keenly aware that we fall short of what God expects of man. As a result, it seems implausible that we could stand before God, who sees clearly every thought and intent of our hearts, and be judged by Him to be holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight.

Yet, this is exactly what we want. We do not want God to see everything we have done wrong. We do not want Him to hold our sins against us. We do not want to suffer God’s wrath for our sins. We want God to see us as holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight. We want to be seen as perfect in God’s eyes.

Fortunately, God wants the same thing for us, and He provided a way for it to happen by way of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures say, “It pleased the Father that in [Jesus] all the fullness should dwell, and by [Jesus] to reconcile all things to Himself, […] having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19–20). Concerning those who have placed their trust in Him, the Scriptures go on to say, “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:21–22).

The good news for us is that we can be at peace with God despite our sins because Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us. But not everyone is at peace with God. The Scriptures say this is true only “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard” (Colossians 1:23). Contrary to wrong teaching on the subject, this does not mean a saved person can lose his salvation. It simply means that salvation belongs to those who have heard the good news about Jesus Christ and have latched onto the hope it represents. Every person who rests all his hope on Jesus and who refuses to be persuaded otherwise is at peace with God, and is holy, and blameless, and irreproachable in His sight.

The hope of the gospel is that we can be right with God despite our sins because of Jesus Christ. This is why we tell people about Him. We want them to find the same thing in Jesus that we have found. As the Scriptures say, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 1:28). If they hear the good news about Jesus, latch onto it, and refuse to be moved off that hope, they too will become perfect in God’s eyes through Jesus Christ.

Please leave a comment below if you want to discuss this more.

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Trust Jesus to Keep Your Soul Safe

There is more to believing in Jesus than just acknowledging that He is the Savior. To believe in Jesus means that we trust Jesus with the safekeeping of our souls. If we have doubts about whether He will keep our souls safe to the end, then we don’t trust Jesus – we doubt Him. If, like the people who said “Lord, Lord” in Matthew 7:22, we point to ourselves and to our good works, then we do not trust Jesus to keep our souls safe – we trust ourselves. People who trust Jesus rest their whole weight on Him.

This is not to say that people with doubts are lost. It simply means that we can trust Jesus to keep our souls safe. The fact is, we do not always trust Jesus. But the Scriptures tell us that we can count on Him. There is a seldom preached verse that I have come to like a lot that preaches this very message. It says:

“Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).

I’d like to break this verse down a bit and that will explain why I like it so much.

When the verse references “the revelation of Jesus Christ,” it is pointing to the return of Jesus Christ to earth. In that day, Jesus will execute judgment upon his enemies (2 Thessalonians 1:8). But He will give us rest (2 Thessalonians 1:7). This will be a terrible day for the enemies of God, but it will be a great day for those of us who love Him.

The verse also references “the grace that is to be brought to you” when Jesus comes back to earth. Though we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), this verse points to the grace that will be brought to us on the day of Jesus’ return. This points to the fact that God’s grace that covers our sins is ours now, but it will also be doled out on the day of judgment in sufficient quantities to keep us safe from God’s wrath. There is no doubt that we will deserve God’s wrath, because we are no better than the lost, but Jesus will keep us safe by His grace.

Finally, the verse tells us to “rest your hope fully” on the grace that is to be brought to us on the day of Jesus’ return. As we live our lives here on earth, and as we consider what will happen to us in the day of judgment because of our sins, we should rest our hope fully on the grace that will be given to us on that day. The word “fully” tells us that we should not worry about what we have done or might do to offend God, but we can rest in full confidence that Jesus will give us enough grace in that day to cover all our sins. We can trust Jesus to keep our souls safe.

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Righteousness Is a Gift

People tend to think of righteousness only in terms of our physical actions. We see righteousness as being ours when we do what is right or when we refrain from doing what is wrong. We think righteousness is a label given to or withheld from people based on the quality of their actions.

In one respect, this point of view is correct. There is a kind of righteousness that people earn through doing what is right and not doing what is wrong. The apostle Paul wrote about it. He called it “my own righteousness, which is from the law” (Philippians 3:9). This kind of righteousness is earned by people when they obey God’s laws.

But the apostle Paul spoke of a different kind of righteousness that is not earned by being obedient to God’s laws. He spoke of it as being a gift (Romans 5:17). He spoke of this kind of righteousness as a gift that comes “through faith in Christ,” and He described it as “the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).

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God Teaches Us Spiritual Truth

I really like the theological forum at www.GraceCentered.com. It gives me an opportunity to share with others the good things God has taught me. But there is a problem. Some people do not believe that God teaches us anything at all, so they don’t think I’m sharing what God taught me. As a result, a great deal of our discussion does not focus on the things that God teaches us, but on defending the fact that God directly communicates with us.

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Let the Mind of Christ Be in You

This is from the sixth chapter of New Life in Christ Jesus

Philippians 2:5–13
Let the Mind of Christ Be in You

The apostle Paul said:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:5–13)

Jesus said:

Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)

Though He was God in the flesh, Jesus did nothing unless He saw God the Father do it first (John 5:19, 30; 8:28–29). He did not teach anything unless God the Father taught Him first, and He did not say anything until God the Father authorized Him to say it (John 7:16–18; 8:28–29, 38; 12:49–50; 14:10). He did not use His own judgment, nor did He seek to do what He Himself wanted, but He depended on the judgment of God, and He did God’s will (John 5:30; 6:38). Everything Jesus did while He was on this earth was because He knew without a shadow of a doubt that the Father wanted Him to do it (John 8:29). In fact, He did not even come to earth on His own authority, but He came because God the Father sent Him (John 7:28–29; 8:42).

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Wavering Trust in Christ Loosens Our Anchor

Jesus is the anchor of our souls. To Him we have fled for refuge from the wrath to come (Hebrews 6:18-19). But when we waver in our confidence in Christ, our confidence that we will escape God’s wrath always wavers also. When we waver in our confidence in Christ, we do not lose our salvation as some claim, but we lose some of our confidence that we are saved.

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Sanctification Is Not Progressive

This is from the seventh chapter of New Life in Christ Jesus

I learned of the doctrine of progressive sanctification in the early 1980’s. One of my former pastors believed in it, and he taught it to me through his sermons. To the best of my recollection, he presented progressive sanctification this way:

Every person comes to the point in his life when he must decide whether to accept or reject Christ. From that point of decision forward, each person’s life changes progressively depending on the choice he makes concerning Christ. If his decision is to receive Christ, then from that point forward, God changes him to become more and more like Jesus (this is progressive sanctification). If he rejects Christ, then from that point on, God hardens him, and he becomes more and more like the devil.

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The Word of God Lives in Our Hearts

This is from the second chapter of New Life in Christ Jesus

The cornerstone of the covenant that God made with the children of Israel in the desert of Sinai was the Ten Commandments. God wrote that document into tablets of stone with His own finger (Ex. 31:18). But the cornerstone of the new covenant is the living Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Eph. 2:19–22), who comes to live in our hearts when we first put our trust in Him (Eph. 1:13–14). When Jesus comes to live in our hearts, He indelibly writes His passions and desires (and everything else about Himself) onto our hearts.  Now that Jesus lives in our hearts, the Word of God lives in our hearts.

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