We’ve been talking about the Word of God as powerful, authoritative, and self-expression. We’ve looked at how God’s Word is at work in the world through His plans, His decrees, and His dwelling among us. And last time we introduced the “means” or MEDIA through which God reveals His Word in events, words, and people. I wrote about how God reveals Himself in nature and history, or general revelation. I introduced God’s revelation in redemptive history – the gospel story of salvation. And finished with the concept of how God reveals Himself in miracles.
Whew! That’s a lot of information. Now we look at Word media. In a general way the words of God come to us in two ways: written and spoken. However, this too limits our understanding of how God truly wants to reveal Himself to us. So we’ll look at four broader categories to see the importance and purpose of God speaking to humanity through His Words.
There are times in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, where people hear God’s voice and words directly spoken to them. In the Garden, Adam and Eve knew the tragic nature of their choice when they heard God call out, “Where are you?”[Genesis 3:9] All the people of Israel gathered around the foot of Mount Sinai in the desert and heard God’s voice giving instructions to Moses for their benefit. [Deuteronomy 5:22-33]. Whoever was present at the time John the baptizer baptized Jesus, heard the voice from heaven “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” [Matthew 3:17] And the apostles who accompanied Jesus up the mountain heard the same statement. But this time it also came with a decree! “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” [Matthew 17:5] In just these four examples of God’s audible voice speaking to people on earth, we can see clearly they carry the control, authority, and presence of God as LORD. What becomes obvious in even a cursory reading of these passages is the Diving voice of God is to be obeyed without doubt, exception, or debate.
God’s voice spoken through Prophets and Apostles
Men of God, chosen by God Himself, were appointed to pass on these words to us. This sometimes can become a sticky wicket, when many claim that these writer’s words are a little bit less authoritative because of the human element involved. They suggest these a slight imperfection in the process of God speaking to the prophet and their own communication with humanity. But if you really want to know how God feels about this false teaching, read Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Jeremiah 1:16-19; Ezekiel 13:2-3,17. Here’s what you will discover. The prophet is a substitute for God’s voice. The people of Israel are so full of fear that ask Moses to bring God’s word to them. In the Deuteronomy passage [18:18] God’s give the definition of a true prophet: “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” What’s really scary about this is verse 19:
“It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.”
Without the divine voice of God, spoken through the Prophets and Apostles we are sadly lost. Peter made his own declaration when he said to Jesus [John 6:68], “Lord to who shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” Paul the apostle had his own encounter with Jesus, became an apostle, and wrote that what he preached came directly from Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ
God’s voice as the written Word
So is God’s voice in written form, or spoken form through the Prophets and Apostles, something less than divine? Does the media of the Word somehow remove the dynamic power and grace of theVoice of God when written or spoken by the Prophets and Apostles? Why should there be some distinction between what people heard Paul preach, and the letters that he wrote to those same churches? I suggest the Deuteronomy 18 passage above crosses the lines of time and space and applies equally to all of Scripture.
God’s voice through Preaching and Teaching
Here’s the thing. What about teachers and preachers today? Do their words have the same authority as the divine voice of God? Make no mistake here, the answer is NO.
There is no promise in Scripture that declares future pastors/teachers/elders or even seminary professors will carry with them the same authority reserved for the apostles of the Bible. This is so evident, that only a very few would be found worldwide who would claim this for themselves.
But maybe you’ve heard this saying before:
“The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.”
This means that while the preacher speaking the words is fatally flawed, imperfect, and maybe full of errors himself… when this human person communicates God’s Words truthfully, the words spoken lose none of their original authority.
The preacher who utters spiritual truth from the Bible carries the same authority on his/her lips that were on the lips of the Apostle Paul.
God’s word will always have ultimate authority, regardless the medium … even if that medium is a sinful human being.
You need to trust me here, I speak from experience. As a pastor/teacher my job is not to utter opinion, or just make vague observations, but to speak the truth according to God’s Word. In doing so I find Him to be LORD. And as Lord, God is in control, has absolute authority, and is present now among us.
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