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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 1

Does God Speak To You? Part 1

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the July-August 1979 issue of the Midnight Cry Messenger.)

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 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; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Heb. 1:1-3.

Many people find it hard to believe that God actually speaks to man today. Among those who believe that he does speak to man today there is much controversy and debate. Many questions are raised as to how, where, when and who God speaks to.

Because of such divergent opinions among them, the often reported claims of many religious people that the Lord speaks and reveals things to them only adds to the confusion.

The fact that there is such a difference of opinion on doctrines and other vital issues is proof positive that many are deceived in their belief that God is speaking to them. No doubt, some source of intelligence is responsible for many of these claims. This is also true of all cults and false doctrines that have come forth in the earth to deceive man.

Since Satan led Eve astray in the Garden he has been lying and deceiving man through many means. Knowing that man is religious by nature he uses this as a chief tool to delude and separate man from God and true righteousness.

I Tim. 4:1 says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

Indeed we would be surprised if we knew how active Satan is in the realm of religion. In fact, we would be shocked if we knew how much religion Satan has actually fathered in the earth.

According to Paul’s teaching in II Cor. 11:13-15, Satan’s greatest act of deception is in transforming himself (falsely) into an angel (messenger) of light. Satan’s ministers do exactly the same thing. Verse 15 says, “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness: whose end shall be according to their works.”

By masquerading as angels of light Satan’s ministers, clothed in human form, have an entree into all nations and segments of human society. Under the cloak of religion and other forms of ideology he is received with open arms by earth’s multitudes. From corrupted and apostate Christianity to communism there is a literal flood of delusion going forth out of the mouth of the dragon. Rev. 12:15-16.

When statements like these are made most professing Christians think you have reference to the Jim Joneses, the Reverend Moons and the Father Divines. They have been taught that they are fundamental, orthodox and sound in the faith. It’s always the other fellow that is a heretic.

There are two things that Satan does when he deceives man and leads him into strong delusion. First he discredits any true source of revelation that may be available. This is a subtle work of Satan that the deceived do not recognize. In order to get man to reject the truth he discredits the source or vessel through whom God is giving the truth.

When this has been done the only thing left for the unconverted is the lie or religious deception. Men are headed for religious delusion when they despise the truth. This is becoming a universal condition as we approach the return of Christ. According to Paul in II Thess. 2:1-12, men will be sent strong delusion because they loved not the truth that they might be saved.

This is accomplished through a subtle emphasis on how right their group or religious movement is and how wrong the others are. Some point to their historic faith and honored traditions as proof of their religious soundness.

Others point to their last day revelations or their religious experience as proof of the spiritual reality of their movement. Some of these point to their founder as a great prophet or last day messenger raised up for this special day.

The self-styled fundamentalist takes great pride in the fact that he believes in the book, the blood and the blessed hope. He is fundamental, missionary, premillennial and contending for the faith once delivered to the saints. With much authority and pride he points to the letter of the word (King James version) as his only rule for faith and practice. He thumps its pages with strong emphasis declaring it is his guide and road map to heaven.

What about all of these claims by the religious multitude? Many of them are zealous, sacrificial, sincere and thoroughly convinced. Many of them believe in good works and live morally clean lives. Is this a criterion or basis for faith?

Not by any stretch of the imagination. Paul said that the Jews had “...a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” Rom. 10:2-4.

The outstanding mark of the false prophet, false doctrine and false religion is that something else is at the center of their religious emphasis in place of Christ. It may be a doctrine, an ordinance, an experience, a human personality, their church or organization and, strange as it may seem, even the Bible itself.

However, let me make haste to point out that false doctrines and false prophets are not always responsible for lost religious people. Even where the gospel is preached there are some who have made something else their refuge other than the finished work of Christ. The Corinthian church had heard the gospel preached in its fullness by the apostle Paul, yet he told them to examine themselves, whether they be in the faith. II Cor. 13:5. To those of Galatia he said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” Gal. 1:6.

I might add that most of those that heard Jesus Christ turned away from the truth in process of time. John 6:66, 1 John 2:19. In fact it is evident from many scriptures that it is a very small remnant of people that come to saving faith. Isa. 1:9, Matt. 7:13-14, Luke 12:32, 13:23-24, Rom. 11:5.

The real reason men are lost is that they will not receive the truth. For the remnant capable of hearing his voice and following him it is important that we know how God speaks to us. Although there are many lost people who have heard the truth and rejected it, man must still hear the truth if he is to be saved.

Our purpose here is not to prove to the unbelieving that God indeed speaks to mortal man but rather to consider how God speaks to man.

By His Conscience

Along with a higher intelligence, God gave man a conscience which distinguishes him from the beast. When man hardens his heart and violates his conscience long enough, he descends to the level of the beast. Because of his higher intelligence he becomes a diabolical and sinister creature that is actually worse than the beast.

The conscience was given to man to bring him to truth that reveals God and righteousness to him. Although the conscience itself does not give man all the answers he needs concerning God it will lead him to truth that will reveal God to him.

Therefore, man’s conscience is a source of light that will lead him out of the darkness if he will humbly listen to it. Man’s search for God begins when the Lord speaks to his conscience. The search does not end until he finds Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. If man doesn’t harden his heart and sear his conscience it will bring him into contact with the glorious gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ who is the image of God. II Cor. 4:3-5.

According to Romans 2:14-16, the Gentiles or heathen (all people other than Jews) had a conscience capable of guiding them even though they were without the law as the Jews knew it. According to verse 15 there was a work of the law written in their hearts through which their conscience would bear witness to them.

This witness either accused or excused them. Since they did not have the law or the gospel, in the strictest sense they cannot be judged by either. However they will be judged by this inward witness of their hearts in the day when God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. This being true, it means that God’s judgment as Rom. 2:2 says will be according to truth that men have.

The more truth men have the more responsible they are. God’s severest judgment will come upon those who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Rom. 1:18. According to this verse in the New Testament from 26 Translations by Zondervan, God’s most severe judgment will be upon religious people who by their pride, rebellion, falsehood and general wickedness have stifled and suppressed the truth of God.

These no doubt are the workers of iniquity Jesus spoke of in Matt. 7:21-23, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

From the context of scripture it will be noted that these were religious people who actually called Jesus “Lord.” They were very actively engaged in religious works, prophesying (preaching), casting out devils, and doing many other wonderful works.

But the Lord called them workers of iniquity. They had deceived their own hearts and thought they were doing a good work. Instead of bringing deliverance to men they were deceiving them as they were deceived and bringing them into captivity and strong delusion.

It is men like these whose conscience is seared as with a hot iron. I Tim. 4:1-2. This is why Paul said, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)” Heb. 3:7-11

By The Creation

Although God does not reveal himself to man apart from his conscience, the creation itself is a voice in the earth speaking to man before his conscience is seared. Many of these scientific theories that discredit the biblical account of creation are often the result of a seared conscience. Psalm 19:1-3 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”

With the God-given intelligence that man has he considers the creation when he observes it. As he observes the visible creation his intelligence informs him that this great creation was made by some power that is not manifest. He knows there has to be a creator or supreme being. Rom. 1:19-20.

Although this is not saving faith it is the beginning of faith that can lead us to saving faith through the word of God. Working with our conscience it can serve as a light or voice to lead us to the light of the gospel that reveals Christ to us. Heb. 11:3 says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

By The Prophets

Before the coming of the Son of God into the world God spoke unto the fathers in divers manners by the prophets. Although there were prophetic gifts given to men such as kings, judges and ordinary people the major prophet was uniquely God’s mouthpiece in the earth.

No doubt the lesser prophetic gifts were types of ministries comparable to elders in the local assembly during the church dispensation. The major prophet of the Old Testament and the apostle in the New Testament are foundation ministries whose responsibility is to God himself. Eph. 2:20, I Cor. 3:10.

Although the local church and the individual Christian is responsible to judge those claiming to be apostles or prophets (I John 4:1-4), the gift of a foundational ministry will make room for itself. Pro. 18:16. However, as we come over into the New Testament and the church dispensation the office of the major prophet ceases with the office of the apostle taking its place.

John the Baptist was the last of the major prophets. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Luke 16:16.

Some may take exception to this but it is evident that the New Testament prophet was, for the most part, a preacher or forthteller of the gospel. No doubt vocal ministries such as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers were called prophets at times.

However, there was a prophetic gift that enabled some to foretell the future as in the case of Agabus the prophet. Acts 11:27-28, 21:10-11. It is evident this man, though a genuine prophet in this sense, had a limited ministry. He is only mentioned twice and is nowhere looked upon as a leader or prominent figure in the early church.

By virtue of the need of the office the apostle was the most gifted. In the order of ministry given to the church by the Lord Jesus Christ when he ascended up on high, the apostle is first. Eph. 4:11. In fact, the apostle is said to be first in the church by Paul in I Cor. 12:28. Beyond doubt, Paul’s ministry was a type of the complete ministry of Christ as set forth in Eph. 4:11. This ministry was manifest in the life of the apostles in varying degrees.

Old Testament

The prophets of the Old Testament were men chosen by God and anointed for this purpose. Although their talents and abilities varied, they were God’s servants and were responsible to deliver his message to the people.

This was often done in the face of opposition and danger to their lives. In fact, many suffered persecution, imprisonment and even death for their faithfulness in delivering God’s message.

Sometimes their message was of a general nature to the people and at other times it was to individuals such as commanders of armies, kings and ordinary people. Their message was often one of warning and severe rebuke. At other times their message was encouraging or instructive.

Although God permitted some of them to seal their testimony with their blood he honored and esteemed these men very highly for their work’s sake. They were truly his mouthpieces or representatives in the earth. His method was to contact and inform these men before divine intervention on the earth’s scene. Before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah the Lord said, “...Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” Gen. 18:17.

Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”

To despise and reject God’s prophets meant to despise and reject him. To honor and receive God’s prophets meant to honor and receive him. When the children of Israel rejected the theocratic rule of God through the prophet Samuel and desired a king like the other nations, the Lord said, “...Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” I Sam.
8:7.

This was the burden of the Spirit in Christ when he said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Matt. 23:37-39.

From this and other scriptures it is evident that the Lord completely identified himself with his ministry. Matt. 10:40-41. Despise the servant of the Lord and you cut yourself off from God. Men will never see the Lord (by revelation) until they say, “...Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Rom. 10:13-15 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

How shall they preach except they be sent? Only those sent of God can preach his Word. His command to the world concerning them is, “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm.” Psalm 105:15.

When men get hungry enough for God they will say, “...How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Rom. 10:15.

Divers Manners

Divers simply means various or many. In the beginning there were no inspired scriptures that the prophets could read and interpret as the will of God. They were dependent upon the Lord to reveal himself to them. For this God used whatever means was expedient or necessary to get the attention of his prophet. For example, the Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush. Ex. 3:1-12. Then he spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. Whether the voice was audible or not we can’t say. At least Moses heard it as though it were audible.

In order to convince the children of Israel that God indeed had sent Moses to them with his word, the Lord turned Moses’ shepherd’s rod into a serpent when cast upon the ground. Ex. 4:1-5.

Doubtless, extenuating circumstances here made it necessary for God to approach Moses in such a manner. There was also a reason he turned his shepherd’s staff into a serpent as a sign. After forty years in the wilderness living the life of a lonely shepherd, having been a prince in Egypt, mighty in word and deed (Acts 7:22) it took these unusual manifestations to convince Moses and the children of Israel.

To many of the prophets the Lord simply spoke to them audibly or otherwise and they were able to recognize it as from God. Gen. 12:1-3, I Kings 19:9-12, Isa. 6:8-13, Jer. 1:4-10, Ezek. 1:3, Hosea 1:1, Joel 1:1, and Jonah 1:1-2.

No doubt the individual prophets had their own particular sensitivity that enabled them to recognize the voice of the Lord. Their call, responsibility and personal involvement were also factors in helping them recognize his voice.

In most cases they were God-conscious and God-fearing individuals. Many times they were involved or doing something that made wisdom from above expedient. The call of God to these men had nothing to do with their personal desire or training for such a work. God in his own sovereign wisdom called them according to his wisdom and purpose. Rom. 8:28, 11:29.

It is also true that some of them resisted the call of God and tried to avoid it. Notable examples of this are Moses and Jonah. Ex. 4:1, 10-18, Jonah 1:1-3. Moses’ excuse was that he was a poor speaker and the people wouldn’t believe that the Lord had indeed appeared to him.

In view of Moses’ rearing as an Egyptian prince, mighty in word and deed, it seems from this that the forty years in the wilderness was necessary to strip him of his learning, his self confidence and self will. If it took forty years to unlearn Moses, how long do you think it would take for the average, modern preacher?

Jonah tried to flee from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and took a ship going to Tarshish. Jonah 1:3. He learned the hard way that there is no escape from the presence of the Lord. Psa. 139:7-12, Pro. 15:3, Heb. 4:13. No doubt many of the storms of life, like Jonah’s experience, are the result of man’s rebellion in trying to avoid God’s purpose for his life. Jonah 1:4-7.

Contrary to the attitude of Moses and Jonah, I find many aspiring prophets or preachers today eager and ready to move into their supposed ministry. Some, like Moses when he first went out to his brethren, are premature in their ambitious desire to do something for God. Moses wasn’t ready, Israel wasn’t ready, neither was Egypt ready for the exodus from Egypt. Acts 7:22-30.

I’m afraid most of today’s preachers are like the prophets that sat at Jezebel’s table who ate her bread and preached her word. They are simply part of a religious system and have no vision, no anointing and no desire for anything better. I Kings 18:19. Fact is most of them are intimidated and afraid of everything outside their own religious camp. Heb. 13:13.

In addition to simply speaking to the prophets God gave them dreams and visions in which he revealed his word to them. Gen. 28:12, I Kings 3:5, Gen. 15:1, Num. 12:6. He also sent angels to them with his word at times. Gen. 22:15, II Kings 1:3. God’s revelation to them many times was for their personal instruction and good. But always the Lord’s message to the people was to the prophet first and then to the people. Amos 3:7.

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