By Elias Ayala
(M.A.T & MDiv)
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much more superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs” (Hebrews 1:1-4).
The majestic opening verses of the book of Hebrews presents to us a few things relevant to the question of “How God speaks to us today”? First, we learn that God has already spoken in many ways. God’s word is eternal, and his actions mighty in power and meaning. The many ways that God has spoken and revealed himself includes:
- The created order (Psalm 19:1-6)
- The inner Sense that all men have of God (Romans 1:21)
- The raising up of many prophets
- The written word of God (Bible)
- Finally, God has spoken and still speaks to us today through Jesus Christ Himself and the work of the Holy Spirit
In order to know God, it has always been necessary that God take the initiatory move to make himself known. He has done so both in his general revelation (God’s revelation of himself in the created order and within man), and his special revelation (God’s revelation of himself through the raising up of prophets and the recording of his Word). However, as Hebrews 1:2 indicates, the pinnacle of God’s revelation to us, is in the person and work of Jesus Christ Himself. If we take all of the Old Testament, along with all its stories and messages from God, along with the events and miracles and so forth, we learn that they all dramatically point in one direction, namely, the person and work of the Son of God.
Jesus makes this point known quite clearly in his interaction with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the doctors of the Law: “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). It is true that God has spoken and still does speak through the prophets of the Old Testament and through His Law and so forth, but the culmination of the message those things reflect come in the person and work of the ultimate revelation of the Father, namely, his eternal Son. All indicators point to this truth; for there have been many witnesses to Christ and his significance:
- John the Baptist bore witness of Christ (John 5:32-36)
- Jesus own miraculous signs and wonders bore witness to who he was and still is (John 5:36)
- God the Father bore witness (John 5:37-38)
- The Holy Spirit bore witness to Christ (John 14:26)
- The disciples who gave their lives for the truth of Christ bore witness to who he was
Thus the high point of God’s revelation to man is Jesus Christ, the risen Son of God. This beautiful truth however does not seek to undermine the other ways in which God speaks to us. Nor does this truth negate the fact that the other forms of God’s communication are inextricably related to the person and work of Jesus Christ and our knowledge about him. For in order to know about Christ, we must read of him in the written Word of God (God can reveal His truth to someone without using the written Word), however, God has chosen to give us His words written and couched human language.
The idea that God can speak to us in human language has many opponents. For example, many have thought that human language is too limited to tell us anything significant about an infinite divine being. Therefore, human language lacks the capacity to provide us with any meaningful information about the Creator God. Further still, the work of AJ Ayer (1910-1989) has had great influence on how people understand the rationality of the very concept of God and understanding anything about him via human language. For instance, Ayer postulated that talk of God is non-cognitive; that is to say that talk about God is meaningless. Along similar lines of thought prior to Ayer, Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) held that “God” is inexpressible. Even if God may be experienced in some fashion, such an experience could not be adequately expressed in any meaningful way.
Such ideas no doubt are in conflict with the Christian view that God has spoken and revealed himself and continues to do so in his Word. Christians do not hold that God is inexpressible; rather, Christians believe that God has not stuttered. He has spoken clearly and definitively both in his Word and in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The truth is that God can and has been expressed and revealed. To say that nothing meaningful can be said of God is to say something meaningful about God; namely, that if there is a God, He is the kind of being that cannot be linguistically expressed, or that truths about him cannot be linguistically expressed. Such an idea is self-stultifying and contradictory.
God has spoken many times in many ways and his divine will and purpose for us is recorded in his Holy Word which still speaks to us today. For it is in his word where we learn that:
- Christ was appointed heir of all things
- The Father created all things through him
- Christ is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of the Father’s nature
- Christ upholds all things by the word of his power
- Christ made purification for the sins of his people
- He sits at the right hand of God
- And is more superior than the angels
The great benefit of God’s written Word is multi-faceted:
- Written words provide for a more accurate preservation of God’s words to us as opposed to single isolated revelations to individuals
- Written words provide for more opportunity for repeated inspection. We can always return to God’s words to us to study it and get the most out of what God desires to communicate to us
- Written words are more accessible than personal individual or even corporate revelations. Anyone can look into the Word of God for guidance and wisdom in regards to the will of God for their lives
Thus, God has spoken and he is indeed speaking to us today. His Word is an eternal treasure that has been granted to his church and the world so that they may know what God is like, and what he requires from his creation. His Word provides for us a standard by which truth is measured and a corrective tool for discerning error. Lastly, God’s Word has pointed us to Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh (John 1:14) who reveals what God is like and how we should live in light of who he is and who we are in him. May we never fail to look to God’s Word and Jesus Christ himself.