In the gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 26 we read these words;
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (KJV)
We’ve all read these words and to a degree we believe what Jesus has said. I say “to a degree” because there is one thing that must be believed before there will open up to you and for you a world, a realm, a kingdom that is larger than any other you’ve ever known. The kingdom of heaven.
There are many men who will tell you that God no longer speaks to His people the way He has in the past. They’ll sometimes offer some “proof” for this doctrine by saying something along the lines of “now that we have the written word, God no longer ‘speaks’ to us as He once did with the men in the New Testament days, who had the Living Word among them.” I understand the logic, but be that as it may, they couldn’t be more wrong.
How can He not talk to men as He once did and then have the nerve to tell us that he will bring to our remembrance anything at all? Think about it. If He, that is, the Spirit, is to “bring to our remembrance” some particular message, how is He to do that if we can’t “hear” Him. Just because we can’t hear Him with our ears, does this mean He isn’t speaking, or as they allege, that He “no longer speaks?” What kind of a relationship is that?
I’ve talked with you before and although it bears repeating over and over, that is not the reason for this article. No, after much thought it occurred to me to share some of my experiences that may help you to “see” that we can still “hear.”
What will surprise you is that what I am about to tell you, you yourself have experienced; nothing I’m about to say is unique to any one man. In these few words I hope to answer some questions that most of us are afraid to ask when we’re around other believers and especially when that “other” is our pastor/teacher/elder.
What “aroused” my thinking about “hearing Him” came about like this;
There have been many times when the people in my life have come to talk something over with me. Some burden that is just too much has sent them in search of a listening ear and they hope they’ll hear words of hope, words of comfort, and words of life. They come as a friend in need and my heart “runs to meet” them in their need. You know exactly what I mean. Are you with me so far? Yeah, I know you are. Which of us hasn’t been there?
As they tearfully share their aching soul with me, I am not only listening, but as they are talking, I am searching through the filing cabinet of my mind for some verse, some portion of scripture as my response to their dilemma. Been there too, haven’t you? I thought so.
Typically, in times like this, those hurting people will say that they’ve also talked to some brother or another sister and that “Brother So-n-so” said they should “do this” or “pray that.” But finding no relief from their burden they left their company to find some other way to lighten their load. Although, there are those times they’ll leave because they didn’t hear what they wanted, but that’s another topic for another time.
What intrigued me about situations like this is when I learned that “Brother So-n-so” shared some portion of scripture. He opened his bible and read what are meant to be “words of life”, while what I had to say was altogether different from what he said. Both of us had taken the written Word, those words that are meant for life, but rather than minister life, those words only added to the seekers confusion.
How is it that one person can go to two others seeking relief, guidance, comfort or something else and these two men/women with all the best intentions can offer to the seeker verses from the same book, but their counsel contradicts what the other has said?
The answer to my question came about in a curious way.
We’ve all had days similar to this, so I know you’ll identify with what I am about to tell you. You know those times while reading your bible and one verse (or more) just grabs your attention? We, for some strange reason, refer to that experience as “the words just ‘stood up’ off the page.”
Well, that experience came for me one day while I was reading Ezekiel. I have always loved words and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, the Lord gave me that love for words long before I knew Him or even cared to know Him.
While reading these words “…and the word of the Lord came unto me, saying…” I was intrigued, no, not even that, I was captured. I couldn’t help but notice what was said when I contrasted it with what wasn’t said.
The author of that book did not say; “…and the word of the Lord came unto me, reading…” neither was it stated “…and the writings of the Lord came unto me, saying…”
Along with this thought it occurred to me that we refer to “books” as talking. But, in reality, only people talk. So, I could only begin to conclude that someone was talking to Ezekiel. But who? I know it says that it was “the Lord” but how did he know for a fact that it was? How am I to know?
I would wrestle with this question for years to come and I don’t mean that I would only wrestle on an intellectual level either. The “how am I to know?” question remained on the stage of my mind, while doubt and fear took center stage of my heart and they too wouldn’t leave until this one question received a reply. I’d been taught that fear and doubt were two things that should never be characteristics of those who were really born again, if they have been born again at all. (How my heart aches when I hear this lie today)
No one knows, until now, that I’ve lived in doubt so terrible that there were times I actually thought of separating my self from this Christian life. It was anything but life. No one knows that I’ve lived with a fear so ferocious that it ripped my heart apart. It’s not safe to talk about where you truly are when in the company of people who believe you can’t be saved if you feel this way. Most of us choose silence. I understand.
These thoughts had to be simplified. All the thoughts I’d had, had to be brought down to some place in my mind so I could “see” it. The question of “how can I know?” was just too much for me, but it persisted in its demand that I answer it and I had to answer it alone. I had to answer it for myself.
So many people are saying so many different things, how are we to know who to listen to? I know for a fact that I am not alone in this. That’s why you are still reading.
I’ve learned from all of this that sometimes the best answer to a question is another question. Jesus demonstrated this for us in Mark 11: 28 & 29 and for good reason. Asking a question for an answer to a question will allow the person to “hear themselves” asking a question that shouldn’t have to be asked at all.
Within my own soul there came a series of questions that led me up to the answer to the “How can I know?” dilemma. Each one was so simple, but the answer to the one would lead me to the next and then the next and the skein of yarn of confusion began to be knit into a garment of praise.
“Is He God?” Yes, He is.
“Is God able to do anything?” Yes, He is.
“As God, is He able to cause the rocks to cry out?” Yes, I’ve read that, so, yes, He is.
“If He can cause rocks to hear, can He also cause men to hear?” Yes, that makes sense.
“If He, being God, can do anything and He spoke to a man through a donkey, can’t He speak to men?” Yes, He can, He can do anything.
“But they say He doesn’t speak to us that way any more.” Stood like a rebel on the debate platform and challenged my thoughts.
“Who will you believe? Man or God?” Was the next question and I had a choice to make. No matter how I answered, that choice would literally change everything about, not just my life, but about me. A wrong answer changes a person and their life just as much as a right one.
“But, Lord, I now believe that You can and still do talk to men ‘face to face’, but if I tell any one I believe this they’ll think I’m crazy or possessed.” I thought I was only reasoning this out in my own mind. That these words were a prayer said to the God outside of me.
As I thought these things, there came to my mind those written words that tell us that “they” thought and said the same thing about Jesus.
In John 10:20 the people said that Jesus “had a devil.”
In Mark 3:21 the people said “he is beside himself”, which was their way of saying “He’s crazy.”
Then, it struck me that these verses were brought to my attention because I’d read them before and it was then I realized the beauty, power, mystery and the glory of the words I began this article with;
“…he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
“He” shall teach and “He” shall bring all things to your remembrance. My memory, that place where I remember is my mind and my mind is, of course, inside of me. Those were His words. The Spirit of God, as promised, was reminding me of Jesus and showing me the similarities in experiences.
We use the phrase “…and then I realized that…” and go on to share what it is we’ve just seen. But, this is not the way of the Lord with His people. A “realization” may bring some insights, but it won’t necessarily bring comfort. A “revelation” will bring insight, but with the new sight there comes comfort. He is, after all, the Comforter.
What I assumed were my thoughts reminding me of verses I’d memorized was His voice. I’d lived for years believing it was just me “living inside of me” and my thoughts were just that, my thoughts. Many times my thoughts aren’t my thoughts at all, but Him speaking to me.
When I realized that it was Him, the Spirit, comforting me, then the words of Jesus telling that He would send the Comforter were sweeter than honey. But, how can some one offer comfort if they cannot, do not or will not talk to you? That’s like a mother who doesn’t speak to her child who’s just fallen off his bicycle. It’s a Hallmark card sent in the mail instead of actually driving to the hospital.
Yes, it’s true that there are times when the counsel of one will contradict the counsel that you give. There are those times, in a crisis of faith that we just don’t know what to do. We long to hear His voice and our difficulty is magnified if and when we believe that He no longer speaks to men the way He spoke to the disciples. If there is a crime against the Body of Christ, this is it.
If He no longer speaks then we have no choice but to trust men. If He no longer speaks then we are left at the mercy of men. A risky proposition, to say the least.
How are we to know ____________? (fill in the blank)
Have you ever thought to ask the question: “What if they’re wrong?”
When you’d heard the teaching, saying “we have the bible, God no longer communicates to men in any other way” did you dare to challenge this idea? Well, today might be a good time to consider it.
What is required of you for this “hearing Him” to take place in your life?
Jesus said, and still says; “Only believe.”
The world says; “I won’t believe it until I see it.” Thomas said the same thing, so don’t be too quick to judge them. We’ve all said it. Some of us are still saying it and we’re saying it from our respective pulpits.
But, what does Jesus say about hearing Him speak and the dilemma of “How can I know?” As with all His answers, they are so simple that most of us miss them. Why we complicate matters such as this is the subject of another article.
"Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" Then they took away the stone…” Notice the order of “believe” and then “see.”
Jesus says the opposite of what the world says and also what some of us are saying. Simply put, Jesus says “Believe it, and then you’ll see it.” Or to add a glorious dimension to it, let’s say this more perfectly; “Believe ME, then you’ll see.”
Until you believe, you will not see and as long as the stony heart of unbelief remains, then you, Lazarus, will remain as you are. Dead. But, being dead isn’t a bad thing when Jesus is nearby. It’s the unwillingness to believe that postpones life.
Our hearing His voice is His delight and we learn that the thoughts we have may be the voice of the Spirit reminding us that He still speaks to men. We can know that it’s Him because the thoughts we have will direct us toward Jesus Himself.
But, for you to believe even the words of this article, you need to see Him and hear him. As much as I’d like to spare you of the birth pains I’ve known over the past two decades, which would do nothing for your relationship with Him.
You need to hear it from Him.
Do you believe this?
The answer to this question will inevitably lead to the asking of another and then another and they are all designed by the Father to bring you, like a bread crumb trail, to His Son.
So, the next time you remember...
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"My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me" - Yes, He does still speak to His children. I heard His voice and felt the Holy presence of His Comfort while reading this....May He continue to pour out His truth through your pen.