”God speaks to the One who cares”

A bundle of notes on the vexed matter of listening to the Voice of God in our day and age.

Speak Lord for your servant hears.” 1 Sam 3:10

Setting out on a quest for what it may mean to ’hear the voice of God” brings to light several seemingly independant issues. Until you begin to see how they must needs converge into the one major statement made by the very Word of God. Hebrews 1:1-3

 ”God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, ..”

Several hot points to be noticed:

1 The certainty that God wants to communicate with those who want to know God.
2 The assurance that it will be done in many ways and in various portions.
3 The core reality of this communication being related to the Son and through the Son.
4 The assurance that this communication is not merely local nor limited in time.
5 The ability to hear God is related to a moral purification in the listener.

The ”Sh’muel” of 1 Sam 3 is the illustration of the basic requirements for any man to hear the voice of God. The name itself means ”God has heard my prayer concerning him”. And thus the very existence of the boy is a testimony to God speaking. And the answer to Hannah’s prayer is an ”incarnation”. In turn forshadowing the Word of God which in the beginning was with God and was God. In the Acts of the Apostles we see that principle repeated. ”You shall be my witnesses” Acts 1:8. The power of the christian message is that it is neither information nor knowledge alone, but knowledge and communication turned into living beings. ”The word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”John 1:14 And again as the Spirit gave utterance to the same thought through the apostle. ”See 2 Cor 5:17-21 The ambassadors for Christ have become new creatures in Christ before they can say anything about Christ.

It is written

All we know of Samuel, Jesus, Paul and the life of the people eager to hear the voice of God is written down for us. But unless all this had left the bondage of the print we would not know it on any meaningful level. Until the story leaves the page and is transported into us, it is of no real importance. Mere text on the paper has no saving power. Merely learning the text and being able to recite it in our sleep is of no other avail than accolades for having a good memory.

That raises the very infected question about our view of the Bible. Where we position ourselves along a line between two extremities will determine how we think about God’s voice to us today.

The one end of the scale is this: The Bible is the Word of God and is to be literally obeyed in everything it says. In other words: the very words of it are always the voice of God. In this very ultra fundamentalist view the written text equals the revealed will of God so all we need to do is know and obey that which is written.

And the corollary to that is often that God will not say anything more because the Bible is seen as comprehensive and self explanatory. On this end of the spectrum it is really a matter of ’bibliolatry’, i e: the worship of the Bible as such (and for sure it is mostly the 1611 KJV version of it).

The other end of that scale is utterly different. ”We may hear the voice of God in parts of the bible, but not exclusively so.” What I ’receive’ privately from the Word is God speaking. If the first and ”bibliolatrist” extreme makes the written word the sole arbiter of truth then this other existentialist extreme makes the listener the sole arbiter of what God can say. God is reduced to saying only what man says. An unwavering faith in one’s own ability to determine what is divine is paramount. Truth is what you perceive as truth. There is no universal truth, no binding understanding of anything just because it was written. Truth is only found in small flecks, each seeker finds his or her own, and the bible is just one of many rocks that bear the flecks of gold.

Between these two ulterior extremes, indeed between an impregnable Rock and a quicksand like Swamp, all other positions will be found.

What is the testimony of the Scriptures themselves?

There is an abundance of evidence that ”the word of the Lord came unto..” various people at different times. And that they came both inwardly in dreams and visions of the night and in response to them having observed a natural event in creation and then been given a spiritual interpretation of the seen object. Every prophet is like a moth brought to the flame by the light and must speak what he or she has heard God say in one way or other. And dare not say anything else, even at the cost of his or her life. Their convictions are so strong that to dismiss them is to run a very dangerous race. ”These things were written as a warning to us who have the end times upon us, so that we should not do what they did and so provoke the Lord to anger.” 1 Cor 10 in summary.

Suffice to say: that which is written down came nearly always first as a God to man communication. It was first told before it was written. How was that communication done? But it seems an inescapable conclusion that those who later read the written were impressed by the same urgency as that which caused the writing in the first place. See how often the written document of the words of God were rediscovred by later generations and brought the readers to heel and repentance. Daniel being a case in point as he discovers what God had told Jeremiah. Or Esra as he discovered the content of the law and strictly adhered to it at great cost and lament from the people.

Every spiritual reformation in the world has begun by taking the written word at it’s full value. But the unseen corollary to that is the work of the Holy Spirit in interpretation and application of that which is written. The printed page of the Bible accomplishes nothing as such. It may give various forms of information, add to basic knowledge but it does not produce what it promises unless the second dimension is effectuated by God himself.

The power of John 5:38-39 is inescapable: ”You read in the scriptures words that are pointing at the life eternal. But it is not the written word that gives that life on its own, not even the knowing of it and ability to recite it from memory.” ”But you will not come to me to get that life!” This is the true meaning of ”The letter kills but the spirit gives life.” 2 Cor 3:5-7  ”Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. ”

Even the words of God as given in writing are powerless to do anything but inform the mind, quite irrelevant wether that mind knows God or not. But if the word is not to return void to God it must be received by faith in them that hear it. That is the punchline of Hebrews 4:2. ”

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. ” Connect that to a later statement in Hebrews 11:6 ”Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

”God tells the man who cares.” That is a phrase which is born out right through the Bible. ”Shall I do something and not tell my servants”? Or as Amos succinctly phrases this insight: ”Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret counsel
to His servants the prophets.A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” Amos 3:6-8

There can be no doubt that God has spoken. All agree on that. The question that concerns us however is another: ”Does God still speak to those who care today?” And if so then how?

The major outstanding statement about the words of God is made by the Word of God, that is Jesus the Christ himself. ”What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.” John 6:62-64

Against unwillingness to believe even the Holy Spirit is powerless. The work of the Spirit with the word is not a matter of intellectual assent but of spiritual faith. My words, says the Word of God, are spirit and life and cannot bring life unless recieved as such. Unbelief in Him closes the book. (Unbelief was the root cause of Christ himself becoming limited in his own work. Matt 13:57-58.)

This means that an understanding of the written words follows on from a relationship to the living Word by faith. Christ is not only the key to an understanding of the word of God (Bible) He himself is also the guarded entry, the gate to the Word of Life. If man will not come by Him then angels with flaming swords protect the garden from the re-entry of the fallen nature.

Right through both covenants we are faced with ”God speaking”. And men and women hearing and choosing to obey God on the basis of what they understood from those meetings with God. (Hardly ever based on the approval of their surrounding environment, nor ever based on a majority vote.) The rather significant arrival of the new birth changes the means of communication in a dramatic fashion. Whereas the OT shows God speaking instructively and mostly externally the new birth brings about a new mode of interaction. Intuitive and internal presence of Christ in the believer takes precedence for those ”in Christ”.

How did the Holy Spirit tell Peter that Ananias and Sapphira were lying?
How did Paul perceive the Holy Spirit forbidding his entrance to this or that country?
How did the Spirit warn and signify to Paul his imminent imprisonment in Jerusalem?
How did the Holy Spirit speak to the Church in Antioch about their next mission enterprise?
How did the Holy Spirit allow Paul to be present at church meetings hundreds of miles from where Paul was holed out in prison cells?

I venture to claim that none of those instructions came out of a study of the OT (the only bible they as yet had) but of revealed knowledge to either the individual or to the collected body of Christ.
Significant revelations are given to Peter when he understood who Jesus was, and Jesus revealed himself to Paul and gave the same instructions that the other apostles had received at the ’Last supper’ privately later on. It was on account of a direct revelation that Paul went up to Jerusalem to square his teaching with that of the other apostles. The church is divided on the issue of wether such revelations occur today.

God speaking and man hearing are not the same thing. A not uncommon phrase in the scriptures deals with the possibility of hearing but not hearing at the same time. ”With hearing ears they hear not”. God Himself struggles with man’s selective deafness, and even when He speaks His voice ay be mistaken for some earthly phenomenon which is then brushed aside. John 12:28-29 ” Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.”Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.” It is apparent that even when God speaks directly in the language of the people, some hear some don’t. What their disposition is of the heart determines the result of the communication. The manner in which God speaks appears to be very different with different individuals. It cannot be assumed that all shall hear the same way.

So how should we approach the issue of hearing God speak?

We have by biblical definition become partakers of the mind of Christ. 1 Cor 2:16. Coupling that with obedience to the word of the apostles saying: ”let the words of Christ dwell in your richly”, Col 3:16 we may well be aware that given those two vast resources recognizing ”what the good and perfect will of God is” Rom 12:2, cannot be limited to a select class of people among the born again, but pertains to all. But the proviso is the new birth and the deliberate appropriation of the written words of God. And it is furthermore not up to the individual understanding of one member of the body, but to the body collective.

The uniqe properties of the body of Christ allow the full impact of selfless individuality alongside the utter dependance on and recognition of our own limited understanding, and following on from that comes the insight of our need of the rest of the body. To this collective body we bring ourselves minus our sinful quest for independance. A comittment to Christ is also a comittment to the body of Christ. ”In many matters we all stumble”James 3:2 , ”We all see in part” 1 Cor 13:12. The body will only be built up by the individual contributions made by all the various members.

Carefully read: Rom 12:5, 1 Cor 10:16, 12:12, Eph 3:6, 4:12 Col 3:15

The Father- Son relationship is the crucial nerve of the christian life. The Father sends the Son and the they send the Spirit and through the Spirit the Son takes upon Himself a new humanity called the ’church’ or ’called out ones’ or ’body of Christ’. What do the children inherit? The characteristics of their Father? Does not the will of the father become known to the children as they communicate with the father by the Spirit? Jesus answered and said to them, This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” ” I do nothing by myself but only what I see the Father doing, the words are speak are not mine but His who sent me.”

What was the reason for the mission of the Holy Spirit? ”“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you. ” The matter in plain view is that God does not stop speaking at the bookend of the Bible. The Spirit will go on declaring the meaning of the words of Christ to each successive generation of the born again, age after age. “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. ” John 17:20-21

At the Crossroads

This is where there is a definite watershed in the body of Christ universal. Various and very divergent positions are take up by different traditions and theologies.

The Rocky road
Some who trust this view would claim that the Bible is a closed book and that nothing can be claimed to be the word of God outside what is in plain writing. The assumption is made that every issue that we face is adequately answered by that which is written. We only need to know the exact and well researched words and by proper handling of the teaching we shall know the perfect will of God. God is now silent, for God has spoken his final word in the Bible. ”Don’t expect to hear God unless it is written.” And as a corollary: if God appears to be silent it is because you do not know the Bible.

It is easy to see how defendants of that position will have no truck with anything to do with God speaking to us by dreams, visions, revelations or whatever means. The word of God bears real bonds in that field of Christianity. The written word is in bondage to any number of theological schools, scholars, reformers past or present. One thing is always certain: it never stands alone with nothing but the Living Spirit as it’s interpreter. And it is highly dependant on human authorities who validify the Word. (If in doubt, consult John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Matthew Henry or C H Spurgeon, ad inf.) It often follows from this view of the issue that the spiritual gifts given by the Spirit and the Lord to the church have all ceased at the time of the apostles.

The slippery road
A seemingly absolute opposite is found in the ”charismatic end” of the spectrum. The claim is that the written words of God are subservient to the spoken words apart from the Bible. The written letters kill, but the spoken words to us now are the truth. It is claimed that we must distinguish between the ”logos” words and the ”rhema” words. The latter are God’s individually spoken words given to us apart from what is written. In those circles you will frequently hear things like:’The Lord spoke to me and said’. (Less kindly expressed: If you do not do what I say I will prophesy. And to go against me is going against God Himself!)
Revelation is not finished, the bible is still being written and we will be right in setting the original Bible aside because what it said then is of little use to us now. We must have new revelations for the new age. Sentences like: ”The Bible says..” will frequently be met by: ”Yes I know the Bible says so, but God has not given that word to me yet.”

In contrast to the previous position there are no discernible limits to what can be claimed to be ’God speaking’, but neither is there any means to distinguish between what men want, think and say and why they say it, and what God actually said, nor can we ascertain what may be irrevocable truth. Truth is no longer our common understanding, but ultimately rests only on who has the loudest voice and the heftiest clout. Might becomes right once again. A brief study of the use of ”Rhema” and ”Logos” does simply not bear out the distinction made by this ideology. It cannot be called theology at all, because it makes the ’logos’ of God a matter for individual interpretation, not by ’theos’ wiz God himself, but by man. It is merely godless anthropology when drawn to it’s logical conclusion. So it is but a man centered variant of the above view.

And sure enough: this end of the Church majors on signs, miracles and all the overtly spectacular gifts of the Spirit. That is what is most eagerly pursued in these circles. Whereas the explicit promise to the church was ”greater things than these you will do in my name” this move has gone the whole gamut to the end and claims miracles as a matter of course.

A middle road

There is always a middle road between extremes. But we know from human experience that the pendulum must swing and seems to have great difficulty in resting still between the outer reaches of the pendulum. There is an obvious hatred for the middle mean in theological circles. The reason becomes clear when you look at the issue from this angle: What God has left for us in every age and in every place in the world are two things. He has created the written word which is the sum of truth and needs no future embellishments, addenda or modifications. And the very means by which it was created, i e The third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, is given to be the sole arbiter and interpreter of the word in every age at all times. The word must become flesh in each generation. Each generation faces a different world. The word, the hardware as it were, remains the same, but the software, the mode of application of the word is not the same in every place in every time. What God used to create in the great reformers then is exactly what God can use in us today.
But God does no ask us to resuscitate them.

Every spiritual awakening has begun with a return to the Word and to submission to the Spirit of God. Every revival has produced theology, in vast voluminous quantity, but it was not the theology that begat the revival. It was a hunger for God that created the life of prayer and obedience out of which the awakening came. And it was hardly a hunger that awoke in the most erudite or scholarly, but rather often in weak vessels with limited schooling.

Untrammeled by the bondage to the past the Spirit broke through into the now. Every revival has also seen extraordinary events and supernatural happenings beyond the expectations of common man. In deed ’enthusiasm’ is one acccusation made against every revival movement. None have happened without a resurgence of those things that also happened in the First church. ”Enthusiasm” is another word for when the events are no longer controllable by the ecclesiastical authorities. Revival breaks out from the predictable and conformed. Mission history tells another story also: every time the Gospel breaks into a new people, nation, tribe or tongue, similar outbreaks of charismatic fervor accompany the breach from darkness to light.

No generation has ever managed to repeat the pre-revival conditions and neither has any generation repeated a revival. They were all heavily limited by a ’best before buy date’. Leave yesterday’s manna alone, it only breeds worms.

How then do we listen to God?

Many years ago I wrote a book in Swedish called ’I believe therefore I speak’. In it I listed the above mentioned outer extremes in bible interpretation and gave a third, middle of the road, alternative. I called it Pneumatic orthodoxy in contrast to the ”traditional orthodoxy” and the ”emotional non-orthodoxy”. Orthodoxy is a catch word meaning ’straight teaching’ or ’sound doctrine’ depending on how reformed your views are. The discovery in the very words of Jesus that many will call him Lord Lord, based on their view of orthodoxy, but will not meet with his approval, jolted my life into a realization that if we do not do what we teach then our theology, our orthodoxy, is of less value than the drop of oil absorbed by the desert sand. ”I knew you not”.

A truer concept of the theology of the New Testament than ”Orthodoxy” is ”Orthopraxy”. James 3:22-25”But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” And in the words of Christ himself: Matt 12:49-50 ”And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Where there is no orthopraxy, there is neither any orthodoxy. Matthew 24:31-46 is a loud and warning bell.

Pneumatic orthodoxy

The Lutheran reformation of the Church went along the lines of the ’sola scriptura’, so did the Calvinian, the Zwinglian and many other less known. Because it was always a return to the whole Word of God that was the driving power behind the reformative work. The word made available to all believers was the gigantic task of Luther in Germany and the Tyndale in England. And once the cat was out of the bag authoritarian Churches shivered. Empowering the people is dangerous only for those who rule without the consent of the people. Still today the blissful ignorance of the people is what allows abyssmal abuse of the Church by false leaders.

But what few ever write about is the absolute necessary work of the Spirit through the word. ”We do not separate the Holy Ghost from faith; neither do we teach that he is against faith; for he is the certainty itself in the world, that makes us sure and certain of the Word; so that without all wavering or doubting, we certainly believe that it is even so and no otherwise than as God’s word says and is delivered to us. But the Holy Ghost is given to none without the Word.” Martin Luther. Table Talks.

Scripture needs careful handling. It demands careful interpretation. But neither can be done except by the operation of the Spirit. In other words: listening to the voice of God is listening to both the written word and the Living Spirit. Because the living Spirit will always and only present Christ and work for the glory of Christ and never allows the church to take it’s eyes of the cross of Christ. Every interpretation of the scriptures claiming to be in the Spirit must absolutely bring glory to Him alone. Not ever to the Holy Ghost himself.

But here is the knot. When the voice of the Spirit speaking today is made subservient to what the Spirit spoke in the past, rather than on what the Word speaks of irrespective of time, then the Spirit is quenched and fettered by tradition. If it is an interpretation that in no way agrees with what Christ is and was and did and does then it is neither the Truth nor the Spirit. That is why the image of the plumb line which Amos saw is so relevant for today. ” Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The Lord said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold I am about to put a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer.” Amos 7:7-8 The ultimate arbiter is the Word of God, the written as declared and expressed by the Spirit through the living body of the church in unity. Whoever attempts to set the speaking of the Spirit in the Church of today in opposition to the Word, which we are assured was in every word ’theopneustos’ i e God breathed, has left the field of truth. The Sprit that gave the written word will not contradict Himself by giving revelation that nullifies the written word. There is one major obstacle to unity in the church. The rampant disobedience against what is written exists in all camps. We stand guilty all of us.

No private interpretation
2 Pet 1:19-21”So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Interpreting the voice of God is a collective business. It is not the solo-voiced prophet who has the truth. Speaking forth the word of God into the present time is never seen as a megaphone of one man or woman in the Scripture. Paul expresses his desire that all should be able to admonish the rest, because Paul knows of them that they are filled with goodness and knowledge. Rom 15:14 He instructs that prophecy should be enjoined and that if possible all in the church should do that, for the edification of all needs the input from all. But even then everything that is spoken is to be tested by the written words. If the church after decades of being in existence still has very little either goodness or knowledge then something is very very wrong, and if people are not empowered to partake in the ministry of all the saints then the leadership fails to be up to the Apostolic standard in Eph 4:10-15.

Many situations around which the church may have to come to consideration and conclusion have no actual precedent in the scriptures and must then be determined on the consensus of the church as it ’walks and talks’ in the Spirit. The evidence for being in the Spirit is unity in faith, hope and purpose. Therefore the church, even when it has no direct word in scripture to fall back on may be safe in being guided in it’s decisions by the Spirit, and therefore being guided by the Word itself. So the church at Antioch was serving the Lord and the Spirit spoke explicitly: ”Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas to do the work to which I have called them.”Acts 13:2

I notice an assembly gathered together for an explicit purpose. ”To minister to God.”
I notice their preparation for this ministry. ”In prayer and fasting.”
I notice the obvious awareness of the clear communication of the Spirit to the church. ”Separate unto me.”
I notice the unambiguity of the identity of the speaker. ”I, says he, am the Spirit.”

The church did not vote. It agreed unanimously to the distinct communication of God by the Spirit.

On yet another occasion the express statement goes even further in showing the faith of the church in it’s ability to listen to the voice of God. Again a most certain collective expression was put on parchment for all the other churches to receive and hear and affirm. The matter was absolutly a core issue for the church. Paul and Barnabas had been minstering for years starting Church after Church but felt constrained to find out if they were on the right track. So they journey to Jerusalem. They step into the venerated circle of the remaining original apostles and first believers from the day of Pentecost and present their case to the ”mother Church” as it were.

Acts 15:6 ”And the apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.”

Acts 15:7 ”And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up…”

Free discussion, open debate in front of the whole multitude of the church. Acts 15:12
But then time to make a decision. Again, no recourse to any OT precepts or instructions but a consensus in the Spirit. James speaks up after Peter, Paul and Barnabas: ” Therefore it is my judgment that…” Acts 15:19 and in summary Acts 15:22 ”And it seemed good to the apostles and the elders with the whole Church…” They wrote a letter to be brought by hand of four men to the Churches in Asia Minor and they dared be so positive about how the entire collective process of hearing the voice of God had happened, even without OT precendent, that they could declare: ”It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no further burden on you..”Acts 15:28 It seemed good because it did not conflict with what is written nor was outside the scope of ”Christ and him crucified.” If held up to the plumb line it proved to be straight.

Unity in entirety
Unity in the decision was not there before their deliberation was done. They started with lack of initial unity and only became united when as many as would and could speak had had their say. But no decision was made before the Unity of the body was established. It is the unanimous voice of the body that echoes the One head where Father, Son and Holy Ghost speak to the church that cares to listen. The democratic 51-49 vote is a spiritual monstrosity. Nothing shows how far the church is from the unity in one faith than the way it acts in these matters.

”I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me”
”I will guide you with mine eye.”

For such is God,our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.”

God is not far off unless we have moved out of His grace by deafening our ears through sin.
God has not stopped speaking, we have become hard of hearing. If we deny that God speaks through us then Yahweh has been muted. Not by himself but by our traditions and our limitations put on Him and His Spirit. We extinguish the Spirit, we quench the Spirit when we proscribe to God how He may speak. As if the eternal God only wrote a book and then laid his hand on his mouth and said, I will speak no more.

The balance
When we strike the balance between what is eternally true and firmly written, and the hearing of the voice of the Spirit today, then the active voice of God in and through the church is again heard in it’s fullness. His gifts to the church are gifts of passing on what is heard by individuals in the church, for the express purpose of the building up of the church. But in the normal Christian church the one is never heard without the other. Public reading of the scriptures is enjoined, spending time in it at all times is commanded. Using all of it for teaching and instruction and warning and correction is not done much.

But if we are neither walking in the fullness of the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly, nor trusting ourselves to be guided by Him as we listen to him speaking to all of the church on every matter of importance, we are therefore empoverished and meagerly fed. And spiritual growth is directly proportionate to ’hearing as a disciple does’.

Listening to God is not either ’the Bible’ or ’The Spirit’. But eternally both, because the written cannot be understood without the Spirit. ”Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17 ”Many other signs therefore Jesus performed in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are have been written that you may believe

that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31

The proof of the pudding has always been found in the eating of it. When the word of God does not produce the life of God as seen in the scriptures, then it is neither the word of God nor life. The things God has put together no man should put asunder. This is primarily aimed at the male-female union in marriage. But it is no less vital in the matter of the Written and the Applied word where that which is written is only half the truth, becoming the full truth only when ’eaten’ and producing the life of which it speaks. It is not the hearers of the word but the doers that are counted as righteous.

”The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.”
”When you come together, each one of you has something to bring.”

That is ’body talk’ in a living church where each member is holding fast to the head individually and communally there for the other members. That is what the Spirit speaks to the church. Hear hear…

Teddy Donobauer February 2020

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