February 23, 2018

Faith opens our ears . . .

The television person who said that a prominent Christian is insane for claiming to hear the voice of God makes a point. How can anyone know that the ‘voices’ they hear are really God? Criminals and the mentally ill claim ‘god told me’ as the basis for their actions. If Christians say the same thing, does that put us in the same camp? The questions are many. Does God speak? If so, how can anyone hear Him or even know that it is God?

Tozer says, “Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven.” He is convinced that God speaks. So am I. Does that make us both mentally ill? Or do we actually hear God?

Jesus said we do, but was accused in the same manner. When He said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14), “There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. Many of them said, ‘He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?’” (John 10:19–20)

This idea of a two-way communication with God upset the people of His day also. However, Jesus persisted:

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:25–29)

Jesus says that God speaks and that His people hear and understand what He is saying. How can that be?

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9–11)

The answer is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead. He makes it possible for Christians to hear God. Tozer says, “If we do not see beyond the visible, if we cannot touch that which is intangible, if we cannot hear that which is inaudible, if we cannot know that which is beyond knowing, then I have serious doubts about the validity of our Christian experience.”

Even Christians are utterly amazed, even dumbfounded, that the Lord God, Creator of the universe, should converse with us. We know who we are, both sides of it. I am a sinner, but I am also a child of God, adopted by Him and saved from the penalty and power of sin by the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of God’s grace and through faith, He has made me His own and able to hear His Word.

Christians struggle with this because it is so extraordinary and because many of us are unsure of what we are hearing. The Bible is clear that He speaks, but so do evil spirits, and so does our inner selves. Who is who is a challenge of discernment. However, God provides. His written Word separates the voices, so if we immerse ourselves in it, studying the truth with diligence, then we know who is who and what is what.

We also know by the fruit. My ideas produce nothing eternal. The ideas of evil spirits produce deception and destruction. But the fruit of the Spirit is “. . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . (see Galatians 5:22–23)

Tozer is trying to describe “the sacred gift of seeing the ability to peer beyond the veil and gaze with astonished wonder upon the beauties and mysteries of things holy and eternal.” He adds that we need to “stop trying to make the Holy Spirit our servant and begin to live in Him as the fish lives in the sea, we would enter into the riches of glory about which we know nothing now.”

Jesus also said that those who live godly lives would suffer persecution. We are to respond to it like Jesus did — no retaliation. I read an article last night that posed the question: why don’t Christian fight back? We are singled out and attacked but do nothing. Why don’t we defend ourselves?

While appreciating that this reporter noticed the persecution, I realize that her question can only be answered by the people who know and communicate with God and His Son Jesus Christ through the amazing power and grace of the Holy Spirit. We don’t defend ourselves because we, like Jesus, trust our Father to go to bat for us.

For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:20–23)

Jesus, thank You for faith, for listening to my prayers, and for sending Your Spirit so Your people can hear You speak — giving us assurance, guidance and grace.

No comments: