Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hearing God-The Still Small Voice

I have been a part of a Pentecostal tradition all my life, and am happy to still be a part of that same tradition.  One of the issues that arise among Pentecostals concerns the spectacular: revelations from God to certain individuals through dreams, visions, etc.  In fact, there are waves in the Pentecostal tradition that put an abundance of weight on those forms of communication from God to the point of almost ignoring what we might call the “still small voice” of God.

I have a theory, and I have expressed it a handful of times to friends and others who are burdened with the fact that Christ has not shown up in their bedroom to tell them what to do.  In short, because we have such abundant access to Scripture and the wisdom of the saints, we are responsible for hearing God through His Word and through a personal relationship with Christ.  The spectacular events tend to come to those who are relatively immature in the faith.

I was reading Dallas Willard’s book Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God this morning and fell upon the same idea.  In his words:

It would not be too much to say, however, that where these phenomena were the main, as opposed to occasional means of interaction, it indicates a less developed spiritual life both in the individual and in the church group.  I am not trying to be judgmental here; I am merely trying to be helpful in pointing out the kind of life with God into which we should expect to grow-a life in which one hears from God amid and within frequent times of conversational prayer. (pg. 111)

He quotes E. Stanley Jones as saying:

He [Jesus] got his guidance through prayer as you and I do.  That is, He got His guidance when in control of His faculties, and not when out of control as in dreams. (pg. 111)

Willard’s biblical occasion for these comments is fascinating.  In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron are complaining that Moses has taken an Ethiopian for a wife, and their grievance amounts to, “but God speaks to us in spectacular ways-how can Moses be so wrong!”  God’s reply:

And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD.

All this to say that God wants us to live in an active and breathing relationship with Him so we are able to discern the voice of God even when it is still and small-and that represents a deepened and developed relationship representative of Christ’s relationship with the Father.

2 comments:

Rusty said...

Phil,

A very important topic (and I think we share a bit of tradition). There are, admittedly, many reasons why Christians tend to want to get their direction straight from God. Our preoccupation with the experiential aspect of our faith, vs. the rational aspect, seems to rank high on the list. It's also just so much easier to listen for God speaking to us than to sit down and study the Bible. In waiting to hear a word from God we end up ignoring the Word of God.

Some other resources to check out are:
CD/Tape series "Decision Making and the Will of God" and "From Truth to Experience" at Stand to Reason
"How to Read the Bible for all it's worth" - Fee & Stuart
"Playing with Fire" - Walt Russell

Paul said...

Phil,

Do you differ from Greg Koukl on this issue? If so, I am unclear on what form this "voice" is to take and how one should discriminate between his own mental output and the input of God.