Does God still speak today? If so, what does it mean to say God still speaks today, and how does God speak to us? I believe God still speaks to us today, and does so in a lot of different ways.
Not Everyone Agrees That God Still Speaks Today
Not everyone in Christianity holds this perspective. For example, pastor John MacArthur recently got a lot of attention on Twitter for saying: “If it’s not in the 66 books of the Bible, God didn’t say it.”
I’m not so sure entirely why this quote is getting a lot of traction on Twitter. John MacArthur is very well known for his dogmatic “cessationist” perspective. To him this perspective is as true as waking up and declaring the sky to be blue.
And in some ways, I believe John MacArthur is correct.
Like him, I believe that the Scriptures to be “God-breathed,” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and that they are the inspired, infalliable, authoritative word of God, that they are sufficient for the training of a man in righteousness, and for the equipping of the saints.
Like John MacArthur, I believe the “canon of Scripture” to be closed, and that nothing else can be added to it. Scripture contains the faith once and for all handed down to the saints (Jude 1;3), for all generations, from now and forever. And the Scriptures are the measuring rod by which we judge all things as Christians.
But that doesn’t mean, as many would like John MacArthur would imply, that God lost the ability to speak just because the canon of Scripture is closed, or that His speaking is limited to the printed words we read in the Bible.
Indeed, I believe God still speaks today, and does so through numerous ways. In today’s podcast, I’d like to look at the primary ways that God still speaks today. Be sure to listen to the episode at the top of this page to hear my full thoughts on the matter.
God Speaks Through His Son
Hebrews 1:1-2 says that in the past God has spoken in many different ways through the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son.
It’s important that we get this verse right. For failure to do so will cause us to misunderstand everything else on this subject.
Some use this verse as a means of saying God is done speaking through prophetic figures, and that Jesus Christ was the final person for God to speak through in that manner. But such an interpretation ignores the fact that the entirety of the New Testament was written after Jesus and His earthly ministry, and that the New Testament itself recognizes much prophetic activity occuring after Him, including the writing of the book of Hebrews. That’s why I believe a cessationist interpretation of Hebrews 1:1-2 is hard to swallow.
Rather, a better interpretation would lead us to see that Jesus Christ, who is the divine “Word of God” made flesh, is the full expression of everything God says. Whatever God says today to this world, He says it through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the means by which God says everything. Jesus is God’s definitive statement and last word on anything and everything, and nothing in this world is said except through Him.
God Speaks Through Scripture
The Scriptures are the divine record of God’s redemptive story and His ultimately dealings with mankind. Through a variety of human authors, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God moved men to tell that story, and their writings have been passed down through the centuries in a collection to us known today as the Bible.
By carefully studying the Scriptures, we can better understand what God has to say to this world, and to speak to our unique human experiences. As we look into what God has said in the past, we can better understand what God is saying to us today. As such, though the Bible was written a long time ago, it is still “living and active,” and sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). That’s why as you read and study the Bible, it’s words still seem to just leap off its pages.
God Speaks Through The Holy Spirit
In the Bible we read about how Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into the heart of all believers so that He could further guide the faithful.
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be sent to us to “speak” the truth for us to “hear” what Jesus is saying (John 16:13). The Spirit ultimately helps us understand what Jesus has said, to “illuminate” the Scriptures, and how to put the gospel into practice in our daily lives.
But as we shall see, the Holy Spirit also empowers us to share the gospel (Acts 1:8), and to help build up and edify the the church.
God Speaks Through The Church
And through the aid of the Holy Spirit, God still speaks through others in the church as they make use of the spiritual gifts that God has given them in order to help all of mankind better understand the gospel and its implications for their lives. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He poured out the Holy Spirit ino the life of the church, and gave special spiritual gifts to all who believe.
This is laid out in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and Ephesians 4:1-16. We all have unique giftings that God has given us as members of the church and body of Christ, and we all contribute in some way to strengthening one another and helping one another grow in our faith and knowledge and understanding of the Lord.
Some of these gifts are vocal gifts that include some form of divine utterance by which God still speaks to others through us. That includes gifts of teaching, evangelism, exhortation, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, prophecy, tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
I believe these gifts to still exist and to be in full operation, because the purpose for which they were given are still needed, and nothing that has happened in the past 2,000 years changes that fact. So long as Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father in heaven, we will continue to need these gifts. And they won’t cease until Jesus Christ returns.
About Those Controversial Gifts Of the Spirit (Tongues and Prophecy)
This could be an entire podcast in itself, but I will briefly dip my proverbial toe in the water on this “hot topic.” Maybe I’ll venture back into it another day should people demand it. But it’s often said that the gifts of the Holy Spirit, such as speaking in tongues and prophecy, were special “sign gifts” that ceased with the death of the apostles and the completion of Scripture.
It is true that these gifts had a “sign” like function to them, and Scripture talks about such things. But to limit their purpose to merely a “signs and wonders” category is a complete misreprentation of their broader purpose in the church and how these gifts functioned in the first century (and beyond).
These weren’t just “sign gifts”, these were gifts for the purpose of building up, edifying, equipping, and strengthening the church. And to relegate their purpose to the first century of the life of the church will only result in a handicapping of the church and her broader mission.
The gifts of the Spirit didn’t just exist for the sole purpose of authenticating the gospel message itself. But they exist to aid believers in their maturity, and conforming them to the image of Christ.
We Still Need To Hear From God Today
In conclusion, I believe God is still speaking today, and I believe this world is in desperate need to hear from Him.
And best of all, I believe God is still speaking to this world, and He’s doing so through His Son. Jesus Christ is the definitive word of God for today. The question to me isn’t so much “Does God still speak?” Rather, the question is, do we have the ears to hear what God is saying?