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Does God communicate to us outside the Bible?

Short answer: of course he does! The long answer, however, nuances this a bit more. I don't believe that God's normal M.O. is to give verbal direction to our individual lives. That is not to say that he doesn't guide us with impulses, with pricks of the conscience, with moving circumstances, with bringing things to our memory, etc. But it is to say that he doesn't, as a normal activity, communicate to believers verbally apart from scripture.

To me, this duck doesn't quack the same as the charismatic duck. As far as abuses are concerned when it comes to discerning God's will, as you no doubt know there are legions of heart-breaking stories about people who thought they heard the voice of God tell them to do something. Even some of the better-known Vineyard leaders have had false communications, and have, because of them, (nearly) ruined churches. On the one hand, this posture could well be a moral problem. It's called laziness. I don't think that God expects us to check out our brains when it comes to making decisions.

But I also don't think that God expects us to be omniscient. His normal M.O. seems to be that if we can learn about something through normal means he will not resort to his non-discursive communication with us. Frankly, I got a bit nervous when I read that you "need" to have revelations. That posture can truly hurt you and your flock down the line. When non-charismatics truly depend on the Lord for guidance, they work hard and study hard and pray hard. And they seek the Lord's guidance in all of this. This is Christ-honoring. We should never substitute discursive revelations for the hard work of prayer and research. I, too, agree that some decisions are so monumental that we need to get something from God. But what that something is distinguishes cessationists from charismatics. Charismatics need overt assurances that they are doing the right thing. In some respects, this might not only be a symptom of laziness; it might also be a lack of faith. To insist that God gives me revelations when he wants me to trust him--often over the uncertainties of life--is indeed a lack of faith.

Cessationists, on the other hand, often reduce decision making to simply a listing of the pros and cons about a matter. In this approach, God doesn't even need to get involved! I do believe that the peace of God is something that we can have and should seek. And especially when it comes to major decisions, we should never go into the matter cavalierly. This goes for both sides of the debate.

I hope you get the book, "Who's Afraid of the Holy Spirit?" and I hope that you read J. I. Packer's essay on discerning God's will for our lives. He has some significant comments to make about the wrong ways to go about discerning the will of God.

Related Topics: Inspiration

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