If God spoke would I recognize His voice?

Adam and Eve had no trouble distinguishing God’s voice. Not once is it recorded they asked, “Who’s there?” when He came around. They welcomed His presence. But after they’d pulled their defiant, game-changing stunt with the apple things changed drastically. God’s kind demeanor turned indignant and judgmental and from then on His communication with mankind went to a “need to know” basis that extended to all our human senses. 2 Corinthians 4:4 states, “…the God of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe…” Isaiah 59:10 reads, “We grope along the wall like the blind, we grope like those who cannot see; we stumble at noontime as if it were evening.” Ever since that dreadful day in Eden we’ve all been cursed with spiritual blindness. We can’t see squat. I thought I knew what dense fog was until I lived in Manhattan Beach during the late 70s. One night I was being driven home from a recording session by a friend and the fog was so incredibly thick we couldn’t see the traffic lights until we got under them in the middle of the intersection! That kind of total blackout is unnerving. In the spiritual realm it’s worse.

We’ve been rendered spiritually deaf, as well. It’s said that people have “…ears to hear but, do not hear…” (Ezekiel 12:2). Jesus pointed out our stubbornness, too, “… they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead(Luke 16:31). In essence, many of the world’s population are beyond being spiritually deaf and blind; they are, for all intents and purposes, dead as a doornail. When Paul addressed the congregation in Ephesus he told them before becoming Christ-followers they were technically “…dead in their transgressions and sins…” (Ephesians 2:1). A person who’s spiritually deceased can’t communicate with God and, therefore, they live lives filled with pessimism, darkness, discord and turmoil. Happiness is as elusive as the beam from a toy laser pen is to a kitten trying to catch it. In my previous essay I listed many of the things folks ignorantly promote to god status so I won’t be redundant here. But the shame is that when God doesn’t magically appear or answer their call audibly they give up trying to find Him. Yet just because God doesn’t talk to us in a James Earl Jones voice doesn’t mean He doesn’t speak. Billy Graham wrote, “God does communicate with those who are willing to obey Him. He penetrates the dark silence with free, life-giving discoveries in nature, the human conscience, Scripture, and the Person of Jesus Christ.” God “speaks” to us through a variety of mediums.

The most obvious way He reveals Himself to everyone is through nature. Nobody can say they haven’t seen, felt or heard evidence of God. A glorious sunrise, the softness of lamb’s wool and the song of a mockingbird all attest to His majesty. Through nature God speaks to us in the language of order, beauty and perfection. One can detect Him in the intricate design of a daisy’s bloom or the mysterious, instinctive migrations of birds. No human who’s peered into a star-filled night sky can say they were never exposed to His magnificence. The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky displays his handiwork. Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness(Psalm 19:1-2). If we look outward from earth we’re confronted with the fact that there are over 100 billion galaxies containing 100 billion stars in each of them. If we explore the other way we’ll discover there are so many molecules in a drop of water that, if they were grains of sand, there’d be enough to pave a highway from Boston to Malibu. It’s hard to miss the overwhelming evidences of God. Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.” Still, as David wrote, Fools say to themselves, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). So, yes, God reveals Himself in nature but some people choose to think that all that incredibleness just “happened.”

God speaks to us via our conscience, too. You know, the “little voice” inside us that sounds an alarm when we’re about to do something stupid, unethical or malicious. Yet we dare not rely on our conscience too much. The Holy Spirit is our only true guide. Our conscience is merely one tool God uses to nudge believers in the right direction but it can also be manipulated by the devil to torment us over sins we’ve committed in the past that Christ paid the price to erase. It’s also a sort of “moral regulator” for non-Christians. Thomas Jefferson opined that “the moral sense, or conscience, is as much a part of man as his leg or arm. It’s given to all human beings in a stronger or weaker degree, as force of members is given them in a greater or less degree.” Paul broached the subject in Romans 2:14; “For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them…” Proverbs 20:27 states it more succinctly: A man’s conscience is the Lord’s searchlight, exposing his hidden motives.” Therefore it behooves us all to pay attention to what that “little voice” tells us because it just may be God speaking. To ignore it is to risk committing a sin, especially if you’re a born-again Christian. Steve Gallagher wrote, “If a person remains in sin long enough, he can reach a point where he’s no longer influenced by the Holy Spirit. He’s become so hardened that he will not listen – does not want to hear. I believe this phenomenon is that which the Bible terms apostasy.” Look it up. It’s bad.

God speaks clearly in the Scriptures. After reading the Bible cover to cover repeatedly I can aver without reservation it’s the only book in existence that “reveals the Creator to the creature.” It’s unique in its claims, its teachings and its survival. It has withstood centuries of vicious attacks on its authenticity, historical accuracy and archaeological verification but still sits atop the all-time best-seller list because it contains unwavering truth that can’t be denied or suppressed. That’s due to God speaking directly to those who wrote the books it contains. Those authors said as much 3,000 times in the Old Testament alone! It stretches credulity that an array of men from different locales, eras and circumstances would tell that many lies about the same made-up deity without contradiction. Furthermore, the vast majority of the prophecies they pronounced would’ve proven to be no more than wild guesses but the fact is they all turned out to be true! Christ accepted the Scriptures’ veracity without question. That’s why He quoted from them so often. In John 10:35 He plainly said, “…the scripture cannot be broken.” Paul stated, Every scripture is inspired by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16) and Peter wrote, “…no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:21). It bugs me no end to hear someone who rarely opens their Bible start an accusing sentence with “Well, the Scriptures say…” because usually what they spout is pure fiction gleaned from hearsay. The Bible is not just “some book.” It is holy. It has the ability to speak directly to the person reading it. I know because it speaks directly to my heart and mind all the time.

And, as far as the New Testament goes, just by using common sense anybody could tell no one trying to start a new religious order would write down the kind of improbable stuff those guys did. Timothy Keller said, “Why would the leaders of the early Christian movement have made up a story of the crucifixion if it didn’t happen? Any listener of the gospel in either Greek or Jewish culture would’ve automatically suspected that anyone who’d been crucified was a criminal, whatever the speaker said to the contrary. Why would any Christian make up an account of Jesus asking God in the garden of Gethsemane if he could get out of his mission? Or why make up the part on the cross when Jesus cries out that God had abandoned Him? These things would’ve only offended or deeply confused first-century prospective converts. They would’ve concluded that Jesus was weak and failing His God. Why invent women as the first witnesses of the resurrection in a society where women were assigned such low status their testimony wasn’t admissible evidence in court? It would’ve made far more sense (if you were inventing the tale) to have male pillars of the community present as witnesses when Jesus came out of the tomb. The only plausible reason all of these incidents would be included in these accounts is that they actually happened.” I’m convinced the Bible is the real deal! Read it. Study it. Memorize verses from it. It’ll change your life in ways you can’t imagine because it’s a “living” document whereby God communicates without interference to your heart, mind and soul.

There’s no dark corner of this world God can’t penetrate to get His message of hope to someone. There are thousands of stories of how God’s voice overcame impossible barriers and was heard. Ravi Zacharias, one of my favorite Christian writers, related one: “During my ministry in Vietnam in 1971 my interpreter was Hien Pham, a devoted Christian. We traveled the length of the country and became close friends before I returned home. We were both very young and neither of us knew if our paths would cross again. Vietnam eventually fell and Hien’s fate was unknown. In 1988 I received a telephone call that began, ‘Brother Ravi?’ It was Hien! I asked how he’d survived the communist takeover. He said shortly after Vietnam fell to the North he was arrested. Accused of aiding the Americans, he was in and out of prison for several years. During one long jail term, his jailers attempted to “reeducate” him against the West – especially against the Christian faith. He was forbidden to read anything in English, only Vietnamese propaganda. It took a toll. ‘Maybe,’ he thought, ‘I’ve been lied to. Maybe God doesn’t exist and I’ve been deceived.’ Finally, he made up his mind. When he awakened the next day, he’d abandon his Christian faith.”

“The next morning, he was assigned to clean the prison latrines. It was the worst chore imaginable but he was forced to do it. As he cleaned out a can filled with filthy, used toilet paper, his eye caught what he thought was English printed on a page. He washed it off and slipped it into his pocket so he could read it later. Not having seen anything in English for such a long time, he anxiously waited for a free moment. Under the mosquito net that night he pulled out a small flashlight and, shining it on the damp piece of paper, he read at the top corner, ‘Romans, Chapter 8.’ Trembling, he began to read: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord…” Hien wept. He knew the Bible, and he hadn’t seen one in a long time. Not only that, he knew there wasn’t a more relevant passage of conviction and strength for one on the verge of giving up his faith. The next day, He asked the camp commander if he could clean the latrine again. He continued with this task on a regular basis. He’d discovered an officer was using a Bible as toilet paper. Each day Hien picked up a page of Scripture and cleaned it off, adding it to his nightly devotional reading. In this way he retrieved a significant portion of the Bible. He eventually escaped to Thailand and years later immigrated to America where he ministers today.” That true story amazes me. God finds a way.

God speaks to us most lucidly through His Son, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:1-2 states, “After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, in these last days he has spoken to us in a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things…” There’s no getting around Jesus although many try. Recent polls show that Christianity is on the decline in America and I think it’s because of what my rebellious “baby boomer” generation initiated. We questioned the Christianity of our parents due to the hypocrisy we saw in our churches but we went way too far and threw the baby out with the bathwater. We didn’t disown Jesus; we just turned Him into a motivational speaker. We started telling each other that God was “all of us put together” and that no religion had a corner on the truth. This “open theology” was nothing new. The ancient Roman philosopher Seneca said, “Call it nature, fate, fortune; all are but names of the one and same God.” But you can’t straddle the fence with Christ. He’s either the world’s greatest scam artist or He’s exactly who He said He was – the Son of God. So branding Him as a “good guy” won’t cut it. Liars aren’t good guys.

No other religion can claim that every specific prophecy concerning their promised deliverer was fulfilled. For example, the prophet Micah wrote hundreds of years in advance, “As for you, Bethlehem… seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah – from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past(Micah 5:2). Two millenniums ago Christ was born in that exact one-horse town and “…in Him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form(Colossians 2:9). Simply put, Jesus is the most complete revelation God ever gave the world. Do you want to know what God’s like? Look at His Son. Those who worship the perfection, beauty, order, power and majesty they witness in nature will find the same in Jesus. In addition, they’ll find the justice, mercy, grace and love in Him that nature can’t display. In John 14:1 Christ said, You believe in God; believe also in me.” In reference to that verse Dr. Graham wrote, “This sequence of faith is inevitable. If we believe in what God made and what God said, we must believe in the One whom God sent.”

Some might say, “I don’t know how to believe” as if there’s some rigid, strenuous mindset to adopt. There’s only one way to salvation and that’s through simple faith. God has never insisted we understand everything about His business. He only insists we believe in Him, His Son who died for our sins and the Holy Spirit sent to live within every Christian heart. God has spoken loud and clear in Scripture. John 20:31 says, “…these are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” Muhammad can’t save you. Buddha can’t wash your sins away. There’s only one savior. His name is Jesus. When we come to Him the unknown becomes known and we experience God Himself. When my daughter was very young a storm blew up one night and knocked the power out in our area. I heard her whimpering so I felt my way to her bedroom door. I told her everything was alright but she was scared to move because she didn’t know how to find me. I calmly told her, “Don’t be frightened. I’m here. Just follow my voice.” In the same way God has revealed his whereabouts to us through nature, our conscience, the Bible – and fully in the person of Jesus Christ. He’s here. Just follow His voice.

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