Dear Dr. Couch, does God speak to each individual Christian apart from what He has spoken in His written word?
ANSWER: This is a question that I have dealt with a great deal lately. It seems that our society has become so feelings-driven that we have to have something to stoke the flames of our emotions before we believe that we have "heard" from God. The question is what God's word says on the subject.
The first thing that we need to realize is that within the record of God's word very few people ever received direct messages from God, and none are seen as either seeking or expecting such contact with Jehovah God unless instructed to do so. Of those who did receive direct instruction from God, only a few of them had multiple such experiences, and those who did often did so with long periods of time between these experiences.
Secondly, and most importantly, this question goes to the heart of the sufficiency of Scripture. God's word without question presents itself as sufficient to guide the follower of Christ Jesus in every aspect of "life and godliness," (2 Peter 1:2-4). Space allows for only one such presentation. Second Timothy 3:16-17 speaks volumes. First, "all Scripture is 'God-breathed'." The words of Scripture are the very words of God. Therefore, "all Scripture is . . . profitable" (see also Psalm 19:10). Paul then presents a four-fold profitability. "For teaching" – Only Scripture is able to convey dogmatic truths that cannot be known otherwise through subjective experience. "For reproof" – Scripture convicts men of wrong beliefs, actions, thoughts, and words. "For correction" – Scripture doesn't stop at conviction. It also offers the proper steps for correcting those wrongs.
Finally, "for training in righteousness" – This is from the Greek word paideian and refers to the whole realm of training and educating children. Paul then concludes with the purpose of all of these truths; "so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." "Adequate" is from the Greek word that means qualified, or capable. In short, the word of God prepares the believer for all of life (remember 2 Peter 1:2-4; see also Heb. 4:12 and Psalm 19:7-11).
Allow me to leave you with a quote from Cornelius Van Til: "The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. And it speaks of everything. We do not mean that it speaks of football games, of atoms, etc., directly, but we do mean that it speaks of everything directly or indirectly" (The Defense of the Faith, 8, italics in original).
Thanks for asking.
Pastor Steve Spurlin
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