Tuning Into God 201 (Bible & Prayer)
Part 8 of Experiencing God Series
February 25, 2007
Nicholas Wolterstorff, who some consider one of the greatest philosophers alive today, has just written a book published by Cambridge University Press in which he offers some "philosophical reflections on the claim that God speaks." Called Divine Discourse, it costs $59.95 in hardcover. Wolterstorff's book is based on the Wilde Lectures he gave at Oxford University a few years ago.
What does it mean that God speaks? After 326 dense pages, the biggest point he makes in the book is this: The Bible is the source of divine speech.
Although the book is a valuable resource, we don't need to get mired down in the philosophical arguments as did Wolterstorff. With even a little faith, we can know that God has spoken and speaks to us still through his Word.
§ Questions to consider:
s How does God speak to me?
s How can I know when God is speaking?
s How can God be more real to me?
How God Speaks
§ As we seek God in prayer and the Word He blesses us with the Holy Spirit to reveal His purposes to us!
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)
Someone once said, "The Bible is the only book where the author is always present."
§ Listen to God through His Word by:
1. Reading the Word of God.
2. The Spirit of Truth takes the Word and reveals truth.
3. You adjust your life to the truth of God.
4. You obey Him.
5. God works in and through you to accomplish His purposes.
§ When God is ready to do something in your life, the Spirit uses the Word to make it known to you.
21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
§ When we pray about a particular matter, the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and applies it to our heart and mind to reveal His truth.
25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
Knowing When God Speaks
§ As you read the Bible God reveals to you new understandings from even familiar passages. That is an encounter with God!
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
§ One major step in discerning God's voice is denying self.
The Bible was written in tears, and to tears it yields its best treasures.
-- Theologian A. W. Tozer
1. What is God saying to me in His Word?
2. What is He saying to me in prayer?
3. Is He confirming it through circumstances?
4. Is He confirming it through the counsel of believers?
Karl Barth once compared the creeds and confessions of the church to the guardrails that border the narrow roads of the Swiss Alps. Only a fool with suicidal tendencies would want to drive across the Alps without the guardrails. But it would be equally foolish to mistake the guardrails for the road; when we start driving on the rails, disaster is imminent. To push the analogy further, Jesus Christ is the Road, and the Bible, as interpreted by a covenanted congregation of baptized believers in continuity with the apostolic witness, is the light by which we are able to see clearly both the road on which we travel and the guardrails that protect us from dangerous deviations.
-Timothy George, in First Things,
October 1999, 6.
Making God more "real" in my life
§ To experience the reality of God in my life I must adjust my life to the truth He reveals and then I must obey it!
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says…25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:22 & 25
§ Prayer is a relationship, not just a religious activity.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—
§ In prayer, decide that you want only God's will in your life.
13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
§ After you pray, turn on your "spiritual concentration!"
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.