JAY WAS DRIVING HOME from school with a very angered look covering his face. His radio was off. I was sitting in the back seat watching it all unfold before my eyes. So this will prove that I’m not a Christian? Yeah right. [That maniac] is such an idiot.
The deep, scratchy voice of [my enemy] totally surprised me. I turned to my right to see his hooded shape sitting in the backseat of the car with me. “Jay, this kid driving is you. As you may have realized by now, these are your memories. In fact, right now you are extremely angry at one of your teachers.” He paused. “And, you might want to keep all your negative comments and thoughts to yourself. I’m no idiot. I know much more than you. Much more.
“You see, you’ve been completely fed up since Mrs. Peterson started mandatory, Friday morning devotionals at school. You’ve grown to loathe anything Biblical. Her comments drive you crazy.” He started imitating a woman’s voice, “She repeatedly says, ‘I drive to work with my radio off so I can hear God speak to me.’ ‘Yesterday on the way to work I heard God speak to me.’ Or, ‘Have you ever had God speak to you?’
“That question did it for you. You ran out of that room so quickly, as soon as you were technically allowed to, because there’s no need to ruin your,” he held up air quotes, “good kid,” he put them down, “mantra.
“Jay Liyfer: a good kid? Yeah right. You’ve been bad your whole life.” [My enemy] cackled.
“You’ve heard your whole life that God is up in Heaven and that He loves you. You’ve heard at this point in your life that He speaks to people. Why would this God, who is up in Heaven and supposedly all powerful and all good, not hear you, let alone not heal you? A complete healing, at least according to the Bible, shouldn’t be hard at all. Just a snap of His fingers, if the Bible is even true.”
Jay—the one driving—spoke. “Is it true? I’ve always wanted to trust it, but the longer I’ve been alive the more I feel that there is no possible way it could be. If God is all-powerful, like the Bible claims, then why am I still dealing with stroke symptoms? And if He is all-good, as the Bible claims, why hasn’t God been good to me and healed me? It seems like everything I know is contradicting everything else that I know.”
To read more from the above excerpt, check out my novel Stranded, which can also be purchased here.
In the Gospel of Matthew, by the time we get to chapter 22, the opposition to Jesus is mounting. Several different groups of prominent people in Jewish culture are trying to trap Him in His words. One of these groups is the Sadducees. These were a Jewish group who did not believe in the resurrection. As such, they craft a parable–based heavily on Jewish law–and ask Jesus for an answer. A woman is married to a man who dies. They had no children, so his brother takes her to produce offspring for his brother. Eventually seven brothers died without children, and the woman dies too. The Sadducees ask, “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection?”
Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven. Now concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living'” (Matthew 22:29-32).
It is a phrase hidden in the midst of this passage that i’d like to focus our attention on today. Jesus asks, “Haven’t you read what was spoken to you by God?” and then He goes on and quotes the Jewish Scriptures from Exodus 3:6.
What we learn from this is that God does speak, but He does not speak in an audible voice. He speaks through His Scriptures. If you want to hear God’s voice, you have to be immersed in His Word.
And in addition, it is mandatory that i point out that Jesus is careful to explain that God’s voice, as heard in the Scripture, is a personal voice. Jesus says that Exodus 3:6 was spoken “to you.” I know that technically He was quoting the Jewish Scriptures to Jews, but their Scriptures were also the first Scriptures used by the Christian church (e.g. Acts 2, 7, 15).
What God speaks in His Word He speaks to you and me.
As such, when we ignore it, we are telling God that we don’t want to hear from Him. When we hear it, and we turn away from it or attempt to explain it away, we are telling God that we know better than Him. When we love it as an academic exercise, but we refuse to let it penetrate our hearts, we are telling God that we like Him as a concept but not as the God of the universe who owns not just our minds, but our hearts and our hands as well.
One place i regularly find Scripture (God speaking to me) outside of the physical pages of the Bible is on Facebook. Facebook has people posting Scripture verse pictures from Bible apps, or Scriptures by themselves, or Scriptures with mini expositions afterwards. I have been guilty myself of scrolling past them, but after recognizing that God speaks to me specifically through these words, i cannot just keep scrolling. And you should not either.
Several passages will help us to realize just how powerful the Word of God is.
- Isaiah 55:11 (HCSB)
So My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it ⌊to do⌋.
- Jeremiah 23:29 (HCSB)
“Is not My word like fire”—⌊this is⌋ the LORD’s declaration—“and like a hammer that pulverizes rock?
- Hebrews 4:12 (HCSB)
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.
- 1 Peter 1:22-25 (HCSB)
By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you.
It is the very next conversation in Matthew 22 where Jesus gives a breakdown of the whole Bible. He says that the whole thing is an exposition of loving God and loving others.
Peter, in the passage quoted above, says that the Word of God is the source of our ability to love others. If we ignore the Word, if we refuse to obey it when we hear it, or if we only treat it as a textbook and not as God’s personal, specific directions for us, then we will never be able to obey the truth as Peter says. And if we do not obey the truth, we will not be able to rightly love others (though much more importantly–God). And if we are living a lifestyle of breaking these commandments, how can we claim to know Christ?
Jesus died on the cross for our sins about 2,000 years ago this week. He died to make us right with God. If we are right with God, we should want to be close to God. If we don’t want to be close to God we should question whether or not we are right with God.
Are you right with God? What is your relationship with His Word? Do you let it speak, or do you keep it closed and scroll past it? When you hear it do you weasel your way out of obeying it, or do you seek to mold your life to it? I pray that you are in relationship with God; i pray that you seek Him in His Word daily; i pray that you welcome the Scripture and don’t try to silence it.
I love you.
If this is all new to you, and you have read this far, please know that God does speak, even if you’ve never vocally heard Him. He spoke most clearly through His Son–Jesus Christ–when He became incarnate in creation 2,000 years ago (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2). He lived a perfect life that we never could, and then He died on the cross–taking the punishment for our sin. If you say that you aren’t a sinner, if you have ever ignored God’s Word then you have committed sin. The author of Hebrews cautions, “Make sure that you do not reject the One who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected Him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven” (Hebrews 12:25).
Believe in Jesus. Immerse yourself in His Word. Seek out the voice of God in the Bible. And practice what He commands.
Soli Deo Gloria