The Voice Of God In The Soul
We are agreed that God has conversed with men in the past, but does He still continue to do so? Or, having revealed His will to holy men in the past, and that revelation being published in the Bible, does He leave us exclusively to its teachings?
Is it the plan and purpose of God that the Holy Scriptures are in an exclusive sense, to take His place in the world as the teacher of mankind? Is it true that He does not now communicate direct with the human soul?
Does a book, even though it is undoubtedly inspired, take the place of God? Does the living Father refuse to communicate any longer with His children, except through the medium of the Scriptures?
I was going to say, it were blasphemy so to teach, and it certainly is contrary to common sense, contrary to the Scriptures themselves, and contradicts the experience of the spiritual in all dispensations, including the present. It practically banishes God from the world, if the theory is carried to its logical conclusion, and God instead of governing in the affairs of men directly, and especially in matters of duty and salvation, has delegated His prerogative to a book.
Those who so teach are known as Bibliolaters and they are just one step removed from idolaters. That few, if any, of them realize the logic of their own teaching, I must believe, and they may not be aware of its disastrous consequences. There are, however, many tinged with this heresy, and my mission in the world is to point out the danger, and call men back to spirituality; to a living, seeing, hearing, speaking, personal, loving God and Savior; to the great Unseen One, who pervades all space, “In whom we live, and move, and have our being;” to emphasize Paul’s great reminder,” Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you?”
I have said, that the theory, that God does not converse with men direct, is un-scriptural and contrary to the experience of the spiritual in all the dispensations. Now, for a moment, let us look into this broad statement.
Go through the Bible, and see if there is a single dispensation without some record of God talking to somebody. I only need to mention the different dispensations, and your memories will supply the evidence. Think of the time covered by Adam, Noah, and Abraham; the dispensations covered by Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, and you will remember how God conversed with them. God’s voice was heard while the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, while in the wilderness, as well as in the Promised Land.
When they were governed by Judges, God spake; and when they demanded a King, His voice was heard. During the reign of the Kings in Judah and Israel, God spake personally to the monarchs themselves, that had ears to hear; and when they had not, He communicated through some spiritual man whose spiritual hearing was acute and whose faithfulness God could depend upon.
The same is true of the various captivities of the Jews; there is always a record of what God said. The expression, “Thus saith the Lord,” is a sentence repeated in the Old Testament Scriptures with great frequency. God also talked to men in the time of John the Baptist, also during the ministry of Jesus.
After His departure, history tells the same story, all through the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles, right on to the end of the Book of Revelation. God talked to men right along in the person of the Holy Spirit in the early part of this dispensation, as recorded in the New Testament; and why, I ask, if He does not now speak, did He suddenly stop doing so?
We are in the same dispensation and need the Father’s personal care and guidance, at least as much as they did in former times. Nor is there one word said in the New Testament, or elsewhere in the Scriptures, that God was going to stop His personal communication. In fact, the very contrary is taught by Jesus, as I will demonstrate further on.
If it is said that God ceased to communicate with individuals after the Apostolic age, as the canon of Scripture was then closed, and the people had the Bible to which they could refer to get the mind of God; —I will answer by calling attention to the fact that the masses did not have the Scriptures until after the discovery of printing in the fifteenth century, and even then, for many years, but few persons could possess themselves of a copy, on account of the great expense. Is it reasonable to think that God did not speak to his children through all these centuries?
Several generations lived and died after the age of the Apostles, before the Church had even decided which of the sacred writings were canonical, and which were apocryphal; for it was not until the Council of Laodicea in the fourth century, that the present books of the New Testament were collected together, in one volume, and even then the Apocalypse was rejected.
In the meantime, thousands of Christians lived and died and doubtless did the will of God. What, I ask, was their rule of faith and practice? How could they find out the mind of God as to their duty? What or who gave them, satisfactory assurance of their salvation? The sacred books were in the shape of parchments, held in the custody of the different churches, and necessarily there were but few copies in existence, so that the people could not find out the mind of God through them.
Men and women were converted through the oral testimony concerning Jesus and the resurrection, and when they believed, the Spirit of God witnessed, that is, told them they were forgiven, and that they were His children, and this was the vindication of their faith. They knew they were saved, not by anything written in a book, but by the testimony of God in their souls. They were made acquainted with the Holy Spirit and He became their guide and teacher, as Jesus said He would.
Just as in all time previous to the ascension of our Lord, there was a way to get the mind of God, or to learn from Him what was both duty and privilege; so Jesus taught, that after He went away, God would come nearer than ever to His people, and stay with them constantly, in a grander and more real manner than ever before in the history of the world.
The very heart of the mission of Jesus, was to procure the Holy Spirit for the people, to convince them of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment: that is, to show men that they are sinners, to witness or tell them when they are made righteous, and to give judgment or discernment of right from wrong, so that they may continue to be righteous.
Instead of God abdicating His direct authority and direct guidance of His people, or ceasing to talk with them, in favor either of the Church or the Bible, the contrary is the case. The prophet Joel, speaking of this dispensation says, “It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
The last discourses or conversations of Jesus with His disciples were to prepare them for His departure in the flesh, and to inform them that henceforth He as God, would dwell with them in the person of the Holy Spirit.
He told them, that the Holy Spirit would be with them as really as He, Jesus, has been; that the Holy Spirit would carry on their education, and be their teacher in all things, as He had been while in the flesh. They were not to be left without a Comforter and teacher; and more than that, His going away was to be an actual gain, as the Spirit’s presence and comforting words were to be of more advantage to them, and to develop them faster than Jesus could, while with them personally. He said, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”
The Master while in the body could only be in one place at the same time, and only those could be personally instructed by Him who were with Him, but in the Person of the Holy Spirit, He is omnipresent, and has His dwelling constantly in the body of each individual believer; hence the change was an immense advantage to His followers, as Jesus predicted.