Monday, August 08, 2016

If You Don't Have God Talking to You, What Then?

Part One     Part Two.

For some, the idea of God not directly talking to them means that God doesn't speak to them at all, so they won't get the guidance in their Christian lives necessary for knowing the individual will of God. Since it seems like an attack on their Christian lives, they become defensive.  They aren't happy with someone saying that God isn't still talking to them.  In this case, that might be me.  They reject the thought of God not talking to them in this direct manner and then relegate those who disagree to people who will cause them failure in their Christian lives.

I want to take one very normal situation from start to finish where people will say God talked to them to explain the wrong thing being said and then what people should really expect according to scripture.  The situation I will explore on this subject is someone who says God told him to go to France as a missionary.  Perhaps the terminology he uses is "God called me to France."  He knows he is supposed to go to France as a missionary because "God called him to go there."  Since the words "go to France" aren't in the Bible, the thought here is that God communicated that to him directly.  In many, if not most, instances today, the thought of God speaking like that isn't questioned.

Related to the topic of where one goes as a missionary, I have seen this call to the field for church leaders to be the most important aspect for a missionary. I hear people say that this call is what will keep a person on the field and translate to successful missionary service on that particular mission field.  On the other hand, if he doesn't have the call, he might fail, and if he does, it will be because he wasn't called.  This is another example within the category of God speaking directly to someone.  A person says that God told him where to go.

Very often people don't want their experienced questioned.  They don't want someone rejecting their claim that God talked to them.  It's very personal to them.  They might be upset or angry, so others will not question it.  The only proof that God spoke to them, however, is that they say that God spoke to them.  No one else heard it or saw it.  They expect you just to believe what they say that they experienced in their head.

In my hypothetical, I am saying that someone says that God told him to go to France.  That's how he knows he is supposed to go there.  If that isn't true for someone, how should it occur that someone would know he should go to France, if he's supposed to go there as a missionary?

It isn't wrong for someone to go to France as an evangelist or the more modern term, missionary.  If someone wants to go there, that isn't wrong.  Should he go just because he wants?  Why is it that he wants to go evangelize France?

Here are biblical reasons why he could go.  Every Word of God and All the Words of God are inspired.  They are sufficient.  France hasn't had the gospel preached to everyone.  Not everyone is going to hear the gospel in France because there are not enough believers in France preaching the gospel to the French people. An evangelist can go to France.  It's open to go there.  He has learned French or he has learned enough French fast enough to show his commitment to learning it.  He can preach the gospel to people in the French language.  He doesn't have to explain why he wants to go there.  He wants to go.

Does the desire to go to France proceed from the Holy Spirit talking to him?  That shouldn't be the explanation.  It's good enough that he wants to go.  Someone should tell him all the negatives one has heard about France, and find out if he still wants to go.  It's fine that he just wants to.  Some people will apply a term to this.  He is burdened to go to France.  That's fine.  He wants to see the French people saved.  He wants to go to France to evangelize them.  It bothers him there is so little evangelism there.

Consider 1 Corinthians 7:39 with me:  "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord."  The verse doesn't say she marries someone who God tells her.  She is "to be married to whom she will" -- "whom she will."  She can marry whoever she wants, "only in the Lord."  As this applies to the man who wants to go France, he can go to France if he wants to go to France with certain biblical parameters.

1 Corinthians 6-10 is a section in 1 Corinthians on Christian liberty.  The woman has liberty to marry whom she will in the Lord.  She is not regulated by any scripture from doing what she wants as long as it doesn't violate scripture.  God gives us liberty.  That is a blessing from God.  Someone has the liberty to go to France if he wants, again, with some scriptural parameters.

Is the the Holy Spirit related to his wanting to go to France?  It can be the Holy Spirit.  The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Eph 6:17).  The Holy Spirit speaks through the Word of God.  The following are the Holy Spirit speaking.  The Holy Spirit said to preach the gospel to everyone.  The Holy Spirit said to enter doors of evangelism that are open.  The Holy Spirit says to go to other nations. The Holy Spirit wants everyone to be saved, including French people.

If someone is to go to France as an evangelist, a church should send him.  "How shall they preach unless they be sent?"  If we are regulated by scriptural example, we see that men did not operate as free agents.  They were sent by churches.  A church should determine if he is qualified, lay hands on him, and send him.  He knows he's supposed to go because a church sends him.  How does the church know he should go?  Many biblical factors come into the decision.  The agreement of a church is an important facet of the "unity of the Spirit" (Eph 4:3).  The church is the temple of God where the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Cor 3:16).  The Holy Spirit leads through the authority of a church.

First, he should show biblical evidence that he is himself saved.  The people of a church should witness his biblical lifestyle, which evinces true conversion.  This would include being baptized into the membership of his church.

Second, he should show himself to be faithful in his church.  He should be substantial and solid in biblical doctrine, knowing the teachings of scripture.  He should manifest eagerness to serve the Lord in a number of different ways, including regular evangelism, following up with discipleship.  If he can't or won't do it here, then he won't do it there.  This would include fulfilling all scriptural qualifications.  He should prove himself at this for a period of time.

Third, he has to be able to pay for it in some manner.  Lots of references from the New Testament indicate some plan for living.  If he has a family, that would include obeying all the passages on taking care of a family.  If churches of like faith and practice want to take him on for support, that might be a way.  If he has the capacity to "tent make," that's another way.  Today we mainly see the former, but in the Bible, we mainly see the latter.

Once a man gets to France within all the scriptural parameters, as long as the biblical teachings and principles are followed, he should stay there until he has finished the work there.  He has a biblical goal.  He can express that goal.  He should go about practicing it.  He should continue with accountability to the church like we see evinced by the New Testament.  He should come home only if his church wants him to come home.  We have a basis in the Bible for not giving up once he has started there.  However, that does not mean he will never leave France.  Jesus went to certain Samaritan towns, which totally rejected His free offer of the gospel.  He dusted His feet of them. Someone who goes to France might find himself doing the same.  The Holy Spirit won't say that to him directly.  He will be obeying the example of Jesus.

Much more could be written about this subject, but this is enough for now to bring biblical comprehension to the subject of God talking to someone as it pertains to this one situation.  All like situations would be very, very similar to this one.  God is not talking directly to someone.  God speaks through scripture.


Anonymous said...

Bro. Brandenburg,

I liked this article a lot. I think you have summarized things well and your hypothetical scenario is true-to-life. Thank you.

E. T Chapman

Jonathan Speer said...

Bro. Brandenburg,

I think the reason so many want to say the Holy Spirit moved, called, or burdened them to do a particular thing is because of the rampant nature of the mindset foisted upon the church by the reformers that still plagues most Baptist churches: we are absolutely depraved and can have no good desire even after salvation. In my experience, no one would ever be given the blessing of any church, much less their own, to go to evangelize unless they had first had a particular "call" to preach and then a particular "call" to the particular place they want to go. In other words, folks have the idea that serving God is to be by compulsion or else it is probably just a contrivance of someone doing what he wants to do because of "the flesh."

Ironically, men using the cover language of "God told me to" have fed their own flesh and led their own families and churches into serious error and spiritual destruction.

This is good stuff you're writing and I hope you continue. I think the bottom line in all of these recent topics is the necessity of a true appreciation for what constitutes the scriptures and for the sufficiency of those scriptures.


Farmer Brown said...

Just a note, do not use Proverbs 28:26 when discussing this. That will end friendships.

For example, a pastor friend is going to Africa. God called him there, and it is God's will for him to go. I ask how he knows.

This is really the most important question, "How do you know it is God's will?" It always has to come back to one way, they know it in their heart. God is leading their heart. That is when you will end the friendship if you cite Proverbs 28:26.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for the comments. Farmer Brown, yours was funny too. I'm away from home helping a guy evangelize his area all week, so I'm not commenting much.

Joe A. said...

Without the Holy Spirit, why would a person choose France instead of Spain? Do you say the work of the Holy Spirit with the Apostles in Acts 11:12;13:2;16:6-7;20:23 is only for the Apostles?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Joe,

The Holy Spirit, Who wrote scripture, all 66 Books of the Bible, gave liberty to someone to choose France or Spain, according to biblical principles.

God spoke directly to the Apostles. There were 12, and they all died in the first century. They received God's direct speaking because scripture was not complete.



Anonymous said...

I have to say I am a little shocked by some of your comments. Back to the Peter Master's article, your response to Joe was exactly what Master's was writing against. Your response to Joe shows that you believe Christians can make decisions on their own based on The Bible. That's what Master's calls the "modern view." The main point to me is not how you line up with Masters but I do feel that you minimize some important truths for several reasons. Before I delineate I will say a brief preface. I agree with you that Scripture is the guide and any decision that violates the Scripture is wrong and not of God. I also agree that people can misuse the idea of being lead of the Lord to accomplish their own desires. However where I find the difference is when it comes to the more specific individual will of God.

I believe based on Romans 12:1-2 that God has a specific will for my life. From what I understand, when you use the term the "individual" will of God you define it as all the things that are mentioned in the Bible, like winning souls, being a member of a church etc. To that I say "yes", but it also means that God has one person for me to marry. It means he cares about whether I go to France or Spain, whether I go as a missionary or stay home and what message I preach on Sunday. Correct me if I am wrong but you would say it doesn't matter as long as no Biblical principles are broken? So if there are ten Godly girls that meet all the Biblical and even personal requirements for your son, then it doesn't matter which one of the ten your son marries? I assume you would say Yes because you told Joe it doesn't matter if you go to France or Spain. I am uncomfortable with your approach because I believe it minimises the specific will of God. I think that teaching will ultimately cause less and less young people to sense the call of God to go into the ministry. If someone is called by God then they should feel a greater responsibility to fulfill the call. But if young people are taught that they can give the gospel right in their town or they could go to France and it doesn't matter it's up to you, what young person do you think would really be willing to leave everything and go to a country and pick a life that is going to be much more difficult over just staying and working a good job and witnessing on the side? "Pray Ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth labourers...!

Part 2 to follow

Anonymous said...

Part 2
Another truth I believe you minimize is faith. In your view a person can make decisions based on logic and without faith. Now it does take faith to follow and obey Biblical principles, but it takes human logic to choose which of the ten girls a young man is going to marry. Or in your view it is just a human decision whether to go to France or Spain. Faith seeks the Lord of the harvest to direct his steps. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." "Lead me in a plain path..." When God called Abraham to leave his home and immediately Abraham left not knowing where he went. That was faith. It couldn't be explained logically. God works the same today. If Faith isn't emphasised we will only do what makes sense to our minds and will miss God's perfect will and consequently will not please God. Kent, I am not elequent to express more precisely and clearly the significance of this, but I believe you do a great injustice when you minimize the absolute necessity of faith. No one will find in the Bible God telling them which country to go to or who to marry or what sermon to preach, but if someone is walking in the light and walking with God and his ear is in tune with God, he will be lead of God. "My sheep hear my voice..." When the shepherd leads his sheep follow. That to me is pretty clear indication that God leads and directs and orderes his people. Making decisions based on Biblical principles is absolutely necessary but is not the only part of the equation.

Perhaps the biggest truth I believe you minimize is the personal nature and relationship of God. God is not a God that is far off. He cares about the details of our life's. If he cares about the hairs on our head then he certainly cares about who we marry and where we live etc. I believe Scripture teaches that God is very personal and can be communicated with. I believe II Corithians 13:14 teaches that there is a special kind of relationship with God. If you look at the other instances of that same Greek word for "communion," you find The word "fellowship" repeatedly. That means being able to eat together or walking on the same ground. I have never heard of communion that is one way. It is always two directions. I talk to God the Holy Spirit and he talks to me. I don't think Paul was saying the communion was just with the Bible. The Holy Spirit and the Bible are different although they never contradict. I think this verse shows the personalness of God which I think you minimize. God has set up our relationship with him so that we have to constantly come to him for counsel and wisdom because we don't know it all. Also another Scripture that supports my claim is "when He the Spirit of truth is come he will guide you into all truth." I believe there is a special work the Spirit does where he personally convinces and illuminates truth much like he convicts of sin. This is personal. I am not arguing that he audibly speaks and no one who believes what I am saying would say they are receiving new revelation. I Cor 2:13, Is 48:17, and I John 2:27 indicate again how God teaches is. Which simply means in a real way he communicates with us.

You probably agree and disagree with me on what I have said on various points. I agree with much of what you are saying, but I do think you have overreacted to the Charismatics and in so doing have minimised the teaching of the "perfect" will of God, the teaching of faith in God for decisions not just human logic and also the teaching of the personal nature of God.

May God enable us all to know that "perfect" will of God,


Kent Brandenburg said...

(Part One)
Hi Jim,

For you and for everyone else, I arrived Monday night in the Carson City, NV area to evangelize the area with another guy (I'm in the SF Bay Area), and we're doing that every day until Friday, so usually I'm coming back to write these comments at lunch and during one break we take. We haven't started today, but I'm going to comment to just part of what you've written, because it's so long.

I'm not very shocked any more to unscriptural presentations, so I wasn't shocked at what you wrote, because there is a lot out there, but I don't think being shocked does anything to prove a position. It's more of a technique meant to sting someone's feelings. You should think about that for when you say you were shocked as your first statement to someone.

You are saying that I'm writing or believing something different than Peter Masters. Peter Masters has written some helpful material and I have a high regard for him in many ways, but there shouldn't be a person to whom we refer as our rule for faith and practice. It must be the Bible. If Peter Masters was writing something scriptural on this subject, it would matter to me. I would be interested too if he wrote something historical, because when you call something the "modern view," it's nice to have someone prove that. When someone just calls it the modern view, that doesn't meant it is. Too, any view that originated after scripture is more modern than scripture.

To be clear, I believe we should be "led of the Lord" or "led of the Spirit," but we're talking about how that occurs. If you miss that, you might not be led of the Lord. You are just saying you are led of the Lord.

When I say "individual will," I do mean decisions that are not found in the Bible, like paper or plastic. We are led by biblical principles for those decisions, including Christian liberty, and that is how we are "led of the Lord or the Spirit."

Related to having "one person to marry," perhaps you didn't read carefully 1 Corinthians 7:39 (in the Bible), where Paul says a woman unbound from a husband can be "married to whom she will." That's a verse that teaches something about the subject that carries with it a principle for other like decisions. Do you believe the verse or since it doesn't conform to your view of the "specific will of God," do you just ignore it, because it doesn't fit?

Romans 12:1-2 doesn't provide any basis for the point your are espousing. "Presenting" is worship terminology parallel to the priest's sacrifices being offered in the Old Testament. What guided them in their offerings? They were guided by scripture. You should understand the will of God there as scripture, what I call the moral will of God, when we talk about such things.

Kent Brandenburg said...

(Part Two)

On the questions to which you refer in your deliberations about the specific will of God, of course God cares and of course they matter. On all matters of Christian liberty, whether even you eat or you drink, you should do all to the glory of God. There are many biblical principles that apply to these things, but God doesn't tell me what sermon to preach on Sunday morning, for instance. Most sermons I've ever heard, where "God gave someone an impression or told someone what to preach," it turned out to be different than what the passage was saying. I'm quite sure God didn't give those sermons to him. Nonetheless, there are better ways to decide what to preach on a Sunday morning, and telling people that God told you to do this one or that one just isn't true. He just didn't do that.

There are many scriptural means to use in discerning whether to go to Spain or France, and using all of those means is how we should decide where to go. God telling you were to go didn't happen and doesn't happen. Scripture says this. Scripture. Saying God told you where to go violates scripture. That's how I know it isn't the specific will of God.

The second half of your your second paragraph of your first comment, stating some bad results of not having God talk to you directly, such as less young people will go to the mission field, etc., is a fallacy called 'begging the question,' where someone attempts to prove a proposition based on a premise that itself requires proof. I believe the best and the most of what God wants occur when we do what God wants.

If you read how Timothy knew he was to pastor, that is laid out in the pastoral epistles, and it wasn't God speaking directly to him. I have written on this previously and linked to it as well at the old jackhammer blog, where we did a month on the idea of "the call."

(More to Come)

Kent Brandenburg said...

(Part Three)

Hi again (including Jim),

2 Tim 4 says, Preach the Word. Pastors should do that. Paul said he preached the whole counsel of God. Pastors should do that. Peter said if any man speak, it should be oracles of God. Pastors should do that. Paul said rightly divide the Word of Truth. Pastors should do that. Nowhere says, preach what God tells you to preach. Nowhere. I know what to preach on Sunday morning. John 12:16-26, at least part of it. Why? It's where I'm at in John. Why am I preaching John? Because people are changed into the image of Christ through seeing Christ in the Word of God, especially the gospels. Because through John people believe Jesus is the Christ. It's interesting, but a lot of people who believe God tells them what to preach, don't preach "Jesus is the Christ" is even part of the gospel. We're to follow Christ and following Christ means knowing who He is and what He said. That's all in the Bible.

I'm to the first paragraph of part two of Jim's comment. This is all very instructive. He says that what I'm teaching lacks in faith. What is faith? Faith is believing what God said, trusting what He said, acting on what He said. We get the conviction of things hoped for and evidence for things not seen from the Bible. We don't get that from a voice in our head. That's why Paul wrote that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

When Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice, in that context, He was talking to the Jews at the Feast of Dedication, backing up preaching he had done a few months before there earlier in John 10, to leave the folds of Judaism and other false religion, and enter in His fold, where there will be eternal protection, feeding and protection, just like the blind man had done by leaving it in John 9. The test if someone is one of Jesus' sheep is whether He will listen to His voice, the Word of God. This is not a test of listening to some inner voice, separate from scripture, that people call God's.

What scripture actually teaches doesn't contradict what it also teaches about God's care. God cares. The doctrine of God's providence relates to this. The idea here being espoused is that if you don't hear the voice in your head, then you don't have a "personal" relationship with God, minimizing scripture to "logic" and something "impersonal." There is no doubt that I have communion with God, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in numbers of different ways described in scripture.

I prayed for boldness today. I had boldness. That was personal to me. I prayed for it and I had it. That's also how I have fellowship with the Holy Ghost. He fills me, controls me, and I am bold. I speak as I ought to speak. I know how to answer every man. I speak as the oracles of God. I could keep going, but this is all scriptural, which, I understand, some are not satisfied with and are discontent with God's promises and supply according to His Word. They want more than that. As I heard one man say recently, "They've got to see stuff happen."

No one who believes what Jim says, Jim says, would believe that they think they are getting new revelation when they hear God speak to them. When they see new revelation, maybe they're saying "new" as in "different." It is "new" though as in chronologically new. And it is actually different. If someone tells you to go to France, that isn't in the Bible, so it is different too.

There is a lack of precision in exegesis and theology that results in new and false doctrine here. It's acceptable false doctrine among many independent Baptists. It is serious. It is bad.

Kent Brandenburg said...

(Part Four)

1 John 2:27. A believer doesn't need to have someone tell him when someone is a false teacher, because the Holy Spirit will help someone to discern that. How does the Holy Spirit do that now? Through scripture. You know the truth -- from the Holy Spirit, scripture -- and you use that to discern false teaching. Ironically, that's what I'm doing here.

Isaiah 48:17 doesn't back up a voice in the head. 1 Corinthians 2:13 is scripture. It's interesting how that Jim says that "in a real way the Holy Spirit communicates to us," as if the Bible is less real. 2 Peter 1 says that scripture is more sure than what Peter experienced on the Mount of Transfiguration.

What I'm teaching is not an over reaction to Charismatics. That's a red herring. It's just what the Bible teaches. It's a reaction to what scripture teaches.

I don't get the "human logic" criticism. The laws of logic themselves proceed from God. Nothing God says is illogical. Again ironically a part of what Jim says is illogical. Things we say we hear from God would not be illogical.

I know the perfect will of God. It's in the Bible.

Farmer Brown said...

Jim wrote: "I believe based on Romans 12:1-2 that God has a specific will for my life"

This is a discussion between you and Kent, so I understand if you do not want to add a third party. However, I am curious how you know what the specific will is?

You seem to indicate it is communicated to you; you cite communion as a two way street and I think that is what you mean. To you example of France verses Spain, all other things being equal, how do you know the difference?

Or perhaps for a young man, Suzie vs Jenny. Both believers, both approved by your parents, both in good churches, but only one can be the specific will person. How do you know who God specifically has of the two? If you marry the other, is it disobedience?