Tuesday, January 22, 2019

God and Boxes: Does God Still Speak Audibly to Men?

On January 2, 2019, the Gospel Coalition posted a video of J. D. Greear, the present president of the Southern Baptist Convention, on which he answers the question, whether God still speaks audibly to men.  It is a good, basic question a pastor or any other Christian needs to and should be able to answer.  It also should be an easy question, and especially in recent days, it has become difficult for even those who might claim to be conservative.

Greear started his answer with these words:
I’ve never been comfortable putting God in a lot of boxes that he doesn’t put himself in. And I don’t know of anywhere in the Bible that says, “No he will absolutely never speak audibly again to men on the earth.” That said, I guess the answer has to be “no.”
His first two sentences don't answer the question.  The question wasn't whether God would ever speak audibly to men again, but whether God is still doing that now.

The question posed requires a good, bold answer.  It doesn't help to allow ambiguity where there is none.  Anyone reading the answer can tell he leaves at least a window open.  As an illustration, Charisma News reported two days later:
J.D. Greear, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said God and the Holy Spirit can still audibly speak to believers today and are not limited to speaking through Scripture.
"No," should have been the first word out of Greear's mouth.  If you read his whole answer, you'll find a "no" in there, even in the last sentence of the first paragraph, he says, "That said, I guess the answer has to be "no."  He guesses.  You don't have to guess. No one has to guess.

With scripture, God puts boxes around Himself.  You or I or Greear can't put a box around God, but we should agree when God puts boxes around Himself.  God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).  That's a box.  "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man" (James 1:13).  That's another box.

God has brought a box to what should be judged to be His own speaking.  God is still speaking through scripture, but He has restricted Himself to the completed, written Word of God (Jude 1:3, Revelations 22:18-19, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 1:1, 2:3-4).  He still speaks through that, but that alone.

The people who use the "put God in a box" kind of language very often espouse the idea that God doesn't show up unless it is in a miraculous type of way.  God either causes or allows everything, so He is always showing up, but that doesn't mean He is still speaking any other way except through His Word.

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