“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke …”
Generally, there are two ditches that line our roadways. And thus there are two opportunities for disaster. In most spiritual issues, there also needs to be proper balance. Satan would seek to draw us to one extreme or the other. He cares not which ditch we fall into, so long as he can inflict calamity. But God’s Word tells us “Do not swerve to the right or the left.” (Prov. 4:27)
There is a growing interest, today, in hearing the voice of God outside of Scripture. There are multitudes of books available today that teach believers how to “hear” the voice of God in their everyday lives. In the spiritual climate of our day, we need to be on guard against false prophets speaking in the name of Jesus. One of the five pillars of the Protestant Reformation that we need to hold to tenaciously in our generation is Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone. God has revealed Himself in Scripture, and we hold to the sufficiency of the Word of God.
However, holding to a doctrine of the Reformation without a relationship with the God of the Reformation is like swerving to the opposite ditch. The hymnwriter confessed that “He shines in all that’s fair … and He speaks to me everywhere.” Scripture seems to indicate that the Holy Spirit prompts believers in their daily lives. Paul, in his farewell address to the Ephesian elders speaks of being compelled by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. Some believers in our day have been prompted to pray for certain individuals, at specific times, without knowing the details of how great the need was until later. Others have been prompted to witness to the gospel at times when they were reluctant to. The Lord has also spoken to Muslims in dreams, and used these to convert them to Christianity.
In conclusion, we need to steer carefully between the notion that all the promptings people feel are necessarily the voice of God on the one hand, and the notion that every prompting by the Holy Spirit should be discounted on the other. The Bible continues to be God’s infallible and authoritative Word. We need to love the Word made flesh revealed through Scripture, and we need to exercise caution and test the spirits in all other instances.