Bill Alderson, Baltimore
Thirty-six years ago, I was invited to a Bible study at an elementary school in Framingham, Mass., by a business friend. That night was the beginning of a long relationship I’ve had with our ministry. The name of the ministry at the time was “The Bible Speaks.” That’s kind of a strange name; ministries do not usually have a verb in their name! But as I listened more and more to Pastor Carl Stevens teach, his ability to quote Scripture, and speak truth to my heart, the name made a lot of sense. The Bible does speak and I was hearing that certain sound.
Since that initial experience, I have recognized God’s call on my life to go to Bible college and become ordained as a pastor in this ministry. This journey has included a series of major challenges of life that seemed to accompany the things I was being taught in the classroom. God was bringing to life the Biblical truths I was now learning and to accept them as true, not just theologically, but personally. It has taken the extended classroom of the details of my life to make them real in a personal sense. Through this process, the Word of God comes alive and I am now able to hear Him personally speak to me through the thoughts that he whispers to my spirit. No longer are they idle thoughts, but his voice is directing me in the details of life by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 10:17, the Bible says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of Christ.”
Obey His Voice
The public ministry of Jesus centered on His teaching the masses and the 12 Apostles. As the mediator of a new covenant, He was bringing new understanding to the Scriptures as He revealed Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God. The Jewish leadership of His day completely rejected His claim to deity and therefore all of His words.
There is a great picture of this process in Mark 2:1-12. A paralytic is lowered into a crowded room where Jesus was teaching, looking for a healing. Jesus observed the effort of the four men to get that paralytic before Jesus and told the man his sins were forgiven. The reaction of the scribes in the room was predictable, accusing Jesus of blasphemy. To confirm the authority of His words, Jesus said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home” after healing him. When the hearer recognizes the authority of the word written or spoken, it has supernatural power. Paul observed this attitude with believers in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, that they received the word spoken from the pulpit as if God spoke it directly.
God promised the Jews that they would walk in His ways and it would be well with them if they would, “obey My voice, and I will be your God and you will be My people.” Both the Hebrew and Greek words translated obey have the basic meaning of ‘listening closely with the intention to obey.” When the Jews did not incline their ear to God’s words, they went backwards (Jeremiah 7:23-24). This principle holds just as true for the New Testament believer as well.
The Power of Study
In the Church age, believers have the distinct advantage of living in a new covenant, secured by the completed work of Christ on Calvary’s cross. We also enjoy access to the full canon of the Scriptures, which affords us a deeper understanding of the character and nature of God through the doctrines addressed and further defined in both the Old and New Testament. In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul addresses all Scripture as “inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The study of Scripture doctrinally (teaching by category) brings the believer into a more in-depth comprehension of His thoughts on a particular subject. This approach to the Word of God has always been a framework of our ministry in bringing believers to hear His voice.
In Deuteronomy 5:24, Moses says, “Behold, the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives”. The reference is to Moses hearing the voice of God from Mount Sinai and receiving the Law in Exodus 20, but it also speaks to His voice in the midst of the fires of man’s living experiences – and he still lives. To hear the voice of God is to recognize His greatness and glory.
The Bible Still Speaks! Are you listening?