Tuesday, June 17, 2008

God is not silent

In an important and very good reminder, Jared Wilson denies that God is ever silent:
...[Q]uite frequently he doesn't speak to us the way we'd like him to or...he doesn't say what we want to hear, but neither scenario is the same thing as him not speaking at all.

What I propose is that God seems silent because he is broadcasting on a frequency that we are not tuned to receive him on. ....

1) God speaks through creation. ....

2) God speaks through pain.
The irony of this truth is that it is in our pain that we are most tempted to think God silent. In our hurt/grief/suffering, we are most tempted to doubt, to believe he has abandoned us. (And the other side of the irony is that when everything is great and peachy, we are most tempted to not care if he's there or not.) ....

When we experience pain, God is speaking to us and telling us that something is not right. It reminds us of sin and the fall. Which is not to say that our pain is a result of our sin; I'm not saying that when something goes wrong it's because we've done something wrong (that's the prosperity gospel talking there). I only mean that pain reminds us - vividly, tangibly - that we are in need of redemption. ....
3) God speaks through Scripture.
God speaks primarily through Scripture. And any other way we may hear God will not contradict or add to Scripture.

This point sort of goes without saying, and I was tempted to make it my only point.

I have experienced the weirdness of sitting in a small group discussion where people have lamented not hearing from God, all of us with open Bibles not eight inches from our noses.

Where this agonizing need for special revelation and the "secret, personal will of God" comes from, I don't know, but it's neo-gnostic tripe that has only exacerbated the biblical illiteracy of the Church.

We don't hear God in Scripture for a variety of reasons:
a) because we are unfamiliar with it and undisciplined
b) because we have not been raised or trained to "feel" Scripture
c) because our preachers treat Scripture like the Reader's Digest or Bartlett's Book of Quotations. They don't present Scripture as transformative and vital, but as merely informative and "helpful."
d) and perhaps most likely: because when we read Scripture, it says things uncomfortable or objectionable to ourselves and our desires. (Which by the way, means it's working.)
4) God speaks through the Gospel being lived out.
I'm not talking purely about preaching the gospel but about preaching the gospel in word and deed. I'm talking about the Beatitudes here, the entire Sermon on the Mount. I'm talking about the picture of kingdom life. Walk, not just talk. ....

Our good works glorify God in heaven. Our light should shine before all men. Imagine how loudly our world would think God to be speaking if more and more of his worshipers purposed to make the good news manifest in their cultures.

But they don't hear him and we don't hear him because we aren't really following him. We are just putting his nametag on our own ambitions and aspirations. We've settled for gospel information and not pressed further into gospel transformation.
5) God has finally spoken through His Son.
My contention is that many times our begging God to speak is done with a discontentment over or a forgetfulness of the fact that all the important things God would have us know about himself were said in the offering of himself, in the sending of his Son and the Son's atoning work.

The author of Hebrews writes, "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe."

With his very words, God created everything there is out of nothing. And the new creation begins with the very Word of God becoming flesh. Jesus is the Word, the very voice and proclamation of God. And when the Word announced from the cross the words, "It is finished!," he meant it.

This has been said to God and over us, a declaration that all of our questions, our searchings, our fears, our failings, and - most deeply, most importantly - our sins have been spoken to, answered, shouted down by Jesus Christ.

We don't hear Jesus because we either want Jesus plus something else, or we want something else entirely.
The Gospel-Driven Church: He is There, and He is Not Silent

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.