How God Speaks to Us

I was able to make Dr. J.P. Moreland's presentation at a conference that Biola University put on, When God Seems Silent. I missed the beginning of Dr. Moreland's lecture due to traffic, but as an experienced public speaker, Dr. Moreland frequently recapped his points.

It may seem counterintuitive to begin a conference on the supposed silence of God by pointing out the ways in which God speaks to us but I thought it fitting.  Dr. Moreland acknowledged that there are times when the believer is not hearing from God and that speakers to follow would address dealing with those periods of silence, but it was his role to point out that God often is communicating with us and we should learn the ways in which He communicates. Too often we can pity ourselves as abandoned by God when we are not listening. 
  • Gifts of prophecy, wisdom, and words of knowledge. 1 Corinthians 14:11.  Dr. Moreland is no cessationist.  God speaks to us Today through words of prophecy, wisdom and knowledge.  He encouraged Christians to pray for and about these words and give God time to speak in through the gifts of the Spirit.   
  • Dreams. God spoke to people throughout the Old Testament through dreams, but God's speaking through dreams is also attested in the New Testament.  Most memorably in Matthew's Infancy Narrative but remember also Peter's preaching that "Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams."  Acts 2:17.  
  • Putting Thoughts in Your Mind. Unfortunately, I missed most of this one, but derived from references back and allusions that Dr. Moreland believes that God will speak to us through verbal statements in our mind, such as "Speak to that Person About ___."
  • Angelic Visitation.  Angels communicate God's word to people throughout the Old and New Testaments.   Dr. Moreland emphasized that angels speak to people today or may just communicate by their visible presence.  He shared a personal experience he had that was confirmed by at least one other believer.  It was during this point (as I recall) that Dr. Moreland made a simple but -- I think -- crucial point.  "We live in a supernatural world."  Do not be shy about things such as angelic visitations or even dreams, for our worldview is a supernatural one or it is nothing. 
  • Impressions.  Dr. Moreland describes impressions as "prelinguistic" and "not thought," but a "sense of something." He provided a personal example, were he was at a meeting and had an impression about someone there who he did not know. As Dr. Moreland approached the man he prayed and received a word of knowledge that he relayed to the man. The man received the word and confirmed that he had been struggling with the particular issue that Dr. Moreland addressed.
  • Providential Circumstances.  Sometimes God speaks to us through circumstances, things that happen in our lives.  Dr. Moreland suggested using the following criteria to help determine whether God is speaking in this way.  First, the event at issue should be something that is very improbable.  Second, the event should have special significance.  Dr. Moreland used the example of trying to choose a place to live and having had an ideal house in mind and one becoming available in an unlikely way in a particular location that fit he and his wife's dream home. 
Dr. Moreland emphasized that for all of these one had to learn how to recognize that it is God speaking.  He admitted, as we all must, to having been wrong at times when we thought God had spoken to us.  This should not surprise us.  We live in a fallen world in fallen states ourselves.  But as we grow as Christians, with mature teaching, Bible study, fellowship, and earnest prayer, we can develop our ability to discern when it is God speaking in different ways.  Having missed the beginning I hesitate to suggest that Dr. Moreland did not emphasize the role of the Bible in God's communicating with us; but I missed it if he did.  I would very much like to have had the opportunity to ask him about that. 

I also enjoyed the worship that follow Dr. Moreland, led by Lovelite.  Many of the approximately 500 students left after Dr. Moreland left -- it was getting late to be at school on a Friday evening and I took it that the lecture was all that was required for chapel credits -- but a good 200-300 students stayed for the worship.  


"Dr. Moreland emphasized that angels speak to people today or may just communicate by their visible presence. He shared a personal experience he had that was confirmed by at least one other believer."

Thanks, Layman! Could I please ask a question: I wonder if by any chance you remember and can share Dr. Moreland's "personal experience" here? I'm quite curious. Thanks again!
Weekend Fisher said…
Did he mention the Bible? I mean, did he mention it as a way that God speaks to us? From the notes I can see that he references it as a way God speaks to him as his authority to think God might speak to him in other ways. But I was wondering if he gave it explicit recognition. I'd have thought it would have gotten the #1 spot ...

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF
Good post Layman, on an important topic - well done for getting to that conference and even making notes! (Much better than I often do!) :-)

All blessings, Elliot
Gary said…
Growing up fundamentalist/evangelical, I was told that as a born-again Christian God would “speak to me”, “move me”, and “lead me” so that I would know and could follow his will. I listened to others talk about how God spoke to them, moved them, and led them to do this and to do that…but He never did the same for me. I finally came to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with me because God had decided he didn’t want to talk to me. So I left the Church.

Many years later I became an orthodox Lutheran and was told that God doesn’t work like that. The evangelicals are wrong. The voice they are listening to is their own. According to “true” Christianity, God speaks to Christians in only one manner: through his Word, the Bible.

That gave me a lot of peace…until I found out that the “Word” is full of discrepancies, errors, and scribe alterations.

I was very sad (and angry) to find out—it is ALL nonsense.

So what about my problem of not hearing the "voice" that other evangelicals were hearing speak, move, and lead them? After deconverting completely from Christianity, I came to realize that it was THEM, not me, that had the problem. They were hearing voices. I was the sane one...who did not.

Popular posts from this blog

How Many Children in Bethlehem Did Herod Kill?

Where did Jesus say "It is better to give than receive?"

The Bogus Gandhi Quote

Discussing Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Revamping and New Articles at the CADRE Site

Exodus 22:18 - Are Followers of God to Kill Witches?

A Botched Abortion Shows the Lies of Pro-Choice Proponents

Jewish writings and a change in the Temple at the time of the Death of Jesus

Tillich, part 2: What does it mean to say "God is Being Itself?"

The Folded Napkin Legend