The word of God doesn’t change to fit me. Instead, as I read and study and seek God and pray, I am changed and transformed through His word. I firmly believe, I cannot be transformed apart from His word.
Ephesians 5:25-26 is speaking to husbands in regards to loving their wives as Christ loves the church, but verse 26 says this, “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word.” The word of God washes and cleanses us. It’s not a subsidiary to our ever evolving and growing relationship with Christ. The word of God is an integral and irreplaceable part of our growth and transformation.
People often ask, “How do you hear from God?”
First, I hear from God through teaching and preaching of others. I listen and seek the wisdom of others as they teach God’s word. But it shouldn’t be the only way any of us hear from God. We should also seek to have a personal relationship and walk with Him.
God can and does “speak” directly to me, but it’s not an actual, audible voice. I’m not saying it can’t happen. I’ll just say that it’s not super common. For lack of a better way of putting it, the Holy Spirit speaks to my spirit. Sounds kind of hokey and Christian-ese, I know, but it’s not a feeling or an idea that comes from me. It’s far deeper than that. It’s a knowing that God is speaking through His spirit to me.
But how do you know it’s God? How do you know it’s not you? Or how do you know that the other person, that person preaching and teaching, isn’t just putting their own spin on things?
The bible . . . God’s Word . . .that’s how I know. Everything must line up with God’s word. No exceptions. I must be teachable (we all need to be teachable), and I must take the time to dive into the scriptures, the actual bible, for myself so I am able to know what is and is not lining up with the bible.
The best pastor, teacher, evangelist in the world can give a powerful and amazing sermon, but if I can’t go back to the bible and see clearly that it’s in agreement with scripture then I will not accept it. Bottom line. Further, no one, because we are human, is going to get it right 100% of the time. If you find that you follow, almost blindly, anything another person says, especially if you really have to stretch to try and make it come into agreement with the Bible, that’s a problem. That doesn’t mean they’re not saved or not a great preacher, teacher, etc., but it means that you’re putting that person, that imperfect human, in a place they should never be. You can love and respect a person without agreeing with every single thing they say. On the other hand, if someone you are following is consistently teaching things that don’t line up with God’s word, putting their own ideas and completely different revelations on what has been clear and solid interpretation (based on study of the original text) for hundreds of years, if you’re hearing things like “It has always been taught this way, but that’s wrong . . . ” or “God gave me a fresh revelation about this scripture [that no one else has ever had]”, and it’s takes twisting and turning and a lot of acrobatics to see it their “way”, then alarm bells should be going off. The bible is the most uncomplicated, complicated book of all time. It’s depth and wisdom are unsurpassed (thus the “complicated”), but it is also meant to be read and understood by you and by me. Yes, there are times when I pull up the lexicons and the original text, when I look at commentaries regarding certain, more difficult passages, but also, as long as the translation is solid (again, no one should be adding their own ideas) then it means what it says, and it says what it means. Period.
On a personal level, God rarely speaks to me when I’m not actively studying His word and praying. And when He does it’s usually a prompting to get back into His Word because I’ve neglected it (yep, I mess this up sometimes). I’m not talking about reading a devotional or a book by a Christian teacher or author or listening to a sermon or teaching. Those have their place, but they should never replace time alone with your Bible and God. I often listen to teachings while going about my day, but my time with God is strictly my time with God and His word. No other voices aside from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are allowed to speak into that time, and I only hear God clearly when I’m taking the time to study the Bible and seek Him. I’d say that’s the rule rather than exception.
John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Word is Jesus y’all. If you want to know what The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, three persons, have to say about something crack open your bible. That doesn’t mean that I necessarily have the bible sitting open in front of me at that exact moment I feel the Holy Spirit is speaking to me, but it does mean that I’m making a point to seek Him regularly . . . to dive into the scriptures on a very consistent basis . . . to get that scripture inside of me (Psalm 119:11) and ask Him to reveal Himself to me through His word.
And if something I’m “hearing”, either from others or in my own head, doesn’t line up with the word, whether that be obvious or maybe it’s just a bit off from what I’m reading, then I know it’s not God. Everything God is speaking, to me and to others, must pass through the litmus test of the bible before I will accept it. Everything.
Reading the bible is both a privilege and a discipline. Little side note: Discipline is not a naughty word.
A privilege because most of us are incredibly blessed to be able to freely read God’s word. There are areas of the world where access to the bible is unattainable at best and criminal at worst, and yet, Christians in those places will do almost anything to get their hands on the scriptures (not a devotional, not someone’s book, but the actual Word of God).
But it’s also a discipline. And it’s not because I have to be disciplined and work to achieve my salvation. It’s not because God is keeping track of how many minutes and chapters I read. Salvation is freely given because Jesus died and was resurrected for us. Romans 10:9 “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The only thing you have to do to achieve salvation is accept it. But that’s just the starting point. So many Christians are living confused and defeated lives because they seek salvation but stop there. They don’t seek growth and change. And the pathway to growth and change through the Holy Spirit is intricately intertwined with being in His word. If you want to grow . . . if you want to change . . . if you want to be transformed . . . you need to be reading your bible.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
I’ll say it louder for the people in the back. If you want to renew your mind . . . if you want to know God’s will for your life . . . if you want peace and guidance . . . it’s, without exception, found in His word.
Lest anyone think I’m perfect, I often have to discipline myself to sit down with God’s word . . . to take the time to study. And you know what? Sometimes I don’t do it. Like anything else, there are times when I just don’t “feel” like it. There are times, far more than I care to admit, when I’m too busy and need to get all the things done, but y’all every time I neglect to spend time studying and praying, every time I put other things in first place, I find myself out of balance and off-kilter.
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