Does God Speak To Us?
The first time ever recorded, that God communicated with man, was in Genesis 2, verse 16. It says there; “And the Lord God commanded the man saying; From any tree of the garden you may eat freely..” And the next verse says; “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat. For in the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die.”
And from that point on, we have example after example of God giving His laws directly to men, so that men could follow those laws. And of course the men were supposed to relay those same laws to their entire families. For instance, in Genesis 7, verse 1, it says; “Then the Lord said to Noah; Enter the ark, you and your household..”
And just as another example, let me read Genesis 35:1 & 2; “Then God said to Jacob; Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there, and make an alter there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau. So Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him; Put away your foreign gods which are among you. And purify yourselves, and change your garments.”
So that’s one of the ways that God communicated with the people during that time in history. He spoke directly to men, who in turn, relayed God’s instructions to their families. But God communicated with people in other ways also. For example, God communicated with Abram in a vision on one occasion. In Genesis 15:1, it says; “After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying; Do not fear Abram, I am a shield to you. Your reward will be very great.”
Now, here’s something to know about this word “vision”. You might be surprised at this, but when the bible talks about a “vision”, it doesn’t always refer to something that was seen. It’s not like Abram literally saw something that day. This word translated “vision”, is only used four times in the old testament. And it’s never used in reference to something literally seen with the eyes.
There’s a couple other words in the old testament that are also translated “vision”, and one of them specifically refers to something seen with the eyes, and the other one CAN refer to something literally seen, or it can refer to something “seen” in a dream, but it can also simply refer to a revelation.
Listen to Genesis 15:1 again. That verse says; “..the WORD of the Lord came to Abram..” Another way of saying that would be, “..the SPEECH of the Lord came to Abram in a vision” It wasn’t a picture of something that came to Abram, but it was “..the word (or the speech) of the Lord, (that) came to Abram in a vison, SAYING, do not be afraid..”
In this case, the “vision”, wasn’t something that was literally seen, but rather, it’s seen figuratively. It’s “seen” with the mind and with the understanding. In other words, Abram was given a mental understanding, and knowledge of God’s word. Listen to how the word “vision” is used in Numbers 24:16; “The oracle of him who HEARS the sayings of God, and KNOWS the knowledge of the Most High, who SEES the vision of the Almighty.”
The words, “hear, know, and see” used in that verse, are describing a full understanding of God’s word. A “vision” is more like a revelation of God’s word and of His will. God’s word was sometimes given simply by “revelation”. God gave Abram a knowledge and understanding of what He wanted Abram to know. And a lot of people today, think that God has given them direct “revelations”, or “visions” you might say. And we’ll deal with that notion later.
Shortly after this vision, did God spoke to Abram in his sleep. It doesn’t call it a “dream”, and it doesn’t call it a “vision”. The bible simply says in Genesis 15:12 & 13; “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. And God said to him..”
There’s no indication that Abram woke up while God spoke to him, so we have to assume that God spoke to Abram while he slept. And just like direct revelations, there are no doubt, lots of people who think that God talks to them in their sleep, or in their dreams. And so if someone believes those things, it’s pretty tough to convince them otherwise. God did it in the past, and so they think, why wouldn’t God do it now?
Of course the thing that we’ve got to try to get people to understand, is that there was a specific REASON, why God was communicating with Abram. And the reason was, that God was using Abram, to bring about salvation. Abram was a part of the plan of salvation. It was through Abram’s offspring, that salvation would come. And salvation has come, to the entire human race, through Jesus Christ, the “seed” of Abraham. Galatians 3:16 tells us; “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham, and to his seed. He does not say, And to seeds, as referring to many, but rather to ONE, and to your SEED, that is, Jesus Christ.”
Now some people believe that God is using them personally, to bring His word to others. And maybe that’s a way for them to feel needed. To think that God is specifically using them, to “deliver” some new word from God. A new revelation you might say. But God’s word has already been delivered, a long time ago. Jude wrote, in Jude verse 3; “..I felt the necessity to write to you, appealing that you contend earnestly, for the faith, which was once for all, delivered to the saints.”
Now I want to talk about three things from that verse. First we need to understand what “the faith” is. Second, we need to know what it means to be “delivered”. And third, we need to know what the phrase, “once for all” means. Let’s start with the word “once”;
It’s very similar to what the bible says in Hebrews 9:28; “So Christ also, having been offered once, to bear the sins of many..” Christ was offered “once”. That’s the same word used in Jude verse 3. It means “once and for all”, or “once and forever”. Here’s a definition; The word is used referring to something that is done, so as to be of perpetual validity, and never in need of repetition; Once forever!
The word is used in Hebrews 6:4, where it says; “For in the case of those who have been once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift..” Once someone has been enlightened, as to the fact that Jesus is the Christ, and that it’s Him and only Him that brings salvation, you can’t be enlightened to that fact again. You’ve already been enlightened, there’s no need to be enlightened again. It’s not something you’re gonna forget.
The word is used in Hebrews 10:2, speaking about how the animal sacrifices couldn’t forgive sins. It says; “Otherwise, (if they could have forgiven sins) would they not have ceased to be offered? Because the worshippers, having ONCE been cleansed, would no longer have consciousness of sins.” Once you’re cleansed, you’re cleansed. You don’t have to be cleansed of the same sin, again, and again.
Also the word is used in 1 Peter 3:18; “For Christ also died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God..” There’s no need for another death of Christ. One is all it took.
And so, in like manner, “the faith, was once for all, delivered to the saints.” The “faith” which was once delivered, is the way of salvation. It’s the plan of salvation, revealed. It’s the knowledge of the sacrifice of Christ, and of the forgiveness of sins, through that sacrifice. The faith, is the gospel of Christ, and it’s been delivered once for all. Now don’t confuse the faith being “delivered once”, with the fact that we preach about that faith, over and over again. When we preach the gospel, we are preaching the faith. And we preach it over and over again. And so we need to understand what “delivered” means.
What’s the difference between the faith being preached, over and over, and the faith being “delivered”, just once? Well, to preach, means to proclaim, to announce, or to bring. The apostle Paul said in Romans 1:15; “Thus for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Paul “preached” the gospel. He announced it, and he proclaimed it, but he didn’t “deliver” it. God “delivered” the gospel, and so God “delivered” the faith.
When the scripture says in Jude 3, that the faith was once “delivered”, here’s what “delivered” means. And it’s important to know this; To deliver means to hand down, or to commit, or to commend. It’s like what Paul said to the Ephesian elders, in Acts 20, verse 32; “And now I commend you, to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”
Paul had personally taught the Ephesians, for a period of about two years, we’re told, in Acts 19:10. But now he was leaving the Ephesians, and he was “commending” them, to God and to God’s word. God had entrusted Paul to preach the gospel, and to reveal His will. And now that Paul had done that, he was “handing them back”, to God. He was “delivering them” back to God, and to God’s word, which he had taught them. So, how many times did Paul have to deliver the Ephesians back to God? Just once time right? Once they were delivered, they were delivered! Just once.
Now, “the faith” was also once delivered. Who delivered the faith? God did. God delivered the faith to man. There’s no need to deliver it again, because it’s already been delivered. Just like there’s no need for Christ to die again, since He already died, once for all. There’s no need to repeat it.
“Para-di’-domee” is the Greek word translated “delivered”. It’s a compound word. Para, means “with”, but more specifically, it means “from close beside”. And “di’-domee” means to give, or to hand over. The meaning is to deliver over, with a sense of close personal involvement. That’s how God delivered the faith to mankind; Once, forever, so that man could be personally involved with God and with His word. There’s no need to deliver it again, because it’s already been delivered. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t deliver it again if you wanted to, because it’s already been done.
Does God personally use anyone today, to delver His word, and to reveal Hs will to mankind? No, He doesn’t, because He’s already delivered it, in it’s entirety. Once and for all, God has handed down His word for all people, and for all ages to come.
Just that one scripture, from Jude verse 3, is really all anyone needs, to understand that God is not going to reveal anything else, or anything new, concerning salvation, because He’s already revealed all there is to know.
Another verse that goes along with that thought, is 2 Peter 1, verse 3, which says; “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything, pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Everything has been granted, everything has been revealed, and everything has been delivered. Once, for all.
Since everything pertaining to life and godliness has already been delivered, and since there’s nothing new to be revealed and delivered, and since we already have what’s been delivered, written for us in the bible; Would there be any other reason that God might speak to us directly, as individuals. either by us actually hearing a voice from God, or by us having a vision revealed to us, or maybe by having something said to us in a dream? Would there be any reason for any of that to happen?
That’s what we’ll talk about next week.
Now concerning the fact that all that is needed, has already been revealed, all we have to do is consider the history of the “called out assembly”, as it’s recorded in the bible.
In the book of Acts, we read about souls being forgiven of their sins, and being added to the kingdom of Christ. From the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts chapter 2, all the way down to the end of the first century AD. And if people were saved back then with what God had revealed, then people can be saved today, with that same information. Specifically, on the day of Pentecost, in approximately 33 AD, the Jews who already believed in God, were told to also believe in Jesus Christ, and in His sacrifice, and in His resurrection, and in salvation through Him.
The apostle Peter said in Acts 2:23; “This man, delivered up by the predetermined plan, and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross, by the hands of godless men, and put Him to death.” There’s the sacrifice.
Then Peter said in verse 34; “And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in it’s power.” There’s His resurrection.
And then Peter said, in verse 36; “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain, that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” And there’s the salvation. Jesus was the Christ, which means the Messiah, who the Jews had looked forward to from the time of Abraham, and who they all knew, would be their Savior.
And so once they had come to believe in Jesus as the Savior, and having asked Peter and the rest of the apostles; “Brethren, what shall we do?” (that’s verse 37) Peter answered and said, in verse 38; “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ (in other words, by the authority of the very same one, that you just crucified. That would be a pretty scary deal wouldn’t it? To learn that the very person whom you just demanded to be crucified, had been given all power and authority in heaven and on earth, by God Himself! But that’s exactly what we’re told in Mathew 28:18) So, be baptized by His authority, “FOR the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
And that’s all they needed to know, and that’s all they needed to do, in order to be forgiven, and to be “saved” from their past sins, and added to the kingdom of God. And today, that’s all a person needs to know, and that’s all they need to do, to be saved from their past sins. Now of course, we know that the bible goes on to tell us about a lot of things that we need to do AFTER we’re saved from our past sins. And that’s going to deal once again, with God “delivering” that knowledge, and delivering that “faith” to mankind. And he only had to deliver it once.
So, well continue next week. But the important thing to remember, is that what God had just delivered to mankind, through the mouth of the apostle Peter, concerning how to be forgiven of your sins, and how to be added to the kingdom, would never need to be delivered again. Those facts were handed down to Peter and the other apostles, it was now in their keeping. And then it was up to them, to keep preaching those words, and spreading that faith, that was once delivered to them.