This week in our series through 1 Samuel, we saw where Saul became desperate to hear the voice of God. You and I can likely relate. Perhaps you have been in situations where you wanted desperately to hear the voice of God. The question that must be asked is this: why do I not hear God?
I believe there are two reasons that Saul did not hear God speak in 1 Samuel 28. First, Saul was not hearing from God because of the sin in his life. This is very clear, "The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the Lord and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Amalek, therefore the Lord has done this thing to you this day (1 Sam. 28:17-18).” Saul did not trust the Lord and did not obey the Lord. Thus, the Lord had quit answering him when Saul called. It’s a rather simple concept to understand. Blatant disobedience leads to silence.
The second reason God was not speaking to Saul is just as easy to understand: God had nothing new to say. Notice that when Samuel is summoned from the dead to speak to Saul, he tells Saul the same thing that God has already said, "The Lord has done to you as he spoke by me, for the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your hand and given it to your neighbor, David (1 Sam. 28:17).” Notice that Samuel is speaking in the past tense. Saul had known this truth for quite some time, but he did not want to accept it. Instead, he comes now wanting a new revelation from God, and God will have no part of it. Saul wants to hear an alternative option from God, but God is silent. Sometimes silence is not actually silence.
God has spoken. Amen.
Christians today still struggle with this truth. Christians can often act like Saul when it comes to God’s Word. Time and time again God is accused of being silent. Sometimes he may be, but many times he is not. In fact, many times the issue is that he has already spoken but Christians simply have not listened. Christian, understand that you have sixty-six books of God speaking to you. How much more could you possibly want?
Apparently, as a remedy to God’s alleged silence, we see folks from time to time claiming to have some new word from God. I want to address these claims.
Two important terms to define:
Revelation - What is revelation? Simply put, it is the unveiling of something previously hidden, or uncovering. Eerdmans Bible Dictionary defines revelation as "God’s deliberate disclosure to mankind of true knowledge of himself and his purposes and actions on behalf of mankind.” It is a deliberate act of communication.
Canon - Do we have this revelation? Yes. God’s Word is sixty-six various books that were penned by more than 40 different human authors over the course of many centuries. Protestant Christians hold to what we call the canon of Scripture. “Canon” is a word that means, “Rule” or “standard.” Thus, the sixty-six books that make up the Protestant Bible are considered canonical. This means that these sixty-six books are the standard or rule by which every other claim of revelation is judged, and found lacking. These sixty-six books are God’s Word, while other books are not. These sixty-six books are understood to be the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. From Genesis to Malachi and from Matthew to Revelation; God’s Word revealed to mankind. When John closed the Book of Revelation, the canon was closed too.
What does God’s Word say about God’s Word?
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
Notice two words. Breathed out - This is only one word in the original Greek, and it’s basic meaning is inspiration. Through human authors God breathed out his word, meaning that he inspired them to write. Do not confuse inspiration with mechanical dictation. Some might argue that God used humans as robots, simply dictating to them word for word the books of the Bible. This is wrong though because each author’s personality can clearly be evidenced in their writing. God simply inspired them, and thus, breathed out his Word.
The second word to notice is the word complete. This indicates that the man of God does not need any extra revelation, extra meaning above and beyond what God has already graciously given. Beware of the "man of God” that claims to have a new revelation from God, suggesting that he has been, until that point, incomplete.
Revelation 22:18-19 - "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."
Remember this warning? Its immediate context is referring simply to the book of Revelation, not to the entire Bible, but the overarching principle can be applied to the canonical Scripture in its entirety.
These are simply two passages of many that speak to the doctrine of Scripture. Other notable passages you may want to reference are Isaiah 55:8-11; Psalm 119, Hebrews 4:12; and 2 Peter 1:21. The two passages referenced above are enough to combat the idea of extra (or new) revelation in our day though. Beware of what you read: from the Book of Mormon, to alleged deathbed glimpses of heaven, to devotional books written as though Jesus is speaking the words. These sorts of books are very dangerous to the believer, and unbeliever alike. They lead people astray. False teachers intend to deceive, and wolves intend to devour. And remember, wolves wear sheep’s clothing so that they are not so easily detected.
If you feel as though God is silent in your life, there are two immediate steps of application you should take. First, you should examine your life for active, unconfessed sin, and you should confess it to the Lord and repent (1 Jn. 1:9). Perhaps God is not answering you because he has already spoken and you simply have not obeyed him.
Secondly, if you feel that God is silent, you should read the Bible. If you want revelation from God, read the Bible. If you want to know what Heaven will be like, or if you just want to know that Heaven is for real, read the Bible. If you want to hear Jesus speaking to you or if you want to hear Jesus calling you, read the Bible. If you want to know God’s will for your life, read the Bible. If you want direction and guidance, read the Bible. If you are seeking wisdom, read the Bible. If you are seeking counseling, read the Bible. If you need to be encouraged, read the Bible. Simply put, read the Bible.
Myers, A. C. (1987). In The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (p. 883). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.