Article by Tim Challies – original source here.
I want to hear God’s voice. I want him to speak to me in a personal way. I want to know that it’s really and truly him. Is that too much to ask?
It’s not too much to ask. In fact, it is God’s joy to communicate to each one of his children in the most personal and intimate way. Our Father speaks to us. He speaks clearly and he speaks personally. He really does.
John Piper wrote about this once, describing a vivid encounter with God during his early-morning quiet time:
Let me tell you about a most wonderful experience I had early Monday morning … God actually spoke to me. There is no doubt that it was God. I heard the words in my head just as clearly as when a memory of a conversation passes across your consciousness. The words were in English, but they had about them an absolutely self-authenticating ring of truth. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God still speaks today.
As I prayed and mused, suddenly it happened. God said, “Come and see what I have done.” There was not the slightest doubt in my mind that these were the very words of God. In this very moment. At this very place in the twenty-first century, 2007, God was speaking to me with absolute authority and self-evidencing reality. I paused to let this sink in. There was a sweetness about it. Time seemed to matter little. God was near. He had me in his sights. He had something to say to me. When God draws near, hurry ceases. Time slows down.
He goes on to share some of what God said to him in that time together—God spoke of his deeds, of his power, of his authority and sovereignty. And then, “Think of it. Marvel at this. Stand in awe of this. The God who keeps watch over the nations, like some people keep watch over cattle or stock markets or construction sites — this God still speaks in the twenty-first century. I heard his very words. He spoke personally to me.”
Now, what did this do in Piper? How did the shock of receiving this word from the Lord affect him? This is where he springs the big surprise.
It has increased my love for the Bible as God’s very word, because it was through the Bible that I heard these divine words, and through the Bible I have experiences like this almost every day. The very God of the universe speaks on every page into my mind — and your mind. We hear his very words. …
And best of all, they are available to all. If you would like to hear the very same words I heard on the couch in northern Minnesota, read Psalm 66:5–7. That is where I heard them. O, how precious is the Bible. It is the very word of God. In it God speaks in the twenty-first century. This is the very voice of God. By this voice, he speaks with absolute truth and personal force. By this voice, he reveals his all-surpassing beauty. By this voice, he reveals the deepest secrets of our hearts. No voice anywhere anytime can reach as deep or lift as high or carry as far as the voice of God that we hear in the Bible.
It is a great wonder that God still speaks today through the Bible with greater force and greater glory and greater assurance and greater sweetness and greater hope and greater guidance and greater transforming power and greater Christ-exalting truth than can be heard through any voice in any human soul on the planet from outside the Bible.
Piper heard God’s voice and experienced genuine relationship with him through the Bible. Was it an impersonal experience? Did it leave him longing for something else somewhere else? No, not at all. It increased his intimacy and communion with God. It increased his confidence in the power and beauty of the Bible. It satisfied his desire to commune with God, yet made him long to experience even more of God in the pages of his Word.
So many people long for personal communication from God. They want to hear an audible voice or experience his whisper in the silence or see a sign. They want something, anything personal. But what they may fail to understand is that God’s voice in and through the Bible already is personal. In fact, it is the most deeply personal communication we can experience in this life. Why? Because it is truth divinely illuminated and applied from within. The Holy Spirit takes words given to all humanity, testifies to their truth, and applies them to us in the most precise and intimate ways. He speaks hope where we are hopeless, strength where we are weak, joy where we are sorrowful, rebuke where we are complacent. The believer, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, knows and discovers that the Bible is the living and active Word of God (Hebrews 4:12). It is as personal as personal gets.
Do you accept the Bible for what it is? Do you rejoice in it? Just read Psalm 19, Psalm 119, 2 Timothy 3:14-17 and 4:1-2, Hebrews 4:12, and let yourself be amazed at all the Bible claims for itself. The Bible declares its uniqueness, its goodness, its necessity, its worth, its clarity, its sufficiency.
Piper says, “The sufficiency of Scripture means that we don’t need any more special revelation.” The sufficiency of the Bible means that we can be supremely satisfied in the voice of God as it comes through the Word of God. We don’t need to yearn for anything else. The Bible is sufficient to live a life that honors God, but also a life that is deeply intimate with God. The Bible is not abstract or distant. It is personal communication from a personal God. We have no reason to think that we will find a better or deeper experience of God anywhere else, at least on this side of heaven.
Piper aptly lays down the challenge:
The great need of our time is for people to experience the living reality of God by hearing his word personally and transformingly in Scripture. Something is incredibly wrong when the words we hear outside Scripture are more powerful and more affecting to us than the inspired word of God. Let us cry with the psalmist, “Incline my heart to your word” (Psalm 119:36). “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18). Grant that the eyes of our hearts would be enlightened to know our hope and our inheritance and the love of Christ that passes knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 1:18; 3:19). O God, don’t let us be so deaf to your word and so unaffected with its ineffable, evidential excellency that we celebrate lesser things as more thrilling…
Whatever you desire outside the Bible will not be as good as what you find within the Bible. It will not be as clear. It will not be as trustworthy. It will not be as pure. You need nothing more.