Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 14, 1963
NUMBER 40, PAGE 1,12-13a

How God Speaks To Us

H. Osby Weaver

In John 8.32, Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". In His prayer to God in John 17:17, He said, "Thy word is truth". Since the word of God is the truth and a knowledge of the truth is necessary to our being free, then a knowledge of the word of God is indispensable to our spiritual freedom. Essential to a knowledge of the word of God is a proper understanding of the manner by which God reveals His will to us. Hebrews 1:1, 2, declares: "God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son...." Whatever God says to those "in these last days," He says it through His Son. He reveals Himself in no other way.

This statement by the writer of the Hebrew letter is a magnificent one. In one sentence, he affirms the existence of God as opposed to atheism; the Sonship of Christ versus infidelity; that the old scriptures came by the inspiration of God in contradiction to agnosticism; and that the new covenant was spoken by His Son in disavowal of skepticism, In "sundry times and in divers manners, God spake in time past." This speaking done in olden times was but preparatory to that which He later spoke through His Son. It differed in four particulars as is set forth in Hebrews 1: (1) It differed in time — God spoke in time past. (2) It differed in recipients — He spoke unto the fathers. (3) It differed in agents — He spoke by the prophets (4) It differed in method — He spoke in different manners. The different manners can be seen throughout the Old Testament. Jehovah spoke to Moses out of a burning bush, Exodus 3:3; He spoke to Abimelech in a dream. (Genesis 20:3) He spoke to Abraham at one time through an angel (Genesis 22:11), and at another, in a vision. (Genesis 15:1)

This speaking in "divers manners" refers to the different ways such as types, shadows, symbols, parables, allegories, visions, proverbs, etc. Someone has said that the Old Testament conceals Christ, while the New Testament reveals Christ. Christ has been concealed in the types, shadows, symbols, and metaphors of the Old Testament. We find Him infolded in the crevices of the rock from which Israel drank in the wilderness. (I Corinthians 10:4) He is pictured in the faithfulness of Abraham, the patience of Job, the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of Daniel, the purity of Joseph, the meekness of Moses and the boldness of Isaiah. He was symbolized by every bleeding lamb led to Jewish altars. God truly spake to the fathers in "divers manners", but in these last days, He has spoken unto us in His Son. Because God used different ways to speak to the fathers in time past, does not argue that He employs the same methods today. No longer does he reveal Himself to man in burning bushes, angels, dreams, and visions. Those living "in these last days" who claim to have received revelations from God, other than through His Son, are reflecting upon either their own intellect or honesty.

"Last Days"

Just when are "these last days" or "the end of these days" when God would cease to speak in "many parts" and in "divers manners" and confine Himself to speaking unto us in His Son? Aside from the fact that the Jews considered such expressions as applicable to the time that would follow the coming of the Messiah, we believe the scriptures are sufficiently clear on this point to establish the exact period known as "These last days".

How The Son Speaks To Us

Since God speaks to us by His Son, it is well at this point to raise the question, "How does the Son speak to us?" During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke directly to men as he walked among them, but since the apostle John received the last message from Christ on Patmos Isle there is no evidence that He has ever again spoken directly to any man. While here, He wrote upon the sand only a few words which were soon erased by the erosion of soil and the alterations of time and no one knows what they were. Even though He spoke to men while here, how can we be sure they remembered what he said?

In preparing the disciples for His leaving, Jesus told them that the word which He spoke was not His but the Father's who sent him. (John 14:24) He said, "These things have I spoken unto you, while yet abiding with you. But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you". (John 14:25, 26) All that Jesus had taught, the Holy Spirit would repeat — "He shall teach you all things". The Lord knew that His apostles were not super-men and left to their own human weaknesses, would likely forget many things He had taught them in three and one-half years, therefore, He promised them the Holy Spirit who would "bring to their remembrance" all that He had said to them. He was fixing them where they could not forget it. This message which He had from God for a lost and dying world was of such momentous importance, that He was unwilling to leave it in human hands unaided and unguided. He told the apostles that it was necessary that He go away, but He would not leave them without a helper. (John 16:7) We hear Him saying, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you. All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine; therefore, said I, that he taketh of mine, and shall declare it unto you." (John 16:12-15)

The Holy Spirit was to guide the apostles into all truth, teach them all things, show them things to come, and bring to their remembrance all that Christ had said while with them. This is how Christ revealed His will to the apostles after His ascension. What the Spirit revealed to the apostles was not His own. He was not to "speak from himself; but what things he shall hear, these shall he speak." Jesus said the Spirit "shall take of mine, and declare it unto you." The apostles were baptized in ((overwhelmed by) the Spirit. The Spirit took control of them and spoke through them.

Acts 1:26 tells of Matthias' being numbered with the eleven apostles. The next verse (Acts 2:1) says, "When the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place." All of whom were together in one place? All of the apostles, as the context clearly shows. Then verse 3 says, "There appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each of them." There appeared tongues unto whom? It sat upon whom? Upon the apostles, of course. Now, verse 4 says, "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Who were filled with the Holy Spirit and to whom did the Spirit give utterance? Why, the apostles. This was a fulfillment of the promise Jesus had made to the apostles back in Acts 1:5. He there told them that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit "not many days hence." Ten days later they received this promise and were guided into all truth by the Spirit.

The apostles, and those upon whom they laid their hands in imparting spiritual rifts, one of which was the gift of knowledge, did not have to learn the gospel of Christ. The apostle Paul said, "I make known unto you, brethren, as touching the gospel which was preached by me, that it is not after man. For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 1:11, 12) How did Christ reveal it to him? Well, let us allow him to tell us. In speaking of the wisdom of God which none of the rulers of this world knew, Paul says, "But unto them, God revealed it through the Spirit" (I Corinthians 2:10) This is how Paul and the other apostles received a knowledge of the gospel. They were not taught it, but it came through the revelation of Christ by means of the Spirit's making it known. Paul goes on to tell us to what degree the Spirit revealed God's wisdom: "But we received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth: combining spiritual things with spiritual words." (I Corinthians 2:12, 13) The Spirit not only revealed to the apostles the "things" of God, but also provided then with the "words" with which to express those things. There was no possibility of their making a mistake.

How The Apostles Speak

God speaks to us through His Son. The Son speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit speaks to us through the apostles. Now when we learn how the apostles speak to us, we will know how God, in these last days speaks to us in His Son.

The apostle John suggests the key to the whole matter when he wrote, "Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life it his name". (John 20:30, 31) Why did you write these things John? "That ye might believe." Romans 10:17 says, "Belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." God's way of speaking in Christ and producing faith in man is through the writings of the apostles and other inspired men which are recorded in this book which we call the New Testament.

The apostle Paul instructs Christians in regard to their conduct by what he wrote. Listen to him' "These things write I unto thee.... that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of the truth." (I Timothy 3:14, 15) Paul wrote that we might know how to behave ourselves in the house of God. He was not writing to tell us how to behave in the church building; he was writing to tell us how to conduct ourselves as members of the family of God which is the church. So, through the writings of the apostles, God speaks to us in His Son and tells us how to conduct ourselves as His children.

In I Corinthians 14:37, we read, "If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandments of the Lord." Reading what these inspired men wrote is the way we learn what constitutes the commandments of the Lord. If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, he will take knowledge of the fact that this is the only way that we can know the will of the Lord today. If one claims that he has received knowledge of the Lord in some other way, he is neither a prophet nor spiritual, The Lord sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles to "bring to their remembrance" all that he had said to them, but that is not the way we remember what he said. The apostle Peter said, "This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance; that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles" (2 Peter 3:1, 2) We learn and are put in remembrance through the writings of the New Testament which is a product of the pen of the "holy prophets and apostles" as they were guided by the Holy Spirit.

Before the gospel was revealed, hidden in the mind of God for generations, it was referred to as the "mystery of God" or the "mystery of Christ". Now, it is no longer a mystery, because it has been revealed. Because it one time was a mystery, the New Testament writers referred to it as such. Paul says, "How that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; which in other generations was not made known unto the sons of men, as it hath now been revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit." (Ephesians 3:3-5) This mystery was revealed to the apostles and New Testament prophets in the Spirit. Paul said he wrote it, and when we read it, we can perceive his understanding of it. When we read what Paul wrote, learn what he said, we can know as much about the gospel as he knew. There isn't any other way to know it, and there isn't any more to be known.

Seeing that it has all been given, Paul admonishes us in these words, "Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written". (I Corinthians 4:6) If God has spoken it to us in His Son, it will be written. If it is not written, God did not say, and It is not so. We had better learn not to go beyond the things that are written.

God speaks to us in His Son. The Son speaks to us through the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to us through the apostles and prophets. The apostles and prophets speak to us through their writings in the New Testament. That which they wrote is complete, lacking nothing. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17, says, "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work". What more does man need than teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness? And these things have been given to the degree that the man of God may be complete. That which is complete cannot be improved upon in any sense. When a thing is altered, it becomes incomplete. These scriptures inspired of God furnish us completely unto every good work. There is not a single good work which cannot be found taught in the New Testament. If the writings of the apostles and prophets do not contain it, it is not a good work, and it matters not what our attitude about it may be. If God said it, it is good, if God did not say it, it is not good! We need to stay within the things that are written.

Warnings Against False Teachers

While the scriptures inspired of God furnish us completely unto every good work, they also warn against following false teachers and teachings. I John 41 warns "Be- loved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world". John tells us not to believe everything that we hear preached. Why? Because many false prophets (teachers) are gone out into the world. He did not say that we would run up on one once in a while, but that there are many. If every preacher is preaching the truth, who are the false teachers John warned against? How may we know a false teacher? John said to try them, put them to a test, prove them. How? By what the New Testament says. Ask for book, chapter, and verse. Accept nothing that is preached unless you can read it out of the Bible plain enough for you to understand, and accept nothing as law to us, unless you can read it out of the New Testament. God, in these last days, hath spoken unto us in His Son.

— H. O. W.