A few days ago, my roommate and I were in my car listening to a radio program. It was a Christian broadcast and I don’t remember what they were talking about but I remember them saying that they needed a fresh word from God. We had a conversation going on at the time, but when that was done, I brought up what I heard and my roommate was of the same opinion.
I have a growing concern with that statement because it implies something. It implies that the Word we have is no longer enough. “Lord. We’d like to thank you for sending Scripture, but we really need something more to guide us in our lives. Do you have anything new to offer?”
This is one reason I’m quite concerned with the movements based on experience and hearing the voice of God today. It seems that Scripture takes a back position. Instead of going to the text and finding principles that can help us in making a decision, we instead are looking for a fresh word.
Now make no mistake here. I am not denying that God can speak. He certainly can if he wants to. I am saying we should not expect such as it is not normative. Instead, God has already spoken. He is not silent. Creation testifies of him and Scripture testifies of him. He is the God who is there.
I suspect that this could be why so many churches are falling away also and not having the growth in discipling that they should. People are turning away from the Word and turning to new fads. It’s nice to think that you can get a personal message from God. It isn’t to think you might actually have to read and study the Bible in order to understand how you are to live your life.
Why have churches turned to Bible studies where it seems each time we get to “What does the text mean to you?” Instead, we have to ask what it meant to the original hearers and what the author meant by it. (Oh yes. Despite postmodernism the author is the one who determines what a text means.)
At our church, we have a sermon and then later we meet for an hour and usually discuss the sermon. I find this to be a great way of doing things. We all get blessed some and we’re allowed to make comments and answer questions. It’s especially helpful and in a way, difficult for the preacher when he knows he’ll be called to account for what he teaches.
This will make him study more though so the listeners will be the benefit. If the pastor knows the congregation knows the passage he’s going to teach on as well as he does, he’s not going to handle it sloppily. He’s going to handle it well for no pastor wants to get called out on what they say. In turn, the congregation will be blessed for having done their own homework instead of relying entirely on the minister.
So, do we need a fresh word? No. We don’t. We need to return to the one we have.