14 June 2011

Tersely put: if God has spoken...

by Dan Phillips

Note: My blog-presence and ability to interact in the meta will probably be limited to nil this week. I explain why over at my blog. Meanwhile, here is this designedly terse post. Like the last one, I think there are enough ramifications, if we think it through, for a few hundred comments. Read the other post, and you'll understand that my ability to interact will be little to none. Be good, now.

If God has spoken, and if we have those words, that reality changes everything for us.

Dan Phillips's signature

25 comments:

donsands said...

Then I am obliged to listen.

Not Ashamed said...

I can only say not "if..." but "because..."

Frank Turk said...

A post so good it makes me want to quit work right now and live as if I believed it.

The trick will be to still believe it and not quit work. Somebody pray about that for me.

Robert said...

His Words should affect all that I think and do and how I do it. And I should be thankful that He has shared such wisdom with one as lowly as me.

Rachael Starke said...

Well, some of us are limited to words, sadly. Others, of course, have the additional blessings of dreams, visions, heart-shaped clouds in the sky, and meaningful pictures appearing in slices of bacon.

;)

Rachael Starke said...

But in all seriousness, there's more truth in those sixteen words then most preachers put in sixteen thousand. And all sixteen of them are going on my fridge right now. I'm not going though anything like the trial your dear wife is going through, but I'm going through a smallish one, and had a big-ish bad attitude about it until I read that.

Robert said...

I almost forgot my pet peeve...If God has spoken, then we should take the time to read and understand His Word. Yes, it is hard to get to the meaning of some portions of Scripture, but if we know Scripture is from God shouldn't that make it worth every effort to understand it? That also means that we should not try to interject what we think into Scripture, but to prayerfully read and study the Bible and work out the implications for us and the church.

Bill Honsberger said...

You mean we aren't all blind men surrounding an elephant???
You mean doubt is not a cardinal virtue? (ht to JM)
You mean we might be confident that we can know and therefore tell others who the Lord is and what He wants for us?
This will never take off. The marketing division will suffocate kittens over this. Drucker is rolling over in hell just thinking that this might undermine his entire project.
No this won't do at all.

kateg said...

The God of the universe has seen fit to let me know in words just what I need to know, and yet those words all too often go unrelished and unread. When I am prone to seek wonders... well, there's one.

John Dunn said...

If God has spoken . . . then we should worship Him who is the living WORD incarnate, crucified, risen, and exalted in glory.

Mike Westfall said...

Frank, are saying God spoke to you and He told you to quit work and live like you believe he spoke to you? You could be the next Mary Baker Eddy!

Michael Wright said...

Wow. Wonderfully put. Now we just have to remember that when we look at what He's said.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Well said, Dan.

Praying for Valerie.

the Grasshoppers

Strong Tower said...

God has spoken these words we have. That changes us and everything in reality.

Chris Dean said...

I tell all of my charismatic friends that if God has indeed spoken to you or others today, and since we live not by bread alone, but by EVERY word that comes from the mouth of God (cf. Mt. 4:4), then they are obligated to record precisely those words and add them to the Bible, e.g., the Gospel of Chris, and circulate to everyone far and wide as in the early church.

So far nobody I know has done that. I wonder why?

Johnny Dialectic said...

Even theological systems.

Andrea said...

At first I was looking at it like Not Ashamed, saying, shouldn't that be "since" or "because?"

As I reflected on it, the thought occurred that with so few words to arrange, and wanting to pack as much meaning in the sentence as possible, it seemed unlikely that the "if" was a mere accident.

So assuming that the author of these lines means what he says, why would he decide that "if" was the best word?

Well, sometimes when people use "if" it means that they want the reader/listener to keep in mind the alternative, perhaps even to compare alternatives. This fits in well with the conclusion, which indicates that the focus is indeed the difference that it makes.

Taking it from that perspective made a huge shift in the meaning of the post for me.

*If* there is no God, then the universe has no ultimate purpose or meaning.

*If* God is real, then meaning and purpose is possible, even in the very smallest and seemingly least important things.

Again, *if* God has not spoken, then we have no way of ever knowing what reason or purpose there is in the universe, or even if he really had any. We can never know for sure that he exists or what he is like unless he chooses to reveal himself in some way.

But *if* God has spoken, it was because he meant to convey something to us. Which means that he wants to reveal some things to us, and it may be possible to know that he exists, and what he is like, and what he wants from us.

*If* we do not have access to his words, then we really ought to be looking for them. Because without them, how can we really know anything about what is really important? Only God can know what is ultimately important, and if he went to the trouble to speak, the important things and things we need to know would surely be among the things he would say. It would have to be the consuming purpose of our lives to hunt down that revelation at whatever cost. Or we would be living life blind.

But *if* we *have* those words... ahhh. If the words we have recognized as the full and complete and sufficient and infallible Word of God are in fact what we believe them to be... What a relief!

We don't have to go on a frantic hunt searching for our purpose. We can really and truly know all that God wants us to know, all that we ultimately need to know about who He is and what He wants from us.

Nobody has to go up to heaven and bring them down. We don't have to roam the globe looking for more. We don't even have to ask for dreams and signs and extra revelation, because right there in those words is the promise that the scripture contains everything that we need for life and godliness.

And the differences that result because of *what* that Word reveals about God's love, goodness, power, righteousness, mercy, glory, wisdom... well, earth shaking, mind blowing, life changing.

At least, they should be. And may God make them ever more so in my life.

Thank you so much, sir, for this rich, challenging, and inspiring post.

You and your family are in my prayers.

Stefan said...

The way this has been worded, one is led to try to construct the converse statements...

"If God has spoken, but we don't have those words," then we're stumbling around in the dark trying to discern God's words.

"If God has not spoken, but we have some words as if He had," then we are lost in a world there is no deliverance, and no hope of redemption.

"If God has spoken, and we have those words," then (a) we live in a universe governed by a God who reveals Himself to us in a particular way, and (b) we have the privilege of having ready access to the record of His special revelation.

(Of course, God has spoken in other ways, too...like in general revelation, through the Son, the Word, the agent of creation.)

Merrilee Stevenson said...

Andrea brought her A game! In fact, I'm just going to go and read my Bible now.

Frank, I'll pray for you--even if you quit--with this verse in mind: (Colossians 3:17) And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Whateverman said...

If God has spoken, and if we have those words, that reality changes everything for us.

I guess this is true.

I look at both slightly redundant "ifs" as the same thing: if we have God's words, God has spoken. Unfortunately, that "if" is often the sticking point in discussions between believers and non-believers. Does the Bible or the Koran actually represent God's word?

However, I agree that if we had a fairly conclusive answer, it would change my life. The next question would be "how"; if the Bible or Koran contained the words of a deity, what would that mean for me?

The answer is probably fodder for a different discussion.

DJP said...

That's possible, and either a garden-variety dodge or good launching-point for a productive conversation, depending on the heart of the asker.

Here my aim (and this meta's focus) is folks who profess to accept a positive answer to the question, yet live, think, write, preach, direct churches, and do evangelism and science and politics and everything as if their answer actually had been in the negative.

Robert said...

Dan,

Your comment took me in a whole other direction and reminded me how short my memory is. If we have God's words, then why would a pastor not use them? If said pastor uses some other words without using the words that God used, then shame on him! For surely the pastor is then saying he has better words and that God's just don't cut it.

Whateverman said...

DJP responded to my comment (in part) with this: That's possible, and either a garden-variety dodge or good launching-point for a productive conversation, depending on the heart of the asker

It was intended as the latter. I'd started to write about how my life would change, but the post quickly got long, complicated and contentious. That being the first comment I'd ever left here, I decided discretion the better part of valor.

trogdor said...

If there is a God, He sets the rules. By virtue of creating and sustaining us, He has all authority and the right to demand or command whatever He will.

If this God has spoken to us, what He has said is indisputably the most important thing we need to know.

Whatever God commands must be obeyed.

Disobedience to the one who single-handedly sustains my very existence is unfathomably evil, and is worthy of any punishment God deems appropriate.

To have access to God's word and neglect it is utterly foolish.

To know God's word and neglect to tell it to those who don't is purely self-centered evil.

To actively deny someone access to God's word is colossally reprehensible.

To knowingly twist God's word in order to deceive others away from obeying Him is an incomparable evil.

To have the privilege of teaching God's word to others, and to choose instead to talk about anything else in all creation, is contemptible.

Is that a good start?

nwq101 said...

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, but nobody hears without a preacher--hence the need for preachers. (See generally Romans 10). God delegates preaching--and multitudinous other tasks--to us rather than doing them Himself because when lives are changed through His use of a human vessel, as opposed to His merely thundering out of the heavens in His awesome divinity, He is much more glorified. It barely registers as an accomplishment for an omnipotent God to do anything at all in the fullness of His power--One of unlimited means ought to be able to do anything He wants. However, if God largely restricts Himself to using frail, imperfect human vessels, yet still manages to accomplish His will... then that speaks volumes not so much to our merit, but to His. That God transforms lives by using humans to communicate with other humans speaks to the power inherent in the Word itself, no matter the vessel of its delivery; and that notion, once realized, is reality-changing.