Does God Speak to Us Through the Bible Today?

Yes. He certainly does.

God can speak to us through any means that he chooses. He certainly can and does speak to us through the writings contained in our Bible. But that doesn’t mean that God has something to say to us through every word or passage that we find there.

Pic3The languages and cultures in which the books that make up our Bible were written are truly foreign to us.  Those of us who have had the privilege of visiting foreign countries understand that their cultures, ways of doing things, languages and ways of thinking can be very different to our own. The people aren’t that different. They often seem to have the same problems and the same dreams. They have ambitions just like we do. They fall in love just like we do. They are, in fact, just like us but their culture and language are different. It is the same with the cultures and languages of the people who wrote our Bible.  However, it is important to remember that, although cultures, languages and ways of thinking and expressing thoughts may have changed enormously since our Bible was created, people haven’t changed very much and God hasn’t changed at all.

If we believe that every word of our Bible is inspired by God and applicable to us today then we have to try to work out what God is saying to us through each and every passage. If, on the other hand, we accept that the Bible is what it appears to be - the work of devout, sincere people writing long ago and in very different cultures  and languages – then we are freed from the responsibility of trying to work out how we should apply ancient and, sometimes, very difficult passages to our lives in the 21st Century. Instead we can let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts through the words of the writers.

Paul said many things that speak to us even though he was writing 2000 years ago in a very different culture.  He was a devout, sincere follower of Jesus, and so are we, and we find many of the things he said useful and inspiring.  There is no question that God speaks to us through the words of Paul. However, if we believe that God has something important to say to us through every word of Paul’s teachings, then we have to wrestle, for example, with the precise meaning of his directions as regards covering heads and the respective roles of men and women that are set out in I Corinthians 11. But if we just accept that this is a letter written by a devout Christian man to his brothers and sisters in an ancient, and very different, culture - where people's views of gender roles were very different - then we can focus on the many excellent things he says that are appropriate to us. We are liberated from the task of trying to apply teachings from that culture to our lives in the 21st century.

When God gave his law to the people of Israel, through Moses, more than 3000 years ago, was he intending that we 21st century Christians, should submit to it as well?  And if he was then why don’t we do so? (I have met many Christians who claim to believe that all of our Bible is inspired by God and applicable to us today. But I have never heard of one of them openly advocating the stoning to death of members of their congregations who have committed adultery. Yet that is what the Old Testament law says should be done.) The good news is that we are freed from that law. We don’t need to worry about it. There are only two laws that we need to obey; Love God and Love each other. Jesus said so.