Good afternoon, everybody. I’d like to welcome those who haven’t been here in a while. Justin, Timothy’s college roommate, is here. I’d like to welcome Justin. Actually, is this Justin’s first time? It’s your first time. Okay, okay. Yeah, God orchestrated an amazing encounter with your older brother at the gym and who knew that years later, Timothy and Justin would become very close friends and roommates. So praise the Lord for His faithfulness.
I’d like to welcome those who are joining online as well and all the familiar faces. Does anyone have a word that you’d like to share? A Thanksgiving, a testimony? Maybe the college students there who will be returning soon, maybe they have a reflection from the summer. Anyone have anything they’d like to share to edify the Body? Okay, that’s fine.
Let’s read a couple of verses from Hebrews and then we’ll start. Hebrews 1:1, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets. But in these last days, he has spoken to us by his son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is a radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature and he upholds the universe, the word of his power.
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3, ESV)
Okay, let’s pray. Father, we surrender before you. We’re here to hear from your voice and your voice alone. We pray that you would speak clearly to each of us wherever we are in our journey. We pray that you would meet us and lift us up so that we can draw closer to you. We humble ourselves in your presence. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
I had a conversation with my mom a couple weeks ago and she watches this sermon so she’ll see this. She was describing the message that her pastor had just preached and it was something along the lines of, does God speak? And he had a very different answer than the answer I would give. So I’ve been asking the Lord for the last two weeks, who’s right? Can you clarify to many in the body of Christ who may be confused about that question?
And so if I were to ask the congregation here, does God speak? Do we have an answer? Yes, yes, he speaks. And so I want to ask a follow-up question. How does he speak? So if I were to give you a fill in the blank, he speaks blank. How would you answer that question? How does he speak? He speaks blank. Anybody have an answer?No? In many ways, yes. In many ways, yes. Which is already a different answer than some in the body of Christ may give.
The answer the Lord gave to me this week was he speaks biblically. Biblically. And that’s different than saying he speaks only through the Bible. It’s a slight nuance, but it’s a very different understanding of who God is. If you say he speaks only through the Bible, that is partially true. A lot of what God says, he speaks through the Bible. If you were to be biblical, how does God speak in the Bible? It is in many ways. Many ways.
Some say he only speaks through the Bible, so I want to just address those people in the body of Christ. It’s almost like the 9-11 Commission Report or the JFK assassination. If you were to read that report, it’s like half of it or most of it is blacked out. And I wonder if some people are preaching through a redacted Bible. And they just gloss over or ignore or cut out or put a black line over the verses that they think they don’t apply to them today.
And there are supernatural elements in the Bible, of course, but they make arguments like God doesn’t do that anymore. And I don’t know what Bible they’re reading. In my Bible, God is speaking supernaturally in many ways all the time. If you’re going through a Bible reading plan, like this is like, okay, if God speaks only through the Bible, you’re going through your Bible reading plan, you’re reading Exodus and you read about Moses and Midian, and so you would try to apply that to your life.
Okay, I’m in a quiet season. I should be faithful. I should be good to my spouse and my kids because this is a season where God is humbling me, maybe in the future you turn the page of the Bible, maybe in the future I will do something glorious for the kingdom, like leading an entire nation out of Egypt. And so you can read that at one sitting of the Bible.
But next month you happen to read a different part of the Bible. You’re in Joshua now. And so now suddenly am I to be a conqueror and I should take territory for the Lord and we should be on social media trying to evangelize the whole world. Is God that random in addressing to us, addressing each of his children, that from one part of the Bible to another it can be a radically different message only one month’s time passed in your Bible reading, but is God that random? I don’t think he is.
Of course there are limitations if you say it’s only through the Bible. The Bible doesn’t tell you what school to attend. The Bible doesn’t tell you what major to take. The Bible doesn’t tell you what city to live, what job to take, what church to join, who to marry.There’s so many questions and critical decisions of life that the Bible doesn’t give you a specific answer. And so, if the Bible is how God speaks, that means all the critical decisions of your life the Bible is not addressing so I just need to make it.
So let’s examine how God spoke to his people in the Bible. Let me backtrack a little bit. Some people who say God speaks only through the Bible, they tend to be very intellectual. They have many degrees and commentaries and if you listen to the sermon, it sounds like a seminary lecture and clearly the person has done their homework. If that’s how you read the Bible, it’s interesting how those people actually say things like, “Oh, the gifts of the spirit have ceased. All the supernatural elements that we read in the scripture is for another era, it’s for apostles and there are no more apostles.”
They’ll make some type of intellectual argument which you cannot find in scripture. But they’re limiting God, in my opinion, based on their lack of experience with God. And so they say, “Well, I never heard God audibly, I never met God visibly, he never gave me a dream and so therefore God must not do that anymore because I’m a pastor and I’m well educated.” So this theology emerges out of their lack of experience of God, not out of scripture because you cannot find one verse to defend that kind of position.
So let’s examine how God spoke directly and indirectly to his people and I want to argue that he speaks in the exact same ways to his people today. For example, Mark 16:17, “And these signs will follow those who believe in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will take up serpents and if they drink anything deadly it will by no means hurt them, they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover.”
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18, ESV)
Many in the body of Christ would never preach this although it’s the same great commission as Matthew 28, except this one is more supernatural. They won’t preach it and they will never lay hands on the sick, they will just say, “Let me just pray for it from a distance.”If you’re in the body of Christ you should say, “No, lay hands on me, I’m sick, can you lay hands on me?” It says it in God’s word, we should do it like this.
But if you’re too heady and you don’t have a lot of experience with God then you will have these weird teachings that are not scripturally based and that’s why I threw away all my commentaries because I realized that is growing me in the wrong way intellectually but not experientially. There are certain practices we read about in scripture that did cease but for good reason.
For example, there was Urim and Thumim which were gemstones, black and white, dice if you will and people like Joshua used it to discern the will of God like should I fight? Yes, no, black, white, just use these stones. Similarly, the 11 apostles in Acts 1 when they needed to replace Judas, they cast lots and it fell to Mathias.
But why did this practice of Urim, Thumim, casting of lots like flipping a coin, rolling dice, why did it stop? It stopped because in the very next chapter, Acts 2, the Holy Spirit was poured out. And so you don’t need to do these weird things anymore because God speaks directly through the Spirit of God.
One interesting thing I want to give you so that you know how to read the Bible is the Bible is very clear that nobody has seen God the Father. Nobody has seen God the Father. It is in Exodus 33:20-23. Moses and God are going to have this kind of encounter but God says you can’t see me and live. So let me just hide you in the cleft of a rock, let my glory pass by.
20 But, he said, you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live. 21 And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, 22 and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen. (Exodus 33:20-23, ESV)
You’re going to see me from the back side but you cannot see me from the face, face to face or you will die.
Moses says the similar kind of a sentiment in the New Testament, John 5:37. He says, “And the Father himself who sent me has testified of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time nor seen his form.”
37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, (John 5:37, ESV)
So nobody has ever seen God the Father. It says it also in 1 Timothy 6:14-16. It speaks of the coming of the Lord Jesus. This is Paul speaking to Timothy. He says, “Which he will manifest in his own time. He who is blessed and the only potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords who alone has immortality dwelling in unapproachable light whom no man has ever seen or can see to him be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”
14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper timehe who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:14-16, ESV)
And then 1 John 4:12, “No one has seen God at any time, God the Father.
12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12, ESV)
If that’s the case, how are we reading about all of these encounters in the Old Testament? If God says in his word, nobody has ever seen me. That means every time the Lord appears, every time he shows up, every time somebody sees something in the Old Testament, it’s not God the Father, it’s God the Son. It’s a Christophany, it’s a pre-incarnate Christ. And I can go after example after example. Genesis 18, three men visit Abraham.
One of them is the Lord Jesus, the other two are angels. Genesis 22, Brother Abraham preached last week.Isaac and Abraham the Father are going up to Mount Moriah. The Lord appears to them and says, “Stop, Abraham.” Who is that Lord who appeared?
It’s Jesus Christ. This is seen in Joshua 5:13-15. The commander of the army of the Lord appears to Joshua. Joshua falls flat on his face. He worships. And the commander tells him, “Take off your sandals. Where you’re standing is holy ground.”
15 And the commander of the Lord ‘s army said to Joshua, Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy. And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:15, ESV)
Is this a mere angel, a commander, a general, or is it none other than the Lord Jesus Christ? There is Daniel 3, his three friends in the fiery furnace. There’s a fourth man there with them protecting them from the fires.
It is Jesus. And so, Jesus is everywhere from the beginning to the end of scripture. That’s why he’s called the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, everything in between. It is Jesus.
Anytime the body of Christ, centuries of gold have seen the Lord. And you read about some kind of an exchange. It is not God the Father, it is God the Son. It is Jesus Christ appearing the same way that he appeared in Acts 9 to Apostle Paul, a flash of light. So it’s not just the eyewitness accounts while Jesus was living, not just those apostles, but even a future apostle who was not an eyewitness and a disciple of Jesus while he was living. He experienced Jesus supernaturally.
And that’s all of us. That potential is available. You can meet Jesus supernaturally through a flash of light or through a dream or through some other way. Jesus, he rose again. And that means he’s alive. That means he speaks because he’s the same yesterday, today, forever. This is stated in Hebrews 13:8.
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8, ESV)
If I wrote a book and I called it “Principles for Living by Ray Choi” and I had various chapters and I wanted to give this to my boys as good life wisdom.Chapter one would be “Knees over Toes Exercises.” You need to do these to stay mobile even into your 50s. Then there’d be a chapter about distilled water. The water purity is very important for your longevity. I’d have another one that says, “What does it mean to be a man?” To work hard, to do things you don’t like just because you want to provide, do without complaining, be faithful. All of that would be in that chapter.
I’d have a chapter about the challenges and the benefits of being an entrepreneur. It is challenging, but there are huge benefits. I would talk about being a critical thinker. Don’t just take somebody who speaks with authority because they have a degree. Don’t even take my word for it. Be a critical thinker. Do research on your own and ask the Lord ultimately.
Let’s say I wrote that book next year. Everybody in my family is wondering, as they grow up into their 20s, they’re starting to have their own family. They’re reading this book, trying to discern, what are these principles? Let me just meditate on them. I don’t quite understand this exercise called a split squat. They’re just meditating on that and thinking about it. I’m just a few miles away and all they have to do is visit me or call me on the phone and I’ll answer them.
It’s almost like that when it comes to the body of Christ, that we’re reading a book as if Jesus is dead, just meditating on these principles, wondering, WWJD, what would Jesus do? Instead of realizing he’s alive, I should ask him. This is just common sense to the body of Christ. Let’s just ask Jesus because he’s alive and he will answer.
God speaks primarily through his son. We read that in John 10. Jesus says he calls himself a shepherd.
He calls all of us his sheep. And what is the quality of sheep? We hear the shepherd’s voice. Hebrews 1 that I read, in the past eras, God spoke through prophets primarily. But in these last days and from the point that Jesus came 2000 years ago and ascended, we entered into the last days. We’ve been in it for 2000 plus years.
In these last days, what is the primary way that God speaks to his people? It says it clearly in Hebrews 1:1-2. He speaks primarily through his son.
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1-2, ESV)
God also speaks through the spirit.It says in John 16, the spirit, when he comes, he convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.
And so if you, I’m sure that’s happened to you as you read scripture, as you just evaluate your day, you’re just checking in with the Lord at the end of a day and then suddenly there’s a conviction of sin. Oh, I did that. I said that. I shouldn’t have said that. I shouldn’t have done that. And there’s a, prior to that, you didn’t think about it. You just went about your day. But in that moment, there was a conviction.
That’s how God, the spirit, the spirit is convicting you of your sins.
Through the spirit, God also guides you. In Acts 16, so this is not just how God spoke to the prophets supernaturally. God spoke to Paul in the New Testament supernaturally in Acts 16. He is faithfully doing missions in Asia and he’s trying to go to this town and this town and this town and every town in Asia he goes to at some point and we pick up in this chapter 16, the spirit stops him and says, “You cannot go there.” And so he says, “Okay. “I don’t know why the Spirit said that. Let me go to another Asian city. And then he gets stopped again. Oh, I can’t go there either. And then as he’s sleeping, he gets a vision. It’s the Macedonian vision. A man from Macedonia, which is in Europe, says, “Come over here. We need help.”
And so that’s how the missions of God that started with, largely through Paul, got rerouted through the Holy Spirit stopping him and then a dream of vision in the night rerouting him to Europe. God speaks through dreams and visions.
We covered Acts 16. It’s not just the book of Acts. It is the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation from beginning to end. That entire letter is a supernatural revelation of Jesus Christ and the things that will come in the future.
In 1994, when I was a Christian, only for a few months, I had an encounter with Jesus through a dream. It’s my one and only. I wish it happened more frequently, but it happened in 1994 when I saw Jesus. He came to me and he says, “I’m going to leave now, Ray.” And I said, “OK, Lord, but can you stay with me?” And he says, “Don’t worry, Ray. I will never leave, never forsake you.” He took off his robe. He put it on me. It was such a powerful experience.And as a new believer, it really catapulted me to pursue the Lord.
And no wonder God gave it to me early on so that I would be in this position today. Had I not had that kind of an experience at the early days of my Christian journey, I might not be here. But the Lord gave me that. It made me so hungry for him to know Jesus more.
God speaks directly through his word, through his son, through his spirit, through dreams and visions. God speaks indirectly through others. Saul, the king, had Samuel the prophet. A lot of what God spoke to Saul was through, indirectly through Samuel. David had an intimate relationship with the Lord, but he had moments when he was in sin, when he was blind. Even David needed a prophet like Nathan to call him out when he was in sin.
Even right now, you have to consider, is Ray just shooting from the hips? Is he just thinking and sharing from his own thoughts? Or is this God speaking to me indirectly through the preaching of his word? You have to make that call for yourself.
And so when you ask people to pray for you about a decision, usually that’s where it ends. But if you really want to get better at hearing from the Lord indirectly through others, you want to check in with them later and say, “How did the Lord inspire you, brother, sister? I’m about to make this decision. We’re praying to the same Lord. Hopefully, it’s all lining up.”
God speaks indirectly through others, also through circumstances. In Habakkuk 1, Habakkuk was complaining to God about the condition that the Israelites were in. There was violence among the people. There was a lot of sin and equity. There was plundering, strife, contention. It’s all in Habakkuk 1. There’s lawlessness. There is the wicked surrounding the righteous. There’s a perversion of justice. And wrong decisions are being handed down by a corrupt court.
And you could almost pick those verses out of Habakkuk, put us exactly in that same situation today. We could be saying the same is happening in America and our world today. And what was God’s answer to Habakkuk? He said, “I’m raising up the Chaldeans, the Babylonians. They will be an instrument of judgment to get my people to return to me through a difficult, painful set of circumstances.”
So we have trials. We have tests.Like things, when it goes wrong, we should ask, “Why is this happening, Lord?” God has allowed, He speaks loud and clear if you have ears to hear. During the COVID lockdown, God spoke volumes to the people of God who were asking, “Why is this happening, Lord?” I got plenty of answers. I wonder how God spoke to you during that season. Through trials, through tests, through sickness, through just unexpected tragedy, God is speaking. He gets our attention. He makes it so that we will not keep going down this road toward destruction. We will turn around. This is how God speaks indirectly, oftentimes.
If God is speaking all the time through various means, why can’t I hear Him? I just want to end with a few reasons. Reason number one, I can’t hear because perhaps there’s some kind of blockage. Matthew 13 speaks of, you know, Jesus is speaking to a crowd. And He speaks in parables. And then afterward, the disciples ask Him, “Why do you speak that way so opaquely? I don’t understand what you said. And I know you can speak very clearly. You’re the best communicator I’ve ever heard. Why do you speak that way and don’t unpack the truth for the crowd?”
And Jesus says, “It’s to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, that some people, they will be seeing and yet never see. They will be listening and yet never hear. They will be trying to understand in their heart, but their hearts are dull. They will never perceive.”
And so could it be that we’re blind, deaf, and dull of heart? That could be one reason. And so for some type of a blockage, we need to ask theLord, what is blocking your voice? Why can’t I hear you? The second reason is just pure immaturity. If you’re a young infant, you can’t remember that day because it’s all a blur. But that whole year plus, your parents were speaking to you every single day. And yet you didn’t perceive or understand a thing. It’s just maybe sounds, but you can’t understand. What is my parent trying to communicate?
If you are a spiritual infant, God could be speaking to you every single day and you will not perceive. The more mature you are, the more you will understand. And there’s a verse to back this up.
Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God. And you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food. (Hebrews 5:12, ESV)
So many people in the body of Christ just are born, born again perhaps at some point. But for the next several decades they remain a babe. And what is the reason for that? It’s because they did not put into use, put practice, this practice of discerning good from evil. And who determines that for us? Do we determine good and evil for ourselves? This is a well-educated congregation. Do we determine that for ourselves, good versus evil? No.
That is the sin, the first sin that Adam and Eve fell into. They ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because they thought they were wise in their own eyes, that they could make the call for themselves. And even to this day, many, many people, even in the body of Christ, are living their Christian lives eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
I’ve gotten trained through school. I have all this knowledge. Now I add biblical knowledge. Now I have YouTube, John Piper. I have all of these resources. I can actually make decisions for myself. I know the difference between something that’s obviously good and obviously evil. I am smart enough. I am equipped because I have all of this knowledge. It is folly. If you live that way, it is foolishness.
We cannot tell. We cannot tell. Something that looks good might be the path to hell. Something that might look evil, God may say, no, go this way. I have a lot to teach you. We can’t determine for ourselves what is good from evil through our knowledge. Our knowledge just puffs us up. Our knowledge just makes it feel like, I don’t need to ask God for all of these decisions because I’m wise. I’m knowledgeable. I have a science degree. I’m smart. I can see what’s true and false. I see right through the lies of the media. I see it all. I’m wise. I don’t even need to ask the Lord. It is foolishness to live that way.
And I think that this is the most compelling reason, I think, why we don’t hear the Lord.Deep down, we don’t want to hear from the Lord. Deep down, we like eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It tastes sweet. It feels good to puff us up.
And it says in Matthew 7, not everyone who says to me, Jesus says, “Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21, ESV)
What does it mean that Jesus is the Lord? That means he calls the shots. That means he tells us where to go. He discerns for us good from evil. We bring every decision before him. That is what it means to submit under the lordship of Christ. And who at the end is in jeopardy of not entering the kingdom of God? Those who are wise in their own eyes. They did not ask the Lord. And they just made 99% of the decisions from their knowledge.
In summary, God speaks primarily through his son. That includes the Bible, yes. But the Bible is a pointer to a living resurrected Lord. And you can still talk to him. He’s alive. You can still call on his name. You can still pray to him. He will still shepherd and lead you. And if you have ears to hear, he will still call on you. If you have ears to hear, he will tell you which way to go.
God speaks through the word, yes. But if we’re saying how does God speak, he speaks biblically. And if you track how does God speak in the Bible, it’s primarily through his son. It can be even to this day through a prophet, a priest, an evangelist, a pastor. Through a dream. There’s no verse that says no more dreams. There’s no verse like that. Even the final book of the Bible, Revelation, is a vision. God speaks through visions even today.
So God speaks biblically. Through his son, through his spirit, through dreams, through visions, through other people in the body of Christ. Even through secular people. Moses got counsel from his father-in-law who was not a believer. So even secular sources can be means through which God speaks. God has many means to speak to his people. Not only the Bible. God speaks biblically. There’s a world of difference.
And God speaks indirectly through his people, even secular people, non-believers.God speaks indirectly also through circumstance, especially if we’re hard of hearing. God will have to use more severe means to get our attention. Okay, let’s pray.
Father, forgive us for our immaturity and our failure to put into practice that we are not the final judge of good and evil. Forgive us for continuing to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We trust ourselves way too much. Forgive us that we’ve lost many opportunities in life to practice the sermon of the Lord.
Forgive us that we’ve lost many opportunities in life to practice the sermon in the right way to bring it before the Lord Jesus to speak. Forgive us for allowing our own voice to drown out the voice of God. We can’t hear you because our voice is too strong. It’s too loud. We have not stilled ourselves to know that you are Lord.
Forgive us because deep down we want to be the Lord of our own lives. Holy Spirit, we bring ourselves before you. We pray that you would help us to identify all the different blockages. The ways in which we’re blind still and deaf still and dull of heart.
Help us to slow down in moments throughout the day. To humble our own voice and our own thoughts. To give room for your voice and your thoughts. We thank you that in Romans 12:2 you tell us that the mind is the very organ that receives the thoughts of God.
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)
What an amazing truth that is revealed in the Greek.
We did not know that you speak to us in our thoughts. Forgive us, our thoughts are too loud. We’re too full of our own thoughts, our own ideas. No wonder we can’t hear you. We humble ourselves in this moment. We pray that you would speak.
Thank you Lord in Jesus’ name, Amen.
After you’ve spent some time examining your heart before the Lord and asking the Holy Spirit to convict you of any blockages, the Lord’s Supper will be here. If he allows you, please partake with the body of Christ.