In the Word of God we find an amazing truth about communication—the fact that God, the Creator of the universe, desires to have fellowship and communion with man. Both the Old and New Testaments bear this out.
In the first book of the Bible, we read that the relationship between mankind and God was a beautiful, unbroken exchange where God would come in the cool of the day to walk and talk with Adam and Eve. What an experience that must have been! However, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sin entered their hearts, that relationship was severed and the nature of communication between God and man changed entirely.
In the New Testament, we read, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2). God has always implemented ways to communicate with man, but in these last days, He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The importance of communication
Communication is necessary in any relationship. Back when my wife Rosie and I were anticipating marriage, we lived about three hours apart. We had only two ways to communicate: by telephone and by writing letters. And when I say “telephone,” I am not referring to a mobile device. Back then, the telephone was an instrument hooked into a wall jack, and if there was another phone in the same house, someone else could listen in on the conversation. There was not a lot of privacy! Letter writing had its own set of challenges; my penmanship back then was better than it is now, but Rosie still had to decipher it. So it took time and effort to communicate. (It was worth the effort, by the way!)
Communication enables us to share our feelings, opinions, and expectations with another individual. It is how we exchange information and give instruction. However, effective communication is more than just one person expressing thoughts. There must be receptivity—an understanding of what is being communicated and then a response to it.
In our spiritual lives, communication is critical to salvation. The Lord initiates the connection by calling after our hearts, but we must respond to His voice. We read in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The fact that we must “confess” implies a dialogue with God. When He deals with our hearts, we should respond by admitting our sins and repenting.
In the Old Testament era, God ordained a different way for people to approach Him. Those who wanted access to God had to bring animals and depend upon the priests to sacrifice them in order to obtain atonement for their sins. Communication was not a personal connection as we can have now. Jesus Christ provided a better way when He offered up Himself as a sacrifice for sin. As He was dying on the Cross and His blood spilled to the ground, there was a great earthquake. The veil of the Temple tore from top to bottom, opening access to the Holy of Holies. Today, we do not need to approach God through a priest or offer continual sacrifices. The death of Jesus Christ gave us direct access into the presence of God himself.
In the Word of God, we read of different ways God has communicated with people through the ages regarding their need for a right relationship with Him, in order to instruct and guide them, and for a variety of other reasons. Following are some of the ways He communicates.
God speaks through adversity
Although trials may come our way for a variety of purposes, sometimes He allows a difficulty to teach us. This is not done as punishment, but as a corrective measure based on love and concern. Hebrews 12:11 says that “no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” Sometimes trials are the only way the Lord can reach us, so He permits them out of mercy.
One example is the account of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet, so he was accustomed to hearing God’s voice. When God told him to go to Ninevah and preach repentance, he understood. However, he did not want to do what God instructed, so he boarded a ship headed to Tarshish instead. Consequently, God sent a great storm to get Jonah’s attention. As it grew worse, the mariners on board the ship became afraid for their lives. Finally, they cast lots and God revealed it was Jonah’s fault that this great storm had come upon them.
Sometimes storms have a way of revealing things we need to see, and that was the case with Jonah. He told the men that he had fled from the presence of the Lord, so they should throw him overboard. When they reluctantly did so, immediately the sea became calm. God had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah, and the prophet was in the belly of that fish for three days and nights. At last, he cried out to God. Aren’t we thankful that even if we are slow to reach out to God, when we do so He hears us and responds? God undertook for Jonah, and the fish spit the prophet out on dry land.
God’s method of communicating with Jonah had the desired effect. Jonah told God, “I will pay that that I have vowed” (Jonah 2:9). And he did! He went to Nineveh and proclaimed, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will perish.” As a result, the people of Nineveh “turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not” (Jonah 3:10). A city was spared because Jonah finally did what God instructed, even though God had to communicate with him in a unique way.
God speaks through children
We read in 2 Kings that God used the words of a little maid in the home of the Syrian commander, Naaman, to resolve a desperate situation. Naaman was a mighty man of valor, but he had leprosy. In the natural, there was no hope for him. However, a young maiden serving in his home told his wife, “Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3).
Based on her words, Naaman went down to the prophet’s house, where he received some instructions. Though Naaman almost let pride rob him of his healing, he finally did as the man of God had instructed: he dipped seven times in the Jordan River. When he came out of the water the seventh time, his skin was completely clear of that disease. What a wonderful miracle! Naaman was not only changed externally, but internally as well. He made a vow that he would never again worship any other God except the God of Israel. None of that would have happened if the young maiden had not been willing to communicate her faith. We do not want to dismiss children, especially if God uses them to speak to us. We want to be humble enough to listen.
God speaks through nature
Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” God speaks through His creation, and Nick Segres Sr. was one who experienced that. Brother Nick was born and raised in a Christian home, but he rebelled against his Christian upbringing. He began hanging out with the wrong crowd and heading down the road of sin. However, God got his attention. One evening as he was walking to a dance, he passed the church and heard people singing and praising the Lord. Something in his heart said, “You need to go inside.” Brother Nick testified that he looked up in the sky and pointed out the brightest star he could see. He said, “Lord, if You want me to go to church, let that star fall from the sky.” As he lowered his hand, that star fell right along with it. God was speaking! Brother Nick did not get saved that night, but from that moment on, he was aware that God knew exactly where he was and what he was doing. A short time later he turned his life over to God.
God speaks through testimonies
We read in Psalm 66:16, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” Charles Rodman was one who was impacted by the words of people declaring what God had done for them.
Brother Rodman was an ordained minister and the pastor of a church on the East Coast. He was an educated man and could read the Bible in both Greek and Hebrew. However, he never knew that a person could be saved from sin and live a life of victory. That changed one afternoon when Brother Rodman was here in Portland, Oregon, for a conference. As he was walking in the downtown area, he came upon a street meeting being held by people from this church. Individuals were stepping forward and telling how Jesus had changed their lives, taking out the sin and defeat. Brother Rodman said it was like a lightbulb came on and he knew in a moment that was what he needed. He went to a church service that afternoon and prayed at the altar. Although he did not get saved there, on his way back to his hotel room that evening, the peace of God stole over his heart and soul and he knew the work was done. God had reached his heart through testimonies.
God speaks through sermons
In 1 Corinthians 1:21 we read that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” John Clasper was one who heard the voice of God that way. Brother Clasper and his wife had come to Portland from Scotland, and his wife had begun attending services at the Apostolic Faith. To please her, Brother Clasper agreed to go with her one Sunday morning. As he sat in that church service, the preacher spoke about hypocrisy and people who claimed to be Christians but were living ungodly lives. The words convicted Brother Clasper, and he determined he would never go back. However, when the next Sunday came around, his wife invited him again. He refused. He went out in the back yard and lit up a big cigar, but God spoke to him, saying, “You’d better go.”
They were late for the meeting, but they were not late for the sermon. Once more, the preacher spoke about hypocrisy. Brother Clasper said he felt like the preacher was pointing right at him. He even accused his wife, “You have told these people something about me!” She had not; it was the Spirit of the Lord revealing the truth to him through the preacher’s words.
Brother Clasper went to work that afternoon, and as he worked in the machine room, all he could hear was, “You hypocrite! You hypocrite! You hypocrite!” Finally, the conviction on his heart became so heavy that he dropped to his knees right there in front of his coworkers. He called out to the Lord, and there God saved him. God had used the “foolishness of preaching” to speak to his heart.
God speaks through music
Gary Bertram recalls that several years before he was saved, his dad died unexpectedly from a heart attack. The whole family was distraught, and Brother Gary was sitting in his living room one afternoon, trying to come to terms with what had happened. He was listening to a rock and roll station out of Seattle, Washington, and a woman came on and began to sing “Amazing Grace”—on a rock and roll station! Brother Gary knew nothing about salvation, but as he listened, tears began to run down his face. After he was saved some time later, he looked back and realized that God used that song to speak to his heart.
God speaks through His Word
We read in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Other passages let us know that the entrance of God’s words gives light, and that Scripture contains the keys to eternal life. God is faithful to instruct us through the Bible.
At times, God’s Word gives us direction. Proverbs 3:5-6 encourages us, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” When we are uncertain about what to do in a situation, God communicates and reveals His will. Psalm 32:8 says “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” The Lord will teach us if we will listen to Him speak through His Word.
Throughout the Bible, we read of other ways God has communicated with people. God called Moses through a burning bush. He rebuked the foolishness of Balaam by speaking through a donkey. He spoke to Ezekiel through a vision, and to Joseph and Paul the Apostle through dreams.
Why does God go to such great lengths to communicate with us? Why does He use so many ways to call after hearts? His Word gives the answer: it is because of His great love and compassion for mankind. In 2 Peter 3:9 we are assured that it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). So the Lord, in His love and His mercy, reaches out to us and communicates with us about our need to seek Him.
God’s Word warns of the dangers of ignoring the voice of God. Proverbs 29:1 says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” One of the most foolish, dangerous, and reckless things an individual can do is to ignore God when He calls. Tragically, people do that every day, but each time a person turns his or her back on the Lord, that one is gambling with eternity. We read in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” The same truth is expressed in Hebrews 13:5, “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”
We want to heed those warnings. God extends mercy and grace today. If you have fear or uncertainty about the future, you can get that settled with the Lord. Tell Him about it! Communicate with Him in prayer. If God is calling you to repentance or drawing a consecration out of your heart, give the Lord what He requires. He has been faithful to reach out to you, so respond today. If you do, you will never regret it!