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Lesson 1: Heaven's Means of Communication *

Introduction: Have there been times when you wished that you could sit in the same room with God and talk with Him about your situation? Most Christians would undoubtedly say, "Yes, I would love to talk directly with God!" What if we asked God this same question and He responded "Yes, I would love to give you some better guidance!" Does this raise a new issue? Is there some aspect of your life about which you are completely satisfied to be "unclear" when it comes to God's opinion? This is the first in our series of lessons by which we will learn more about the ways in which God communicates with humans. Our goal is to help to increase our awareness of God's will. Let's dive into our lesson!

  1. Direct Revelation

    1. Read Genesis 3:8-13. How would you like to be in the place of Adam and Eve right now?

      1. Would they have any doubt about what God wanted them to know?

        1. Would they rather not know God's thoughts?

      2. What was God's reason for wanting to talk with them?

    2. Read Revelation 12:7-9. Why were Satan and his followers tossed out of heaven? (There was war - a conflict between God and them.)

      1. What would be your best guess as to the relative timing of Revelation 12 and Genesis 3? (Since Satan tempted Eve, logically the battle and the "toss" of Revelation 12 comes before the temptation in the garden.)

    3. Step back a minute and think about this. If you are God, and your enemy is running around on the same planet as your new creation, would you want to have clear lines of communication with your creation?

      1. Why would God put us together with Satan and his angels? (I don't know. Clearly God wants clear lines of communication and clearly this world is the battleground between good and evil.)

    4. Read Exodus 33:17-20. Are God and man still in communication?

      1. What has happened between the time of Adam and Eve and the time of Moses that face-to-face conversation with God no longer possible? (Sin entered the world. Part of the judgment on humanity seems to be that in their sinful condition they could no longer see God's face.)

    5. Read Exodus 3:1-6. How can you resolve this conflict? This makes it appear that Moses could have seen God in the burning bush. (Read John 1:18. After humans were banished from the Garden of Eden, God never directly speaks to them in His glorious "God form." God either appears in human form(as He did in Jesus) or in the form of an angel.)

    6. Read 2 Samuel 23:1-3. King David says that God spoke to him and through him. What does this suggest about other ways that God has revealed Himself? (God gave messages to humans through King David. In addition, God is directly speaking to David in some way which does not present God's glorious "God form.")

      1. Read 1 Chronicles 28:11-12. How does this show us that God spoke to King David? (Through the Holy Spirit.)

    7. Read John 16:7, 12-13. Do you have to be a prophet to have the Holy Spirit speak to you? (No. The Holy Spirit can speak to us directly or through another person. He speaks to the entire world to convict us of sin.)

    8. How would you summarize the transition in the way God directly speaks to humans after sin? (God never again speaks to us face-to-face in His glorious God form. However, He does speak directly to us through the other members of the Trinity - Jesus and the Holy Spirit.)

      1. Whether God the Father speaks to us, or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, is it all direct revelation? (Yes. If you believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, then any one of these forms of communication is a direct revelation from God.)

  2. Indirect Revelation

    1. We have seen that God speaks through humans to other humans. The law ranks the reliability of information. When making a determination of what is the truth, the law prefers hearing something directly from the speaker rather than indirectly. What is the potential problem of speaking through others? (In court, direct testimony is always better than second-hand testimony because it is more accurate.)

    2. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. What other source of learning about God's will do we find in this text? (The Bible.)

      1. What does it mean to be "God-breathed?" (Read Acts 1:15-16. This gets back to our discussion of speaking through King David. This is an example of the Bible being composed of writings of men which found their source in the Holy Spirit.)

        1. Is the Bible direct or indirect revelation? (Unless the person is acting like a pen or merely a transcriber, then the law would look at this just like any other indirect communication. This is a subject we will discuss in greater detail in later weeks.)

    3. Which would give you the most accurate information about God's will for you: 1) Reading the Bible to see what God has revealed about your situation; or, 2) Having God speak through a messenger to you about your situation? (If God has given a specific message to you, that would logically be more accurate because it would cut out the problem of you figuring out which Bible advice best applies to your situation.)

    4. Read Acts 16:6. What other way does this suggest that God can communicate with humans? (Arranging circumstances to block certain actions.)

  3. Catching the Revelation

    1. As you consider the ways we have learned that God can speak to humans, how would you rank them in terms of reliability?

      1. Would you agree that face-to-face conversation is the most reliable way to get the word from God?

      2. Would you agree that next in line is direct revelation - the Holy Spirit speaking directly to you?

      3. Would you agree that the next in line is God speaking a message to another human to give specifically to you? Or, would a silent "block" be next in line for reliability?

      4. Would you agree that last in line is God speaking to a messenger who then writes down God's words for others to apply to their specific situation? For example, the Bible?

    2. Are you comfortable with this logical ranking? Many Christians (including me at this point in our study) consider a clear statement in the Bible much more persuasive then what someone tells me that God said to them. Except for face-to-face conversation, I have been conditioned to accept the Bible as the highest form of communication from God.

      1. Read 1 Kings 13:18. You are welcome to read this entire astonishing story. The point for us is that one prophet lied to another about what God had said. What does this do to our ranking? (Any time God is supposed to have spoken through another human, it injects the problem of the quality of the messenger.)

      2. Read Jeremiah 23:25-26. Aside from deliberate lying, what other reliability issue arise from indirect revelation? (These prophets are called liars, but the text suggests that they are deluded - meaning that they might not realize that they are lying.)

      3. Read Jeremiah 17:9. What does this tell us is a potential problem with direct revelation? For example, the Holy Spirit speaking to us? (Our hearts are evil. We would be inclined to twist what we heard.)

        1. Read Isaiah 6:9-10. What arises from the problem of an evil heart? (We have trouble hearing or understanding the message given to us because we want a different message.)

      4. Read Genesis 3:1-5. Assume what would be equally possible, that the serpent did not appear at all, it was just a voice. What new issue arises about direct revelation from the Holy Spirit? (You have to know who is speaking to you. If you have an evil heart (as we all do), then we might easily be deluded into thinking that the Holy Spirit was speaking when in fact Satan was speaking.)

    3. This is just an introduction into our study for the rest of the quarter. We are not going to resolve the best means of communication today. However, before we end I want us to look at another form of revelation.

  4. General Revelation

    1. Read Psalms 19:1-3. The Bible tells us this is communication. What kind of communication is this? (This would be "general revelation.")

      1. What is the purpose of general revelation? (For me, its greatest importance is to prove the existence of God. That there really is a God would want to communicate with us.)

    2. Friend, would you like to know God's will? If so, let's continue on this study to determine God's best means of communicating with us.

  5. Next week: The Prophetic Gift.
* Copr. 2009, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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