Why doesn’t God speak to us today in the same manner He spoke to people in the Old Testament? This is a commonly uttered question that presupposes God isn’t speaking to us today. Yet if we believe that God speaks at all today, the question is, how? The author of Hebrews leads off his letter answering this question: God has spoken finally through His Son (Heb. 1:1). Jesus Christ is the vehicle for God’s self-disclosure. But how does Jesus Christ speak to us?
My three-year-old daughter knows the answer to this question. Her catechism asks, “Where do you learn how to love and obey God?” Answer: “In the Bible alone.” The next question is, “Who wrote the Bible?” Answer: “Chosen men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit.” That God speaks through the Bible yet chosen men wrote the Bible seems to be paradoxical, but there need not be a logical disconnect if we understand the Great Commission—the commission Jesus gave to His Apostles just prior to His ascension (Matt. 28:18–20).
Yes, chosen men wrote the Bible. These men were commissioned by Jesus. The commission was situated in the context after His life, death, and resurrection and before His ascension (Matt. 28; Luke 24). The task of these men was to continue laying the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20–22). That foundation is the teachings they left behind for the church.
This is significant because Jesus told His disciples in John 10 that He would gather other sheep who were not of the fold of first-century Israel by ensuring they hear His voice (v. 16). But these sheep won’t hear the voice of their Master directly. That is, we don’t hear the voice of Jesus in the same way the Apostles did. No, we hear the voice of Jesus through the writings of the Apostles.
Seven chapters later, John records the High Priestly Prayer, wherein Jesus prays not only for His disciples but for those who would believe in succeeding generations. He further discloses the avenue or vehicle through which future Christians will believe: through the words of the Apostles (17:20).
God speaks to His people through His Son, God’s final and better revelation (Heb. 1:2), and the Son communicates this divine self-disclosure not through the medium of personal or audible communication but through the spoken and inked word of His commissioned Apostles. These words have been preserved for nearly two thousand years as the continuation of the Apostolic mission and thus of the Messiah’s redemptive mission.
A closed canon does not imply silence on the part of God, however. It means that God has nothing more to say to us about what He expects from us than He has said through these chosen men. God hasn’t promised to speak to us through dreams, visions, or donkeys (Num. 22:28). But He has spoken a final word through His Son, who entrusted a few, select men with this task. So, Christian, dust off the compilation of sixty-six books on your nightstand and unplug your ears in the pew. God is talking to you.