The Sound of His Voice

“The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”  John 10:2-5.

I grew up with a fear of deception—make that borderline paranoia.  The denomination I was raised in protects its “truth” very carefully (and forcefully would be another understatement) to the point that I think some people in it worshiped the fundamental doctrines more than Christ or even God the Father.  I’m not criticizing the denomination itself because I also learned to know Jesus through some beautiful people in the local church and schools.

So many, both inside and outside the Christian faith, claim to long for knowledge of God, to know Him or Her and understand the purpose of their creation.  Our biggest obstacle to knowing God is which source material truly speaks His/Her mind.  Since I am a Christian and believe wholeheartedly in the message of the gospels, I will refer to the God I worship as the one for whom all are searching, though this may not be accurate in motivation as much as it is in theory.

How do we get to know the Judeo/Christian God accurately so that we can get a handle on what He wants?

By getting to know His voice.

That’s nice. 

So how do we get to know His voice?!?

By studying our source of His message.

The problem of understanding God, which then leads to knowing His voice, is that we have so many seeming contradictions in nature and the Word itself to overcome that we get confused.  Not to mention thousands of voices in this century and all through the ages writing, spewing and proclaiming opposed views of what it means to know Him.

At the council of Nice, back in the 4th century (I believe), they decided to go with known authors for the source material of what we call the “Bible” and reject any writings that were not supported by known authorities.  They chose first the gospels which we now read, the apostolic letters, then studied these to determine which of the OT writings were authoritative in eyes of the NT writers.  In other words, if the NT writers quoted from the OT source, they included the book in the canon.

I don’t know if they got it right or not, though I agree with the method of discernment.  What I do know is that what we call the “Bible” has a voice, a tone to its message and a sound if read out loud which comes from not only the message but the language as well.  Through the gospels, we get to know the Godhead by way of Jesus.  For example, later in the book of John Jesus tells Phillip,  “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  Therefore we may conclude that Jesus represents the heart, intent and character of God the Father on earth.  This, too, gives us a grasp on the voice of God.

Our Shepherd’s voice can be heard throughout the history of Israel and the Christian church’s beginnings.  If we keep ourselves from becoming myopic (tunnel vision), we will hear the tonal consistency of the Scriptures and know the voice of God clearly.

I think being a musician makes me aware of tonal ambiguities more and the harmonic quality of how a thing sounds.  For instance, almost every entry I make on this blog is read aloud so I can hear how it flows rhythmically and in its tonality.   I also want each entry to have a coherent main point which is supported by the small rabbit trails I indulge in—like this one I’m writing.  Paul, when talking about tongues, speaks to the commonsense of playing an instrument clearly and with purpose so that those who hear won’t be bored or confused by its sound.

God’s voice in the Scriptures can sound confusing if one doesn’t take the time to know Him through the eyes of His Son, the only one who can truly interpret the Godhead’s purpose or intent.  Many times preachers or evangelists focus so much time on one aspect of God that people never understand the balance.  Like hell fire sermons, for instance, are preached to scare people away from the punishment to come.  We see the results of this in the fact that we know many a bitter non-believer.  On the other hand, merely focusing on God’s desire to save to the exclusion of His warning about final punishment leaves out a vital aspect to God’s message as well.

Without teaching the whole of the message, we don’t see God’s heart.  In fact, if I hadn’t courageously taken my reluctance in hand and read the book of Ezekiel, I would never have found the message of God’s heart about the lost.  When I read the words,  For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD,  Repent and live!  in 18:32, then found the same message in other chapters, the way I heard God’s warnings about punishment and disaster changed.  The tone of His voice went from stern eagerness to fry us to a Father pleading with His foolish children to turn away from something dangerous.  The warnings of punishment are God’s last resort.

Looking at the history of Israel I see God’s patience and long-suffering work with them in their seesaw loyalty to Him.  It took almost a thousand years from the time they entered Canaan till they went into exile for them to be stripped completely of their homeland.  Even then God gave it back to them out of faithfulness to His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

If God doesn’t take pleasure in the death of anyone, then His children must not.  The tone of a preacher that speaks more of the judgment of God to the utter disregard of God’s longing to save is out of balance and therefore just as bad as a lie.  On the other hand, if a preacher only speaks of God’s love without His discipline, he or she has repeated the same mistake as those who focus on hell-fire.  Half-truth is a lie of sorts, even if it is all true within the half that is spoken.  To me, speaking half of God’s message without the balance is like drawing a person’s face without features.

No, hearing God’s voice takes careful study as well as His children properly dividing the Word of Truth in not only their teaching but the way they live.

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3 Responses to “The Sound of His Voice”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    I’ve really been praying about this. It seems that the balance seems to be off for many in the church today. When i was a child it was about hell and judgment. Today it’s about grace and love. Only we’ve have misplaced the Holy Spirit in all of this and we seem to have a casual-ness to our relationship to God. This concerns me on many levels.

    • jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

      By the way, Susan, thank-you for all your input here. I look forward to your comments and thoughts.

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    Me too. That’s why the example we set for those watching is so vital to their understanding. A balanced outlook is lived out in the relationships we make or sustain. The way we treat our children speaks louder than anything about who we think God is, at least to those on the outside watching.

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