Erwin W. Lutzer, in his book, “Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible,” narrates the story of Ingmar Bergman, a Swedish film director who one day stood next to a portrait of Christ in a cathedral in Europe and whispered, “Speak to me!” He only encountered dead silence after waiting enough while. Bergman was motivated by this experience to come out with a movie entitled Silence, which portrayed people who despaired in their attempt to seek God. Bergman’s frustration was evident in his words: “In our world, we hear only ourselves. No voice comes to us from outside the universe. When we seek a word from God, we are confronted with dead calm”.
An atheist known as Richard Carrier also stated, as the first of four reasons why he is not a Christian, that God is silent. He argues that if God really wants to save us, why wouldn’t He come to us individually with His own message about Himself? Why does He leave us in the hands of people who come to us at different times with different messages?
I have also read an article by Edward Tabash, another American atheist, who said “after a lifetime of spiritual search”, he had come to a conclusion that there is no God.
Isn’t it amazing that we can think we are intelligent enough to outline some line of actions or some criteria we think if there is a God He should satisfy or comply with? Interestingly, as humans, we haven’t even finished understanding what makes us human. Neither have we finished understanding our world. Day in day out we make new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us. Yet, we are bold enough to specify what God should do to prove Himself God.
We cannot know how God should be until God Himself tells us how He is. We cannot know how God should act until He tells us the reasons behind His own actions. Consider this analogy. Your three-year-old daughter or little sister may misunderstand most of the things you do such as preventing her from eating too many sweets. Does her incomprehension make your actions wrong? She will grow and eventually learn to understand how right your actions were. Won’t she? This is similar to the problem we have with God. Before the God of unlimited wisdom and boundless knowledge, our own knowledge, insight and understanding is too shallow to fully comprehend all of His deeds.
Now, let’s revisit Bergman’s experience with the silent portrait of Christ for a moment. Well, a portrait of Christ cannot speak. It is only Christ Himself who can speak. Imagine I take a photograph of the prime minister of Britain and pose a question to it. I will certainly be confronted with dead silence. Does that mean Britain’s prime minister never speaks? If we cannot hear from God, the logical conclusion should not be that He is silent since there is the possibility of us being so “spiritually deafened” we cannot hear Him, or we seeking Him in just the wrong way.
Not only atheists have a challenge with the seeming “silence of God”; many believers also have a high time believing that God can and does speaks to them personally. Without an appreciation of the fact that God speaks, it will be difficult to have a deep, personal relationship with Him.
So, is God really silent? First of all, God chooses His own way of speaking to us at any particular point in time. He is sovereign. He can choose to speak to us through dreams, visions, nature, circumstances, people, and other possible means. All the above means notwithstanding, God chose to communicate His most important message to the inhabitants of the earth through His Son, Jesus Christ.
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
God has indeed communicated a common message to us about Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. But why Jesus? Before we worry about how God should save us, as Richard Carrier expressed concern about, we need to ask ourselves how come we need salvation in the first place.
Our main problem, as human beings, is sin. If we can conceive of an all-righteous being we call God who is invariably interested in us being righteous, then we can also conceive of an all-evil being called Satan who is enthusiastically concerned about us being evil.
So how did we get into sin? Did Satan come to all of us one by one telling us why and how we should be evil? Think about it for a moment. God does not also have to come to us individually in order to save us. The best path to use to return to the right track is always the very path you used that got you out of the right way. So just as the first Adam led us into sin, God introduced Jesus as the second Adam who leads us into righteousness.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)
The Scriptures therefore lay to rest Richard Carrier’s concerns by revealing to us that the way to salvation is by believing in Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). The way to find God is to seek Him with all our hearts – thus, without reservations. That means there is a possibility of us not finding God if we seek Him in a way other than with all our heart. This makes me wonder the kind of unsuccessful “spiritual search” Edward Tabash was referring to.
If you are reading this and you wish to hear God and build a deep, personal relationship with Him, I invite you to say an honest heartfelt prayer right now, wherever you are. Tell God that you really want to know Him and to hear Him speak to you daily. Tell Him to teach you to hear His voice, however He may speak. God will speak to you in His own way and you will know that He has spoken to you. And over time, as you keep on building on your relationship with Him, you will become more experienced in discerning His voice.
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
What certain intellectuals could never find; you can find with just an honest prayer. You can experience a new, exciting relationship with God when you learn to hear His voice. You will begin to understand that the biblical stories about God having such a close relationship with people like Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Elijah and more others are not folktales. Your life will completely turn around because you will hear God.
Written by P/Ovr. Joel Kwesi Baidoo (+233207079250)