The Jews consider themselves as the “people of the book.” They are so committed to the Torah; they are so committed to the written word that they are regard themselves as the people of the book. This is the same way that we Christians should be viewed. People should view us as people of the book. Whatever you do, whatever you say, whatever you focus on should be built on the book. We should be people that when you open your mouth you say the bible says. I am doing this because the bible says. I am doing this because I am guided by the bible. The Book (Bible) is the main way that God speaks to us. So we are people of the book, which is why we tell you to be on the bible reading program, this is why we teach the word and we continue teaching the word because our lives should be guided by the written word of God, because it is the primary way that God speaks to us.
When you study the word you should expect God to speak to you through the written word, to reveal Christ to you, to speak to you about daily things. God speaks to us through His word. We can put it this way and say the bible is the main expression of God’s will and God’s voice to us; therefore all other forms of God’s voice should not conflict or contradict the written word. It is very important, very critical for you to know the written word. It doesn’t matter whether God speaks to you through a dream that dream should not conflict with the written word. But you cannot judge that dream unless you know the written word. So the primary way that God speaks to you, even if a prophet comes and says thus says the Lord, you judge that prophecy based on the written word, because it is the primary expression of God’s voice to us. Any form of revelation, any form of God speaking to you, should not conflict or contradict the written word, if it does it means it’s not God’s voice. We can put it another way and say the bible is the norm or the standard against which we judge every other manifestation of God’s voice. So if someone comes and says you know my sister I saw a vision, you say ok tell me about the vision. If the vision contradicts or conflicts with the word of God you then say sorry I cannot accept your vision.
As my learned lawyer friend, Pastor Norman Mangena aptly puts it, “In strict legal jargon, the written word is like a constitution which is the supreme law in any country, which is the parent of all other forms of statutes. All other statutes are subsidiaries of the constitution and thus should not contradict the constitution. To the extent of any contradiction, to that extent that subsidiary statute is invalid and unconstitutional.”
You know there are so many cults and so many deceptions that have come into the world because people are directing themselves and their affairs according to visions which are contrary to what God has said. When John Smith formed the Mormon Church he claimed to have seen a vision in which an angel gave him the revelation which became the Book of Mormon. But you see that latest revelation does not conform to the written word. To the extent, any revelation does not conform to the written word, to that extent it is in error. So any revelation or manifestation of God’s voice, it may be an inward voice, whatever form it’s to be judged according to the standard of the word of God. That’s why Paul could say it doesn’t matter even if it’s an angel or if it’s I myself who preached the gospel, if I start preaching another gospel contrary to the one which was preached in the beginning, to that extent you don’t have to listen to me. Therefore the bible is the main expression of God’s voice and so we judge every other encounter, every other experience against the bible.
“But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
Jesus said “it is written”, in other words he was judging the voice that was speaking to him by the written word. Now if Jesus had to judge the voice he heard against the word of God, what makes you think that you are intelligent enough to judge by any other means? Are you wiser than Jesus? Are you more spiritual than him? So if Jesus had to revert to the written word, so should you. So any encounter or any supposedly encounter with the voice of God should always be judged according to the written word. Jesus says man shall not live by bread alone, but they shall be upheld, sustained and kept by the word of God, but by every word that comes forth, that proceeds from the mouth of God. I want you to notice carefully that he does not say man shall not live by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God which is past tense. He says by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God which means that God is speaking daily. The word of God is sharp, its active, its alive it speaks to you today. When you study the word of God, you should expect God to speak to you daily, you should expect God to say something to you. The word of God is living, its active, it’s for today. It’s relevant today. God takes that word; he makes it living in your life. He makes it alive so that you experience and encounter the word of God, not as a dry story that was told before. You should expect when you read your bible, to encounter God. You should expect him to speak into your life, to shape the things that happen to you because God still speaks. We live not on yesterday’s manna but by today’s revelation. You have heard some people who will say oh I will never forget it, 1982 God spoke to me, and every year they are speaking about their encounter with God in 1982. But God expects you to have a fresh encounter with his word. He expects to speak to you because men shall live by every word that proceeds today, that goes forth today out of the mouth of God. God is still speaking through the written word. So I want you to understand that God speaks to you personally and directly from his word. So you should expect to encounter God’s voice when you study the bible.