Keep On Listening

KeepOnListeningIn his account of the Transfiguration, Luke tells us that the three apostles “were afraid as they entered the cloud.” As they came into the presence of God, as they experienced this vision of God and his holiness and recognized their place as unholy people in that presence, they were scared.

But then the voice of God cuts through that fear with a word of grace, a word of peace, and then a command: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

Luke uses a greek word here that makes the command from God a continuing imperative. The idea is “Keep on listening to my Son.” “Continue listening to my Son.” “Don’t stop listening to my Son.”

The fact that God sent his Son to this planet to atone for us is an act of other-worldly grace and love. The fact that he alone is the Chosen One, the One who completely fulfills Moses and Elijah, completely completes the Law and the Prophets and God’s perfect plan of redemption for his creation, gives us great assurance and peace. And the command to keep on listening is just as urgent for us today as it was on that mountain.

Keep on listening.

Keep on attending the assembly when the Christians gather because God will always have new things to tell you. Keep on reading the Scriptures because God is still changing your life. Keep on praying because God speaks to you in the quiet of that solemn communion. Keep on serving your neighbor because God is sharing with you what it means to be like him. Our Father is always trying to grow us, to shape us, to encourage us, to strengthen us, to amaze us, to surprise us. God is talking to you through his Word and through his people. He has something to say to you.

Keep on listening.

Peace,

Allan

9 Comments

  1. Howard

    The contrast between God’s talking to the disciples and talking to us is striking. The disciples must have actually heard words with nouns, verbs, and adjectives in an actual language. That which we have is lame in comparison. Two examples are God’s speaking through silence and God’s speaking through written word. God speaking to us in the “quiet communion of prayer” seems another way of admitting that we hear nothing; there is silence. God speaking to us through the words of the Bible is: reading a book, written by (for the most part) we don’t know, with no claim to be true, and no claim of being God’s words. “Listening to god through serving our neighbors” I assume is something like “go play golf and hear Tiger Woods talking to you.”

    The text is presented to be actual words of God to actual people who like all characters in the Bible actually heard God talk to them. If we decide to imagine the command to “listen” is equally applicable to us it would be reasonable to expect God to actually talk to us?

  2. Allan

    To paraphrase (very loosely) Karth Barth, the Word of God is 1) the written Word, the holy Scriptures, inspired by God and claiming throughout to be God’s Word; 2) the incarnate Word, Jesus the Christ, the Word made flesh; and 3) the proclaimed Word, the preaching and teaching and singing done by the Christian community.

    God is speaking to his people today loudly and clearly.

    You know this, Howard.

    To more directly quote our Savior, “He who has ears, let him hear.”

  3. Howard

    To be my normally resistive self:

    1) Written word. There are claims in the Bible which claim to be the words of God. Your text is an example. There are also claims there of words of snakes and donkeys. I assume we agree that we don’t really know who wrote these “quotes” including Hebrews wherein lies the claim of inspiration of some of the rest of them. I think we are fairly sure about 7 letters of Paul. The rest is very, very questionable as to authorship, although I accept our disagreement on this. I am not attempting to get into a discussion of the written word. Having “only” the written word to listen to is problematic for a number of reasons, two of which come to mind: 1) There is an interpretation issue (all claim to be “going by the Bible” which from a practical point of view leaves us no better off than having no Bible. I.e. if one Bible produces an infinity of beliefs, how helpful is it?) and 2) having to rely on the written word was not the way the guys in the Bible had to live their lives which was my point to begin with. Why did they get to hear God, and we do not?

    2) Jesus as the Word. Calling him the word does not change his nature. He might have been a man. He might have been a God. He is not a word in the sense of being a part of speech. Calling him a word is not an answer to the question of why God doesn’t talk.

    3)Preaching, words and singing of other Christians. If this is what we mean by “listening to God” I have lost my case before I start. Maybe we just disagree as to who the “him” is in “hear ye him.”

    Peace,
    Howard

  4. Tim Sharpe

    Dear Howard;

    “For God is not the author of confusion”. If there is 38,000 derivites of religion in the world then that is the work of the devil. ”

    1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

    The reason God’s written is all sufficient is that He wrote it, inspite of the human hand involved. As for God speaking directly to us otherwise – charismatic overdrive.

  5. Anonymous

    Let’s assume there are 38,000 differing opinions in the world as to what God is saying to us through the written word, or 3,800. We really don’t know, so pick a number.

    We can agree there are at least two opinions, yours and mine. So for argument, let’s say there are only two ideas of God’s message in the written word, yours and mine. If we go with the assumption that yours lines is “correctly” with what God really meant, we then need a label for my idea. We can call it ignorant, misguided, malicious, the work of the devil, evil, etc. The problem here is that to me it appears in none of these forms. To me it appears as an honest effort to take what the Bible says.

    If we did a reversal and assume I was correct about God’s intent, I am sure you would not like me assuming your difference is due to anything other than an honest mistake.

    All mistakes are honest. All of our differences are due to honest efforts to be correct that have gone arry due to some factor other than than evil, maliciousness, ignorance, dishonesty, the devil, etc.

    I know we disagree about this. I believe you are as honest, smart, diligent, truth loving as am I. I would hope you would believe the same of me.

    Peace,
    Howard

  6. Tim Sharpe

    Howard;

    There are three types of mistakes. Innocent, impulsive, and rebellious. Everybody gets hit by number one simply due to the maturation process. I believe that the majority of christians fall in this category… we’re going through growing pains. I further theorize that most impulsive behavior stems from an insufficient prayer life and involvement with the Father. The last category comes from pride, hate, and poorly resolved conflicts. Just because all of these come ultimately from the deceiver does not imply the same level of fault lies with the christian for each of these cases or grace would be meaningless. I think of it as a spiritual mountain. All of are climbing closer to God in our daily walks. All of us are not at the same distance from the top, thus the command to teach, to study the word so as to draw closer to God, and additionally, the command to lift each other up. There are going to be times when you are closer to God and I need to be lifted up just as there will be times when you need a lift. This can cause a spiritual brotherly love enhancement to the body, or hurt feelings and divisions depending on how it is handled. It is said that 80% of communication is body language. If a blog cuts us down to 20%, I’m not sure it is the best method to deal with issues that require deep felt understanding.

    Be assured, I hold you amongst those in the highest regard that I have known in the body of Christ over the 55 years of my life.

  7. Howard

    A mistake in my estimation is something you would do differently if you had it to do over again. We judge a past action with current knowledge and say we would have acted differently. However, we would not have acted differently because we did not know then what we know now.

    I wonder whether your categorization of mistakes is not just another way of saying there are two categories of mistakes: mine and yours. Mine are innocent, yours are…Mine are honest, yours are ….

    Your “rebellious” mistake you associate with insufficient prayer or involvement with the Father. This is the same thing of saying a “lack” or “deficiency”. If a mistake is from some “lack” within us whether you call it a lack of knowledge or a lack of something else it is still not inentional. My belief is that no mistake is intentional. If it was, it would not be a mistake. At the time we act, we “do the best we can.” So this throws your “rebellious” mistake back into the first category. Why should a “mistake” due to “lack” of maturity be differently categorized than a mistake from “lack” of prayer. People pray as much as the believe they should pray, and they are involved with the Father as much as they think they should be. They do the best they can do. Any failure is a category one mistake.

    As for your third category, you associate with pride or hate. IMHO you are only combining “mistakes”. For instance, let’s agree that “pride” is a mistake. I certainly believe it is. So you have a mistake causing a mistake. This is certainly reasonable, but does it mean a mistake is anything other than an innocent mistake. Lack of knowledge is also a mistake and can “cause” other mistakes. But at the end of the day we are all still doing the best we can do. No one wishes to have anything other thant he “proper” amount of pride. As to hate, I again believe that hating is a mistake. It arrives again from lack of proper understanding (knowledge).

    I find no fault in what Socrates said that “No man does evil intentionally.” He believed all evil comes from a lack of knowledge: “There is one good, knowledge and one evil, ignorance.”

    Peace,
    Howard

  8. Tim Sharpe

    If there were no rebellious mistakes, the Bible would not condem rebellion. You seemed to confuse the impulse type with the rebellious type in my previous text.
    Additionally, Socrates was a philosopher, not a religionest.

  9. Howard

    Does the Bible mention “rebellious mistakes?” I was unaware. As for the quote from Socrates, I was not suggesting we accept it because of who said it. I was merely quoting it as something I believe to be true because it conforms with my experience and reason. I have never met an evil person, nor can I imagine someone seeking evil intentionally, hence, I would agree with the conclusions of Socrates on this point. I would not suggest accepting anything as true based solely on the source, but rather accept as true only those things which conform to our experience and reason.

    Howard

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