Is the pastor the only one that can get a word from the Lord?
We often hear the phrase “the Word of the Lord” among Christians. The phrase occurs about 257 times in the Bible and is in almost every book of the Bible. The first time the phrase appears is in Genesis 15:1 and the last time is in 1 Peter 1:25. The question that we are concerned with is, “Does God speak only to pastors?” First we will discover to whom God spoke in the past and to whom does God speak today. Before reading the answer, please read “What is the meaning of the phrase Word of the Lord?”
In The Past God Spoke To . . .
A review of both the Old and New Testaments reveals that God spoke to a few individuals, leaders, priests, prophets and apostles. He did not speak to just anyone! For example, Genesis 15:1-4 tells us that God spoke to Abram when he was in Haran.
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram . . . Genesis 15:1 (NASB)
At that time he was not a significant person. He had not already been given the Abrahamic Covenant. That occurred later. That is, the Word of the Lord came to Abram when he was not important in the pages of Scripture.
“The word of the Lord” was also given to Moses (Deuteronomy 34:4-5). In this example Moses is the leader of the nation of Israel. The Word of the Lord was also given to the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1-9), the prophet Gad (2 Samuel 24:11), the King Solomon (1 Kings 6:11), the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 39:5), the prophet Jeremiah, who was also a priest (Jeremiah 1:4-8), the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 6:1-7), the prophet Hosea (Hosea 1:1), the prophet Joel (Joel 1:1), the prophet Jonah (Jonah 1:1), the prophet Micah (Micah 1:1), the prophet Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:1), the prophet Haggai (Haggai 1:1) and the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 1:1). In each one of these passages the Lord speaks directly to a leader, a king, a priest or a prophet.
Since the New Testament refers to the words that Christ spoke as being the “Word of the Lord,” that means the apostles heard the Word of the Lord and many unbelievers. In conclusion, the “Word of the Lord” was given to a few select individuals, leaders, priests, prophet, apostles and then to many unbelievers.
Today God Spoke To . . .
We have discovered so far that the Word of the Lord or God Himself directly spoke to significant individuals in the Old Testament and during the time of the apostles. We do not have any record of the “word of the Lord” being given to anyone after the apostles. Therefore, does God still speak directly to people today? Before we jump to the conclusion that individuals are hearing the “Word of the Lord” directly from God we must remember 1 Samuel 3:1. In that verse we discover that God has not always spoken to individuals.
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. 1 Samuel 3:1 (NASB)
We must also remember that God told the prophet Amos that He would not continue to speak. Amos 8:11-12 prophesied of a future time when the Word of the Lord would not occur because the nation had ignored God. The well-known radio Bible teacher and pastor, J. Vernon McGee, stated this about our time.
Actually, very little of the Word of God is getting out in this land today. There is a Gideon Bible in every room in every hotel and motel in this country. Nearly everyone owns a Bible. But who is studying it? Who is reading it? Who is believing it? I think we are beginning to see the famine of the Word of God in this country.
We will ask again, do pastors and teachers receive a new “Word of the Lord” today spoken to them directly by God? The answer is no! Some preachers claim that God speaks new truth to them. Some claim that God gives them insight into new truth—new revelation. But if God did communicate new revelation today, then it would be as important as Scripture. This is contrary to the message of Scripture since the Bible teaches that God is not giving us new truth, new revelation. In theology we say the canon is closed. For more information, read the section titled “Why the Canon of Scripture Is Closed” in the brief study “Can we add new books to the Bible? – Is the canon of Scripture closed? This article points out that the Old Testament prophesies pointed us to the coming Messiah. When He arrived, He pointed us to the apostles who would speak for Him. Now note that the apostles did not point us to anyone after them. One cannot find any verse in Scripture where the apostles told us who would be receiving the “Word of the Lord.”
Others claim that God gives them personal guidance about what to preach. Some claim that the Holy Spirit speaks to them while they preach. But there are two major reasons why we should not believe them. First, the apostle John gave us a warning at the end of the book of Revelation that no one was to add to the book of Revelation (Revelation 22:18-19). Not only is the book the last in the Bible or canon, but he was also the last apostle to receive a “Word of the Lord”. Second, as was pointed out in the preceding paragraph, since the apostles did not point us to anyone after them who would speak for God, we should understand that God is not uttering new “Words of the Lord” to individuals today. God has already recorded everything that we need in the Bible. The Bible is the “Word of the Lord” for all of us today. (1 Peter 1:25).
2 Timothy 2:15 tells us that we are to study the word of truth, that is, the Bible.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NASB)
It is the “Word of the Lord.” That is all that we need. That is all that any preacher needs. God is not giving us new revelation or truth. The Bible is the word of truth and it is complete.
1. J. Vernon McGee. Proverbs through Malachi. Thru The Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1982. p. 720.
Suggested Links:Do preachers and pastors receive special blessings?
Can we add new books to the Bible? – Is the canon of Scripture closed?
What books belong in the Bible? – Canon of Scripture
What does it mean that the Bible is inspired? – Inspiration of Scripture
What is the meaning of the phrase Word of the Lord?