Why Doesn’t God Just Speak to Us Directly?

Many people today claim to believe in God while rejecting the Bible as the legitimate expression of his will. They insist that “we don’t have to believe in the Bible in order to believe in God.” However, if we believe that God is the Omnipotent Creator of the universe, would it be too difficult for him to reveal his thoughts in written form?

We can expect this of an all-loving, merciful, and just God who earnestly desires to communicate his thoughts to mankind in an understandable and trustworthy fashion. Yet, some ask, “If God really loves us, then why doesn’t he speak to us directly, instead of us telling us what to do by means of a book?” There are at least seven problems with this question, which I will enumerate below.

(1) It assumes that we know more than God. Some speak as though they wish they had an opportunity to tell God to his face that he should have done things differently. They think that they’re wiser than God. If the apostle Paul were here he might say, “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

(2) Direct communication from God would not guarantee man’s obedience. God told Adam and Eve directly not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Despite hearing the voice of God with their own ears, they ate of the tree anyway (Genesis 3:6).

(3) If God always spoke to people directly, one could claim to have received a message from God simply by saying, “God spoke to me.” Unfortunately, many today in so-called “Christendom” argue that God continues to reveal his will in this way, despite the Bible’s claim that it is an all-sufficient revelation (John 16:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; Jude 1:3).

(4) We tend to forget what is spoken to us, even when we hear it directly. In contrast, the written word is more permanent and more readily available for future generations (2 Peter 1:13-15).

(5) The written word represents the contractual nature of a commitment between two parties. Concerning the Bible, it is the expression of a formal agreement between God and man.

(6) If God always spoke to us directly, we might be inclined to obey out of fear, rather than out of love. If he made himself too obvious, we might feel pressured by his presence (kind of like having the boss breathing down our necks) and end up obeying out of compulsion rather than being persuaded to do so because we truly desire to serve him.

(7) God wants us to “grow” in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). This growth comes to those who make a diligent effort to search the Scriptures (Jeremiah 29:13; John 5:39; Hebrews 5:14; 2 Peter 3:18). Perhaps this is why the parables of Christ and other passages in the Scriptures require some mental gymnastics in order to grasp their meaning. Our senses must be “trained by constant practice” in order to facilitate this growth (Hebrews 5:14).

Thanks be to God for his written word! Direct communication is not needed for us to know his will.

–Jerry Falk