What do you think of when I say “the Word of God”?
Do you think of the Bible?
That’s good, but what if I’m not referring to the Bible? What’s the next thing you think of?
Is it Jesus?
That’s also good. But what if the word I’m referring to is “Let there be light”—that sentence plus all the other words by which God made the world?
God created the world in and through Christ. But isn’t there a way to refer to the word by which He did it—the word in and of itself?
Look, for example, at how A.W. Tozer used the phrase in this quote: “This word of God is the breath of God filling the world with living potentiality.”
Is that a correct way to use the phrase “the word of God”?
Now what do you think of when I refer to “hearing the voice of God”?
Do you think about receiving a direct, personal revelation from the Holy Spirit?
That’s great. But couldn’t I also be referring again to that voice that spoke this creation into existence? Can we still talk about “hearing” that voice?
This is what A. W. Tozer called “the Voice of God in His world…the expression of the will of God spoken into the structure of all things.”
The Speaking Voice
The above quotes are from the beginning of the sixth chapter of The Pursuit of God.
The title of the chapter is “The Speaking Voice.” According to Tozer, everybody hears this voice, believer and unbeliever alike. It doesn’t have the power to save, so it can’t be equated with Jesus. It’s not the same thing as the Bible either, for it was around long before the Bible was written.
Here are some things Tozer wrote in that chapter about the speaking voice in relation to the Bible and to unbelieving humanity.
The Speaking Voice in Relation to the Bible
According to Tozer, the speaking voice releases the power of the written word:
“God’s word in the Bible can have power only because it corresponds to God’s word in the universe. It is the present Voice which makes the written Word all-powerful. Otherwise it would lie locked in slumber within the covers of a book.”
Tozer didn’t take a low view of the Bible, however. He made that clear here, for example:
“The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind for us put into our familiar human words.”
To benefit from the Bible, however, we need to be tuned in to God’s voice in the universe:
“The Bible will never be a living Book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in His universe. To jump from a dead, impersonal world to a dogmatic Bible is too much for most people.”
This is what Tozer called “a divided psychology.” It’s the attempt to “think of God as mute everywhere else and vocal only in a book.”
So far, much of what Tozer has said about the speaking voice could be said of the Holy Spirit. But he goes further.
The Speaking Voice in Relation to Unbelieving Humanity
Tozer doesn’t equate his concept of the speaking voice with the Holy Spirit. Instead, he points to the way the book of Proverbs speaks of Wisdom calling out to all people, longing to be heard.
He also points to John 1:9, which refers to Jesus as the light that enlightens every man.
This, he says, indicates that “…the Word of God affects the hearts of all men as light in the soul. In the hearts of all men the light shines, the Word sounds, and there is no escaping them.”
After setting all this up, Tozer suggests one more idea. This idea might not be accepted by all Christians. He is aware of that. You can tell by the way he qualifies it at the beginning of the paragraph and again at the end:
“It is my own belief (and here I shall not feel bad if no one follows me) that every good and beautiful thing which man has produced in the world has been the result of his faulty and sin-blocked response to the creative Voice sounding over the earth. The moral philosophers who dreamed their high dreams of virtue, the religious thinkers who speculated about God and immortality, the poets and artists who created out of common stuff pure and lasting beauty: how can we explain them? It is not enough to say simply, “It was genius.” What then is genius? Could it be that a genius is a man haunted by the speaking Voice, laboring and striving like one possessed to achieve ends which he only vaguely understands? That the great man may have missed God in his labors, that he may even have spoken or written against God does not destroy the idea I am advancing. God’s redemptive revelation in the Holy Scriptures is necessary to saving faith and peace with God. Faith in a risen Saviour is necessary if the vague stirrings toward immortality are to bring us to restful and satisfying communion with God. To me this is a plausible explanation of all that is best out of Christ. But you can be a good Christian and not accept my thesis.”
This Post is Part of a Chapter-by-Chapter Look at A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God
- This Voice from the Past is Still Calling for the Seekers
- The Larger the Heart, the Less It Holds
- God Tore Down His Veil, We Protect Ours
- We Walk by Faith Not by Sight, Not by Imagination
- Three Tips for Cultivating Spiritual Receptivity
- Has Everybody Heard the Speaking Voice?
- Seeking a Practical Definition of Faith
- Victorious Spiritual Experience Summed Up in Three Words
- Laying Down the Burden of Self
- Learning to See All of Life as Worship