The Speaking Voice, by A.W. Tozer

 The Speaking Voice
A. W. Tozer

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God".-John 1:1

An intelligent plain man, untaught in the truths of Christianity,
coming upon this text, would likely conclude that John meant to teach
that it is the nature of God to speak, to communicate His thoughts to
others. And he would be right. A word is a medium by which thoughts
are expressed, and the application of the term to the Eternal Son
leads us to believe that selfexpression is inherent in the Godhead,
that God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation. The
whole Bible supports the idea. God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God
is speaking. He is by His nature continuously articulate. He fills the
world with His speaking Voice.

One of the great realities with which we have to deal is the Voice of
God in His world. The briefest and only satisfying cosmogony is this:
"He spake and it was done." The why of natural law is the living Voice
of God immanent in His creation. And this word of God which brought
all worlds into being cannot be understood to mean the Bible, for it
is not a written or printed word at all, but the expression of the
will of God spoken into the structure of all things. This word of God
is the breath of God filling the world with living potentiality. The
Voice of God is the most powerful force in nature, indeed the only
force in nature, for all energy is here only because the power-filled
Word is being spoken.

The Bible is the written word of God, and because it is written it is
confined and limited by the necessities of ink and paper and leather.
The Voice of God, however, is alive and free as the sovereign God is
free. "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are
life." The life is in the speaking words. 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.

We take a low and primitive view of things when we conceive of God at
the creation coming into physical contact with things, shaping and
fitting and building like a carpenter. The Bible teaches otherwise:
"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of
them by the breath of his mouth .... For he spake, and it was done; he
commanded, and it stood fast." "Through faith we understand that the
worlds were framed by the word of God." Again we must remember that
God is referring here not to His written Word, but to His speaking
Voice. His world-filling Voice is meant, that Voice which antedates
the Bible by uncounted centuries, that Voice which has not been silent
since the dawn of creation, but is sounding still throughout the full
far reaches of the universe.

The Word of God is quick and powerful. In the beginning He spoke to
nothing, and it became something. Chaos heard it and became order,
darkness heard it and became light. "And God said-and it was so."
These twin phrases, as cause and effect, occur throughout the Genesis
story of the creation. The said accounts for the so. The so is the
said put into the continuous present.

That God is here and that He is speaking-these truths are back of all
other Bible truths; without them there could be no revelation at all.
God did not write a book and send it by messenger to be read at a
distance by unaided minds. He spoke a Book and lives in His spoken
words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to
persist across the years. God breathed on clay and it became a man; He
breathes on men and they become clay. "Return ye children of men," was
the word spoken at the Fall by which God decreed the death of every
man, and no added word has He needed to speak. The sad procession of
mankind across the face of the earth from birth to the grave is proof
that His original Word was enough.

We have not given sufficient attention to that deep utterance in the
Book of John, "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that
cometh into the world." Shift the punctuation around as we will and
the truth is still there: 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. Something like this
would of necessity be so if God is alive and in His world. And John
says that it is so. Even those persons who have never heard of the
Bible have still been preached to with sufficient clarity to remove
every excuse from their hearts forever. "Which show the work of the
law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness,
and their thoughts the mean while either accusing or else excusing one
another." "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the
world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made,
even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."

This universal Voice of God was by the ancient Hebrews often called
Wisdom, and was said to be everywhere sounding and searching
throughout the earth, seeking some response from the sons of men. The
eighth chapter of the Book of Proverbs begins, "both not wisdom cry?
and understanding put forth her voice?" The writer then pictures
wisdom as a beautiful woman standing "in the top of the high places,
by the way in the places of the paths." She sounds her voice from
every quarter so that no one may miss hearing it. "Unto you, O men, I
call; and my voice is to the sons of men." Then she pleads for the
simple and the foolish to give ear to her words. It is spiritual
response for which this Wisdom of God is pleading, a response which
she has always sought and is but rarely able to secure. The tragedy is
that our eternal welfare depends upon our hearing, and we have trained
our ears not to hear.

This universal Voice has ever sounded, and it has often troubled men
even when they did not understand the source of their fears. Could it
be that this Voice distilling like a living mist upon the hearts of
men has been the undiscovered cause of the troubled conscience and the
longing for immortality confessed by millions since the dawn of
recorded history? We need not fear to face up to this. The speaking
Voice is a fact. How men have reacted to it is for any observer to

When God spoke out of heaven to our Lord, selfcentered men who heard
it explained it by natural causes: they said, "It thundered." This
habit of explaining the Voice by appeals to natural law is at the very
root of modern science. In the living breathing cosmos there is a
mysterious Something, too wonderful, too awful for any mind to
understand. The believing man does not claim to understand. He falls
to his knees and whispers, "God." The man of earth kneels also, but
not to worship. He kneels to examine, to search, to find the cause and
the how of things. Just now we happen to be living in a secular age.
Our thought habits are those of the scientist, not those of the
worshipper. We are more likely to explain than to adore. "It
thundered," we exclaim, and go our earthly way. But still the Voice
sounds and searches. The order and life of the world depend upon that
Voice, but men are mostly too busy or too stubborn to give attention.

Everyone of us has had experiences which we have not been able to
explain: a sudden sense of loneliness, or a feeling of wonder or awe
in the face of the universal vastness. Or we have had a fleeting
visitation of light like an illumination from some other sun, giving
us in a quick flash an assurance that we are from another world, that
our origins are divine. What we saw there, or felt, or heard, may have
been contrary to all that we had been taught in the schools and at
wide variance with all our former beliefs and opinions. We were forced
to suspend our acquired doubts while, for a moment, the clouds were
rolled back and we saw and heard for ourselves. Explain such things as
we will, I think we have not been fair to the facts until we allow at
least the possibility that such experiences may arise from the
Presence of God in the world and His persistent effort to communicate
with mankind. Let us not dismiss such an hypothesis too flippantly.

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.

The Voice of God is a friendly Voice. No one need fear to listen to it
unless he has already made up his mind to resist it. The blood of
Jesus has covered not only the human race but all creation as well.
"And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to
reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be
things in earth, or things in heaven." We may safely preach a friendly
Heaven. The heavens as well as the earth are filled with the good will
of Him that dwelt in the bush. The perfect blood of atonement secures
this forever.

Whoever will listen will hear the speaking Heaven. This is definitely
not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for
listening is not today a part of popular religion. We are at the
opposite end of the pole from there. Religion has accepted the
monstrous heresy that noise, size, activity and bluster make a man
dear to God. But we may take heart. To a people caught in the tempest
of the last great conflict God says, "Be still, and know that I am
God," and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our
strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.

It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that
we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if
we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in
our hearts. I think for the average person the progression will be
something like this: First a sound as of a Presence walking in the
garden. Then a voice, more intelligible, but still far from clear.
Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the
Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound, or at best a voice,
now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the
word of a dear friend. Then will come life and light, and best of all,
ability to see and rest in and embrace Jesus Christ as Saviour and
Lord and All.

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. They
may admit that they should accept the Bible as the Word of God, and
they may try to think of it as such, but they find it impossible to
believe that the words there on the page are actually for them. A man
may say, "These words are addressed to me," and yet in his heart not
feel and know that they are. He is the victim of a divided psychology.
He tries to think of God as mute everywhere else and vocal only in a

I believe that much of our religious unbelief is due to a wrong
conception of and a wrong feeling for the Scriptures of Truth. A
silent God suddenly began to speak in a book and when the book was
finished lapsed back into silence again forever. Now we read the book
as the record of what God said when He was for a brief time in a
speaking mood. With notions like that in our heads how can we believe?
The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the
nature of God to speak. The second Person of the Holy Trinity is
called the Word. 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.

I think a new world will arise out of the religious mists when we
approach our Bible with the idea that it is not only a book which was
once spoken, but a book which is now speaking. The prophets habitually
said, "Thus saith the Lord." They meant their hearers to understand
that God's speaking is in the continuous present. We may use the past
tense properly to indicate that at a certain time a certain word of
God was spoken, but a word of God once spoken continues to be spoken,
as a child once born continues to be alive, or a world once created
continues to exist. And those are but imperfect illustrations, for
children die and worlds burn out, but the Word of our God endureth

If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open
Bible expecting it to speak to you. Do not come with the notion that
it is a thing which you may push around at your convenience. It is
more than a thing, it is a voice, a word, the very Word of the living

Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary
with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give
me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, "Speak, for thy
servant heareth." Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get
used to the sound of Thy Voice, that its tones may be familiar when
the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of
Thy speaking Voice. Amen.