The other day, a good friend spoke of how some people have left our church because of the indirect influences of Bill Johnson of Bethel Church. I, myself, haven’t really spent time listening to the guy; however, I am aware of some of his teachings. For me, it’s not even close to being out there. I asked another friend and he pointed to a lot of the web sites proclaiming to speak the truth.
I have been to such sites, over the decades and it grieves my heart to see such things. Such sites give the impression of speaking for God and I have yet to experience any good fruits coming from such corners. Did you know there is a better way?
Are you struggling with the many voices claiming to be the voice of our Savior, Jesus? I know the struggle; as I already went through it. In the 90s, I had to weather a storm of opposing opinions. Each voice claimed to be the truth and they left a strong feeling of unease disquiet in my soul. I honestly wished that Frank and Leonard wrote this book, twenty years ago.
Who is Frank Viola? For one, I am not talking about the baseball player. I was originally introduced to Frank’s “Pagan Christianity“. Though he did provide some good insights, that book wasn’t my favorite. Thankfully, I read his “Reimagining Church” and it struck a home run. Since then, Frank Viola has gone on to write many other books and I’ve enjoyed a few of them.
These days, Frank Viola is deeply committed to helping Christians to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ. From what I’ve read in “God’s Favorite Place on Earth“, “Jesus, Now” and “Revise Us Again: Living From a Renewed Christian Script“, Frank definitely has a heart for disciplining Christians. He seems primarily dealing with young people; however, anyone can read and learn.
Frank is also a leader of the organic church movement and they really are on the cutting edge of what I am seeing. You’d think Frank is associated with Bethel Church in Redding, CA; however, he isn’t. For more information on Frank Viola and his ministry then please visit frankviola.com. His site has some great free resources that may be of help to you.
As for “Jesus Speak”, it is more than a well-written book by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet. The 253-page book is broken up into two volumes wrapped up in one book. The first volume deals directly with the resurrected Jesus talking with each of the various disciples. I would definitely recommend reading through the eight chapters in this section.
As you’re reading the author’s insights, I would suggest that you read the accounts for yourself. They can easily be found at the end of each Gospel and the Book of Acts. The Scriptures should always form the backdrop for any teachings; as the Bible is our guide and help for learning to discern our Lord talking with us. As always, I would encourage you to get into a dialogue with the Holy Spirit about what you’re reading.
As I read through the first set of chapters, I can appreciat the reinforcement of the things that I have learned. If you’re a new Christian then you’ll appreciate the way the author approach things. If you’re new to Frank Viola then I should forewarn you. You will be challenged in the way you think. This is a good thing. You really are supposed to give thoughts to what is being written.
As for the second volume, the author talks about how Jesus is speaking to us, now. There are actually two sections for this volume. The first part deals with “How Jesus talks with us” and the second part deals with some practical warnings. Would you like to guess the starting point for this section?
It all begins with the Word of God. The authors rightly point out the importance of reading your Bible. We cannot know Jesus’ voice, if we don’t read God’s Word. As you’re reading, the author points out some needed characteristics. F or one, it helps to be poor in spirit. In other words, you and I don’t know everything and we’re to have an attitude of humility and a teachable heart.
It’s vitally important that we don’t hold on to our opinions because we can easily be mistaken about a great many things. The Pharisees were the religious know-it-all of their days. They studied the Scriptures and assumed a great deal. Yet, they failed to recognize the truth about Jesus. I, for one, don’t know everything and it’s why I keep pointing to the One that really does know.
Here is another characteristic that the author brings up. Children love to ask questions; as they have an insatiable curiosity. It’s okay to ask questions of God. As you’re reading the Scriptures, I would encourage you to talk with God, the Father. It’s a good chance the Old Testament is confusing the heck out of you. If not, you are from the Middle East or historian.
I could say the same thing for the New Testament era. My point will still be the same. Talk with God, about it. Middle Eastern culture is going to be weird to Western ears; especially today’s time period. Since the Holy Spirit is the author then it’s a good idea to talk with Him. Don’t you think?
Do you know that Jesus speaks through other means, too? According to the authors, there appears to be a total of 6 ways. The first one is Scriptures. The others are Spiritual Instincts, Wisdom, the Body of Christ, the Audible voice and Conscience. From what I can see, the authors did a good job of illustrating each one.
I should point out that the inaudible voice of God should not be confused with God’s audible voice. The inaudible voice is largely internal and you’re the only one to hear it. As you come to know God’s character then it will become easier to recognize when Jesus is speaking. Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet did a good job of sharing how to identify Jesus’ voice.
Why is it so important to recognize the characteristics of God’s voice and personality? Sadly, there are many deceiving voices out there. If you don’t develop a relationship with Jesus then you are going to have trouble and vulnerable to a variety of deceptions. For this reason, I am glad that the authors cover this very important topic. In saying this, you may be asking an important question.
Do the authors identify anyone, as a false teacher? No, this book is not about naming and shaming. Jesus Speak is about learning to hear directly from Jesus. The book is about learning to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit when it comes to certain teachings. It’s about learning to ask questions when something doesn’t jive. There is one lesson that I’ve learned from reading Scriptures. We’re supposed to run to God, first.
I’ll elaborate. The children of Israel would often rush forward, when certain things occurred. The problem is that they never went to God, beforehand. Why? If they had consulted with God then they would have avoided a lot of trouble and grief. The same principle applies to Christians, too.
Clearly, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is one that I heartily recommend. This book would be great for any church library. You can use it, for your personal study or a church discipleship program.