Tons of questions are coming in about vocal cords. Joe from Dallas asks, “Could you please expand on your statement from the Linger Conference recently, when you said that God has no vocal cords?” Case from Dripping Springs, Texas, asks the same thing, as do Dixie and another listener named Jordan. So, what did you mean at the Linger Conference when you said that God has no vocal chords?
When the Word Wed Flesh
Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.” The context of that statement is that he is trying to help the woman at the well to disconnect worship from location and buildings — like, “Should we worship in Jerusalem or should we worship on this mountain?”
One of Jesus’ responses is that “God is spirit,” which means he doesn’t have a body. Therefore, he doesn’t have a location, and he certainly doesn’t have any body parts like vocal cords. Before the Son of God was incarnate, he was not incarnate. The whole point of the incarnation is that it had to happen. He didn’t have a body before. It is terrible to think of God as having a body before the incarnation.
So, “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1–2). Then, look at John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh.” At the incarnation, there is this mysterious union between the divine and human nature, and now it is not wrong to say God has vocal cords — namely, Jesus’s vocal cords.
An Essential Difference
But that is not what people have in mind when they talk about God speaking to them. God is essence: he has no body and no vocal cords. My point of laying stress on this at the conference was that, when God communicates with a human being audibly, he is using some created agency, some created means, and not his own vocal cords. That was the context.
People were asking, “Do you ever hear God?” Part of my answer was that he doesn’t have any vocal cords, and they said, “Whoa, I’ve never thought about that answer before.”
We are not told how God spoke to Adam, Noah, Abraham, the prophets. We just know that God made his meaning plain with words, which they discerned as originating in God. We don’t know how it happened, but we do know he doesn’t have any vocal cords.
Read and Taste
Now, one of the reasons, Tony, for saying this is to elevate the Scriptures. People have a fascination with voices and a dissatisfaction with the written word. This is crazy. This is tragic. This is a great ploy of the devil.
If all of God’s verbal communications are mediated by some created agency, why would we prefer a heard agency over seen agency — a word sounding in the ear over a word shining in the eye? Why? It is crazy.
God has clearly preferred to communicate in writing to the mass of his people — hence, the Law and the Prophets in the Old Testament; hence, the Gospels and the Epistles in the New Testament. God prefers the mass of his children to know him through writing, and that way is not less direct than if he spoke by some other agency.
Power in the Page
In fact, if we trust his wisdom and believe that he makes no mistakes, then this way of writing — this process of communicating with us — must be the best way to do it since it is the way he did it. Instead of craving auditory means, we should cherish the visual means that he has given us, which can become auditory means.
“If you read the Bible out loud, you are hearing the voice of God.”
Namely, read the Bible out loud. Then you are not only seeing the word of God on the page, but also hearing the very word of God. The thing that got the most laughter at this conference was after everybody was talking about hearing the voice of God. I said, “You know, if you read the Bible out loud, you are hearing the voice of God.”
Everybody laughed, and I thought, “I hope that laughter is discovery, rather than scorn or silliness,” because that is absolutely true. If you read the Bible out loud, you are hearing the voice of God — just as much as if he made some bush rattle and a voice come out of it (Exodus 3:2–4). Wood is not superior to black ink on a page.