As First Baptist Church of Hammond reels from an unexpected sexual scandal involving its pastor and a teen girl, a guest speaker recently encouraged the congregation to try and hear God's voice.
"I ask you a simple question but one that's really critical in my life and yours. How good are you ... at hearing the voice of God?" Dr. David Gibbs, founder of the Christian Law Association, said last Wednesday during the Indiana church's evening Bible study.
"All through the Bible it says God speaks. One of the greatest privileges imaginable is when God speaks to us."
Gibbs addressed the 15,000-member church just a week after its pastor, Jack Schaap, was dismissed over a sexual affair with a girl who is now 17. The relationship reportedly began when the girl was 16. The married 54-year-old, who previously led FBC for 11 years, admitted to "improper behavior" with the teenager.
Prayers have poured in from other churches as FBC seeks healing and searches for a new pastor. Since the dismissal, the church has been inviting guest speakers to preach.
Speaking to a full house, Gibbs – who did not directly address the scandal – told the congregation that "every single Christian can get comfortable with what they should never get comfortable with. What may have troubled you at one time doesn't trouble you now. It's the deceitfulness of sin, we've all experienced that."
Gibbs listed three ways through ways the people of God could hear the voice of God: God's Word (Scripture), His servants, and His spirit.
He also warned, however, that there are three ways that will "quiet" God's voice: faking it (pretending to hear from God), double mindedness (wavering in faith), and rebellion.
"God talks to you a lot more than you think," Gibbs said.
"When you won't stop the transgression, then the Bible says you're in rebellion," he added. "Have you ever gotten comfortable with what you should never have gotten comfortable with? That's rebellion."
The Christian attorney encouraged the thousands of attendees to not only want to hear God's voice, but to also not let their hearts be hardened so that they hear it.
"Life has got a way of getting crust on us," he said. "All of a sudden, events and things and trials and problems and circumstances we never thought we'd see – God says don't let your heart get hardened. Be tender."
On a concluding note, Gibbs affirmed to First Baptist that "this church belongs to the Lord and this church is here to honor His Word and to exalt His voice."
FBC is one of the largest churches in the country. Before Schaap took the helm, the church was led by Jack Hyles for more than 40 years until his death. Schaap is Hyles' son-in-law. A probe by the FBI was launched to determine whether Schaap broke any laws during his affair, namely whether he crossed state lines and engaged in sexual behavior with an underage female.