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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hearing God's Voice

So, I'm walking through the Christian bookstore and I run across the "trending" section. And what's "trending"? Well, the section is full of stuff by Priscilla Shirer. Now, if you ever saw the movie, War Room, you've seen Priscilla Shirer. She was the younger (not the older) black lady who was seeking to repair her family and get in touch with God, so to speak. And she's a popular writer now. One of the big ones from her is this book entitled, Discerning the Voice of God. It's a book to tell you "How to Recognize When God is Speaking." And it's so big that, even though it was written a decade ago, she has released a revised and expanded edition. Because we all want to hear the voice of God, don't we?

Allow me to offer some helpful advice on this, because I do agree that we should be seeking to hear the voice of God and we do need to be able to discern when it's Him and not someone else. Very important.

So, first, may I suggest that you begin and end with His Word. Now, perhaps, since we've referred to the Bible as "God's Word" for so long, especially with that "Word" with a capital "W", we've lost sight of what we're saying. What we're saying is that the Bible is the very word of God. The Bible is God speaking. Sometimes it is Him literally speaking -- direct quotes from God. But even when it's not direct quotes, it is still God speaking through those He has chosen to use to speak (2 Peter 1:20-21). And while the words used are those of the human writer, the message in its entirety is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16-17). Do you want to hear God speak? Read your Bible. Read it all the way through. Read it cover to cover. Examine it closely. Listen to it. You're hearing the voice of God.

"But how can I know if I'm actually hearing the voice of God or my own?" Examine it more closely. Compare it with itself. Think about it, pray about it, pay attention to it. What does the Bible say about itself? What is the explicit? What type of text is it? Historical narrative? Poetry? Wisdom? What? Read it for that. How does it line up with the rest? And is there consensus over church history that agrees on it? There should be if Jesus's promise that the Holy Spirit would lead His own into the truth is actually true. If this is consistent, you're hearing the voice of God.

"But I'm not, really, am I? I mean, I'm not hearing God's voice." Of course, it would be easy to say, "Well, read aloud!", but I'll offer another possibility. Insofar as the Word is preached, the preacher is speaking the words of God. As long as the pastor or teacher is accurately expressing Scripture, he or she is actually speaking the words of God. Go to church. When you hear them preached, you're hearing the voice of God.

"You don't seem to understand. I want to hear God's voice about my everyday things." Yes, I understand. We want to know who to marry, where to work, should I do this or that? The truth is if we have a firm grasp on God's Word, most of those questions go away. The truth is that most of our demands to "hear God's voice" are because we're not willing to do the work ... to hear His voice in His Word.

Not good enough? Beyond this I would advise extreme caution. The popular idea today is that "God can talk directly to me," that we can get special revelation from God Himself. I'll give you a hint. When "God speaks directly to me" in a way that directly contradicts His Word, you can be quite certain it is not God's voice you're hearing. But, then, you'll need to know His Word to know that, won't you? So we're right back in the same place again. We have God's Word. Listen to it.


Anonymous said...

Suppose you momentarily think you hear a voice telling you, "I have never approved of anybody owning a person and passing that person on down to his heirs."

Can you rule out that this is God's voice because it contradicts Leviticus chapter 25?

Stan said...

My point was that we aren't hearing God speak like that anymore. He's done. It's called Scripture.

The Bible forbids the practice of stealing people for the purpose of slavery (kidnapping at all) (Exo 21:16). Slavery in the sense that Americans (etc.) practiced it in the 18th and 19th century is forbidden in Scripture.

Bob said...

God said "let all women from the four corners of the earth submit to man"
then he made the earth Round. and he laughed and laughed....
No God didn't really say that, but how would you know if you didn't read your bible?

Stan said...

In case anyone was wondering "Is it biblical to say that God doesn't do that kind of speaking to people anymore?", here's my answer.

"Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar." (Prov 30:5-6)