DOES GOD SPEAK TO US?
“I wish God would just send me a letter and tell me what I should do!”
Have you ever had a thought like that? I have!
Wouldn’t it be easier if we could just come to know God by sitting across from each other at a coffee shop? Asking questions, getting answers, conversing, listening, encouraging, loving….
It’s become pretty cliche to say that “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship.” Oh how true this is. But when asked how this “relationship” works, it often turns out to look more like forensic science than it does friends sharing intimate thoughts with one another.
But I’m here to tell you today, that an incredibly important part of our search to know God is learning how to hear Him. Yes, in the inner man.
SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE THAT WE CAN HEAR HIS VOICE
Listen, I am not usually one to learn from experience first (though it certainly can teach us). I’ve always been prone to search for proof in the Scriptures before I’ll believe anything about God. I expect many of us here have the same mind set. Which is fantastic!
So let’s start from the Scriptures.
THE NEW COVENANT AND GOD’S VOICE
“for this is the covenant that i will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: i will put my laws into their minds, and i will write them on their hearts. and i will be their God, and they shall be my people. and they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘know the lord,’ for all will know me, from the least to the greatest of them. “for i will be merciful to their iniquities, and i will remember their sins no more.” (Heb. 8:10-12)
I actually became convinced of this concept—of all Church-age believers being able to hear God’s voice within them—long before I ever seriously sought to hear His voice for myself. I became convinced of this when studying the New Covenant. I will be writing at length on this subject in the curriculum I’m writing, so will save the long explanation for that space. At the end of the day, there are a million and one ideas in this world about what the New Covenant is. But there are certain things that make understanding it easier:
1. Israel, as the people of God in the Old Testament, was/is a “shadow people”. In the Bible, a “shadow” is a communication device using a lower/earthly truth to explain a higher/heavenly truth (see Col. 2:17, Heb. 8:5, 10:1). This means that God used a nation of the earth to communicate higher truths of the heavenly Kingdom of God. The Church does not replace Israel. And Israel didn’t morph into the Church. Rather, Israel as a distinct nation, including all her laws and ordinances, her Holy Writ and her history, is a communication device of God, set apart to communicate to humanity (blinded by darkness and slavery), high truths of the Heavenly Kingdom of God we’re all invited into. This too, is evidence that God does everything in His power to communicate with us. (Not convinced this is Israel’s purpose? Consider also Exodus 19:5-6/Deut. 7:6 and 1 Peter 2:9-10.)
2. The word “law” comes from a word meaning “portion” or “to parcel out”, relating to one’s land inheritance or one’s portion of food. Just as Israel was a shadow of the people of God, their law was a shadow of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus in every member of the Kingdom of God (Rom. 8:2). David said “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” (Psalm 119:72) Which brings me to the next point.
3. Glory in Hebrew means “riches, wealth”, and in Greek means “mind, thoughts.” Heavenly riches are literally made up of God’s thoughts. God’s glory is His thoughts. David could say that the Law of God’s mouth is better than thousands of gold and silver pieces, because it is the truest and most eternal form of wealth in existence. One day we’ll understand the economy of heaven in full, but for now, suffice it to say that the purpose of the OT Law was to shadow how God would guide and direct His Heaven-born spiritual Kingdom to function among the spiritual kingdom of darkness on earth. In other words, the Kingdom of God (those who’ve been recreated in Christ, 2 Cor. 5:17) are navigated through life by God’s thoughts/voice/glory/dynamic-Law in the inner man.
4. Finally, there’s so much more that could be said on this… but let’s look at the word “justification”. When we follow it’s Hebrew origins, it means “right”, and it’s Greek origins come from a word meaning “to show, to guide.” To be justified, literally involves receiving the right/true guidance of God (His glory, His thoughts, His Law) in the inner man. To be counted righteous is to be of the kingdom of God, with the governing of God Himself within.
With all this in mind, reread the New Covenant promises above.
WHY WE NEED HIS VOICE
The Christian life is lived from the inside out, not the other way around. It is lived from the Spirit of God within. If we live according to the natural man, we’ll be following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). In other words, if we don’t follow the internal voice of God within us, we’ll be living as slaves to the prince of darkness, following his voice.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery… If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:1, 25)
We need His voice to guide us so we can live free of the regime of darkness governing our flesh (Col. 1:13). And the real reason we want to live free of the darkness, is so we can have a personal relationship with God. God created us for intimate relationship with Him. Oh how He loves us!! As we listen for His voice, we come to understand how intimately involved God is with our daily lives. As we live and move according to His dynamic ongoing guidance, we come to find out how trustworthy He is… He’ll never call us to a task without supplying for it. As we follow His guidance, believing without seeing or understanding, we come to see how GOOD He is. The goodness He leads us to accomplish is other-worldly. We could never think of it! As we listen to His voice, we begin to understand how rich and high and deep His love is for us. He not only speaks sweet words of love directly to us, He guides us in such a way that we know we are deliberately planned for, and our lives destined beyond our imaginations. How this realization causes the heart to explode. So as we come to know His love personally and relationally, we begin to really know… Him.
And HE is who we are searching for.
HOW WE HEAR HIS VOICE
I believe the Scriptures teach that it is the very birthright of every single child of God to hear His voice and be dynamically guided by Him day in and day out. But what does His voice sound like? How does He speak? How do we know we’re hearing Him and not the darkness in our flesh? This is something we must all take time to learn and grow in. And can I emphasize this: it takes time. Why? Because as we learn to hear Him, we’re also learning to trust Him… something we intrinsically do not know how to do.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Heb. 5:13-14)
In practical terms, His voice sounds like a thought. Your job is to learn to discern between the thoughts coming to you. Which ones are of God, and which are of the enemy? You might find it helpful to keep a notebook of thoughts you believe are from God. This will help you remember what He’s called you to throughout your day, help you track which ones really were Him, and help you remember His faithfulness and love along the way.
In truth, God speaks in a number of ways. His communication includes (but is not limited to):
• speaking to the inner man by the living Word (Jesus) (it sounds like a thought)
• speaking through the written word in the Scriptures
• speaking through dreams/visions
• speaking through “gut” impressions
• speaking through other people
• speaking through life circumstances
One thing is for sure, learning to hear God will take time and development of your trust of Him. Again, trusting God doesn’t come naturally to us (because the enemy is so good at deceiving us). But as we learn to trust Him through following His guidance, we grow in breath-taking, exquisite relationship with Him.
As you endeavor to listen for His voice, never forget: if what you “hear” doesn’t align with the Scriptures and it’s message of love, it’s not God. The human’s responsibility in all this is to grow in the wisdom of discernment. But oh, we need God for this too!
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (Js. 1:5-8)
Friends, can I tell you a secret? I can’t believe I’m talking about this on here. It feels risky. But I believe it’s worth the “risk” to talk about. Because if we can really hear God’s voice—and I believe God’s word says we can, and if it’s necessary for both knowing God in relationship, and for living as the Kingdom of God on earth… then talk about it we must!!
If you’re struggling with your opinion on this topic (as I would have a few years ago), can I encourage you to just not decide what you think today? Would you hold this out to God and ask Him to show you what’s true? And then will you just leave time and space for God to answer you?
I’ll leave you with this verse in closing:
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice… My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me… (John 10:1-4, 27)
If you’re interested in exploring this topic more, I recommend reading a book called “For Sinner’s Only” by A.J. Russell.
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