These are the questions many people are asking; and, if God is still speaking, what can we do to hear Him?
Hearing the voice of God is the pursuit of every maturing believer, and it is the appetite of the curiosity of spiritual seekers.
God Speaking Today
There are some small groups within the Christian worldview that actually believe God is silent today and has not spoken since the Cannon (the Bible) has been closed. Of course, we would all agree that there is no macro prophecy currently happening today. That is, a new revelation of God. All that God revealed concerning Himself and his plan for the redemption of man and end-times eschatology is closed and no one can add to it. However, to say that God does not speak into our lives personally, or guide us, is fully and completely in opposition to the full counsel of Scripture.
Actually, there is no point in Scripture anywhere from Genesis to Revelation, that anyone can build an argument around the idea that God is now silent. Furthermore, all we need to do is look at what Jesus spoke of regarding the Holy Spirit and the experience of the Holy Spirit’s work in the early Church.
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
It is common and doctrinally accepted throughout most Christian circles, that the Holy Spirit lives in the lives of all believers. He does not live there silently. Scripture says that He testifies of the truth of God, speaks into our lives and guides and counsels us. This was birthed on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and has never ceased or stopped. If it had, this would have been the greatest upset in all of Christendom.
Can you imagine the idea that the Holy Spirit filled the lives of believers in the early Church, and then all of a sudden went silent? It surely would have been documented in Scripture. It surely would have been documented somewhere, anywhere. But, in fact it is not.
The Holy Spirit is still fully and completely active in the life of the Church today, as he always has been. Any statement otherwise, argues with Scripture.
So, I guess God still continues to speak today!
Ways That God Speaks to Us
What follows is a list of the various different ways God will continue to speak to us today as evidenced by Scripture; however, this is not an exhaustive list. These are only some of the most common we see in Scripture.
God speaks to us through:
- His Word
Hebrews 4:12 ESV
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The word of God reveals His will, desire, and plan for mankind. It provides us with the knowledge of salvation. It is the primary way God speaks to us today. Any other way we believe God is speaking to us should always be evaluated through the lens of Scripture and utilizing the Bible as a filter for all truth.
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…
- His Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity.
For more information on the Trinity, hit the following link to see our blog: WHAT IS THE TRINITY? OR, WHO IS THE TRINITY?
John 14:26 NIV
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 16:13 ESV
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
- Sound Biblical Teaching
God speaks to us through biblical teaching. Biblical teaching may come through a Sunday morning message, Bible base podcast, etc. Notice that it all has in common that it must be in the Bible and affirm God‘s truth.
Matthew 28:19-20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
James 3:1 ESV
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
- God Ministers to Us Through Others
God uses whomever he chooses to build up the church for the good work we are called to do. Godly relationships are meant to disciple and grow one another to fulfill our God-given purpose and potential. God chooses whomever He wills, but they will never be in disagreement with the Bible, or they are a false teacher to be avoided.
1 John 1:3 ESV
That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:16 ESV
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
This one we have to be really careful with. This is one of the most misused and abused spiritual gifts. One of the favorite tools of false teachers. However, God does speak prophetically today as the Bible indicates. The Bible does not teach that prophecy as a spiritual gift has ended in any way. However, prophecy is no longer used to add to the Bible or God‘s revelation for mankind, as the Bible CLEARLY teaches that you cannot add to the Bible.
So… What prophecy is available today? Some call it “forth telling.” It is kind of a soft word to describe the gift of prophecy with the attempt of bringing clarity, that they are not talking about macro prophecy, such as that which would add to the Bible.
A prophetic gift today is used to encourage and edify and build up the church to continue the good work of spreading the gospel and making disciples. Sometimes we call a spoken word over someone’s life. It kind of sounds like the “I see in you” conversation. The Holy Spirit may reveal something to a believer who has a prophetic anointing that is relevant to a specific church or a specific person and their life.
Prophecy is serious in the sense that those who claim to be prophets and are proven false will face harsh judgment, as they declare themselves to be a mouthpiece for God. All prophetic utterances or statements should be tested by the filter of Scripture. If anything appears to contradict, add to scripture, or retract, end or soften Scripture, that spoken word should be rejected outright and the person claiming it.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
- Through Dreams and Visions
Though God may choose to speak to you through dreams and visions, it’s important to discern rightly between that which is from God and that which, from time to time, auto populates from our brain and our emotions. Remember, everything, and I mean everything, must be filtered through the Word of God, i.e., the Bible. Measured against it, not adding to it. Not retracting from it, rather supported by it. If filtered through Scripture, that dream or vision remains in line with Scripture, then you can accept it.
Acts 2:17 ESV
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”.
- Through Circumstances
God sometimes speaks to us through life circumstances (difficulties, seasons of blessing, opened and closed doors). Yet again we have to filter what we think we’re hearing or seeing through the light of Scripture. Not all open doors are from God. When God wants to bless you He opens the right doors. When the enemy wants to curse you, he opens the wrong doors. Right doors lead to holiness and righteousness. Wrong doors lead to sin and unrighteousness.
Understanding God’s desire for your life through the light of Scripture will help you to know which doors you should walk through and which to avoid.
It’s in those hard moments of life where we often hear God the most. It’s in those hard moments of life where our faith becomes real. It goes from that which is just cerebral knowledge to experiential life change.
Psalm 23:4 NIV
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 34:17 NIV
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.
- The Creation
God speaks to us through His creation. Through the observation of this natural world we see the hand of an intelligent designer. An intelligent Creator! Someone who kicked this blue marble into creation and has sustained it ever since.
Psalm 19:1-2 NIV
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge”.
- Angelic Visitation
We see numerous times throughout Scripture that angels who are messengers or ministering spirits are sent by God. This claim is further reinforced by the author of Hebrews.
Hebrews 13:2 NIV
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
- Signs and Wonders
Isaiah 38:7 NIV
This is the Lord’s sign to you that the Lord will do what he has promised.
Judges 6:37-40 NIV
Look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said. And that is what happened.
…Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so.
- Our Psyche
God hardwired us with an inner awareness and need to be worshipers. We will all worship someone or something.
- The Audible Voice of God
The Bible records God speaking audibly to people many times. Here are a few biblical examples:
Genesis 3:8; Exodus 3:4-6; Exodus 3:14; Ex 20:1-22, Joshua 1:1; Judges 6:18; 1 Samuel 3:11; 2 Samuel 2:1; Job 40:1; Isaiah 7:3; Jeremiah 1:7; Luke 3:21-22; Acts 8:26; 9:15 (This is just a small sampling.)
Though there is no biblical reason why God can’t choose to speak audibly today, the reality is, it’s rare. God speaking audibly like you would hear another person speak to you一is the exception一not the rule. This, of course, does not minimize or mitigate other ways God chooses to speak to you or me today. He just speaks differently at different times and to different persons for his intended will and purpose.
Even in the biblically recorded instances of God speaking, it is not always clear whether it was an audible voice, an inner voice, a heavy emotional mental/cerebral impression or realization.
John 10:27-28 ESV
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Knowing it is God Who is Speaking
How do we know or discern that it is God speaking, and it’s not our own voice, or the enemy’s? We know it, if:
- The Bible is in agreement with what we think we are hearing. One scripture is never enough; you must weigh what you’re hearing by the full counsel of Scripture. The full counsel of Scripture is what all of the Bible says about any given topic.
- What you’re hearing leads to holiness, righteousness and justice, and not self-worship, self indulgence, or self-benefit/comfort.
- What you’re hearing is NOT sin.
- What you’re hearing should always lead to God as the recipient of glory.
- What you’re hearing doesn’t defy His Word or Biblical principles. All are in agreement.
- You have received confirmation and Biblical counsel from MATURE Bible-believing fruit-bearing followers of Jesus.
Barriers to Hearing God
What gets in the way of us hearing from God and may even hinder our prayers?
- Unrepented Sin
- Business of Life
- Distractions away from God
- Unresolved conflict with others
- Unforgiveness for others
- Lack of faith in God
- Lack of effort
Therefore, if you want to hear the voice of God, remove the barriers in your life and make time to hear Him. Create an environment of stillness and solitude where you can lean into His quiet and still voice.
Everything you and I need for direction has already been spoken and written!
Of course, God speaks to us in many other ways, but this is the number one way without subjective error, that He has chosen to reveal himself, His plan, and His purpose for you.
I hope this helps answer some of the questions you may have regarding hearing and discerning rightly the voice of God. Please, remember that the number one most effective way of hearing God’s voice and receiving direction, that is time-tested and proven, is the Word of God. That’s right, it’s your BIBLE! The infallible, transcendent, living Word of God!
Remember, when we only look outside the Bible for answers, we open ourselves to subjective error. We may confuse the voice of God with our own thoughts and desires, the deception of the enemy, and confusion. The problem is, we may hear from a perfect God, but we hear with very IMPERFECT ears.
Always, always, always test what you think you are hearing with His Word as your filter, then look to trusted believers for confirmation and accountability.
For more relevant content on this topic, check out Fusion Church’s Message Series:
Can You See Him Series | FUSION CHURCH
Bondage Breaker | FUSION CHURCH
Discerning the Door of Your Destiny | FUSION CHURCH
Discerning the Door of Your Destiny | FUSION CHURCH