February 17, 2018

Hearing the Word, hearing the Spirit

Over the decades, most if not all the churches I’ve attended have been strong on hearing and obeying the Word of God. For them, that Word is the Bible. If the Bible does not back it up, then all our ideas are either from human, worldly, or even demonic wisdom. Any inner voice could not be called the ‘leading of God’s Spirit’ unless it could be verified in the written Word.

Most Christians I know realize that God does impress truth and direction on our hearts and minds. We might not be able to find a chapter and verse to prove it even when the principles of God’s Word are not being violated.

Over the past couple of years, our current church has offered an eight-week study called “Hearing God.” The women are currently in a study by that title. I’ve several books with the same title or topic. These are wonderful attempts to help us with discerning the voice of God as Jesus said we could . . .

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

God can speak inside our heads. As Tozer says, hearing the Bible read, or reading it ourselves is not enough. Even had I stood on the earth at the time of Paul, his speech could do nothing for me without the voice of the Holy Spirit backing it up loud and clear in my conscience. I need to listen to that inner voice. Otherwise, the Bible is just a jumble of words. This is what James refers to when he says:

“Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18)

No person is reborn without that combination: The Word of truth and the Holy Spirit speaking truth into their heart. One without the other is either incomplete or dead.

These last few days God is speaking to me about obedience. I can hear and understand. I can know where this verse and that passage fit into the plan of God. Yet understanding is not enough. James also says:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22–25)

The intent of God is to transform me into the likeness of His Son. He does this by the power of His Word, but without obedience, nothing happens — except that I can become a Bible-know-it-all with a fat head and little evidence that I practice what I preach.

Jesus, I don’t want to be a pain in the neck to those around me. Your intention is that I hear and follow You, that I am a ‘firstfruit’ who lives out what You are putting in, a doer of Your Word, a listener who obeys. Too often I fall short. Forgive me. I thank You that You grant grace to my ears, but also to the rest of me that so I will respond with a changed life.

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