Last night we enjoyed Christian fellowship at a friend’s birthday party. One guest and I had a long discussion about “God told me” and how to authenticate what we hear, or think we hear. We agreed that a good imagination can be dangerous, especially if a desire to hear God speak is added to it. Our own desires can also get into the mix.
This morning, I looked up verses where Jesus said something about hearing Him speak. Here are some of them:
“When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:4–5)“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16)“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Obviously, He intended to speak to us but how do we know for certain it is Him? There are many voices. The NT says that the enemy disguises himself as an angel of light and has many schemes to fool us. How can I be sure that what I hear is the voice of God and not the enemy trying to mimic Him?
One clue is in what Jesus said to Pilate:
“. . . You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18:37)
“My sheep” is the same as “those who are of the truth” which tells me not everyone will hear the voice of God. However, this is not limited to people who already have a saving relationship with Him. From stories coming out of the Middle East, I hear that Jesus is speaking to many people, drawing them to Himself with dreams and visions, so His communication is not limited to those who already know Him, people in church, or those with a theology degree.
Before He was crucified, Jesus told His disciples:
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 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. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12–15)
This verse gives more clues: Jesus speaks through the Holy Spirit. His words are timely, given when I am ready to hear Him. He speaks truth that matches what the Father and Son are saying (implied). He can reveal the future. He will glorify Jesus Christ in what He says (not pointing to Himself). He will tell me about Jesus and speaks for Jesus.
Our pastor says, “The Holy Spirit is the only one who can speak to us inside our heads.” He does that, but also speaks through other people such as the prophets, and those filled with the Spirit who are His mouthpieces. He speaks through circumstances, music, even the song of a bird or a sunset or raindrops yet still His voice is within, an affirmation that what we see and hear with our ears is really His message.
In our conversation, my friend and I agreed that we just know it is God. I’m not sure about those who assume such a thing only to later realize they were mistaken. Is that presumption? Wishful thinking? I don’t know. I only know that the Holy Spirit makes Himself real so I know it is Him. He can also give me the same sensation of His presence as when someone is standing behind me and I cannot see him.
Lord Jesus, walking with the Spirit is not just a silent stroll. Through the marvel of the Godhead You speak to me, conveying your will, knowledge, emotions, as well as the ability to love you, to love others and to experience Your incredible joy and peace. Thank You.