Wednesday, May 19, 2021

3 Ways We Can Hear the Voice of God

 

The topic of hearing the voice of God never fails to stir up the interest and conversation of fellow Christians (and at times, even from individuals of differing faiths or of no faith). Yet if you encountered a new believer who wasn’t quite sure of what to think on the matter, what would you say? In his book Hearing God, Dallas Willard eases his readers into such a conversation. In his wonderful book, he gives loose guidance that recommends checking three points of reference, sometimes referred to as the “three lights” which we can consult when determining what the Lord would have us do. He says that these are 1) Circumstances; 2) Impressions of the Spirit; and 3) Passages of the Bible. Let us briefly explore each of these three as an introduction to this noteworthy topic.

Circumstances
For us to believe that God is speaking to us through the events of our lives, then it seems likely that our circumstances are causing disruptions in our lives that are large enough for us to pause and ask, “Why am I here?” or “Is God trying to tell me something?” While it is also true that our circumstances could be markers or guiderails to help us make decisions that are more in line with the will of God, the circumstances we experience will inevitably provide God with more of an opportunity to show us His eternal perspective. While there is a slight pierce in the truth of his words, Henry Blackaby’s voice brings clarity to the matter, telling us that “when you face confusing circumstances, don’t blame God. Don’t give up following Him. Go to God. Ask Him to reveal the truth of your circumstances…When He becomes the Lord of your life, He alone has the right to be: the Focus of your life; the Initiator in your life; the Director of your life. That is what it means for Him to be Lord.”

Impressions of the Spirit
Feeling an impression of the Spirit is hard to describe with words. Yet, once we begin to recognize the voice of God, the movement of the Spirit can be almost unmistakable. Similar to how a child is able to discern their parents’ voices amid the cacophony of noises on the busy playground, we also can develop a keen ear to know when the Lord is reaching out to us. Rather than expecting a constant stream of theophanies like the burning bush in Exodus 3, Willard explains that such impressions of the Spirit are actually the most common path for hearing from the Lord for those who are living in harmony with God. He continues, mentioning that “as we become used to the idea that God is friendly and helpful, that He desires to straighten, inform and correct for our good as well as to comfort and encourage and that He really does love us, then we can begin to pray heartily with Psalms 139:23” (“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”, NIV).

Passages of the Bible
Available on-demand for any person who has a Bible nearby, the Word of God remains as an inerrant and consistent source of truth for the Christian faith. Willard annotates that while our modern interpretations provide more scholarly insight than centuries prior, we must refrain from depending upon the human translation to be a replacement of the voice of God. Indeed, he says that “our dependence as we read the Bible today must be on God, who now speaks to us in conjunction with [the Bible] and with our best efforts to understand it” (emphasis mine). Legendary evangelist Smith Wigglesworth shares in his book Faith that Prevails a quote that I could not break apart or shorten, for it was just too good and needed to be read in its entirety: “A man gave this remarkable testimony concerning the Word: ‘Never compare this Book with other books. Comparisons are dangerous. Never think or never say that this Book contains the Word of God. It is the Word of God. It is supernatural in origin, eternal in duration, inexpressible in value, infinite in scope, regenerative in power, infallible in authority, universal in interest, personal in application, inspired in totality. Read it through. Write it down. Pray it in. Work it out. And then pass it on.’”


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