Does God still speak to people? If so, how does He do it? And if He is speaking, how do we know it is His voice we are hearing? After all, we all hear multiple voices. Some voices are audible. Others are just in our heads. But…I’m getting ahead of myself. For the sake of argument, let’s just assume one of the voices we hear, whether audible or just in our head, is actually coming from God.
I heard and recognized God’s voice for the first time when I was twelve. It was humbling, scary and exciting all at the same time. It was also addictive. Because of his voice, I became a follower of Jesus and I began a journey that has been both frustrating and delightful. Because of his voice, I became a pastor and entered into Biblical studies. I earned a Masters of Divinity with an emphasis in Pastoral Studies. I then earned a Doctorate of Ministry with an emphasis in Spiritual Disciplines. I have been a pastor for over 25 years. For all of my adult life I have been dedicated to hearing God’s voice, trying to obey it and attempting to share with others what I’ve heard from Him. I know a little bit about this topic, but at the same time I feel as though I really know nothing. That’s what makes this journey frustrating sometimes.
Due to my training and years of experience, I can give a solid theological answer to the question: “Does God speak?” I can also provide a Biblically grounded answer to the question: “How does God speak?” In fact, let me just go ahead and answer those two questions right now. But I warn you, even though they are correct and fully accurate, they will leave you unsatisfied, especially if you are currently struggling with hearing God’s voice.
Does God speak? Yes. See, I told you the answer would leave you feeling empty. Right now I could share with you a dozen Bible verses that all point to God’s ability to speak to people. One of my favorites is Isaiah 30:21.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Isn’t that a cool verse? But this is not the experience of many people. More than a few people who believe in God have told me they just can’t hear his voice. They pray earnestly. They go to church. They strive to be moral, good, kind people; but God seems silent. If the people who love God get frustrated with this phenomenon, imagine what the skeptical person who doubts God speaks must be thinking?
How does God speak? The answer to this question is a little more complicated, but my years of training and experience have prepared me for the task. Here we go. God primarily speaks to people through four different venues or some combination of them:
Wow! Don’t you feel better? Now you know how God speaks. I’m guessing angel’s voices are ringing in your ears since the great secrets of hearing God’s voice have been revealed to you. But again, I’ve sat with hundreds of people who already knew this information. I’ve listened to them share their struggles with hearing God’s voice even though they know how He speaks. The knowledge of how God speaks does not guarantee we will actually hear Him when He speaks. Again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Imagine how disillusioned or disheartened the person is who doesn’t read the Bible or listen to people who teach what it says. What about the person who has a hard time swallowing the idea of a Holy Spirit on earth or the individual who might believe Jesus was a real person, but can’t accept he was raised from the dead? Think of that individual who is awed by nature, but can’t yet accept there is a Creator. Is God trying to speak to them? And if so, how? They have internally disqualified all or some of the venues He uses.
Does God only speak to us if we are willing to meet Him on His terms? Or, is God speaking all the time and we just aren’t recognizing it as Him? Does God only speak to people who think favorably of Him? Or, is God speaking to everyone, even those who don’t think He exists?
For the next several weeks I’m going to be blogging about God speaking to us. I hope you will join me. The blogs are for those who want to hear God’s voice and for those who are skeptical of God speaking at all. Please follow my blog and let’s hear God’s voice together. And, if you think it is worth someone’s time, share my blog with someone and encourage him or her to follow along.