Monday, April 21, 2014

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Does God Speak To Us Audibly?

Lenny,

How should we answer someone who says they have heard an audible voice from God?

Larry

Thank you for writing. The idea of God speaking to someone in an audible voice is definitely out of the ordinary. However, should we limit God in this instance? Didn't he speak in an audible voice to people like Moses and Paul on the Damascus road?

God has in certain specific instances spoken to people in such a way that they understood specific messages He intended for them. However, most people greet an announcement that an acquaintance has heard audibly from God with proper skepticism. That is because God's primary method of communication with His children is through His word, the Bible.

He also speaks to us through other people, and through the Holy Spirit in His leading. This is what the prophet Elijah was referring to in 1 Kings 19 when he said the Lord was not in the strong wind or the earthquake or the fire, but a still small voice. God did not speak audibly to Elijah, but through impressions, thoughts and feelings. These ways seem to be His preferred method of communicating with us.

Now granted, our feelings can lead us astray. But it is usually an over-exuberance and desire to hear from God that cause people to believe they have been "slain in the spirit" or they have heard voices from God. Remember, just because someone sincerely believes that they have heard from God, it doesn't necessarily make that statement true. One of the "tests" that Mormon missionaries will ask of you is to pray and "ask the Holy Spirit to tell you if the Book of Mormon is true." If you receive a "burning in your bosom" then they consider that confirmation, as God has put that burning there.

This is ludicrous, though, as the teachings found in the Book of Mormon plainly contradict the Bible. So also is the idea of believing that someone has heard from God audibly if what He is supposedly telling them is contrary to the revealed Word.

So, the best way to test and see if God has spoken to someone in any way is to compare their message with what the Bible says. God will not contradict Himself. He has set up His Word as the final authority (see Psalm 148:2, Psalm 119). God even emphasized this in the book of Deuteronomy 18:21-22 where we read "You may say in your heart, 'How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?' When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (NASB)" We see that from the very beginning of God's written revelation, He set up a standard by which to judge people who claim to have heard from God.

Another thing I recommend to see if it is truly God speaking in any manner is to assemble a few strong Christians together as counselors and ask their opinion. The Bible says "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel." (Prov. 12:15) and "A wise man is strong, And a man of knowledge increases power. For by wise guidance you will wage war, And in abundance of counselors there is victory." (Prov. 24:5-6)

I hope this has helped you somewhat in your question. As you can see, this approach will help you judge what God's intended message truly is whether it is a person claiming to hear His voice, or someone who says that they alone have the right interpretation of the Bible. I pray that God will bless you continually as you seek Him through His word

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