How Do You Know When It’s God Speaking To You?

How Do You Know When It’s God Speaking To You? April 5, 2019

What do you say to someone that says, “God spoke to me,” or how do you know when it really is God speaking to you?

God Speaks

I cannot count the number of times when someone has told me, “God spoke to me and told me to do this,” or “Told me to tell you that you should do that,” but it has turned out to be wrong. One pastor became so sure that God spoke to him about using a white board in preaching that no one could tell him that they missed his old preaching style. When someone was finally willing to go the pastor on behalf of several other members of the congregation, the pastor was not happy. He was 100% certain that God spoke to him about using the white board, and until he heard from God again, he wasn’t going to change his mind, no matter what. If you bring it up again, he just gets angry. So did God really speak to this pastor and tell him to use a white board until further notice? And if it was god, which god? We’re in an invisible battle, so we cannot always rely on what we think God told us to do. There’s a better way to hear God’s voice. He speaks to us most clearly in Scripture and by His Spirit, but what about an “audible voice” as some had said they heard? God is God. He can do as He pleases, but again, we must place this “voice of God” against conduct and Scripture. Whatever God told them to do must not be contrary to Scripture. If it doesn’t, then clearly, this is not the voice of God but the voice of a deceiver. God does not contradict what is written in Scripture. That will never happen, no matter what a person may hear!

The Spirit

The church I attend has a saying that I like. It talks about the Inner Word (the Holy Spirit), opening the Outer Word (the Bible), to reveal the Living Word (Jesus Christ). The Spirit is essential to our understanding of Scripture. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we receive the Spirit of a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). With this mind of Christ (Phil 2:5-8), we can more clearly hear God speaking to us through His Word, and His Word shows us what Christ’s marching orders are for the church (e.g. Matt 25:35-36, 28:18-20; Acts 1:8, etc.). We have all we need in Scripture and all we need to understand Scripture (the Spirit), so it is not hard to stay within the parameters of Scriptural commands. When we start to put experience, or what we think God is telling us ahead of Scripture, we can get in trouble. Scripture is always the highest authority, and Scripture is where God speaks most plainly.

The Word

The Word reveals the will of God. Of course, it might not tell a pastor whether he should use a white board or not, but it should tell him that he is to esteem others better than himself (Phil 2:3), and respond with humility when someone has a concern about the church or his teaching (James 4:6). It is not the pastor, the church board, the congregation, or the denomination that determines what is true or what the will of God is. It is Scripture alone, and no man can cay “This is what God tells me,” but do things that are contrary to Scripture. You don’t have to hear a voice from heaven to know that we are “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). Scripture plainly tells us that “this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thess 4:3). Why would God speak to someone (as one man told me) that he was supposed to divorce his wife to become a missionary, when Scripture tells us that divorce is permissible only due to adultery? It’s easy to see how we can get blown off course by our own thoughts and imagination’s.

The Son

The Bible actually speaks to us through God’s Spirit, Who inspired the Holy Scriptures, but of the Prophets and of Jesus Himself, it says, “in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb 1:3), and Jesus does speak to us…directly, in the Gospels and sometimes in the Book of Acts. You don’t have to fast and pray and meditate to hear God’s voice when you have Jesus’ Words of life recorded in the four gospels. There is no mystery to God’s will or God’s voice, because Jesus is God, but again, God speaks most clearly through Scripture, and abundantly so through Christ!

Conclusion

When God speaks to people, it is highly subjective. It is subject to the human will, emotions, feelings, fatigue, hunger, pain, suffering, grief, and any other number of factors, but God’s Word is objective truth. It is always true, even if you’ve got the flu. It does not depend on human feelings or hearing voices or perceived voices. Put 100% of your trust of God speaking to you, first in Scripture, but also by His Spirit. These two affirm one another and keep us out of the ditches of human or personal experience. When someone tells you God spoke to them, tell them He’s spoken to you too…and it starts in Genesis 1:1 and ends in Revelation 22:21. In between those pages, I am more than convinced that God speaks to me. Outsides of those pages, not so much.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is a Pastor and Prison Minister in the State of Kansas. Jack is also a writer at Christian Quotes and Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Maltnothops

    It still isn’t clear to me how the white board guy can know whether or not God was speaking to him.

  • pud

    You KNOW nothing. You BELIEVE what you want to BELIEVE. You have no clue about the difference between KNOWING and BELIEVING.

    Here EXACTLY is how stupid you are…

    “When God speaks to people, it is highly subjective. It is subject to the human will, emotions, feelings, fatigue, hunger, pain, suffering, grief, and any other number of factors, but God’s Word is objective truth.”

    Did your “god” SPEAK to the authors of your BOOK? Well?

    Seeing as you BELIEVE that your invisible undetectable “god” “spoke” to the authors of your book or “divinely inspired” them…Doesn’t it follow jack that “It is highly subjective?” “Subject to the human will, emotions, feelings, fatigue, hunger, pain, suffering, grief and any other number of factors?”

    So tell everyone jack how it is “objective truth”…WAITING….

    “Put 100% of your trust of God speaking to you, first in Scripture, but also by His Spirit. These two affirm one another and keep us out of the ditches of human or personal experience. When someone tells you God spoke to them, tell them He’s spoken to you too…and it starts in Genesis 1:1 and ends in Revelation 22:21. In between those pages, I am more than convinced that God speaks to me. Outsides of those pages, not so much.”

    EXACTLY! You BELIEVE in a BOOK! Swallowed whole without ANY critical thought whatsoever!

    Demonstrate the existence of “spirit”…..Define it even! LOL…..You babble the words but have no clue at all.

  • Randy Thompson

    When God speaks in the way described here, it is indeed highly subjective. To have “ears” to hear God’s inner voice, three things are needed it seems to me. The first is Scripture, as you point out. Second, you need godly counsel, other mature, trustworthy believers to help you discern whether this “message” is from God or not. Third, humility is needed. Humility is particularly important because it enables our hearts to let go of what we think we heard when Scripture and other believers tell us otherwise. (Humility is a hard virtue to find in the evangelical church world, sadly.)

    • Jack Wellman

      Amen to humility. If we truly read the Scriptures (i.e. Rom 5:6-10), we’d have no reason to be full of ourselves (1 Cor 4:7). Great point my friend. Your three points are spot on and taken all together will someone well in knowing what God is telling them. Well said Mr. Thompson.

    • pud

      All cults follow the same model.

    • pud

      1. Scripture are the ramblings and babbling of no name religious lunatics from the Bronze and Iron Age. It is riddled with contradiction, violence, impossibilities, nonsense and gibberish. Anyone who accepts the absurdities put forward in this barbaric text is an indoctrinated imbecile.

      2. “Godly counsel” LOL….Google confirmation bias. Seeing out the babbling of fellow “believers” to confirm your own “beliefs” is the antithesis of seeking the truth. You only want some other idiot to pat you on the head and confirm your own nonsensical “beliefs”

      3. Humility…christian cult members are the least humble creatures, If you were truly “humble” you would care for what is actually true, admit that you don’t know what you don’t know, wouldn’t peddle your fiction to children, would practice critical thinking and you wouldn’t attempt to defend the indefensible. You would start at the default position of “I don’t know” and then seek to find honest answers rather than starting from full on indoctrinated “belief” in an ancient book and mythology and then attempt to constantly cram square pegs into round holes.

    • So the followers of Zeus listened to “god’s inner voice” and indeed it was highly subjective. Same with the followers of Thor and the thousands of other gods invented by humans. So does “hearing” or feeling God’s inner voice provide any guide whatever, if you don’t really know whether it’s God’s voice or not? If the bible speaks also with many voices or viewpoints, how can this be any guide, especially if these voices contradict one another? If “godly counsel” speaks with many voices, then what guide do you really have. Maybe, humility might require admitting that their might be no god and no real guide.

  • John Campbell

    Very well thought out and balanced. Being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, while reading Scripture to see Jesus as context for everything, perhaps is the best way to hear Gods voice. The Holy Spirit reminds us of Jesus. Scripture also.
    We hear Gods voice thru Jesus Christ, our new covenant Himself, in Scripture, leaning heavily into the Holy Spirit.

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you Mr. Campbell. Your last sentence is a better summary than my conclusion in this article. I appreciate the encouragemetn sir.

      • pud

        It’s boilerplate cult babble. Demonstrate that any of it is actually true.

    • pud

      There’s medication available for psychosis.

      Tell everyone how to be “sensitive to the holy spirit” Demonstrate this “holy spirit” Define it …waiting…

  • Was the prophet Samuel listening to the voice of God when he claimed that God told him to tell king Saul to exterminate the Amalekites for what they had done to the children of Israel about 400 years before? Was Samuel listening to God when the supposed command of God to kill included little children and babies, “everything that breathes”? Isn’t this tantamount to murder and butchery?

    Hence if God speaks through the bible, then does he speak through commands to murder defenceless women, little children and babies in warfare? If God rejects such abhorrent behaviour (“Let the little children come unto me for of such is the kingdom of heaven”), then doesn’t he reject some parts of the bible: namely, those written by bloodthirsty, violent and ignorant savages who created god in their own likeness. Why listen to a holy book as if God is speaking through it? If the holy book is not inspired and is full of mythology as well as immoral and barbaric instructions, then what value is it?

    If the gullible are claiming to hear god’s voice and are flying to private revelations, aren’t they also relying on a holy book that has contradictory instructions, immoral stories and fantastic myths.

    • pud

      NO LOGIC ALLOWED HERE!

  • I get disturbed when a “prophet” proclaims “thus saith the Lord” and the message doesn’t resonate with my spirit. Yet how can you have dialogue with someone who claims such unwavering authority? All I can say in that case is (to myself) you may have heard that from the Lord, but He isn’t saying that to me and I will quietly ignore it.

    • pud

      Explain “resonate with my spirit”…

      • Christians believe that they have the Holy Spirit living IN them and revealing God to them. I don’t know how to explain it to someone who is not a Christian, but the general idea is that they can sense “inside” if something is from God.

        • pud

          Yeah, I know what you “BELIEVE”…..You should read what you wrote and consider how ridiculous it is. If you can’t explain it, show it, demonstrate it….you don’t “KNOW” it. Your “inside” sense is no different than any cult member anywhere at any time “feeling” something they cannot explain. “Feelings” do not equal reality do they? What do you care more about….”feelings” or “reality”?

          • Just trying to explain why it makes no sense to YOU.

          • pud

            No, it doesn’t make any sense period to any rational person. If someone has a “feeling” that Hanuman the monkey god is speaking to them “inside” is it true? Or someone has the feeling that they were abducted by aliens, is it true?

        • pud

          ” I don’t know how to explain it to someone who is not a Christian”….Can I insert muslim, hindu, pagan, viking, zoroastrian, or any of a thousand other “beliefs” that ALL claim to have similar “inside” feelings? Do you “claim” to have some unique “spirit” that all these other religious cults don’t? Can you define “spirit” and show that such a thing actually exists or will you admit that you have no clue what you’re talking about, that you’re just parroting the cult party line and that it’s all just make believe woo woo words?

          • Yes, Christians DO claim to have a unique spirit–the Holy Spirit as Jesus described in John 14-17. And Paul pointed out that the “natural man” can’t understand those things. From your comments I would wonder if that describes you?

          • pud

            No. You “claim” some nonsense about “spirit” which you can’t define or demonstrate. It’s just a meaningless woo woo word you parrot from the cult.

            Demonstrate any “jesus” ever existed let alone said anything you “claim”

            Who cares what some guy name of paul said? Why should anyone care? The real question you should be asking yourself is “is any of this mumbo jumbo actually true”? But you don’t care what’s actually true and demonstrable do you?

          • Hi Thomas,

            There are now over 40,000 different denominations in Christendom and the number is rising with continual splits in churches. These churches differ in one or more points of biblical hermeneutics, theology, ethics or church organization. These churches are largely Evangelical and Fundamentalist. The largest groups are now Charismatic and Pentecostal bodies. They all claim to have the Holy Spirit living within. Yet, if that were true wouldn’t you think that there would be more agreement among these churches? Why this babel or confusion of tongues? If the natural man doesn’t understand “these things”, it doesn’t seem like the so-called “spiritual” man does either.

          • It was in 1 Corinthians 12 (or is it 14) that Paul made it clear that understanding tongues was not a universal ability of Christians and should never be allowed in the assembly unless it was immediately followed by someone with the gift of interpretation of tongues. It is very clear and simple.

          • Can the Holy Spirit contradict himself? If Christians disagree with one another and even contradict themselves, how do we know that any holy spirit is living within them? Or would you conclude that some Christians are not listening to the holy spirit? And if there is a holy spirit living within all Christians, then why are there many different views on so many different topics? Why are there over 40,000 different denominations today? Is the holy spirit the author of confusion?

    • Jack Wellman

      Great point Mr. Schultz. That is discernment and I believe that you’ve gained that thru the Spirit and time in the Word.

  • Maltnothops

    I think the traditional standard is to ask yourself “Is this something I already think?” If yes, then it was God talking to you. If no, then it wasn’t.

  • gdubya31

    Really enjoy your articles and for the most part fully agree with them as they are so well rooted and grounded in The Word and Spirit and the Authority of Christ! One question…where did you get the backing for the statement that divorce is permissible in case of adultery? Anywhere other than Matt 19? Thanks and make it a great day in The Lord!

    • Jack Wellman

      Thank you my friend. Most often my “go to” site is openbible.info/topics and then enter the word adultery. The also use the ESV. Here’s what I mean: https://www.openbible.info/topics/adultery

  • StephanT

    ‘the Inner Word (the Holy Spirit), opening the Outer Word (the Bible), to reveal the Living Word (Jesus Christ).’ This heresy. It confuses the persons of the Trinity, while adding a fourth to the Unity – the Bible.

  • tovlogos

    Amen, Jack — A similar subject came up when people were fretting about the controversial, Speaking in tongues.
    I wondered why I would bother trying to engage this particular vocation when I could speak to and listen directly to God
    through His word, and pray to Him in the way He advises; and talk to Him based on the vast wisdom given directly in Scripture?

    • Jack Wellman

      I am seeing more “feelings” and “experience’ be placed over Scripture, but the Word trumps all.

  • Just Me

    If you want to hear God speak just read the Bible out loud and you’ve heard it.

  • Susan Jane Elohim

    There’s an excellent indepth book on this called 4 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice by the Virklers. But be sure to get your heart right with God before reading it.