How Does God Speak?

Dan Lenington on September 7, 2016

lighted path

      How does God speak to us? How can we know the difference between our own thoughts and the direction of the Holy Spirt? First, lets review the ways God spoke to man in the past. In the past God often spoke directly or sent an angel or prophet with His message (Heb. 1:1 "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets."). Recall how God spoke directly to Adam and Eve in the garden. After sin came, close fellowship with God was greatly hindered. Later, He would use an angel or prophet to deliver His messages. Sometimes He spoke through dreams as with Joseph and Nebuchadnezzar. When the nation of Israel was established with its priesthood, kings would seek direction from the priests who used the Urim and Thummim (1 Sam. 23:9-12) located on the front of the priest's garment which could have been a form of casting lots or dice (Prov. 16:33 "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.") where the result was determined by God. God’s Word was also being recorded from the time of Moses onward and it was greatly emphasized (Josh. 1:8 "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success."). However, these forms were not always available to everyone, and while they would have been exciting to receive, were very limited in scope.

       Now that Scripture is complete, prophets and angels aren’t needed to deliver messages as they once were (1 Cor. 13:9-10 "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."). Scripture is concrete truth, but we still need help applying it personally. Jesus promised God’s Spirit to fill that role (John 16:13 "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."). For personal guidance, the Spirit replaced casting lots (Acts 1:23-26). By the Spirit, we can know all things we need to know (1 John 2:20 "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things."). But how can we identify His leading. God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice that cut to the heart (1 Kings 19:11-18). God’s voice is clear and direct, but small and quiet (Is. 30:21 "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, THis is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."). He often says things we don’t want to hear. The voice of God's Spirit can often sound like our conscience. However, our conscience is not God's Spirit if it contradicts the Word of God as noted below. God's Spirit can tell us who to witness to (Acts 8:29), give peace about a task (Acts 10:19-20), show who should be chosen for a mission (Acts 13:1-4), stop us from a logical plan of action (Acts 16:6-7), and warn us of coming danger (Acts 21:10-11).

      So how should we test these impulses to make sure they are from God? We must remember that Satan will try to counterfeit with false prophets and spirits (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Time will tell if a prophet or message is genuine (Deut. 18:21-22). If we make a mistake, we should not be discouraged, just more discerning next time. However, we need a concrete way of evaluating our impressions. John tells us to evaluate the spiritual impulses we receive using key doctrines of Scripture (1 John 4:1-3 "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."). Of course this litmus test was given for the specific false doctrine that John was then discussing. Other Bible doctrines are needed to combat other false doctrines that arise. God’s Word was and is the ultimate test of God’s will. (Is. 8:19-20 "And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."). Be sensitive to verses God may bring your mind to direct you each day.