Knowing God’s Voice
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Many people wonder today if God still speaks to believers. This question is the subject of numerous books, articles, and lectures. If He does communicate directly to His followers, how does He do so? Can we know the message is really from Him?
The Lord speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. He is the third person of the Trinity, co-equal with God the Father and God the Son. God’s Spirit dwells within each Christian, just as Jesus promised in John 14: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (vv. 15-17, emphasis added).
The book of Acts records several occasions when the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul and Peter. It can’t be denied that those men had a special gift and call upon their lives. They were apostles—men handpicked by Christ to spread the gospel worldwide. But the same Holy Spirit who indwelt those men lives within every believer today. Just as they needed God’s direction at critical times in their lives, we also need divine guidance.
In his letters to the Christians in Rome and Galatia, the apostle Paul refers to believers as “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18). It would be difficult to lead someone with whom you were not communicating. The same is true for the Holy Spirit. If we’re going to be led by Him, we can only assume He is more than willing—and able—to speak to us.
Like the Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit is equally God, and He freely submits to the Father’s will. Jesus explained that “when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come" (John 16:13).
There are three important things this verse teaches us:
- The Holy Spirit is trustworthy.
The third person of the Trinity is called the Spirit of truth. He leads believers into truth, and that makes Him reliable. Moreover, He is one with the Father and is sent by Him.
- The Holy Spirit will guide us.
Jesus didn’t say that the Helper, or “Counselor,” would control us; rather, the Lord said that His Spirit would guide us. Granted, there may be times when we wish God would take charge of our lives and all the choices we make. But He doesn’t and never will. We possess the ability to willfully follow His leading. As a result, we are always responsible for our words and actions.
The Spirit helps believers discern between what is true and false, wise and foolish, right and wrong. Each day is full of decisions. Most of them concern issues not specifically addressed in the Scriptures—for example, Where should I attend school? What job should I take? Should we sell our house or move to another city? And these are just a few of life’s difficult questions. We often need help finding our way.
As you handle the details of everyday life, God uses His Spirit to lead you. Through Him, the Lord provides the discernment you need to make both big and small choices. As you develop a greater sensitivity to His promptings, you’ll worry much less about the decisions facing you.
- The Holy Spirit is God’s “mouthpiece.”
God has chosen to communicate to His children through His Spirit. Because He abides within believers, the Holy Spirit has direct access to our hearts, minds, and spirits. When God chooses to speak directly to you, it will always be through this divine Counselor. Even reading the Bible should be an activity in which we invite Him to lead us.
Knowing the voice of God through His Spirit is something we learn over time. This recognition requires that we live day to day in submission to the Lord, setting aside time to quiet our minds and still our bodies. We must also go to Him regularly throughout the day, in the midst of our tasks and obligations, joys and worries. Eventually, we will come to know His voice so well that we’ll be able to hear Him even in the most difficult and busy circumstances.
Does God speak to believers? You better believe it. The real question is whether we’re we willing to listen to Him. Are you?
Adapted from “The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life,” by Charles F. Stanley, 1992.
The Lord wants all believers to walk in close relationship with Him. The Bible reveals the Father's overall plan for the world and provides general guidelines for life. But how can we know His specific plans for us? Listening to God is essential to walking with God (Life Principle #13). In order to know the Father's will, we must learn to hear His voice. (Watch Listening to God - Walking with God.)
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