I have a confession to make. I hear my God speaking to me every day. Not a prophetic utterance that should be announced with a “Thus saith the Lord.” And not a psychotic experience of hearing voices in my head. What I hear is what one would hear in a conversational friendship with a mentor and guide. Those descriptors do not tell the fullness of the Spirit of Christ in me, but they best speak of His practice of speaking to those children who will seek to hear Him.
There are those who would tell you that our God does not speak to His people anymore, and that the speaking for God directly to His people ended with the Apostolic Era. This viewpoint holds that the only way our God spoke in that era was to the writers of the scriptures. This viewpoint teaches that our God speaks to us today is through the reading or preaching of the Scriptures. For many, this viewpoint also holds that anyone who claims to hear the voice of God directly is to be judged under the “Rule of the Prophets,” meaning that what they say they hear from God must be proven true or the person is to be rejected as a false prophet.
Those who deny that the Spirit of God speaks to us individually fail to remember that Jesus and the apostles were clear that the Holy Spirit would be given to true believers in part so that they might hear Him speak. John 14:15-20 “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” The role of the Spirit of Truth is to help us and connect us to Himself, Jesus told us. It seems that if the source of truth is to help us, truth is part of the help. Truth must be communicated to be helpful. How will he communicate truth to us if He does not speak it to us, does not deliver His thoughts into our stream of consciousness? And if The Holy Spirit is given to all disciples, why is communication to and from Him not for all disciples in the current era?
As mentioned earlier, some would say that He does this only when we read the Word or hear it preached. Since divine revelation is implied in the study of the Word and hearing of it in the sermon, it is hard to imagine how the Spirit be a source of truth to us if He did not speak it to our hearts directly. After all, if we can hear God speaking through the Bible or the words of a sermon, He is still speaking to us. Such restrictions on how our God speaks are not found in the scriptures, making them extra-biblical doctrines of men. That our God intends to speak to us directly by His Holy Spirit is clearly taught in the scriptures. He convicts as well as convinces true believers, both of which imply direct communication. He opens the heart to the truth of God in the scriptures, something that can only happen by means of speaking to the heart. Something beyond reading or hearing a sermon is implied here or the Spirit’s work is superfluous. If the Holy Spirit is involved, the revelation is divine, not human.
Jesus described the relationship we are to have with the Holy Spirit within us. First, the Holy Spirit is to live within us. Second, He will be both and advocate and a helper or comforter to us. Third, He will be our source of knowing truth and understanding the words of God in the Bible. Fourth, we will know Him, a description of intimacy and not merely cognition. The Spirit within us will be the reason we “see” Jesus and experience the fullness of His life within us. Fifth, the Holy Spirit will complete our union with our God – “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” We are placed into Jesus in the same way that He is “placed” into the Father. This is our union with the Godhead, and it comes by way of the Holy Spirit in us. Why would the Spirit of truth be given to us if He is not going to tell us the truth, or converse with us about the will of God, or speak with intimacy in communion with those who are in union with Him?
Jesus promised to be with His disciples “unto the end of the age.” He made it clear that union with Himself is the goal of the New Covenant. It makes no sense cognitively or biblically to think that He intends to stay silent in our presence, given the great emphasis in the New Testament on our placement into Christ, the Holy Spirit’s placement into us, our intimate union with our God, and His communicative work within us.
This is the first of four posts on this topic. The next “Hearing God Speak” post will unpack Scriptures on hearing our God.