How to Hear the Voice of
by Tom Brown
follow him because they know his voice."
reason Christ speaks to you is so that you "follow him."
I have had God speak to me many
times. He told me to go into the ministry, and I followed His command.
He gave me a vision of a dark-haired woman and said to me, "This is your
wife." Later, I met Sonia and married her. On another occasion, God told
me what part of the city of El Paso to plant my church, and I did. One
time I was going to purchase land for our church and before I did, God
told me, "This is not the land you are to purchase for the church." So I
did not. We later found much better property.
On the other hand, I have also
been pressured by people to do certain things that they felt was God's
will for me, but as I listen to God, He often told me not to do what
they were pressuring me to do.
God's voice will guide you and
protect you from mistakes. God's voice will lead you into His perfect
There are important decisions you
will need to make in life. Fortunately, as Christ' sheep, He has
promised to tell you what to do. He will tell you which person, if any,
you should marry. He will tell you what career you should go into. He
will tell you how to fulfill your ministry. He will even tell you how to
make more money and be successful, if you let Him. Don't you think your
life would be better if you listened to His voice?
It is a surprise to many
Christians that they can hear the voice of God. A casual reading of
scripture reveals a talking God. He first spoke the universe into
existence and He has not stop talking.
He spoke to Adam about what trees
he could eat and not eat. He spoke to Noah about building an ark. He
told Abraham to leave his country and relatives and go to a city that
God would show him. In the Bible, we find God talking to Moses about
leading God's people out of Egypt. In addition, God spoke to many
prophets and gave them important messages that He wanted them to deliver
The point I am bringing out is
that God speaks in a voice that clearly humans can hear. In the New
Testament, His voice is even clearer. Jesus said that His sheep, "know
his voice". This means you should be able to not only hear Jesus
voice, but recognize His voice against so many other voices. I am going
to share with you how to recognize God's voice versus the voices in your
own head or the voices of others who claim to be speaking for God.
about God's Voice
There are six biblical facts
about hearing God's voice.
1. God speaks today.
"In the past God spoke to our
forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but
in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb 1:1-2).
Theologians don't discount God speaking to our forefathers and prophets
in the Old Testament, yet some doubt that He talks to us today. They may
argue that He already spoke to us through His Son and we should not seek
or accept any present word from God.
However, the Hebrew writer
continues the thought of Jesus speaking in these last days: "Today,
if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (4:7). It's clear
that the author believed that God still speaks to you "today." In
fact, if God stop speaking today, no one would get saved. The only
reason you got saved is that God spoke to you. Without God's present
word none of us would have come to the Lord.
Here are a few New Testament
proofs that God still continues to speak to His sheep after Jesus
ascension into heaven. Let us look as some of them so that you can have
faith that God will speak to you.
Jesus appeared to Saul, who later
became Paul, and He spoke to him a definite word: "'Saul, Saul, why
do you persecute me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked. 'I am Jesus, whom
you are persecuting,' he replied. 'Now get up and go into the city, and
you will be told what you must do" (Acts 9:4-6). Saul was not even a
Christian at the time, yet Jesus spoke to him. How much more should you
expect God to speak to you since you are a believer?
Another example is Ananias. He
heard the voice of God, "The Lord told him, 'Go to the house of Judas
on Straight Street and ask for
a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen
a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight"
Ananias was a believer, not a an
apostle, so even ordinary disciples should expect to hear the voice of
our Shepherd. God's voice is not reserved only for apostles and
prophets. God speaks to all His sheep, and that includes you.
People often think that all the
past words of Christ recorded in the gospels are sufficient for any
present guidance from God. While, I agree, the teachings of Christ are
generally sufficient for living the Christian lifestyle, you still need
present direction from Christ in your daily walk and you still need
Jesus past words to come alive in your spirit, and that only comes when
God speaks to you from the scriptures.
2. God's voice is to guide
you, not to establish new doctrine.
The purpose of Jesus speaking to
you is that you "follow him", not establish a new, extra biblical
doctrine. Jesus speaks to you in order to guide you in life.
Some Christians are quite concern
about so called charismatics hearing God's voice. They think these
present words from God are establishing new, extra-biblical doctrines.
But they are not. At least, they should not.
Here are two good examples to
show that even foundational leaders of the early church received God's
present word, but only for guidance, not to establish new doctrine: It
is the stories of Peter and Philip.
First, Peter falls into a trance
and hears God telling him to eat unclean animals. After the trance, "The
Spirit said to him, 'Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and
go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them"
(Acts 10:19-20). Peter walked with Jesus in the flesh for over three
years, yet, he needed a present word from God to give him direction.
This vision was to tell Peter to
preach the gospel to Gentiles—that was not new doctrine. Jesus
had already told the apostles to preach the gospel to all creatures.
Sometimes God's present word may unveil a past word that you are
neglecting. Kenneth Hagin, I suppose of any recent minister, was used in
this way. He received many visions of Christ with present words to him,
but none of them established new doctrines; instead, his visions helped
restore some of the neglected teachings in the Bible, especially
Let me give you the other
example; it concerns Philip, who became an evangelist.
"Now an angel
of the Lord said to Philip, 'Go south to the road — the desert road —
that goes down from Jerusalem
to Gaza.' So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch,
an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of
the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his
way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the
prophet. The Spirit told Philip, 'Go to that chariot and stay near it'
This example shows how God may
use various means to speak to you. In Philip's case, God first sent an
angel to give him initial direction. Then after giving him direction
through an angel, the Holy Spirit takes over to give him direct
communication, "The Spirit told Philip, 'Go to that chariot and stay
If God chooses, He can send an
angel to you. There is nothing in the New Covenant which God removed the
communication of angels to His children. Now angels of God would never
communicate a different message from the Bible. Paul wrote, "Even if
we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we
preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:8).
However, in the case of Phillip, the angel did not communicate a
doctrine, but simply direction.
3. God's voice is
"The sheep listen to his
voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out" (John
10:3). Jesus knows you by name. This means Jesus intimately knows you.
He knows your temperament, your hobbies, your likes and dislikes, your
background, your language and anything else He needs to know in order to
communicate in a way that you can understand.
To shepherds Jesus talked about
sheep. To builders He talked about construction. To religious leaders He
talked about religion. To sinners He talked about a wayward son.
Parents know the differences
between their children. Wise parents put that knowledge to work by
speaking to each child differently. It is not that parents are showing
favoritism, but they recognize that each child is different. They act
differently, they respond differently, they like different things. Each
child is unique.
God is the best parent. He knows
how to talk to each child in a way they can understand. He knows you. He
will talk to you in a different way than He might communicate to someone
For example, Jesus told Peter how
he was to glorify Him in his death, yet said nothing to John. The first
thing Peter wanted to know was how John would die. "Jesus answered,
'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You
must follow me" (John 21:22). Jesus basically said that it was not
Peter's business to concern himself with John, only that Peter "must
follow me." Jesus knows what to tell you and what not to tell you.
For John, He never told him whether he would be martyred or live. Each
person is different and the paths that each take will be different
paths. One person is called to marry, another is called to be single.
One is called into the ministry, another is called into business. Your
path is different from mine. You have a unique call.
After the resurrection, Mary was
looking for the body of Jesus. At the tomb, she turned back and saw, who
she thought was the gardener, "She said, 'Sir, if you have carried
him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.' Jesus
said to her, 'Mary" (John 20:15-16). When she heard Jesus call her
by name, she recognized Him. Only Jesus said her name in that distinct
way. This to me is quite touching. Jesus calls you by name. When He
does, then you know it is His voice, not the voice of strangers.
4. God's voice is
"God is spirit" (John
4:24), and as such, He is not material. Humans are material beings, and
as such, our voices are material. They are matter. Voices are physical
sound waves. They can be recorded and played back later. They are
Yet, God's voice is intangible.
This does not mean that God's voice is inaudible. Inaudible means
incapable of being heard. No! God's voice can be heard, but not heard in
the same way as the voices of humans.
Since God existed before the
universe, He must of necessity be beyond time, space and matter. Paul
described God's uncreated nature in this words, "Now to the King
eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever
and ever. Amen" (1 Timothy 1:17). Paul gives three description of
God: First, eternal. This simply means that He existed before
time began. He is before time and He will exist past the end of time.
Second, immortal. Everything in the universe dies. Everything has
a beginning and end, but not God. Third, invisible. Every created
thing is material. Materiality can be seen. It might take a microscope
to see it, but all things are seen. But since God is the Creator and not
the created things, He is by nature invisible. This does not mean He is
unreal. Only that His reality is not seen by the physical eye of man.
This invisibility includes His
voice. His voice is real, just not heard by the physical ear. God made
humankind in His image, so that humans have a spirit within in which God
can communicate to. It takes the human spirit to hear His voice. This is
why to hear God's voice, it is best to be born again. When you are born
again, your spirit within, becomes alive and in tune to God's Spirit.
This why Paul said that only God's children can be led by God's Spirit.
"Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God"
It's worth noting that before
Saul was saved and became Paul, Jesus did not guide him directly to
being saved, healed or filled with the Spirit. Jesus said to him, "You
will be told what you must do" (Acts 9:6). Since he was not born
again yet, he could not receive direct communication from Jesus as to
what he should do. He had to receive that communication via a disciple
of Christ. Afterward, however, Paul was able to receive direct
communication from Jesus.
5. God's voice is often
communicated through tangible means.
As the Hebrew writer said, "In
these last days he has spoken to us by his Son" (Hebrew 1:2). How
did God speak to us through His Son?
First point is that Jesus is the
intangible Word of God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). The voice of God
that created the universe was intangible. That voice was Jesus!
Second point is that Jesus became
tangible. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us"
(John 1:14). Jesus made the intangible Word of God tangible. He made it
heard in the hearing of the people. When people heard Jesus speak,
whether they realized it or not, they were hearing the voice of God.
God made His voice tangible
through Christ. Today, God uses that same pattern. He uses tangible
means to speak His intangible Word.
For example, God uses the reading
of the Bible to speak to you. The Bible is a tangible book. It is called
the Word of God. When you read it, you are reading the voice of God.
This does not mean everything you read, you are hearing God speak to
you. However, while you do read it, God will take something you are
reading and speak a direct word to you. Something in your Bible reading
will stand out to you. This is the intangible Word coming from the
There are other ways God uses
tangible means to speak the intangible Word of God. The most common way
is to hear the Word preached by a minister. His voice is tangible. He is
human. Yet, God takes his or her actual vocal chords, uses the material
sound waves coming from his or her voice and speaks an intangible Word
to you. You feel at that moment that God is talking to you. It is not
that the minister is God, only that God uses the minister to speak a
word of direction to you.
You can also receive the voice of
God through counseling, experiences, circumstances, and of course
6. God's voice produces
Many people ask me how they can
tell whether or not God is speaking to them. It's simple: "Consequently,
faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through
the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). When you hear God's voice, faith
comes into your heart. Doubt is removed.
If you doubt after you think God
has spoken to you, then it is clear that God has not spoken to you.
Someone might say, "I feel like God has spoken to me to go into the
ministry, but I am afraid I may not be successful." This fear is a sign
that God has not spoken to you, because, if God did tell you to go into
the ministry you would have faith and confidence to be successful.
When Peter saw Jesus walking on
the water, he asked, "'Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on
the water." The moment Jesus said to him, "Come", Peter had
faith. His faith was so great, he climbed out of the boat to walk on the
water. None of the other apostles climbed out of the boat, because the
Word Jesus spoke was only to Peter, not to them. (see Matthew 14:28-29)
Only Peter received faith from that word. Yes, later Peter became
afraid, and this can happen even after we receive God's Word to us, but
initially we will get faith when God speaks.
Early I told you that God spoke
to me to start a church. When God spoke to me to start one, I did not
doubt that it would be successful. His word spoken to me gave me faith
to do it.
If you don't have faith to do
what you think God told you, whether by direct word or through prophecy,
don't do it. If God had really spoken to you, then faith would come.
Put your hand over your heart and
pray this: Father God, I come in the name of Jesus. I am a sheep of
Christ and I hear His voice. Voices of strangers I will not follow.
Speak to my heart and I will hear. Give me courage to obey and faith to
believe. Help me to be sensitive to your voice. I believe I hear the
voice of the good Shepherd and I follow Him where ever He goes. Amen.
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