the weblog of Alan Knox

Hello… Is there anybody in there?

Posted by on May 28, 2008 in discipleship | 16 comments

Every day – yes, literally, every day – someone reaches my blog by searching for some variation of the phrase “How does God communicate”. Usually, more than one person reaches my blog by searching for a variation of that phrase. Google, or Yahoo, or whatever search engine they use, dutifully directs them to a post that I wrote last year called “How Does God Communicate?” In fact, when I just searched for “How does God communicate” on Google, my post was the first result.

People are very interested in learning how God communicates with us. There are some people who would suggest that God only communicates with us through Scripture. The problem that I have with this view is that it is not supported by Scripture. Thus, this must be something that God communicated with someone apart from Scripture.

In fact, in Scripture, we see God communicating with people through many different means and through many different mediums. I don’t see any reason to think that God has stopped using different means and different mediums.

However, every time someone says, “God told me X”, I don’t always believe that God told them X. In fact, every time someone says, “God told me X through Scripture”, I don’t always believe that God told them X in Scripture. In other words, we do not always hear God when he communicates with us. We don’t always understand God when he speaks. And, sometimes, we think we hear God communicating with us when he is not communicating with us.

Since so many people are interested in the topic of God communicating, I thought I would try to start another conversation concerning this. So, instead of trying to answer questions about God speaking to us, I thought I would ask questions and allow you to answer.

1. Do you think that God still communicates with us? Why or why not?

2. Do you think he only communicates with us through Scripture? Why or why not?

3. When God communicates with you, how do you know that it is God?

4. When God communicates with you, do you always obey what he says?

Please ask and or answer any other questions that you think may be pertinent to this discussion.


16 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-28-2008

    I get similar hits from searches such as “hearing God’s voice.” You and I have definitely written on this topic more than a few times and I always enjoy our discussion.

    Your questions:

    1. Yes. Because God speaks. cite – The Word of God. And, as His sheep, we know His voice. John 10. He’s the same today as He has always been. Hebrews 13.

    2. No. See #1. Add to #1 personal experience with growing in my relationship with God. What is a relationship if it doesn’t involve communication? Add to #1 all of creation, which speaks loudly of its creator.

    3. I test it. I test it against scripture. sometimes I wait for confirmation. I also have heard from God enough that I can sometimes recognize the difference between my thoughts and His.

    4. No. Sadly. Not immediately anyway.

    Thanks for keeping up this conversation.

  2. 5-28-2008

    What Bryan said…

  3. 5-28-2008

    Bryan,

    I think my answers would be very similar to yours. When I looked back over my blog posts, there haven’t been many on this topic, but they usually seem to draw alot of attention. My concern is not to talk about communicating with God, but to obey him when he does communicate with me – however he chooses to communicate with me. I’m not even consistent about obeying him, much less hearing him.

    Brandon,

    What I said to Bryan… :)

    -Alan

  4. 5-28-2008

    great topic!

    1. Do you think that God still communicates with us? Why or why not?

    Yes, absolutely. He always has communicated in a variety of ways, as you said, and I see no indication in scripture that any change in that was in effect. In fact, I would argue that our Father is even more personally interacting with us when we are reconciled to him through Christ.

    2. Do you think he only communicates with us through Scripture? Why or why not?

    Absolutely not. See my answer to #1. Also, Hebrews 1:1-2 plays in very importantly, in my opinion.

    3. When God communicates with you, how do you know that it is God?

    Mostly practice over time of knowing what the voice of God sounds like. There are the obvious things like already knowing what he has said in the past in order to recognize his “style”, so to speak. But also, an inward witness of my spirit with his spirit, or vice versa maybe is a better way to put it.

    4. When God communicates with you, do you always obey what he says?

    I try to. I want to. I’m not sure that I always have. But I’m definitely trying to live with an attitude now that says, “If he speaks, I will listen and obey.”

    I have never ignored something he spoke and not ended up regretting it.

  5. 5-29-2008

    I am really glad you are doing this post. This “listening to the voice of God” idea is not new to me, but for most of my life, I have flat-out rejected it. I was one of those “Scripture only!” people.

    I am at the place now, however, where my study of Scripture has led me to the conclusion that God does still speak! So now I am trying to learn to listen. I am one of His sheep, but I don’t know what the voice of my Shepherd sounds like. I’m bleating for him to come rescue me, and I hope He shows up!

    I’ve been trying to listen now for about three weeks, so I’m still a “toddler” in all of this.

    I do think I heard Him 2-3 weeks ago, which was then confirmed by my wife, and we immediately obeyed what He was telling us to do. But now it’s getting incredibly scary and I’m not sure I heard/understood Him correctly.

  6. 5-29-2008

    Well, since opinions are like bellybuttons (everyone has one), here are my two cents….

    1. Do you think that God still communicates with us? Why or why not? Yes, without a doubt He does.

    2. Do you think he only communicates with us through Scripture? Why or why not? I know He has spoken to me through circumstances and I have felt what I thought were “promptings of the Holy Spirit” so I would say no, He uses other things than just the Bible. However, if something we perceive as God speaking to us contradicts His word I think we can be pretty sure that we are not hearing from God.

    3. When God communicates with you, how do you know that it is God? Sonetimes I don’t. I could give you a pretty extensive list from my personal “Hall of Stupidity” that would show that I have missed some things because I thought God was speaking and done other things that I shouldn’t have for the same reason. The more in fellowship I am with Him in His word and through prayer the better off I am.

    4. When God communicates with you, do you always obey what he says? I wish I could say yes. See reference to the “Hall of Stupidity” in #3.

  7. 5-29-2008

    For the past 5 years this has been a major priority for me. Hearing the voice (direction) of God is, in my opinion, one of the most important things a Christian should learn. I am not satisfied yet, but I am starting to become more sensitive to it. It was in retrospect that I realized He was speaking. For example, I would feel an urge to do something and then a few days or weeks later my non-action, or disobedience, made it clear because of certain consequences that it was God directing me. I finally started to wise-up and when I felt those urges would act on them even if it didn’t make sense to me at the time. The odd thing is, when I do act on them I don’t usually get to notice the negative consequences that were avoided by my obedience.

    I’m trying to think of an analogy to better explain this. In a way, if we ask Him to, He will direct us to lay the track ahead of the train. If we obey Him then the train runs smoothly and everything seems normal because we don’t always see what was averted. If we decide to disobey and not lay that piece of rail, then be prepared to suffer the consequences and deal with the train wreck ahead. The moral of the story being- if you’ve asked God to direct your path, He will, and if you need proof of it then try disobeying what it is you think He’s telling you. But, be prepared to suffer the consequences.

    Tangible affection and direction often only manifests in correction. The “well done, good and faithful slave” will be heard at our final destination.

  8. 5-29-2008

    Jeremy,

    Thank you for a very honest comment! I think the other comments on this post give you better advice than I could give you alone. Keep listening, keep trusting God to speak to you, and keep trusting him to take care of you – even when you misunderstand or disobey. He cares about us and he wants us to hear him.

    -Alan

  9. 5-29-2008

    Everyone,

    Thank you for some great comments! Like everyone else, I know that God is communicating with me, and I know that many times I disobey what I know he told me to do. Thank God for his grace, mercy, forgiveness, and patience!

    -Alan

  10. 5-29-2008

    Jeremy, I just wanted to add to what Alan said Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Don’t let what seems reasonable get in the way of faith. If God spoke to you, no matter what it was, He will provide a way for what He said to happen. He is always faithful to His word.

    I came from a background of word only teaching as well. But God kept speaking to me in spite of what I was taught. Praise God He wants to talk to us more than we want to listen!

  11. 5-30-2008

    I agree with Bryan as well. My struggle is what happens afterwards. Last Fall we felt very strongly like we heard from the Lord….we sought counsel and everyone agreed. Then it blew up in our faces. We lost friends, lost respect from those we work with and the thing we felt the Lord leading us to do…fell apart. The struggle then is…Did I hear from God? Did He allow this happen for a reason?

    Honestly, it makes me gun shy to act quickly on other things I “hear”.

  12. 5-30-2008

    Keep asking Him. And he will reveal the answer. There were definitely times where Abraham wasn’t so sure He had heard from God in spite of incredible blessing. God invites us to reason together with Him. Part of the point is the continuous return to reason with Him.

  13. 5-30-2008

    In Scripture, we see that people who obeyed God’s voice often found themselves in difficult situations, some situations leading to death. Obeying God does not always lead to what we might consider successful outcomes. Because of that, I think that our “success” is in obedience to what God calls us to do, not in any results that may or may not occur because of our obedience.

    Like other have said, God continues to speak to us, even when we fail to hear, and even when we hear but disobey. That God for his patience with us!

    -Alan

  14. 1-27-2012

    This is a case where I will need to reflect before posting – suffice to say right now that I was “saved” into a charismatic denomination, yet I now belong to a church that denies the prophetic gifting. I still hold that God calls some to use the gift of prophecy, yet also calls all to obey His Voice – primarily through Scripture but also through other means. (And no, I do not always obey.)

  15. 1-27-2012

    Mark,

    I ask alot of questions in my posts because I’m often struggling to find the answers as well…

    -Alan

  16. 1-27-2012

    Alan:
    Yes I understand about your wanting to ask questions, which perhaps is why you have been led into this particular blog subject: “The Assembling of the Church.”

    I myself have more problems with community, which is why I so love it when I pop by here at your blog. I am struggling with being obedient to the call to regular fellowship, and part of the reason is that I have had an emphasis in my own walk with Christ of “listening” to God speak.

    I still have problems, however, in the areas of “knowing when God is speaking” and “being obedient”.

    I have often rushed when I think God has spoken to me (whether through Scripture or through other means). This has often, but not always, brought dangers. I am learning slowly that God is more concerned with character development in each of us than in the supposedly “great things” we could do, know or teach.

    I have felt called to the prophetic ministry, yet, soon after I had an strong impression of a God-ordained “Commissioning” into that, I was instructed (I believe) to put it on hold.
    That brings me to this present point where I can say that God may speak, but that does not mean that we must rush – we must have the attitude of obedience even when the acting out takes sometime. This allows a time period where we can continue seeking God, asking advice from those elders and others who we trust to provide honest and Scriptural input, and reading the word of God, during which process of seeking we may have our initial impressions confirmed or otherwise.

    There are so many people who “hear from God” – I would guess that since the advent of the internet more sites have started that give the “God speaks today” slogan than the more weightier matters of love and fellowship. You are right, Alan, in not taking it at face value when someone says “God told me….” With so many people claiming, often arrogantly, that they “hear from God”, we must be wise to listen to Christ’s own teaching when it comes to “false Christs and false prophets.” We do need to learn to hear God’s voice (even if we haven’t a specific prophetic gift), but I don’t think we can ever, in this present age, claim to have it completely figured out.