God Speaks Through Human Messengers

In our series on Hearing the Voice of God, we now transition to one last way God speaks to us: through human messengers. Yes, this is the most common way He speaks, because we are surrounded by people every day in the workplace, at home, in the neighborhood, and in church. A wise and discerning leader will carefully listen to human messengers.

The Lord can use anyone, anytime, so we must be listening. However, the most common messengers are those within the church that preach, teach, prophesy, counsel, pastor, etc. In charismatic churches we often give greater credence to a prophecy than to teaching, simply because the one who gives the prophecy says ‘thus saith the Lord’. However, the spontaneous, momentary word of prophesy and the thirty minute pastoral message carry equal weight in God’s eyes. He gave gifts to the church. These gifts are listed in several places but the short list can be found in 1 Cor. 12:1-12 and Eph. 4: 11-14. Whether a word of prophesy or a message from the pastor, you must apply the same test of validity we discussed in last week’s posts.


Does Response to the Voice You Hear Bring Good Fruit?

We are continuing our series on hearing the Voice of God by showing you how to test the voice you hear. I have described two tests so far: (1) does it have scriptural integrity of the new covenant, and (2) does it reflect the character of Christ. Now we move to test number 3: Does response to the voice bear good fruit? This is a more challenging test because it requires longer term experience to complete the test. You may obey the voice but not know the results for some time. Matt. 7:16 says that a good tree bears good fruit. It takes awhile to see if good fruit comes forth. The good news is that God’s grace will carry you through any difficulties if it was not the voice of God. Yes, that is good news!! We also know that responding to His voice will produce fruit in our hearts (Gal. 5). What is that fruit? It is the fruit of the spirit-led life. It is bringing positive attributes of the Father to our hearts. It’s good news to our soul, good news to our body, and good news to those around us.

These are the three primary tests of any voice you may hear and wonder if it is the Father speaking to you. You may think of other tests or bring more detail and clarity to those I’ve given you, but if you use these as your foundation, you won’t go wrong. The Father desires to talk to you in any way He can be heard. Listen, test, and respond each day and you will experience His kingdom in a peaceful and joyous way. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17). The fruit of your leadership will increase.


Would Jesus Call Down Wrath Upon His Brothers and Sisters?

We are talking this week about testing the voice you hear to validate if it is the voice of God. In the previous post I started discussing the example of a ‘prophet’ who is currently speaking in Kenya. We are testing his message based upon the principle of reflecting the character of Christ. That last aspect of this ‘prophet’s’ message is that of calling down the wrath of God as a result of sin. The test to this part of his message is the same as the others—does this reflect the character of Christ?

Would Jesus call down the wrath of His Father upon us, his brothers and sisters? Would Jesus call down wrath that He already endured on the cross and appoint us to that same wrath when he paid the price? 1 Thess. 5:9 says that God ‘did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’. We are either saved or under wrath--one or the other-- but not both. If you are a saved person, you will not experience God’s wrath because Jesus experienced it for you at the moment he said ‘my God, my God why have you forsaken me?” There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ.

Therefore, this aspect of the prophet’s voice fails the test of reflecting the character of Christ. It is absolutely critical that leaders in the church minister, teach, and lead reflecting the character of Christ. You must teach the people who follow you to test the voices they hear using this principle.


Is Sackcloth and Ashes a New Covenant Concept?

We are talking this week about testing the voice you hear to validate if it is the voice of God. In the previous post I started discussing the example of a "prophet" who is currently speaking in Kenya. One aspect of this test is whether the voice reflects the character of Christ. I will pick it up with the next aspect of that "prophet’s" message: walking around in sackcloth and ashes.

There is no New Covenant foundation for the believer to walk around in sackcloth and ashes to symbolize their shame and unrighteousness. This is an Old Covenant concept symbolizing unrighteousness and condemnation because of sin (John 12:47). Daniel used sackcloth and ashes in Dan. 9. Daniel clearly declared he was doing it because of (1) sin, (2) sense of shame, (3) disobedience to and curses resulting from the Law, and (4) to turn away God’s wrath. Under the New Covenant all of these issues have been resolved by the cross and the resurrection (see Rom. 5-8). We are in an era of grace and peace with the Father.

Next, the "prophet’s" declaration of fasting. Fasting is a concept of self denial that is okay under the New Covenant as long as we are led by the Spirit of God to do it and we do it understanding our righteousness is already in Christ, not in the fasting. Fasting, when led by the Spirit of Christ, can break down emotional walls that stand between us and the fullness of Christ in our soul. We have His fullness in our spirit, but our soul is being transformed into His fullness. It can help bring clarity and freedom in our understanding of spiritual things. Fasting under the New Covenant is not done to make us righteous but to better understand the righteousness Jesus has given us. Therefore, if you hear a voice telling you to fast, test to make sure it lines up with the New Covenant. The Kenyan’s prophet's voice does not reflect the character of Christ. Leaders must understand the difference. Let's continue this in the next post.


Is The Voice Consistent With the Character of Christ?

As leaders we must test the voice we hear to assure it is that of the Father. The first test was that of scriptural integrity under the New Covenant. The second test emanates from the first test: Is the voice consistent with the character of Christ? Christ is the conduit of the New Covenant of grace and faith.

For example, I just returned from ministering in Kenya where a "prophet" is going around the country calling people to repentance, calling down God’s judgment on the nation and believers, walking around in sackcloth and ashes, demanding forty days of fasting, and requiring followers to come out of association with believers who do not follow his message. Let’s look at this. Calling people to repentance is good: we should change our minds and attitudes about sinful behavior and walk the walk of Jesus. Repentance is an okay word.

Next, calling down judgment on the nation and upon believers is inconsistent with the character of Christ. Jesus said He did not come to ‘judge but to save’ (John 12:47). Jesus very clearly took all the Father’s judgment for us (the believers). You can read Romans chapters 5-8 and get the full power of what Jesus did for us, but the bottom line is that He very clearly took God’s judgment of sin upon himself and removed that same judgment from us, if we believe by faith that He is our savior, Lord, and Messiah. We have Christ in us. If the Father were to judge believers again for sin, He would also be judging His Son who lives within us. That cannot happen!! Therefore, this aspect of the "prophet’s" message is inconsistent with God’s voice coming through the character of Christ. More on this next time.


The Test of Scriptural Integrity

This week in our leadership series we continue with “Hearing The Voice of God.” While each of us has a learned and preferred way to hear from God, we know from this series that the Father can communicate to you many ways. The same is true for the people you lead. We all have opportunity to hear from Him through the written Word, His loud voice, the gentle whisper, angels, dreams, visions, trances, experiences, and anointed observation. With so many communication conduits, we can hear consistently and convincingly from Him. However, how do we test the "voice" to make sure it is the Father and not our own thoughts, imaginations, or even demonic influence?

I’ll give you three primary tests in the upcoming posts that you can apply to any "voice" you hear. The first test is the test of scriptural integrity. Paul told Timothy in 2 Tim. 3:15-17, "you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Paul wrote this from a New Covenant perspective of grace and faith in Jesus.

"Make you wise"
must be from the basis of the New Covenant in which we now live. Does what you hear line up with the fundamental truths of the New Covenant? I’m not talking about simply finding some single scripture to validate the "voice". . . . Even the demons know scripture! I’m talking about well grounded, line upon line, precept upon precept, scriptural integrity of the New Covenant. As we read scripture the Holy Spirit brings "rhema" life to the words and assimilates those words into principles of truth that undergird the New Covenant. Test a voice to determine if it is truly the Father’s voice. It must not violate New Covenant principles.


Anointed Observing Will Benefit Your Leadership

A key way to hear God’s voice through experiences is by "anointed observing." When your heart is open to God speaking to you in your surroundings and in your day to day observations, you have an anointing to observe. Observing God’s hand in action is a source of wisdom in our lives.

Solomon, the great man of wisdom, said in Prov. 7:7, "I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment." This anointed observing led to a conclusion that youth lacked judgment. It was simple, anointed observation that led him to that point of wisdom.

So it can be with today’s leaders. If you lack wisdom, ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault (James 1). He will give you an anointing to hear His voice through your experiences, your surroundings, and your observations. Be an anointed observer and you will hear God’s voice. Your leadership will benefit from His voice.


Hearing God's Voice Through Experiences

As leaders we must be open to God speaking to use through our experiences. Experiences range from miracles, signs and wonders, to trials and tribulations, to simple anointed observation revealing God’s voice in our lives. Not all our experiences are God speaking to us-- no, no, no! But many experiences serve as a bridge from the natural to the supernatural if our spiritual ears are tuned to hear, and our spiritual eyes focused to see.

As a leader, your experiences serve as a bridge from theory to reality, from intellectual knowledge to spiritual understanding, and from tentative talking to passionate preaching. The people you lead know you’ve been there! You preach the Scripture more passionately about the Word you have experienced. You testify more ardently about healing if you have experienced healing.

John said, "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard" (1 Jn.1:4). Experiences can be the tangible, personal reality of Jesus in your life, your ministry, and your relationship with the Father. You must be tuned in. You must be aware. You must live through your spiritual eyes and ears to hear His voice through your experiences.


Experiencing God Through the Senses

We continue on this leadership series on Hearing The Voice of God. I have laid a firm foundation of Scripture to validate the many ways our Lord speaks to us-- all of which must be based upon his written Word, the Bible. Today, I transition to the controversial area of God speaking to you through experiences involving our five senses: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting.

The apostle John was very familiar with experiencing Jesus and using those experiences to validate his ministry. He said in 1 Jn.1:1-4, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us." Nine times he uses verbs involving the senses to validate the reality of the risen Christ. John was okay with God speaking to him through the five senses. We can also be okay with it.


Seeing By Spiritual Impression

Impressions are a very powerful way that the Holy Spirit speaks to us. Impressions are God’s influence on our feelings, physical senses, and our minds. Note that I said "God’s influence," not our natural influence. Paul was led by impressions from God. In Acts 14:9, a man was crippled and Paul looked directly at him and "saw that he had faith to be healed." He had and acted upon that impression and the man was healed. How do you "see" faith in someone? You "see" it by a spiritual impression.

You will find in the New Testament relatively few specific recordings of prophetic words, visions, dreams, or trances as the leaders of the church advanced the gospel. They were praying men and women. They were empowered by the Spirit, led by the Spirit, and encouraged by the Spirit, and simply went forward doing what God had called them to do, preaching the good news, healing the sick, and making disciples of all nations. The Father would often use more dramatic communication to change direction or get them through particularly tough times, but the normal ministry was that of being impressed to go and do the great commission every day, every week. As a leader, you must be open to God’s impressionistic language. It’s a powerful way he can talk to you.