There has been some controvery in the Forum since I posted my article about How To Hear God’s Voice. Perhaps controvery is overstating it, but people have been asking what I mean by “God’s voice.” This gives me the opportunity to write about something I’ve been meaning to say for a while now.
Two Christians may experience the exact same thing, yet relate it to others in a completely different way. I grew up in the Reformed churches and never once heard anyone use the expressions “God told me” or “I told God” or anything like that. I know that these people were equally in tune with God as the evangelical crowd I spent the next years of my life with, but they simply did not express themselves that way. When faced with major decisions in life they would seek God’s counsel and very often would find it and respond appropriately. When asked about the difficult time they may have faced leading up to a decision they would be very “I-centered.” They would say that “I prayed about it and then I decided to go ahead with it…” What they meant was that they asked God’s will and found peace that moving forward would be within His plan.
Evangelicals might relate the same experience in different words. I think of a man I heard speak in a church some time ago who related how he had faced the difficult decision about whether or not to take a new opportunity with his company which would require moving to a new town. He said things like “…and God said to me, ‘do you have faith that I will lead you?’” or “I said ‘God, do you really want me to pack my family in a van and move to a whole new city?’” He related the whole experience as if it was an ongoing conversation between himself and his Maker. I asked him about it later and he told me that God had never really spoken to him – it was merely his way of expressing what he felt, what he thought and what he read in the Bible.
I do not believe that God speaks to us audibly anymore, for He has no need; He has given His perfect, complete revelation in the Scripture. However, He does whisper to us through His Word and through the Spirit who indwells us. I believe both these men had very similar experiences. They had an inkling that they were supposed to do something. It may not have been something they wanted to do but was something they felt they were supposed to do. So they turned to God in prayer and devoted themselves to reading His Word and soon both found comfort that they knew His will in how to respond. Later on they expressed what had happened in vastly different terms, but I think the actually processes they went through were similar. They expressed themselves in the words they were familiar with from the church tradition they were part of.
Ultimately, I believe we have all we need in order to make decisions and have assurance that we are moving forward within God’s will. So long as we ensure that what we intend to do does not contradict the Bible and we bring it before God in prayer, I believe we have the freedom to move forward with security that God is with us. The seven pointers my pastor provided fit within this framework. They merely give us some pointers we can use to determine if something we feel we are supposed to do is God’s will and not just our own (or Satan’s).