How Do We Know When God Speaks to Us?

22 12 2014

First of all, God most clearly speaks to us through the pages of Scripture. As a Southern Baptist, I believe that while the Bible is authored by God, it “was written by men divinely inspired and is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to man.” Plain and simple, the first place we go to find a Word from God is to the Word of God, the Bible.

Secondly, we can consider godly council, that is wisdom from fellow believers. We can learn much from those who have been through similar situations and can now look back with great perspective. Knowledge comes to us in many forms, but wisdom comes through experience. A wise person will gain perspective from his own experience but the truly great will also seek wisdom through another’s experience. The caveat here is that godly council must always comply with scripture. Again, the Word of God is authoritative, not the word of man.

Occasionally, (and I venture to say more often than we realize) God speaks to us directly. Divine revelation, as it is often called, comes to us by way of the Holy Spirit. If I had to guess, I would say this is the crux of the original question. Many times, when we pray, we think that we are to talk to God but some of my most meaningful times of prayer are when I stop and listen. Cultivating an ear for the Holy Spirit is no easy task. It is wisdom. It takes time. It takes repetition. The difficulty with trying to discern the Holy Spirit is that, unlike the Bible, it is not explicit information.

For example, in scripture, we are told to love one another. We don’t have to wonder if there is any one that we shouldn’t love. It is straightforward: If you’re a human, I’m to love you. With the Holy Spirit, though, we might encounter something like trying to decide where to go on a mission trip. Maybe we know that we are to go and two trips are available to us. Which one do we choose? That’s where it can get hairy. That’s when we seek godly council from trusted believers. But that’s the type of situation in which our faith, trust, and dependence on the Spirit can be strengthened.

So, to recap, God speaks to us in three ways: 1) Through the pages of the Bible 2) Through godly men and women 3) Through divine revelation by the Holy Spirit. God does not contradict Himself. He can’t. Therefore, any advise (a word from without) or thought (a word from within) must be vetted through the lens of the Bible.