Knowing God's Voice
"What is God's will for me?"
This question is perhaps the one most often asked by believers.
In everyday situations of life, believers are constantly making choices which determine whether or not they will do the perfect will of God. It is essential to know God's voice, understand His will, and make right decisions each day. It is important because each minor decision affects the finding of God's will for a lifetime.
Man must make choices in relationship to God's will. This plan was instituted by God when Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden (Genesis l-3). God's will for Adam and Eve was to name the animals, tend the Garden, have companionship with each other, and reproduce to populate the earth. Most important, they were to maintain intimate fellowship with God. Adam and Eve were also warned about what was not God's will.
They were forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Including the story of Adam and Eve, the entire Bible is a history of decisions which individuals and nations made in relation to God's will. You can learn from both the successes and failures of these men and women.
One of the most exciting revelations in the Bible is that God has a definite plan for every individual for this life and eternity. In order to fulfill these plans you must come to know God's voice. You must learn how He has communicated in times past and how He speaks today.
One of the great truths He revealed is that God does speak to men:
I am the good shepherd and know my sheep, and am known of mine. . . And other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:14,16,27)
God has a plan for intimate relationship with mankind. Man is known by God and can know Him personally.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)
First: There is a God.
Second: He communicates with man.
Third: Man can recognize His voice when He speaks.
Fourth: God has something to say.
There is a God who is revealed to man through the written record of His Word, the King James Bible.
The King James Bible is the inspired written record of God's communication to man. It details the ways which God spoke to man and the response of individuals and nations to the voice of God. The Bible often repeats the phrase “. . . and the Lord said" and incidents where He spoke to man. This confirms that God communicates with men and women.
For an example, read the story of Balaam in Numbers chapter 22. God spoke to Balaam, but he refused to listen. God wanted to communicate to this man so much that He actually resorted to using a donkey. Balaam was:
. . . rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet. (II Peter 2:16)
The Bible verifies that believers can know the voice of God. Jesus said:
I am the good shepherd and know my sheep , and am known of mine. . .
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:14,16,27)
God has something important to say to mankind. We are warned:
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith), Today if ye will hear His voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness. . . While it is said, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. . . (Hebrews 3:7,15)
The "temptation in the wilderness" and the "provocation" (provoking) of God mentioned in these verses refer to the disobedience of the nation of Israel.
After Israel was delivered from Egyptian captivity, they repeatedly disobeyed when God spoke to them. In these verses God warns us to respond when He speaks and not disobey as Israel did.
God still speaks to men in present times just as He did in times past. The warning to listen confirms that what He has to say is important.
The Bible reveals that there are many voices in the world clamoring for attention:
There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. (I Corinthians 14:10)
What are these voices in the world?
THE VOICE OF MAN:
The voice of man is easy to recognize. It is the audible voice of another human being: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)
Sometimes the voice of man may give wise advice, but anytime the voice of man conflicts with the voice of God, you must obey God.
THE VOICE OF SATAN:
The voice of Satan was first heard by man when he spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1,4,5). Satan's voice lies, deceives, and always attempts to lead man into sin away from God. You can easily recognize this when you read about the temptation of Jesus by Satan in Matthew 4:1-13. You can study examples of conversations Satan has with God in Job 1:7-12 and 2:1-6.
Evil spirits (demons of Satan) also have voices:
For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them. . . (Acts 8:7)
And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. (Luke 4:33-34)
Sometimes the voice of Satan is actually audible when demons use the vocal cords of a possessed man or woman. Most often, however, Satan speaks in an inaudible voice. He speaks lies, deceit, and sinful thoughts into your mind.
THE VOICE OF SELF:
The voice of self is man talking to himself. You can read examples of this in Luke 16:3 and 18:4 and in Jonah 4:8 where the prophet wished in himself to die. The Bible warns concerning the voice of self:
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)
THE VOICE OF GOD:
Jesus said believers could know God’s voice and distinguish it from other voices:
To Him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear His voice; and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him; for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from Him; for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:3-5)
Believers are compared to sheep. It is the characteristic of sheep not to know where they are going. They must be led. Jesus said He was the shepherd or leader of the sheep. He said His sheep would know His voice and follow Him instead of the voices of man, self, or Satan.
HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD
Open your Bible to the book of Genesis and read chapters l-3. These chapters record the creation of the world and of the first human beings, Adam and Eve. From the time of creation, God communicated His will to mankind. He gave specific instructions to Adam and Eve. They were to name the animals, tend the Garden, have companionship with each other, and reproduce to populate the earth. Most important of all, they were to maintain intimate fellowship with God. This intimate fellowship with God enabled them to know God's voice. When God spoke, He communicated His plan to them:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17)
By the voice of God the will of God was revealed to Adam and Eve. They could freely eat of every tree in the garden, with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Adam and Eve did not follow God's plan. They listened to the voice of Satan and ate of the forbidden tree. When they realized what they had done, they hid themselves from God:
And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (Genesis 3:8-9)
It is sin which separates man from God. God did not remove His presence from man.
Because of sin, man hid himself from the presence of God. Sin results in a hardened heart.
The Bible warns:
While it is said, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. . . (Hebrews 3:15)
God wants to communicate to man, but communication requires relationship. Sin separates man from intimate relationship to God, hardens his heart, and hinders him from knowing the voice of God.
THE VOICE AND THE WILL
Believers often ask, "What is God's will for me?" What do we actually mean when we say we want to know the will of God? It means we want to know His general plan for our lives. We want His guidance in specific decisions so we can make wise choices. We desire His direction in the circumstances of life. The question we should be asking is, "How can I know the voice of God?" Knowing God’s voice results in finding the will of God.
God wants you to know His will:
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:17)
If you know His voice then you will understand His will as He speaks it to you.
Learning to receive divine guidance is learning to walk in intimate fellowship with God. The Bible says:
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
The word "proceedeth" speaks of a continuing function. It means something that happened in the past, is happening in the present, and will continue in the future. God speaks to communicate His will to mankind. This is why it is important to know the voice of God.
WHEN GOD SPEAKS
There are two Greek words translated as "word" in the Bible. The Greek words are "logos" and "rhema." "Logos" refers to the written Word of God. "Rhema" refers to the living or life-giving Word of God. It was said of believers in the city of Berea:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word (rhema) with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures (logos) daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)
This verse illustrates the relationship of the "logos" and "rhema" word. The "logos" or written Word always agrees with the "rhema" or spoken, life-giving Word. This is how you can know the voice you hear is from the Lord. A "rhema" Word from God usually applies to a specific situation, meets a personal need, and provides individual guidance.
Because you recognize the Word as applying to a specific need or situation in your life, it becomes a life-giving Word to you.
A "rhema" Word may be communicated through a sermon or a verse from the Bible which suddenly strikes you with great meaning. It may be spoken to you by God through the use of spiritual gifts. It may also be spoken in your inner spirit by the Lord.
But remember: The "rhema" Word will always agree with the written Word of God. The written Word of God is complete. Nothing is to be added to it or taken from it (Revelation 22:18-19). When God speaks through the "rhema" Word it will always be in harmony with His written Word.
TYPES OF LISTENERS
The Bible speaks of two main divisions of listeners:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. . .
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. . . (Matthew 7:24,26)
A foolish listener hears the voice of God, but does not act upon it. A wise listener hears and acts upon the message of God. One listener is a "hearer of the Word" only. The other is both a "hearer and a doer."
You must not only come to know the voice of God, you must learn to respond in obedience to that voice:
But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:22-25)
Jesus also told a story about seed sown in several types of soil which illustrates various types of listeners. Read the story in Matthew 13:1-9. Jesus explains the story in Matthew 13:18-23. He compares the different soils to listeners and their response to the Word of God.
SEED BY THE WAYSIDE:
Some seed fell by the wayside and was snatched up by birds before it could take root. This is an example of a man who hears the voice of God but the words do not take root in his heart. Satan snatches away God's Word.
SEED IN STONY PLACES:
Some seed fell in stony places and sprang up quickly. But when the heat of the sun came, the plant withered and died because it had no roots. This is the listener who hears God's Word and receives it with joy, but it does not really take root in his life. When circumstances get tough, he is offended and ceases to respond to God's voice.
SEED AMONG THE THORNS:
Some seed fell among thorns which choked out growth of the plants. This is an example of the voice of God being choked out by the cares of the world, materialism, etc.
SEED ON GOOD GROUND:
Some seed fell on good ground and brought forth a rich harvest. This is an example of the listener who receives God's Word, listens to His voice, and roots himself in that revelation. This person will mature spiritually and become a reproducing, fruitful believer.
HOW CAN YOU KNOW GOD'S VOICE?
Do you want to be able to know God's voice? Do you want to know His will for your life?
FOR FURTHER STUDY
There are several verses in the Bible which describe the voice of God. Look up each reference and record the words describing God's voice. The first one is done as an example for you to follow. From your own study of the King James Bible you can continue to add references and descriptions of the voice of God to this chart.
Reference Description Of God's Voice
II Samuel 22:14 Thunder from Heaven
I Kings 19:12-13
God spoke about Jesus. You can read what He said in the following passages: II Peter 1:17-18; Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11
What God speaks comes to pass. See Ezekiel 12:25-28.
Study the words of Jesus in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Observe how Jesus spoke in questions, answers, examples, parallels, parables, and sermons.
God not only speaks to individuals but He also speaks to nations. See Jeremiah 18:7-10.
Read about the results of disobeying God's voice in the following verses. Record the results of disobedience on the chart:
Reference - Results Of Disobedience
I Samuel 12:15
Read the following Scriptures and record what you learn about the results of obeying God's voice:
The entire Bible is a record of how individuals and nations responded to the voice of God. Complete the following chart as you study the response of man to God’s voice. The first one is done as an example for you to follow. You may need to read verses before and after the reference given in order to obtain the information needed to complete the chart. You can continue to add references from your own study of the King James Bible.
Reference - People - Response - Results
Genesis 26:5 - Abraham Obedience His seed and the nations of the world were blessed.
I Samuel 15:1,19,22,24
I Samuel 28:18