John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice . . .”
Have you ever heard God speak? If you watch many of the religious TV shows these days, especially those that involve “televangelists” you would think it is a very common experience – emphasis on the word “experience.” So many of these men and women use words like “God told me this or that.” It’s like a one-on-one experience that’s going on all the time. It’s an “impression,” or some people say they’ve even heard an audible voice. Sometimes it’s in dreams, they say. I heard a woman just the other day say that the way she knows that God is speaking to her in a dream is that the dream is in color. The dreams that come from the devil, she said, are only in black and white! Who knows what that is based on, but it was surely a novel explanation to me!
The late Oral Roberts once claimed that he had been having an ongoing conversation with God who eventually told Oral that He would have to come up with $8 million by March 31 or he would die! (By the way, he didn’t do either). Benny Hinn, another popular televangelist, once said this: “The Spirit tells me Fidel Castro will die in the ’90s. Oh, my! Some will try to kill him and they will not succeed, but there will come a change in his physical health and he will not stay in power and Cuba will be visited of God.” Well, either Benny didn’t have his hearing aids in that day or God got it wrong, because Fidel didn’t die until 2016.
In John 10 above, Jesus said very specifically that His sheep, which refers to those who have put their faith in Him, definitely do hear His voice. Often Jesus said, when speaking to groups of people, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” So, what does this mean – ears to hear? And what should we be listening to if we want to hear Jesus’ voice?
Actually, it’s pretty basic. God has given us, in the Bible, all the things that He wants us to know that He has said. It’s all there in black and white. 2 Peter 1:3-4 speaks about this in the following words: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” Do you “hear” that? He has already granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness. And how has He done this? “Through the knowledge of Him.” And where do we find that knowledge? In “His precious and very great promises,” which is just another way of saying the Word of God, i.e., the Bible.
Psalm 19:7 says “The law of the Lord is perfect.” That means that it is complete. It’s everything that God has for us. It’s all there. Furthermore, in the last book of the Bible, we are warned with these words: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book (Revelation 22:8-9).” In other words, we have pretty solid footing to seriously doubt people who claim to tell us what God has said through personal extra-biblical revelations. Beyond what the Bible has warned about this, how can anyone ever verify what someone says God has said to them when it is clearly outside anything God has ever said in His Word, which we can verify. We can obviously just look it up. This is not to say that God doesn’t bring His Word, i.e., the things He has recorded for us in His Word, to mind at many times and in many ways. He does this all the time by way of His indwelling Holy Spirit. But outside of that, we need to be very careful with what people claim about what God has said to them.
So, do you want to hear God speak? Then simply read His Word. And if you want to hear God speak out loud, then read His Word, out loud. It’s as simple as that. But even so, if we don’t have “ears to hear” these words, no matter how they come to us, they can go in one ear and out the other. God expects His followers to read what He has said to them, but not just read it, but also study it, pray over it, meditate on in, and obey it. That’s enough to give any of His sheep plenty to occupy them regarding what He has said. What a privilege to hear from the infinite God. What a privilege is the gift of His Word.