I have witnessed many people throughout my life – whether it is a preacher on television, a friend or acquaintance, or a pastor claim to hearing God’s voice leading them one way or the other. Many believers today claim to have and want to have the kind of experience that many in the Bible had – to hear God speaking to His chosen people to communicate His will.
People listen in reflective prayer to hear His audible voice or gain a visual picture or an emotional promoting that will reveal God’s will for their lives. In a brand of Christianity (and other false religions) that clam these avenues of communication, I want to be clear that true Biblical Christianity shows that this is not trustworthy, is useless, and is even dangerous to the Christian walk.
Claiming To Hear From God Is Not Trustworthy
This emotional experience is not trustworthy because there is no valid way to discern divine truth in what a person hears or feels. Experience is unreliable because it is always subjective. There are no means in the Bible (our standard of truth) to test or prove or discern the meaning of an inner voice or prompting that you feel or hear. Scripture never gives believers even the slightest encouragement to listen for private reflections from God.
If you’ve ever had someone say “God told me to do this,” how do you argue with that? This gives the person pretty much license to do almost anything and the person claiming the personal experience is now the authority to what is right and wrong. What if the person ate something that didn’t sit well and the prompting is just a bad case of indigestion? If the person is constant looking for the Lord to reveal something special to them, what is to keep them from misinterpreting the common wants or inspirations we have as direct divine revelations?
Proverbs 28:26 says “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.”
In Revelation 22:18-19 we are clearly warned not to add or take away from the complete revelation of the Bible.
Claiming To Hear From God Is Dangerous
In our fallen state, we lack any ability to completely discern divine thought. We can sometimes look back on events and see how God has used us or others to accomplish His will, but we only see part of the story. Furthermore, hearing a voice does not necessary mean what you heard was correct or even from God. Listening for ambiguous, mystical messages provides Satan with all sorts of opportunities to confuse, pervert, and deceive.
The Bible – Trustworthy and Safe
The only trustworthy source of divine truth, guidance for your own spiritual growth, and instruction for the believer is written in the Bible. No emotional experience can supersede the inspired, infallible, complete, sufficient, and inerrant truth set out in the God’s Word. He speaks not through an audible voice any more, but only through the pages of Scripture.
The Bible has alone stood the test of time and the countless attacks of doubters, liars, and heretics. It has objective truth that has been proved through history to be the very Word of God. To look elsewhere for a special experience or word from God shows a lack of faith in the absolute sufficiency of Scripture and lack of understanding that the Bible is efficient and active in the heart of the believer.
I have continually heard people saying, “You can not put God in a box like that” but when God has clearly put Himself in the box that the Bible is complete and is a closed system of truth, those are the parameters that I have to submit myself to. The Bible is a fixed and absolute standard of truth and the teachings of Scripture may be established and uncompromisingly asserted.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
The Holy Spirit does work life of the believer but not in the way many think. The Holy Spirit’s role is to empower us as we preach, teach, write, talk, witness, think, serve, and live. He does lead us into God’s truth and direct us into God’s will for our lives. But He does it primarily through His Word and never apart from it.
Do not continue in the confusion and dangerous path of looking for unique and specific revelations from God, but rely solely on His Word and make His Words the authority over your life.
Excerpts taken from Grace To You and John MacArthur