DAVID WRITES: Following God’s will can be rather intimidating sometimes when other people claim that you’re delusional or just making something up. I’m always worried that I’ll end up doing something that I thought God was telling me to do only to find out that He didn’t tell me that at all. How can you be completely certain that God is telling you to do something?
Share Your Thoughts in the Comment Section!
There are currently 7 Comment(s)
There are currently 7 Comment(s)
Have something else you’d like to discuss? Just submit your question or topic (and any elaboration you’d like to provide) using our Submit Content Page. We look forward to hearing from you.
To be honest, man, I ask that question ALOT. And it’s tough. I’m sorry, David, but I don’t know how to answer this one.
Not a problem Sam and Trent. If I get any answers from this multivolume collection of comments I’ll let you know lol.
God bless you David, I have been through this myself and I know it can be both exhilirating and excruciating. Thank you so much for asking, it’s a really important question.
What I would say to you is this, you are the only person who can know that God is speaking to you, and what He is saying; there is something I would refer to as an inspiration from the Holy Spirit, and it is a phenomenal, short lasting feeling. But because of it God’s vision and leading will be unmistakable(See My Utmost for His Highest for more, I can’t tell you which devotional page it is, though). I would also say that, if this is in the context of God calling you to something, you will have to be patient. He will bring the vision about in His timing, but it may not be the way you expect it to happen or when you expect it to happen–as a matter of fact it probably won’t be.
There are many people today who have never heard of William Carey or his motto: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.” I would say that there are very few who expect great things from God, and just as few and fewer who attempt great things for God because of their or others disbelief. Have faith! It’s dwindling here in America–ours is the faith of complacence. I praise God for hearing from others who are in this particular boat, and I want you to know I will be praying for you!
A few other things: God speaks to different people in different ways, but what I would say is always use scripture as your filter. If you feel God is telling you to do something directly against scripture, wait, and most likely the confusion will be cleared up. If not, most likely, that leading is not from God. But if the confusion is caused by say, “Honor your mother and father” and your parents aren’t on board with what you believe God is telling you(if they’re Christians), then I would say wait. Wait until they either are on board, or you all discover a way you can go about this that they would be more supportive of. I just went through this, and let me tell you from personal experience, knowing that something may contradict a part of the scripture put me so on edge. Please make sure what you do is in line with Scripture.
And I would suggest Oswald Chambers. So much of what else I could stay here stems from his My Utmost for His Highest. It is an encouraging book if there ever was one for this situation.
Again, thanks for asking, David! God will be with you! May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and His name glorified in all that you decide to do!
Nice “novel”, hehe, couldn’t resist.
LOL. Nice one, Grant.
“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”
A motto we should all as Christians uphold.
Great post Sadie!
Not sure, but I do remember when I was called to be a writer. I was in my room praying, unsure of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I actually wanted to be singer or an actress, but both those dreams flopped, and I was only 14! I heard God’s voice that night, and I know I did. I’m sorry I can’t elaborate any more about that, but I just knew. He just told these words: “Your words will touch people.” Those few words have inspired me so much. I have had several things I’ve written in the school newsletter (my principal is also my language arts teacher) and I’m about halfway through a book I’m writing. God has spoke to me on other times, usually through people and circumstances that range from great to miserable. But the truth is that it’s up to you to make out what you will if God’s speaking to you.
Awesome! I love how that was put, “Your words will touch people.” I just love that.
That’s fantastic. Way to take the talents that God has given you and use them to bring him glory with your best potential. I’ve also had times when I felt God speaking to me and I know how precious those five words are. I always marvel about how God can use only a few words to change someone’s life, and I hope that your words will do the same.
Ok, so you are worried about the grey areas that you are not sure about. What I’ve heard about this question is that,”instead of worrying about doing something we aren’t sure God wants us to do, let’s worry about doing the things we already know God told us to do, and if God really wants you to do something, you will know he wants you to do it.” Trust me, I’ve been through this, if you aren’t sure about it, that means you either aren’t ready yet, or it just isn’t meant to be. And when I say you’ll just know (I so dislike that phrase), it might disturb you, but don’t worry about it, just go on doing what you know God wants you to do. He will reveal exactly what you need to do, exactly when you need to do it. ~Grant
God really only speaks to you through the Bible and I think he speaks to you through creation too. I love it when I’m in a hard situation a Bible verse I’ve memorized comes to mind that is perfect for the situation. God an also use other people to encourage you to do his will for you as well. My friend encouraged me to not watch so much television and spend more time reading and studying my Bible. I don’t think god speaks through visions anymore or any other things like that. People thinking that led to the founding of Islam with Mohamed claiming to have seen the angel Gabriel and speaking to him. In fact the Bible tells us to try the spirits because many false prophets are in the world. It goes on to say that if the spirit confess Jesus is Lord than it is from God but if it doesn’t then it is Satanic. I truly believe that the vision Mohamed had was a fallen angel. But anyways I got like way off topic there but I think you can understand what I’m trying to say hopefully
Yes, the Bible says in John 14:16-31 that God gives believers a Helper, the Holy Spirit, to teach us and lead us in truth. Also, in John 16:5-15 it shares about how the Spirit will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.
But He can do that through the Bible. I’ve been convicted many times while reading the Bible. ;P
Ha, Ha, I’m reading through all these old comments and then there’s one from four days ago.
ikr? kinda funny 😉
Haylie! Seems like forever since we last talked. How are you?
It has been awhile, huh? I’m doing alright. How are you? 🙂
I’m good! Busy… What have you been up to?
Yeah I understand busy 😉 I’ve been up to school, basically, haha. Are you a senior this year?
No, I’m a junior. You?
I’m a junior too! cooly 🙂 Are you planning on going to college?
Yep, unless God has other plans. You?
Same 🙂 I just don’t know where yet.
Yes Sam he does!
I’ve seen it in my own life i know he does!
God does speak through visions and dreams, as said in the Bible: ““And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shallsee visions.” -Joel2:28 and “‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your youngmen shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.” – Acts 2:17
That’s a matter of how you look at it. Lots of people get visions, a few of which I have heard their testimonies.
I believe those verses are speaking of the tribulation and Pentecost. After Pentecost God did not speak to people with dreams and visions, and after Revelation was written there was no more prophesy either. Also In the Old Testament times if you were a prophet and you were wrong they killed you because you had claimed to essentially be the voice of God and God never lies. You also have to be careful with the different versions of the Bible the KJV version which I believe to be the best translation of the original Greek texts says in Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: Both of those verses say “Is shall come to pass afterwards” or the Acts one says ” In the last days”. Both of those phrases imply the tribulation period not the church age (we are in the church age now). So basically that’s why I believe that God does not speak to us like that anymore. If you have any other questions I would be happy to answer them to the best of my abilities. If you can prove otherwise using the KJV Bible I would be glad to agree with you on that.
I really don’t think the Bible says anywhere about God not sending people visions, or dreams. Those two verses state “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” in the last days. It doesn’t say that no one else will have visions. In fact, there are lots of Muslims who receive dreams about Jesus, and thereafter follow Jesus. I am sure there are multiple Christians who receive dreams such as warnings, or callings, or directions on their life.
Btw I used to New King James Version as my scripture.
Yes but those verses say afterwards or in the last days if a verse in acts says “in the last days” It’s only logical to assume that it is talking about the last days
It does say that about the last, days. But it does not say anywhere in the entire Bible people will not receive visions or dreams before the last days. I am guessing that in those verses they are saying that people will receive visions (about)the last days. Maybe? I just wanted to point out, that God can still use visions now, and I am sure He does. Here are some things about Muslims receiving dreams,
There is just some stuff concerning it, you can also search up on google “Muslims receiving dreams about Jesus” for more.
Well anyways, lets not make this into an argument, its just a friendly debate.
I think you need to study and pray about this because I don’t see anything in the bible saying that he will communicate to people with dreams and visions either. I’m going to ask my pastor about this as well he know a lot about this sort of thing the only other thing I have to say about the Muslims thing is that you have to be careful there because there is considerable evidence that Mohamed was visited by a fallen angel and it seems to me that they speak mainly through visions and things like that. I really didn’t get the impression that this was an argument, I thought it was a discussion. I’ll let you know what my pastor says too
I really don’t think dreams leading people to (or making them think about) Christ are from the enemy. I would think they were from God. I can’t see a Biblical argument where it specifically says He ceased sending people dreams and visions.
You are correct about Mohamed, but that doesn’t mean that dreams or visions Muslims have are from the enemy. Why would the enemy give someone a dream about Jesus? The very person he seeks to destroy?
That would be great if you could talk to your pastor about it. 🙂
Isn’t it hard standing up for this belief on the Reb/Revive? You, Ana, me, and maybe one or two other people are the only people on here that believe it. =P
Waaaiittt… I thought you said you believe God still does speak through visions, dreams, and an audible voice like He did in the Scriptures?
No, I’m genuinely confuzzled.
Wait, after all the convos on the Reb I’ve had arguing for the idea that God doesn’t speak to us today, you’re still not sure what I believe? 😛
Wait, I’m just gonna jump in here. What do you believe?
That He only speaks to us through the Bible =)
Okay, then I guess we disagree…
Most people do, don’t worry about it =)
So from what I’m understanding (and I might be wrong), you don’t believe God can speak thru’ dreams and visions today?
So why are you putting God in a box? God has shown me a few things thru’ dreams and visions. His work is ongoing, it didn’t stop, when all the Apostles in the Bible died. PTL
I’m not putting God in a box, and I know that His work is ongoing. However, He works in different ways now. Are you on Revive? We had a discussion where I explained my beliefs and I’d prefer not to do it over again, haha. =)
No am not on Revive. So explain away your beliefs. By the way what do you mean “He works in different ways now?”😎
Hey, sorry for the delay, I went on a campout and was stu(Dying) a bunch. =P I believe that the only way God speaks through us today is through the Bible. I’ve researched this topic a bunch and I can’t find anything in the Bible that disproves it or says that He does speak to us. =)
Don’t know where my reply went to, so will try again. How do I get onto this “Revive”? Also you say “God works in different ways now”. How and in what way?
I replied to your other comment =) you can sign up for Revive here: https://www.revivingtheredeemed.org =)
Did you ever wonder why? =D
Haha, no… I thought your belief is that God only speaks audibly now. What do you believe? (You could PM me on Revive, I’ll see it sooner there 🙂
No, I believe that He only speaks to us through the Bible. =D
Thanks for clarifying!
That was rude and blunt, my apologies. =/
You’re fine, Josh, I know you don’t mean it that way. 🙂
Lol ok =)
I believe He does.
Good stuff! (he says a year after the initial comment is posted). =P
http://www.strivingtogether.com/products/Discover-Your-Destiny.html “Discover your Destiny” is a great book on finding Gods will. It goes a long the same lines of this discussion. I would highly recommend reading it.
Okay, so I realize that this is a very unknown thing, but I’ll add my two cents
In 2011(?), I was at a Rebelution conference in Indiana. While there, I kept feeling tugs. I don’t know exactly how to describe them, but I kept thinking to myself, “That’s me. And I don’t want that to be me.” I am a PK, so I know all the Bible stories, have gone to church my whole life, have read theological books, and I thought I knew all the answers. But I was not a Christian. I was not reading my Bible or even praying anymore. I’m ashamed to say that I kept God in my Sundays, but pushed Him out of the rest of my week. Anyway, during the last session, Alex and Brett (actually, it was one of the two, but I forget exactly which one) had a sort of voting thing. There would be questions and each person would answer A or B on these cool little electronic things. One of the questions was, “Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?” I answered “No.” The next one was, “Do you want to have a relationship with Jesus?” I tearfully pressed “Yes.” Then he called everyone who answered “Yes” to do a hard thing: Stand up and proclaim “Jesus Christ is Lord!” Slowly, people started standing and my heart was thumping as it had never before. I was on the verge of sobbing as I thought, “No way!” Then, I felt another tug. It was as if God was right there saying, “I am with you.” So I shakingly stood up and whispered, “Jesus Christ” but I couldn’t get any further. I was all out crying and I sank back down to my seat. My dad was tearing up as he told me to stand up. He held my hand the whole time.
So my point is that while God uses the Scriptures to speak to us, there are occasions when you can sense that He is there and has been the whole time, guiding you. Since that August day, there have been ups and downs, but I can now proudly proclaim with confidence that I am a Christian! Jesus Christ is Lord and He is my personal Savior!
Wow, I still get kind of shaky as I write about it. God works in amazing ways!
AMEN Ruthie AMEN! He is an Awesome and Great God! i’m so glad you know him! =D
Thanks so much for sharing this story, Ruthie! How encouraging to hear how God worked in your life at our conference. =D
Brett do you guys do your conferences anymore?
Unfortunately, the one I went to was one of the last ones. Any chance of you starting them up again, Brett?
That’s sad 🙁 my brothers went to one but i was not a teenager then so i didn’t get to go. Yeah Brett can you find time your busy lives to start them up again? 🙂
Dude i know what it feels like to be busy 🙂
Hehe. I wasn’t a teenager when I went to it either. I don’t really think that you have to be. After all, there are low expectations for preteens (I detest the word tweens) to rebel against as well.
I sadly read Do Hard Things after the conferences were over, so I missed them ALL. 🙁
I wasn’t even a teenager then anyways. This website and the book has been a great encouragement to me. Thanks Harris’!
Yes i read the book this summer it was such a great blessing to me i loved it and it made me refocus my life. at least i’m not the only one 🙂
What are your thoughts on this social media site for Rebelutionarires that Sam the Programguy thought of? Do you think it’s a good idea? I mean, are you even okay with this? After all, you guys did come up with the Rebelution, not us.
God bless man,
I think this would be a GREAT idea, but I just want to make sure Brett is good with it.
With that being said, do what you feel God wants you to do. Pray like crazy, man.
God bless and don’t stress!
God is so great! that’s just all i can say right know God is so Great loveing and faithful. he is amazing and uses everyone in our lives for a specific reason 🙂 I’m so glad your a christian! i’m so glad that you’ve entered into the fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ!
Yes so have i, even in the most unexpected ways 🙂 through the most unexpected people! 🙂
I hope that this sounds ok, but I’d like to offer a belated welcome to the family of Christ, as well as the love of a complete stranger(me) to a fellow sister in Christ. This is such an amazing story, Ruthie, thank you so much for sharing!
Aw, thank you so much, Sadie. I always love meeting other believers (normally I like to meet personally, but this will do).
😀 Same here–on meeting other believers. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll meet in person. But I’m glad that this works for the situation at the moment. 😀 God bless you!
Yes, definitely in heaven, but who knows? With the God we serve, we could meet here on earth, too, maybe.
There should be a “rebelution website member gathering.” 😛
😀 I was seriously just thinking about that the other day when we were all talking about breakfast! It would be so cool!
You know what we could do–who has Google+ or a gmail account? ‘Cause they do, like, hangouts, right, which is like Skype only you can do it with a bunch of people.
I have google+ and Gmail and skype
Me too, well, Google+ and Gmail. Not Skype, yet, because I didn’t have anyone to Skype. 😀 We should do this, guys!
I’d actually prefer Skype because I’ve had some difficulties with hangouts before like once my cousins and I had to turn off our video so we could hear each other plainly
FINALLY!!!!!! I was wondering when they would start doing that.
That’s huge! That’s a lot of people!
Good to know, I don’t have Skype, but I can probably make one if we decide to do this.
Let me know when!
When’s good for you? And Sydnie? Sam are you in, too, ’cause we need to schedule this thing.
Just let me know when… I’m flexible!!
Hey, can anyone tell me if there’s a big difference between Skype and Google+ hangouts? Which one’s better to use for this kind of thing, etc?
I like Skype because I’ve had some problems with Google hangouts before but if more people want to use hangouts I’m cool with that too
I haven’t used either one, so that’s why I was asking.
ok I’vejust had a better experience using Skype but I’m totally flexible on that
Ok, me too. 🙂
ok well my skype username is cecesweetie2
Ok. I don’t have Skype yet, but I will probably get one. 😀 This is so cool!
Yeah! I have to stop talking now so I can get some stuff done though I’m so excited!!!!!!
😀 Ok, me too! Talk to you later, hopefully!
In my experience, Google+ tends to freeze up more often than Skype, though they both can freeze at times. 🙂
Thank you for the input 😀
Ok, we’re talking about 2PM EST(Eastern Standard Time), maybe. Would that be good for you?
🙁 Pouty face. No biggie, I guess, though.
No hard feelings, Sam. 😉 🙂
Sadie, Are you on FB?
Actually, now I am. My profile pic is a picture of a bright blue ocean.
I can do it like after one today I don’t know what time zones y’all are in but i’m in the central time zone so it’ slide 11 right now for me
I do have to get my dad’s permission, but I can call him about it, but he may not give an answer right away. I do have some cleaning I have to do today because we have relatives coming over for dinner, but, maybe this afternoon might work. What time, about? Btw, I’m EST(Eastern Standard time). It’s 12:35 my time right now.
Ok so I can do it any time after 2 your time
Oh, ok. I may end up having to go early, ’cause my cousin’s s’posed to be here, like, 3:30 or a little later to make pie w/ me and my sister.
Ok well I guess I could do 1:30 your time
Actually 2 might be better. We may not last talk for an hour and a half anyway. ;D
ok that’s fine like I said i’m totally flexible on it I just have a couple of things for school I have to get done.
Ok. Still waiting on permission from my Dad, so……
Sorry, my Dad still hasn’t gotten back to me and my mom’s using the lap top w/ the camera. Maybe some other time?
sorry I didn’t reply more quickly I usually get emails when people reply but for some reason I didn’t just let me know when you can and I can see if it works for me on that day sorry again!
did you get permission?
I don’t know if I would be allowed to have a google hangout, but I would be able to do the chat thing.
I don’t think I would be able to Skype or have a Google hangout with anyone here. My parents don’t like me talking to people I don’t personally know on the internet like that.
Sorry guys. Have fun though!
“Honor your father and your mother, for this is the first commandment with promise…” (Stormer Paraphrase)
Good on you, Liam!
I was thing about that. too… so cool!
What is it, like, great minds think alike or something? 😉
Aw, your post made me so happy! :))
I cannot give an exact answer; because this is still something I am growing and learning in. I find it easier to be the speaker than the seeker when I spend time with God, which is something I am trying to change. These are some Bible verses that I pray whenever I need to get my heart and mind in the right place. Funny thing is, I have a bad habit of memorizing Bible verses but forgetting the address, so I spent my time with God this morning trying to find all the addresses! I hope these verses encourage you as much as they have me, and help you find your answer. Blessings! 🙂
Psalm 51:10-12: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.
James 4:7-8: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you.
Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
John 16:12-15: I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Ezekiel 36:26-27: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will
remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
David this is a question i ask myself so many times. But just like Sadie Clements only you can know if God is speaking to you or not. And i have struggled with this so much in my life aspecially know that i’m a teenager and i’m trying to figure out what to do with my life. You have to discern if it’s really comeing from God (i’m not saying it’s not). My pastor just did a series on counterfeit voices and hearing God in a noisy world. He talked about seeking counsel knowing your heart and knowing God’s will. i have a list of questions i could post that have really helped me a lot. just one up me or something if you do 😉 and really sometimes you just need to step out in faith. trust in God to do whatever his will for you is. A lot of times i pray a lot for God to show/tell me what his will is for me and i pray that he would make his will so clear that i would not miss it. And sometiems you get like a feeling (for lack of a better word) and a overwhelming longing or knowing that that is the right thing to do and most times i still pray and ask if it’s the right way but what i’ve come to learn is that you have to step out in faith after you get that longing and if it’s not meant to be God will show you but at least you stepped out in faith and trusted in God to guide your steps. and if you just give it all to God then he will show you. he’s shown me so many times in my life. i hope this helps. 🙂 oh and don’t lose hope God’s always their!
I hope this helps and encourages you David 🙂
Honestly, I think it’s different for everyone. I have also struggled with that. A few years ago I was sure God was calling me to something but it didn’t work. I struggled with a lot of doubt. But really, God meets you where you’re at. I remember so often hearing in my head to go do something or say something to someone. But I thought it was my own thoughts and I didn’t want to trust it. Afterwards I would always feel sick. Then one time I did listen. And wow! It was amazing. I just knew that God was speaking to me. So when I hear that certain voice I listen. I know he also speaks through music. But I have gifts in music so that is why I pay attention more. I believe He will speak to you through ways that will capture your attention. It is so different for everyone. Even in the Bible He spoke differently. In Gideon’s story, it was through the dew and a sheep skin. For Elijah, it was a small whisper after a lot of loud things. David cried out and then could hear God though he was troubled. Some prayed for long periods, others just knew. Some actually saw God face to face. It’s different for all of us because we are all so different. My best advice is to ask God. Ask Him to show you. When He does, you will know.
Love your comment Hana!
I think that’s accurate. God speaks to different people in different ways. For me it was through music and coincidences(because I don’t believe in coincidences), like two sermons in a row speaking to me about this particular subject, and the people on the radio saying things that spoke to me, as well.
I want to also say, Hana, I am so glad you had the experience of following those nudges. It’s a really hard thing to do, and I admire that you’re striving hard to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. 😀
And I especially love how you were so well able to describe the different ways God spoke to those in the Bible.
i feel that God speaks to me through emotion so when I was praying for a friend I just felt so happy, which I felt was God saying that my friend would one day believe
Dear Ruthie, your situation sounds familiar because I’ve been in the same situation more than once =v) And it’s good to always maintain a healthy respect for the true will of God, and to be eager to find it and stay in it. Here’s something I wrote a few months ago on this topic to a friend of mine who asked me about it, and I want to share it with you:
Discerning the Will of God
A friend of mine asked me this week about how one may discern the will of God and listen to Him on hard-to-understand matters to which I prayerfully replied:
God leads people in many ways and in all kinds of circumstances. I figure: the closer you are to God the easier you will discern His will. It’s been said that a radio tower sends out signals 24/7, but you only hear the message if your radio is tuned in. We must be tuned in to God’s Holy Spirit. It may be easier said than done, but it’s surely possible. That said, I believe that there is a “false Holy Spirit,” or many of them, a.k.a. demons, and when Christians have an unhealthy desire for supernatural experiences and begin to hear a voice which they believe is THE Holy Spirit, then it causes me to doubt the authenticity of their statement, until I first test what they say with the Word. That’s the other thing: reading the Word. How does God speak to us? Through His Word, first and foremost. Many times God has led me in small matters and larger ones through my quiet time. Don’t go looking for an answer which suits you, just pray beforehand that the Lord will speak to you through His Word by His Holy Spirit and pray that He keeps you from being misled by the enemy, and then read. You won’t always get an answer soon, quickly or easily. Here are some steps which different pastors and Bible teachers have taught me—and I found that they always worked as good guidelines to follow:
1. Is this thing you are considering in line with God’s Word? (He won’t bless it otherwise).
2. The Lord uses other born-again Christians who know us as well, but well-meaning Christians can also give wrong advice. (In your case, consult your parents because they know things about you that you may not know, they have more life experience, and they have known the Lord longer, too).
3. And, are the circumstances truly the Lord’s? Circumstances can be VERY tricky, because the enemy uses them as well.
4. Is the timing right yet? It could be the right thing but the wrong time. We must guard against the impatience of the flesh, and our motives have to be pure and honest.
5. Do you have the peace of God about it (no more uncertainty)? This peace, I have found, always comes last (or not at all, and then that’s also an answer). Followed by this peace are fearful doubts sent by satan. Don’t worry about them; they are just another confirmation that you are acting in faith and obedience to God’s call. When you realize this, they quickly subside. (It happened to me when God showed me I could go to Mozambique and when He led me to stay in South Africa after the Bible School training). If you don’t have God’s peace yet, then pray, and be patient. And, in the meantime, do the things you know God wants you to do. That would include—but not limited to—”pray for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18), “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), do the good things you know you ought to do (James 4:17), “obey your parents” (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20), “work with your hands” (1 Thessalonians 4:11), etc.
Also, will the things which you are considering cause your faith to grow? Is it a God-sized thing which you can only accomplish if God helps you? This would build your faith and glorify God. And get you out of your comfort zone.
You shouldn’t make an emotional decision. Also: not one which is rushed or made under pressure. You want to have God’s assurance before making a big decision; most young people just use their own reasoning or interests, but if I had done that, I would have never found the Mission I’m with now, yet God has brought me here and I feel it’s a perfect fit, a divine calling and appointment.
“He who trusts in himself is a fool …” “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” -Proverbs 28:26a & Proverbs 3:5 NIV
S. M. Lockridge once said, “Let God have His way, in your life, now.”
“The sweetest part … is the rest which full identification with Christ brings. I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how.” -Hudson Taylor
And know and rest in the fact that God is quite capable of communicating with you in whichever way He pleases, in His good time, and that’s enough.
When someone graduated, I told them: “Make extra sure you’re in the true will of God, and then go full-speed ahead! Read the Bible until the Scriptures flood your thoughts and flow from your lips! Pray faithfully, intensely, and continuously!”
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” -Colossians 4:12 KJV
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” -Romans 12:2 KJV
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” -Hebrews 13:20-21 KJV
P.S. I can’t claim to know all the answers, but I know
the One who does!
Addendum: Earlier this year (when I was earnestly seeking the Lord’s will about something) a Christian lady who has been like a mother to me told me that I shouldn’t expect to get any answer from the Lord until I have totally and completely surrendered and abandoned all of my personal preferences concerning the answer which I want to hear from God, and then be obedient to whatever He says—whether I wanted to hear it or not! And, also through that experience, I found that in such situations I should seek the Lord more than I seek the answer to my question.
Wow, Louis. Very well written. Thank you for all these points, I’m sure I will use them often.
Honestly, I’ve found it very hard at times to discern God’s will for me.
I completely agree with the decision-making part. So many times, our impulses can go way ahead of or even against God. I don’t claim I must admit, after the “honeymoon stage” of being a new christian, I fell back to where I was before. I dismissed what had happened as conviction, but not conversion. I felt like I was being fooled by Satan, but I wasn’t sure. Since then, I’ve spent many a day wondering, pondering, reading, and praying. Slowly, I came back to God. I can’t tell you exactly when, but I have. There have been times when I am scared that I’m hearing the Devil’s instructions instead of my Lord’s.
I agree that we should always fall back on Scripture, whose Author knows all!
*I don’t claim to have had experiences like the one I had at the conference, but I do know that God does work through our emotions. More often, our confusion is a result of us not working through our emotions very well.
Sorry, I got distracted and thought I was finished with this comment!
Ooh, I like that! The confusion as a result of not working through our emotions makes total sense, and that would definitely hinder our ability to seek clarification about God’s will in our lives.
GREAT answer, Louis!!
Love, love, love – “If you don’t have God’s peace yet, then pray, and be patient. And, in the meantime, do the things you know God wants you to do. That would include—but not limited to—”pray for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18), “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), do the good things you know you ought to do (James 4:17), “obey your parents” (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20), “work with your hands” (1 Thessalonians 4:11), etc.”
Too often we can get so caught up in worrying about it, we forget the things we can do now!
This is such a hard question! But if you’re into reading, try Kevin DeYoung’s book ‘Just Do Something’ here’s a link: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCMQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.co.uk%2FJust-Do-Something-Decision-Without%2Fdp%2F0802458386&ei=Q4VJVPGrKoWt7Aa19YG4Bg&usg=AFQjCNGBikyswox_RJk14f_NOceBjZ_a3w&sig2=SWP49MCyCnZGgs9Aaprm9Q
(Sorry about that)
God deals with us all in different ways. It’s such puzzling question though, I’ve often wondered the same but this book was definitely helpful 🙂
I find that He speaks in many ways, and sometimes He is very, very clear, but many times, He speaks in a whisper, in a way kind of like when you have a song playing in your mind. Visions work like daydreams. When spending time with Him, silence your soul, and relax. He may tell you verses, He may just say things, but it’s a lot easier to hear him in peace and quiet. In fact, peace itself should be a norm for Christians, but it isn’t always. But that’s another conversation.
I know the feeling! I just started a new job but it took me a while to be okay with accepting it, not afraid that God was telling me not to do it. At the end of the day, however, I knew that a) I had silly, unreasonable fears holding me back, and b) e v e r y t h i n g was lining up. Ultimately, it was a way better option for me than the alternative, too. My parents and others also gave me the thumb’s up or gave me food for thought before accepting it.
Back in April, I heard a man at a conference speak about the will of God, and how we see it as a mysterious bush track we stumble across after hours of walking through scrub, and then we have to agonise over not walking off track again. He doesn’t think that is the will of God, and I think he’s right, at least to a point. What does God require of us? To act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. He desires for us to walk in the Spirit, be radically honest, and focus on Jesus. That’s big enough!
That being said, God did open and close doors for Paul about whether to go to Macedonia or not, and when we look back over our life, we can see how God has directed us. I think the will of God relates to God being outside of time and space; to us, right now, we don’t always know God’s will for us in the life choices we make, but looking back, we can see how he has guided us. He simultaneously gives us the freedom to choose our path and yet guides us.
Also, I’ve often heard that when we think God says something to us, there are three things that might confirm it (but I can only remember two!) – godly counsel, and alignment with scripture.
Ultimately, God doesn’t want us to worry or be afraid. He does give us the freedom to make choices. He gives us the Bible to show us how to live, and that is a big part of (if not completely) what God’s will is. Like Jonah though, if we mess up, God will redeem it.
I would say also in addition to what people have said already that as long as your thoughts are in line with 1 Thessalonians 4:3a, you are fine. 1 Thessalonians 4:3a says, “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” God is concerned that we grow and mature in Him and the gospel and the Cross. If you get a thought about anything, run that thought through the filter of, “Is this growing in Christ? Is this doing what is in Scripture?”
We don’t need to know everything that God has planned out because He has us in the palm of His hand. As long as we are growing in sanctification, we are doing the will of God. Period.
Encouraging you to continue doing hard things!
Hey David, I don’t have a lot to say on this subject, at least right now, but I’ll refer you to my brother’s blog. I thought he did a stellar job at addressing this question.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…Psalm 23. God leads you into the blessing of His covenant as you follow in obedience. The timing and the specifics don’t matter all that much if you seek to glorify him with the gifts he has entrusted to you; steward them well without hyperspiritualizing “God’s will for my life” (which generally leads to the paralyzing anxiety that you have “missed his will).
I know that this is a little off the centre of the question, but I just thought I’d add my thoughts on why we don’t have to be worried that we’ll ‘miss the will of God’ when we’re not hearing anything. (If you ARE hearing something, discerning if it’s God is something very important, that many other commenters have addressed.)
Basically, as long as we know we have submitted fully to God, searched Him out, inspected His word and are living in accordance with it and have sought the counsel of older Godly people, there is no need to worry ‘if you’re making the wrong decision’ or not. (This is, of course when choosing between two ‘goods’ not a ‘good’ and a ‘bad.’) For me, it boils down to the fact that as long as I have done these things, God is not going to let me waste my life on something that’s wrong for me.
Say, for example, my future. I have two (well, actually more than two, but I’ll keep it simple) paths I could choose: going to Uni and getting a degree in something I love and working in that, at least for a while, or going into full-time ministry. I know I can serve God in both ways; no choice is ‘better’ or ‘more holy’ or anything. So I continue to seek God, listen to His heart, what He says about me, and His promises (i.e. “I will be with you wherever you go”). Maybe in the future I will receive direct guidance (and if so, I will be mighty thankful!). But if not, I know that whatever I choose, God will bless me, because I am His and I live in submission to Him.
The same thing could be true about choosing which organisation to go on a mission trip with. If I’ve listened to God’s heart, if I know where my God-given passions lie, if I have researched all options well, if I’ve sought counsel, and if I am sure God is not specifically leading me one way or another, I am free to choose. He will bless me whether I go to Thailand and build houses, or to India and treat illnesses, or to rural Australia to run kid’s programs.
Please, please note that I am NOT AGAINST God’s direct leading! I know it happens, I know it’s amazing. I’m not denying it, I’m not trying to dismiss it’s role. I’m merely saying that in circumstances where we sense no direct guidance, we need not go into panic because we’re not sure if we’ll ‘miss God’s will.’
Wow. Awesome question! I loved going through the comments because I have asked myself this SO many times. There was one time when I felt like I’d been spoken to “after the fact.” What I mean by this was I was taking my ACTs at a college and after my test I went to the school library. I found a private corner to read in which happened to be in a level of the library I had never gone to before. All of the sudden, I had a random thought to go into a specific corner near me and pray. It wasn’t a different voice than my own or this huge, overwhelming emotion. It was just very random for several reasons. I was firstly seriously into the book I was reading so the fact that it came up just out of the blue seemed odd to me in that moment. (The book, btw, was not a book on theology or anything like that that would make me want to pray. It was “It’s A Mall World After All.” Wouldn’t I just love to change the title around now!) I had also just returned to the faith. I mean, I never left it but I also hadn’t taken it serious. Never before had I gone off and prayed on my own in public, even if where no one else would see me – I was just beginning to pray on my own in private. So yeah, it was just strange. And I pushed the thought away, not wanting to be disturbed from my book. Literally a minute later, these two Muslim students came over and did their evening prayer in that same corner, opposite to where “the voice” had told me to pray.
I struggled immensely over this whole issue and the guilt that followed. More than struggling with the fact of whether or not it was Him speaking to me did I struggle with issues like the real reason I didn’t go and pray, whether or not it was Him. Was I scared? Embarrassed? I’m still working through the lessons it’s been teaching me to this day. But what seemed like for months did I struggle with the whole concept of how to hear Him and how to know what He wants me to do, not just on a day to day basis but with my life. I mean, should I go to college, go on missions? I’m almost out of high school so I’m kind of needing these answers like, now! I got many answers to these questions, but one of my favorites was expressed in this song. I LOVED it because most times, my life does feel like the “book of Ruth” compared to Gideon’s where he not only got those direct commands on what to do but the signs that followed to give him the courage to do them. Don’t we all want that?! As the song so poignantly says, though, God has given us His diary more or less with all of the answers in it. (The Bible.) And so the key is to base our lives and decisions around what it says. I’ll let you find it out for yourself but there is a Psalms that ends with “so that I might not sin against you” which tells us exactly why we need to go to it. 😉
The song is – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9SNpWFU4_w
A favorite verse of mine on His will that I go to is – John 6:40 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
One last thing! A great example of a youth who has and is currently doing hard things is Katie Davis. At 18 years old, she moved to Uganda, started and orphanage, and is currently working on adopting 13 girls. In an interview with her, she never went based on some miraculous sign or even feeling at first. But by the Sermon on the Mount and on verses about loving the least of these. I love this because these are things we can do every day. Learn to love. In her words, “It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”
Hope this helps you in any way, David! (And I am sorry this is so incredibly long!!)
One test to see if it’s God’s will is to see if what you feel led to do is in sync with God’s character. He will never tell you to do something that contradicts his character and commandments. A very helpful tool for me was the book Too Busy Not To Pray by Bill Hybels. Before reading it, I hadn’t realized that my prayer life was so lacking. I think that the more you communicate with God and the more you read His word, the easier it will be to distinguish between His voice and your own.
I once read somewhere when seeking the will of God, if these three things line up, The word of God, the inward impulse, and the trend of circumstances, to realize that God may be leading you a certain way. I’m in the middle of learning to know God’s voice also. Remember that God wants us to seek Him first, our first focus should be to know Christ, not to know the future or what He wants you to do. God is always working for our salvation. So everything He does in our lives is to build our characters and make us fit for His kingdom.
God opened up doors for me over the last couple years that I never would have dreamed of. I didn’t particularly know that it was God’s will for me. But I held up my dreams against several guide posts. A. Did I have peace about it. B. My family and friends were supportive. C. How it all came together. I feel that if I have to fight or struggle against many odds to make something happen, then just maybe I am knocking on a closed door. While when God had opened the way, everything flowed smoothly together.
This summer has been a deeply painful learning curve for me in this area. I still don’t know what God wants from me. Or if I have messed up incredibly, I feel like I have, but every time I pray I feel God saying “It’s ok.” My friends and family tell me “It’s ok.” Every time I open God’s word, I read encouragement and hope. This is a time when I have to trust God even when my heart is screaming “failure” at myself. I have to believe God’s word which promises me again and again that He is in control and works for our good.
When I look back over the past few years, I see God’s hand. I see obvious miracles, where my friends are like “wow, that is so crazy amazing how that happened.” But I keep telling myself to live in the present, because this is why it is called the present, it is a gift. Treasure it. The past is unchangeable, the future has not yet come. Trust God. Even when it is hard. So keep in this in mind always. God wants us to know Him more than anything else. Pray, read His word, and trust.
And act according to the best of your understanding. He is leading you step by step. You have to walk in the dark trusting that He will guide you. You cannot sit and wait for God to tell you what to do, in my experience He doesn’t tell you future step A. B. C. D., He guides you, giving you enough confidence for each little step, if you feel you’ve failed, try not to beat yourself up, but keep on. God understands our human frailty. And remember His will always, always corresponds with His Word.
First of all, thanks for the post! And thanks to everyone who commented with your answers and ideas, it was much needed! I wish I could address all of you individually but I don’t think the interent or my schedule can handle that. =) Thanks again so much, I’ll definitely think about everything you all said and check out the books and other works suggested!
I have asked this same question. God has given me so many talents and I want to use them all to further his Kingdom. And because of that, I tend to have about nine million things going on every day.
My advice is to pray. Pray like it’s the only thing that you can do to that will change the world. Also, Don’t be afraid to ask him questions. I don’t know how many times I have ended the day totally tired and ready to quit and prayed, “Why am i doing this??” And he always answers and gives me peace about everything.
So, pray and seek his face. God has a plan for your life and it is more amazing then anything you could ever dream off!!
Thanks Rachel, I needed that. =)
Examine the Scriptures. If what you think God is telling you contradicts any of his commandments or Scripture, its not God
Hello David, I realize that there are a lot of comments here and you probably won’t get to read mine. However, I went through this too, but God showed that He is never trying to hide his plans from me. He’s not going to make you guess what He wants you to do and then angry with you when you don’t do what He had in mind. He’s a good father. When you feel God is telling you something repeat it back to Him. If it lines up with the word of God and you still have peace about it, continue in that direction. Go until He says stop! And if somehow you were wrong He will gently guide you back. Very rarely will you hear a voice in the sky, but more often then realized you will hear a whisper in your heart.
I did read it lol. ^-^ That’s true, that’s usually how I hear from Him. I suppose my real issue isn’t so much that I don’t know when I hear from God. It’s when I get confused if it’s Him or me talking. Like, it’s easy to know when He’s telling me to do something I don’t want to do because I know I would never even consider doing it. But I don’t know how to tell if God is telling me to do something when it’s something that I want too. I get worried that I’m letting my desires get in the way of what God is telling me. I’m still reading through all of these comments seeing if that particular issue has been addressed lol. I didn’t think this question would get so much attention.
So many excellent comments!
It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Following Him is a joy, not a burden. An adventure! There isn’t “one, singular, absolutely perfect path made especially for you and if you wander off the path, you’re done” kind of Perfect Will of God. He gave you free will–the ability to choose. He gave you various gifts and talents, and knows the Hard Things He wants to cheer you on to doing.
The freedom He grants is like a really huge parking lot, like at a mall or Disney or some such. Some folks have this notion that if you don’t get the exact right spot to park, you’ve missed God’s perfect will. Freedom, In Christ, means that as long as 1) you park in this parking lot (and not ‘in the street’ or some other lot) and 2) stay within the lines of the spot you choose, you have the liberty to park close to the doors if you want, or farther away if you want, or nose in, or back in…
As several others have noted, His will never contradicts His special revelation: Scripture. He also promised that His sheep *will* know His voice. (He also said we are to “Be still and know that [He] is God.). Staying in His word & talking with Him (the fancy word is prayer) helps us learn what He sounds like.
Remember that the first voice Jesus heard after His 40 days in the desert wasn’t His Father!
It is written: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps 37:4 ESV) The English follows the Hebrew decently in this verse–He not only plants the desires initially, He also brings them to fruition. Jesus said, Seek first the Kingdom of God…
So how does that look/what does it feel like?
Eric Liddel probably said it best:
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” –Eric Liddell*, “Chariots of Fire”
Scotsman Eric Liddell won a gold medal for the 400 meters and a bronze medal for the 200 meters at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. The following year he left for China to serve as a missionary until his death in 1945. His story was retold to another generation in the Oscar winning 1981 film Chariots of Fire. (Highly recommended btw!)
Here’s a clip from the movie with that quote:
Here’s the clip of the actual 1924 race Liddel ran:
He did the Hard Thing. (Watch the movie to understand.)
Hey Jeff! Welcome to the website. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and encourage the young people here. =)
Actually, I don’t believe that God doe’s talk to us. But that’s just my view on it.
I understand why you would think that, I myself have been under the illusion that God doesn’t really “speak” to us. But as you mature in the faith and develop a firm reliance on Him, I believe He speaks very clearly, if we make an effort to listen and take time to understand Him and His ways.
i was reading the book DO HARD THINGS.. and it amazed me in so many ways. I am 16 years old and I’m from the Philippines.. I just find it so difficult for me to talk about Jesus to my everyone around me. I want their souls be saved, for my mind telling me to do so. but it was like skydiving from Mt. Himalayas..its scary and dangerous I know i can that’s why I am really trying my best that there come times that I just wanna give up because they keep on ignoring me,, that if I start talking they will change the topic. and it really hurts me more every time. for now I hate myself for everything. I am such a failure to God. I was just browsing here in the internet to calm and compose myself. I am in a seen-zone and hear-zone and I’m badly hurt but I’m thinking that as much as I’m hurting I know God also do. I’m his child and I’m preparing myself for His coming. I want to do something big tomorrow when I wake up but first I want to find myself.maybe someone here can help me with my problem.
Leonie, the Bible shows us that Christ was ignored too, but He kept on persevering because He had a job to do and a Holy ambition. I will remember you in my prayers and remember that you’re not in this alone, God is with you, He is an ever-present help in time of trouble. I have failed so many times and in so many areas that sometimes I just felt like giving up and thought that I just wasn’t able to change or improve. But God was walking with me through it all, and truthfully, sometimes He had to pick me up and carry me. But the answer is no, nobody here can help you with your problem, only God can. Remind yourself not what you’re trying to do through Christ’s power, but WHY you’re doing it. Keep encouraged in God and don’t turn back! Your brother in Christ, -me.
Have faith. Keep in prayer to the Lord and ask him to give you courage. It will probably also take time for that courage to build. But in time it will. The most important thing for you to do though always is to keep CLOSE to the lord.
God bless you.
Test everything by God’s Word; the Bible. It’s not just a bunch of books; it’s ‘God breathed’ Scripture, ‘perfect for instruction’ and understanding God’s will. If it agrees with what God teaches through His Word you’re probably on the right track. If not, stop what you’re doing and work out something that fits with what God teaches. Also, don’t get caught thinking you should be able to hear the Holy Spirit whispering to you. Spiritual gifts aren’t semi-accurate hazy things. If they’re given they ought to fit the Biblical standard of being infallible and clear words from God. A lot of the time that voice in your head is really just your own thoughts. If God wants to speak to you he can do so through His Word and the revelation there-of. Either way, God’s Spirit will never contradict the Sword of the Spirit, so test everything via Scripture. If you really believe the Holy Spirit talks to you that way there’s no problem with making sure, right?
Growing up fundamentalist/evangelical, I was told that as a born-again Christian God would “speak to me”, “move me”, and “lead me” so that I would know and could follow his will. I listened to others talk about how God spoke to them, moved them, and led them to do this and to do that…but He never did the same for me. I finally came to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with me because God had decided he didn’t want to talk to me. So I left the Church.
Many years later I became an orthodox Lutheran and was told that God doesn’t work like that. The evangelicals are wrong. The voice they are listening to is their own. According to “true” Christianity, God speaks to Christians in only one manner: through his Word, the Bible.
That gave me a lot of peace…until I found out that the “Word” is full of discrepancies, errors, and scribe alterations.
I was very sad (and angry) to find out—it is ALL nonsense.
So what about my problem of not hearing the “voice” that other evangelicals were hearing speak, move, and lead them? After deconverting completely from Christianity, I came to realize that it was THEM, not me, that had the problem. They were hearing voices. I was the sane one…who did not.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t always communicate through an audible voice. This is where people get confused.
However, He absolutely DOES communicate ideas, thoughts, words, images, peace, joy, etc. to those who seek Him.
“How can you be completely certain that God is telling you to do something?”
Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to be COMPLETELY certain that God’s telling you to do something, unless it’s written in the Bible. (“Love your neighbour” “Pray continually”, those sorts of things)
All I can do is share a bit of my story, and hopefully it will help. I first learned to hear God’s voice from a YWAMer who visited our church. He said that hearing God’s voice is easy. And he had a practical system to learn that. He said that there are four voices that we can hear from: God, ourselves, the enemy and other people/the world. So he had us pray, “In Jesus name I silence the voice of the enemy, the voice of the world, and myself. God, please speak to me.” And then we wrote down the first things that popped into our head. Then we looked at what we’d just written, and evaluated it. If it lined up with Scripture and God’s character, we could be pretty confident that it was God.
From there, I learned how to recognize God’s voice, so I usually don’t follow the whole process any more.
But I often wonder when I hear something if it’s God or if it’s me. Or if the enemy is planting thoughts in my mind. After the Scripture and God’s Character test, I’ll see if the thought brings me peace or stress deep down. Stress (disquiet) usually indicates that something’s not quite right and I should wait or ask more questions (of God and/or other people).
Honestly, learning to recognize God’s voice takes practice. I still mess up. And there have been times when I thought I was hearing God’s voice and acted on it. But later, as I looked back, I could see it was me or even the enemy. But here’s the crazy thing: There’s grace. God can take our mistakes and twist and shape them into something beautiful. What the enemy intends for evil, God can use for good. God sees our heart, and knows that we want to follow Him, and do His will. So He’s not going to get mad at us or punish us for hearing something wrong. There is room enough in God’s grace for making mistakes!
So I’m learning to listen to God, even if I make mistakes. I’ll learn from those mistakes, and revel in God’s amazing grace!
Excellent question! Excellent indeed. I’ve been asking this one quite a bit over the last few months and here is where I’ve come out: while God may well speak to us today, I am decidedly skeptical of all forms of God->man communication unless I can find a biblical precedent for that form of communication and it’s message. Here is why, since I first ran Christians who automatically assumed that prayer was a one-way street, whereas I had assumed it to be two-way, I have found that I have positively no clear precedent in scripture for the vast majority of what I would have considered God-> man communication. Rather than believing God spoke because God said He would speak to us in such and such a manner, I have found that we assume divine authorship without any clear evidence to that effect. Allow me to explain.
Over this summer, I worked closely with Answers in Genesis as a counselor for Camp Infinity. Part of our creation apologetics training included presuppositional apologetics. That is, that rather than saying I will prove the Bible and disprove Evolution, I say I assume the Bible and you assume Evolution. After a little, I was content to admit that I assume the Bible. That is “my starting point” to borrow AiG’s phrase. While a large assumption, far larger than the postulates of Euclidean Geometry, I’ll accept it. However, what I realized is that I and many other Christians don’t have just one starting point but two. We assume the Bible, and we assume that God speaks through nudgings, open or closed doors, inclinations, and other emotional phenomena.
Why don’t I say I assume the Bible and then accept this form of leading from the Biblical evidence instead of separating them into two separate presuppositions? For two reasons, first, I have found for myself that I and many others have accepted this because of the words of men, particularly other Christians. Thinking back, statements regarding this sort of thing have always, in my experience, been given without sufficient if any biblical basis. Therefore, I, and I believe many others, have not come to believe from the Word but have accepted it apart from biblical evidence. Therefore, even if there is a biblical basis it is not because of this that we accept it therefore I say we assume it or perhaps should say we accept it because of man’s word. At any rate, we don’t believe it because of the Bible. Reason two: I don’t believe it can be substantiated from scripture. There is a reason no one taught it from scripture and that is because they couldn’t. The scriptures, apart from exegetical fallacies, primarily, arguments from silence, don’t teach us this system of, to call it what it is apart from Biblical justification, divination.
You say prove it? Sorry, I can’t. I cannot prove that the Bible doesn’t support something. That’s called proving a negative, a logical impossibility. If you want to say it does, however, then the burden of proof is on you. Show me the biblical precedent for what you believe to be God’s leading. I do not doubt that there are some biblical forms thereof, and I would be quite interested in seeing what my brothers and sisters in Christ can produce. However, I believe we will find that, as I have already found, while He does speak and there are ways we might be sure we’ve heard Him speak, the means He employs in the Bible are almost entirely foreign to those means which we accept today. Before I can demonstrate this, however, I must first answer the question of why it is so important that our accepted forms of God->man communication are biblical.
While I have good evidence for the Bible to affirm my assumption after the fact, this form of God->man communication is not so well backed. For the Bible, I can substantiate Jesus by the historical resurrection and therefore the Old Testament canon as He validated it in the gospels. I can also substantiate the New Testament canon as Jesus gave special authority and power to the apostles, known as apostolic authority, and all the books were written either by apostles or close associates thereof with the possible exception of Hebrews as even the early church fathers don’t know who wrote it. I am willing to accept those as coming from God. There numerous outside and internal means of testing the Bible and it can be observed by others. We can all look at the same Bible passage and discuss the meaning. Though an acceptance of it as God’s Word or as we might say “faith” is necessary, it is not unjustifiable faith. We have good reason for accepting it.
This popular form of God->man communication today, however, lacks every one of these means of testing. No one can hear what I heard. It is 100% internal. You say, but God might confirm it through your circumstances, like say, running across the person He “told you to marry.” I would ask, however, how it is that you think superstition came to be and continues? Is it not by coincidental evidence? “I didn’t pass on the chain letter and now I broke my toe.” “I shared that Facebook ‘share and be blessed’ meme and I found five dollars on the sidewalk!” Or, as a catholic lady was telling me, “every time one of the cats that I rescue is really sick I pray to my statue of St. Francis and without fail they get better. He hasn’t let me down once.” Keep in mind, this lady had been nursing animals back to life for a number of years and had “seen” it work multiple times. All such experiential evidence is inherently incapable of validating this system of God’s leading as it relies on a false-cause argument. That is, to argue that since thing 1 preceded thing 2, thing 1 necessarily caused thing 2. We cannot, by coincidences in our experience confirm this and neither can we test or observe it at large in order to form an objective basis for its acceptance due to its very nature.
Therefore, you say, I must accept it on faith. I agree and I have faith in God and His revealed Word. But why should I have faith in this? Apart from biblical evidence, I will not have such faith. I believe the Bible so should the Bible tell me so I will believe it, but until then, I will not and I would urge others not to either. This is no small thing neither in the potential implications in our lives as we align our decision under this supposed guidance nor morally. Yes, there is a moral issue at stake. To attempt to access supernatural information or powers apart from God-sanctified means is a practice known as divination and it is forbidden biblically. Divination tends to be formulaic, for example, kill a goat and examine the liver. If it is ____ then do _____ otherwise do _______. Similarly, pray, and whatever pops into your head is from the Lord. Again, if biblical then I will accept it but I don’t think it is, and so, the big question: what biblical principles and precedents do we have for God->man communication?
First off, there seems to generally be some form of physical manifestation. Abraham and the angels in human form, Moses and the burning bush, the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, the Angel of the Lord to Joshua, the Angel to Gideon, God speaking through the prophets in the Old Testament, God speaking through the physical manifestation of Jesus Christ, Saul’s encounter with a blinding light on the road, and the prophet who warned Paul in Acts 21. God almost always seems to have some physical manifestation.
The exception to this would be dreams and visions in which there is no physical manifestation but then, the person isn’t in a “physical” world per se`. Within their world, however, there tend to be physical elements. For example, the many dreams in the book of Daniel, Peter’s vision on the rooftop in Acts 10 and John’s visions in the book of Revelation.
Further observations would be that the communication was always from without rather than within, and there never seemed to be much doubt as to who had spoken. In contrast to the question I have asked numerous times “was that really God or just my imagination?”, the shepherds had no doubt, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” (Luke 2:15)
Another interesting note is that in most cases in the Bible, God acted upon the person without their requesting it. They didn’t spend and hour in prayer and get rewarded with a word from God; they walked along the road and had their life turned upside down by a voice speaking out of a literally, blinding light. Moses was simply shepherding his sheep. Gideon was hiding in a well. God initiated the contact. The human didn’t. Quite the opposite with our current ideas. (This is, btw, why guys initiate in relationships, throughout history, God has always initiated and we respond. Since the man is to be Christ in the relationship, he is the one to take God’s position in initiation. For more on this, read Elizabeth Elliot’s book The Mark of A Man)
So what does this share in common with ways God supposedly communicates today? Um… practically nothing. Rather than a physical form there is never any besides ourselves, rather than a voice from without it is a voice from within, and it is almost always unclear. You can never be sure. Now I ask you, even if everything else lined up, is it like God to communicate in an unclear manner in the Bible? If He desires obedience would He not make clear His commands? The only time we see such guessing games in the Bible is in cases where God did speak clearly and someone is guessing that they can get away with disobedience. His word was clear, as the reformers would put it in reference to the Bible, perspicuous.
But what if God has changed the way He communicates? Sorry, not a possibility. You are asking whether or not the one who never changes changed. He doesn’t do that. He will act in a manner consistent with what we see in the Bible since He is the same now as He was then. And, for the record, we haven’t changed that much either. Unless having an iPhone and eating fast food affects us such that God must change His form of communication (to something far more ambiguous) in order to (more effectively) communicate with us, then we haven’t changed sufficiently either. We still have our five senses and if you look, God seems to communicate with us through those five sense in the Bible.
So then, how do you know when God is speaking to you? If you have to ask, I would say that wasn’t Him. He is perfectly capable of communicating should He so desire and, in those cases we have recorded, those spoken to didn’t have to ask who it was for long if at all. How then should you order your life? By the Word of God, it is the Word of God that is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that you as a man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2nd Tim 3:16-17) Read it, and, like a good steward, make a decision. I think part of our dependence on this form of revelation stems from a lack of dependence on the Word of God as sufficient for our lives. You don’t need something more. God has provided you enough information to make God-honoring decisions. In particular, I might note that if you desire wisdom the book of Proverbs was written “to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth” (1:4).
For more on this I would encourage you to see a debate between two leading Christian apologists on the issue here: http://www.moodyradio.org/Up-for-Debate/2015/2015-07-25-How-Can-You-Know-the-Will-of-God/ Also, you might check out this article on Boundless, Focus on The Family’s website for singles: http://www.boundless.org/faith/2011/whos-calling
Hehe, y’know you too could become a CU student who rocks! Oh wow, going to college together would be so cool… 😀
Ohhh, yeah that’s a slight difficulty. No, it’s all I can do to get that much in financial aid for myself. =/
Wow bro, why are you working on Revive at this time of night? I’d think you took Liam seriously when he said it’d ruin his life! 😀
When you understand His Word.
Hi, I could write for days on this topic with joy and desire to both share and seek knowledge. God bless you all. Unfortunately, I stumbled across this great discussion on my Nook tablet so I will start with a brief comment and write more when I am at my laptop (difficult to SYWPE for hours:) Speaking for myself, God has spoken to me only through signs, symbols and personal connections only I am aware of. They wouldn’t mean much to anyone else as God moves in Mysterious Ways for the individual. My ongoing desire to walk with the Lord led me down a path of much reading, learning, observing, praying and deep self-reflection. I believe my inner voice, the one that talks back to me and usually runs the show is indeed The Enemy and not The Lord or Holy Spirit. God used the things in my life I held dearest and used them as a vessel to open my eyes and see His light. This includes (but not limited to) music, movies, video games, reading, television, the Internet, people, circumstances, environments, timing, coincidences (no such thing). I feel I am blessed on this day. I need to get baptized and start anew. Shed my old skin and follow Jesus Christ from this day forth. I pray that all which I have witnessed is TRUE and hope to walk away from this Valley of Darkness and learn to embrace the light that which I have fought for my 42 years on this Earth. I HOPE this brief message may inspire others. Thank you!