You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free
How Do We Know the Voice of God?
[With acknowledgement to the person who compiled this image]
This promise in the Old Testament is still real for New Testament believers today — but now, God does not speak in a voice from “behind” us, but from “inside” our spiritually born again human spirits or “hearts,” where the Holy Spirit constantly lives, (1 Cor. 3:16-17.) God speaks to us most clearly and unalterably “by His Son, [His New Covenant Word, the true context of the Bible...] through Whom also He made the worlds…” (Heb. 1:1-2.)
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DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT STILL SPEAK IN AN AUDIBLE VOUCE LIKE HE SPOKE TO BELIEVERS IN THE BIBLE?
Of course God sometimes speaks in an ‘audible’ voice, but I am very wary of people who claim to hear the voice of God all the time. God mainly speaks through the full context of the Bible, (Heb. 1:1-2.) If we “test” what these people say in the light of “all Scripture,” (we must “prove” all voices, teaching, and spiritual manifestations to see whether it is from God,) we will often find that they are following a strange voice, (Ps. 119:160; 1 Ths. 5:21 and Jn. 4:1-4.)
Yet, we cannot deny that the Holy Spirit speaks so gently ‘into our minds’ that we often perceive His voice as our own thoughts. For instance, when we live without a personal relationship with Jesus, or treasure some unrepentant sin, we will ‘know’ that we are not in a right standing with God. This is so because the Holy Spirit came to earth to “convict” every human being on earth “of sin, righteousness through Christ, and judgement” without Him, (Jn. 16:8-10.)
Another good example of how the Spirit speaks, is illustrated by the following incident. Someone was sitting in traffic on the highway and decided to put the car in gear to quickly move to another lane, when a ‘thought struck’ him: No, be patient! A few seconds later, a huge tanker, completely out of control, jammed into the lane next to him, squashing the cars on top of one another. If he did not ‘think that thought,’ he would have been killed instantly. Now, if ever one heard the voice of the Holy Spirit, this was it! Also, we sometimes simply “know” important things without having any real proof of what we think, and, proceeding cautiously, we can later testify that our obedience to that ‘knowledge’ kept us from loss or harm. Surely, that is the voice of the Holy Spirit, “Who came to lead us into all truth, and tell you [important] things to come” - if we desire “all” truth, of course.
However, if we heed the voice of the Spirit, and ask Him to reveal to us what we must do in every given situation, He will mostly, if not always, lead us to the truth of the Bible, which we must then obey. But we must be on our guard, even when reminded of Bible verses, because the devil knows the Scriptures very well. He even quoted Scriptures out of context to Jesus in the wilderness to prey on His human needs, (Mt. 4:6-8.) Knowledge; (knowledge of the Scriptures especially,) applied without “love” or Holy Spirit leading and wisdom, (and the motivation to deliver, heal, restore, and protect,) even though it might be the truth, can be a very dangerous, destructive weapon. Of course this is not a shield to shirk our responsibility to deal with sin and sinners according to Scripture, but knowledge of, and zeal for God without real Godly wisdom can be a very cruel thing.
Here is the key to know if it is really the Holy Spirit speaking in our innermost being, or if a false spirit is pretending to be Jesus, (2 Cor. 11:4.) The Holy Spirit of the Bible will always “glorify Jesus” and never draw unnecessary attention to any person, (Jn. 16:13-14.) Being the “Spirit of Truth,” the Holy Spirit will never teach us false church dogma, or give us uncontextual and thus false prophesies and other such deceptive leading, even by quoting from the Bible.
The Spirit of Truth will never twist and abuse the Truth of His own Word in any way!
THE HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKS THROUGH THE TRUTH OF THE BILE — BUT ALWAYS IN THE CONTEXT OF THE WHOLE BIBLE AND THE ENTIRE SITUATION
When I did my studies, one lector taught this vital key to discern the Voice of the Holy Spirit in difficult situations. “Always ask the Father to show you the truth of the situation so you can apply God’s Word correctly to every problem presented to you.” To me, this meant, “Be diligent to [study the Word to] present yourself approved unto God; [not because you are working for your salvation or earning merit from Him, but to understand your way through the darkness of this world;] a worker who does not need to be ashamed [for handling the Word incorrectly, but] rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” (2 Tim. 2:15.)
The Holy Spirit will always tell us the full truth about everything if we ask Him, wait on Him, and follow His leading obediently. What’s more, the Holy Spirit always speak in the context of the whole situation. He will never bring strange, conflicting verses and arguments to confuse and derail us from the truth of the situation.
Additionally, it is crucial to know that God will never bring revelations, teachings, prophecies, and ‘signs and wonders’ that do not fit into the full contextual truth of the situation and/or the New Testament Covenant! The True Spirit of God does not manifest miracles for entertainment purposes, but His miracles are always manifested on the basis of necessity. This is why Jesus speaks to us primarily through the truth of His New Testament Word, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, Who leads us into all Truth. “The entirety of His Word is Truth…” (Jn. 16:13; Ps. 119:160.)
DOES GOD ONLY USE 'WELL ESTABLISHED,' ‘LEARNED’ AND ‘ORDAINED’ PROPHETS?'
God said we should believe in Him with faith as pure as that of little children. This does not mean we must be gullible and believe and accept everything like children do, (1 Jn. 4:1-4.) The key to innocence from sin, which is holiness, is that the unpolluted minds of young children are like sponges; taking in everything they perceive as good. This is why they, in their childlike sincerity, belong to Jesus and will inherit heaven (eternal life) should they die prematurely. It is therefore no surprise that God not only uses those with the true Holy-Spirit gift of prophecy, but even little children, (1 Cor. 14:24-25; 32-33; 1 Pt. 1:13.)
There is the wonderful example in Scripture, where God even opened the mouth of a donkey to speak in human language to prevent the insanity of an 'official' and 'learned' prophet, (read this account in Numbers 22:22-40.) I am not saying God does not speak to us through sincere, born again disciples of Jesus with the Holy-Spirit gift of prophecy, but God surely uses even little children and animals to reveal and confirm His warnings and will.
However, the way in which 'learned,' 'ordained' and even self-ordained 'prophets' teach false doctrine, (even if they do prophecy correctly sometimes,) is not from God. Jesus’ believers live under His New Covenant dispensation. Because they have the indwelling Holy Spirit and the truth of the Bible, and thus the constant, full “anointing” of the Holy Spirit, (1 Jn. 2:20, 27,) human prophecy can never guide people outside the written Word of God, or pretend to bring ‘new’ revelations, which supposedly come ‘directly’ from God, (Heb. 1:1-2.)
1 Cor. 14:29 commands that human prophecy must be open to the ‘judgment’ of everyone else in the congregation to “test” the origin, intention, and truth of the prophecy, (1 Ths. 5:21; 1 Jn. 4:1-4.)
Also, while God does use prophecy to warn and confirm, it is not predictive as in fortune-telling, but interpretive, declaring God’s will for a specific situation, which He had already revealed to the person receiving the prophecy.
However, knowing nothing about how the true gift of prophecy flows from the Holy Spirit, ‘prophets’ act like prophecy machines, turning out falsities to produce showmanship; misleading believers and nullifying God's precious gift of prophecy. There exists even a false doctrine that teaches prophets may prophecy wrongly, because they are “learning how to prophecy!”
In reality, the gift of prophecy is a supernatural unction from the Holy Spirit Himself, and can never be ‘taught’ to anyone. Hence, God prophesies even through innocents like little children and animals.
There is not a single person, who is beyond the reach and service of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which He gives “as He wills” to edify, warn, and confirm His will and Word, (1 Cor. 12:11.) However, the true gift of prophecy is directed primarily at believers in Christ. It is God’s gift to serve and build the believing body of Christ. It is a wonderful gift that should be utilized with “thanksgiving to God,” (1 Ths. 5:21; 1 Jn. 4:1-4.)
PEOPLE ASK WHY FALSE PROPHETS SOMETIMES PROPHECY TRUTH
Aren't all false prophets deceivers and liars? Yes, but as fortune tellers also sometimes prophecy truth, sadly, Christians also prophecy lies. This is not how it should be, but the devil was once a holy angel. He knows all about being good. However, now he is a fallen angel, who also knows everything about evil, as he himself is the author of all evil. Hence, it is for our own protection that, in the Moral Law, God gave us a sturdy guideline to recognize false prophets.
God taught in Deut. 13, "If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer, (who can even be your father, brother, son, daughter, etcetera, verses. 6-10,) and he gives you a sign or wonder, and it comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods and let us serve them, [teaching you false doctrine to deceive you while giving you a true prophecy to win your trust,] you shall not listen to him, for the Lord is [allowing the devil] to test you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. You shall walk after the Lord and fear Him, and keep His [moral law] commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or dreamer shall be put to death, [the New Testament equivalent is exposure and rejection,] because he has spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, Who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst...You shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; [N.T.: reject and expose,] your hand shall be first against him..."
Using this commandment and warning from God as our constant guideline where prophecy, teaching and spiritual manifestations are concerned, it should be easy to remember that foul and clean water, and good and bad fruit cannot come form a good spring or a good tree. Jesus said “we shall know them by their fruits,” and He can never be wrong.
Of course none of us are perfect and therefore we are all prone to make mistakes. No one knows it all; we are all in the School of the Holy Spirit until Jesus returns to take us home. However, if a prophet speaks lies and truth, or a teacher teaches false teaching and true teaching, and refuses to repent, we must decidedly expose such a person and turn away from him or her, (Eph. 5:11-19.)
DOES GOD SPEAK THROUGH MEDIATING PROPHETS DURING THE NEW TESTAMENT DISPENSATION?
The Bible was compiled in two different Testaments or Covenants for a very good reason. No prophet or teacher under Jesus’ New Covenant can ever prophesy or teach things that are not in the contextual truth of the Bible - especially not 'new' teachings or 'special' revelations derived by taking Scripture out of context. In fact, this is how all dangerous cults, (killer cults especially, like those of Jim Jones, David Koresh, etcetera,) came into being and flourished, (Heb. 2:1-2.)
It is vital to understand that God spoke in an audible voice to the Old Testament Prophets, because they were under the Old Testament Covenant of the Law, and without the indwelling Holy Spirit, (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:18.) But during the New Testament Covenant in Christ, (with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit living in every true believer,) He speaks to everyone “through His Son Jesus Christ,” or actually, through the New Testament’s written Word of Christ, [Jn. 1:1-4; Heb. 1:1-2.]
If we want to be certain that we are hearing from God, we must search the Scriptures; read them in the context of the chapter, and interpret them in the light of the Testament or Covenant in which they were written. The Old Testament and New Testament are two distinctly different Covenants and dispensations. So, when we read the Old Testament, we must always study and understand it from the perspective of the New Testament Covenant, because God directed the Old Testament to His physical nation, the Old Hebrews, and He directs the New Testament Covenant to His international spiritual nation of believers, bought with Jesus’ blood from “every tribe, and language, and nation,” (Rev. 5:1-7; 5:9; 1 Pt. 2:9-10.)
Thus, there is no such thing as a New Testament prophet, who can ‘stand between’ man and God to give people new revelations, because there is now only One New Testament/Covenant Mediator, and His Name is Jesus, (1 Tim. 2:5.)
Anyone who studies the Bible with the motive of allowing the Holy Spirit to lead him or her “into all truth,” knows for certain that God does not give ‘new’ Scripture, additions to Scripture, or ‘new’ revelations, which are not fully grounded in, and resting on the whole truth of the Bible – nor will He do that ever again! The New Testament Covenant is Jesus Everlasting Covenant.
In other words, it is not that God cannot or does not speak in an audible voice anymore, but that He already said everything we need to know in the full context of His Word, the Bible, and in the New Testament Covenant especially. Every time we ask Him to speak to us while we read the Bible prayerfully and in context, God speaks directly to us personally through His Word, Who is Jesus Christ Himself, (Jn. 1:1-13.) Of course the Holy Spirit will then also speak into our minds the things we need to know and understand concerning our lives and particular situations, (Mt. 7:7.)
The words that Jesus spoke are “Spirit and Life.” There is not a human in the world who can speak Spirit and Life, except when he or she quotes Jesus’ real Scriptures and teaches His Truth, which relate directly to God’s Word.
During the New Dispensation all human teachers, who made themselves into ‘mediating’ prophets, (standing between God and man to bring ‘new’ or ‘added’ revelation, etc.,) were and are false prophets, who lead Jesus’ blood-bought souls away from the truth of God’s Word into eternal destruction.
EXAMPLES OF HOW THE GIFT OF PROPHECY WORKS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
In 1 Cor. 14:24-25, Paul defined the purpose and function of the Gift of prophecy as follows: "If an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in he is convinced... [that God is a reality,] as the secrets of his heart are revealed, [or actually confirmed to him,] and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you."
God is, (said with utmost respect to our Creator,) not a chit-chat who will tell other people secrets about your life without telling you first. If you refuse to obey him, He will send someone to warn you, but the gift of true prophecy is never a button that puts a prophet ‘on prophetic alert’ and certainly not all the time.
For instance, God gives a prophet a dream about someone he knows, and in obedience he shares it with the person, “I dreamt you are breaking down your house and throwing everything into the sea, but afterwards you cry a lot...” [“Really, I was just about to leave my spouse and disappear!”] Or a ‘word of knowledge’ in casual conversation, “You know, if we keep on allowing our friends to manipulate us, we are actually in danger of being deceived and losing a lot of money.” [“What? How did you know they wrangle money out of me all the time and now want more!”] In the assembly, God’s true prophet is moved by the Spirit to tell a distraught stranger, “Although you get all the blame, what happened was not your fault. God knows it all…” [“Thank You, Father, I knew You would confirm the truth to me!”] Prophecy and a ‘word of knowledge’ is usually confirmation of what is already on your mind, but which no one else knows about, “We should not simply do things... Say we want to break out that wall to make the lounge bigger, we must first check to see if the house’s roof is not supported by it...” [“How did you know I was planning to do that?” And on investigation of the roof’s structure, the ‘word of knowledge’ then proves to be true.]
Mostly, (but not always,) real prophets do not even know that they are prophesying. It’s not about "God told me this and that and that" all the time. As all the other gifts of the Spirit, (1 Cor. Chapters 12 & 14,) prophecy simply flows to reach the right person at the right moment. The Holy Spirit is not into showmanship, He is really “The Perfect Gentleman.”
WHY TRULY SCRIPTURAL “EQUIPPING AND EDIFYING OF THE SAINTS” MUST TAKE PLACE
Paul explained in Eph. 4:18, “Having their understanding darkened [through false prophecies and doctrine,] alienates believers from the life in Christ, because of the ignorance [of God’s True Word] that is in them. Because of the blindness of their hearts, [not understanding the Real Word of Christ...] they have given themselves over to [all kinds of immorality because false prophecy and teaching, and strange spiritual manifestations lead them away from Jesus, the Truth.]”
Because Jesus Alone is the Eternal High Priest of His New Testament priesthood, every sincere believer-disciple is part of His spiritual priesthood, (Heb. 7:25-28; 1 Pt. 2:9-10.) So, the gifts of the Holy Spirit work through all true believers “as He wills,” and of course, also through those who were called as pastors, teachers, etcetera to “equip and edify” the body of Christ with the Truth of His written Word and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the teaching and leading of the Spirit, (Eph. 4:11-12.)
Thus, the so-called “five-fold ministry” is not to gain position in the “church” or for self-glorification and self-enrichment, but to bring believers to Jesus Himself: to the truth of His Word, and to obedience to His Moral Law of love, (Jn. 13:34.).
In this way, every believer can be an effective witness or disciple of Christ in their private worlds; evangelizing people to Christ, allowing the Spirit to use their gifts as He wills — all working together to build God’s spiritual Kingdom in the hearts, minds, and lives of believers to glorify God above all else, (1 Cor. 12:11; Mt. 28:19-20.)
The genuine ministry of the Holy Spirit is the complete opposite of unscriptural, hierarchy-controlled church systems. When Jesus said in Mark 10:35-45, “To sit at My right hand and on My left is... for whom it is prepared,” He was not allotting ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ posts in heaven or on earth. Jesus was speaking of the ultimate separation between His obedient disciple followers, His ‘sheep,’ and the disobedient, self-willed, church-doctrine disciples, the ‘goats,’ who also call upon His Name, (read Mt. 25:31-46; 7:21-24.) True disciples of Jesus must all worship at His feet here on earth and in heaven. Together, they are Christ’s spiritual priesthood of kings and priests, and one is not more important than the other, (1 Pet. 2:9-10.)
As true, sincere disciples, we were all saved by the same blood covenant of Christ, indwelt by the same Holy Spirit, and we all occupy important spiritual places in the body of Christ. God’s entire truth is all we need, and we must all submit to Him to live by his Word, which is our Living Water and Eternal Bread from heaven.