Do I understand the Bible, and am I receiving regular and clear guidance from God?
47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
INSIGHT: Unbelievers and false disciples cannot grasp the truth of God’s written word, or hear His personal words to them, because their spirit is dead to God, until they have been born again (John 3:3, 1 Corinthians 2:14). This is why unbelievers will try to read the Bible and say, “It all sounds like Greek to me.”
As a disciple, Jesus demands that we follow Him, but how can we follow someone that we can’t hear? Hearing God speak to you is one of the most important aspects of your walk with Him. Yes, God primarily speaks through His word, but that is not the only way my friend. Can you imagine how long it would take for God to give someone direction, if the only way He could speak to them was for them to sit down and read the whole Bible? What happens if God needs me to do something specific tomorrow, but He can’t tell me because I didn’t read the right part of the Bible today? God speaks to His obedient children in many wonderful ways, but as A.W. Tozer said, the difference between those that hear from God regularly and those that don’t, is their spiritual receptivity. If you don’t believe God still personally speaks to his children, you won’t be looking for Him to do so, and so He likely won’t.
God does speak to me about 90% of the time through His word, and 10% by other means. For the last few years, God has spoken to me every single day. He uses a very unusual way to guide me to specific verses in the Bible, according to what I need right then. It is so spectacular that I took hundreds of pictures of it over the years. I used to show some people, hoping it would build their faith, but instead it often caused discouragement because God wasn’t speaking to them that way. So, for now I counsel people not to get hung up on the methods God uses, but to get hung up on Him and let Him choose the method. He knows exactly how to get your attention and exactly how to speak to you personally, to get your attention. The question is—are you listening for Him to speak to you?
One time a 57 year old man contacted me about the troubles of his soul. He grew up in a legalistic denomination and he knew a great deal of Scripture and about the Bible. I’m sure he knew more about the Bible than me, and he even knew a great deal of Greek and Hebrew. I listened to his whole story and then I said, “As I have listened to you, I have heard you talk about people, the church problems, the amount of Bible knowledge you have, and even the mistakes you have made. However, I don’t hear anything about your relationship with God.” After decades of church, He knew all about God, but still didn’t actually know Him.
I couldn’t help notice the differences between our two approaches to God. He approached God through legalistic study and He found much knowledge. I approached Him as my not so smart self, in childlike faith, and I found God Himself in a might way.
Humbled by his life circumstances, he was willing to hear and learn about my relationship with God. When I told him about a few of the ways God speaks to me, he was both shocked and refreshed. He wanted to experience God like I was. I told Him the importance of humility, and then prayed for God to show him that He will speak to him personally. The very next day, after decades of lifeless legalism, he finally heard from God. He left me a three minute message, with the enthusiasm of a child, exclaiming that God had finally spoken a very clear word to him, in a providential way, through the Scripture. He said, “I still don’t know much about God speaking, but I’m excited to learn!”
God can be very providential about how He directs a person to specific passages or insights. It’s so exciting to hear from God personally! Keep an eye out for “burning bushes” in your life. Are you spiritually receptive to God’s speaking? Do you desire for God to speak to you, and do you have the faith that He actually will? If you have never personally heard from the Lord before, humbly ask Him to do so. But, be sure to do whatever He asks you. If you haven’t heard from the Lord in a while, it could be because you didn’t obey the last thing He told you. Plus, be patient; it takes time to learn to consistently distinguish God’s voice over ours.