In our study of Experiencing God, our ladies’ group has been memorizing a verse each week to go along with the lesson. These verses have centered on the principles of knowing, trusting and obeying God. A key theme in this Bible study is learning to pay attention when God invites us to join Him in the work He is already doing in the world around us. In other words, we want to hear God speak.
In my experience, God doesn’t speak verbally, aloud. Perhaps He did in the Old Testament days; we know that people did indeed hear His actual, physical voice at times, but it just sounded like thunder except to the one to whom He was speaking. God certainly can speak to us that way if He wished, but in these days of the indwelling Spirit, He speaks to our hearts as we read His Word and spend time in prayer with Him. He also speaks through the church and the circumstances of our lives, but we must be paying attention to hear Him at all.
Here is a troubling verse (one we memorized):
He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God. (John 8:47)
Do you hear the words of God?
Has God ever spoken to you?
Does this verse confirm that you belong to God, or cause you to stop and consider if you truly are “of God,” i.e., have you been born again, and do you belong to the family of God? Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. … Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, “You must be born again.” (John 3:3,5-7)
What does it mean to hear from God? Jesus doesn’t leave us wondering whether we’ve heard Him speak. In the context of John 8, here are nine ways we can know that we are “of God,” or conversely, discover that we have failed to hear Him speak and do not know Him at all.
- We continue in God’s word, where we find truth that makes us free (8:31-32). We believe that God’s word is the final authority on all things and is the only reliable source of truth in a world that lies to us every single day.
- We recognize that sin enslaves us; we realize the hold it can have on our hearts and minds (8:34). We believe that God has the right and authority to define what is and isn’t sin, despite what culture tells us. We know that to allow, tolerate, condone, or practice the things that God’s word defines as “sin” is to be enslaved, both to our flesh, and to God’s enemy, Satan.
- We have been freed from sin; we are able to say “no” to temptation by the power of God’s Spirit who lives in us (8:36). We are not perfect in practice, but we continually pursue holiness that pleases God in our thoughts, words, and actions.
- We do not want to “get rid” of Jesus, but long for more intimacy (8:37-41). We are seeking to elevate Him in our hearts and in the world, not push Him away or deny Him His rightful place.
- We love Jesus, and acknowledge that He is the Son of God, sent into the world by His Father (8:42). No other gods will do. No other religion will suffice.
- We understand spiritual truths, something which a lost person cannot do (8:43,47). While we will continue to seek to know and understand the truths of scripture for the rest of our lives, even now, it makes sense to us. We can read God’s word and our minds are enlightened to understand it.
- We love and protect life and despise murder (8:44). We understand that God is the giver of life and that He hates the shedding of innocent blood (Proverbs 6:17). We know that Jesus was right when He equated anger to murder (Matthew 5:21-22) because to despise and hate another person is just as wrong in God’s eyes as it would be to actually kill them.
- We speak the truth and avoid lies (8:44). We are convicted by God’s Spirit to be people of honor and integrity, to keep our word, and to avoid all pretense and cunning deception.
- We believe what Jesus says, and accept it as truth (8:46).
Perhaps that last one is the most important one. Those who hear from God must acknowledge that Jesus’ words are true. There is no way around it. If you reject Jesus, you are not “of God” and you will not see the kingdom of heaven. You have not heard God speak.
John 8:47 is sobering. It should cause us to stop and examine our lives and ask ourselves, “Has God spoken to me?” “Is God speaking to me now?”
God tells us His Spirit will not always strive with men. If we continue to stop up our ears and harden our hearts, He will stop speaking and let us go on our own way down the path to destruction. Don’t take it for granted when you sense the conviction of God’s Spirit. Stop and listen carefully. The all-powerful, sovereign God who created you is speaking!
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:25-30)