An excerpt from Pastor Robert's new book Frequency.
Whenever I hear this phrase, “Pastor Robert, can I ask you something?” I have a good hunch what’s coming.
It’s because in more than thirty years of ministry I’ve heard the same great question posed time and time again. This question is fielded by people in my own congregation, by students in university classes I’ve taught, by people who seek my counsel when I’m the guest speaker at other churches, and by pastors and leaders at conferences.
The question is “How can I hear God?”
Sometimes the question is phrased slightly differently: “How can I learn to hear God’s voice more clearly?” or “How can I discern God’s voice?” or “How can I tell that God is speaking to me?” But the heart behind the question is the same. People aren’t looking for burning bushes exactly. But just like Moses, they want to be available if and when God speaks to them. They want to connect with God on a deeper level and understand how to hear the voice of God.
I’m writing this book to help provide a fuller answer to this question. A fuller answer is needed because the explanation as to how to hear God’s voice can’t be given in a quick formula. Rather, it arises intrinsically as part of a genuine and ongoing relationship with God. If you want to hear God’s voice, then you must get to know God as a person—and this takes time and intention, much the same as it takes to know any friend.
Rest assured, God has always been a speaking God, and God still speaks to us today. Fifteen times in the New Testament alone, Jesus says, “He who has ears, let him hear.” In John 8:47, Jesus says, “He who is of God hears God’s words.” And in John 10:27, Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Read those verses again if you need to. Note the key conversation words in each verse just mentioned: hear, God’s words, and voice.
Certain Christian leaders insist that God has stopped speaking today or that God speaks only through the pages of Scripture—and if you can’t name a book, chapter, and verse, then God hasn’t spoken. Largely, they base this thinking on Revelation 22:18–19, where God warns people not to add anything to Scripture.
I strongly hold to the teaching of Revelation 22:18–19, the same way I hold to all the Bible’s teaching. God warns us not to add anything to Scripture, and I agree. We can’t add to Scripture. We must not add to Scripture. And yet Scripture indicates that God still speaks. So we must reconcile these two truths.
Perhaps the very terminology God speaks creates the tension in the first place. So we need to define what we’re talking about. There’s the work of God that we call inspiration—where God guided men to write Scripture, with the result the same as if God had written it. And then there’s the prompting of the Holy Spirit for conviction, guidance, assurance, and wisdom. Both of these works of God are classified under the overall umbrella of God speaks, but these works are not the same. When the Holy Spirit led me to start Gateway Church where I’m senior pastor today, I very much heard God speak to my heart about the matter. Yet just because I heard God speak, that doesn’t mean I could write down what the Holy Spirit impressed upon me and insist that I had another book of the Bible.
"If you want to hear God's voice, then you must get to know God as a person."
So there are two truths to reconcile: (1) Scripture is finished. Yes. (2) And the Holy Spirit still guides and prompts and convicts and leads. Yes. It’s this second concept that I refer to in this book when I say “God speaks.” God speaks to us in our spirits. His Spirit bears witness with our spirit. God does not give us additional books of the Bible. He doesn’t speak to us audibly. We don’t hear His voice the same way we would hear someone on the telephone.
Yet He still speaks.
GOD SPEAKS TO YOUR HEART
Years ago my former pastor, Olen Griffing, got in trouble from the leaders of his denomination because he believed and preached that God still speaks today. The leaders formed a credentialing committee, met, and questioned Pastor Olen for several hours about the matter. Finally Pastor Olen addressed the committee chairman, a pastor, and said, “You’ve been asking me questions for three hours. Please let me ask you something now.”
The man nodded, and so Olen asked him, “Were you called to preach?” The man nodded again, and so Olen added, “Who called you to preach?”
The man cleared his throat and said, “Well, God did.”
Olen said, “Good, would you mind telling me which verse in the Bible contains your name and says that you were called to preach?”
The man put his head down and said nothing.
Pastor Olen summed it up: “God never says anything to our hearts that’s contrary to what is already revealed in the Bible. But in the same way he called you to preach, he continues to speak to people’s hearts everywhere. That’s how God still speaks today.”
Let me simply say that it’s never my intent in this book to create dissension within the Christian community. In fact, I’d say most of us are on the same page already. We sometimes just use different terminology like Olen did with his credentialing committee. The spirit of unity in the body of Christ is what I want to champion.
Both the Old and New Testaments clearly describe God as a speaking God. The real task—and wonderful opportunity—is for us to learn to hear His voice. That’s what I want to turn our attention toward because that’s my burden for all Christians everywhere. We need to know that God still speaks to His children today, and we need to know how to listen to Him and then respond accordingly. I want every believer to have an intimate, ongoing, and passionate relationship with Jesus Christ so that we will all love and serve and follow His voice.
Friends, the good news is that we don’t need to go through life blindly. We don’t need to rely on our own understanding. That truth that God still speaks today offers us hope and reassurance and confidence.
You can learn to hear God!
For more information or to purchase the book, visit frequencybook.net. #TuneInHearGod