…”It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)
The Bible exists because God spoke and the Bible tells us He still speaks.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28 (NIV)
If you know Jesus, you can hear His voice.
There is no doubt that God speaks clear simple messages to us.
“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
- Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
- Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. Acts 2:17-18 (NIV)
- When God says He speaks, then He means what He says and He says what He means.
How do you know what God is saying and what comes from your own mind?
- Our spiritual hearing and our spiritual discernment is often imperfect. We are aware of fragments of messages, a word here or there, a phrase, an internal visual impression in our mind.
Some people find this scary. They would rather not listen at all if they think they might get it wrong.
- Under the Old Covenant, a prophet who made a false prediction of future events should be stoned to death as a false prophet.
- Some people are afraid of any kind of prophecy because this is so terrifying.
However, we are not under the Law of Moses.
- The Apostle Paul urged ALL believers in Corinth to EARNESTLY DESIRE to prophesy.
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1 (NKJV)
- If you pursue love and prophesy in love to build people up, we will avoid many mistakes because God is love and He always want to encourage His children.
In the same chapter, Paul writes:
I wish you all spoke with tongues,
- but even more that you prophesied;
for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. 1 Corinthians 14:5 (NKJV)
- In case you think speaking in tongues is not important, note that Paul wishes that all believers who speak in tongues but even more that they would prophesy.
Paul then goes on to say that ALL may prophesy.
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 1 Corinthians 14:24 (NKJV)
- If the penalty for making a mistake in New Testament prophecy is death by stoning or severe church discipline, why would Paul so recklessly encourage ALL to seek to prophesy?
So what is the safeguard against misleading messages which seem to come from God but do not?
Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 1 Corinthians 14:29 (NKJV)
The more believers are trained to hear God’s voice and to prophesy, the better they will be able to judge and discern the accuracy of inspired words given by others.
- I recently visited a church in Germany where prophesy was encouraged, where anybody in the congregation could share a prophetic word or pray out loud, just as they did in the New Testament.
One of the church leaders (not the preacher for that day) would listen to what the Holy Spirit seemed to be saying through the worship music, through the sermon, through testimonies or spontaneous prayers and through prophesies.
This leader would write notes during the meeting and then stand up and summarise what he or she thought were the main things the Holy Spirit seemed to be saying through people.
If someone shared an inaccurate or incorrect prophecy, the leader could correct it, ignore it or emphasise only the part of the message which was true.
With prophesy and preaching, there will always be a mixture of divine inspiration and human thought.
Nevertheless, God chooses to speak through imperfect people.