25% Truth (Almost there…)

25% Truth (Almost there…)

25% Truth (Almost There) is post three of four, based on a portion of the sermon, Being Led by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6-15), by Robert Williams.
 

That’s Not God

According to Williams, there are four ways you can tell you are not hearing God’s voice:

  1. God never says anything that contradicts Scripture
  2. God’s voice is not the voice of anxiety, unsettledness or exhaustion
  3. God’s voice is not the voice of obscurity – “Clear trumpet”
  4. God’s corrective voice is not one of guilt or condemnation but loving discipline and conviction of sin

Today, we’ll examine number three: God’s voice is not the voice of obscurity – “Clear trumpet”

Williams explains number three, saying,

We preach and teach a lot here about what we call the “Clear trumpet” call. Again, there’s no confusion, there’s no contradiction in the voice of God. When He speaks it will be clear and we will discern and understand and know that it’s the voice of God. If there’s confusion, if there’s a lot of static and a lot of different voices saying different things, that’s not God.

While I don’t necessarily think that number three is wrong, I think it is unclear, no pun intended. I admit ignorance, because I have not heard the specific preaching and teaching about the clear trumpet call to which Williams referred. His listeners likely have a better idea of what he’s talking about. But many readers of this blog have their own ideas about obscurity and clarity and hearing the voice of God. So my aim in this blog post is to clarify and expound on number three.

There are two ideas introduced…

…first, what God’s voice is not (obscurity), and second, what God’s voice is (clear).

obscurity voice of god

clarity voice of god

There’s a paradox in proclaiming clarity.

Intuitively, in order for the statement, “God’s voice is not the voice of obscurity; God’s voice is a clear trumpet” to be true, anyone who hears the statement must possess all the knowledge necessary to conclude its truth. In other words, it must be something that is already apparent to him or her, before he or she hears Williams say so. Williams saying so just affirms what they already know to be true. Think about it. There’s a paradox in proclaiming clarity. If it’s clear, there’s no need to assert that it’s clear, because everyone already knows it’s clear. By proclaiming its clarity, we can assume that for some people (most of us, if we are to be honest with ourselves and with God), God’s voice doesn’t always seem clear as a trumpet.

I’m not saying that Williams is wrong. After all, God spoke, and the universe sprung into existence. Jesus spoke, and deaf people heard. What I am saying is that the clarity of God’s voice and the state of the listener are two entirely different concepts. Ultimately, clarity depends on both the speaker and the audience. With perfect listeners, God’s voice is perfectly clear. And since God’s audience consists of fallible human beings, clarity can and does get lost somewhere between God’s utterance and the audience’s understanding. Variables to consider when God speaks to us include:

  • How receptive are we?
  • How interested are we?
  • How distracted are we?
  • How confused are we?
  • What biases do we have? In other words, how likely are we to discard or embrace what God says before we hear it?
  • How skeptical are we?
  • How hopeful are we?

Something else to consider… if God’s voice is clear as a trumpet, then why should confirmation matter at all? Isn’t confirmation a non-issue to one who has already clearly heard and understood the voice of God? Which leads to a couple more considerations:

  • Do we rely too heavily on confirmation (scripture, preaching, teaching, prophecy, open and closed doors, pastors, teachers, elders, wise counsel, etc.)?
  • Are we likely to assume too much, charging ahead, dismissing confirmation?

Perhaps some would say this blog post does more harm then good, causing readers heads to spin with contradiction and confusion, or leading readers in too many different directions at once. Since my goal is to clear away misconceptions…

Here are a few MISCONCEPTIONS:

  • If you don’t hear God’s voice clear as a trumpet, then it must not be the voice of God.
  • If you hear what you think is God’s voice from an obscure (not mainstream, nonorthodox, somewhat hidden, etc.) source, then it must not be the voice of God.
  • If you experience any confusion after hearing what you believe to be the voice of God, then it’s not the voice of God.
  • If you experience any doubt after hearing what you believe to be the voice of God, then it’s not the voice of God.

If you believe I am mistaken and that these are NOT misconceptions, a cursory reading of Matthew 13 may convince you otherwise.

If you think you are hearing from God, but you aren’t sure, you might want to consider what kind of listener you are during this season of your spiritual journey. There are times when we fully share God’s will, and it is oh-so-easy to accept what God says in the most natural and transparent way. There are times when we accept some social or emotional situation that puts us in oppositional relation to God’s will, and it is oh-so-difficult to understand what God says, so much so, that we think it can’t possibly the voice of God, because it is so unnatural and confusing.

So you think you are hearing from God? Ask yourself, “This thing God is saying to me, does it reflect my own position? Does it fit neatly into my own experiences and interests?” If you answered yes to either of those questions, you might want to ask the Spirit of God to examine your heart and reveal what kind of listener you are. Maybe you are hearing Him clearly, but it should seem a bit suspect if God never ruffles your feathers.

Here are some practical ways to practice being a good listener:

Stop talking.

When you pray, you should be silent sometimes. If you are always talking, then you’re not listening.

Let go of preconceptions.

God might tell you things you don’t expect to hear.

 Ask questions.

If you feel confused, have doubts, don’t understand, or whatever, ask God specific questions. Ask hard questions — the ones you’re afraid to ask. God can handle it.

Write it down.

Keeping a spiritual journal helps you recognize patterns of behavior and thinking that break down communication with God. A spiritual journal also helps you recognize ways that God speaks to you that you never recognized before. A lot of people complain that God doesn’t answer their prayers, but a spiritual journal documents and clarifies God’s answers: yes, no, wait… and the most powerful, life-changing answers He gives are often in the form of questions — invitations to explore the depths and heights and dream bigger. Let Him knock your spiritual socks off.

24/7

Sometimes God communicates, well, inconveniently, and in ways that we least expect. Be receptive. Always. Don’t dismiss His message because it happens to be delivered by someone not in your tribe, for example, a pot-smoking, vegan transvestite.

 

Read the other blogs in this series here.

Comments
  • Mary Vanderplas July 27, 2014 at 6:38 am

    You make a good point about the issue being our ability or inability to hear and accurately perceive the voice of God, not God’s ability to speak clearly what he wants us to know. I like what you say about the importance of evaluating ourselves to determine how open we are to hearing God and to identify particular obstacles to accurate hearing. Given the biases and limited vision that characterize all of us, I would say that it’s essential that we seek confirmation. Even if we are convinced from our own experience and insights that what we have heard is the voice of God, it is always possible that we are deceiving ourselves. Seeking to hear God’s voice in the company of other believers (including those who are different from us) is a safeguard against confusing our own voice with God’s.

    I agree that it’s misguided to think that if the voice we hear isn’t totally clear, it can’t be God’s. Present knowledge of God is indirect and incomplete, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:12. Still, though, I think that if the voice we’re hearing is truly God’s voice, it won’t be filled with contradictions; it will speak the truth of God more or less plainly and consistently. I agree totally that it’s misguided to think that God’s voice can come only through certain channels, that voices from other unexpected sources can’t be the voice of God. And I agree that experiencing confusion or doubt doesn’t necessarily mean that the voice we are hearing isn’t God’s voice – that God can and does sometimes speak to us in ways that are geared to shake us up, correcting our biases and changing our ideas about what we think we know and what we want, and that cause us to feel confused and uncertain.

    I really like your advice for improving our listening skills when it comes to hearing the voice of God. Thanks for an insightful and helpful blog.

  • Stephen Helbig July 28, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    God even speaks using a DONKEY ~ “Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey” (Numbers 22)

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+22:29-31&version=NKJV

    ~ If The Lord can use a donkey to speak, He certainly can use you and me 🙂 without much to our own thoughts, ~ But let us understand this, ~ It’s not until Our Lord opens the eyes of our understanding that we begin to see and hear ~ And indeed He opens the blind eyes ~ Yes EVERY man in His own order, In the fullness of time, line upon line ,precept upon precept, here a little ~ there a little.

    The above scripture passage of Numbers chapter 22 shows us that indeed God can use anything to speak, but the keys to hearing the voice of God can easily be hindered by those misconceptions that Alice graciously brings forth. And the advice to examine what kind of listener you are. (Mat.13) ~ speaks volumes to our hearts , ~ (Variables to consider) ~ He that hath ears to hear ~ LET HIM HEAR

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