When it comes to hearing from God, many people say things that simply aren’t true. They talk to me about things not in the Bible—things never displayed in the lives of the early Christians. Still, these myths persist. As we roll into the new year, my hope is that you’ll think about hearing from the Good Shepherd, your Shepherd, in a new way.
Let’s get to some myth exploding, shall we?
- It’s only people in ministry who hear from God (pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc.).
If you’ve ever said or thought this, I invite you to read John 10:1-5 again. Better yet, memorize it! Jesus was clear about the fact that His sheep do hear His voice. It’s simple my friends. If you follow Christ, you are a sheep. And these verses tell you that every one of His sheep has a built-in, guaranteed-in-writing, ability to hear. Jesus says nothing about pastors, preachers, or kings here—just sheep. Jesus was definitive on this point. His sheep hear, and they follow.
And yes, better hearing does come with practice, but to hear you must first believe that you can and do hear.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”John 10:1-5
- It was easier for the disciples to hear because Jesus was with them on earth.
Staying with the book of John, read chapters 14-17. As Jesus prepares to leave earth, He talks to His friends, His followers, His sheep. His words vibrate with tenderness, comfort, and peace. Though He’s leaving, He promises to send “another Helper” (John 15:16). This word for “another” (allos) means “another of the same kind.” In other words, Jesus promised to send someone who would do the very same things He did: Walk and TALK with His sheep, lead and guide them, and bring comfort and peace.
When Jesus prays for all believers, He says, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us” (John 17:20-21). There is an “Us” involved in your spiritual life: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I like to think of it this way: In the Old Testament, it was primarily God the Father who spoke to people (and back then it was mostly to prophet, priest, and king). Then Jesus came and spoke. But He couldn’t be everywhere at once. To hear from Him, you had to find and follow Him. Now we have the Holy Spirit, which I think is the best of the three dispensations. Why? Because our hearing isn’t limited by our role in God’s kingdom, nor is it limited to a single geographical location.
There are no more limits on hearing His voice! . . . which leads me to the next myth.
- If I sin, I won’t hear God’s voice.
Read the story of Peter’s denial of Christ in John 18. Just when Jesus needed His disciple the most, Peter publicly denied Him—not once, but three times (vs.18, 25, 27). If anyone should be excluded from hearing on account of sin, shouldn’t it be Peter?
What Jesus does next is the opposite of what we might expect. After Jesus’ death, a dejected, brokenhearted Peter goes out to fish. Then he sees Jesus on the shore, calling, “Come and eat breakfast” (John 21:12). In other words, “Come on Peter—let’s share a meal over this fire*—let’s TALK this over.” Over fish and bread, Jesus reaffirms His faith in Peter and talks to him about his destiny. Jesus doesn’t shun or isolate Peter; instead, He fellowships with Him. After all, this is His disciple, His friend, one of His precious sheep.
*[Interestingly, Peter’s denial of Christ, and the breakfast on the shore both happen over a charcoal fire—the only two times a coal fire is mentioned in the Bible (John 18:18, 21:9).]
Don’t you see my friends? Though sin can and does separate you from Christ, it’s not meant to be a permanent condition. The Holy Spirit forever beckons you to come and talk things over. He is not mad at you! He lovingly urges you to repent and seek forgiveness so He can put you back on course toward your destiny.
There’s more to say on this subject, but I’ll wait until next time. For now, I hope you’ve begun to see that no matter who you are, where you are, or what you’ve done . . . as long as you’re a sheep, you can hear His voice.