Does the Lord Speak to Us personally?
Does God speak to us privately or personally? That's a great question. As you read this, keep in mind this is not exhaustive. God’s Word is perfect. Mine are not, but you already know that.
On the question, “Does God speak to us?” I believe He does, but it takes careful thought and words to answer this. Let me be clear: My name is not Sarah, and I’m NOT advocating special revelation like “Jesus Calling.” I would not say I have had a divine word from the Lord especially one that is equal to His inerrant and infallible Word. I’m not advocating a careless, charismatic Word from the Lord, nor do I think emotional experiences like crying, chills, goose-bumps, shaking, falling, or the like are the things that confirm if God is speaking.
I’ve never heard God’s audible voice. For me to hear others say they heard His voice audibly, I am uncomfortable and may even think “you’re weird”—just keeping it real. Nevertheless, I’m still willing to dialogue with that person, but I hesitate to if he is unfaithful to read God’s Word daily, unfaithful in evangelism, unfaithful in making disciples, unfaithful in serving in the church, unfaithful in purity—to name a few. When someone is unfaithful to the Word and to the basic practices of the Christian life, he is not building discernment the way He intended (Hebrews 5:12-14).
For people to seek a “word” from God through feelings or dreams or visions is concerning to me especially when it’s not attached to specific guidance he is seeking from the Lord. To ask for a special Word for the spiritual high just doesn’t set well with me. It is also concerning to me to seek a “word” when someone does not study the Bible to show themselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15) and are not walking in obedience to the Special Revelation only found in the Holy Scriptures. To seek it as something special as though He is not already speaking through His Word is wrong. Let us walk in obedience to the things He clearly says in His Word.
I believe it is wrong to want more than what we find in God’s Word. It is foolish to assume I can have or need a greater spiritual experience apart from the Truth found in God’s Word. We should not seek more than what is given through the Holy Scriptures or suppose that we can hear a new additional Word from the Lord. I believe the Canon of Scripture is closed.
The Bible instructs us. It is for our doctrine (the teachings we believe), for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Undoubtedly, God speaks in those ways. Romans 12:2 tells us to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we might prove what is the will of God.” The more we are in God’s Word, the more we are transformed into being who He would have us be and more able to discern His will. I believe that as we read His Word or as He brings His Word to our mind (in context) that God speaks through His Word. I do believe as we delight in Him and His Word, He transforms our desires to be more in line with His desires (Ps. 37:4).
What about the context of John 10:27? “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,” is certainly in reference to the salvation of His people—that they will hear and respond to His call. However, I do not believe it is a stretch to say just as a shepherd will keep speaking to and guiding his sheep after he calls them, even still our Heavenly Father will keep speaking and guiding as a shepherd does. A shepherd does not call his sheep then leave them alone. He keeps speaking and guiding. I believe our Father does, also, but I do not believe it’s for the sake of us to seem super-spiritual. I believe it is a daily walk with the Holy Spirit as we seek the Lord for the issues of our daily lives.
Should we inquire of the Lord for the daily issues of our lives? Is it biblical? Does He care? Does the Holy Spirit guide us to do things or press us to not do things? I’ve read well meaning people say God didn’t directly speak to personal issues in the Old Testament (OT), but the Lord does speak to very personal issues in the OT. He spoke to David and others. Grant it, what we read about David is descriptive genre and not prescriptive. Nevertheless, can we not strive for the good things we read about from our OT models? Here’s some examples of David inquiring of the Lord:
1 Samuel 23:2- So David inquired of the LORD, "Should I go and attack these Philistines?" And the LORD said to David, "Go and attack the Philistines and deliver Keilah." 1 Samuel 23:4- Once again, David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him: "Go at once to Keilah, for I will deliver the Philistines into your hand."
2 Sam. 2:1 - After this David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?” And the LORD said to him, “Go up.” David said, “To which shall I go up?” And he said, “To Hebron.”
2 Sam 5:19 - And David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?” And the LORD said to David, “Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand.