On hearing God’s voice, the dangers of this way of thinking, and the sufficiency of Scripture

I have recently encountered some new Facebook friends who believe they must ‘hear the voice of God”.  But the way they claim to “hear the voice”   cannot be Biblical, it is  so sad how people think to be a Christian they must have some sort of experience or they must hear voices in their heads. As John MacArthur says : “The only trustworthy source of divine truth, guidance for your own spiritual growth, and instruction for the church is the written Word of God.  No emotional urging or mystical experience can trump the concrete, fundamental truth God has given us in Scripture.  Does God still speak?  Yes, but not in an audible voice.  He speaks through the pages of Scripture.”

I found this Biblical explanation below by  John MacArthur on hearing God’s voice, the dangers of this way of thinking, and the sufficiency of Scripture . It is my prayer that these friends will read the article that sets out the Biblical truth about this false teaching.

A Quote from a dear sisters website so4j :

Hearing Personal Words From God – is about The Problems with Hearing Personal Words From God, and How People Become False Prophets to Themselves.

Does God give NEW EXTRA BIBLICAL REVELATION to His people TODAY— speaking through MODERN DAY PROPHETS who give NEW WORDS from GOD? Answer: NO. The Canon of Scripture is Closed (Heb 1:1-2). In this Article Bob DeWaay talks about People who claim that they are Hearing Personal Words From God, when in reality they are actually becoming False Prophets to Themselves. Bob shows the reader how these Personal Words & Visions are NOT reliable— but God’s Word is 1000% Reliable. We need to be careful to NOT be deceived by Satan, and to NOT undermine God’s Word for our Personal Experiences & Special Revelations that we THINK are from God. (Heb 1:1-2) (End Quote)

This is worth a listen after reading the article below Does God Still Give Revelation? John MacArthur – Parts 1-6 

On hearing God’s voice, the dangers of this way of thinking, and the sufficiency of Scripture

by John MacArthur

I’m going to guess that you either think you’ve heard God’s voice, or you know someone who says that they have heard God speak to them.  This post, then, is for you and hopefully will help you filter through these ideas and/or experiences.  I’m going to quote John MacArthur in a letter that we received a few days ago from Grace to You.  Unless otherwise noted, all underlined emphases are John MacArthur’s, though I added the section headings.

God told me…

There’s a phrase that has taken hold in Christian conversation — one you’re probably familiar with.  Whether you heard it from a preacher on television, from your own pastor, a believing friend, or during a religious radio broadcast, I’m sure you’ve heard someone, somewhere say the words, “God told me ______.”

Hearing the voice of the Lord is not a new idea.  I’m sure you could cite several biblical examples of God’s speaking to His chosen people to communicate to them His will.  On a few extraordinary occasions in Scripture, whether through His Spirit or in an audible voice, God provided specific, practical instructions directly to individuals.

Many believers today want to have that same kind of experience.  They want personal, spiritual direction from the Lord.  Attempting to receive guidance from God, they listen longingly for His audible voice or wait for some intuitive, emotional prompting or impression that will unveil His will for their lives.

But that kind of communication, whether it’s audible or intuitive, is nottrustworthy.  In fact, it’s useless — and can even be dangerous.

Why isn’t it trustworthy?  To begin with, there’s no valid way to discern divine truth in what a person hears or feels.  Experience is unreliable because it’s always subjective.  There are no means set forth in the Bible to test or prove or discern the meaning of some inner voice or prompting you may think you heard or felt.  In fact, Scripture never gives believers even the slightest encouragement to listen for private revelations from God.  [I think that last sentence is a great and valid point.]

Danger within and without

To put it in practical terms, how could we objectively know the difference between the moving of God’s Spirit within us and a bad case of indigestion?[I used to pose this question to some Mormon elders I was meeting with a couple years ago – a “burning in the bosom” could be directly related to the tacos you ate the night before!] If you’re earnestly looking for a personal, unique word from the Lord, what’s to keep you from misinterpreting your common, everyday aches and pains — or thrills and euphoria — as direct revelation?  Using your own experiences to determine divine truth gives too much weight to your own perspective and interpretation.  Scripture says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Proverbs 28:26).  The church does not receive new or private revelation, either corporately or individually.  Scripture clearly warns against adding to the completed revelation given in the Bible (Revelation 22:18).

In our fallen state, we simply lack any mechanism to discern divine thought.  We can sometimes look back on events and see how the Lord orchestrated circumstances to accomplish his will, but we cannot reliably discern His thoughts in the midst of a situation.  We don’t have the capacity to comprehend how He’s moving in our lives until He’s already moved — and even then, we can’t appreciate the full magnitude of His supernatural work.

Furthermore, hearing a voice doesn’t necessarily mean what you heard is correct, or that it’s even from God.  To hear a voice and assume it’s the Lord is a huge leap — especially when there is no definitive way to know whose voice it really is.  Televangelists, in particular, are prone to jump to that conclusion.  But just because you hear something doesn’t mean it was the Lord.

Is there a reliable way to distinguish between the sound of God’s voice and that of a demon?  Even if what a person hears or feels seems to match up with Scripture, how can he be sure he’s not being manipulated by demonic forces?  Listening for ambiguous, mystical messages provides Satan with all sorts of opportunities to tempt, confuse, pervert, and deceive.  Earnestly hoping to hear from the Lord doesn’t mean you’ll only hear from Him.

Does God communicate with us?

So if we can’t clearly or objectively determine whether what we’re hearing and feeling is truly coming from the Lord, how do we legitimately receive communication from Him?  What reliable source can you turn to for God’s instruction in your life?

The only trustworthy source of divine truth, guidance for your own spiritual growth, and instruction for the church is the written Word of God.  No emotional urging or mystical experience can trump the concrete, fundamental truth God has given us in Scripture.  Does God still speak?  Yes, but not in an audible voice.  He speaks through the pages of Scripture.

The Bible alone has survived the test of time, and countless attacks from doubters, liars, and heretics.  Its objective truth is proved every day in the transforming work the Lord accomplishes through it.  Even the apostle Peter, who witnessed Christ’s transfiguration firsthand, heard the voice of the Lord numerous times, and performed miracles himself, counted Scripture as “a more sure word” — the final word regarding God’s revelation (2 Peter 1:19).

What drives the quest for hearing God’s voice?

If all that’s true, why do some believers still look beyond the Bible for a special, personal word from the Lord?  At the heart of their desire for fresh revelation is a fundamental lack of faith in the absolute sufficiency of God’s Word.  They simply don’t believe the Bible gives enough answers for the problems and struggles in their lives; or they don’t grasp the degree to which Scripture is living and active — that it is God speaking to us clearly and distinctly.

I trust that you’re not entertaining that kind of thinking.  If you reject the sufficiency of Scripture — or even if you simply look to supplement it with fresh, personal revelation from God — you cut yourself off from the only reliable source of God’s truth.  The Bible isn’t a book of static, lifeless words.  It’s alive and active in the hearts of God’s people.  It’s the vessel through which the Lord performs His transforming work, sanctifying and shaping us into His likeness.  It’s not simply the record of what God has said in the past — it’s what He’s saying to you and me every day.  His Word remains perpetually applicable and relevant.

Because God does speak to His people through His Word, there’s no more serious undertaking than studying the Bible.  Understanding biblical doctrine isn’t an academic pursuit for believers — it’s knowing His mind.  By studying Scripture, we’re able to grasp His instructions for all matters of life and godliness.

You know, someday we’re not only going to hear God plainly, we’re going to see him face to face.  But for now, as Paul the apostle wrote to the Corinthian church, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” Our faith, however, can and should be fueled by the concrete, objective truth of Scripture, which in this life and by God’s design, is as rock solid (or more so) as actually hearing his voice and seeing his face.


We thank John from  A light in the darkness , for the permission to place this article 

HL : http://alightinthedarkness.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/john-macarthur-on-hearing-gods-voice-the-dangers-of-this-way-of-thinking-and-the-sufficiency-of-scripture/


Thank you to my sister Martha Mac from http://so4j.com/ , Permission to use some resources for this post. Please visit her wonderful website with highly recommended resources click on picture below :-)  


10 thoughts on “On hearing God’s voice, the dangers of this way of thinking, and the sufficiency of Scripture

  1. I too through facebook joined a “Christian Group” in EL. Then last week they posted a message saying that you CANNOT draw closer to the Lord by reading your Bible and praying alone. You need to quieten your soul and in quietness draw near. Well, I said that I disagree and if they stand by what they are saying to please give me Scripture verse. The response I got was shocking to say the least. It went something like this “people just don’t get it. It is only a few who understand and the reason they don’t get it is because they have fallen away from the truth. Only people such a Benny Hinn, Kathryn Kulman, etc. understands what it means to draw closer to the Lord’. Needless, to say I unsubscribed from the group. Sad thing is, the response got quite a number of ‘likes’.


    • Hester

      Yeah these things happen on social media like FB and I myself have had similar things happen to me also. We need to be so careful. I am sorry to hear how they treated you. Many professing believers on FB who follow false teachers are mislead and undiscerning. Indeed a sad state of affairs.


  2. Pingback: Soaking Prayer? The New NAR Pagan Approach, Beware ! | For the Love of His Truth

  3. Reblogged this on Thoughts While Walking and commented:
    2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.


  4. My experience with Baptist/evangelical theology can best be described as a wild Roller Coaster ride: a lot of great psychological, emotional, and spiritual highs and a lot of deep psychological, emotional, and spiritual lows. Why?

    In Baptist/evangelical theology, your Justification and your Sanctification—your essence as a follower of Christ…if you boil it all down…is really dependent on you and your feelings. Your salvation is based on you performing an action: making the correct decision… for Christ. And your assurance of salvation is based on you maintaining a sufficient level of feeling Christ’s presence within you that confirms that your previous “decision for Christ” was done correctly and sincerely. Why else would so many Baptists and evangelicals report having multiple “born again” experiences?

    Do I feel saved? Do I feel I really repented in my born again experience? Do I feel that I truly had faith when I made a decision for Christ; when I prayed a version of the Sinner’s Prayer? If I am really saved, why do I feel at times that my faith is so weak? Maybe I need to do the born again experience again; maybe I need to pray the Sinner’s Prayer again, just to be 100% sure that I am saved. I want to know without any doubt that I am saved, and if I do not feel saved, I begin to doubt my salvation.

    Baptist/evangelical theology tells me that I will always feel Christ’s presence and strength inside me…if I am a true believer. But what if I don’t feel him there sometimes? If it is true that I should always be able to hear God speak to me, in an inner voice or feel his inner presence move me/lead me to do his will, what is going on when I don’t hear anything or feel anything? Have I committed some unknown sin and he is refusing to hear me? Or is the reason that I don’t hear or feel him present within me… is because I’m not really saved!

    I was so incredibly happy to find orthodox (confessional) Lutheranism and find out that my feelings have nothing to do with my Justification, my salvation, nor with my Sanctification, my walk with my Savior and Lord! My salvation was accomplished 100% by God. He placed the free gift of salvation in my “lap” before I even considered asking for it. He wrapped me in the “blanket” of salvation without my assistance. I am God’s by his choice, not mine!



    • Gary

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your thoughts. I agree whole-heartedly with what you say. I would like to make two brief points from your comment.

      1. The understanding that Baptist / evangelical theology represents works-based salvation is not entirely correct. The terms “Baptist” and “evangelicalism” have been applied to the widest possible diversity of theological “streams”. These terms have also been erroneously, or even pretentiously, adopted by a myriad of church groups who do not follow true Baptist or evangelical theology.

      What you describe as attributes of Baptist / evangelical thinking, and in certain instances I fully agree with you, is not what true Baptist theology or Biblical evangelicalism upholds. However, it is a sad reality that, when one encounters the majority of Christians who call themselves Baptists or evangelical Christians, the message they proclaim is one of a works-based, self-righteous, free-will nature, quite contrary to the message of the Gospel and in opposition to the Sovereign Grace of God.

      2. I share in your joy of having found the truth which proclaims, as you say, the eternal “blanket” of salvation for those to whom God freely gives it, according to His Sovereign will. Salvation is of the Lord, solely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

      However, that message is the message of Scripture, it is what God’s Word clearly proclaims. It might also be what the particular branch of the Lutheran church you have found upholds, and that is a very good thing, but that truth is freely available to all who would read and understand His Word, not only through the Lutheran denomination.


      • Gary and Grant, I am very offended by your comments. I became a Christian 20 years ago in a Baptist Church ( not in America) and have been to evangelical Churches too. You are so wrong to say those things about us. Very wrong!
        I have never heard such rubbish about Baptists or
        evangelicals. But, well, you live in America. Anything can happen there I guess.


      • Dear savedbygrace07

        I fail to see how my comment could have offended you. I would like to apologize, but I wouldn’t know what for? What was I wrong about? I cannot speak for Gary, as I do not know him.

        I think I qualified quite clearly, and on more than one occasion, that not all Baptist Churches or evangelicals can fall into the same category of proclaiming works-based salvation. I have personally attended Baptist Churches that are very solid, with Biblical messages and God sent preachers. Not all Baptist churches are worthy of being called Baptist churches and many differ vastly from what one would expect from a Baptist church.

        As for America – I have never even set foot on American soil, and I doubt I ever will. I can think of a thousand more important things that I would like to do, God willing, rather than visit America!

        Please read my previous comment more carefully. I think you have misunderstood it completely.


  5. Thank you for your excellent post and for including MacArthurs as well. I completely agree with all of it. There is a real epidemic in the North American churches presently as most get further and further away from Biblical truths and foundations and doctrines into emotionalism, experience, feelings and outright worldly nonsense. The emergent church and ecumenical doctrines as well as new age and witchcraft have permeated many places and real Biblical and the idea of hearing an audible voice or impression from God is occult in nature. As a result we get more so called Christians and more people playing church. There is also outright idolatry of man above God in many of these places as they are taught that God is there to please us and his word is merely an appendix. Looking for and wanting to hear Gods voice is also a form of idolatry. It’s the idea at its core that the Bible is not sufficient or special that somehow the gospel is not enough therefore idolatrous in nature. A falling away from the truth.


    • Good comment. Thank you Solachisto888. Even though Christians should realize (and we know), that God is Sovereign and in complete control of all things, and that the abominable over-valuation and glorification of man is taking place in false churches, nevertheless, it remains frustrating to witness that which we cannot correct. The blind leading the blind…


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