Most Christians believe that humans can hear God. In fact, the difference between a “theist” (someone who believes in a personal God) and a “deist” (impersonal God) revolves around such concepts as being able to hear from and speak to our God. So what is the nature of hearing God? Admittedly we will have to give an opinion in these essays. There is a great deal of disagreement between different Christian streams in the realm of hearing God. Or, put another way, what do Christians believe about how God reveals Himself to humans?
We will start with a discussion of the forms of revelation that are agreed upon by all Christians of how God speaks to humanity in general. Then we will progress to generally held views of how God speaks to His people. Finally we will give our opinion, as it relates to New Day Monks, telling how we think His people can hear God.
All Christians agree that God speaks to humanity in at least the following 3 categories: Nature, Conscience and Circumstances:
NATURE: It says in Psalms 19:1 that “The heavens declare His glory and the earth shows forth his handiwork”. Now this doesn’t mean that all humans will actually hear God through the creation. As Paul says in Romans 1:19-25, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised”. This analysis describes our culture just as well as it did the Roman culture in Paul’s day.
CONSCIENCE: Humans can sense the moral character of God, and can know when they violate His moral commands, through their conscience. For example, consider Romans 2:14+15, “Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts one time accusing, other times defending them”. Again, this does not mean that they “hear” God in the sense of obeying Him. Consider 1st Timothy 4:1+2, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
CIRCUMSTANCES: God is constantly speaking to humans in their life events. Occasionally an unbeliever can hear His voice. For example, in Genesis 12 we read how Pharaoh realized from a series of disasters that God was angry with him because he had taken Abraham’s wife for his own. Sometimes a person finds God through a narrow escape. God’s kindness can lead to repentance. Several examples of humans hearing God are described in Psalm 107. Generally speaking though, the fallen human race will not hear God even though an invisible voice is speaking and trying to help them make wise choices. Here is Proverbs 1:20-33, warning against rejecting wisdom: “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: ‘How long will you simple ones love your simple ways, How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge. If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I in turn will laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you- when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when distress and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.’”
In revelation 16 we read the final outcome of humanity’s deafness: “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.’ The first angel went and poured out his bowl on the land, and ugly and painful sores broke out on the people who had the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead man, and every living thing in the sea died. The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say: ‘You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’ And I heard the altar respond: ‘Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.’ The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done.” Such, lamentably, is the state of normal humanity, on its own, when it comes to hearing God.
How about those people who have “ears to hear”? Let’s look at How Believers Hear God.