This year is going to be a year of revelation! We’ve been reminded of how transforming just one revelation from God can be and how it is the person of the Holy Spirit within us who brings us this revelation. Jesus said:
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
We learned of the importance of praying in the Spirit as we pray the perfect intercessory prayer without even one intelligible word as the Spirit intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8::26-27). We learned of the critical role of God’s written word to training ourselves to discern His voice.
God’s word is powerful and alive as the Holy Spirit is still pouring out revelation to us through it and breathing new life into it. In fact, the Bible, itself, is a written record of God’s revelation. 66 books written by at least 40 men over the course of about 1,500 years and yet all with one author and general theme. It’s by no means a collection of story books or fairy tales, but historically accurate accounts and poetic expressions of God’s revelation. Peter explained:
2 Peter 1:16-21
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Peter physically heard the voice of the Father with his own ears, he personally saw the miraculous power of God through the ministry of Jesus and then through His followers, the church. He knew that none of it was a made-up story, but that it all certainly took place.
He also was convinced that the prophetic messages of the written word were completely reliable. He explained that, though written by humans, that their true origins were God, Himself, through the Holy Spirit. Paul also described the written word in this way.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
One of the ways in which we regularly hear God’s voice is through our minds. It can be by means of our thoughts, our dreams as we sleep, our imaginations through visions while awake, or what we commonly call gut-feelings. The Holy Spirit uses all of them to speak to us.
28 “And afterward,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
I know that these have been my own personal experiences and we do see many examples of dreams and visions. However, those internal thoughts and “gut-feelings”, which are most common by experience, I really couldn’t find clearly in the written word of God.
When the authors wrote that the Lord said something, it doesn’t always specify if it is an external, audible voice or if it is an inward, thought in the mind. They acknowledge that it was the Lord speaking, but they don’t always say exactly how they were hearing His voice.
I struggled enough on my own without success to clarify this and then finally decided to ask God to reveal to me why there was a potential discrepancy between His word and my experiences.
The single Greek word chosen by Peter to explain how the written word was given to those who wrote down the scriptures that is translated to the English phrases “as they were carried along” or “under the control of” or “under the power of” or “moved by” or “led by” or “under the direction of” or “prompted by” all depending on the translation of the Bible that you are reading is the verb pherō (fer’-o).
It is a root verb and not derived from another word. The Holy Spirit pherō’d the writers of the Bible.
Peter uses this same word found in verse 21 in verse 17 when he referred back to the audible voice of the Father at Jesus’ baptism saying, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.”
Do you know how the Strong’s concordance defines the verb pherō in these instances? “of the mind, to be moved inwardly, prompted” again… “of the mind, to be moved inwardly, prompted”
Reading God’s word translated into our wonderful English language left me questioning the discrepancy between my personal experiences with hearing God’s voice and what God’s own word said about His voice. However, it was right there the whole time! The voice of God moves inwardly in the mind prompting us.
Do you know another really cool place where this same Greek word pherō is used? Acts 2:2 for the English phrase “blowing of a violent wind” referring to the sound of the mighty wind from Heaven on the day of Pentecost that filled the upper room! It’s a move of the Spirit, the leading of the Spirit, produced by the Spirit, carried by the Spirit etc.
pherō is the act of bringing forth or bearing or producing or carrying or leading or announcing. It is an act of revealing. This week, it’s my new favorite Greek word!
1 Corinthians 2:10-12
10… The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
It only makes logical sense that the Holy Spirit dwelling within our bodies who knows the thoughts of God would not need to speak audibly through our external ears. The Holy Spirit within us brings forth revelation inwardly in our minds through dreams, visions, and thoughts.
Though using our imagination, it is sourced by the Holy Spirit and not ourselves, which is how and why it is God speaking to us. We can think and imagine and envision so many wicked and evil things inwardly to satisfy our flesh! In Genesis 6, before sending the flood, God said that:
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.
God knew and was concerned not for the acts of the human race, but for the inward thoughts.
Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)
For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.
Thoughts lead to perspectives, perspectives lead to attitudes, attitudes lead to behaviors, behaviors lead to habits, habits define who we are. It all begins in our thought life.
It’s basically like the old cartoons where a thought bubble is shown and a scene plays out of what the character is thinking. Or like the 80’s and 90’s shows where you hear the harp chimes and then a scene shows with a faded white border all around it showing what someone is imagining. That’s one of the ways that God speaks to us!
Why are we sometimes quick to dismiss the Holy Spirit using our minds and imaginations to speak to us? They were created as a significant part of who we are by God, Himself, when we were created in His image. We use them for evil, God uses them for good.
Until we were saved and our lives redeemed, we used our thoughts and imaginations for our own selfish will or ambition or whimsy or entertainment or fantasy. Now that we have surrendered all that we are to Jesus, He has deposited the Holy Spirit within us and uses our minds for their intended purpose; to live in communion with Him in constant communication.
This is also why one of the most active spiritual battle grounds is right here within our minds. Listen to the language that Paul chose to use regarding our thought life.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
If the devil can deceive us to think that we don’t hear God’s voice and that everything that happens in our mind is just our own imagination, he has taken full reign over our lives already and we will lose the war. He can trigger whatever thoughts that he wants into our lives and we won’t ever stop to consider that it might be the voice of a stranger that we are hearing. We will follow it.
Yes, the devil can trap people and take them captive and force them to do his will! He does it through our mind. All that he has to do is pose a simple question just as with Eve in the garden, “Did God really say that?” Like the rudder on a ship, it sets the course of our thoughts and the rest of our life follows.
2 Timothy 2:23-26
23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
God gives us the gift of discernment so that we can judge whether a thought or dream or vision is just our own flesh, is the devil, is from the influence of the world around us, or is God. If it’s not from God or godly, then we can take it captive and correct it and make it obedient to Jesus.
Read through the gospel accounts and note how often Jesus knew what someone was thinking. Jesus’ response was to immediately speak to those thoughts with the intent to replace those misguided thoughts with truth.
This is also why we’re called to:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We are Jesus’ sheep and WE HEAR HIS VOICE! We know Him and we follow Him (John 10:27). We will not listen to the voice of a stranger. We will win the war within our minds!
Pay careful attention to what thoughts pop up in your mind. Make note of dreams or visions that you have. You may think that it is just your imagination, but it may very well be God speaking to you. Make note of them and test them.
Here’s a brief and general test to judge if it is God’s voice. After all, you’ve gotta be sure that you can bacc it up! 🙂
B – Bear witness with our own spirit?
(may contradict or flesh, but settle well with being right in our spirit and conscience)
Romans 8:16/Romans 9:1
A – Agree with God’s written word? / Align with God’s character?
C – Cause the fruits of the Spirit to grow?
C – Confirmed in other ways?
Judges 6:17/2 Peter 1:10/Hebrews 6:17/
Join us next week as we continue to learn how to receive God’s revelation!