Too often when we think about hearing God, we think it has to be a direct communication. For example, we think of Paul on the road to Damascus as Jesus’ voice says “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Acts 9:4.
In Acts it is reported that an actual voice communicates to Saul.
However, does it have to be an actual voice from above?
Not at all.
Dr. Willard tells of his early days as a pastor when he felt that God could speak through him to others. Furthermore, Roman Catholics refer to the direct connection between the Pope and God. My pastor wakes early on Sunday mornings and I have heard her say that she prays that something she says will touch someone’s heart and help them believe.
In other words, these instances show the belief that God can work through people.
In many sources, it is stated that God can speak through people and I must admit that I believe that.
I also believe that Satan can speak through people. Just the other day someone pulled me aside and warned me about something. I heard it and immediately “considered the source.” This person can be very critical and judgmental so I did not hold the comment in high regard.
I have a very close friend who believes in human prophecy. In fact I have attended his church and have received a “prophetic word” from a visiting evangelist. The evangelist/prophet “spoke a word into my life” and I heard it and wondered about it. I am not sure I believed it but I did receive it. Others in attendance believed it.
My close friend has made prophetic statements himself but his denomination encourages those types of messages.
The Crosswalk Blog says that messages from God come through people, and they are usually a warning, a blessing or a prophetic truth. This blog also states that we have a choice to make, whether we pay attention to them or ignore them.
How do we decide whether to pay attention or ignore a message from another person when you think it might be a message from God?
One factor is do the words line up with Scripture?
When the noble people of Berea wanted to know the truth regarding the Christian religion, they did not wait for a voice from God to answer their concerns. Rather, they examined the Scriptures to determine the truth of the apostolic message (Acts 17:11). When Paul preached at Berea, the people “received the scripture with great eagerness and examined the scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Taking a word from a person and believing it is a word from God can be dangerous if you take it without examination or even research.
However it says in James “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere” (3:17).
That standard for the word of God is in Scripture.
In the writing of 1 Samuel, Samuel hears from the Lord and Dr. Willard cites this as an instance when God spoke through a person.
Certainly the prophet Eli knew that the boy Samuel was hearing from God. Eli insisted that Samuel tell him what God had said and the young man had to tell him that a curse would fall on the house of Eli. That word was not easy to pass along but Samuel imparted the bad news to his mentor.
Dr. Willard says that counsel from great Christians like John Calvin and William Law have given him insight about how he should minister to others. Calvin and Law state the same Lord that sent messages to men of the Bible times still sends messages to men today. If he did not believe that, he would just be a clever pastor trying to impart knowledge from his own brain, from his own research.
For him to be a messenger of God he needs to have a heart open to the Lord.
In closing, no one wants to think that a pastor, a counselor, or a good friend would tell you a word that you believed came from God and it was just manipulation on their part. God is much bigger and better than that. I would also imagine that God would not appreciate being used as someone’s strategy to get their way.
Certainly we wonder about messages that come from people, messages that are purported to be “words of God”.
However I believe God can do this.
The Crosswalk Blog rightly references Numbers 22:38.
If God could speak through a donkey, He certainly has the power to speak through a person.