Here we are in Chapter 8, entitled “Recognizing the Voice of God”.
I began posting on Hearing God on August 24th with the first post “Meet our Author Dallas Willard”.
Since then it has been a wild ride as Dr. Willard has discussed numerous aspects of hearing God from “Guidelines for Hearing from God” to “The Still Small Voice.”
As we near the end of the long journey (there is a Chapter 9 and an Epilogue) we wonder when he will really talk to us about The Voice.
Maybe in Chapter 8?
I find it interesting that human beings question if the voice of God is authentic or not. Dr. Willard cites voice recognition in nature in Chapter 8. Chapter 8 begins with John 10: 2-4, 14 and 27, when John talks of the shepherd and the sheep. The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and they follow him because they know his voice. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, our Good Shepherd. He knows us and we know Him. Of course, if we are His good sheep, we follow Him [my paraphrase].
When I was growing up, I lived my first 17 years on a farm. My Dad held many jobs over the years but his foremost passion was his job as farmer. He had hogs and he had cattle (no sheep). As a boy I was always amazed at Dad’s animal calls. He had a whhhhooooooooo! sound that he used to call his animals for feeding. He also had a sound that he used for directing them around in the fields. The amazing part was his ability to command the animals. They knew what to do when he made his sounds. As a kid, I tried to make my own animal sounds but they never responded the way they responded to Dad.
How do they know what to do? Why won’t another person’s voice work?
Because experience taught them to recognize my father’s voice.
What does this have to do with us?
How will we recognize the voice of God? What if the voice we hear is the voice of Satan? What if the voice we hear is our own self speaking what we want out loud?
What can we do to determine if we have really heard the voice of God?
Dr. Willard states that sometimes it is obvious. If the voice is telling us to do something contrary to God’s word, then it is not God that is speaking to us. He cites an example of worshipping an idol or coveting something. Those two things are obviously violations of the Ten Commandments.
We also have to be aware that people can use “proof texting” against us, which is a fancy way of saying someone is quoting the Bible out of context. When that is done, a person can use the Bible to prove all kinds of things that are contrary to the teaching of God.
As we have seen in the previous post “Confession—Let’s Get Honest About Bible Reading”, Dr. Willard asks us to apply the Bible to our lives. He does that again in Chapter 8. The words of the Bible “have to be applied to us as individuals and to our individualized circumstances, or they remain no part of our lives.”
“What is my life like since this is true and how shall I speak and act because of this?”
Those are the questions he implores us to ask as we read God’s words.
He also states that those of us that have been given “new birth” in Christ can learn by experience to hear God as He speaks.
But there is a catch.
Campbell Morgan states that “the doctrine of the inner light is not sufficiently taught” [from his book God’s Perfect Will ].
Dr. Willard says we need assistance. We don’t automatically know who is speaking to us just because we have a born again experience.
Is Dr. Willard going to provide that assistance? Is he going to help us to understand the voice of God that is there for us to hear?
“Without qualified help, which works alongside our own desire to learn and readiness to cooperate, God’s direct word will most likely remain a riddle or at best a game of theological charades.”
My prayer is that Chapter 8 will be a seminal chapter for us as we seek to hear God’s voice in our lives. Dr. Willard says that today there is great confusion about what it means to walk with God and where there is confusion; “evil impulses” can move in and sweep us away.
To be a man is to question if God’s voice is authentic or not. Maybe we would be better off if we were animals. We would follow and not have so many questions.