Living life well requires following God. Leading others well requires following God.
Following God requires hearing God. Yet usually, our Lord doesn’t speak in an audible voice. We can’t hear him with our physical ears.
He has given us Scripture. We can read what is God-breathed. What treasure! Yet no matter how faithfully we study God’s Word, it remains locked to us if we cannot recognize God’s voice. Thankfully, he has made the way for every one of us to hear.
In John 10, Jesus said of a good shepherd, “The sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…and his sheep follow him because they know his voice” (verses 3-4, NIV). Jesus announced, “I am the good shepherd” (verse 14).
If Christ is your shepherd, you have the capacity to know his voice.
Many people think, “It would be much easier to know his voice if we had lived when Jesus walked the earth. If we could hear him with our physical ears, we would understand what he says.”
As logical as that sounds, it’s not true.
While on earth, Jesus said to the religious leaders, who stood before him with folded arms and hardened hearts, “I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me!” (John 8:42-43).
Jesus said of the crowds who gathered to listen to him teach, “They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand” (Matthew 13:13).
When Jesus told his own disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees,” they thought he was scolding them for forgetting to bring bread. Jesus asked them, “You have ears—can’t you hear?” (Mark 8:14-18). Even the disciples didn’t yet have the capacity to hear their Lord clearly and consistently.
We hear God in our inmost being. Jesus taught, “God is spirit” (John 4:24). Paul wrote, “Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion” (1 Corinthians 2:14, MSG). And thus, on the heels of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God the Holy Spirit came to live within all who confess Jesus as Lord.
Jesus explained, “The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you” (John 14:26, MSG). Jesus said this not to the religious leaders who openly rejected him, nor to the crowds, who followed him for the show. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would speak clearly to those whose hearts were set to follow fully.