Last week we considered how three interdependent factors (our life circumstances, God’s Word, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit) help us to identify God’s voice even when other voices are vying for our attention. Let’s go a little deeper. Let’s ask, “When I hear God’s voice, what will that sound like?”
The science of voice recognition now has the technology to analyze voices like fingerprints because every voice is unique. So what makes the voice of God unique? What characteristics are we to look for? Three come to mind, though there are many more.
One of the first things we notice about God’s voice is a quality or weight of authority. When we read or hear the words of Jesus we can sense their power, the sheer weight of truth. Take 15 minutes to read the Sermon on the Mount in its entirety and you will feel that weight. The original hearers certainly did. The Apostle Matthew, after relating the sermon tells us, “when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes” (7:28-29).
When we are seeking to identify the voice of God in a sea of other voices, we will sense a weight of authority not found in other voices. Another characteristic of God’s voice is its spirit. It is a voice of confidence and assurance and peace and joy. Or, said another way, God’s voice is always accompanied by the Holy Spirit. And if we are followers of Jesus, this same Spirit lives in us and will affirm God’s voice to us when it is spoken. And because his voice has the weight of authority behind it, there is never a need for God’s voice to be loud or hysterical. It can be still and small. Even a whisper.
And the sweet spirit of God’s voice carries over into the lives of those who speak with his voice. James 3:17 says, “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.”
So in our heavenly voice recognition process, we have identified two key components in God’s voice: a weight of authority that is unlike any other voice we will ever hear, and a spirit of invitation and promise and impartiality. Then there’s a third component to the voice of God that has to do with the content of what we hear–we can be 100% sure that any message, thought, or idea we hear attributed to God will never contradict the words he has already given us in the Scriptures.
Here’s a suggestion: look for the timeless principles in the Bible passage you are reading. Learn to separate them from the incidental details in which the principle is shared. Jesus taught principles that transcend the context in which he taught them. And he made us a promise in John 8:12, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”