Read a summary of chapter 3 or go directly to any of the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Let Me Count the Ways
  3. The Bible Alone is the Word of God
  4. Only True Christians Have the Holy Spirit
  5. Only the Holy Spirit Can Explain God's Word
  6. Hearing God's Voice: How It Works
  7. Is This "Spiritualizing" the Text?
  8. Pitfalls and Dangers

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Hearing God's Voice: How It Works

In Southern California, a young couple was preparing to go to the mission field. Their organization gave them the choice of going to Africa or to Central Asia. They were undecided. Obviously, they could be used mightily by God in either location. They desperately sought God’s will in the matter. They wanted to know where, with their gifts, talents and personalities, they could best be used. They asked for guidance from the Holy Spirit whether they should go to Africa or to Central Asia. It was while reading Jeremiah 24 that their hearts began leaning toward Central Asia. They saw Central Asia as more the “figs that could not be eaten due to rottenness” (v. 2). Later, when asked why God would send them to a country where they could not openly evangelize and plant churches, Isaiah 58:6-11 spoke to their hearts. It would be their very presence, the testimony of their lives manifested through the good works of helping the poor and oppressed, that would serve as a witness of Jesus Christ and His love, and break down the cultural barriers against Christians. “Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth; and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard” (v. 8).

God’s Word, applied in their hearts by the Holy Spirit, enabled this couple to make a difficult decision about where to go on the mission field. Here’s another example.

The deacon of a church was very discouraged. It seemed that no one appreciated him, even his pastor. He just did his work, week after week, without recognition or appreciation. Recently, he had even come under criticism about some unpopular actions he had taken. He was about to quit his position and leave the church. One morning, during his private devotions, he read in the book of Judges about the Danites’ inability to “drive out” the people in the valleys, forcing them to live in the mountains…not an ideal place for an agricultural people. He asked the Holy Spirit to open his eyes to see what the passage meant to him personally. Quickly he began to see that the reason the Danites had been unable to drive out the people was because they lacked faith and failed to believe God. Instead of trusting God, they took matters into their own hands and, against God’s will, left their designated home and migrated north. The journey was disastrous, resulting in the Danites introducing idolatry into Israel. The deacon realized that he needed to trust God, that God had given him a “land” to live in, and that to leave would be against God’s will. He needed to trust that his work did not go unnoticed by the One who really counts, God Himself. He needed to learn to live by faith, unconcerned about the lack of appreciation of others. To leave against God’s will would be to follow the pattern of the Israelites in Judges: “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

Here are two examples of how Christians “heard” the voice of God through His Word. They were, through the Holy Spirit, able to apply God’s Word to their personal situations.

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