In John 18:37 Jesus makes the statement: “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
There is a lot of confusion about that in the body of Christ. Satan uses this verse against some of our brethren to make them doubt that they are saved or that they are Spirit-filled. People think, “I have never actually heard the Lord's voice; maybe I am not ‘of Him’, maybe I am not saved”.
“Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
The key words here are “hears” and “voice”. The Greek word translated as “hears” does not mean to sense the presence of a sound; it means to “take the time to listen to; to give audience to”. It has to do with honor and focus rather than having “spiritual ears” of some kind. The Greek word translated as “voice” means “a disclosure”.
So, let’s look at that verse again with this in mind. “Everyone who is of the truth hears (takes the time to listen to and give audience to) My voice (what I disclose).”
Now, I do believe that at times some of us hear a literal voice. (See my article “Spiritual Gifts” for more on this.) But this passage:
“Everyone who is of the truth hears (takes the time to listen to and give audience to) My voice (what I disclose)” is about paying close attention to things Jesus discloses to us. And how does He do this?
Well, right now He might be doing it by HOW I am teaching this passage. He often does it through the LOGOS, the written Word of God that most often is found in the Bible. Logos can also be found anywhere a bible verse is written. It’s the Word of God, even if it’s on a t-shirt.
His “voice” can also be found in the RHEMA word of God. This is a spoken Bible verses or when a fresh prophetic word is given from God. When this happens, it will always agree with Scriptural principles.
God, then, discloses in many ways: visions, dreams, a talking donkey, a burning bush. People who are of Him will pay attention to it however it happens.
What if you are one who does pay attention to what God says but has a tendency to want God’s voice to only come through the Bible or a sermon, etc.?
First, ask Him to search your past to show you what, when and how He HAS disclosed His word to you. Then believe and honor what He reveals.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-34)
If something comes to you about this, that’s the Lord speaking to you. Honor Him by obeying Him in whatever it is.
“Samuel said: ‘Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.’” (1 Samuel 15:22)
Next, be willing to hear the Lord in any way He deems fit to speak to you.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
He may have been speaking to you in your dreams or in seeming coincidence but if you have it in your mind that the only way He will ever speak to you is through your Bible you will disesteem His “rhema” word. If you do this, you will miss his “now” word to you.
What a tragic waste!
You might want to pray a prayer like this:
“Father God, thank You for wanting to speak to me…to disclose Your thoughts to me. I repent of my insistence that You speak to me only in ways that I am comfortable receiving revelation from You. I release myself to You to talk to me any way You think is best for me. I open myself up to You to speak to me through the Bible, through prophecy, through Your audible voice or through thoughts You give me, through dreams and visions – even a talking donkey if that is what is best for me. I promise to check anything I think I hear from you against the Word and to test every spirit. I pray this in the beautiful name of Jesus. Amen”
Finally, there is the issue of hearing God’s actual voice. If you want that, ask for it and be willing to accept whatever the Lord wants to give you. The Word says that if you want something, ask for it and if you need it you'll get it.
“you do not have because you do not ask.” (James 4:2b)
Some of us may never need to hear the audible voice of God; for others of us it’s a key part of our gifting. Let's just trust the Lord to have given us what we have needed. Let's ask for things we think we need and let’s enjoy what we have.
“…my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Philippians 4:19-20)