Type to search

Guidance:  How does God speak to us today? 

Gary Googe Sep 05

How God speaks to people today tends to be a controversial subject.  A problem with covering it is that so many people want to tell you a story about something God told them personally or a sign God gave them regarding…. Isn’t that the truth? Then if you give them what really is the truth from Scripture concerning this subject, they’ll probably want to debate or argue with you about it.

I can’t help but recall the story about the man sitting in church listening to his pastor give a testimonial about how he ended up serving as a pastor.  The preacher said he knew he’d been called to preach because God spoke to him through something he saw in the clouds.  He said that on a beautiful summer day the clouds overhead formed what looked like the letters GPC.  He said he knew then what God wanted him to do—Go Preach Christ! The guy in the pew listening to this whispered, “How did he know that didn’t mean— Go Plant Corn!” Laugh if you will, but such goes on in real life.  So many people live by what they see as Divine directives from only their circumstances and hunches, but not necessarily from what’s stated in the Scriptures.

In Old Testament times we have so many passages where God literally spoke to people in leading them.  We have so many “Thus saith the Lord” passages.  Sometimes it was through an angel or what was actually the pre-incarnate Christ posing as an angel who came and spoke with someone. People even had dreams [at night] and visions [during the day] about it.   But does all this happen today? I believe that’s a very important question. Is God “speaking” to people this way today?  Certainly, it becomes obvious from the pages of Scripture that there was a time when He did.  I don’t doubt that at all.  But, again, is He doing this today? When reading the Bible that’s a question many people have been prone to ask or wonder about.  

I sometimes hear people talking about what God told them to do regarding something. You may have, too.  What do they mean by that? Was it really an audible voice? Did God Himself actually speak to them? To some that would seem they’re saying that is exactly what happened.  But is it? Did they really “hear” the voice of the Lord speaking to them?

I remember reading many years ago a book by a man nmed Sir Robert Anderson called The Silence of God where he discussed this.  The “bottom line” to it all was that we’re living in a time when God is silent, meaning He’s not “speaking” to people audibly today.  And I know now that he was right! God isn’t speaking to people that way today! So, don’t think you’ve missed out or for some reason God hasn’t spoken to you that way.  You can relax about it because, contrary to the claims of some, He’s not speaking to anyone that way today.  That’s not to say that He couldn’t.  God is perfectly capable of doing anything He wants to do. But any claims you’ve heard about God literally speaking to people in our time are simply false.  We truly are living in a time when God only speaks to people through the directives given in Scripture coinciding with the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is through the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit leads people today.  But even in that, people had better learn about the meaning and application of what is called the right division of Scripture.  If they don’t, they’ll definitely have some misunderstanding and make some misapplications of Scripture.  For instance, Jesus told the “rich young ruler” that to gain eternal life he needed to sell everything he owned and distribute the proceeds to the poor.

Matthew 19:16 & 21  

16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?

21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. [Emphasis added]

Is this what God is telling people today that they must do to have eternal life? It certainly was then [Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35].  Are there people doing this today to gain eternal life? If someone wants to gain eternal life today, they’ll have to follow the directives of Scripture in the apostle Paul’s writings. You’ll find there also that offering animal sacrifices have nothing to do with it and neither does any form of water baptism.  The list of things that won’t provide it is very long.  But here’s a statement about what will provide it.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4  

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]  

It is this that He did for us that must be believed for salvation to be gained today.  People like Moses and the apostle Peter knew nothing about this, but they were men of God in their day.  You may recall that when our Lord began telling Peter and some others that He was going to die the death of the cross, they even tried to talk Him out of it.

Matthew 16:21-22  

21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  

22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. [Emphasis added]  

If Peter had known what Christ was going to accomplish on the cross, he never would have said this.  No, he knew nothing about this.

Another common thing you find today is people looking for a “sign” from God to give them directions.  Have you ever thought you’d like to sit down with the Lord and ask Him some questions to give you some direction on some decision-making? That could be nice, but I’m afraid this doesn’t happen today either.  If you want God’s leadership in your life today, you’re going to have to invest some time studying Scripture, and not just reading your Bible or some devotional literature.

2 Timothy 2:15  

15 Study [SPOUDAZO = be diligent] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]  

This involves comparing Scripture with Scripture to gain insight and wisdom for daily decision-making.  There’s only one correct meaning or interpretation of any passage of Scripture but there are many practical applications.  You can always trust the pages of Scripture. Please note some of the great apostle Paul’s last words to us about this.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  

17 That the man of God may be perfect [ARTIOS = complete or brought to maturity], thoroughly furnished [EXZARTIZO = fully equipped] unto all good works. [Emphasis added]  

Those “all good works” is the performance of God’s will.  Please pay special attention to that last part of verse seventeen—“thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” That means you’ll be fully equipped with the wisdom you need to make good decisions in every situation you face.  But instead of doing this, so many people want to take what they see as a shortcut.  Instead of following some of the apostle Paul’s last words on this, they want what they speak of as “a sign” from God.  But before we address that please note Peter’s very last words of Scripture that certainly relate to our subject and more.

2 Peter 3:18  

18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. [Emphasis added]  

Certainly, Peter was one who had to learn this the hard way.  He was a very impulsive person.  He’s famous for “putting his foot in his mouth.”  It seems he was in the habit of often speaking or acting without thinking and without knowing.  Two examples of that come to mind immediately—him cutting the ear off the guard who came to arrest Christ in the garden [Mark 14:47] and him telling the Lord he would never deny Him [Matthew 26:75].  

But what do the Scriptures tell us about looking for “signs” to guide us in our decision-making?  Really nothing at all!  If you want “a word from the Lord” on some situation, open your Bible and start studying.  But don’t think this means to follow the words of what some call “the lucky dip.”  You may have heard about the guy who was trying to figure out what to do and decided to “let his Bible tell him.”  He figured he’d follow the lead of the first passage he’d point to in his Bible.  Here are the words his finger first touched.

Matthew 27:5b

5 …and departed, and went and hanged himself. [Emphasis added]

No, such does not need to be our methodology for determining God’s will for us.  Instead, we need to recognize the importance and the practicality of being serious students of the Bible ongoing.  Only by doing that will you gain the wisdom Scripture provides for daily decision-making.  And I might add that these principles of wisdom are found all over the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  As many who read this know, your emphasis in study always needs to be centered around the writings of the apostle Paul. Anything that conflicts with his teaching [and there’s a lot] is not directed to us.  But you’ll find general principles that’ll be helpful to you in all the pages of Scripture.

Romans 15:4  

4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope [ELPIS = confident expectation]. [Emphasis added]

If you want this hope, this “confident expectation” that things will turn out well or the way they need to turn out, [I’ll say it again] you need to invest time studying the Scriptures.  Inspirational words taken out of context won’t do.  Becoming spiritually mature for your decision-making takes time, study, and more.  When we were children, we were all foolish and vulnerable.  But the same is true for baby or adolescent Christians.  They, too, are foolish and vulnerable in their decision-making, no matter how old they are chronologically.  How old the person is or how long the person has been saved really has nothing to do with it.  Most of the adult believers I’ve met in my lifetime were spiritually immature.  They can’t even give a clear and correct explanation of our gospel message.  I encourage you not to be such a person. Note what Paul had to say about this to the membership of the Corinthian church.

1 Corinthians 3:1-3  

1 And I, brethren [believers], could not speak unto you as unto spiritual [ones who are mature], but as unto carnal [ones living primarily under the influence of their sinful nature], even as unto babes in Christ [ones who are simply immature].

2 I have fed you with milk [basic principles of doctrine], and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  

3 For ye are yet carnal [dominated by your sinful nature]: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men [meaning they thought and acted much like unbelievers]? [Emphasis added]  

Nearly all these people functioned this way.  Some today would want to claim that people like this aren’t really saved.  I have no doubt that’s true for some but there’s not one sin that a “born again” believer is not capable of committing.  Foolish believers have been known to do all kinds of sinful and crazy things.  Paul’s commands given to the churches he addressed were told not to do certain things because they were already guilty of doing those things.  Usually, the commands were for them to STOP doing certain things.  Things today are just as bad in this as they were then.  I think I’d be safe to say that most believers today are carnally minded.  They simply haven’t been willing to take the time to grow in their understanding of God’s Word in Scripture so as to make correct daily applications.  That just isn’t a priority for them.

To understand God’s will for us today, we need get beyond some of the things we see happening in Old Testament times, the Four Gospels, and the book of Acts.  We don’t live in that timeframe, and some very important things have changed in God’s policies for His people.  This is a part of what 4Us/2Us Ministries is all about.  All Scripture is FOR us, but it is not all TO us.   

In the early days of his ministry, even the apostle Paul had some special abilities we don’t have today.  For instance, the apostle Paul had special powers to provide signs, miraculous deeds to convince people of the truthfulness of his message.  But, again, we don’t have that today.  Paul didn’t have the Bible we have today.  He had the writings of the law and the prophets, but nothing more.  So, God gave him miraculous abilities for a time to authenticate the truthfulness of his message.  This was especially important then because so many of the things he taught were contrary to the writings of the law and the prophets.  For instance, people aren’t saved today through their faith directed to the writings of Moses.  Also, people in Old Testament times had passages of Scripture like Isaiah 53, but they had no understanding at all that the passage was talking about the cross of Christ.  There’s no proof at all that they had any understanding of those things at all.  The apostle Paul had signs and the ability to perform miracles.  No one has such abilities today.  No one! But what do we have? Can’t we be led of God today? We surely can! God’s leadership of His people today occurs through the directives of Scripture linked with the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Let us continue our study of this with this first passage.

Romans 8:13-14  

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [THANATOO = put to death or render powerless] the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

All believers will eventually die [unless the Rapture occurs in their lifetime].  What this is talking about is not allowing one’s sin nature to guide them in their decision-making for it is that activity that’ll tend to get you to dying and death quicker.  Mortifying the deeds of the body is rendering inoperative the works of your sinful nature.  We need to learn and live by the directives of Scripture and the Spirit of God instead.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. [Emphasis added]  

Being “led by the Spirit of God” is to do with our decisions to live by the directives of Scripture.  This is what is meant by being “filled” with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18  

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled [PLEROO = be fully influenced] with the Spirit; [Emphasis added]  

Instead of living under the influence of “spirits,” we are to live under the influence of the Spirit of God.  For more information about this, please see my article– Holy Spirit:  What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? As you can see in that study, Paul writes about this same thing but in different words in his letter to the Colossians.

Colossians 3:16  

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. [Emphasis added]  

As your mind and heart is filled with God’s Word, you’ll gain the inner resources by which to be directed of the Lord and to live the life God would have you to live.  Unless that happens, you’ll be no better off than an unbeliever in determining the will of God and living what we may often speak of as a godly life.

Another question people are prone to ask about all this is to do with circumstances.  Do they play into determining God’s will? They certainly do! Your circumstances may not even allow you certain options, at least for now.  If you can hold off in making a decision, sometimes that’s the best thing to do.  Other times you may be forced to make a decision on something.  It is then that you simply want to assemble all the facts you can, even getting helpful guidance from spiritually-minded people you trust, and then make the decision that seems best to you.  In the end you need to, as some put it, go with your gut feeling about the matter.  That’s ultimately what people, even unbelievers, are prone to do anyway.  But if you’re waiting for a sign or a voice from above, you’re in for a long non-ending wait.  Then too, you may “wait for the Lord” so long that you miss out on what would have been the best choice.

You may have heard the story about the guy stranded at his home in heavy rain.  He saw the weather report ordering people to evacuate the area because it was vulnerable to flooding.  He then prayed about what he should do but didn’t do anything. The waters began to rise so much that he was no longer able to drive his car out.  Later people came by in a boat, but He told them he was “waiting on the Lord” to decide what to do.  He soon had to evacuate the house and he climbed up on the roof.  Then a helicopter came trying to rescue him, but he refused to climb the rope ladder they dropped to him.  In the end he drowns in the flood waters and ends up in Heaven where he complains that God didn’t answer his prayer to be rescued.  He’s then told that it was God who provided him with radio warnings, warnings from neighbors, rescuers in a boat and even help offered from a helicopter, but he had refused them all.  It is true that indecision can be deadly.  It is also true that no decision is a decision.

But always remember that some people are prone to overthink or over analyze their situation.  There are many times when it doesn’t really make much difference what you decide.  For instance, with all other things being equal, buying the blue car instead of the white one is simply a matter of preference.  God often gives us the freedom to choose what we prefer.  We need to enjoy that freedom and get on with the decision-making.


As everyone knows, life is filled with many decisions.  It is the believer with a mature understanding of the teachings of the Bible who is going to be positioned best to make wise decisions. For many years I’ve often thought that life is much like a cafeteria line.  Many options will be open to you but not everything.  What you must do is weigh out the options you have and seek to make the best decision under the present circumstances.  Some of the options may be appealing to you for one reason or another but may not be the best option.  These are all things you’ll have to evaluate carefully.  But many times, you just need to go forth confidently with what seems to be the best option. But again, I warn you.  You need to be sure that you’re habitually a student of the Bible. We must always heed this warning.

Proverbs 16:25

25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man [one who resists the truths of Scripture], but the end thereof are the ways of death. [Emphasis added]  

As I’ve stated, if you’re waiting for a voice from heaven or something truly miraculous to help you, it isn’t going to happen.  Things just play out as they do for numerous reasons.  As we’ve noted, God has provided guidance in the past in ways He’s not providing today.  You may hear all kinds of stories from people who want to tell you otherwise, but ultimately, you’ll find that what I’m telling you is the truth about this matter.  Nothing outweighs the value of knowing the mind of God through the writings of Scripture.  Many things I hear people calling “miracles” really aren’t miracles at all.  It was simply God working through the daily events of one’s life.  So, here’s a short summary of what to do in seeking to determine God’s will in a matter.

–Become a dedicated student of the Bible.

–Live with a mindset that has a desire to do God’s will.

Pray for God’s wisdom in your decision-making.

–Make it a priority to study your Bible every day.

Let God through the Scriptures be your main counselor.

–Faithfully relate Scripture to your circumstances.

–When you make a decision go forth confidently.

–Believe that God will work the outcome out for good.

Romans 8:28  

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  

While I love and use the King James Version of the Bible extensively, the translators made a big mistake on that verse.  Things alone can’t be counted on to work out for the good.  In the original text it states that God works all things together for good.  In the original Greek text of the verse, it is God who is the subject, not all things.  It is our wonderful and fully capable God who works all things together for good.  He will at times even take our foolish decisions and turn them for our good.  We just need to remember that all decisions, wise or foolish, have consequences.  If you will make it a priority to wrap your life around the teachings of Scripture rightly divided, you’re in for a fabulous life.  It won’t be painless, but you’ll have the inner resources with which to deal with anything and everything.  This is the true meaning of a wonderful but often misunderstood and misapplied verse of a passage—

Philippians 4:12-13  

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. [Emphasis added]  

But we don’t have God himself providing individuals with specific things they are to do.  Instead, we have His principles of truth every believer is to learn and live by.

Share this article:
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop

    Contact 4Us/2Us

    [super_form id="692"]

    Support Our Ministry


    Your gifts will be a part of the means by which this ministry is supported and sustained.

    Our objective is to give people the truth they need by which to gain salvation and to grow spiritually.

    We very much appreciate your part in this great work.

    Donation amount
    Donation frequency

    Don't worry - your information is safe with us!