Jesus stated that those who belong to Him will hear His voice.
“My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27
Note that Jesus said ‘voice’ not ‘words’. There is something about hearing the ‘voice’ of someone, even if we don’t understand what they are saying.
For example, a child may wake at night and hear the parents having a conversation in another room. The child can’t hear the conversation, but does recognise the pleasant voices of mum and dad. Comforted by hearing the voice and knowing the parents are at home, the child can roll over and fall asleep again.
At times a child may hear the sound of a voice in the home and realise it is not one of the ‘voices’ they know. They recognise there must be a visitor. Or they may recognise the voice as that of a relative or friend of the family and hurry out to greet them.
Jesus said that His sheep, that’s all of us who put our faith in Him, will recognise His voice speaking to them.
I spoke with a man recently who had a rather messy upbringing, but who had been to church a few times and encountered God, without really understanding it. He recalls that in his teen years he recognised a moment when the sense settled on him that God was real and that he needed to change his choices in the fear of God. He recognised that the impression working deep within him was like the voice of God speaking to him.
Others have told of experiences where they felt some thought impressed on them but did not sense it was the voice of God. The voice didn’t speak to them with the grace of God they had come to know and expect.
There are many voices around the Christian world that are not the voice of God or Jesus. There is the voice of legalism, bringing condemnation and control, making people live in fear of failing the standard, instead of loving relationship with God.
There is the voice of intellectualism, calling Christians to rely on correct doctrine for their salvation. There is the voice of tradition, and that of sensual pleasure, as well as the voice of independence and self-indulgence, and reliance on church leaders to guarantee spiritual safety. These and many other voices call us at times, wanting us to march to their tune and follow their lead.
Sheep in the pasture will hear the shepherd’s call. They will recognise it immediately and look to see what they are called to do. They will ‘follow’, as Jesus said.
I have often seen people walking their dogs along a trail. Often the animal will stray off the track, exploring or sniffing at this and that. When the owner calls I see most dogs immediately pay attention and often come running. It’s a matter of recognising the ‘voice’. I have seen animals that recognise the sound of their owner’s car or motor bike, and get up immediately to greet them.
In a noisy culture, with so many voices calling you this way and that, you need to stay tuned to the voice of Christ, the voice of God, speaking into your heart and leading you along the safe path.
“He puts forth his own sheep and goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” John 10:4
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters” Psalm 23:2
One of the things that makes us God’s sheep is that we pay attention to His voice. All who will listen to God will be gathered into God’s flock.
“I have other sheep that are not in this fold. I must bring them in as well, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16
One of the big questions among Christians can be how to hear the voice of God. Books have been written and seminars given on how to hear God’s voice. In simple terms the first thing is to be one of God’s sheep. Those who have been born again, by putting their faith in Jesus, are automatically one of God’s children and a sheep in God’s flock. So then they can hear God’s voice.
God speaks to all people, calling them to Himself. That is the gospel call to put faith in Christ.
“Truly, Truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has everlasting life, and will not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 5:24
Those who are in God’s flock and God’s family will have new spiritual ears to hear God’s voice.
We need to recognise God’s voice, apart from all the other voices calling to us. The Spirit of God within us will tune us in to God’s voice.
A major distinction between God’s voice and all the others is that God speaks to our spirit, on a spiritual level that is not about our human pleasure and selfish desire. The voice of the world appeals to our self-interest, while God calls us to much higher things. Any voice that speaks to your pride and sensual interests is not from God.
God is much more likely to speak to you about trusting Him, being humble, doing the right thing even though you don’t want to, serving God, building God’s Kingdom, blessing others, forgiving offenders, caring for those you would otherwise ignore, and so on.
God will also speak conviction, pointing out to you where you have made a wrong choice and put your self-interest ahead of better things.
In all that though, there will not be condemnation, but conviction to lead you to repent and re-establish sweet fellowship with God.
As part of Jesus’ flock, be aware that God is speaking to you and you do know His voice. So open your ears and listen, and be led into the right paths as you are guided by The Voice of God.