This could get out of hand
All this talk of hearing God could be dangerous. After all, it is possible to be mistaken yet convinced that God is telling you something. I have heard a number of "prophets" in Christian circles who had a message from God for the church. But the message somehow seemed out of character. Typically, this urgent message from an determined individual would emphasize one doctrine or particular phrase from scripture out of context and out of proportion from other balancing doctrines. Of course, this is exactly how cults get started.
So on the subject of hearing God as it relates to individuals, I think we are talking about a personal message for that person's edification or conviction of sin or of guidance. I think it can be a word for others as well but it will always be consistent with God's revealed word and the message transmitted to others in this way will be personal to these others as well.
But a leader in the church should never discourage one from hearing from God. The express purpose of Jesus leaving us the Holy Spirit was for such individual communication. Helping others to hear from God is a wonderful thing. Willard writes of Abraham helping his servant in this way:
How wonderful that Abraham could assure his puzzled servant that God was guiding him back to the city of Nahor to find a wife for Issac! How wonderful that the servant could come to an utterly new understanding of God because he did experience guidance and was indeed guided into knowledge of guidance itself!
Here are the first few verses of that chapter but go read the rest of this story, it will thrill you to see how the servant worked with God who guided him.
Genesis 24:1-7 (NKJV)
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 So Abraham said to the oldest servant of his house, who ruled over all that he had, "Please, put your hand under my thigh, 3 and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell; 4 but you shall go to my country and to my family, and take a wife for my son Isaac."
5 And the servant said to him, "Perhaps the woman will not be willing to follow me to this land. Must I take your son back to the land from which you came?"
6 But Abraham said to him, "Beware that you do not take my son back there. 7 The Lord God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from the land of my family, and who spoke to me and swore to me, saying, 'To your descendants I give this land,' He will send His angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.
So the upshot is that we need to help others to hear from God too. This is not a privilege which should be held close because it is too dangerous to be used by the masses. No, every child of God should expect to hear from Him.
Comments are closed