Should Christians normally hear the voice of God in their daily lives?

There are two views on the topic of decision making and the will of God. The view you learn in the church is called “the traditional view”. I call this view the feminized/postmodern view. The more practical view is called “the wisdom view”. I call this view the battlefield/military view. I am a proponent of the wisdom view.

Let’s learn about the two different views:

[The traditional view is] that God has a plan for our lives and that we receive guidance through methods such as “open and closed doors”, “feeling led” and “the still, small, voice”. Once the view has been well explained, through the foil of a fictional seminar, the book continues to critique this view, explaining how it is based on a poor use and understanding of scriptures, and how some of the reasons given in support of the view do not apply.

[The wisdom view] holds that God does not have an “individual will” for our lives, but rather that all of God’s will can be summed up within two categories, God’s sovereign will and God’s moral will. Basically God’s sovereign will is all the things that god decrees will happen. It is hidden (mostly) from us, and does not play an active part in our decision, although some of it is revealed in the bible. God’s moral will is the part that we must concern ourselves with in making decisions. It is fully revealed in the bible and our decisions must be made within it. We may use wisdom in applying god’s moral will to our lives, or we may be in an area not covered by god’s moral will. We must finally submit in advance to God’s sovereign will, being prepared for him to sovereignty intervene and redirect us through whatever means he wills (see James).

Here’s a bit more from someone else:

Regarding the view that God has a personal will for us individually that we have to discern and find, J.I. Packer says, “The first thing to say is that the idea of guidance is actually a novelty among orthodox evangelicals. It does not go back farther than the last century. Second, it has led people to so much foolish action on the one hand, and so much foolish inaction on the other, as well as puzzlement and heartbreak when the ‘hotline’ to God seems to go silent, that it has to be discredited. Third, it must be said that Scripture gives us no more warrant constantly to expect personal ‘hotline,’ ‘voice-from-the-control-tower’ guidance than to expect new authoritative revelations to come our way for the guidance of the whole church.” (Hot Tub Religion, page 118).

As to the point of the question, how do I make decisions, I attempt to make decisions in light of three factors: God’s moral will, wisdom, and my personal desires. If something is opposed to God’s moral will, then I should obviously flee from it. If it’s not opposed, then I consider the wisdom of the choices. For example, would it be wise for me to marry a woman who loves Jesus, though we have nothing else in common? Probably not. If the options pass the criteria of wisdom, then I’m free to choose how I wish. If I’m offered two jobs, and both are honoring to God, and both would be wise to take, then I’m free to choose the job I would like more. I don’t need to put out a fleece or await some other confirmation from God. If it’s moral and wise, then the only question as to whether or not it will honor Him is my attitude.

Some examples of this model used in the Bible (in theological circles referred to as the Wisdom Model) are in Paul’s planning of a mission to Rome in Romans 1:9-15, 15:22-24, the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-29), and Paul’s instructions for legal disputes (1 Cor 6:3-6).

The best book on this topic is Garry Friesen’s “Decision Making and the Will of God”. In it, you’ll find a full assessment about what the Bible teaches on this topic.

When I am trying to decide what will be effective, I look at Christian scholars, at their papers, books, and public debates. That’s effectiveness because it is addressed to a non-Christian audience in public with the force of reason and evidence. It is persuasion and it is addressed to rational minds. I want to change the minds of people who have a large influence on society on the whole. I don’t think that offering Christianity as life-enhancement or self-help is really “having an influence”. I think that offering Christianity as truth, with support, is “having an influence”.

So let me be clear about what I believe:

  • I don’t think that God normally talks to people directly
  • I don’t believe that life is an Easter egg hunt, filled with clues accessible only to emotion and intuition
  • I don’t believe that God expects people to discover a specific will for their lives using non-rational means
  • I think that people make up their own life plan that is consistent with the Bible
  • The goal of the life plan is to be effective, and there are no other considerations
  • I think that there are many good things a person can do, but that some are more effective than others
  • I think that with respect to the goal of serving God effectively, my happiness is expendable
  • I don’t think that the purpose of doing something for the Lord is to feel good about ourselves
  • I don’t think that people should choose ineffective things to do just because they like them
  • I don’t think that people should choose ineffective things to do just because they are good at them
  • I think people should do hard things that they don’t like – as long as it’s more effective
  • I don’t think that any course of action is as effective as any other – some plans accomplish more
  • I don’t think that life is totally unpredictable and irrational and subjective
  • I think that we can know what is or is not effective by studying and learning about the world
  • I think life is like a battlefield that must be surveyed, understood and acted upon deliberately

I think that every person is the commanding officer of his or her own life, and each person must study everything they can, make a plan that is consistent with the Bible’s moral prescriptions, execute the plan and achieve whatever they can achieve for the Lord. And the goal is not comfort or happy feelings, but real achievements. Life is more like a war than a vacation resort or a buffet or a shopping center. God’s will for us is not have happy feelings, but that we freely choose to sacrifice ourselves out of obedience and service to him. In my case, that means studying hard things, making money, saving money, and giving money away to good scholars, sponsoring good events and being persuasive to non-Christians. I cried when I had to learn calculus, because it was so hard. But who cares?

I think that it is very important to realize that God is not impressed by our not being smart and not being effective. If we have the ability to be smart, then we should be smart, whether it makes us happy or not. If we have the ability to make money, then we should make money, whether it makes us happy or not. If we have the ability have a great influence, then we should have a great influence, whether it makes us happy or not. There will be plenty of time for happiness after we’re dead. With respect to God’s purposes in the world, my happiness is expendable. The thought about what “I want” doesn’t enter into my mind.

Whenever someone questions my plans by saying that I am asserting my will over God’s will, the first question I want to ask that person is this: “how do you know what God’s will is?” and “what is your basis for thinking that my plan will not be effective?”. I want to know if I have misunderstood something about the way the world is, or miscalculated in some way. I want someone to look at my calculations and show where they are going to produce a less optimal result for the Lord. That’s the only concern I have – effectiveness.

This article by Greg Koukl may be helpful.

And I also found this summary of the Friesen book useful:

In nine parts.

27 thoughts on “Should Christians normally hear the voice of God in their daily lives?”

  1. Oh, and it’s surely not a feminized way to go. Nothing like being a mother running a household, to focus one’s mind on prudence. (And that’s plenty Biblical. See Proverbs 31:10 and forward.) In fact, traditionally women were supposed to be way too practical and down to earth, such that men had to be around to dream dreams and think up cool new stuff. Women were conservative, men were liberal.

    Heh, I know you must get tired of my contrarian comments, but I don’t say this stuff just to bug you. I say it because it’s true. I just don’t need to post when I totally agree with you. :)


    1. No, he is the General.

      Actually, he is the General, Colonel, Major, Captain, Lieutenant, Sergeant, and Corporal. I am the Private. And it is up to me to decide what to do to accomplish the mission. I have received a map and compass and my mission is to lase the target. (It says my mission right here in this Bible-shaped set of orders) I will decide whether to go up the mountain or through the valley in order to accomplish it. And if I find that the laser targeting device is non-functional and I have to instead steal the Mi-24 Hind Gunship from the enemy airfield and destroy the target myself, he is OK with that. I decide the how. He decides the what.

      (And he is sovereign over the how, and has full foreknowledge of the how – but I cause it to happen. I decide)


        1. Stan, an excellent book to read on this is the book “Rifleman Dodd”, originally titled “Death to the French”, by well-known author C.S. Forester. I had to read it because it is in the United States Marine Corps Reading List. I really, really recommend reading this book to learn about leadership and self-reliance.

          The novel relates the adventures of a British rifleman of the 95th Regiment of Foot who is cut off from his regiment when the Allied army retreats behind the Lines of Torres Vedras. He is forced to survive for several months in territory that has been devastated by the Allies and occupied by the French. With some help from a few local Portuguese, Dodd wages guerrilla warfare against the French. Its picture of the hero’s resolution and devotion to duty in dangerous circumstances caused it to be put on the official reading list endorsed by the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.

          Here’s the USMC reading list:

          Click to access 0605marine_reading_list.pdf

          Here’s the official USMC discussion guide:

          Click to access Rifleman%20Dodd.pdf

          We need to stop asking God to hold our hands and just get out there and do the right thing.


  2. Beside Scripture, God imparts wisdom but that doesn’t render Him impotent and unable to communicate directly. I certainly would not consider Elijah feminine or postmodern for hearing God’s voice whispering in the wind. Now I do not presume to compare myself with this awesome prophet, but it has been those quiet times in which God spoke to me that have given strength and courage in times of trials and temptations. God does not dwell in man made temples or boxes for that matter.


    1. Yes, that applies to all prophets. It doesn’t apply to people who are not prophets, though.



      Prophet-schmophet? Next I ask: if we’re to hear God’s voice constantly, then how is the office of prophet distinct? Biblically, what marks a prophet is that he receives direct revelation, and speaks it inerrantly (cf. Exodus 4:15-16; 7:1-2; Deuteronomy 18:15-22). If every believer hears God’s voice and words, and receives individual non-Biblical guidance, what distinguishes each from a prophet? Is it the inerrant speaking of the message? But why, if “the only way for us to have a relationship with Christ” is to be directed by Christ exactly as He did with the apostles (pp. 45-46), and if we are to assume a one-for-one correspondence between their experience and ours?

      Do you suspect I am caricaturing their view? But it is the Blackabys themselves who again and again indiscriminately cite the experience of prophets, seers and apostles as the patterns for our experience (cf. pp. 39, 45, 46, 52, 53, 54, 58). Are they our pattern, or aren’t they? If they are, there is no “struggle” to ferret out God’s voice, nor need of confirmation to follow a labyrinthine, slapdash path.


      1. “Yes, that applies to all prophets. It doesn’t apply to people who are not prophets, though.”

        You can’t be serious. You certainly could not come up with Scriptural proof of such a blanket statement. You can only appeal to a leaky philosophical argument and mere speculation.

        I respect Greg Koukl and I agree that it would be ridiculous to ask God what time it is with a watch strapped to the wrist. James, very clearly admonished us to pray for wisdom, but in no wise does the Bible suggest that God cannot or refuses to speak to his people individually.

        Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice. This was not an exclusive statement directed to prophets. If it was exclusively meant for the 12 disciples, then this would also mean that the doctrine of eternal security is only for them.


          1. Fair enough, but I definitely disagree. BTW, I’ve never read Blackaby and have no particular plans to. My argument is not based on some spiritual philosophy, but it is based on the Bible. If you can find a verse that declares that God does not speak to individuals, then by all means share it.


          1. Ok, he answered, now I get to try because it’s fun to talk to you about this Jared. I think he’s talking about salvation here, about calling out to the people that he knows will respond to his message and be saved. So the voice is saying “are you one of the people that God has given to me to be saved?”. That’s the context – he’s talking about salvation. Listening to his voice = being saved.

            What do you think Jared?


          2. J.Paul, no offense, but that answer is very ambiguous. One could say the Bible’s context is Jesus and while that would be “true” it’s not helpful or clear for our conversation on whether God speaks to individuals.

            WK, I’m glad you enjoying talking to me about these things. You know I’m kind of between the molinist and Reformed tradition (the reformed tradition that sees God’s sovereignty and man’s free will and says it’s a mystery how the two are reconciled, not the hard determinism of some reformed camps).

            One cannot read carefully John 10 and come away thinking John’s message is “God speaks to all individuals.” Sorry. Four times John mentions Jesus saying His sheep hear his voice (10:3, 4, 16, and 27). Greg Koukl explains (obvious w/o his explaining lol) that the key to understanding those references is in verse 6. What does it say? ESV:This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

            A figure of speech. An illustration He used to show the means of salvation. When the sheep hear his voice, they become part of His flock. Salvation.

            Koukl said two questions need to be asked about John 10. 1) What does it mean to hear Jesus’ voice and 2) What causes his sheep to hear his voice. I’ll try to summarize as best I can.

            Koukl writes, “One author suggests that “hearing” means gaining insight or finding an application for a command
            from Scripture. The sheep also “hear” when they
            receive a personal “assignment” from God through a
            “leading” or a “calling.”

            He says that’s not the best way to understand it though. We must remember he was using a figure of speech. A metaphor is an illustration\example\ of something else. So, the voice cannot be an actual voice. To use Koukl’s example, “Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know
            them, and they follow Me and I give eternal life to
            them” (v. 27-28). Note the sequence: They hear
            His voice. They respond by following. Then He
            gives them eternal life. Hearing Jesus’ voice results
            in salvation; it is not the result of salvation. It
            is something that happens to nonbelievers that
            leads to their belief. It is not a skill possessed by
            believers as a result of having belief and subsequent
            relationship with God.”

            What’s the voice? The drawing of the Father by the Spirit of those who are His. John introduced this concept early on in hs gospel and it’s the figure of speech Jesus used for the working of God calling us to salvation. Two more things Koukl said in the issue of Solid Ground I think hit the point home: “This “hearing” is not for believers after salvation,
            but for non-believers before salvation” and “If you have come to Christ, you’ve already heard the voice Jesus is talking about.”

            Here is the link again:


          3. Jerod, I areciate you taking out the time to discuss the matter intelligently. Obviously we can equivocate over numerous words and texts, especially if we are not committed to them. BTW, I do think this text is focusing on Jesus, explaining his relationship to his people and contrasting it with false teachers who steal and destroy.

            Now then, I basically agree that this language is referring to God drawing us to Himself. But, no matter how you want to paint it, it is God interacting with us. If it is not referring to an audible voice, then it must be referring to an inaudible voice, an impression, perhaps a thought or some sort of spiritual experience. Maybe you would like to make your own list.

            At any rate, the point can definitely be made that such an experience is not unbiblical and is quite normal for the Christian life. I understand that Koukl thinks this is a one time event (it is interesting that the United Pentecostal Church believes the same about being filled with the Holy Spirit; that they speak in tongues once. Before you ask, no, I am not a member). There is no particular reason to think this within the context. As a matter of fact, the text implies that it may very well be an on going event, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. If Jesus is the good shepherd, as he claims to be, then why wouldn’t he continue to lead his sheep? Of course he does this with the living Word and by the Holy Spirit. But, it certainly is not a one time thing. He did not call himself the mere door keeper as though he abandons us.

            I couldn’t help but take a sneak peak at your blog, brother. And I noticed that you are a cessationist. I have come to see cessationism to be not so unlike Deism. The only difference is that for the deist, God abandons man after creation. For the cessationist, God abandons man after the cannon of Scripture. Neither are correct.

            We can look at philosophical arguments all we want, but nowhere does the Bible state that God no longer speaks to man and/or that miracles no longer occur in our day.

            I wish you and the Knight peace. Good night!


          4. You misrepresent cessationism greatly. For the cessationist, God abandons man after the cannon of Scripture. Nope. Not correct.

            The cessationist holds that the gift of miracles/sign gifts has ceased. The fact of miracles is what the cessationist holds to. The view that sign miracles ceased with the apostles does not demand that God has performed zero miracles since the first century. We argue that that the special gift of doing miraculous things like the apostles ceased once the divine origin of their message was confirmed. Some tings to consider (not a full case):
            – Hebrews 2:3,4 referred to the gift of miracles as past in about 69 when he spoke of the message “first announced by the Lord.”
            -Jude (after 70) speaks of the faith “once for all entrusted to the saints”
            -no record of apostolic miracles in Paul’s epistles. (in spite of apostolic miracles up to the end of Acts, about 60-61)
            -not an argument from silence. Miracles were to authenticate the apostles’ message.
            -Paul couldn’t heal his own trusted helpers (phil 2:26; 2 tim 4:20)
            -these gifts have not been possessed by individuals since the apostles’ time. Special gift miracles have ceased, but the fact of miracles has not necessarily vanished. If anyone had such powers it would be a widely publicized fact.

            Also, cessationists believe strongly in the God’s sovereignty, providence and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life. We don’t believe God has abandoned man, that is attacking straw. The Holy Spirit indwells, sanctifies, instructs, empowers that Christian for service and seals the Christian unto the day of redemption.


          5. I want to apologize for going down the rabbit trail but the issues seem connected. The way I should have worded it is that for the deist, God ceased from interacting after creation; for the cessationist, God ceased from interacting after the apostles. It is certainly not an air tight correlation, but it seems strikingly similar to me. Be that as it may, thanks for the clarification. I have heard one radio preacher offer a thousand dollars for proof of a single miracle. I’m glad this is not the norm among cessationists.

            Regarding Paul, I must first admit that I have not studied his context of healings. It is also interesting that John’s Gospel doesn’t record as many of Jesus’ miracles. John is considered the last Gospel written, so what does that prove about the lack of recorded miracles by Paul in Acts? I don’t recall any miracles recorded in any of his epistles and yet they were written very early. Furthermore, even Jesus did not heal very many people in his home town due to the lack of faith, therefore there must be exceptions. Even if you and I never see someone with the actual gift of healing in our lifetime, does this mean that God has ceased bestowing such gifts? We Americans have always struggled with recognizing that our little country is not the only nation in God’s creation. We think we know everything.

            As I said, in the end, the only things that can be offered in support of cessationism is philosophy and speculation. There is not one single Scripture that clearly and unequivocally asserts cessationism.


          6. he way I should have worded it is that for the deist, God ceased from interacting after creation; for the cessationist, God ceased from interacting after the apostles. It is certainly not an air tight correlation, but it seems strikingly similar to me. Be that as it may, thanks for the clarification. I have heard one radio preacher offer a thousand dollars for proof of a single miracle. I’m glad this is not the norm among cessationists.

            There are going to be whackos in every camp, so yeah, it’s not the norm. I don’t think every charismatic is like Benny Hinn, but I do think some charismatics should think of the logical conclusion to their position, but that’s another topic for another time. :)

            I still think you’re missing the cessationists position. God hasn’t ceased from interacting with his people, otherwise I wouldn’t hold to providence or the work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s life. The sign gifts have ceased, i.e. the office of the Apostle and/or the gift of speaking in foreign languages, gift of prophecy, and gift of healing/miracles.

            As for the question about John’s gospel. John recorded different things than the synoptic gospels, of course, but all four men were covering the same timeline of Jesus and his ministry so there is no correlation between my saying “no record of apostolic miracles in Paul’s epistles. (in spite of apostolic miracles up to the end of Acts, about 60-61)” and this:John is considered the last Gospel written, so what does that prove about the lack of recorded miracles by Paul in Acts? That won’t work.

            One thing to mention. When I still lived with my parents, I had to go to church where they went and they go to a charismatic church. The pastor taught a series on the Holy Spirit and I actually learned of the historical decline in sign gifts from him in that series. He points out there is a decline in the sign gifts one can infer from the bible. I thought that was interesting.

            Also, I haven’t decided on cessationism by merely studying American charismaticism. I’ve also read about healing revivals around the world, both sides too, and have still made my home in the cessationsism camp. I’ve you’re interested in really understanding cessationism read the following (they’re articles, so reading them won’t take long) :)

            This one deals with the assertion that cessationists only study the charismatic movement here in America and there is scripture ref

            Evidence from scripture about the ceasing of tongues:

            This one is 21 pages, but will give you a good overview since it is a dialogue between two guys.


          7. My 75 year old mother has a personal account, when she was young, of God speaking to her and telling her to move. A tree fell right where she was standing. Was she hallucinating? Did the voice come from her own subconscience? Did it come from a demon? Did it come from the tree? Did it come from God? As a Christian, I think the latter seems the most reasonable explanation.


          8. Thank you for your reply, Jared. I’ll try to take a look at your link when I have the time. Of course we can try to put certain labels on things that we observe or things that other people have observed. In the end it doesn’t prove anything except what you or another have observed.

            I think that if there were a Scriptural declaration regarding the end of the gifts, then it would be very clear. No one would have to superimpose their own thoughts and feelings on the subject. If cessationists are right, than either Paul was wrong in stating the affirmative or the apostles must have been ignorant of the situation.

            Again, if you can find a clear verse stating that the gifts are no longer in operation and that God will not communicate with his people directly, then I am all ears. As I said, the best one can do is add their own interpretation to an ambiguous text.


  3. When I read the bible, I don’t read of the apostles and other Christians bumping around in the dark looking for the will of God or looking for the easter eggs like you mentioned. Things like that caused me to not respect Christianity. If you think about it, it’s ridiculous. Christianity becomes nothing more than superstition. “ooh, if I do this maybe God will give me a new car,” or “Maybe this ‘sign’ means this and I’m supposed to not work so I’m available to everyone at all times to be a witness to them.” No. That’s not how it works.

    Some people make it so hard trying to find what God wants them to do. What does God require of us? I think Micah 6:8 answers the question well enough,

    “He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the LORD require of you
    but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?”

    I think matters of our job, who to marry, and where to live are secondary to God’s actual will for our lives. To answer the above questions is simply, like you have told us in your post WK, to apply Biblical teaching to our circumstances. I think God’s will is to bring together the whole of creation in submission to the King of kings — the Lord Jesus Christ. That every Christian is united in truth and love. We can’t prize our own opinions over truth, nor can we love God and not love others.

    For quick study
    Ezekiel 37:15-28
    Galatians 5:13, 14
    1 Peter 3:8


  4. Two things to ponder while you wonder about the Voice of God.
    Philippians 2:12
    Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your OWN SALVATION with fear and trembling
    Galatians 6:7
    Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
    …God Bless…

    (1611 King James Bible)


  5. I agree that God doesn’t normally talk to people directly, that we’re not on some Easter egg hunt, that we’re not supposed to be seeking some mystical will of God, and all that nonsense. On the other hand, there is a large difference between “God doesn’t express His will that way” and “God doesn’t have a will for my life.” The Bible seems to disagree with the idea that “God does not have an “individual will” for our lives.” I read, for instance, that “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). David was certain that “in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psa 139:16). Paul tells us the method for this, and it’s not secret voices or privatized clues. “It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Php 2:13). (That’s the rest of the sentence that mistymtns started and didn’t finish.) While I agree that we’re not looking for signs or waiting for a word from God in our ears to tell us what pants to wear today, it seems to me that the Sovereign God does indeed have plans for individuals. We don’t need to hunt them down. It’s part of “walking” — one foot in front of the other.


  6. A dialogue with God is the mark of a seasoned disciple. Consider the Ananias with the calling of Paul – this saint had a FULL BLOWN conversation. Which means He was quite used to it. It is simply being lead by the Holy Spirit and being in a constant place of prayer.

    There are other scriptures about Christ coming to the individual believer

    -I too will love him and show myself to him (John 14:21 – 23)
    -Until Christ is formed in you (Gal 4:19)
    -Christ is knocking at the door (Rev 3)
    -The Day dawns and Christ comes to the individual (1 Peter)
    -The parable of the virgins

    I would really suggest reading about Brother Lawrence. This man had the presence of LORD big time.

    Something to think about:
    – Christ did nothing, said nothing, judged no one on His own. It was His Father ‘In Him”. He had this continual internal dialogue with His Father and was directed by the Holy Spirit.

    -Greater works will be done ( GREATER – WOW !!!! Not in number but GREATER !!).

    – The Spirit of Revelation died with the Apostles. I believe it is being restored to prepare for the coming Hos 6:1-3 and Mal 3:1-3 before the final coming.

    There will be a division and a harvest before the final coming.

    The goal of the disciple is to be in the image and union of Christ. It is a total transformation of the person and not a change in location.


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