By Elizabeth Prata
*This essay first appeared in July 2018 on The End Time. I have edited it and updated it. Enjoy.
What is a women to do when it seems like everyone is hearing directly from God…and you’re not? It seems like so many women say they hear audible voices, still small voices, whispers in the heart, voices from the sky…
For example, Joanna Gaines of the popular HGTV television show Fixer Upper said she heard God’s voice clearly. Jennie Allen who founded If:Gathering, said a voice from the sky directly told her to start that organization.
Bill Hybels wrote an entire book teaching how to hear a whisper from God. He wrote:
“On day three of my writing, the Holy Spirit impressed the following message on me: “‘…I am going to release you from the responsibility of leading this youth group so you can start a church…’
Since this essay was originally written, we can add Franccis Chan to the long list of teachers in Christendom who claim to hear directly from God. Chan said that his “theology left some room for hearing directly from God,” and it seems that God entered that room and now regularly speaks to Chan. He uses charismatic language to describe personal revelations from God. “On the plane here, it was revealed to me…” He said the Lord began instructing him to give away specific amounts of money, $50,000, $1M and so on. During The Send pre-rally in January 2019, Chan said he was given a room for an hour alone to commune with God in scripture and prayer. It was during this meditative moment that Chan divulged exact words God said to him.
Ladies, beware of how dangerous it is to claim to have heard directly from God and put quotes around the ‘message’ and use the pronoun “I”. Hybels there is actually speaking FOR God. Putting words in God’s mouth is not something you want to do. Ever. Yet Sarah Young heard from God and wrote a book quoting everything he (allegedly) said, and it’s still a bestseller 14 years later.
Beth Moore can’t go more than a minute or two in her lectures without referring to some kind of direct interaction- and she’s been saying that from her earliest days of lecturing. See all these statements from her 2000 book Praying God’s Word and her 2002 book When Godly People do Ungodly Things, plus one more from around 2013-
- Before God tells me a secret, He knows up front I’m going to tell it! By and large, that’s our ‘deal.’
- God compelled me to ink it on paper with a force unparalleled
- God required me to fast…and it was He would release me
- I didn’t ask to write some of the kinds of messages God has appointed me
- In Praying God’s Word, God directed me to address the powerful yoke of sexual bondage
- Because God chose to supply me with so much unsolicited data
- I heard the voice of God speak to my heart
- I also love how I could tell by the sweet tone of the silent voice whispering to my spirit that He was smiling
- What God began to say to me about five years ago and I’m telling you it is in me on such a trek with him that my head is still whirling over it. He began to say to me, ‘I’m gonna say something right now, Beth. And boy you write this one down. And you say it as often as I give you utterance to say it.
I love this one, ‘I could tell by the sweet tone of the silent voice whispering to my spirit that He was smiling’…the voice was silent, but it had a tone, and the tone included a smile, which is also silent.
And lest one believe that Moore’s claims were simply youthful errors from back in 2000, she is still saying them, for example in one of her recent teachings called “Advance”:
When I get a key word, when the Lord gives me concept, that is a word, I mean He dropped this word into my heart a couple of weeks ago, and began to associate it in prayer and I mean when I get a word like that He drops in my spirit, I wait to see what city it’ll be connected with…then I look up the word into a concordance to see all the times it’s used in scripture…
Is that how to do Bible study? Wait for God to drop/whisper/speak/tell me something directly, like a word, then go and look up all the times the word is uses in scripture, cobble together and acrostic, and tech about Jesus that way? IS Jesus speaking in a still, small voice? It seems that those who claim to hear Him are the majority while we ladies who stick to hearing from God through the Bible have become a minority.
How common is it to hear directly from God? Here we have a 2013 NY Times article about an ethnographer doing field studies. The article is titled Is that God Talking? And it’s by TR Luhrmann. She said it is very common these days for people to say they have heard God speak to them. Remember, she is an ethnographer who systematically studies people and cultures and explores cultural phenomena from a secular point of view:
I still remember how startled I was when a young woman I was interviewing told me God had spoken to her, audibly. I was doing ethnographic field work in_________. This was the kind of [place] in which people sought an intimate, conversational relationship with God. It was not at all uncommon for people to talk about hearing God.
In where? Where was she doing ethnographic studies where people say they heard God talking? Burundi? Solomon Islands? No. Chicago. In an evangelical charismatic church. Luhrmann continued describing her attempt of trying to either include or exclude the cause. She first thought of schizophrenics.
The unusual auditory experiences reported by congregants just weren’t like that [the daily lengthy utterances that schizophrenics hear]. They were rare. Most people said they’d had one or two in their lifetime. They were brief — just a few words. They were pleasant. And they did not have that sense of command.
And there is your clue. The kind of utterances people say they hear lack authoritative command. They also tend to focus on the comfort and well-being of the person receiving these revelations. As Tim Challies noted in his essay 10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling,
Her tone does not match the Bible’s. It can’t be denied: The Jesus of Sarah Young sounds suspiciously like a twenty-first century, Western, middle-aged woman. If this is, indeed, Jesus speaking, we need to explain why he sounds so markedly different from the Jesus of the gospels…
So, no, Jesus is not calling or talking or teaching or delivering new revelations or meeting you with dates or smiling in a silent whisper. As the noted preacher and discernment lecturer, author of the excellent lesson Clouds Without Water, Justin Peters said,
It’s hard to understand how so many women can be wrong, but they are. They are either deceived, deluded, or lying, but they are not hearing directly from God.
We begin Genesis 3 with a woman accepting extrabiblical revelation, (from the serpent) and we end the scriptures with God charging a church for tolerating a false prophetess Jezebel. (Revelation 2:20). There is a reason satan targets women in deceiving them they are hearing from God. We are easily deceived and we must always be in the word ourselves, be with our husbands or fathers in the word, and be in church listening to the word.
The years upon years of Christian teachers and other leading women normalizing direct revelation has had untold and devastating effects on the faith.
Books and teaching material aimed at women usually create a scenario where God’s voice appears in a more romantic than biblical way. We read of ‘gentle whispers’ or moon-soaked walks where the quiet voice enters one’s heart, and the like. Yet is that how God speaks? Once in the Bible He came in a whisper, and to prove a point to Elijah. Mainly when God speaks it is in a THUNDER!!! (Exodus 19, Exodus 20, Job 37:4-5, Psalm 18:13, Psalm 29:2-4, Revelation 14:2, Revelation 19:6, etc)
And when the recipient hears that Godly thunder, they fall down as if dead! Here is Forerunner Commentary on Deuteronomy 4:32-36
What power! Those people were terrified when they heard the voice of God. It shook them to their very being—and that was God’s purpose! This, of course, “is written for our admonition,” as Paul says in Romans 15:4. Moses writes this to impress upon us the connection between “voice,” “words,” and “power.” So powerful is the voice of God that it is a miracle that they lived through hearing it!
Yes so many of these modern day false prophets claim to have heard God while shaving, driving, eating, etc, and they take it casually and go on with their day.
So we need to remember that Sola Scriptura is not merely the sola but also the Scriptura. ~Abner Chou, July 3, 2018
Here is Pastor Gabe with a 90-second video on hearing from God:
Here is Pastor Mike Abendroth with a 90-second video on ‘God Told Me’-
Here is Dr Abner Chou with an essay about how to study scripture correctly: Do Your Hermeneutics Hold to Sola Scriptura? Hermeneutics simply means “the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.”
We know the Scripture is rich and deep (Ps 119:18). Verbal plenary inspiration demonstrates that every word is inspired, God’s very own communication (2 Tim 3:16). The biblical writers exhibit this as they show how individual phrases (Rom 4:3-12) and words (Gal 3:16) of Scripture bring forth its sublime truth. The clarity of God’s Word leads to its precision and profundity. All of it, down to the word, is useful, powerful, and binding.
In light of this, the question is whether we have done the hard work. Have I really studied a passage and understood the background, context, point, structure, theology, and applications of a text down to the detail of every word? Can I put all of this together so that I know precisely all the author has willed in this passage?
Doing that takes hard work but that is the very nature of Scripture and what it demands (cf. 2 Tim 2:15). The reason that sermons, Bible studies, Sunday school lessons, or devotions lack depth is often because we haven’t spent the time and effort to go beneath the surface.
Think about it. You can study the Bible by looking at “background, context, point, structure, theology, and applications of a text down to the detail of every word” or, you can simply be like Beth Moore and have God supply you with unsolicited data dropped directly into your head.
Which is more prideful? Laboring in sweat and tears in a small room by lamplight, obscure and unknown, or sit and wait for God to directly whisper something to you, so you can say later ‘God is talking directly to MEEE.’
Ladies, there is no still, small voice you’re missing out on. You’re not unworthy because it seems that God chooses to speak to so many other women and not you. If you never say “God told me” you are doing more than you know to uphold the faith. By saying “The Bible says in verse such and such” you are contributing building blocks for others to stand on. If you rely on His word as written in a good translation, you aren’t undermining scripture but instead you are honoring Jesus.
Saying “God told me…” is saying “Scripture is deficient.” By relying on the Word alone, you are relying on the Rock, that shall never be undermined.