How Do I Hear God?

April 04, 2023

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Today's question says, "my kids have asked how do I hear God? How do I know that it's him? What is a developmentally appropriate way to explain this to them?"


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled you've joined me for another episode today. Now, today's question says, "my kids have asked how do I hear God? How do I know that it's him? What is a developmentally appropriate way to explain this to them?" Great question, and I love how the person who submitted this question is asking, what is a developmentally appropriate explanation? Because we should always be thinking through that when we're seeking to answer our children's questions.

Now, before we dive into answering this question, would just ask that if you have found the content of this podcast beneficial that you consider liking and subscribing so that you never miss a future episode, and also ask that you would consider writing a review so that others can find this content as well.

Now, as we think through answering any of our children's questions about the Bible, about God, about life, about worldview, we want to make sure that we are always pointing them back to scripture because the way in which we answer our kids' questions is going to develop in them an idea of who or what the ultimate authority is. Now if when they ask us these questions, we just always say something off the top of our heads, what we're doing is we're establishing in their minds that we are the ultimate authority, that we have more knowledge than them. So we're the ones who can answer their questions. And now hopefully we do have more knowledge than them and hopefully we are equipped to answer their questions. However, what we want to do instead of just saying some answer off the top of our head is to say, well, why don't we look and see what the Bible has to say about that?

Because when we have that response, what we're doing is we're training them to view scripture as the ultimate authority because it comes from God. And so we want to just develop in them this pattern of anytime they have a question thinking, what does the Bible have to say about that? What has God revealed in his word about this question? Now, sometimes our kids might ask us questions that we have no idea where in scripture that answer is found. And what we can say is, "wow, that's a great question. I've never thought about that before. Where should we go to look to find the answer? Yeah, we should go to scripture to find the answer." And then you can even say, "you know what? I have no idea where in God's word this topic is addressed. So you know what? Let's do a search together." And if you have some Bible software, if you have logos, Bible software, you can jump in there and you can do a search. You can hop on blue letter Bible to do a search. You can just do a Google search and teach your kids how to find and evaluate accurate sources because we know not everything that pops up on Google is going to be accurate.

So anytime our kids ask a question, it's great when we can model for them how to find the answer, and we need to make sure that we are establishing scripture because it's God's word as the authority rather than ourselves. So if we do the same with this question, okay, how do I hear from God? How do I know if it's him? Well, then we should help our kids think through, "okay, let's think through in the Bible, how did people primarily hear from God in the Bible?" Well, in the Old Testament, the primary way in which God's people heard him was through the prophets that God gave Moses his law and his law, his written word, was the primary way that the people knew who God was and what he wanted them to do. And then the prophets like Moses and Samuel and Elijah and Isaiah and Jeremiah and all of the prophets, they spoke God's words to the people.

Now, most of what the prophets were doing was reminding God's people of words that God had already spoken. They were drawing people back to God's law. And then there were times where God gave the prophets specific words at specific times for specific groups of people, and God's people heard his word through the prophets. Well then when we move to the New Testament, we see the final major prophet Jesus, who is not just a prophet, but he was actually God the Son incarnate. And so we see Jesus speaking God's words to God's people. And so in the New Testament we see that Jesus is the primary way through which people during that time period heard God.

And Jesus also continually pointed the people back to what the prophets had written in the Old Testament. So Jesus was affirming what the prophets had said. And then after Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension, we see God's people primarily hearing God's word through the apostles. As the apostles were writing letters to the churches and also continually pointing them back to the words of Jesus and the words of the Old Testament prophets. So all throughout scripture we see that God primarily spoke to his people through his word, which he gave through the prophets, his direct words that God the Son spoke as Jesus and then his words through the apostles. And we hear this affirmed even in the beginning of Hebrews, that Hebrews in the beginning of chapter one says Long ago at many times, and in many ways God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his son.

And so sometimes in the West, 21st century western culture, we have this faulty idea that hearing from God actually means hearing an audible voice or having some sort of subjective feeling or experience. Now, we can't limit God and say, oh, well God would never speak to somebody audibly or God would never give someone a feeling that's prerogative, and God has the power to do that. However, when we look at God's word, the pattern established in God's word is not that God speaks to people all of the time individually through an audible voice. I mean, think about the people in scripture who did hear an audible voice, very few people, and then think about where do we hear in scripture about people having some certain feeling and then following that feeling. Now we do know as New Testament, new covenant believers that we are in dwelt with the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit will guide us to walk in the ways of God.

But we see very clearly that our primary expectation should be that we will hear from God through His word. That should be our primary expectation, that we're not going to be sitting in our rooms and expecting God to give us some subjective feeling or that we're going to audibly hear his voice, that our primary expectation should be that we are going to hear from God through his word, which he used the prophets and the apostles to write. And this is why it is so important that we train our children to soundly, read, interpret, and apply scripture. Because if we don't train them to do this and we just let them think whatever interpretation they come up with is correct, we are going to lead them to false incorrect understanding of scripture.

Now, sadly, I just saw this recently at a conference that I was at. I was at a women's conference and it was a great women's conference. It was led by an organization that is sound theologically that puts on great events. But one of the keynote speakers there, she was talking about how she had been diving into God's word and going on walks and meditating on God's Word. And one of the comments that she made, she said, don't study scripture. She said, soak in it. And I understand what she was saying in that we're not just supposed to academically study scripture, but we're actually supposed to meditate on it and let you know the words through the power of God's Holy Spirit conform us more into the image of Christ. But the next thing that she said is she was talking about this passage that she was reading and meditating in Genesis, and she talked about something that the Holy Spirit had "revealed" to her.

And now for those of you who are listening and aren't watching on YouTube, I just put up air quotes as I said, revealed. And she said something and she attributed the person saying this in scripture to the wrong person. And therefore she had an incorrect interpretation. She made a point and said that this was something the Holy Spirit had revealed to her, which very clearly was not something that the Holy Spirit revealed to her because she was misunderstanding who was speaking in this passage. So we need to make sure that we teach our children, we equip them to soundly, read, interpret, and apply scripture. And if you're thinking, "yeah, Elizabeth, that sounds great. I have no idea how to do that." Hop on our website and check out our Studying the Bible Curriculum. It's a 30 lesson curriculum for anybody ages 8 on up that just teaches the basic skills needed in sound biblical interpretation.

So the first thing we need to make clear for our kids is that scripture makes clear that the primary way in which we should expect to hear from God is through his written word that He's given to us in the Old and the New Testament. Now, your kids might also be thinking, well, what if I sense God leading me to do something? What if I really feel like the Holy Spirit is leading me to do something in a specific way? Now, we, I'm sure most of us as Christians have experienced these times where we have sensed, I think this is what God is calling me to do. And I'm sure we've experienced times where we've gone along with that and it's been confirmed. Yes, this was something that was good that the Lord was leading us to do. And then there's times where we probably have also thought like, "oh, you know what? Maybe I heard God wrong in that. I'm not so sure about that." And so in these times when we "sense," and again, I'm putting up air quotes again, and when we sense that God is leading us to do something, there are a few things that I think we really need to train our children to do.

And the first thing that we need to train them to do is ask, "would doing this thing that I'm sensing God is leading me to, would doing this thing contradict anything that God has revealed in his word?" Because if we sense God calling us to do something that contradicts his word, that's definitely not God. Okay? Because scripture tells us that God cannot lie, and also that he cannot change, okay? God is truth and he is immutable, meaning that he cannot change, so he's never going to contradict himself. So if we sense that the Holy Spirit is leading us to do something that contradicts God's Word, that's not the Holy Spirit because God does not contradict himself. So that's one thing we need to make clear to our kids.

The second thing that it's really wise for us to do is after we've asked ourself, does this thing that I'm sensing God's calling me to do, does it contradict his word? If it doesn't contradict his word, then we're really wise to ask others in our life to say, "hey, I think God is calling me to do this. What do you think?" And now this isn't something that we just want to go and ask anybody. This is something we want to make sure we're asking somebody or a group of people who are wise. In the book of Proverbs, in Proverbs chapter 11, verse 14, it says, "where there is no guidance, a people falls, but an abundance of in an abundance of counselors, there is safety." That it's wise for us to ask the council of others.

And this is a time when you can even give your kids an example of a time where you sought out wisdom, when you sensed God was calling you to do something, maybe it was a new job or a new house or when you were getting married. And then talk with them about how you sought out wise counsel. This is something I've seen in my own life and I've shared with the kids that God has placed in my care. Before, when I was teaching my last year of teaching, I didn't have any intention of leaving my job, but I just started experiencing this intense restlessness. I just couldn't be content. And at first I thought, maybe I'm just not practicing gratitude. So I started practicing gratitude more consistently throughout the day, and I still couldn't leave this sense of restlessness. So then I started to pray through it, and then I shared it with my pastor and his wife, with my parents and with two close trusted friends.

And I said, "would all of you be praying with me for the next few months? Just seeing is it that I'm not practicing gratitude or is this sense of restlessness, God showing me that he's leading me onto something else?" And after those few months passed, everybody came to the same conclusion, Elizabeth, it seems like God is leading you on to something else. And that's when God was leading me to leave teaching and to start Foundation Worldview. Now, I did have the sense that he was leading me to something new, but I didn't at first. I was like, "okay, does anything in here contradict God's word?" And that's when I checked out, should I be practicing gratitude more? Because if I'm just being ungrateful, that does contradict God's word. And then I sought a multitude of counselors, didn't just make this decision willy-nilly. Now, if your kids are thinking of just quick everyday situations, if they're wanting to know should they share a toy with a friend, this doesn't require a long going to counselors and praying through it.

It's just we can equip them to think, okay, in these everyday quick conversations where we think, okay, I think maybe God's spirit is leading me to share this toy with a friend or to speak an encouraging word to someone in these quick situations, we should know scripture, we should know scripture and have it on the tip of our tongue to understand what God wants us to do and what we think we're sensing that the Holy Spirit is leading us to do, when it very clearly aligns with God's word, we can walk forward with confidence.

I remember experiencing this when I was in college one summer in college. I studied abroad for the summer in Buenos Aires in Argentina, and I would take the bus to class every day. And I remember one day I just, again, air quotes "sensed" that the Holy Spirit was calling me to get up and leave my seat so this elderly woman could sit down. Now, probably what that was is that was more conviction than God specifically saying, get up and give your seat to this older woman. But it was just a conviction of knowing that I'm called to be kind and compassionate towards others and tenderhearted, and this elderly woman was standing up on the bus and I had a seat. So I didn't need to spend a long time praying about it. I didn't need to ask anybody. I just got up and I gave her my seat because God's spirit was convicting me. That was an act of kindness and compassion that I could do for this older woman.

So just as summary, we need to make sure that our kids understand that all throughout scripture is clear, that the primary way that God speaks to us is through his written word. And then we need to make sure that we're equipping them to soundly read, interpret, and apply scripture so that they can know what God's word says, and they can ask themselves when they sense God leading them to do something, would doing this contradict anything that God has revealed in his word? And then if it doesn't, then they can go and ask a multitude of wise counselors to get that advice, to make a wise decision. And then in everyday situations where they sense God is leading them to do something, to know that if they know scripture and they know what their sensing God is calling them to do, aligns with that, they can walk forward in confidence.

Well, that's a wrap for today's episode. But as always, my prayer for you as we leave this time together is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children that He's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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