What is the best way to hear God’s voice? Is it still taught in churches that Christians should be able to identify the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Leaders who can help believers recognise and react to the Holy Spirit are essential. But how can we know that its God speaking to us?
In her new book, ‘The Church Who Hears God’s Voice’, Reverend Dr. Tania Harris explores the benefits and pitfalls of the church. After experiencing the transforming power of hearing God’s voice in her own life, Tania set out to unlock the questions Christians have debated for centuries.
Tania recently joined us on 20Twenty to share her insights into theology, and her groundbreaking research on hearing God’s voice. She is also a speaker, author, practical theologian and the founder of ‘God Conversations’, a global ministry that equips people to recognise and respond to God’s voice.
Before Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, Christians had to depend on the prophets to hear from God. But today, the Holy Spirit is accessible to anybody who chooses to follow Jesus. However, with that privilege comes the risk that we hear can be misinterpreted.
“When you say God told me,” says Tania, “it has a kind of authority attached to it. People can use that to manipulate or be confused and deceived. There’s also an element of risk associated if you open yourself up to God because He might lead you out of your comfort zone.”
The church itself should be committed to following Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If people are moving forward in God, there is an element of trust. But ultimately we need to be looking to God above people themselves, while also understanding that God has given people as part of His plan.
“There’s a bit of that dynamic working together,” says Tania. “If we’re learning to hear the spirit and follow Jesus, we’re not going to fall apart when church leaders go awry. Because ultimately, we’re putting our confidence in God and not people.”
Everyone has different ideas about what Scripture says. Tania was raised in a conservative church that believed God stopped speaking when the Bible had been written. But in her research, Tania found that throughout history, people generally believed that the spirit continued to speak.
“People embrace the spirit speaking until things go wrong and the pendulum swings back again,” says Tania. “No matter what denomination you’re from, that tends to happen. But before Jesus left the Earth, He said to the disciples, don’t worry, I’m going to send you my spirit.”
Jesus told us that His spirit would remind us of everything He had taught, and everything that’s now recorded for us as Scripture. He also said His spirit would speak about things to come. Because Jesus knew we would have questions.
“I believe that promise for the New Covenant is happening everywhere,” says Tania. “There is consistency in that. If you talk to people from church denominations, you see those patterns coming out. That’s what Jesus said. He told us His spirit would lead His people into church.”
Whenever we hear from God, it should be within that frame of reference that reminds us of Jesus and the foundations of the Gospel. But Jesus also speaks to us about our own lives, and what His mission and ministry looks like for us.
“That might look like telling us to be kind to a grumpy neighbour,” says Tania. “Or to be generous to a person we just met. We might need to forgive someone at work, or Jesus may be telling us to go somewhere.”
“The spirit wants us to do things in line with the Ministry of Jesus. I think most people would understand that.”
Listen to the full interview here: