How to Hear From, and Know, God


Introduction:

The title of this article is of primary importance to many hundreds of millions of people. Perhaps billions of people think it is important to know God and His will for their lives. All those people have many different ways to try and achieve this, but there are some commonalities across religions (see the important article, What is Religion?).

Most religions have their "holy scripture" or sacred writings of people who claim God communicated with them, or they knew God, or had experiences with God, and wrote those communications, thoughts and/or experiences down. Those writings were passed down from generation to generation in written form and are now many people's "holy scripture" or "sacred writings". So for hundreds of millions of people, reading their holy scripture is their primary way of hearing from, and knowing about God.

Another popular way people use to try and know God or to hear from God is from other living people. Thus, each religion and/or sect has its living "oracles" - men and/or women who supposedly know God well (or have figured him/her out better than others) and tell or teach other people about God. Many religions have their holy men, priests, religious gurus, enlightened one(s), anointed leader(s), prophet(s), popes, patriarchs, or most popular bible teacher, preacher, pastor, elder, etc. These people are looked up to as a person who is closer to God than the person looking to them as their spiritual leader and thus they are looked to, to understand God and His will for their life. This method appeals to those people who are not particularly reading oriented and who prefer to listen to other people tell them how to know God or God's will for their lives. Of course, many religious leaders point to the scripture and use the scripture and say the scripture is the best way to know God, but they usually also teach that you need them to understand the scripture.

Perhaps the third most popular way for people to seek to know God or his/her will for their lives is by personal experiential "revelations". This method can take many forms. From three or four experiences (or "coincidences") taking place in a short period of time, and trying to piece together the "message" of those experiences; to having a dream; to seeing a vision; to seeking how a piece of toast took the form of "the virgin mary" and what that sign means to them. Many people use various methods to receive "revelations" from God. These methods include prayer, meditation, drug use, food and water fasting, hypnotic chanting or other means.

Finally, some believe a combination of the above methods will yield the best results for knowing God or His will for one's life.

Since the author of this article is a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, the focus of this article will be on what HE teaches is the way to know God and His will for a person's life. Or, in other words, what does Jesus say is the way that God will communicate with people.

An important focus of this article will be the third method mentioned above, to see what Jesus teaches about "revelations, visions and dreams" - in other words, does Jesus of Nazareth teach that one way he or his Father will use to communicate to people is through visions, dreams or revelations. There are MANY people who say, 'the Spirit revealed this to me'; or, 'the Holy Spirit came upon me and showed me'; or, 'I went through the refining fire with the Spirit and he showed me'; or, 'God showed me in these dreams', etc. However sincere these statements might be, or however real those experiences are for an individual, the question must still be asked, are those communications from God? Can a person know for sure if they are or are not?

 

The Three Main Ways People Try to Hear From God:

Jesus does address all three of the ways listed above which people use to try and hear from God or to know God.

The Scripture or Sacred Writings:

There are many millions of people who look to their scripture in order to know God and/or to hear from God. The Muslims have the Quran. The Jews have the Tanakh. The Christians have the New Testament, and many the Old Testament as well. The Buddists have the Sutras (Sanskrit) or Suttas (Pali). Just those groups alone account for several billion people, and there are dozens more religions each with their 'sacred scripture'. Each religion has their leaders whose job often includes studying the scripture in order to pass what they learn onto people less concerned about reading the scriptures themselves. The basis for believing (or trusting) the scripture in each religion is essentially the same. That basis is the belief that people who lived in the past, often long ago, were somehow fundamentally different than contemporary people - usually more morally pure or 'holy' and thus closer to God. Or, that God somehow worked differently in the past than today. Thus, many believe the people who lived long ago had communications from God, or believed they heard from God or had experiences with God, that they wrote down. There is no objective basis for believing that 'scripture' contains authentic communications from God (except perhaps fulfilled prophesy, and then only prophetic scripture). It is merely people choosing to believe or trust what their scripture says for various reasons, usually because their religious leaders tell them they ought to, or because they find some truth in the scripture that is meaningful to them.

While Jesus' Words are found in what many people call 'the scripture' or 'the christian scripture' or the bible or the new testament - his Words are only a small part of that scripture. This author would estimate that out of the entire protestant bible, Jesus' Words probably make up less than five percent of that scripture. For the disciples of Jesus, we are only interested in the Words of Jesus for he is our Master and the only one we listen to and follow - please listen to him:

"If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)

Please note he says, "my word", not 'the scripture' or any other source of spiritual truth. Here is a saying to help you understand this important distinction. All of Jesus' Words are found in what bible believing people call 'the scripture', but not all of the scripture is Jesus' Word. Jesus' Words are preserved in the first four books of what people label the New Testament - those four books are often called 'the gospels'. Now, the bible believers will claim that all of the bible is 'God's Word' (a teaching of Paul, not Jesus), and thus, they deduce that all of the bible is Jesus' word. This is a very popular belief/claim these days, but it is false. Please see the article, 'Does Jesus Teach the Bible is Inspired of God?'

For the disciple of Jesus, 'the scripture' is only the place where Jesus' Words are found. Jesus mentions 'the scripture' a few dozen times in his teachings (see Hebrew-ism?) , but the context is almost always to get the Jews to listen to their scripture (see John 8:17 and 10:34 for his references to "your law") in order to know that he is/was the promised Messiah of Israel. In other words, Jesus used the Jewish scripture to assist in his trying to get the people living in Israel to see that he is/was their Messiah. Please understand another important distinction in this regard.

Jesus did NOT teach that his followers ought to study/read the scripture in order to hear from or know God. Rather, he taught that those people who were hearing HIM ought to believe what HE said about HIMSELF, his Father (the true and living God) and God's purpose for their lives.

Yes, Jesus did say that the scripture contained some important truths from God, and thus some sayings in the old testament to the descendants of Jacob were the Word of God. Yes, Jesus did fulfill the Jewish scripture's Messianic prophesies. However, he also taught that the most important truth from God is that a person listen to God's Son, which is himself. It is important that the reader understand that while Jesus' Words are found in what people call 'the scripture' or 'the bible', he himself does not say that reading people's words in that scripture, other than his own, will help them hear from God or know God. In fact, Jesus says in regard to the scripture:

"You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about me; and you are unwilling to come to me so that you may have life." (John 5:39-40)

"All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Matthew 11:27)

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Messiah Jesus whom You have sent." (John 17:3)

These three sayings lay out one of the most important truth's that Jesus teaches in terms of knowing, and hearing from, God. First, he says that people would 'search the scriptures' because they think they will find eternal life (which they in error believe is knowledge of God) in the scriptures. Yet, this practice would be error in as much as they would not turn to Jesus as their new Truth above the scriptures. He says the scriptures "testify about me", NOT, 'they are to be used to know God'. Furthermore, he says the scriptures (old covenant) testifying of his being God's Annointed One should cause a person to "come to ME" (not 'remain in the scripture') in order to have "life".

Please read the above paragraph again, slowly, and seek to understand what is being said.

It is important to understand that Jesus never says that a book would be compiled, after he left, that would contain His Father's Words. Rather, he said that he was the Father's perfect Word to men. Please listen to him:

And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in me, does not believe in me but in Him who sent me. He who sees me sees the One who sent me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me." (John 12:44-50)

Why, dear reader, would you listen to other people try and tell you about God when the Light says what he says above? He says that all who do not "believe in me" are in darkness. That includes people who whole heartedly believe the old testament scriptures but who reject Jesus. Thus, we can conclude that the old testament scriptures cannot take a person out of the darkness - that they offer so little light that a person who only looks to them will be in darkness.

So why would a person who knows the Light want to go to the darkness and shadows to understand the Light???

Jesus said much about the future as it pertains to the kingdom of God, and to provide his disciples a framework of understanding future events. Again, he never mentioned anything about a book being compiled, nor did he say that other people after him would reveal his Father more completely than he did, let alone write down his Father's will/thoughts in writings. In fact, Jesus says that he alone is the perfect revelation of the Father, and that his Words alone should be fully trusted in order to know God (see Matt. 11:27 above).

Jesus very clearly warned his disciples that many would come in his name and deceive many.

What more could he say?

And yet, his teachings remain largely ignored by those claiming he is important to them, while those same people spend much time trying to find God's will "in the scripture".

Therefore, while Jesus' Words were preserved and placed in 'the bible' or the 'christian scripture', he says that he alone - not the other people's words/thoughts in the scripture - is the one sure Way to hear from, and know, the Father.

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Messiah Jesus whom You have sent." (John 17:3)

 

The Main Objection to this Simple Truth:

Many people who have been exposed to, and subsequently believed the falsehood that the bible or the scripture (other than Jesus' teachings) is the best way to hear from God and know God, object to the simple truth that the one who calls himself the Truth is to be the only authoritative and sure way to know God and his will for a person's life. The most effective objection is to claim that Jesus himself teaches that his followers are to look to the scripture in order to know God and his will for a person's life. Jesus does not teach this. What he does teach is:

  1. Some sayings and writings in the Jewish scripture (old covenant) contain truth;
  2. Some sayings and writings in the Jewish scripture contains his Father's thoughts and thus are his Word;
  3. He implies that many, perhaps most events recorded in the Jewish scripture were accurate historical accounts of events, although he often does not directly address the cause of the event, and if you know the Father by the Son, then one would know certain events were not caused by the Father;
  4. He, in his role as the Messiah of Israel, fulfilled prophesies recorded in the Jewish scripture thus validating his Messiah-ship for those needing that type of validation in order to believe.

Sadly, so many cannot see the simple truth that while the above four points are true, they DO NOT say that the follower of Jesus needs the old covenant Jewish scripture in order to successfully follow him. Jesus does not say, 'read the Jewish scripture (or old covenant scripture) in order to know God and his will for your life', nor anything to that effect. Instead, he simply and plainly says:

"If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:31-32)

The real Jesus wants us to be free...

...from the bondage of sin...

...from the darkness of religion (including bible religion)- [see the article, "What is Religion?" Briefly, religion is what people do and/or believe in order to be accepted by some god they believe exists or might exist.]

...from fear and pride which prevents us from...

...loving he and his Father and thus be enabled to love all other people without fear.

Jesus does say that the "law" recorded in the Jewish scripture was good and binding on the Jewish people, but he also says that the law while good, was imperfect, and that to love your neighbor as yourself "is the law and the prophets". For a more detailed look at this issue, please see the article, "Follow Jesus, Not Moses".

 

Spiritual Leaders, Prophets, Oracles, etc.:

Looking to other living people is perhaps the second most popular way that people use to hear from God and to know what God is like. (It is often closely tied to the first way, the scripture, since most of the people who claim to be hearing directly or clearly from God reference the scripture to some degree in order to bolster their authority.) There is no shortage of people who claim to hear directly from God or to be some kind of spiritual leader or who claim to know God and are willing to share that with others - usually for something in return, even if just to be recognized as someone hearing from God. From the pope in the Vatican to the village shaman to the local pastor, people are quick to claim to represent God and the masses are quick to look to other people to hear from God. There is a tendency in us to look to others for help, and spiritual guidance is certainly not exempt from this tendency. In fact, it is extremely common.

There are hundreds of thousands of books written by christian authors, leaders, authorities, ministers, preachers, pastors; and at least as many bible-based leaders on the earth today. From the hugely popular television evangelist who speaks to millions at a time, to the president of some influential christian "ministry", to the local pastor at the small religious organization in the country - each of these people have one thing in common. They are claiming to represent God - or know some important communication from God - and thus people ought to listen to them in order to know God and His will for their life.

However, there is a major flaw with this method. That flaw is that all people are imperfect and have faults, including those who claim to have some special knowledge of God that they want to impart to others. Thus, it seems unreasonable that a perfect God could communicate perfectly through imperfect people.

What does Jesus say to his followers about this? Does he address who his disciples are to look to, and listen to, in order to hear from God and know God? Yes, he does very clearly. Please listen to him:

"All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Matthew 11:27)

"For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him." (John 5:22-23)

"But do not be called Master; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Messiah." (Matthew 23:8-10)

To his followers: "You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am." (John 13:13)

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." [Or God and any other master] (Matthew 6:24)

"I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd/pastor." (John 10:16)

Calling them to himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of those who have no knowledge of my Father (Gentiles) lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all." (Mark 10:42-44)

Jesus of Nazareth leaves no doubt as to whom his followers are to listen to in order to know God and His will for their lives. Let us review his words above again in a summary format:

Jesus' Father, the true and living God, is only known perfectly by Jesus and whomever Jesus wills to reveals his Father to...

...and that Father has given Jesus all judgment, and thus all people will stand before Jesus as the sole judge of the life they lived on earth...

...and Jesus tells his followers that he is to be their only Master, Teacher, Shepherd/Pastor, Leader...

...and to make it perfectly clear regarding how his followers/disciples are to view other disciples of his, he says that we are to consider each other as equal brothers who have no authority over one another but instead seek to be each other's servants.

Are you, dear reader, unclear as to what Joshua teaches in regard to the source of knowledge and understanding of his Father? If you are confused or unclear, it is only because you are not listening carefully to the Truth:

Therefore Pilate said to Him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears MY voice." (John 18:37)

Can YOU hear his voice, dear reader, truly? Or are you listening to many other voices who say they represent his voice? Or are you listening to the many jesus' created by the thousands of bible believing leaders or even your own imagination?

Some write to this author and say, 'well, why should we listen to you? Aren't you asking people to listen to you, and thus making the same error you are accusing others of making? My reply is, 'don't listen to me unless I accurately repeat Joshua, and better still, listen to the One I am pointing you to'. That should be the reply of every true disciple of the Light. Again, please listen to him, for he claims that he is the perfect manifestation of the true and living God:

Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9)

"I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world." (John 8:26)

So Jesus said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me. And He who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." (John 8:28-29)

"I speak the things which I have seen with my Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father." (John 8:38)

"For I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me." (John 12:49-50)

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own initiative, but the Father abiding in me does His works." (John 14:10)

"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Messiah Jesus whom You have sent." (John 17:3)

So, for the disciple of Jesus, we have one person we look to in order to both know God and to hear from God. And we have a perfect person through whom a perfect God can speak through, and thus we can be assured that there is no corruption in the words of the one who calls himself the Light of the world. Please listen to him:

"But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God." (John 8:45-47)

When a bible believing person hears these truths, they often respond with, 'well, your position is contradictory or self defeating because imperfect people wrote down Jesus' words'. While it is true that imperfect people wrote down the Perfect One's Words, the issue is did the Perfect One's perfect words/teachings/concepts get recorded accurately - is it possible that imperfect people could accurately write down what they saw and heard? Stated another way, could imperfect people (people with character flaws and moral faults) hear a perfect person's words and accurately record them? The answer is yes, it certainly is possible. And if the imperfect ones did accurately capture the Perfect One's Words, then we have a standard without error. (Please note, what is it about bible people that they resist listening only to Jesus who they claim they are following?  Why is it that they are largely ignorant of Jesus' core teachings?)

To illustrate this important point from a different perspective, let's ask: is it possible for a young or immature mathematician to write down the basic teachings of Einstein which they heard him teach, even if they did not understand all the concepts he articulated? The answer is yes. So, while only Einstein may have had perfect understanding of a particular mathematical concept, others who knew very little about his advanced math could successfully record what he said if he used terms they could understand. The same is true of the Light of the world. Joshua of Nazareth used simple, understandable terms/words to tell the world who he is, why he came, and what he wants, and imperfect men were able to capture and preserve his perfect teachings/commands/words in what men call the four gospels.

 

Revelations, Visions and Dreams:

The third primary way people claim to hear from God is directly through visions, revelations or dreams. This is an extremely popular claim, and in fact, many religions are based on this. A person, the founder of the religion, supposedly has a vision/revelation/dream from God, and then either shares it with others verbally, and/or writes down their vision/r/d, and that vision becomes their future follower's holy scripture or sacred writings and thus the basis of another religion or sect within a religious system - the mormons within Christianity would be such as example of the latter (Joseph Smith's writings). Islam would be an example of the former (Mohammed's writings).

Perhaps the main reason this method of trying to hear from God, and thus know God, is so popular is because it cannot be proved to be wrong - unless a person has a standard against which to judge its content/message as true or false. Unfortunately, when a person is in the realm of 'only-I-experienced-it', typically the only standard that person will submit to is the "I" - they are the only standard to judge the message or the experience (vision, revelation, dream) as true or false. And of course, this is also true of those who listen to and/or follow them. This method/claim of hearing from God has always been popular, but is particularly popular in this age of relativism, where each person makes up their own reality. The other side of that coin - that which is very unpopular - is believing that absolute truth exists (has been given to mankind) to which all people will be held accountable - the very claim of the one who calls himself "the truth" by which all things will be judged.

Perhaps the second most popular reason for believing that God communicates directly to individuals through means other than prayer, is because it removes faith from a relationship with God. You see, if God communicates directly with me, I don't need any faith to believe and trust in Him. By definition, faith requires a person to trust in God with no direct/personal evidence to validate that God exists.

For the follower of Joshua, the only exception to this was when Joshua visited the earth the first time and performed miracles so as to prove who he was. Those who saw/experienced his miracles had evidence on which to base their faith. However, in regard to signs from God, Joshua said:

"This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah." (Luke 11:29); and

"We must work the works of Him who sent me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world." (John 9:4-5)

Therefore, once the Light left the world and went back to the Father, no more signs would be given. He concluded this line of thought by saying:

"Joshua said to him, 'Because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed'." (John 20:29)

In other words, those who have a faith that trusts with no evidence are in a better potential place of blessing than those who had evidence.

Please don't confuse prayer and a vision. Prayer, as Jesus of Nazareth teaches, is simply a person speaking to/communicating with God with no physical evidence that God is listening (unless the prayer is answered in a manner consistent with how Joshua teaches God works). Prayer involves a personal communication with God, NOT new information (revelation) of who God is, or what He is like, or how He worked or is going to work - prayer has no such 'new information' aspect in this regard - it is purely present tense relational.

A vision, revelation or dream, on the other hand, is a real or perceived real spiritual/mental event where new information or insight is created or understood (or perceived as 'given by God') by the person experiencing the event...new information or insight regarding who God is, what He is like, or how He worked (past) or is going to work (future). While the information created or understood in the event is metaphysical (no physical evidence can be offered to support it), it is none-the-less perceived and understood by the person as 'evidence' to them of the genuineness of the new information - in other words, the experience itself validates the content of the new information. Of course, this is circular (and thus erroneous) reasoning to use the event to validate itself - in other words, 'because I had a vision, revelation or dream about the kingdom of God, it must be true'. Not so - this is a false statement. If you come to believe something that the Light of the world validates as true by his recorded teachings, then it is from God.

Finally, this method is very popular because it is easy to get other people to listen to YOU, perhaps the Only Person in your area who is having such communications from God. This reason is closely associated with the first reason, as it is virtually impossible for other people to discern whether the claim is true or not because they themselves often have no standard to judge claims as true or false. They must rely solely on the word or testimony of the person who claimed to have the vision, revelation or dreams. And if they are drifting about spiritually - if they have no standard to judge such claims - then they are very open to believing such claims. I hope the reader can see the effectiveness and popularity of this method of trying to hear from God, from those who want other people relying upon (or even just listening to) THEM to hear from God.

This author would suggest that listening to the one who defeated death would be the best One to listen to.

Does Joshua address visions, revelations and dreams? Yes, he does, sometimes directly, but mostly indirectly. You see, Joshua could not address every possible spiritual claim that people in the future would make. But he did leave his followers principles and teachings that address people claiming to have special insight into God by whatever means, including visions, revelations and dreams. Here are the relevant teachings of the Light in this respect. After each teaching, I will make a brief comment about the teaching and the underlined section as it relates to the topic of visions, revelations and dreams.

Addressing the 'New Information from God' claim:

"All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Matthew 11:27)

The saying, "nor does anyone know the Father except the Son" makes Joshua of Nazareth the only reliable source of knowing God, period. He does say further that he will reveal his Father to whom he chooses, and he makes it clear in other teachings that he would only reveal his Father to his disciples (see John 15:15; Matt. 13:10-12 where he says regarding non-disciples, "to them, it has not been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven"). Unlike their Master, however, Joshua's disciples are imperfect and thus they cannot do better than their Master. Therefore, only the Son can accurately reveal the Father, and thus no accurate new information is possible unless he said that he would appear to people after his ascension, in visions or dreams.

"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)

Joshua plainly says, "all things", and so we understand that he revealed everything about the Father that he heard from the Father. One could argue that the Father would tell more things to others who came after Joshua. However, someone claiming they had new information from God should be very suspect given that Joshua said that no one perfectly knows the Father except himself (Matt. 11:27; John 3:13); and that many would come in his name after him, and would deceive many.

It is a true statement that a perfect God could not reveal his truths more accurately and clearly through an imperfect person than He could reveal through his only Perfect Son. God did speak through His Son, and that Son spoke much about the future. Therefore, since the Son heard directly from the Father, and he taught his followers what the Father said, we can conclude that the Son conveyed all the important things that his Father wanted Joshua and his followers to know, including regarding the future. It is possible that those who wrote down Jesus' Words did omit some of his teachings regarding future events. However, there would be no way to verify that and thus that speculation leads nowhere. In conclusion, no new information would be necessary for the follower of Joshua of Nazareth in regard to the fundamental teachings of the Kingdom of God, since the Son/King perfectly revealed the Father and His will.

 

"...for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance." (Mark 13:22-23)

This teaching and warning from the Light provides two points which directly speak to the 'new information' aspect of communication from God by personal visions, revelations and dreams. First, he warns that people will make claims about personal knowledge they have about or from God and will perform fake miracles in order to deceive people into listening to their message. This point needs to be taken very seriously, but sadly is not as people are lining up by the millions to listen to people claiming to speak new truths from God, but who are not. And what defense does the real Messiah give his followers against such powerful deceptions? Simple -"I have told you everything in advance". So, the Light of the world told his first followers all the information they needed to know in order that they not be led astray by others claiming to speak for God. If he told them everything in advance, and the gospel writers included all the salient points he gave them, then no new information would be forthcoming regarding the kingdom of God.

 

"All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them." (John 10:8)

This saying eliminates all people who came before Jesus and who claimed to be God's spokes person to mankind - who claimed to be God's Anointed bearer of Truth.

 

The Role of the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is referred to by the vast majority of people claiming to have revelations from God. From popular christian leaders who have millions of people listening to them, to the individual who has few people listen to them, to say 'the Holy Spirit revealed this to me' is one of the most popular validation claims used to get people to believe that they are getting special communications from God. But is the claim, 'the Holy Spirit showed me' a true claim? How can we know? Fortunately, Jesus of Nazareth does give us some guidelines to judge people's claims regarding things they supposedly received from God or the Holy Spirit. Let us take a look at the Son's Words in this respect.

 

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (John 14:26)

This teaching simply says that the role of the Holy Spirit will be to be the enabling teacher of the disciple, enabling them to receive the TEACHINGS OF JESUS, "all that I said to you". This would have a very important function for the first disciples as they remembered Jesus' Words and wrote them down. It would also have application on later disciples as we hear Jesus' Words (that which was written down in the four gospels) and need to remember them. In the context of this article, please note that the Holy Spirit will bring Jesus' words and teachings to the followers of Jesus, and NO OTHER person's words.

 

"I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you." (John 14:16-17)

Here Jesus calls the Spirit, the "Spirit of truth". Thus, anything attributed to the Spirit would be true, and thus would not contradict what Jesus says in the four gospels (nor would it contradict itself). Therefore, if any person says, 'well, the spirit revealed this to me' and it runs contrary to what Jesus teaches (or the message contains contradictory statements), then it is false and not from God.

 

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." (John 14:6)

"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about me." (John 15:26)

Jesus again calls the Spirit, "the Spirit of truth" and says that the Spirit will "testify about ME" - which makes perfect sense since Jesus called himself "the Truth". Please note that the Spirit will not testify about any other person other than Jesus. So, for all those people looking for some kind of 'testimony from the Spirit' about some person, they will be waiting a long time since the Spirit will only "testify about (Joshua)".

 

"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify me, for He will take of mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore I said that He takes of mine and will disclose it to you." (John 16:7-15)

Jesus provides more of the role of the Holy Spirit here in this passage. He says the Spirit will do one primary thing regarding people who do not believe the real Jesus (the world). He will "convict the world", meaning he will use men's conscience to show men that they are guilty regarding...

  1. "Sin, because they do not believe in me" - the one sin that people condemn themselves with is of hearing of Jesus of Nazareth and his truths, and not submitting to him for who he says he is, or stated another way, of rejecting him;
  2. "Righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see me" - while Jesus was on the earth, he was the perfect example of righteousness - the perfect Man without sin - in truth, the Light of the world...but since he left to go back to the Father, the Father now chooses to use His Spirit (perhaps through disciples of Jesus) to show men their unrighteousness, and thus what true righteousness really is;
  3. "Judgment, because the ruler of the world has been judged" - the one who rules the world has been judged as wanting, guilty, self-doomed. Jesus plainly teaches that men have two choices in regard to whom they will listen to for ordering their lives -either himself or the prince of the world. The King says that he defeated the ruler of the world, and so now each person must decide who they will submit to, either the King (of the Kingdom of Heaven) or the prince (of the world). Sadly, the people (the world) submit to the prince for the truth is that as long as a person submits to anyone but the King, they are in some measure submitting to the prince.

The latter part of the passage quoted above starting with, "I have many more things to say to you" - is a more difficult saying which does appear to open the door to new communications from God, however, let us look closely at what he says.

As always, context is the most important factor in understanding the Master's teachings. Please pay particular attention to the first sentence in that latter paragraph, which says, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." Jesus knew that his first followers at that time could not bear some of the truths he would like to have told them, and so he graciously decided to reveal those things to them later. In this author's opinion, that "later" was after his resurrection during the forty days he came to them after his resurrection and before his ascension.

Jesus says in the prior chapter:

"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15)

First, the "all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you" statement would contradict the contention that John 16:12-15 says that we now need additional or new information (perhaps his sent one's (apostles) words as well) because Jesus failed to make all things known to them. Second, the context of this statement is Jesus teachings and commandments and how they need to keep his commandments and teachings. Thus, it would mean that the "all things" that Jesus heard from his Father was all the important teachings of the kingdom of God as given by the King - all the commands and teachings that his followers need to keep in order to fulfill the "if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love" teaching in verse 10. There is no temporal context in John 15 about the future - rather the context is pure relationship with the King and the King's Father.

Even about end time events, Jesus says, "Behold, I have told you in advance". (Matthew 24:25); and so Jesus' Words in Matt. 24-25 contains all this author needs to know about end time events.

Then, in John 16, Jesus turns to specific future events they will personally experience. And in verses 5-6, Jesus says something that fills their hearts with sorrow - he tells them he is going to leave them. They just can't understand that and it leaves them sorrowing.

"But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart." (John 16:6)

Then in verses 7-11, Jesus tells them why it is to their advantage that he goes, and he explains the role of the Spirit's work.

Then, he returns to the same train of thought he left off at in verse 6, when he says, "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." Remember, their hearts were sorrowing at that point, so what more could they receive about what was about to happen? They already were not receiving that Messiah had to physically die and go back to the Father somehow, so how could they understand anything else about that event or the teachings of the kingdom of God? All they could do at that point was to sorrow and reject the concept of the Messiah dying, leaving them alone on the earth and not restoring the kingdom to Israel. Even after his resurrection, they were asking, "Lord, is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6) Even after his resurrection, they were not receiving Jesus' teachings (which he had given them fully as he said in John 15:15) on how the kingdom of God was going to manifest itself on the earth for a time before his second return.  Their religious baggage was in the way, just as for millions today, our religious baggage can interfere or prevent our receiving the truths of the Truth.

However, the Spirit was about to come and start his role of "guiding them into all the truth" that Messiah had already spoken to them.

Yes, the Spirit can tell us what is to come for our individual lives if we are willing to hear him. Jesus already gave them the picture of what was going to happen in John 16:2, and the Spirit can help us know what lies ahead of the fork in our road as we walk after the Master. But the Spirit's main role from their individual perspective would be to bring to their remembrance all that the King had already spoken to them, for they had not received much of what he said in their heart - it bounced off their hearts!

"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. (John 16:12-14) & "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you." (John 14:26)

If you say that "He will disclose to you what is to come" means some kind of important end time truths that Jesus wanted us to know, then you again have a contradiction when Jesus says, "Behold, I have told you in advance". (Matthew 24:25) Thus, it appears the best understanding of the "He will disclose to you what is to come" saying is that it addressed the personal realm of each disciple's experiences. In other words, the Spirit can show us what is to come regarding an experience we are going to go through.

For example, Jesus elsewhere says, "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luke 12:11-12) Here Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will teach the disciples what they ought to say at the moment they need it most. Thus, the Holy Spirit will assist them in the future when they are in a situation of duress and possible persecution. In a similar way, the Spirit can work to disclose to the disciple what lies ahead on their personal journey following the Light.

(Please note dear reader (especially if you are a person exposed to pentecostal bible religion) that Jesus no where says that the Spirit will cause people to do most of the things that Paul attributes to 'the Spirit' in his letters, especially his letters to the Corinthians. Make no mistake, Jesus tell us much about the Holy Spirit and his role in the disciples' life, and yet the Master never even comes close to attributing to the Holy Spirit all the 'manifestations' that Paul says the Spirit will cause. Please seriously ponder this dear reader.  See Are Paul's Writings Flawless?  One of the most fundamental mistakes people make is listening to Paul rather than to Jesus.  To see why you should not listen to Paul, please see Are Paul's Writings Flawless?

In addition, the Master never says that his Father will communicate to people through dreams.  If that was going to be a mode of communication that God would use with His children, then surely His Son would have mentioned it in his many dozens of teachings regarding God's communications with His children.  The Father does give clear instruction on how to hear from Him, but few are listening, "While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5)  For those not really wanting to "listen to him", telling people about their dreams and revelations from 'God' is a way to draw attention to yourself and make yourself seem more important to God than those not getting dreams and revelations.)

How to Live our Lives Versus Guidance in Certain Circumstances:

After just reviewing how the Spirit can guide us in certain circumstances, it is important to distinguish between that guidance versus the plain teachings of Jesus on how we ought to be living our lives. Perhaps the most important matter to consider is how should I live my life in order to please God? This question is closely related to the question, how do I know God's will for my life? The answer is amazingly simple - listen to Jesus of Nazareth and he will tell you. Sadly, very few people do this. There are many millions of religious people claiming some type of association with Jesus of Nazareth, but out of those millions, very few are actually taking seriously the reading of, understanding of, and doing of the teachings of Jesus. Jesus himself predicted this sad fact...

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

...few who find the narrow way or gate - Jesus says, "I am the Way"; and "I am the gate".  It is much easier to hide in bible religion or 'church' traditions and thinking having bible knowledge or holding the right 'church' doctrine or getting 'revelations from the holy spirit' is the way to heaven.

A very important point that must be emphasized is the difference between knowing the basics on how we should be living our lives, versus God's guidance for an individual in various circumstances. Sadly, since most bible people are not listening carefully to Jesus, they are like lost sheep without the Shepherd guiding them on the basics of how they ought to be living their lives. Instead of listening carefully to the Shepherd and living according to his teachings, they listen to all the other voices telling them how to find God's will for their lives! So, they reject the Light's teachings in terms of the basics on how they ought to be living their lives and yet expect God to guide them in various circumstances they find themselves in?! They will read some of the hundreds of books on the theme of 'finding God's will for their lives', all the while ignoring the teachings of the Light who tells them how they ought to be living their lives. Dear reader, please don't make the mistake of confusing the actual guidance of the Holy Spirit regarding circumstances we might find ourselves encountering, versus Joshua of Nazareth plainly telling his disciples the basic daily pattern of how we ought to be living our lives. Again, if we are not willing to listen to and obey the only good Shepherd, why should we expect God to guide us in various circumstances? When God says...

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him!" (Matthew 17:5)

...and we don't do what He says, on what basis do we expect him to guide us on lesser matters? For a brief article on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth regarding how his followers ought to be living their lives, please see, How Should the Followers of Jesus of Nazareth Live our Lives?

Let us make this last point perfectly clear, as it is most important. We must distinguish the difference between the basics of HOW we ought to be living our lives VERSUS getting guidance from the Father through the Spirit on the forks in the road we encounter while living according to the teachings of Jesus. The heavenly Father has given us all we need for understanding the basics of how we ought to be living our lives, by graciously preserving his Son's teachings for us in the four gospel accounts. In those teachings of the Light, we ought to understand the basics of how we ought to be living our lives, which basics are built on the foundational teaching of looking to lose our lives in this world in order to gain Life Everlasting (please see the article, "How Should the Followers of Jesus Live our Lives?"). Once we grasp the basics of how we ought to be living our lives AND start applying them to our life, THEN we should expect our Father to give us guidance on which fork to take in the road we encounter.

As an example, let's say my passion is to be a mountain climber - I consider mountain climbing the most important thing in my life. There are many basic practices mountain climbers need to learn in order to successfully climb a mountain. They must learn about proper climbing equipment and how to use it; how to handle changes in weather conditions; how to train for the rigors of climbing mountains so they are physically fit; how to evaluate and handle the risks they take and how to minimize them; how to work as a unified team with other climbers; how to climb on rock versus soil versus snow or ice; how to communicate if in distress, etc. To learn all this, a person who wanted to be a successful mountain climber would need to learn all the 'how to's' in order to actually, successfully climb mountains. There would be a good deal of discipline involved in educating, preparing, and training oneself to actually climb mountains, and probably the best way to do so would be to be trained by an expert, experienced mountain climber.

So sum up, there are basic skills that a mountain climber would need to learn in order to actually, successfully climb mountains. AFTER a mountain climber was duly trained and PRACTICING climbing mountains, ONLY THEN would they be in a position to look for guidance on WHICH mountain to climb or which way to get to the top of the mountain.

In like manner, only after a person is understanding the MANY 'how to live one's life' teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, AND PRACTICING those teachings by living according to them, should a person expect God to show them which path to take when encountering forks in the road, or in the example above, which mountain to climb. Sadly, today's bible people/christians largely skip over the 'how to live one's life' teachings of Jesus and just look for guidance in decisions they face, and sadly many of those decisions that are faced are contrary to the 'how to live one's life' teachings of Jesus. In other words, since religious people are not looking to lose their lives in the world (a basic 'how to live' teaching of Jesus), the decisions they ask God for help on, are decisions of one desire of the flesh versus another. To put it another way, we need to make sure we are on the narrow way before the Way can show us how to navigate the narrow way.

As a real world example of this, this author recently saw a communication from christians asking people to pray over whether the husband ought to go back into the U.S. Army or work at some other job - they were 'seeking God's will for their life'. The basic 'how to live one's life' teaching of Jesus of 'love your enemy' would prevent a disciple from joining a world's military. Thus, there is no need to 'seek God's will' on the matter of joining a world's military since God's will is revealed in Jesus' teachings.

Another real example to illustrate the point happens countless times each day, as people in the religious buildings (people call 'the church') hear a message from a preacher and respond in some way indicating they 'want to follow christ'. Perhaps most are sincere in their expressed desire to 'follow christ' yet do they diligently study the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth? Not typically. Usually they use one of the three methods addressed in this article to try and 'follow christ' - they read their scripture, they listen to the preachers and christian authors, and for many sects, they starting looking for signs from 'the Spirit' to guide them into 'the spiritual life'.  A sad but clever way to reject the Light.

Therefore, these people are not significantly different from the mountain climbing example above. These people are like a mountain climber who only reads about how beautiful the top of a mountain is, yet never actually prepares to climb a mountain by learning all the how to's of mountain climbing and then putting the principles into practice by training and practicing. The christians, having seldom, if ever, trained/practiced what Jesus actually teaches (because they are listening to other voices, and doing things OTHER THAN what Jesus of Nazareth says), expect some direction from God on the life decisions they face...

"For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? (the christians caught up in the grace teaching) Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:28-33)

 

Conclusions:

The primary purpose of this article (and I hope all the articles on this web site) is to turn people to Jesus of Nazareth. Sadly, the vast majority of people who are involved in the bible and christian religious system have very little knowledge of Jesus' teachings, and thus little knowledge of his person and his Father. The bible religious system's purpose is to keep people in the shadows and darkness by shielding them from the true Light. And one of the favorite ways to do that (especially among the sects influenced by Pentecostal teachings) is to teach the people that they don't really need Jesus to hear from God because they have 'the Spirit' who will guide them in their 'walk with God'. This is just another way for people to not take seriously the teachings (and thus the person) of Jesus of Nazareth. It is another distraction and excuse for a person not diligently being a student/disciple of the Light.

The purpose of this author is not to dampen or hinder a genuine person of faith's personal relationship with the heavenly Father - quite the opposite. The author contends that if a person, who claims to somehow be following Jesus, is not taking seriously the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, then they are in fact not a disciple of Jesus as he himself defines it. Jesus makes it clear what a Master - student/disciple relationship is, and unfortunately this relationship is what is attacked most diligently by those who oppose the Light. And what better way to attack this relationship than by getting those who might be willing to "follow Jesus" to listen to people other than Jesus himself. This article has endeavored to examine and point out the most popular things which people use to REPLACE actually making Jesus of Nazareth their Master. To recap, they are the scriptures, popular bible/spiritual teachers, and personal experiences or 'insight from the spirit'. People use all three to keep away from the Light of the world.

As this author pointed out in this article, the teachings of Jesus looked at in this article do not make a perfect logical case for the Holy Spirit NEVER communicating something other than Jesus' teachings to a disciple. Unfortunately, for many, this little crack in the door will justify all the rubbish they claim comes from the Spirit. As we have seen, the Holy Spirit can give guidance for a disciple's personal circumstances. Equally, perhaps more, importantly, we also have seen that the Holy Spirit will NOT provide new information regarding who God is or how he wants His children to live their lives while on the earth. The Father's Son has given all that is necessary for a person to know God's general (the basics on how to live one's life) will for their life, which is to DO WHAT JESUS TEACHES.

For the person reading this article who is concerned about truth, I hope you will agree that Jesus does put parameters on what the Spirit will communicate. And if you are looking to visions, dreams, revelations or 'the Spirit' for the basics on how to live your life, you are guilty of ignoring the Light. In fact, even if you are not looking to visions, dreams, revelations or 'the Spirit' for your life's decisions, yet are not listening carefully to Jesus and living according to his teachings, you are also guilty of ignoring the Light. As was addressed earlier, Jesus teaches his disciples quite plainly how we ought to be living/ordering our lives, and yet it is much easier to ignore him (and his core teaching of losing our life in this world in order to find Life everlasting) and instead look to 'the Spirit' to 'guide us' in the things of the world which we love!

May we see the compassion the Father has for us and may that love help us to repent and start to actually live according to the Way.


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