How Does God Speak to Us?

Many believers are under the
mistaken idea that when it says, “God spoke” or “the Holy Spirit said” that the
people heard an audible voice.  But
if you ask people who clearly hear Him on a regular basis, they will tell you
this is not the case.

Let’s take a look at how humans
function when it comes to interacting with the spiritual. 

Concentric circles It is helpful to visualize a
person as consisting of three parts which can be diagrammed as three concentric
circles.  Although the Scriptures
usually just refer to an inner and outer man, 1 Thessalonians 5:23 details this
more fully. 

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your
whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ.

The outermost circle represents
the body.  This is obviously the
physical part of us.  It receives
stimuli from the world through the five senses.  The middle band is the soul or psyche.  Traditionally people think of it as the
mind, the will and the emotions. 
It is the basis of our personality.  This is where our thoughts reside.  It can receive stimuli from both the body and the spirit as
well as generating its own thoughts and ideas.  The inner circle is the spirit—that part of the person that
becomes alive when a person becomes a follower of Jesus.  This part of us is where the Holy
Spirit dwells.


We can choose to live under the
control of any of the three areas. 

  • Some people choose to live from the flesh, from their
    body.  Maybe they are fixated
    on food, or on sex.  They are
    controlled by their bodily desires. 
  • Many more people live from their soul.  Perhaps their emotions control
    them.  Their lives are
    dominated by the emotion of the day and how they feel directs how they
    live.  Or maybe their
    intellect is in control.  They
    will not believe or do something unless they can understand it and analyze
    it, unless there is scientific or philosophic rationale for it. 
  • We can choose to live from our spirit and allow the
    Holy Spirit to be in control of our lives. As we surrender to Him, He
    affects every part of our lives including our soul and our body.  As we yield our lives more and
    more to Jesus, we find ourselves just naturally living more and more in
    accord with the Word of God.

For the Christian, the aim is to
live from the Spirit within—that is, from the inner circle.  The Bible tells us that it is very
difficult to distinguish between the soul and the spirit.  In fact it takes the Word of God to do
so (Hebrews 4:12).  We will know if
we are living by the spirit if our lives line up with the Scriptures, but our
motivation in doing so isn’t to keep a set of rules, but to learn to live from
the life of the Spirit within us. 

13 replies on “How Does God Speak to Us?”

Helpful explanation. As physical human beings, we can feel the influences of body and soul more easily than spirit, but that situation can change.
In Ephesians we are told this: 22That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Renewing the mind by considering and changing the way we think to conform to what God has said in scripture enables us to hear the spirit more clearly. It is in this hearing that God can speak to us! He is so good!

Very helpful, Felicity, on seeing the context of this question. I’m hoping you will do a part two and talk about what God’s voice sounds like. If it’s not audible, what is it? This is what confused me for many years.

I like simple! This is a very concise explanation in simple terms of tricotomy. If only the Systematic Theologians could explain the theory and its importance this well. Up to now, I’ve leaned toward dicotomy. Thanks for spurring me on!

I am a Christian and God has spoken audibly to me twice. It was out of the blue I was not praying or asking him to speak to me either time. Why would he not speak audibly to us?

My sense is that God only speaks very rarely to us in an audible fashion. I’m not sure I personally have ever heard his audible voice, but he speaks to me constantly through my thoughts. My husband, Tony, has once heard God’s audible voice. We need to be open to whatever ways God may use to speak to us.

Thanks for the input. I’m teaching a theology class in Brazil and next week I’m presenting Dichotomy vs. Trichotomy. Your explanation is very easy to follow and leaves out a lot of the “theological jargon” that is difficult to translate into Portuguese. Again, Thanks!

God has audibly spoken to me twice. He shone bright light down on me while I prayed once – light whose brightness is beyond anything I have ever experienced. He has allowed me to hear my fathers voice within hours after my father’s death, after I humbly prayed for him to allow me to know if my father was alright. Does God want me to be in the ministry? God spoke Peter Marshall’s name twice and he felt drawn to the ministry. Why does God reveal himself to me in these ways? God’s leading for me is powerful and obvious. I’m almost scared that God wants me to do something I won’t feel I am able to do.

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