Sunday, March 3, 2013

My sheep “hear my voice”

My sheep hear my voice (John 10:27a, KJV)

What are we to perceive from this verse in the Holy Scripture?
Is it that we can claim that God speaks audibly to believers every now and then? If NOT, what was it all about – “My sheep hear my voice”?

What is the voice there, in the verse? Is it referring to voice as in audible sound? The word used, “phōnē (G5456) for voice suggests that it was.  The word, hear (or listen, in some translations), in Greek, was akouō (G191).  It is equivalent to hearing with comprehension or understanding; understanding of what is said, not necessarily of the rationale. In context, the voice in verse 27 is indeed referring to audible sound like speech or verbal words.  Two verses up, in John 10:25a, we read this: Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.

Indeed, Jesus did speak about who He was; in John 8, Jesus said that He was from the Father God; some of the Jews did NOT understand what He said, and so, did NOT believe. Jesus said those Jews then, were no longer children of God; but were sons of perdition.  In John 10:24, those Jews were again asking if Jesus were the Messiah; to which Jesus answered, in verse 25a, “I did tell you, but you do not believe.

Who are the “My sheep”? Jesus metaphorically referred to Himself as the shepherd, The Shepherd, and so, “My sheep”, accordingly was referring to the flock belonging Him; and the flock meant men.  Men belonging to Jesus were the sheep.  Who were the ones belonging to Jesus, then? Jesus said, in John 18:9, 6:39, that the ones the Father God gave Him, He did NOT lose.  In other words, then, there were certain people God gave to Jesus.  These people, Jesus’ sheep, God would draw them to the Lord (John 6:37), and by that it included they would know the voice of the Lord, Jesus (John 10:4).

Jesus said (v27a), “My sheep hear my voice”, meaning when Jesus spoke, His sheep, or those belonging to Him, would hear, with comprehension, His voice.  Jesus did say, there are those who hear, but do NOT hear; these were NOT His sheep (yet), for though they heard, they could NOT hear with comprehension (Mark 4:12).

It is when the Lord spoke, His sheep heard (with comprehension) His voice, and NOT the Lord would communicate, even then, by speech or audible voice only.  It was a matter of norm, for Jesus then was a man, communicated by speaking audibly to His sheep or disciples; but as a forward application, when Jesus was already crucified and resurrected, would it still be the same, that the Lord would, every now and then, communicate to His sheep, now including us, believers, by speaking audibly to us?  There is nothing here to suggest that it is to be the case, that the Lord would be, every now and then, speaking audibly to us, believers. 

I am NOT saying the Lord cannot or won’t speak audibly to any of us; what I am saying is that, there is no support here, except that it is possible, for Jesus did communicate in audible voice when He was a man; and Scripture did reveal, after Jesus was raised from death and walked among men (before going up to the Father in Heaven), He did continue to communicate by voice. Also, reading of OT reveals that God did speak verbally or in audible voice to selected people.  But this verse here does NOT suggest post-resurrection of Jesus, He would continue to, every now and then, speak verbally to His sheep or believers.

While this verse, John 10:27a does NOT suggest the Lord would (now), every now and then, speak audibly to His sheep or believers, it does mean that when the Lord does speak audibly, His sheep or believers would hear (with comprehension).  Further to that, John 10:27c said, “and they follow me”.  So, NOT only would His sheep or believers hear His audible voice, they would follow Him.

From here, the common question that pops up is, whether it is absolute, that when the Lord speaks, believers cannot but hear and follow Him. Is it like one has no choice but hear it and follow Him?  My inclination is, unless the Lord insists, meaning He exercises sovereignty, our free-will is still intact; meaning, you and I can still, NOT obey Him.  When we retain our right NOT to listen to Him when He has spoken audibly, I believe the Lord, He also can exercise His sovereignty to count us as no longer His sheep. When He does NOT count you out, it is His grace to you.  The Lord is longsuffering, but it does NOT mean that we should profane His grace.

However, general use of this verse, John 10:27a, like a test of whether or NOT, one is a sheep of the Lord or is a believer, is misplaced.  The faultiness of this test is that it is dependent on the Lord to speak audibly, and if it is NOT the norm mode of communication by the Lord towards you, you will NOT hear!  Some people claim that they hear the Lord speak to them audibly regularly, and they said that if you are His, you too, should be experiencing the same.  I find this to be with little scriptural support. 

I know the Lord communicates to His sheep, in more ways than one; and I must honestly say that, despite I have been a believer for years, and have had more than one or two years of moving in the words of prophecy and words of knowledge, and ministering divine healing to people, I have not heard the audible voice of the Lord, audible as in it being heard through the ears! 

How could I have functioned in the gifts and anointing of the Spirit without hearing the still small voice of God audibly?  It was possible because I received the Lord’s directives or suggestions through means other than audible voice, and they included visions, mental pictures, dreams, a coming in, of a thought (NOT audible, for it was NOT heard by the ears, but received in the mind, and I know the “voice”), and from reading of His Word.  

Context-wise, the verse, John 10:27a was referring to hearing the Lord’s audible voice, and it can still be applied and exercised by the Lord, in that way, in present day.  Is it capable of wider application, in view of the overall counsel of the Word?  I believe the definition of voice in the verse can be expanded to include all ways that the Lord could employ to communicate with us. 

The point is that the statement was made when Jesus was still living as a man, where the common mode of communication was by audible voice.  If we apply it forward, it is NOT unacceptable to say that now that the Lord was no longer a man, but spirit, the mode of communication, accordingly, should be replaced by whatever mode that the Lord would employ as the resurrected Son of God, now sitting at the right hand of the Father God.  So, just because the Lord does NOT as a matter of norm, speak audibly to you and I, there is still no excuse NOT to be attentive to His Spirit, for His Spirit does communicate to us in more ways than one, and we are to “hear” and follow. 

I believe it is no making-up of things, rather it is like, OT flowing into NT, the presence of the Lord with us as man, flowing into His going back to Heaven, and the giving of His Spirit (the Spirit of Christ) which is also the Holy Spirit.  Accordingly, such allegiance to the Lord Jesus, is to flow over to be allegiance to the Spirit. In any case, allegiance to the Spirit, to the Son and to the Father God, they are all the same; for the Spirit, the Son, and the Father, they are God or the Triune God, always in agreement intrinsically.  The Holy Spirit is the voice of Christ.

John 16:12-15 - 12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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