How Do You Know If God Spoke?

The expression “God spoke to me” is becoming more and more prevalent among many. Years ago, such an expression would have been associated with persons in the church; however, it has become the language of those who lay no claim to regular church attendance or being committed Christians. How can we know if God really spoke to a person?
Subjective Truth
By that (subjective truth or personal experience) I am advocating that a person’s claim to God speaking to him or her cannot be dismissed, as there are many occasions in the Bible when God spoke to individuals. And He did this in various ways, without regard for nationality, gender, education or religion. It is God’s prerogative to choose whomsoever He wishes, as He is God, and His wisdom is not to be questioned. Notwithstanding that –Is it not possible to scrutinize such a claim of God speaking to someone? After all, with so many saying so and with apparent conflicting messages, how may we know for a certainty?

God’s Speaking Will Not Conflict With His Word
Some time ago, a church sister shared how a person needed a certain amount of cash; and he said that he was impressed by God to “play a certain number” (a form of local gambling). Reportedly, the number fell, and the exact amount needed was realized. How do we reconcile that? One can reason that God would not, in His word, advocate hard work, integrity and honesty, and then turn around and encourage chance, or gambling through dream or direct encounter. Of course, one may challenge that answer by referencing the example of Abraham and Isaac. Did not God say, “Thou shalt not kill?” Also, didn’t God say that a great nation would come through Isaac? And yet He (God) required Abraham to slay his son, Isaac, who had no children at that time. Was God going against what He had established? Was He not contradicting Himself? The context of Genesis 22 explains and clarifies the apparent contradiction; for in verse 1, it states that God was testing Abraham. So one can deduce that God will not tell one to divorce a spouse on grounds other than what the Scriptures speak to. God will not tell a person to steal when His Word says otherwise.

What About Dreams?
The same principle applies to dreams and visions. They must line up with the Word, or we could have persons giving their dreams as a basis for belief and/or warning and claiming divine authority. Notwithstanding the promise of the Old Testament prophet, Joel 2:28-32, that God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, and they shall dream dreams, etc., we should be careful not to dismiss and/or be gullible to accept without seeking to test or examine the dream or vision. In the New Testament, in 1 John 4:1-3, we are admonished to “test the spirits.” While a dream may be God sent, it may be only for the individual or for a group of persons. It requires that we examine it carefully.
Whatever the intent, we may note that a dream or the expression, “God told me so,” is not to replace or take precedence over the written word. A classical example is found in 2 Peter 1:16-21. There you will discover that Peter referred to an eyewitness account experienced by James, John and himself. He writes, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2Pet. 1:16, NKJV). Now in our day and age, within the judicial system, an eyewitness’ account counts for something, as one can say, “I saw it with my own eyes;” or “I heard it with my own ears.” Against such Peter argues for that which is better and more authoritative; and what is that, you ask? As noted in verse 19, “We have a more sure word of prophecy” (KJV). The Bible is God’s word to us containing His will and instructions for mankind. It is not subjective, for Peter says, “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation” (2Pet.1:20, NKJV). The Bible is God’s truth! Inspired writer Ellen White observes: “The Bible is the most ancient and the most comprehensive history that men possess. It came fresh from the fountain of eternal truth, and throughout the ages a divine hand has preserved its purity. It lights up the far-distant past, where human research in vain seeks to penetrate” (Ed 173.1). Essentially, the Bible is our sure and most reliable guide as it is “a lamp to [our] feet, and a light unto [our] path” (Psalm 119:105).