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The Sound of Silence

• Greg Boyd

For many, hearing God’s voice and sensing the Spirit’s leading is a foreign concept. This sermon addresses why we should be hearing God, and some of the major obstacles that keep us from hearing what God is saying.

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Many of us walk through the Christian life as if we are the only one talking in our relationship with God. We know that the Christian faith is true, but we don’t experience God as personally speaking to us. It is crucial to make sure that we don’t let our experience define the truth about how God relates to use. Our goal is to get our experience to line up with truth. Let’s examine a couple of crucial points regarding the truth of hearing God.

First, the New Testament leads us to expect people to be routinely led by Spirit. When a person hears and believes the Good News, the Spirit takes up residence within that person. According to Romans 8:14-15, now that they are children of Abba, the Spirit wants to talk to them, lead them in the ways of Abba. All who are children of God are led by the Spirit. It doesn’t say all God’s children who are holy, hold special positions, are mature or are charismatic leaders. The kingdom is a movement in which the Spirit wants to speak to and through everyone just as they are.

Second, in the New Testament, the Spirit speaking to people was the norm, not the exception. The people of the New Testament church operated as if God was present and speaking. They did not operate on their own, hoping that what they did was directed by God. The language of the New Testament does not allow us to come to this conclusion. Instead, the writers of the New Testament speak of the Spirit’s overt leading and speaking.

This causes us to ask why we don’t hear God like this. In this sermon, Greg discusses two major obstacles. First, we can quench the Spirit, as pointed out by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20. Many have a tendency despise when God speaks through prophesy and therefore, instead of discerning what God is saying and not saying, they just toss aside the entire idea of prophesy. The idea of God speaking to us can look really messy because those who believe in this are often embarrassingly messy.

The second major obstacle is the common assumption that we live in a closed system, a world that is cut off from the divine. However, this is a modernistic assumption that is relatively new in the history of the world. We live out our own plans, while asking God to bless what we are doing. As a result, we don’t have any room in our imagination for God to speak to us.

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Topics: Holy Spirit, Imagination, Prayer

Sermon Series: Listen Up

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Focus Scripture:

  • Colossians 2:2-3

    I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

  • Romans 8:14-15

    For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”

  • I Thessalonians 5:19-20

    Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.

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