5 Ways to Make Sure You Are Really Hearing from God
by Mark Virkler
1. Test the Origin (1 John 4:1)
Thoughts from our own minds are progressive, with one thought leading to the next, however tangentially. Thoughts from the spirit world are spontaneous. The Hebrew word for true prophecy is naba, which literally means to bubble up, whereas false prophecy is ziyd meaning to boil up. True words from the Lord will bubble up from our innermost being; we don’t need to cook them up ourselves.
2. Compare It to Biblical Principles
God will never say something to you personally which is contrary to His universal revelation as expressed in the Scriptures. If the Bible clearly states that something is a sin, no amount of journaling can make it right. Much of what you journal/prophecy/word from the Lord about will not be specifically addressed in the Bible, however, so an understanding of biblical principles is also needed.
3. Compare It to the Names and Character of God as Revealed in the Bible
Anything God says to you will be in harmony with His essential nature. Journaling will help you get to know God personally, but knowing what the Bible says about Him will help you discern what words are from Him. Make sure the tenor of your journaling/prophecy/word from the Lord lines up with the character of God as described in the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
4. Test the Fruit (Matthew 7:15-20)
What effect does what you are hearing have on your soul and your spirit? Words from the Lord will quicken your faith and increase your love, peace and joy. They will stimulate a sense of humility within you as you become more aware of Who God is and who you are. On the other hand, any words you receive which cause you to fear or doubt, which bring you into confusion or anxiety, or which stroke your ego (especially if you hear something that is “just for you alone – no one else is worthy”) must be immediately rebuked and rejected as lies of the enemy.
5. Share It with Your Spiritual Counselors (Proverbs 11:14)
We are members of a Body! A cord of three strands is not easily broken and God’s intention has always been for us to grow together. Nothing will increase your faith in your ability to hear from God like having it confirmed by two or three other people! Share it with your spouse, your parents, your friends, your elder, your group leader, even your grown children can be your sounding board. They don’t need to be perfect or super-spiritual; they just need to love you, be committed to being available to you, have a solid biblical orientation, and most importantly, they must also willingly and easily receive counsel. Avoid the authoritarian who insists that because of their standing in the church or with God, they no longer need to listen to others. Find two or three people and let them confirm that you are hearing from God!
Nine Scriptural Tests of Revelation
by James Goll - Each revelation, big or small, can be tested against these scriptural statements...
1. The revelation must build up the recipients
The end result is to build up, admonish, and encourage the people of God. Anything else is suspect. Paul sums it up: “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort… What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.” (1 Cor. 14:3,26)
2. The revelation must honor the recorded Word of God
All true revelation agrees with both the letter and the spirit of Scripture. When the Holy Spirit says “yes and amen” in a revelation, He has already said the same in Scripture. The Spirit never contradicts itself.
3. The revelation must glorify God the Father and God the Son
“For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus.” (Revelation 19:10)
4. The revelation must be established by its fruit (over time)
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-16) “For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.” (Ephesians 5:9)
5. Predictive prophecy will be fulfilled
(Deuteronomy 18:21-22) - with a few exceptions: a) God has given humankind free will to choose His ways - or not. b) Some authentic words carry critical consequences unless people repent - and the repentance occurs. c) The fulfillment of a word can occur a long time afterward.
6. The revelation must direct people to Jesus
7. The revelation must release the spirit of adoption
The Spirit of adoption is the assurance of being sons and daughters of God, as opposed to being captive slaves. “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’” (Romans 8:15)
8. The revelation must produce life in those who hear it
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3:6)
9. True revelation will be attested to by the Holy Spirit
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” (1 John 2:27)
by Chuck Pierce & Rebecca Wagner Systema
1. Does the word you have receive edify, exhort, and comfort you?
If the word leaves you with a sense of uneasiness instead of edification, or you feel that something is not just right, you should not receive the word without further testing. (1st Cor. 14:3)
2. What is the spirit behind prophecy?
The spirit in which all prophecy should be given is love. Therefore a word of exhortation or correction should leave you with a freedom to rebuild.
3. Does it conform to Scripture?
God is not going to say one thing in the Bible and then tell you the opposite in a prophetic word. The prophetic word of the Lord will always line up with the inspired, written Word of God that has been given to us as a guide and an example. If not, please do not fully embrace the word.
4. Does it display the character of Christ?
Even if Scriptures are used in the prophetic word, another area to check is to make sure Christ’s character shines through the prophetic word - which leads to love. Prophetic words should also exalt Jesus rather than a person or ministry. They should lead us to His feet rather than to an organization.
5. Is it manipulative or controlling?
Even though some words are filled with truth, they can manipulate or control a person under the desire of the one giving the word. Such a word has no love, much less any of the other fruit of the spirit, and should be discarded.
6. Does it usurp your will?
Does the word say you must do this or that? If so, there should be a red flag. God gives us all freedom - even the freedom to sin. All prophetic words should leave you the choice to either accept them or reject.
7. Does it pull rank?
Does the word begin to move you out of the authoritative structure in which God has placed you? Does it breed rebellion against authority, produce suspicion, or insubordination? God gave each of His children an authority structure in which to operate. If the word suggests that you supercede biblical authority, reject it.
8. Does it confirm what God is saying to you?
Prophetic words often confirm what God has already spoken to you, and fit in with what He is doing in your life.
9. Does it allow outside perspective?
If someone gives you a word and says you are not supposed to communicate it with anyone else, be careful. Godly counsel is always in order, particularly when the word tells you something drastic. A good test of any prophecy is to take it to a mature spiritual friend or authority in your life and ask them to help you judge the word.
10. Does it give a dire warning?
Warnings are fine, but what kind of a warning is? Is the warning so dire that you have no way out and it produces hopelessness in you, or does the warning show you your way of escape? Is there redemption?
11. How do you feel about the word in your spirit?
God has given each of us discernment in our spirits. If we receive a prophetic word, and it just doesn’t seem right to us, for whatever reason, we have cause to check it out further before we embrace it as a word from the Lord.
12. Is it confirmed by the church?
If you received a personal word that doesn’t land well in your spirit, run it by godly men and women of God, brother and sister, to receive their feedback and input. When a corporate prophetic words given in a church/gathering, there should be instant feedback from the people and the leaders, either affirming it or calling it into question or downright rejecting it.
13. Does it come to pass?
If the word is predictive in nature, then that could be a basis for judging a word, unless it is a conditional word - based on something we must do. If you are satisfied that you have done all that God has required of you concerning the word, and it is still not fulfilled, it may not have been a word from the Lord at all.
14. Does it produce fruit?
A true word from the Lord will bear good fruit - life, peace, hope, love, and all the other fruit of the Holy Spirit - that we will be able to discern. And a word which is not from the Lord will either produce the fruit of evil - strife, anger, jealousy, lust, indifference - or it will have no effect at all. Bruce Yocum writes, “If we pay attention to the effect that prophetic utterances have, we can judge their worth.”