Hearing God's Voice and the Gift of Prophecy - Bob Sawvelle

Hearing God’s Voice and the Gift of Prophecy

Recently at Passion Church, we’ve hosted a couple of prophetic conferences. These gatherings centered on the worship of Jesus, biblical teaching to equip God’s people for supernatural living and ministry, and creating an atmosphere of freedom to allow the Holy Spirit to move and encounter God’s people. The Vision 2020 sessions with Dr. Kim Maas, Steve Swanson, Brian Starley, and myself can be found on our Passion Church website. Additionally, the teaching sessions from this last weekend with Isabel Allum are also available for download. You will be blessed by all these sessions! Many received prophetic ministry and powerful words over their lives.

I’ve had our Passion Church Life Groups studying the topic of hearing God’s voice and the gift of NT prophecy during the last few weeks. This blog is a compilation of these teachings taken from a message I’ve given, Prophecy for Today! Part 1:  https://youtu.be/mu0R-XZLOJY Part 2: https://youtu.be/qA769edfDWM

His Sheep Hear His Voice!

God wants to communicate with us. All throughout the Bible, we have a record of God talking with people. He spoke with Adam and Eve in the garden, with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses, and others. God’s desire to speak with humanity has never ceased. God is love, and love communicates.

Jesus is our Shepherd and we can hear and know His voice (John 10:7-11, 14, 27-30). If we are a born-again believer and follower of Jesus, He wants us to know and hear His voice. Some people have a hard time hearing God’s voice because they don’t believe He speaks to His people today, they don’t cultivate an intimate relationship (spend time listening), or they don’t practice listening to the Holy Spirit within. Hebrews 5:14 says that we distinguish between good and evil by training our senses with practice.

Hearing God’s Voice Provides Many Benefits

God reveals His plans, purposes, and even our destiny to us. Psalm 91:15 says He will answer our cries and protect us. Joshua 1:7-8 tells us that God provides for us as we meditate on His word. We see in Psalm 23 that God’s voice, His word brings peace during difficulty. John 15:15 reveals that God desires intimacy; He wants us to be friends. Romans 8:29 shows that this intimacy with God where we hear His voice brings transformation to us to make us more like Jesus. To experience these benefits, we must also learn to recognize God’s voice as He communicates in a variety of ways.

God speaks through the Old Testament Prophets, and He speaks to us through Jesus who is the full expression of the Father (Hebrews 1:1-4). Paul writes to Timothy to remind him that the Bible is God’s written word to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come and speak to (teach) them, reminding them of all that God says and does (John 14:25-26). We also have New Testament prophets (Ephesians 4:11) and the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:4-11) for the benefit of the whole church. Finally, we can see all throughout Scripture that God sent angelic messengers to carry His word to His people.

Hearing God’s voice is beneficial and should be a normal part of our daily life. Proverbs 20:12 says that God has given us ears to hear and eyes to see. He created us in His image so that we could hear His voice and see what He would show us as we walk with Him. One thing to remember is that no dream, vision, angelic visitation, or prophetic word should ever contradict the Bible!

Holy Spirit Poured Out

When the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost, Peter correctly identified that prophecy was a component of the “new thing” that God was doing on the earth (Acts 2:1-21). He clearly stated that the Spirit is poured out on all people and a direct result is prophecy and dreams (Acts 2:17-18)! The prophetic is a key sign of the Holy Spirit’s anointing presence (Acts 19:6).

Prophecy in the New Testament Church

The gifts of the Spirit were given to the church to benefit and bless the entire church. We need the gifts today! The Bible is positive toward prophecy and the gifts of the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12-14 contains much of the information we have about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and prophecy operating in the New Testament church. These chapters reveal that prophecy is a divine gift to be stewarded well by individuals and the church. They also highlight that the core and foundation of all the gifts is love—they are gifts of grace and mercy given for our benefit.

1 Corinthians 12-14 also gives us guidelines for using prophetic gifts individually and corporately. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says that prophecy helps the entire church. 1 Corinthians 14:1 encourages us to pursue love, the spiritual gifts, and especially prophecy. In 1 Corinthians 14:5, Paul writes that he wished people spoke in tongues, but even more that they prophesied! Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 14:39 to earnestly desire the gift of prophecy.

In 1 Corinthians 14:29-33, we gain insight as to how prophecy works in a group gathering (corporate prophecy) and highlights the need for defining some aspects of prophetic ministry, so we are all speaking and understanding from a shared perspective. A prophetic word is a spontaneous, divinely given understanding or foreknowledge about a person or event (Matthew 16:15-17). A personal prophecy is a prophetic word from God given for or to an individual (1 Timothy 4:14). A corporate prophecy is a prophetic word from God given for or to a body or congregation of believers (1 Corinthians 14:3-4). Prophetic Intercession is the ability to pray and intercede with prophetic insight and power from the Holy Spirit for specific issues God brings to mind at specific times (Romans 8:26-27).

The Nature of Personal Prophecy

When it comes to personal prophecy, as defined and operational in the New Testament, there are three factors we must be aware of. Personal prophecy is partial, progressive and conditional.

Personal Prophecy is Partial and Progressive

Fist realize that God’s revelations are “in part.” 1 Corinthians 13:9 says that we know in part and prophesy in part. God’s personal revelation to individuals is partial and used to help us on to the next step with Him. Like a seed, His word must be nurtured to grow—and it takes time before fruit-bearing and harvest!

Abraham received eight important prophecies over the course of almost fifty years (Genesis 12-25). And we do not see the full culmination of the seed blessing all nations until the first advent of Christ centuries later. God truly does take the long view, and so should we.

Personal Prophecy is Conditional

All personal prophecy is conditional, whether stated explicitly or not. New Testament prophecy is an invitation, not a declaration. That is why Paul encourages Timothy to meditate on all the things he received by prophecy (1 Tim. 4:14-15). Personal prophecy, and the Holy Spirit, require our cooperation and participation with His leading. For this reason, Paul tells Timothy to “wage a good warfare,” to not “neglect the gift,” and to “stir up the gift” (1 Tim. 1:18, 4:14, and 2 Tim. 1:6). Once we have tested a word, we must be faithful to believe, pray, and obey the prophecy as the Spirit leads!

Testing Personal Prophecy

New Testament prophets and prophecy must be tested, judged, and evaluated. Not everything we say may be divinely inspired. 1 Corinthians 14:29 says that what is prophesied should be judged or evaluated; we are discerning if this is a word from God. 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 says that we should not despise or disregard prophecy but should test all things with the expectation that it is a word from God. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says that we see a dim reflection of things, slightly distorted as an imperfect picture. 1 Corinthians 13:9 says that we don’t see everything but only parts and pieces of the whole of what God sees. For these reasons, we must be diligent to discern if this is really a word from God.

Here are some things to look for when testing a prophetic word:

  • Does the word align with Scripture?
  • Does the word display the character of Christ?
  • What is the fruit in the life of the person giving the prophecy? (Luke 6:43-45)
  • What is the Holy Spirit giving you by way of an inward witness?
  • Is the word from God? We often hear from three sources: God, demonic spirits, and our own flesh.


Ultimately, God is speaking and communicating with you all the time! Learn to discern His loving voice so you can see your destiny fulfilled and see the nations impacted by His love!


Bob Sawvelle

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