His Sheep Still Hear His Voice.
No new revelation here
The notion that the Spirit still speaks to His sheep today may be unsettling for some people. This fear would be merited if “God speaking today” was equated with Him granting divine revelation equal to the Bible. This is typically how cults and sects are formed. Someone claims to have heard a “new” word from God and then the “sheep” follow. What we are describing here is a false prophet. Wise sheep will know the difference.
First of all, when the Spirit speaks to His sheep today, He is not speaking to them any new revelations. We have all the revelation we need in the Holy Scriptures. However, He is still speaking to those who “…have ears to hear…” (Matt. 13:15).
TPM is based upon the reliability of God in revealing His truth to the heart of the one receiving prayer. The truth a person may receive in a TPM session will never supersede, add to, or take away from what has already been revealed in the written Word of God. Someone might ask, “Then why not just tell the person what the Bible says, as opposed to having him look to the Lord for something special?” There are a couple of reasons why we avoid doing this during a TPM session.
Without question, teaching and instruction in the Bible is a necessity and an expectation in the arena of discipleship. The Lord Himself commissioned us to “teach them to observe all things…” (Matt. 28:20). The Apostle Paul echoed this commission when he wrote, “We proclaim Him [Jesus], admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). There is a time and place for the teaching and instruction in the Scriptures. However, to do so this during a TPM session would disrupt its flow, causing it to run off course and stall out.
TPM is a person’s personal journey with God, therefore not the appropriate time for the facilitator to share his personal wisdom and insight. He should be following and only asking the prescribed questions that specifically relate to where the person is in this journey. The facilitator’s personal opinion, spiritual advice, or biblical instruction is not needed. TPM is a time for following, listening, and, at times, saying and doing nothing at all.
[It is understood that there is sometimes a necessity for instructing the person about the TPM Process, Principles, and Purpose. These instructions are intended to better equip the person for the ministry experience, not an attempt to supply biblical or practical advice.]
TPM is not about teaching a person more about the Bible. It is about the person taking responsibility for what they believe that is causing them emotional pain, identifying their false beliefs, bringing these false beliefs into the light of Christ, and receiving His perspective.
When people encounter the presence of Christ and have “the eyes of their hearts” opened (Eph. 1:18), the Spirit can fill them “…with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9) and grant them a “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). When this occurs, the Spirit illuminates a truth they probably already know with their intellect, and settles it within their heart. In TPM we call this the establishing of faith. Faith is knowing the truth with the heart with absolute certainty. When this occurs, this faith becomes the “assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).
So we see that TPM is not about receiving new revelation, but only about the Spirit personalizing the truth, transferring it from the intellectual to experiential realm so that it is understood in the heart.
This is nothing new. Believers commonly report having the same experience in many different contexts throughout their walk with God. Sometimes the Spirit illuminates the truth while listening to a sermon, reading the Scriptures, or receiving an admonition or exhortation from a fellow believer. When and where the Spirit chooses to do this is up to Him.
Intentional and Purposeful Cooperation with God
The TPM Process provides a means for intentionally and purposefully cooperating with God as He brings about our inner transformation. Since God is always ready and available to grant us truth and wisdom, we need to be actively seeking Him for it. This is cooperating with God’s “handiwork” (Eph. 2:10) that He is doing in each one of us who belong to Him.
Simply put: TPM is personalized prayer that provides us with the means for intentionally and purposefully cooperating with God in His work of refining our faith, renewing our minds, and transforming our lives.
Only the Spirit of Truth can set people free from lifelong fears, shame, false guilt, and anxiety etc., lifting the dark clouds of emotional pain in a divinely orchestrated moment. He clears out the lie-based core belief held in our hearts by the shining of His light into our darkness and His illumination of the truth. As we choose to expose our belief and hold it up to Him, He will illuminate the truth, renew our minds, and transformation will follow (Rom. 12:2).
Difference between content and understanding
In order to understand what is meant by God speaking to His sheep, we have to distinguish the difference between learning the content of a message and understanding its meaning. In a classroom I can learn the content of the lesson and even pass a test to reveal my memory of the information. However, understanding the same information is a different thing. When we go to the Scriptures, we can learn the content of what the text is saying but not yet understand its meaning. Learning the truth is an intellectual process that any person can accomplish, believers and unbelievers alike. The devil himself has learned the Scriptures, but he does not understand them in his heart—that is, if a devil has a heart.
Understanding the truth is only by a work of the Spirit. Unless God, through His Spirit, grants us a “… spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17) and fills us with the “…knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Col. 1:9 NIV), we cannot know the truth nor can we “…live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” (Col. 1:10 NIV). This is the Spirit persuading us of the truth. This understanding of the truth is what occurs in a TPM session. The truth that people report receiving in a ministry session is not something new that they did not already possess intellectually, but it becomes known within their hearts. This is the illumination of the truth. This is what brings about mind renewal and transformation. Memorizing a Bible verse accomplishes the intellectual “knowing” of the verse but it does not produce transformation. Heart knowledge is the source of transformation and of the fruit of the Spirit.
We may be able to quote 1 John 4:18 from memory, revealing that we have learned the words, and yet not understand them in our hearts. This passage makes it clear that when we know the love of God, there is no place for fear. It says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” If this does not feel true and if there is any fear in our lives, then it may be that we superficially understand it, but we do not truly know it. When we “know” the truth, freedom follows (Jo. 8:32). We need the Spirit to illuminate the truth within our hearts to replace the lie-based belief that is presently occupying the place in our heart where God desires us to have His truth.
Varying Modes of Communication
Is the Spirit still “speaking” to His people? I believe He is, but not all are listening. Those who are attuned to Him hear His voice in different ways. Not all “hear” the same way. Some see imagery, some receive analogies, some sense a prompting, hear words and phrases within, and others just have a realization of the truth.
So when I say the Lord’s sheep “hear” His voice, I am not limiting God’s communication through His Spirit to an audible voice. We know from our everyday life that communication can take many forms. We are not limited to the spoken word, and neither is the Spirit. For example, there are times when I can “hear” clearly what my wife is saying to me, without her saying a word. (I will leave this thought here and move on.)
Sometimes God speaks by illuminating a Bible passage we are reading, and we understand it in a way that we had not before. Most frequently, this is the way people hear from the Spirit, but it is not the only way.
God also gives direction to His people as they live, moment by moment. James the Apostle said that we can receive wisdom from God simply by asking. He said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). What does this look like? Is this wisdom limited to those moments when we are doing our Bible study? Does this mean that if we ask for wisdom, we also need to have the Bible open and be reading it?
Certainly God can grant wisdom through our reading of the Scriptures, but is receiving wisdom limited to having the Bible open? If I do not happen to have my Bible with me, must I wait until I get home to ask for wisdom? Or can we ask for wisdom and receive it with our hearts then and there? I say without reservation,”Yes.” But this wisdom will never supersede what is contained within the pages of the Scriptures and will always be consistent with its message.
The Spirit also “speaks” to us as He guides us with gentle nudges and promptings. For example, when the Spirit nudges me on an airplane to share my faith with the person next to me, He is speaking to me. This is direct communication from the Spirit to my heart. I may not hear a Bible verse in my head or even think of one, but nonetheless, I still clearly sense Him nudging me to share the Gospel. This is not revelation—adding to what the Bible has already said—but it is, nonetheless, communication. He is personally speaking and reminding me in that moment of a truth that I already know, “Go ye, therefore…” Again, His sheep hear His voice.
The Spirit Communicates Differently to Different People.
During a ministry session, people receive truth from the Spirit in many different ways. Most Bible scholars believe that after the canon of Scripture was closed (by the end of the third century AD), God stopped speaking to His church. I agree with this, inasmuch as He ceased giving new revelation that is equal to that of the inspired Scriptures. I believe the sixty-six books of Bible are the complete written Word, containing God’s final revelation, until He returns in the clouds. I believe that when we join Him in heaven, He will have much more to tell us. However, we will need glorified minds to comprehend it.
Even though I do not believe He is giving any new revelation that augments or supersedes what He has already given, I do believe the Shepherd is still speaking to His sheep and they are still hearing His voice. The point that I want you to consider here, is that the Lord is still speaking to the hearts of those who will listen. If you do not believe this, then TPM is not for you.
So what am I referring to when I suggest that He is still speaking? He is speaking experientially and personally to the hearts of His children—that is, to those who are listening. What He is saying is not new or an addition to what is written in the Bible, but is experiential and personal to the one to whom He is speaking.
At one time a man challenged me concerning this. He said, “God only speaks through what He has said in the Bible. We hear God when we read the words on the page and nothing more.” I asked him a simple question, “If you were seated on an airplane next to a person and you suddenly felt compelled to share the Gospel, where would you say that compelling came from?” He quickly said, “From the Spirit. The Lord commissioned us in Matthew 28 to take the Gospel to all the world.” I followed with, “So the Spirit compels you to do what you already know the Bible to have said?” He replied, “Yes, of course.” I continued, “So then, the Spirit can communicate with you using the truth that you know from the Scripture to give you direction?” He replied, “Yes, of course.” Then I said, “So then we agree that the Spirit still speaks to His sheep, giving them direction based upon what is contained in His written Word?” He agreed.
This is all that I am saying. The Spirit is still speaking to His sheep, personally and directly, but within the parameters of what is contained within the pages of the Bible. Having said this, I want to take it one step further. The Spirit not only gives direction and guidance to the believer through what he has learned from the Scriptures intellectually, He also illuminates—brings meaning and understanding to—the truth of the Scriptures within the believer’s heart. When this occurs, the truth becomes the believer’s faith, as he now knows it experientially and with absolute certainty.
People receive experiential truth from the Spirit in many different ways. Some people receive truth from the Spirit visually through word pictures, some report hearing an inner audible message, or smelling a fragrance, while others neither see nor hear anything, but simply notice an inner shift in their thinking. They sometimes describe this as a realization of the truth.
Keep in mind that transformation is the goal and not the receiving of truth by a particular means. How people receive the truth is irrelevant, but receiving it is paramount. Transformation is evident when the lie-based belief that felt true just a moment before this, now no longer feels true, and in its place the truth now resides.
In a TPM session, transformation is what is sought. When a person comes to know experientially and realizes the truth of his identity—his value, his purpose and position in Christ—he will interpret life through this truth. And where he once believed lies and felt deep pain, he will now possess the peace of Christ, a fruit of the Spirit. Peace follows truth. The absence of peace is the indication of a lie. The apostle Paul said it clearly: “May the Lord of peace, Himself, grant you peace in every circumstance” (2 Thess. 3:16). If we do not have peace in our circumstance, then we need to ask, “why not?”