Does the Holy Spirit Speak Today?
I want to bind you all together in love, to stir your minds so that your understanding may come to full development, until you really know the mystery of God, in whom all the jewels of wisdom and knowledge are hidden. —Colossians 2:2-3 
Does the Holy Spirit speak to us today? My first reaction is to say: well yes, of course he does. The Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Godhead and yes he speaks to us.
Although the question of whether the Holy Spirit speaks to us today is seen as a controversial topic in some circles, we can see biblically that the person of the Holy Spirit does indeed speak to us today. Lets have a look at the many ways in which he does this.
- Gods Spirit lives within believers (1 Cor 3:16, 1 Jn 3:24).
- We carry the very presence of God and His anointing resides within us (1 Jn 2:27). This means then that the Spirit of God is in the perfect position to be able to communicate Gods will to us.
- God has chosen to communicate to his children through the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:12), and communicate through his children to an unbelieving world.
“The answer to prayer is always the same – it’s the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Richard Rohr
What does the spirit actually say to us?
We know that ‘he will not speak on his own; he only speaks what he hears’ (Jn 16:13). The Spirit speaks what he hears the father saying. The spirit is able to ‘communicate heaven into our hearts’ (Hinn, 1990: 70). He is the perfect translator of the words of heaven. God the Father speaks through the spirit (Matt 10:19-20), as does Jesus in Acts 1:2 when he gave instructions to the apostles through the Holy spirit.
The Holy Spirit interprets the voice of the father and the son so that we humans can hear and understand withour fear of death (Hinn, 1990:71). The voice of the Father is described as ‘thunder’ and many times when he spoke people fell on their faces and where greatly afraid ( Job 37: 2, 4- 5, Jn 13:29-30, Matt 17:6). Though the voice of God had come for the benefit of the people they were not able to hear it (Deere, 2001:90). The voice of Jesus is described in Revelation 1:15 as the ‘sound of rushing waters’. When John heard the voice of Jesus he fell down dead ( Rev 1:17). Paul also fell to the ground when he heard the voice of Jesus (Ac 9:4). The Holy Spirit therefore because of his nature and his dwelling within us, is the translator or transmitor from the Godhead to us.
There are many accounts in the bible of the Spirit speaking. The Spirit gave Philip a command and ‘told him to go to that chariot and stay near it’ (Act 8:29). In Acts 13:2, ‘the Holy Spirit said; set apart for me Barnabas and Saul’. These are direct words from the spirit. The Holy Spirit testifies to us (Heb 10:15), he warns us (Acts 20:23), guides and instructs us (Jn 16:13, Ne 9:20), teaches us and reminds us (Luke 12:12, Jn 14:26). He also at times speaks on our behalf, ‘just say whatever is given to you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit’ (Mk 13:11). He speaks in a way that is understandable and for our encouragement and wellbeing.
How does the Spirit speak?
The Holy Spirit speaks to us directly and personally through our conscience, our hearts and our spirit. Conviction of the heart. Rom 8:16, Matt 24:34 heart the mouth speaks. – Lk 6:45 , Gal 4:6, rom 10;10 ‘With your heart you believe’. Ex 25:2 his heart prompts him.
Eyes of the heart being opened.: Gen 3:5, 2 Kings 6:17,” and the lord opened the eyes of the young man and…behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire’ (p235 Virkler) Mark 8:18
Inner inspiration of the heart
The Holy Spirit ‘witnesses to our very conscience’ (Hinn, 1990; 76), as Paul says ‘ My concience confirms it in the Holy Spirit’ (Rom 9:1). The Holy Spirit communicates and converses with our spirits, ‘the spirit himself testifies with our spirit’ (Rom 8:16) . ‘The voice of God is Sprit to Spirit communication; the Holy Sprit speaking directly to my spirit. It is sensed as a spontaneous thought, idea, word or feeling (Virkler, 1986:27).
The Spirit will also speak to us in dreams, visions and in pictures to express what he wants to say. As we see it in our minds eye, then we are able to describe or interpret. There are many accounts in scripture of revelation being given through a dream – Or picture “Watch and see what he will speak to me” Hab 2:1,2, Num 12:6 Ez 40:4 “Speak all that you see.
He speaks as you write, journal- – Hab 2:2,3 “Write the vision down”. 1 Jn 1:3, 2 Cor 13:14 “ the fellowship of the HS be with you’. Revelation; John recorded the visions, questions and answers. Daniel 7:1
How do you know that the Holy Spirit is speaking?
The Holy Spirit is a ‘personal, immediate, dynamic and perfect guide. He speaks so we must listen to him’ (Warrington, 2005: 221). If the Spirit speaks to us it is for a reason. It is important that we know how to get the mind of the spirit, that is why we must learn how to recognise his voice apart from all others. Wigglesworth Smith says that ‘it is the easiest thing to get the mind of the spirit when your whole heart is only desiring the will of God’ (Liardon, 1998:11). If our desire is the will of God for our life or for the life of those we are ministering to, then we can expect the spirit to instruct and teach us what to say. For such a ministry there needs to be a relationship with the Spirit in a person’s life. Hence this statement:
“We have not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God: that we may understand what God has freely given us: we speak…in words taught by the spirit. Expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words “(1 Cor. 2:12-13).
The spirit will speak a word, a sentence, a dialogue, or impress a scripture. What are these words like? ‘They are like my own thoughts except that I sense them as coming from my heart rather than my brain in that they are spontaneous, not analytical or cognitive’ (Virkler, 1986: 29).i”]
The Holy Spirit speaks through us to others.
The Holy Spirit speaks through us to others by (a) using our voice to interpret what the spirit is saying to us, ‘he that has an ear let him hear what the spirit says’ (Rev 3:6); and (b) through the gifts he has given us (1 Cor 12:7-12).
( a) Using our voice: The Holy Sprit inspires us to speak. ‘ It is not you who speak but the Spirit speaking through you’ (Matt 10:20) and ‘I will put my spirit on him and he will speak’ ( Mat 12:18) When we receive something from the spirit it is usually to pass it on to someone else. Peter says that ‘if anyone speaks he should do it as one speaking the very words of God’ (1Peter 4:11), other translations say ‘as the oracles of God’. ‘Oracular speech is the rendering of a message considered to have been imparted…directly by the spirit in…word or vision’ (Turner, 1999: 306). These impulses come with the conviction that they originate with the spirit and should be passed on. (Turner, 1999: 308). Just as the Holy Spirit is the voice of the Godhead we in turn are empowered through the Holy Spirit to be Gods representative in speech and in ministry (Baxter, 1983:37).
(b) Gifts are a vehicle the spirit uses to speak to people. Prophecy, a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom and teaching are just a few of the ways that the spirit speaks to us through the gifts that Christ has given for the edification of the body (1Cor 12). These gifts are not something that we can do naturally, they are ‘supernatural capabilities given by God, the Holy Spirit’ (Baxter, 1983:40).
Prophecy ( 1 Cor 12:10): Prophecy is the Spririt of God speaking through you (2 Sam 23:1-3). It is a way for the inspired message of God to be delivered, prophecy is ‘utterance under divine inspiration; delivering inspired exhortations, instructions or warnings’ (Vincent, 1975:98). The Holy Spirit inspires prophecy and is present during prophecy ( Lk 1:41-42, 1:67-69, Acts 19:6), it is always for the edification of the reciever (Eph 4:12, 1 Cor 14:26).
A word of knowledge: This is a gift given by God the Holy Spirit which goes far beyond the ‘normal and natural capabilities of the individual’ (Thomson, 1960: 109). Some examples of this would be the revelation of sin in Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:3-4). Paul’s trip to Rome on the doomed ship (Acts 27; 21-24). This knowledge was revealed supernaturally to Paul and his speech was therefore ‘the word of knowledge’ (Thomson, 1960: 109). Elisha without seeing it or hearing about it, knew the location of the Syrian camp and all that went on there (2 Kings 6:11-12), and was able to warn the King.
A word of wisdom: James Thomson explains the meaning in these words: ‘this gift would communicate the ability to receive and explain “the deep things of God”’ (Rom 11:33). In God’s dealings with men much is mysterious, and the ordinary Christian is often in need of a word that will throw light upon his situation; the person fitted by the spirit to fulfill this ministry is through the spirit given a word of wisdom (Thomson, 1960:103). ‘We speak of Gods secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it’ (1 Cor 2:7-8). The wisdom Paul used was the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift is ‘knowledge rightly applied by the Holy Spirit and brings a supernatural answer to a problem’ (Holland, ).
Preaching: Through the preaching of the word of God you may believe that the Spirit is speaking just to you. If an evangelist is speaking you may feel or hear a prompting of the Holy Spirit to have faith to believe (Ac 21:8). This is a given gift or calling on a life. “‘An evangelist has the particular gift of preaching the gospel to unsaved men so that they can hear and believe”. Men or women with a great knowledge of the word can get up and speak and give a call for salvation and nothing happens. Another man preaches and there is a great response. What is the difference? One has the gift of evangelism and the other does not’” (Dwight, 1970:173).
The Holy Spirit can speak through a sermon or through teaching. ‘While peter was speaking…the holy spirit came on all who heard the message’ (Acts 10:44). If someone ministers, they do it with the ability which God has given them (1 Peter 4:10 -11). Sermons are a common means of spiritual speech. It is the Holy Spirit who provides the message that is needed to be proclaimed (1Pet 1:12).
The Holy Spirit speaks to us because he loves us and because we desperately need him. He desires to partner with us in this journey of life . He empowers us to do the work of the Lord and to testify of Jesus. He uses us to edify one another and he reveals to us supernatural knowledge and information. He does this to direct us, to lead us, and to equip us. The Holy Spirit aids us in our life and loves to encourage us. He acts as the mouthpiece of God and reveals the things which are to come. This prepares us and helps us in our daily life.
Baxter, R. (1983). Gifts of the Spirit. Grand Rapids:MI: Kregel Publications.
Deere, J. (2001). The Gift of Prophecy. MI: Servant Publications.
Dwight, J. (1970). Penticost, the divine comforter. Chicago: Moody Press.
Hinn, B. (1990). Good morning Holy spirit. Milton Keynes, England: Word Books.
Holland, R. The nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. Melbourne: Blue Print.
Liardon, R. (1998). Smith Wigglesworth speaks to students of the Bible. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Albury Publishing.
Thomson, J. (1960). Bakers Dictionary of Theology. Grand Rapids:MI: Baker Book House.
Turner, M. (1999). The Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts then and now. Cambria:UK: Paternoster Press.
Vincent, M. (1975). Word Studies in the New Testament (Vol. 3).Grand Rapids: MI Eerdmen Publishing Co.
Virkler, M. (1986). Dialougue with God. Australia: Peace Makers Ministries Ltd.
Warrington, K. (2005). Discovering the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Peabody, MS: Hendrickson Publishers Inc.
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