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Note: I truly do not mean to reopen debate about cessationism or ask about the basis of it or contrary views. I'm just asking about terms and how this one would be classified.


The Question

Is hearing directly from God (or Christ or the Holy Spirit) in either words to the ear, or clear words in the mind as “Other” one of the Supernatural Fruits of the Spirit, and hence directly subject to the cessationism debate, and hence also something the Church Fathers experienced?

Is this generally referred to as revelation, as opposed to prophesy?

Do Christians believe (or, which Christians believe, including you if Christian) that this happens in modern times to some Christians?


Notes and links:

Related: Depending upon the delineation made in the above by any answers, then my last question has already been asked and answered somewhat: Are there any traditions that believe in the complete cessation of miracles?

Related: This question has examples from the Bible of God talking to people, and an answer says that Reformed Theology includes it as one of the things that they claim has ceased: Do Cessationists believe that the Holy Spirit still speaks specific messages or instructions to Christians today?

I believe there are examples of church fathers hearing from God, and am even more certain they acquainted with and believed those who did, don’t recall which question that was.

Finally, Al Brown’s thoughts on cessationism generally (which is not this question).

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    I would suggest that you clarify your question to distinguish (more clearly) the difference between the 'hearing of faith' (how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14) and audible hearing of a physical kind with the natural ear (directly from heaven without a preacher) which would be similar to what was heard by witnesses to the baptism and transfiguration of the Lord and similar to Paul's Damascus Road experience.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 3 at 12:43
  • In the last US election, several republican candidates heard God speaking to them, telling them they were going to be the president. Source: nymag.com/intelligencer/2011/06/… Either God is lying to people, or people with extreme political influence, hear voices. Both options seem rather scary. Sep 4 at 16:12
  • @PerAlexandersson Of the three who felt God was trying to tell them something, or equivalent, a grand total of ZERO say that message was that they would become President. For example: “God said, ‘Not yet Herman. I’ve got something else for you to do.’ And it might be to become the president of the United States of America.” And that’s the strongest of the three. The other two said maybe this means Im supposed to run. Santorum: “We have prayed a lot about this decision, and we believe with all our hearts that [running] is what God wants.” = God spoke and said I’d be President ?
    – Al Brown
    Sep 5 at 5:23
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Do/which Christians believe they hear from God?

Speaking in very general terms, most Christians denominations accept the possibility that God can speak to various individuals in one manner or another. It happens occasionally, here and there.

It is true that some seem not to be able to hear the voice of God. But then He may be speaking to us in a way we are not thinking of, as when we are read the Sacred Scriptures.

Not everyone can have one of those St. Augustine moments!

Augustine heard the voice, “as if ” he says, of a boy or girl chanting a repetitious refrain: “Pick it up and read, pick it up and read.” (Confessions 8,12,29). Obediently he hurries to the spot in the garden where Alypius was sitting. There he snatched the epistles of Saint Paul, opened the volume and read the first text that met his eyes. It was Romans 13: 13-14. “No reveling or drunkenness, no debauchery or vice, no quarrels or jealousies! Rather put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” This is a powerful message for any reader of the Bible. It gets right to the heart of Christian life. Why did it come to Augustine at this time? How did it affect him? Augustine shares this great moment of conversion with us in his Confessions: “

I had no wish to read further, and no need. For in that instant with the very ending of the sentence, it was as though a light of utter confidence shone in all my heart and the darkness of uncertainty vanished. For you had converted me to yourself, so I would seek not ambition in this world

I have read of Baptist martyrs in Russia experiencing this phenomenon, without being able to explain the concept of hearing a voice they perceived as coming from God.

Interior locutions are a spiritual gift of hearing God’s voice interiorly for various individuals.

An interior locution is a mystical concept used by various religions. An interior locution is a form of private revelation, but is distinct from an apparition, or religious vision. An interior locution may be defined as "A supernatural communication to the ear, imagination, or directly to the intellect."

"Supernatural words are manifestations of God's thought which are heard either by the exterior senses or by the interior senses or immediately by the intellect."2 An example of the first is Gabriel's appearance to Zachary described in Luke 1:10-20. The latter two more properly fall under interior locutions. According to John of the Cross, "[t]hese are usually produced in a person's spirit without the use of the bodily senses as means...Formal locutions are certain distinct and formal words that the spirit receives, whether or not recollected, not from itself but from another."[3] According to William Meninger O.C.S.O., the fifth vision of Julian of Norwich came in the form of an interior locution which she heard "clearly in her heart though not a word is spoken." (The term "vision" is here used to describe one in a series of religious experiences.)

Another way to describe locutions is as corporeal, imaginary, or spiritual or intellectual.

Corporeal locutions are those actually heard by the physical powers of hearing...Imaginary locutions are not heard in that way but the impression apprehended and received by the imaginative faculty is the same as though it had been ...In spiritual or intellectual locutions God imprints what he is about to say in the depths of the spirit: there is no sound or voice, or either corporeal or imaginative representation of such, but an expression of (certain) concepts in the depths of the spirit and in the faculty of understanding..."

It was an interior locution that reportedly led Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows to enter religious life. After a cholera epidemic that killed his sister had ended, Spoleto clergy and civic authorities organised a procession of the ancient icon of the Virgin Mary in Spoleto’s cathedral. Francis attended the procession and as the image passed by him, he felt an interior voice asking why he remained in the world. This event was the galvanising force behind the first serious steps in Francis’ religious vocation.

It is not always easy to determine whether the purported communication is actually from another source or the product of the person's own mind. An interior locution is distinguished from an interior monologue. Teresa of Ávila addresses this in El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle), written in 1577. Spurious locutions can be recognized by their lack of coherence or clarity, and the disquiet they cause in the one who receives them.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange explains: "Even in revelations approved as probable by the Church, some error may slip in; for the saints themselves may attribute to the Holy Ghost what proceeds from themselves, or may falsely interpret the meaning of a divine revelation, or interpret it in too materialistic a manner, as, for example, the disciples interpreted Christ's remark about St. John to mean that the latter would not die."(John 21:23) John of the Cross makes the same point in Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book 2, Chapter 19. While God's locutions are true and certain in themselves, "our manner of understanding them is defective,..."

Many Catholic canonized saints have been recognized as being able to hear the voice of God, such as St. Faustina. This phenomenon is not limited to those of the Catholic Church. God speaks in mysterious ways and to whom He desires!

How to Hear God's Voice

Throughout her Diary, St. Faustina records many instances in which the Lord Jesus came and spoke directly to her. But not everything she recorded the Lord saying came to her through an audible voice from without. Sometimes, she recorded what she discerned the Lord telling her in the silence of her heart.

He's Speaking

Indeed, St. Faustina received an extraordinary grace by having the chance to converse with the Lord many times in person. Few in the history of the world can say the same. However, just because we likely won't hear the voice of the Lord in the same way she did does not mean that He's not speaking to us. Indeed, God wants each one of us to converse with Him in the silence of our hearts.

You might be thinking to yourself, "Not me. For whatever reason, the Lord never seems to speak to me like that."

But the Lord is the Word made Flesh. He's constantly speaking to us. And not just through Scripture, not just through his representatives, not just in daily events and situations, but in an actual voice, which Scripture describes as "a light silent sound" (1 Kg 19:12). So it's not that the Lord isn't speaking to us.

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    Thank you Ken. Watching this wonderful film The God Who Speaks which covers the rock-solid legitimacy of, and the miracle of, our scriptures. I love that crowd of RC Sproul and progeny, but it saddens and weighs on me that they deny the church fathers, and Augustine and Aquinas and Francis, and imo the Bible, about God still speaking to some of His, and the ongoing supernatural fruits, based on a ridiculous interpretation of a single verse (about how “the perfect” has come).
    – Al Brown
    Sep 10 at 11:30
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I have, a small handful of times, perceived in my mind what presented as vocalized words from God. Whether this came in through my ears I cannot say. Prior to God saving me through Jesus Christ there were other things that I similarly "heard" but I would not assign all of these the same source.

Rather than a point of pride I consider it a consequence of how thick-headed and dull of hearing I can be and of how gracious God is to condescend and to call.

The denomination I attended at the time, Conservative Independent Baptist, preferred not to hold conversation about the matter in any official capacity and, even though I was required to present it before the deacons for membership, only a scarce few in the congregation seemed to comfortably receive my testimony.

The Foursquare Church I now attend is much more receptive to mine and similar testimonies.

Even though this is requested by OP to be avoided, I suspect that a denomination's position on the notion of God "speaking" to an individual will be the determined by where they land on the cessation/continuation spectrum.

At the same time, a denominational position does not dictate whether or not God does something, but only displays what they teach their congregants to believe about what God may do.

Scripture is full of "The Word of the Lord came to...". Some believe this has stopped and others do not. If one believes it has stopped, perhaps the "hearing" is explained away when it happens. If one believes it continues, perhaps the "hearing" is sometimes manufactured or exaggerated.

Jesus did not do many miracles in his hometown because of their unbelief. This is an impactful statement.

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    Hallucinations of hearing voices are one of the common symptoms of schizophrenia, which can develop slowly for many years before the first acute episode occurs. An anecdote like this "proves" nothing.
    – alephzero
    Sep 5 at 15:52
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    @alephzero Well, I guess I'm either Christian or schizophrenic. Either way, I love Jesus. Sep 5 at 21:48
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    @alephzero Did someone claim that the above personal testimony proved something?
    – LarsH
    Sep 6 at 13:38
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The real focus here should not be on what Christians "believe", but what real spiritual people "experience". Unfortunately, as modern society has such a loose definition of what is "Christian", the real answer can only be addressed by a person who has actually "heard" from God. So as Stack Exchange has so generously allowed: "back them up with references or personal experience"

I will share my personal experience of "hearing from God". So, "hearing" from God, in my personal experience is as if you were actually taken up to heaven, had a personal conversation with the creator. However, just before you come back down to earth, God says, sorry I have to wipe your mind of the actual heavenly experience, but you will still remember what I said. The end result is that you are sitting in your chair and suddenly, POW! it hits you-I have just heard from God. The experience is so drastic and overpowering that all you want to do is run around and tell everyone. And, by the way, the knowledge gained, always proves to be correct and meaningful. This, by the way, is also the true definition of "faith". Once you have had such an experience, people are really befuddled on how you can just walk up to someone and "declare God's Word" - even "Christians" are befuddled.

So, no, for me it's not an audible voice to the ears or even "words" to the mind. God is FAR above any human language. He can communicate at a non-verbal level that is far more convincing than anything anyone can tell you. So, now, the general public is not worthy of a specific example, so I will not provide such many examples that have occurred in my life, but sufficient to say, should you ever get the privilege to "hear from God", there will not be any doubt in your heart as to what you are to do, or what is about to transpire.

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  • Thanks 👍🏻. I edited question and added “(including you if Christian)” So far ive gotten as much or more report about personal experience, which I am interested in, as answers to original question
    – Al Brown
    Sep 3 at 17:53
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If you are seeking an exhaustive list of which denominations believe they hear from God, I don't think that would be possible. In my experience, those who do claim to hear from him have always been 'non-denominational'. In fact, at least 2 people I have met who claim to have been 'inspired' by God said they felt forced out of the churches they had been attending. One of these had endeavoured to set up a church of his own, to no success.

I think the best answer to this is that most Christians understand 1 Corinthians 13:8, which says "where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled", to mean that we should not expect those kinds of 'miracles' to still occur today.

If by 'Church Fathers' you mean the founding fathers of specific denominations that exist today, that would remain a claim made by those individuals and could be disputed by other denominations anyway. Remember that the above-cited verse was written by the Apostle Paul. He was certainly in receipt of the Holy Spirit and was spoken to directly by Christ while on the road to Damascus and had a fundamental role in the establishment of the early Christian congregations, even though he was not counted among the twelve apostles. So it was a true 'founding father' of the Christian congregation that said these things would cease.

There is a big difference between 'messages' and 'revelations' from God and being helped to understand something, and most Christians do not believe in - or at least, are very sceptical of - claims that he 'speaks' to individuals today. Instead, most understand Jesus's words that the holy spirit would be a 'helper' or a 'comforter' (John 15:26), rather than an inspirer.

The bible book of Revelation (sometimes also called 'Apocalypse') was a vision given to the Apostle John and contains prophecy which most Christians understand is yet to be completely fulfilled. It doesn't seem reasonable to believe that God would be directly giving new revelations to people when existing prophecy is still awaiting fulfilment. However, Revelation also speaks of 'new scrolls' being opened in the future (Revelation 20:12) and it is the belief of many that there will be future communication from God to faithful Christians after other aspects of Revelation are fulfilled.

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  • I truly did not mean reopen debate about cessationism again. Im just unclear on some terms and whether the event written classifies a certain way. But since you (very understandably) took it to be about the basis for thinking miracles have ceased, I would provide my opinion: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/84727/54533
    – Al Brown
    Sep 3 at 10:19
  • I edited the question to say that directly. Thanks for you view
    – Al Brown
    Sep 3 at 10:21
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    @AlBrown I didn't look at your link, I just took the question at face value. I think that a definite 'list' of which Christian denominations believe one or the other is not really possible. Sep 3 at 10:48
  • Your take was perfectly reasonable. Just not what I meant to ask. I added a not to the question
    – Al Brown
    Sep 3 at 10:50
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    I just want to remark on your interpretation of 1Cor 13:8. I legitimately have never heard anyone interpret that particular verse to mean that Paul was saying that prophesies would cease. In context, Paul is saying literally in the same chapter that his own gift of prophesy would be meaningless if he didn't have charity. The whole chapter is about charity, so it seems odd to interpret that verse as somehow being about prophesy ceasing, rather than merely contrasting it with charity.
    – BlackThorn
    Sep 3 at 22:22
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The Catholic Church believes in the possibility of "interior locutions". Various saints are recorded as having heard the voice of God, including Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila, and Teresa of Calcutta.

In a different way, God can speak to people via apparition. In recent times, Saint Faustina Kowalska recorded conversations with Jesus, which are held by the Church to be worthy of belief. Similarly, Blessed Maria Pierina De Micheli's visions have been accepted.

While many claims are condemned as false, this is not done automatically, and clearly the church believes that God can speak directly to people.

In summary, the Catechism of the Catholic Church gives this explanation for these and similar phenomena:

67 Throughout the ages, there have been so-called "private" revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church. Christian faith cannot accept "revelations" that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment.

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  • To clarify, by the word Revelation, the Catholic church means the Bible. Is that correct? If so, would you incorporate that into your answer? Other Christians use the word revelation to mean in the same way you describe "private" revelation, even if the word is meant for a church. Example, can be calling a specific church to "repent or you will be destroyed".
    – nickalh
    Sep 5 at 6:01
  • @nickalh Revelation with a capital R is not simply "the Bible", no. The full chapter for that quote is here: scborromeo.org/ccc/p1s1c2a1.htm. One of the notable differences of orthodox Christianity is that truth is handed down via the Apostles and their successors, not just what was compiled into the Bible by the church.
    – OrangeDog
    Sep 5 at 9:30
  • @nickalh OP didn't want to discuss cessationism, but the Catholic position (see link above) is that there will be no more public revelations until the second coming.
    – OrangeDog
    Sep 5 at 9:32
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My church has a theme, "It is easy to hear God when you are in His presence ". He did an entire sermon on Hearing God leads to the supernatural. Other related sermons are Multipy:God made your calling beyond your abiity to do so, you'll need Him to do it This would require specifics from Him, because calling is specific to each person. He also did a related sermon series, in approximately January and February 2020, but I do not see it online at the moment.

Although God is certainly capable of speaking in any way He chooses, it is typically not an audible voice, heard with the ears.

The question certainly overlaps what Jack Deere wrote in his book. See Are there published testimonies from ex cessationists who became continuationists after personally witnessing or experiencing a sign gift? He also has multiple related books which answer your question. Although I have no direct familiarity with it, Jack Deere's Surprised by the Voice of God should have extensive material on the question.

Steven Furtick has a sermon on this topic, "Hearing God's Voice

Also, consider an admittedly anecdotal experience. A few years ago my car was stolen. I did not have insurance coverage for that or any way to get another vehicle. I quit my job doing pizza delivery. I prayed about it for over a week, fought off significant discouragement and was blessed to stay encouraged. At one point, while crying out to the Lord, I had an experience difficult to describe in words. I just knew, in my spirit, the car would be returned to me. Within about 24 hours, I got a call from the police. They said "Your car is in Austin" which was a 3 hour drive. My father and I retrieved it and it was almost in the exact condition as when it was stolen.

Another example, I was warned by a mighty woman of God, Frances Marie Clemmons, graduate of Christ for the Nations Institute, in Dallas Texas, about a certain man in leadership at my church. I was in a different church then from Mercy Culture above, which shall remain nameless. She said that because of him, the church would decrease. About five years later, the school of ministry, which had brought many pastors to this church for further training ceased operations. The church went through significant financial difficulties. Several, prominent long-term staff members did not receive a salary and then moved on. A different elder resigned. Multiple other significant issues. Since then the original leader left the church for a different position. Now this church has started increasing and rebuilding with more effective outreach among other things.

Like some of the comments, this should be distinguished from self will and God "speaking". I met a homeless man one time who had alcohol on his breath. I initiated a conversation about God and Jesus with him. Towards the end of the conversation, he declared God was going to give him a job that day. I got the distinct impression it was his decision instead of asking Father for wisdom and listening. Discerning of spirits is a gift mentioned in 1 Cor 12:10, would seem to be incredibly helpful for being sure.

Finally, charismatic denominations and churches such as Assemblies of God, Foursquare church, and the network New Apostolic Reformation are much more likely to believe God can communicate directly to Christians and humans today, but always in agreement with the Scriptures.

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Instead, most understand Jesus's words that the holy spirit would be a 'helper' or a 'comforter' (John 15:26), rather than an inspirer.

I was going to leave this in a comment, but I didn't have the points. Sorry.

I think that there are hundreds if not thousands of people who truly believe they have spoken to Jesus in modern times. My father used to work in a psychiatric crisis unit, and he said it was a fairly common thing to have a police officer bring a patient in who either believed they were Jesus or had been speaking to Jesus. Facing extreme mental illness is a curse I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies. I'm not sure quite how to understand those cases under an ecclesiastical lens. That said, I myself I myself have had a dream (well, nightmare) with Jesus in it- but I don't think it was a message from Jesus. Or at least I hope it wasn't- the memory of it still bothers me a bit. Jesus sure didn't play the role of 'comforter'- he was angry and yelling in a language I didn't understand, and I couldn't see his eyes at all because it of the shadows from the fire (we both sitting around a campfire, and it was dark out). I was terrified, partially because I didn't understand him and it seemed like he thought I did, because he kept yelling and nobody else was around. I was pretty sure I was letting him down, or lots of other people were- or both. That is all I remember of it. Could it have been Him? Maybe? It also just could have been eating too close to bedtime.

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  • Thanks for your comment. My understanding of Christ is that He loves us. Even the rich man who rejected his offer, the Bible says, “He looked at him, and He loved him.” Any times that Ive felt a presence or intuition of any vague connection to Jesus, the overall sense has always been loving. Granted in my case is limited, but I did once get a strong intuitive feeling of communication seeming to say “I love you and will take care of things.” I wonder if reaching out again might clarify or find something more kind/positive for you. Thanks again 🙏🏻 good luck and God bless ✝️👍🏻
    – Al Brown
    Sep 5 at 11:16

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