The kingdom of God is really very simple. It is so simple that it is easy to miss. “The just shall live by faith.” This verse sparked the reformation. However, to most people it is only a mystically, religious phrase. Almost every Christian will affirm that they have faith. But what is faith? Some movements claim to have a greater revelation of faith and say that faith is this or that. People sell millions of dollars of books and CDs “teaching” about faith. Thankfully, though, faith is so simple we don’t need all that to grasp its meaning.
Faith is simply hearing God’s voice and obeying. It is so simple, yet we often find ourselves either not hearing God’s voice, not obeying, or not doing either. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” He goes on to say that if we hear and obey we will stand, if not we will fall. The preacher in Ecclesiastes comes to the conclusion that man’s all is to fear God and keep His commandments. In other words, hearing God and obeying is man’s all. There is no room for anything else.
In Hebrews 3:15 we find “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden you hearts as in the rebellion.” The next verse shows that the Israelites heard God’s voice but did not obey (i.e. they rebelled). Verse 19 then sums it up, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Unbelief is equated to hearing and not obeying. The writer spends two chapters driving in this point. If you don’t obey God, you are in unbelief and will not enter into the promised land of God’s kingdom.
This is why we have to become like children to enter the kingdom of God. We enter by learning to hear God’s voice and obeying just like children learn to hear their parent’s voice and obey. Jesus told the religious rulers that he only did what the Father told him to do. If Jesus operated by this principle, how much more do we need to do so. In John 6:29, Jesus tells us that the work of God is to believe in Jesus. To believe in Jesus is to hear Him and do what he says to do.
This brings us to the question, “How do we hear the voice of the Lord?” God speaks to His children in many ways. He speaks to us through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, our spouses, our parents, prophets, dreams, visions, etc. Sometimes God will throw a person to the ground and speak to them in an audible voice like He did to the apostle Paul. Sometimes He will speak in a still, small voice. The manner of communication is not the issue. The important thing to grasp is that our Father said to listen to His voice. Therefore, to must simply trust that when He speaks we will hear, if we do not harden our hearts. We must have ears to hear. An obedient child has ears to hear his father’s voice. A disobedient child trains his ears not to hear his parent’s call. They “tune out” their parents. We do the same with God. We must therefore “expect” to hear His voice and we will hear. We must always be expecting Him to speak to us. Only a cruel father would tell his child to listen and then never speak. Our father is a loving god.
As a side note, there are many denominations that teach that God no longer speaks to His children because He has already said everything He has to say to us and wrote it in the Bible. Therefore, all we need is the Bible. I feel sorry for these folks because they don’t have a father who communicates with them. The world calls fathers who do not communicate with their children “Deadbeat Dads.” Children with deadbeat dads suffer terribly. I am so thankful that my heavenly Father is not a deadbeat dad!
The next difficulty is obeying. What child doesn’t need to be trained to obey? I raised eight children and my wife and I had to train every single one of them to obey. Every child is extremely selfish by nature and so are we. Like children, our heavenly Father gently trains us in obedience. The mark of a mature person is their level of obedience. An unselfish person obeys their proper authorities. They are mature. I’m convinced that we cannot obey God in our own strength. However, God gives us the grace to obey. Some people are more strong-willed than others and they take more correction to become obedient. If we want to obey, God will bring us into perfect obedience. King David committed sins that would disqualify him from leadership in most churches today, but he was a man after God’s own heart. Why? Because he willingly submitted himself to God’s discipline. He, like Jesus, learned obedience through the things he suffered. We likewise will learn obedience through the things we suffer.
Finally, God speaks to us individually. He may tell you to do one thing and me to do something else. Just because He tells you something does not mean that I should do the same thing. No. We are all different parts of the body of Christ. The foot does not necessarily do the same thing as the eye. That is why we cannot depend on someone else to tell us what God is speaking. That someone else may have a different function in the body. We must each hear God’s voice for ourselves. In John 21:21, Peter asked Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man [John]?” Jesus replied, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” Wow! Jesus told Peter it was none Peter’s business what He was doing with John. Instead, Peter was only to be concerned with following Jesus and what He commanded Peter. Let us all quit worrying about what our neighbor is doing and focus on doing what Jesus tells us to do.
In conclusion, learning to hear and obey is a lifetime endeavor. Hearing and obeying (i.e. faith) is the core principle of the Christian life because without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6) It is the only way to enter into life. It is the only way to enter the kingdom of God. It is the only way to stand when the floodwaters rise. Let us today hear God’s voice and obey, for this is our all.