At the end of the Bible we find letters from Jesus to seven churches. At the end of each letter, he says this: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (see Rev. 2:7a).
We like to think that we have heard Jesus. But how do we know we have? How can we be sure?
What does it mean to have an ear to hear?
It means spiritual truth comes by revelation.
“He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying” is one of Jesus’ favorite expressions. It’s the punch line to each of the Revelation letters as well as several of his parables. He’s saying, “Don’t just hear my words; receive the Spirit of revelation.”
Did you know it’s possible to hear the words of Jesus and not hear what the Holy Spirit is saying?
Think of it as a choice between earthly and heavenly wisdom. The former originates in our minds, while the latter comes from the Spirit.
An example may help: If you read the Bible and come away with a list of things you must do to earn God’s favor, then you have received earthly wisdom based on human understanding. Since your understanding comes from within, the focus will be on yourself. But if you come away with a revelation of Jesus—who he is and what he has done—then you have received heavenly wisdom. You have heard what the Spirit is saying because the Spirit always points to him.
What stops us from hearing the Spirit?
An unbelieving heart.
Imagine you were one of the Ephesians hearing the letter from Jesus as it was read out in the assembly. Would you receive it as Christ’s words? Or would you dismiss it as something John wrote? “Who does John think he is telling us we’ve left our first love? We don’t need to repent. Look at all we’re doing for the Lord!”
Close your heart to the message, perhaps because of the messenger, and you won’t hear from the Spirit. You’ll reject the truth that could set you free.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but how are you receiving the words of this article? Do you receive them as Holy Spirit-inspired? Or do you dismiss them as something written by a confused author?
Do the words on this website stir up anger? “I’ve invested too much of my life into ministry to heed all this nonsense about rest and receiving.”
Or do they release grace and healing? “Now I know why my walk with God has been so lifeless. I’ve wandered from my first love. I need to drop everything and return.”
For as long as the Holy Spirit speaks through imperfect people, we will be tempted to ignore what he is saying. If only there was a definitive way to tell whether the message we’re hearing is from the Holy Spirit. There is!
How do we know we are hearing what the Spirit is saying?
We grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit will always seek to reveal Jesus (John 15:26). If the message you are hearing directs you to Jesus, you can be sure that you are hearing from the Spirit of Christ.
When Jesus says, “He who has an ear, let him hear,” he’s saying if we really listen we will hear more than a letter written for dead Ephesians. He’s saying we can hear what the Spirit wants to say to us today. This is worth bearing in mind as we read the letters from the Lord. If we come away feeling condemned or proud, we’ve missed him. But if we come away praising God and established in the grace of Jesus, then we have heard what the Spirit is saying.
A message for all churches?
Jesus is the leader of the Church with a capital C. His words to the Ephesians, Smyrneans, Pergamenes, etc. are for all churches. It’s a mistake to think that wandering from your first love was a uniquely Ephesian problem. Every worn-out believer needs to hear from the Lord among the lampstands. We all need to hear what the Spirit is saying through these letters.
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