How can you be sure when the Spirit is speaking to you? After all, he’s usually not doing so directly. It’s not terribly often that the Spirit comes down and sits next to you and has a conversation with you. He’s subtle. He’s quiet.
You can be sure when what we’re hearing – however you’re hearing it – is consistent with Scripture. If what you’re hearing is consistent with what you know of God from the Bible, then you are probably hearing the Spirit speak to you. For example, in Acts 2, Peter is speaking to a crowd of people. He assures them that Jesus was, in fact, the Son of God, and he supports his assertion with passages from the Bible. He finishes by saying this: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (verse 36).
You can know that for certain. If you’re not sure of anything else, you can go back to the Bible and find the truth that is, to be as Lutheran as possible, most certainly true. You can go back to the famous verse John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” If you’re uncertain of what the Spirit is telling you, you can be certain that God loves you, cares for you, and has a plan for you.
However, you should not disregard what you hear the Spirit saying, for the Spirit is certain, too. You can test the Spirit by looking to Scripture. You can test the Spirit by asking others around you. But ultimately, if you ascertain that the Spirit is indeed speaking to you, you ought to follow what he is saying.
Don’t let the words of Jesus in John 3:8 deter you: “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Instead, let the words assure you that you are not in charge, that you don’t have all the answers, and that it’s okay to be hesitant – but it’s not okay to stay where you are if the Spirit is leading you elsewhere. The Spirit will not lead you astray. He might lead you into some pretty strange places, but he will ultimately lead you to where you are meant to be.