We believe that God does indeed speak to us and guide and direct us.
How do we know something is really from the Lord?
With any guidance that we think we receive from the Lord, the issue becomes:
“how can we be sure that the guidance we are getting is actually from the Holy Spirit and not just our imagination or even from the Devil?“
As we grow in cooperating with the Holy Spirit this becomes a critically important question.
As Christians it is all-important that we receive this guidance, other-wise we do not know what to do.
To do this we must pray for the gift of wisdom and the gift of discernment of spirits.
“But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NET Bible)
1. Ask God for the gift of wisdom and discernment
A first step in this process is asking the Lord for wisdom as well as the spiritual gift of discernment of spirits.
In 1 Corinthians 12:10, discernment of spirits is listed as one the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
We need both wisdom and discernment for sorting out what is from the Lord, what is from the human mind, and what may actually be sown by Satan to deceive us and to induce fear.
2. Ask these Four Questions
PRMI has developed a Four Question list that we ask of anything that is reputed to be a word from the Lord or guidance from the Holy Spirit.
Asking these four questions will help us start thinking in the right direction and keep us grounded in what God has revealed to us in His Word, the Bible, about how to discern a word, prophecy, or manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
- Does it give glory to Jesus Christ?
- Is it consistent with Scripture?
- Do other people who are filled with the Holy Spirit have a confirming witness?
- Is there confirmation in objectively verifiable events or facts?
Discernment will help us determine what really is from the Holy Spirit and what may not be.
3. Apply These Four Questions
- Ask these questions as you hear someone teach, preach, give a word, or you see a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
- Ask yourself these questions when you receive something from the Lord.
- Do not trust the reputation of the preacher, teacher or prophet. Always discern each new word from the Lord. (Between breakfast and lunch they may have been deceived.)
When a person becomes recognized, either by themselves or the community, as having such an anointing to speak God’s word, they may begin to assume that each time they speak they are led by the Spirit. The result is that they are no longer submitted to the rigors of the discernment process. This is a point of great danger!
Often the preacher or prophet’s ego, in collaboration with the passivity and praise of the community, provides an opening for Satan to slip in and work his mischief.
Each new word that is given must be discerned anew.
We’ve prepared a 9 page PDF that is excerpted from the manual of Dunamis Project 2: In the Spirit’s Power: Cooperating with the Holy Spirit to do the work of Jesus Christ.
It covers these four questions of discernment about guidance we believe is from the Holy Spirit, quotes from Scripture, Ignatius, John Calvin and the Scots confession. It goes much further in-depth with Scriptures and reason to support the use of these four questions.
As a ministry, PRMI uses these four questions on a regular basis at every Dunamis Project or PRMI Event. They have served us well since we developed them in 1991.
Watch an Explanation
Brad Long talks about some prophesies that have been given to him in conversations in this 2009 video. (Grainy from the technology of the time)
Brad shares the four discernment tests that PRMI uses to evaluate prophecies, guidance, or religious experiences.
Buy the Discernment Bookmarks
You can buy these bookmarks in packets of 50. The four questions and related Scriptures are printed on 2 sided glossy 4×6 bookmarks.
4 Questions App for Android
If you have a phone that uses Android, you can install an app that asks these questions.
In this sermon video, given at Clinchfield Presbyterian Church on February 28, 2010, I point out how to apply these four discernment guidelines to several very practical pastoral issues.