If God speaks, there is no need to quote God as having said it. We give attribution to opinion or unconfirmed reports. Attribution is unnecessary for a statement of fact or truth. If God has spoken, then what he said can only fit the latter category.
That means there is room to question my belief if ever I feel obliged to explain my actions as a calling from God. There is room to question my sincerity if ever I must tell you that I am pursuing some aim because “God led me” to do that thing.
The word of God is effective, says Hebrews 4:12. Its aim is the effect. If I feel I need to explain myself by attribution, does this not reveal that I am unaffected? If I feel the need to append the explanation, “God told me to do this,” then am I not agreeing with my critic that my choice is disagreeably weird? Again, we give attribution to opinions. “God told me this” can be equivalent to saying, It is God’s opinion that I do this—but not necessarily my opinion.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with quoting what God has said. The Bible is full of people doing this. But if I am not first willing to stand on what he says—to be known by him alone—then my claim that I fully believe that I have heard from him is false.
(There is also nothing wrong with not fully believing that he has spoken. Because we can be misled, we are called to test. Being unsure about the source of the leading you’re experiencing is probably the best reason of all to share it with others and hear their reaction. My only point here is that if we ever do become confident that we have heard God speak his will, then talking about it becomes superfluous. The important response at that point is to step into that will and try to live it.)
The Bible’s book of Acts preserves a letter from first-century church leaders by quoting the letter verbatim. In this letter, the leaders give their answer to a dispute the church was facing. They explain their decision by saying, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15:28, emphasis mine).
In other words, citing the Holy Spirit was not enough. Making the claim that God had spoken did not absolve these leaders from personally owning and defending the decision. They heard God speak his will, but then they took that will inside of them, made up their minds as to why it was right, and acted upon it as a decision of their own will, too.