Why Is That Christian Dressed Up Like a Psychic?

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Deuteronomy 18:10-11: There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead,

This is a pandemic problem in evangelical churches. How many times have you heard someone say, “God told me,” “God lead me,” “God laid it on my heart,” etc? One would think that these individuals heard the audible voice of God; but no, they base their statements on their feelings: a liver quiver, a gut assumption, butterflies, etc. The problem is that there is nowhere in the Bible where God spoke to anyone through their feelings… not one example. So, whenever these Christians make these statements, they have no authority or example in Scripture to prove that God is speaking to them. They thus are playing the psychic. Although they would never go to a psychic, they simply run to the mirror, assuming that they have some ability to hear God’s voice through their feelings. These people would be against “looking into a crystal ball,” and yet, they have no problem “looking into how they feel” for various answers in life. Just as a psychic assumes his or her feelings tell the truth, Christians that believe God speaks through their feelings, assume that their feelings tell the truth as well. Thus, it is a sin to believe that God speaks through your feelings because you’re adding to the Bible; and it is a sin to claim that God is speaking to you when you have no authority to make such a claim. If you are committing this sin, you are practicing divination; and thus, you are a diviner (Deut. 18:10-11).

In order to encourage these Christians to dress like Christians instead of like psychics, we must tell them that…

1. They have NO authority to claim that God speaks to them, if He has never spoken in that way in His inerrant Word. If you believe that God speaks through how you feel, the only argument you have is that you feel God speaks through how you feel. This is an argument from silence, a logical fallacy; and since no one can feel your feelings, you have no accountability. It’s extremely dangerous!

2. Since they do not know if God is speaking or not unless they hear an audible voice (and even then the Devil appears as an angel of light), they must trust in His already revealed Word. God shouldn’t have to repeat Himself for you to be obedient.

3. They are terribly inconsistent in what decisions they choose to wait on God to answer. No Christian prays about every single decision they make on earth, and they definitely don’t wait for God to speak to them before they make all the decisions they must make in a given day. They instead only pray about what they deem are “big decisions.” The problem is that if God has given you enough Scripture and wisdom to make “small” decisions, then He has given you enough revelation and wisdom to make big decisions as well.

4. By them waiting for God to give them more revelation, they speak negative volumes about the revelation He has already provided: His sufficient Word. Christians who believe that there is more revelation coming, often ignore the revelation that they have already been given: 1) the Great Commission, 2) using their spiritual gifts to edify their brothers and sisters, etc. Furthermore, almost all cults were started by people who claimed God was speaking to them beyond the Bible.

5. The real reason you desire God to speak to you about the “big decisions” in your life is because you don’t want to face the consequences of making the wrong decisions? Don’t you desire to know the future more than you desire to trust God through the difficult times in life? Are your motives not selfish? Are you not willing to suffer for the glory of God? If God always tells you the right decision to make, then why should you trust Him?

6. If you are honest with yourself, how many times in your Christian life have you been sure that God told you to do something, and it didn’t work out? Do you realize what you communicate about God whenever you claim that He told you something, and it doesn’t come to fruition? You communicate that God is a liar!

7. If you are waiting on God to speak whenever He has not told you to wait, then you are a legalist. You must find in Scripture where God has told you, not only to pray, but also to wait on Him to audibly answer. You won’t find the Scripture reference because you are adding to God’s Word.

8. Because you are adding to God’s Word, you are placing yourself in bondage. You are limiting your Christian freedom. Biblically, if you are faced with a decision, and neither choice violates the Scriptures, your conscience, or is unwise, you are free in Christ to do whatever you want. I realize that this doesn’t sound godly in contemporary evangelicalism, but it is biblical!

9. In every act in the Christian life, whether at salvation or in sanctification, God gets to the heart through the mind. Knowledge comes before feelings and emotions. Whenever you are saved, you repent because you know that you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Feelings of sorrow often accompany such knowledge; however, the knowledge comes first. We must assume as well then that if God is going to speak to us beyond the Bible (which He doesn’t), that He’s going to get to our hearts through our heads.

10. If you respond to anything in worship without knowledge involved, you are merely responding to your emotions, not to God. It always worries me whenever a pastor says, “Since God is moving so much during the singing, I’m not going to preach today because I do not want to quench the Spirit.” Where in the world does the Bible give a pastor authority not to preach the Word? Also, how can the Word of God ever quench the Spirit? Before the foundation of the world, God determined to move through His preached Word. If the pastor is faithful to the text, it is impossible to quench the Spirit by preaching the Word! So, what about all these people coming to the altar during the singing or the interpretive movement? Well, either they were convicted by previous knowledge, or they were convicted by the truth in the lyrics of the songs, or they are merely responding to the warm and fuzzy feelings that are being produced in them by the interpretive movement they are seeing or the music they are hearing. You know what really quenches the Spirit: people that respond to their emotions while ignoring the Word of God. When you talk to someone at the altar, or after worship, and you ask them why they came up; and they say, “I don’t know, I just felt like I needed to.” You’d better probe a little more, making sure that they are responding to knowledge, not to the bean burrito they ate before worship.

What are your thoughts about this issue? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?

This article was originally posted at my site. Only some of my articles are posted on SBC Voices. If you would like access to all of my articles, you can follow my feed here. You can also connect with me on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

Comments

  1. Dave Miller says

    Okay, Jared, let me jump into this.

    I completely understand the feelings you articulate here. Every one of us has had someone tell us “God spoke to me” and then share something we very much know did not come from God.

    And I hear people continually use the “God called me” to justify doing something that is contrary to the revelation of Scripture.

    I completely agree that subjective leadings should never negate or replace revelation.

    On the other hand, from Genesis to Revelation, God speaks to individuals. He reveals himself to his people – both Israel in the OT and the church in the NT.

    But he also tells Paul not to go to Asia and Bithynia but calls him instead to Macedonia.

    And there is not a single scripture that indicates that the subjective leading and specific instructions of God will end when the canon is closed.

    So, I agree that we must always obey scripture and that nothing can ever supersede the authority of God’s revelation. I agree that the work of self-styled prophets today is largely unbiblical.

    But I maintain that God does still lead and guide individual Christians in specific ways by the Spirit who indwells every believer.

    Should be a good discussion.

    • Dave Miller says

      I don’t want to overstate this, but I think those who say that our ONLY leading comes from scripture (I’m not sure you go that far, Jared – don’t know) seem to have to deny a biblical principle to advocate the sufficiency of Scripture.

      In the Bible, God reveals. But he also speaks directly to the hearts of people.

      Unfortunately, the Bible seldom describes exactly how. But it makes it clear that God speaks directly to human hearts.

      • Christiane says

        Hi DAVID,

        I am not understanding the scriptural basis for this part of Jared’s post:
        10. “If you respond to anything in worship without knowledge involved, you are merely responding to your emotions, not to God.”

        Actually, I’ve read that part twice, and I don’t get the thinking. So if you or Jared might expand on it, or dialogue more about it, I would appreciate that. Thanks.

      • says

        Dave, God speaks to the heart through His Word, not with relative revelation. I don’t understand how I’m “denying a biblical principle.” Where does the Bible teach us that God will continue speaking relatively beyond His revealed Word?

        • says

          You may not find a text that says those words, but several point to it. There are entire Spiritual gifts that are nothing but God speaking apart from Scripture. Even leaving those out of the discussion, I think there are verses that lean toward subjective experiences of God moving in people. Let’s not throw out spiritual religion because we’re scared of the mess it might make.

          • says

            Darby, I believe the “entire spiritual gifts that are nothing but God speaking apart from Scripture” are merely God speaking Scripture. I have no biblical reason to believe that God spoke further revelation in the early church beyond the Bible through tongues or prophecies. Did the early church need more revelation than the New Testament Scripture? If not, then we don’t either.

            What we have in the Bible is God’s revealed Word. We need no other special revelation concerning Him.

          • says

            So you think that Paul wrote to the Corinthian Scripture writers concerning prophesy and tongues? What texts did they write? At some point or another, those gifts were extra-biblical revelation. Whether you believe those gifts are ended or not, God has not always solely revealed himself through Scripture. So why would we put him in that box now?

          • says

            Darby, all I’m saying is that what took place in the early church concerning revelation through tongues, is the basic truths we have in the New Testament today. Unless you want to argue that they needed more revelation then, than we do today; or, that the Scriptures we possess today are not sufficient.

            Concerning Paul writing Corinth, I think what these tongue-speakers were possibly speaking the truth found in Galatians, Ephesians, Jude, etc.

            I agree that God has not always revealed Himself through Scripture; however, all that God has revealed through special revelation is Scripture. I just have a hard time believing that the early church possessed more special revelation than we do today. I don’t believe that there is a biblical reason to believe this.

          • Bill Mac says

            I’m not sure we can make a case for revelation through tongues. That is a modern charismatic idea. I can’t think of any biblical reference that demonstrates revelation through tongues. Paul makes it clear that tongues are man speaking to God, not God speaking to man.

            My problem is not that God speaks apart from scripture, but rather what we call “speaking”, in other words, subjective, non-specific things like promptings, urgings, impressions, etc. God may in fact do those kinds of things, but that isn’t “speaking”.

      • John Fariss says

        I have to agree with Dave, here. Like him, I have heard too many church members who were more into control than into Christ use “feelings” and phrases like “God said to me, ” or “this is how God leads me” to try and get their way. But ultimately, it seems to me, you are arguing from silence: because you do not find “feelings” and such things articulated in the pages of the Holy Writ, you assume it never happened. That can be rather dangerous exegetically. The presupposition that seems to stand behind this is the assumption that the Biblical writers wrote exactly as we would write–despite the fact that they were 1st Century (and earlier) Middle Easterners, and not 21st Century westerners (i.e., Americans with a cultural heritage of western Europe). You will search in vain, or almost so, to find and exposition of the internal process of thoughts and feelings by Bible writers, and although I am no authority here, I am told other ancient writings likewise are void of this. That is a way of writing that came about only with the Modern Period, beginning in western Europe, and to which we are used. Biblical (and other ancient) writers by contrast showed their inner consciousness by their actions, but do not expose the ways in which they arrived at their conclusions. The fact that their inner processes are not detailed is not the same as saying that perceived emotional guidance did not happen. Of course, I would agree that if some sort of “spiritual leadership” is contrary to the Word, then it is not God doing the leading, but otherwise, I do not believe you can reach the conclusions you do without making some questionable and unproven assumptions.

        John

        • says

          John, I don’t understand how I’m arguing from silence? I’m arguing that God speaks the same way He spoke in Scripture. I’m arguing that we have no authority to go beyond the text to claim God speaks in a way that is not in Scripture. You on the other hand seem to allow for God to speak beyond the Bible in a Way that He has never spoken before (based on the Scriptural evidence). Also, there are many expressions of emotions and feelings in Scripture. If “sensing God’s leading” was a legitimate method for understanding the will of God, don’t you think there would be one reference? Regardless how people wrote during this time, these men were still divinely inspired.

          If we are not limited by Scripture concerning God’s method for speaking, then we cannot come against any supposed method. Anyone can claim anything concerning where the Scriptures are silent.

          • John Fariss says

            Jared,

            You write, “John, I don’t understand how I’m arguing from silence? I’m arguing that God speaks the same way He spoke in Scripture.” Yes, you made that statement. However, the entire intent of your article seems to be that “it is a sin to believe that God speaks through your feelings because you’re adding to the Bible.” Am I wrong in concluding that if there was a single place in Scripture where a person spoke of feelings and any sort of percieved “emotional” leadership that you would back off from this conclusion? If so, in one way or another, you are arguing from silence, and it seems to me, are operating under the presupposition that biblical writers–yes, even inspired writers–wrote exactly as we do. You say that “Regardless how people wrote during this time, these men were still divinely inspired.” That seems to imply that writing styles are irrelevant under inspiration; I don’t believe that is valid unless you want to define inspiration as “automatic writing,” where the writer went into some sort of a trance and was nothing more than a human fax machine for receiving God’s message. Is that an adequate explanation for the differences we find between prose accounts and poetry, or wisdom literature and prophesy? I don’t think so.

            You also say, “Also, there are many expressions of emotions and feelings in Scripture.” How about giving me some street addresses–but to address my point, they will have to be concerning the inner self, introspective, and deal with how the person percieved God’s leadership. Sometimes you will find, “Thus saith the Lord,” sometimes you will find dreams and visions, and sometimes you will find silence. To say that none of those times involved any emotional leading is to argue that from the silence, they are entirely absent.

            You say, “If ‘sensing God’s leading’ was a legitimate method for understanding the will of God, don’t you think there would be one reference?” Your answer is yes based on the presupposition that Biblical writers wrote exactly as we would write. My answer is no, there would not necessarily be one reference because Biblical writers did not divulge their “inner world” of thoughts and emotional leadings as we are used to doing, because we are heirs of different cultural expectations than were they.

            Is this a denial of Scriptural sufficiency? I would say that if one’s perceived “feelings” of God’s leadership is consistent with the Bible, it is not. Only if it contradicts the Word is it a denial. Taken to its extreme and logical conclusion, your argument would end at saying we cannot interpret the Word for issues of our day, technology, and culture that did not exist when the word was written–everything from high proof whiskey and fortified wine to internet pornography. It puts us in the position of the Church of Christ, which claims, “We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent” (thus no musical instruments in the services). Or perhaps it would put us in the position of the Amish, who refuse any technology not mentioned in the Bile, though it does not stop them from using air motors powered from tanks of compressed air they get filled at the local gas station.

            Now in practical terms–I completely agree that we overuse the conclusion that “God led me” to so-and-so. as I stated, I suspect that is often a convenient form of control rather than anything God had a hand in.

            John

          • says

            John,
            You seem to be implying that God the Holy Spirit, if He wanted us to be lead by our emotions and feelings, could NOT “carry along” the Scripture writers to express this universally applicable truth for discerning God’s will for individual Christians, due to “how they wrote.” You accuse me of believing in “automatic writing,” which is a false assumption; so, I’ll accuse you of believing the Holy Spirit was inactive in the writing of Scripture. He couldn’t intervene to discuss inner thoughts and emotions… even though He knew these would be essential for discerning God’s individual will for millions of Christians? Also, could you provide some books or reference points for your “the Scripture writers did not share their inward feelings or emotions.”

            Even with a cursory glance at Scripture, your “they didn’t write about their inward feelings or emotions” loses ground. Concerning emotions and feelings in Scripture; here you go: John 11:33 (Jesus was deeply moved inwardly in his spirit), Gen. 43:30 (Joseph’s compassion grew warm inwardly), Job 30:25 (soul grieved inwardly for the needy), Ps. 35:13-15 (inward sorrow is expressed metaphorically), Jer. 13:17 (inward grief is expressed metaphorically), Rom. 9:2-3 (Paul expresses inward sorrow for his unrepentant Jewish brothers and sisters), etc. Also, whenever the Bible speaks of “love,” “rejoicing,” “weeping,” etc. it speaks of emotions as well. Furthermore, loving God will all our heart, and loving our neighbors as ourselves includes our emotions. Would you agree?

            Also, this has nothing to do with presuppositions; but has everything to do with what the Bible actually says and implies. There’s not even an implication in Scripture that God’s people were lead by their feelings or emotions. You presuppose that the Scripture writers were possibly lead by their feelings and/or emotions even though you have no Scriptural proof. Instead, you argue from silence that you know something about the Scripture writers that they do not express about themselves. You seem to know the Scripture writers better than the Scripture writers do.

            Finally, you’re comparing apples to oranges in comparing me to an Amish person. I’m arguing that the Scriptures communicate how God has spoken; and I don’t believe we’re allowed to argue that God now speaks in a different way today than He has throughout the history of the world. Who are we to add to the Bible? Now, where God is silent, we are able to submit to conscience, wisdom, etc. However, God has not been silent concerning His method for speaking; and not one Scripture writer expressed that God lead them inwardly through their emotions or feelings.

            Concerning being silent where the Bible is silent, and speaking where the Bible speaks, I agree with that statement. Why would any Christian deny that statement? We must do what Scripture says; and where the Scriptures are silent, we are free to do what we want. We must however take the Bible to its consistent end; such as His forming of babies in the womb pointing to His divine activity from conception; and thus His image being present from conception. Thus, anything that destroys an embryo destroys a human life, and is murder. We take the Bible to its consistent end… We however cannot take silence anywhere. This is what I believe you are doing… you’re taking the silence of “the Scripture writers did not reveal their inward feelings or emotions (although the Scriptures disagree with you),” to “they may have been lead by their feelings.” You have no Scriptural authority to argue this.

            BTW: I appreciate you taking the time to dialogue. This is an important issue that the church needs to biblically understand.

          • John Fariss says

            Thanks too for the dialogue. Since we both have been pretty clear, I suppose we will just have to agree to disagree. I would point out though that even though clear, I have a nagging feeling that we are, to some extent, talking past each other.

            John

    • says

      Dave,
      I agree that God spoke to humans in Scripture, but it was even rare in Scripture. Today, what was rare in Scripture has been made normative. Many Christians claim that God speaks to them on a weekly basis beyond the Bible. Churches even require potential pastors to feel God’s leading before they will even hire them.

      • bill says

        Aren’t we also dealing with semantics to some degree?

        Aren’t we dealing with the fallout of Christianity representing success by the words of many of our (very inclusive use of the word) church leaders?

        We had a church here build a 200 ft. cross because “God told him too” and that was it. Those in the church who would dare question it would very publicly shown the door. Those outside the church who questioned it were excoriated to the point of questioning their Christianity. The public officials who were in the room that had to decide whether or not a 200 ft. cross was permissible due to zoning laws were told by this pastor that his congregation would be very active in upcoming elections were this cross not allowed.

        What he claimed God told him to do became very evident that he wanted something to one up a church across town that had wronged him. This responded to this 200 ft. cross by literally buying a golf course and turning it into a community center.

        It’s pretty sad if you know what all the church abandoned in order to build this 200 ft. cross.

        • says

          Bill, This is the huge problem with relative revelation. If it doesn’t violate Scripture, no one can argue with anyone else concerning if God is speaking or not. The Scriptures are silent about what church to pastor, what job to take, where to live, what size church building to build, etc. Instead of wisdom, Christians often follow their “gut” and justify their actions by claiming that God told them.

          • bill says

            Jared,

            I was put in an awkward situation because I have family at the church that built this cross.

            They helped fund the building of the cross declaring that this cross will remind the community and those at our casinos that they need to repent of their sin and come back to the cross.

            Of course, now they have rebranded themselves as the Church of the Cross.

            They scrapped some of the best building plans and growth strategies that I had seen recently in churches that have built recently. All of it gone now…

            They can’t even build a new worship center because the land they were going to build on is within the falling range of the cross were it to come down. They are now literally set back years from being able to expand to just satisfy their existing needs, let alone build for expansion.

            However, I was appalled at letters from this pastor to the local newspapers who decried that anyone standing up against this cross was actually standing against the cross of Christ and hindering God’s work.

    • says

      Dave said…

      On the other hand, from Genesis to Revelation, God speaks to individuals. He reveals himself to his people – both Israel in the OT and the church in the NT.

      God spoke to the Prophets and the Apostles, there was nothing subjective about it. Paul didn’t go to Asia and Bithynia based on a feeling he had. He went to Macedonia because God had sent him a vision. (Acts 16:6-10) Now, if someone wants to make claims to God-given visions, etc., then they need to be subject to the test of a prophet that God gave in Deuteronomy 18; 100% accuracy.

      Here is my simple 3 rules for finding God’s will (condensed and adapted from John MacArthur’s Found: God’s Will:
      1 – God says in His Bible not to do certain things. Don’t do them.
      2 – God says in His Bible to do other certain things. Do them.
      3 – Given 1 & 2, do what you want to do. Trusting that a Sovereign God will, by His providence, guide your actions.

      Way too many people skip steps 1 & 2, yell “Follow your dreams!” and jump straight into step 3. Steps 1 & 2 are NOT optional.

      Squirrel

  2. says

    Could you explain why you say it was rare in scripture? I’d be interested in seeing you expand on that idea. I’m headed out to do a few things, but I’ll be back later to continue this.

      • says

        Specifically, most stories in the Bible contain some kind of direct word from God about something, didn’t they.

        Of course they do, and the reason is right there in the phrase “in the Bible” The Scriptures are the record of God’s revelation, so all of it is a direct word from God.

        Now, as far as the Biblical record of God’s direct communication to individuals, I agree with Jared; it was rare. Sure, God spoke to His prophets, and much of that is recorded for us. But God didn’t speak to everybody directly. When He had a message for the nation of Israel or, more rarely, some other nation, He called a prophet and charged the prophet with delivering the message.

        Example: During the Exodus, there were likely over 1,000,000 Hebrews who came out of Egypt. God didn’t talk to all of them directly (except for one incident at Horeb.) When He wanted to tell Israel something, He told Moses. Rarely, He told Aaron something directly, and even more rarely (i.e. once that is recorded in Scripture) the 70 men Moses selected to help govern Israel.

        Squirrel

  3. says

    Dave, I wouldn’t say “most” strories in the Bible contain some kind of direct Word from God. I however agree that many stories contain words from God. But, how much history takes place during the span of God speaking? Furthermore, how many people does He speak to in the Scriptures? Was it “normative” in the Scriptures? I don’t think it was; that’s why I argue that it was “rare.”

    Also, God speaking in the Scriptures always had to do with fulfilling His overarching purpose: His historic redemptive plan. How does my daily life fit into this plan to where I need more revelation than God has already revealed in the Bible?

    I look forward to your thoughts when you return.

    • says

      Jared,
      Just a couple of points of inquiry. You say that God speaking in the Scripture always had to do with fulfilling His redemptive plan. I am not sure that I agree with you. Let me cite just two examples that are back to back in Scripture. In Acts 21:9, we are told about Philip’s daughters who prophesied, but we aren’t told anything at all about what they prophesied about. I mention them in rebuttal to the rare argument specifically, as we are talking about 4 girls who utter prophecies and not a one of them is recorded for us.
      The next verses in Acts 21, speak of Agabus and his prophecy regarding Paul’s arrest. This is mentioned as the Holy Spirit speaking, and I am not seeing any connection to God’s redemptive plan particularly, unless you are defining that in broader terms than I imagine you to be doing.
      How do things like this fit in with your premise?

      • says

        Jeff, I would say that those miraculous prophesying gifts were active for the purpose of validating the transitioning message that Christ has come, died, and rose again. They validated the new covenant. I however have no reason to believe that these early church propheciers revealed more revelation than we have today… unless the early church needed more revelation than we do today.

        • says

          Jared,
          How do you justify speculating about the content of their message based on the limited information we have in Scripture in light of the post you have written here? I cited this example to provide cases of the non-rarity of God speaking to and/or through individuals apart from His redemptive plan in counter to your assertion above. Unless you would like to offer a good reason why Philip’s daughters are mentioned to have prophesied when whatever they said wasn’t worthy of being mentioned as well or how Agabus’ prophecy of Paul’s impending arrest fits into redemptive history, I would ask you to amend your premise.

          • says

            Jeff, I thought I did offer a good reason? The Bible did not include everything Jesus said in His earthly ministry either. I must assume that the church does NOT need the other things Jesus said since they were not included in Scripture. I believe however that what we have is sufficient, and that what we have includes the germ ideas of all that Jesus said in His earthly ministry. I have no reason to believe that the early church possessed more revelation than the church does today.

          • says

            I would say that those miraculous prophesying gifts were active for the purpose of validating the transitioning message that Christ has come, died, and rose again

            Then I assume that this is the reason you refer to, so I will ask another question. How long was that necessary for and how do we know when God quit doing it?

  4. Christiane says

    “I agree that God spoke to humans in Scripture, but it was even rare in Scripture.”

    Since God, in the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Our Lord Jesus Christ, has spoken to us incarnate, and the New Testament testifies to His revelations, I must disagree with this portion of the post.

      • Christiane says

        Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity: the Eternal Word.
        Jesus Christ, as God in the Second Person, spoke in direct communication to His Apostles and to many people, on multiple occasions, as recorded in the Bible.
        so,
        ‘rare’ is not supported in this statement:
        ““I agree that God spoke to humans in Scripture, but it was even rare in Scripture.”

        Perhaps you were thinking of “God” as in the First Person of the Holy Trinity, speaking directly to persons, as recorded in sacred Scripture? If so, I did not make that assumption.

        • says

          Christiane, considering that Christ spoke for 3 and 1/2 years; and considering that He ONLY spoke to those within an ear-shot, I would still conisder this rare. In the overall span of Christian history, 3 and 1/2 years is rare.

          Also, I don’t know that you can point to Christ, since He is not physically present with us today. I do believe He speaks to us today through His inerrant Word, as His Spirit takes this Word and applies to His people.

          • Christiane says

            “Also, I don’t know that you can point to Christ, since He is not physically present with us today.”

            ?

            We can point ONLY to Christ, at the direction of the Holy Spirit who points ONLY to Christ.

            Maybe we disagree? In my faith, the sacred Scriptures are testaments that God has revealed Himself to mankind, as Creator, as Life-giver, as Father, as Redeemer, as Source of all goodness, as Sanctifier, as the One who holds all in existence.
            We live, and move, and have our being in Him.
            I don’t know how you interpret the Scriptures that attest to that. But that is why we CAN and MUST point only to Christ.

          • says

            Christine,
            I agree with you there. Where we disagree is that I believe God rarely spoke to individuals. Do you believe God still speaks today beyond the Bible to individuals? I’m saying that He rarely spoke to individuals in the New Testament. Thus, although God can do whatever He wants, we cannot teach others that He speaks to individuals beyond the Bible.

          • Christiane says

            Hi JARED,

            Thank you for responding. Perhaps I have misunderstood how you mean ‘God speaking’.

            I do know something about how we hear His Voice in sacred Scripture. As our lives unfold, a particular scripture may be opened to us by the Holy Spirit in a more expanded way, bringing guidance at a time of need, or comfort at a time of mourning, so that that verse becomes to us a gift of special grace from God in a personal way.
            I do know about that.

            For me, if we are talking about the ‘fullness of revelation’, I must look at Our Lord Jesus Christ as the fullness of God’s revelation to mankind.

            “In the last days, God “has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb 1:1-2). In His own unsurpassable Word, God has said everything. There will be no other word. “In giving us His Son, He spoke everything to us. He has no more to say”
            (St. John of the Cross).

            Does God still ‘speak’ to men today? Yes. Even in the Southern Baptist faith, it must be known that it is the Holy Spirit Who leads men into the fullness of faith which is found only when they are ‘in Christ’.
            That is a powerfully direct and personal communication . . . a gift of grace.

  5. says

    So is this the official SBC Voices open letter to SBC trustee boards? They might be wise to read it before parading out the next “God’s man” to lead us all to the promised land.

  6. Shane Farris says

    Instead of wisdom, Christians often follow their “gut” and justify their actions by claiming that God told them.

    Hey Jared,Just thought I would jump in. In your quote above I am just wondering where that wisdom comes from? Rhetorical of coure as I believes it comes from the Holy Spirit living inside each of us and hopefully leading and guiding our paths….helping us choos which church to serve, which position to take, etc, etc,. God does speak to me in many ways using His Holy Spirit…one of which is blogs like this.
    Just my 2 cents.

    • says

      Shane,
      I always appreciate your input brother. Concerning wisdom, I mean conscience, surrounding relative wisdom in the culture, the thoughts of godly men and women, etc. For example, it is more unwise to sell your home today than it was 5 years ago in our county.

      Concerning “God the Holy Spirit speaking to us,” I believe He speaks to us through His Word. Apart from God’s Word, where God is silent, we are free in Christ to do whatever we want.

      Did I answer your question?

      • says

        “Apart from God’s Word, where God is silent, we are free in Christ to do whatever we want.”

        I agree completely with this. It is frustrating when people allow themselves to be tied in knots seeking God’s will. And it is more frustrating when they use God for justification when they finally make a decision.

  7. Bill Mac says

    Jared: Extremely good word. I essentially led a pretty defeated Christian life for many years because God was speaking to everyone else and not to me: “I feel led”.

    I wrote this a few years ago.

    http://www.internetmonk.com/articles/V/voicehead.html

    You may find it interesting. It is a trifle sarcastic.

    When God spoke to people, He did it clearly. They knew it was God and they knew what the message was. There simply is no biblical precedent for “feeling led.”

    • says

      Bill,

      That article is outstanding! I commend it to all the readers on here.

      I too struggled with this concept for years. Early in my Christian life, I “felt” God lead me to do numerous things and to make numerous decisions, but many of them didn’t come to fruition. Thus, I began to realize that if God’s will must be discerned beyond the Bible, that I could not discern it, regardless what I did.

      As your article states, it’s amazing how something that the Bible does not even say, becomes normative in His church.

      • Bill Mac says

        I suspect that most people don’t even realize this, but when they use the term “I feel led” (or something like it) they are implicitly proclaiming God’s stamp of approval on whatever course of action they are considering. And as such, their decision becomes unassailable.

        Instead of “I feel led”, why not just say “I want to”?
        Instead of “God has laid something on my heart” why not just say “I’ve had an idea”?

        People do not realize how their careless use of churchspeak may discourage and (unintentionally) deceive younger or immature Christians into thinking that God normally makes our decisions for us and tells us what moves to make.

  8. Angela Hale says

    Hi Jared,

    I don’t normally read blogs or leave comments, but this one caught my eye because it is something that I have been curious about lately. My husband’s family comes from a background that does not feel like you have to pray for God’s will in your life and we now attend a Southern Baptist church where most people do this. How do you feel about Romans 8: 26-30. It seems from this scripture that we can be spirit led because we have the spirit within us and up until the Resurrection of Christ people did not have this benefit. Please understand it is not my intent to argue. I am just trying to search for deeper understanding since this is something I have been wondering about lately. My pastor has told us that if it’s biblical, if it further’s the kingdom and it glorifies God you know it’s something that’s ok.

  9. Robert says

    Great article! Aren’t we really dealing with here the doctrine of the sufficiency of the Scriptures? The Scriptures are either sufficient (adequate; enough) or they are deficient (weak, found wanting and need something added to them). God’s Word has always been His primary means of communication.

    • Christiane says

      Hi ROBERT,

      I believe that the Incarnation was God’s primary communication with human-kind, if you are referring to ‘contact’ with mankind.
      The sacred Scriptures were written to testify to that Event.

  10. says

    Angela,
    Thanks for the comment. I do believe Christians should pray about God’s will for their lives, and the various decisions they must make. However, I don’t believe we need to “wait” for God to tell us what to do, if His Word is silent on the issue. We are free in Christ to do what we want, if God’s Word is not violated.

    Concerning Rom. 8:26-30, the Scripture does point to God the Holy Spirit interceding for us; but, I’m not convinced that He does this “through us,” but instead does it “apart from us.” In other words, the Holy Spirit does not pray through us, but intercedes for us apart from us. When we pray selfishly, He intercedes apart from us, purifying our prayers according to God’s will.

    Did I answer your question?

  11. says

    This is something that I used to go back and forth with, including those times of “why isn’t God speaking to me?” until I realized that nowhere does the Bible (God’s sure voice) tell me that God will speak to me in any sort of still small voice, whisper, or feeling.

    Certainly, there are times where I will pray about something or think about something and I feel like it is the right thing to do, but I can’t say that’s the Holy Spirit telling me…other than it doesn’t contradict the Bible and I really think it’s the right thing to do.

    Where I find this the hardest at, as a pastor, is that whole “call to ministry” thing. People asking, “How do you know God called you to be a pastor,” and then they seem to expect that mystical “God spoke to me when I was 16″ response.

    In my case it was more: I was being discipled, learning and growing, talking theology with a bunch of people, reading the Bible, reading books about the Bible, teaching different things…and some other people started asking: “Are you going to be a preacher?” That’s when it kind of hit me: “Hmmm, yeah, I kinda do want to be a preacher, what does the Bible say about that.” Go to 1 Tim 3…desire, check… able to teach, that’s what people are telling me, check… character qualities, I try my best and hope those things describe me and will increasingly continue to…

    But despite the fact that 1 Tim 3 or Titus or anywhere else does not mention a voice of God, pull of the gut, or mystical call, it seems that churches almost require that in a “calling” story.

    Without a doubt, a sovereign God can and does direct our desires and feelings to accomplish his will, but as a finite sinner I cannot depend on my desires and feelings (or voices in my head :) ) to be “the voice of God.” So like MacArthur, Augustine, DeYoung, and others have basically said: Do what the Word says, and within that do what I want/what seems best.

    (And maybe even avoid a few open doors and knock on a few closed ones while I’m at it!)

    • says

      Mike,

      Exactly! 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 say nothing about any sort of mystical “call” at all. In fact, it’s pretty simple: 1) Does a man desire the ministry? & 2) Is he qualified for the ministry?

      Squirrel

  12. Lydia says

    “1 – God says in His Bible not to do certain things. Don’t do them.
    2 – God says in His Bible to do other certain things. Do them.
    3 – Given 1 & 2, do what you want to do. Trusting that a Sovereign God will, by His providence, guide your actions.

    Does this mean you should marry your brothers wife if he dies even though you already have a wife? :o) (I am looking at the list above from an OT-NT perspective)

    • says

      Well, Lydia, as a Dispensationalist, I’d have to say… “No.”

      That’s the short answer. The long answer would be for another time.

      (& btw, it is okay to eat seafood now, too. Just sayin’.)

      Squirrel

      • Stuart says

        One need not be a dispensationalist to answer “no”.

        Hopefully I wouldn’t need an “impression” or a “leaning” to know that I shouldn’t practice bigamy.

        • says

          Very true, Stuart. I just know that, for me, as a Dispensationalist, it is easy for me to see that aspects of the OT Law were for a group of people alive in an earlier time. I know some Theonomists who have a bit harder time drawing distinctions between then and now.

          And Joel Osteen says that we shouldn’t be eating pork or shellfish

          Squirrel

  13. Stuart says

    Sorry if this is long, but I wrote the following in our church newsletter just this last week:

    “Several years before Jim Eliot and his companions were brutally murdered in January of 1956, he had left has family and fiance behind in the United States. He wrote the following while traveling by ship to South America, ‘My going to Ecuador is God’s counsel, as is my leaving Betty, and my refusal to be counseled by those who insist I should stay and stir up believers in the U.S. And how do I know it is His counsel?…No visions, no voices, but the counsel of a heart which desires God.’

    Jim Eliot could write that because he knew God’s Word and because he had long since sacrificed his own desires and passions on the altar of obedience.

    People sometimes ask me how they can know God’s will for their lives or for some specific situation. I’m convinced that we can’t really know it apart from knowing His Word. Our “hearts” can mislead us if, deep down, we desire something other than God. Our feelings, senses, and impressions can betray us. But God’s Word is constant. It alone infallibly imparts God’s truth. It alone perfectly reveals the mind of Christ.

    You may never have to struggle over a call to be a missionary to a violent people in a remote place, like Eliot did. But you can possess the same confidence he possessed, regardless of what God is calling you to do. You can have the same calm assurance that you are indeed “following God’s will” as long as you are walking in obedience to His Word and are allowing it to conform your desires to His.”

    Why do we wait for God to “speak” on big decisions but not on where to eat lunch or where to park the car? Perhaps because we don’t want to make a bad decision, or perhaps we can’t honestly say that we’re Scripture-saturated and allowing God, through His word, to conform our hearts and desires.

    Let us not blame God for failing to “speak” when we don’t or won’t obey.
    Let us not blame God for failing to “speak” when we are simply unsure if our desires are (or are sure they aren’t) in keeping with His.
    Let us not blame God for failing to “speak” when we choose not to walk by faith.
    Let us not blame God for failing to “speak” when He has so clearly spoken.

  14. Dave Miller says

    I’m definitely the odd man out here.

    I agree that our authority is God’s Word, and that we need no prompting or direction to obey that Word.

    But I disagree with the prevailing mindset that seems to be saying that God does not speak beyond his Word or that we are free to do as we please beyond the direct scriptural application.

    In the Bible, God speaks. He speaks directly and specifically. He gave dreams and visions, and he spoke directly to people. It is a pattern throughout scripture.

    That is how a relationship goes. I do not think it is mysticism to say that God speaks. It is biblical.

    What I am hearing is a kind of evangelical deism. God hands us his word and then steps back.

    No, the Spirit illuminates the Word and then leads and guides us in the process.

    Did God give the message to Paul and then say, “Go wherever you want and preach.”

    No, God told the Antioch church, “Set apart Barnabas and Saul.” God didn’t just reveal a principle, he chose specific men. Could the church then say, “Ahhh, we’d rather send Bubba and Jim Bob?” No, God gave a subjective, specific leading to the church.

    God spoke to Paul and told him NOT to go to Asia or Bithynia. These were specific and direct, though subjective.

    I understand the desire to limit the excess of some in the charismatic movement, and some of the silliness that goes on in the Baptist world. But I think you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    I live my life in obedience to God’s Word. But I have also sensed the Spirit’s promptings and leadings in other moments and I do not think that is mysticism. It’s biblical.

    • says

      Dave, I have a hard time making normative what rarely occured in Scripture. How many times did God speak to Paul that we have recorded in Scripture? Not many at all. But, yet you seem to want to make this normative. If you want to hold onto God speaking, then don’t you have to hold onto His method as well? If God spoke audibly in the New Testament, then shouldn’t we only believe He’s speaking today beyond the Bible if He audibly speaks to us?

      Also, you say that you “have also sensed the Spirit’s promptings and leadings in other moments.” How do you know that this was the Spirit? How do you instruct other Christians to “sense the Spirit’s leading” beyond the Bible?

      BTW: I’m surprised that you’re the odd man out. I figured that I was virtually alone on this issue.

      • says

        I quarrel with your statement that God speaking was rare – unless you consider almost every story in the Bible “rare”. Just about every great work of God began with God speaking – directly, specifically and subjectively. And that is in the NT and the OT.

        • says

          Dave, but this wasn’t the “normal” occurence. God didn’t speak to His entire church relatively. He instead spoke specifically to His prophets, apostles, and Christ. They then took His message to His church. Directly hearing from God was reserved primarily for the few. These few then took the message to the masses. Yet today, God is specificially speaking individually to each Christian?

          • Dave Miller says

            How do you know it wasn’t normative? It seems like a pattern and is unrefuted in the Epistles.

          • says

            Dave, it doesn’t make sense that God would give us a book if His speaking beyond it is “normative.” If He’s just going to relatively tell us beyond the Bible, why have a Bible?

            Furthermore, why have apostles and prophets if every Christian is an apostle and prophet?

        • says

          God lead Paul through direct revelation. God forbade him.

          If you can find me one place in Scripture where God spoke through someone “sensing His leading,” then I’ll view that method for Him speaking as legitimate. Otherwise, do we have authority to claim God speaks this way today?

          • Dave Miller says

            How did God speak then. You are making assumptions that may or may not be supported in scripture, then making pronouncements based on those assumptions.

            The fact is that God spoke. The how is not often dealt with.

          • says

            Dave, I’m assuming God spoke the same way He always has… you however are assuming He speaks in a “new way” today… through “sensing His leading.”

            There isn’t one example in Scripture of God speaking this way. Shouldn’t we be able to prove this method before we believe God speaks this way? Because, if don’t have to prove God’s method for relative revelation, then doesn’t this open us up for claiming any method? Say… a cloud shaped like Africa that must mean God is telling me to go to Africa?

            BTW: I’m enjoying the dialogue.

          • says

            God spoke directly to His prophets in the OT and Christ & His Apostles in the NT. God spoke to the vast majority of His people through the prophets and the apostles. He speaks to us through the prophets and the apostles now through the scriptures.

            This is not to say that God is not active. I reject your assertion that I hold to some sort of “evangelical deism”. God is active, both in the world generally, and in the lives of Christians specifically. He providentially arranges events. He illuminates the Scriptures so that we can understand them, and He puts the desire to obey what He has caused us to understand in our hearts.

            You said,

            No, the Spirit illuminates the Word and then leads and guides us in the process.

            Yes, I agree wholeheartedly! But this isn’t some subjective “leading” – when God shows us something in His Word, we can point to it and say, “See? The Bible says…” When we, Christ’s followers, desire to obey what is written in the Word, that is God, no doubt. But when I’m faced with two job offers, neither of which is sinful, I can prayerfully take which ever one I want to take, trusting in God’s providence.

            Squirrel

          • says

            And, Dave, I’m enjoying the interchange as well. :)

            Iron sharpens iron. Talking about this helps me focus what it is that I believe and it helps me clarify my expression of that belief.

            Squirrel

        • Doug Hibbard says

          Not to be overly-picky, but Scripture doesn’t exactly say God told Him not to go—Acts records that they were “forbidden by the Spirit.”

          Opens up the possibility beyond having to be either a word or dream or even impression. It may have been circumstances and in the light of hindsight, Luke saw it was God at work.

          Thinking out loud on that—your Bible may be better translated than mine.

          • says

            Exactly right, Doug. Acts 16:7 says, “and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them;” But it doesn’t specify the form that “did not permit” took. Did they get a direct message from God, or did the car just not start? Did they know at the time that it was “the Spirit of Jesus” preventing them, or was that revealed later, to Luke, as he wrote Acts?

            The truth is, we just don’t know. We are not told.

            I got a feelin’ this discussion could go on a while ;)

            Squirrel

    • says

      Just to be sure, and you may have already said it, but you’re not talking about like an audible voice, right. More like subtle promptings inwardly, yes? If that’s the case, I would agree that yes the Holy Spirit does prompt us in ways that would probably be described as subjective. I would offer two “disclaimers”:

      ** We can mistake our own wants or desires for something the Spirit “told” us to do. I mean, there are obvious ones that we know are not from God (“God told me to leave my wife and kids to go be a missionary”). But I felt God calling me to start a course of study at our church and found myself in pretty seriious financial problems when it turned out I had thrown myself off the top of the temple and expected Him to catch me, metaphorically speaking. Surely I’m not the only person that has happened to.

      **These subtle, internal promptings of the Spirit will not contradict His word.

      Other than that, I got nothin’

        • says

          Well, the psalmist wrote that the Lord would give us the desires of our heart. I believe God can give us a desire to want to do something for Him.

          For instance, in Sunday School we heard about this man living in Bangledesh who got home from work one day and found he and his wife were homeless–clean concrete slab where the neighbors had taken apart his mud brick house because they are muslims and he is a Christian. We had been studying about sharing with those who suffer for the gospel in Hebrews 10. I was moved to donate money to help that man and I believe the desire to donate that money was a subtle prompting of the Holy Spirit.

          I would say that several times I have felt “led” to do something that looking back probably had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit leading me to do anything. I also would say that the heart is terribly and desperately wicked and we are best to not trust our feelings. However, I do believe that God can speak in some instances to move someone to do something like I described above.

          • says

            Joe,
            I realize that you believe it brother. What I don’t understand is why you believe it? Why does it have to be that “God lead you subtlely” beyond the Bible?

            I think a more scriptural response would be that you seek to “love your neighbor as yourself.” As a result, you felt compassion for this man; so, you responded through donating money.

          • says

            Jeff,

            I served as a bi-vo minister of music and had to deal with “God told me we need to sing such and such hymn this morning” or 5 mins before the service “God gave me this special to sing today”. I believe that most of the time when people say God told them to do something like that it’s pretty much hogwash. However, I can’t completely dismiss the possibility that God can and does move on our hearts to do some things as I stated above. I also allow for the possibility that I could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

          • says

            Joe,

            I do believe that God “moves in our hearts” to cause us to desire to do certain things. He is, after all, conforming us “to the image of His Son.”

            Did God cause me to go to this coffee shop instead of that coffee show and talk to this young lady who is struggling with guilt and remorse because she just had an abortion? Did God cause my friend to be in the coffee shop the night they had “Lesbian Poetry Night”, where he heard their pain and anguish and lostness and become filled with a desire to reach these poor, lost, hurting women with the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Of course He did! He providentially arranges all things!

            The trouble is that there is no way of knowing when an “urge” or “feeling” is from God. How do I know that it isn’t just last night’s sausage, pepperoni, and jalapeño pizza? Nowhere does the Scriptures tell us to seek after and act on feelings, urges, or instincts. Instead we are told to meditate on the Word (Psalm 1) – to listen to Jesus (Matthew 17:5) (Who’s words are recorded in the Scriptures) – to believe the writings God gave (John 5:46-47) – It is “the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15)

            There’s not one verse in the Bible that says, “Trust your feelings.” You’ll hear that from Obi Wan and Oprah. You will not hear that from Obadiah.

            Squirrel

          • says

            The trouble is that there is no way of knowing when an “urge” or “feeling” is from God. How do I know that it isn’t just last night’s sausage, pepperoni, and jalapeño pizza?

            That is a point I have made myself using exactly that same example. That’s why when I’ve had folks tell me “How do I know God’s will for my life” I tell them to study scripture, pray, fellowship with other believers, and engage in the work of ministry by serving in the church and sharing the gospel. I would never suggest to someone to listen for an “Inner voice”. Also, I’ve had what I felt were prompting of the Holy Spirit that looking back were, well, not so as I’ve matured I have learned to trust more in God’s providence than in any sort of internal promptings or whatever.

          • says

            By the way, the title of my blog comes from a Martin Luther quote “Let the man who would hear God speak read holy scripture”. I don’t mean to suggest that there is anything that takes the place of or is on par with the inerrant word of God.

      • Christiane says

        “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searched the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
        (Romans 8:26,27)

  15. Stuart says

    Dave,

    I wouldn’t argue at all with your statement that the Spirit illumines the Scriptues and then leads and guides us. The question is, “how does He lead and guide?”

    While one could argue there is biblical precedent for saying he may lead through visions, dreams, Christophany, prophecy, Scripture itself, fellow-believers, etc., one would be hard-pressed to find biblical precedent for leanings, promptings, feelings, or impressions.

    If we can agree that dreams and visions and Christophany weren’t the norm in Scripture and aren’t now, the question becomes, through what lens shall I consider my desires, or a sermon I hear that really resonates, or the counsel of fellow-believers? Scripture. If what I’m “hearing” doesn’t conform with Scripture, it’s not of the Lord. If it does, then let me go forward with confidence and assurance, without having to wait for further “promptings” or “impressions”.

  16. Stuart says

    One more comment.
    Gary Friessen’s “Decision Making and the Will of God” is one of the most helpful and practical books I’ve ever read on this subject. I guess you could say that God really spoke to me throught it. ;-)

  17. says

    I recall the Joke my Daddy told me when I was growing up.

    There was a flood.

    A man was on his front porch, when a police car came bye.

    “You’d better get in the car, Mister,” the policeman said. “The river is risin’ fast!”

    “Oh, no!” the man said, “I’ll be fine. I’m trusting in the Lord!” So the policeman left.

    An hour later, the same policeman came by in a boat, and saw the same man, now at a second story window, watching the water go by.

    “Better get in the boat,” the policeman said. “The river is still risin’ fast!”

    “Oh, no!” the man said, “I’ll be fine. I’m trusting in the Lord!” So the policeman left.

    Another hour went by, and the same policeman came by again in his boat and saw the man, now sitting on his roof, watching the water rush by his house.

    “Come on, man! Get in the boat!” the policeman said. “The river is still rising!”

    “Oh, no!” the man said, “I’ll be fine. I’m trusting in the Lord!” So the policeman left.

    Another hour goes by, and a helicopter flies over, and sees the man now perched atop his chimney.

    The pilot yells at the man, “Hang on, we’ll lower a rope to you and pull you up!”

    “Oh, no!” the man shouts back, “I’ll be fine. I’m trusting in the Lord!” So the helicopter left.

    The man dies and goes to heaven, and says to God, “There was a flood & I trusted you to save me! Why’d you let me die?”

    “Well,” God answered, “I sent you a car, two boats, and a helicopter. Wasn’t that enough?”

    My Daddy taught me a lot through the jokes and stories he told me. He was smart that way. I miss him.

    Squirrel

    • Doug Hibbard says

      I heard the rowboat story first from Lewis Grizzard, yet it’s one that Dad has oft repeated to me. Especially when the obvious answer has been staring me in the face and I’m looking for something else.

      • says

        Dad liked Grizzard, but I believe the story probably pre-dates both of them. But, know that you mention it, I do recall hearing Grizzard tell this story on a cassette tape my uncle sent to my Dad back when I was in high school.

        Squirrel

  18. Doug Hibbard says

    At the risk of being the sycophant—I’m inclined to side with Dave. Not that I have a particular “leading” on the issue, but probably just because I’m hesitant to say that God will not guide us into all truth through the Holy Spirit. Realizing that all truth includes the Scripture but that there are areas where Scripture is silent, and so where is the truth there?

    I know one of the places this argument fleshes out is the “Who do I marry?” discussion. I feel strongly that God led me to marry my wife, that she was who He had made perfect for me.

    Am I wrong? Was it just attraction? Just a logical decision? Just pure desperation that I found someone willing, so I better marry her quick? (DO NOT RESPOND TO THAT! ESP SQUIRREL!)

    I honestly cannot say. She meets all the Biblical requirements that I think Scripture establishes for the wife of a pastor. She fulfills what I see Proverbs guiding a man to seek.

    Yet at the time, it didn’t seem like a good idea to even bother getting married. We both held the distinct feeling/impression/leading that to not do so, though, would be disobedient.

    All that to say: perhaps it is simply that when we have God’s Word in us, when we are striving to submit to Him, that our emotions and logic guide us clearly enough that He does not directly speak.

    But I’m not sure. I do not see an explicit Scripture that states He won’t do so, but I do see plenty that warn me that I have to compare what I think I hear to the things I know He has said: The Bible. I also do not see an explicit Scripture that says He will speak/guide in that manner today.

    I guess it depends: strict construction? If He doesn’t say He will, then He won’t? Or loose construction? If He doesn’t say He won’t, He might?

    Will wrestle with this and think.

    And will try not to let the testimony of those who have encountered God speaking in dreams to sway me too far into the crazy.

    • says

      Am I wrong? Was it just attraction? Just a logical decision? Just pure desperation that I found someone willing, so I better marry her quick? (DO NOT RESPOND TO THAT! ESP SQUIRREL!)

      I ain’t a gonna say nuttin’…

      Except...
      Al Mohler did have a bit to say about finding your spouse at a recent conference at Southern Seminary – his rules were pretty much what I laid out earlier, but tailored to the whole “spouse finding” thing.
      1) Guys marry girls (sad you have to spell that out, but, well… you do…)
      2) Christians don’t marry non-Christians
      3) Marry the one you want to marry that wants to marry you, trusting that God providentially brought you two together.

      Squirrel

      • says

        I think that some of this may be the semantics:

        In hindsight, the Christian girl that wanted to marry me is the one that God providentially brought me together with.

        When making the decision, we prayed for God to guide if we should or shouldn’t get married.

        Much like salvation: I really thought I was choosing to accept Christ. Now I’m not so sure that’s the right description of what happened, but I would not deny that someone using that terminology was saved.

        In all, we need to have these discussions and sort out what we really think, and whether what we say is really what we mean to say.

        And on Big Al’s rules: 1&2 are explicitly Scriptural, so I wouldn’t argue that “God speaking” would ever violate those. #3 is where the question comes: is it not possible that He ‘speaks’ through the providence of bringing together? or that He ‘speaks/guides/impresses’ to confirm it?

        Like my recent pastoral move: it was a good choice and a much better situation for my family, even though it was a bit of a pay cut. I would argue God guided the search that brought us to the middle of rice country. Did He speak? I’m not sure I’d put it at the level of revealed Scripture—not because He cannot speak clearly, but because I doubt our own ability to hear Him. He may not have been saying what we all thought we heard!

        It’s really about the hearing and the hearers, is it not? Nowhere in Scripture does God say “I shalt not speak again.” We do see Scriptural grounding that no further inerrant revelation is coming–but that could be based in the fact that no one would ever hear clearly enough again to speak for God. After all, did not all the NT writers actually see Jesus? Are they, perhaps, more qualified than anyone else ever will be?

        Still, trying to learn to not automatically mark everything off as “God told me to” because I’m not sure He did (except Scripturally). I do think He might still do a bit of that–but I could be persuaded. I could also entrench and never change. I’m Baptist like that.

        • says

          #3 is where the question comes…

          And this is where God’s providence enters the picture. The spouse that God has decreed that you will marry – Your spouse – is some whom God is going to bring you, providentially, into contact with at a time and place of His determination.

          You meet. You are attracted. You confirm Biblical qualifications (i.e. 1 & 2 above). You date. You ask yourself, “Is this someone I want to marry?” (All the while, you’re praying.)

          “The One” just doesn’t flash neon-blue when you meet. Like just about everything, it seems that God expects us to put in a little effort of our own. :)

          None of God’s prophets said “Use the Force. Let go of your conscious self and act on instinct.” No, that was Obi Wan Kenobi…

          Squirrel

    • says

      And, Doug…

      I’ve seen Ann’s picture, so I know it wasn’t desperation, nor was it stupidity. You’d have been an idiot not to marry her!

      Now, the question of why she married you is a whole lot more up in the air…

      ;)

      Squirrel

  19. says

    Biblical guidance when choosing a wife:

    The Bible said that as a Christian, I had to marry a Christian. That left the field pretty wide open within that command.

    So I picked the coolest, yet hottest one that wanted me as well. It didn’t require a lot of guidance and second guessing. Fifteen years and five children later, I’m certain God was in it.

  20. Bill Mac says

    Everyone has experiences of one kind or another. This isn’t about what happened to us, but what can we teach? Maybe God led you to be a missionary to Miroslavia by a series of stomach pains, coincidences, and a total eclipse. But you can’t teach that. Where in the bible does it tell us that internal promptings are a way of discerning God’s will?

    Pray for wisdom and do what you want. If God will make our decisions for us, we don’t need wisdom.

  21. says

    I am going to have to agree that taken as a whole, the direct communication betweeen Him and humanity seems to be a rare phenomenon as far as the Bible records. We know that the Bible is not an exhaustive history, nor a complete rendition of all of His works in history. Even so, in each story or passage, if we are lucky we get to see a single person’s interaction with the Lord.

    However, most of us, I think, will admit that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes a difference for us today. We have an advantage, a leg-up on those who came before Christ. Therefore, we do have a teacher, a guide, a counselor who will lead us to understand all things.

    It seems to me that the story of the muslims dismantling the Christian’s home is a good example. The Spirit reminds us of His words and convicts us of the need to obey. Feeling? No. Act of wisdom in accordance with His will, brought to our attention by our teacher? Yes.

    What about a call to missions? “God put it on my heart….” I would say maybe, but there’s another solution. When my wife and I realized that missions was our future, we too phrased it as “God called us to missions.” Looking back, I am wondering if instead of a call, what we experienced was the sudden understand of who and what we are. We are linguistically flexible people who typically adjust well to moves. We love the Lord, and wish to serve Him. I love to teach, my wife loves people. Missions seems to perfectly match the way we are made.

    I think what many of us call “a sense of God’s leading” might be feelings. Those events might also be the desires of our hearts that God will grant us due to our obedience in Him. They might also be times that we finally understand something the Spirit is teaching us, using the Word, that He is not necessarily teaching our neighbors.

  22. Lynda says

    Seriously??

    I’m not saying I disagree with all of your points, but if you believe what you have written, then almost every church must shut down, including some of the most conservative ones around.

    Also, why would God even allow us to have spiritual gifts? Should everything not said or done by Jesus in the New Testament be set aside? What about promptings and experiences that missionaries have? What about healings? Should we stop praying altogether, having prayer or devotional times, on and on. I can give dozens of examples of how God does lead us. How do you distinguish between the mind, heart, feelings, promptings, etc.?

    Should the whole spiritual growth program movement that has been going on in the Baptist churches for at least 20 years be set aside?

    There are some crazies in every group, that doesn’t mean we throw out the whole group.

  23. says

    This post, and the one by the Internet Monk, are completely rocking my world and shaping this Sunday’s sermon. But I have a question: as a church planter, I’ve been told numerous times that, on those days when it’s the absolute darkest and hardest, I should “go back to my calling.” That is, I should remember that God called me to this so I am to persevere regardless of the prevailing mood. I think I have an answer formulated, but I would like to hear what you have to say about that one.

    • says

      Michael, I would point back to the desire that is required in the pastoral epistles. If you no longer have the desire to pastor, and your reason for lacking the desire is not sinful, then you are no longer called to the ministry. The calling for the pastoral office is directly tied to our desire for the office. If the desire is there, and the biblical qualifications are there, then we can pastor.

      On days that it’s the darkest, I find comfort in God’s Word. I don’t quit because I know I would be involved in ministry somewhere else for God’s people the following week. Once my desire is gone, I too will be gone from pastoral ministry. However, I will always be involved in the local church in lay ministry, because I’m a Christian.

      What are your thoughts?

  24. Bill Mac says

    Here’s a question: If God really wanted us to do something, make some decision, go in a particular direction, etc, why wouldn’t He tell us? Why would He sort of semi-subjectively-quasi-maybe-kind-of nudge us? No one knows how fallible we are more than God.

    • Frank L. says

      Could it be God’s speaking is not “semi-subjective-quasi-maybe-kind-of nudge” but clear and plain and we are just hard of hearing?

      Unlike the “Outer Limits,” the fault may truly be with our set. (If you are under 50 you may struggle with this statement).

  25. says

    I have a question as well.

    What is the difference between a psychic looking into a Crystal Ball to discern the voice of a higher power; and a Christian looking into his or her feelings to discern the voice of God?

    I see no difference; divination is divination.

    However, I am willing to be corrected.

    • says

      Well, Jared,

      One difference is that Henry Blackaby says that the later is normative for really deep & spiritual Christians…

      I wonder how many copies of Experiencing God LifeWay has sold?

      Squirrel

      (FYI, my understanding of this issue has grown greatly over the last five or six years. Ten years ago, I taught Experiencing God)

      • says

        Squirrel, I agree; for I too have taught Experiencing God as truth; but in the past 7 years, have found it to be biblically lacking.

        • Bill Mac says

          I love Henry Blackaby. His heart and passion for the Gospel is inspiring. But I think EG has some problems, especially in the idea that we have to discern God’s voice.

          • says

            Bill,

            While I’ve not met him, Henry and my Dad were friends. Dad loved Henry greatly. He’s always struck me as a good and Godly man, with a passion for the Church and the Gospel.

            But, on this, I think he’s way off base. Dangerously so, in fact. In this day of superficial belief, ear-tickling, and Biblical illiteracy, this emphasis on a non-Biblical subjective “listening for God’s voice” just exacerbates the problem. I’ve heard it described as “tongues-less charismaticism,” and I think that description is on target.

            Squirrel

          • says

            I agree that Blackaby is a godly Christian man. Whenever I believed like Blackaby years ago; and I tried to impliment what he suggested: “See where God is working, and join Him.” My problem that I saw God working everywhere, and I wanted to join Him everywhere. Every time I hear of a church that is struggling, that does not have a pastor, I feel deeply for them, and want to go help them. Since I was not omnipresent, applying Blackaby’s argument was impossible.

          • Dave Miller says

            Henry is my homeboy!

            Talk bad about him and I’ll slit your tires – in Christian love, of course, and because a voice told me to do so.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            I finally understand Dave’s commitment to the Yankees!

            A voice told him to!

    • says

      Experiencing God Leaders Kit Revised and Updated

      Special Limited Time Price: $143.96
      New Price: $149.95
      BMI Price: $179.95
      Authors: Henry T. Blackaby, Richard Blackaby & Claude King
      Publisher: LifeWay Church Resources
      ISBN (10): 1415858950
      ISBN (13): 9781415858950
      BMI Stock Number: BMI0200

      This Leader Kit that BMI offers includes a revised Member Book, revised Leader Guide, the paperback trade book (read-through book that is not a member/workbook), 5 DVDs, and one CD-ROM.

      3 books, 5 DVDs, and 1 CD-ROM for $180 (full price)?

      & NO, I am NOT anti-commerce, and I agree that “the workman is worthy of his wages,” but does this seem a little overpriced to anybody else?

      Okay, way off topic. I know…

      Sorry…

      Squirrel

      • John Fariss says

        Have you been in a Lifeway bookstore lately? Half or more of it is trinkets and junk, instead of books and Sunday School supplies. It is big business catering to a supposedly captive audience (Southern Baptist church members) rather than a ministry–so yes, of course their stuff is “a bit overpriced.”

        John

    • Christiane says

      JARED, I understand your concern that ‘emotions’ not be allowed to rule the day, but we cannot forget that the human person is a ‘unity’ of body, soul, and spirit in one nature, the human nature. This ‘unity’ is demonstrated in that knowledge can affect our emotions, and our emotions can affect our physical and mental health, so the ‘connections’ of the facets our human nature are inter-related and inter-connected, and ‘emotion’ itself, cannot be considered in total isolation.

    • Bill Mac says

      And how is reading circumstances and coincidences to discern the will of God different than reading bones or animal entrails?

    • Frank L. says

      I think it may be a bit simplistic to compare trying to be sensitive to God’s voice speaking to our inner man and a psychic looking into a crystal ball.

      If you don’t see the difference you probably have never been to a psychic with a crystal ball.

      Romans 8, I think, may give us an indication of how God’s Spirit interacts with the spirit of a genuinely saved person. I see great possibilities for communion with God in the words, “groanings that cannot be uttered.”

      By the way, I also understand the dangers of slipping into errant mysticism, so I’m not trying to be judgmental.

  26. says

    Great conversation.

    How does this play into the “calling” a person receives to go into some form of ministry or another? I “felt” called for a long time to enter the ministry. I suppressed that feeling for a long time because of many factors. God, over time, took those factors away so that I had no more excuses. Through that time, my “feeling” became “conviction” and now I am actively pursuing that call.

    I don’t like playing the “what if” game, because there really is no “what if”, but even so, I ask myself, “what if” I would have paid more attention to that “feeling” I had so long ago? Was that “feeling” the Holy Spirit speaking to my conscience? I believe it was. Why? Because I knew in my heart that it was the right thing for me to do, but I was scared to pursue it. Was it written in Scripture that I should pursue ministry? Nope. Are there Scriptural principles in play? Yup. How can I tell that they apply to me?

    The way I see it is like this – if the call on my life that I “feel’ is in accord with the stipulations set around it in Scripture, then I ought to pursue it. God gave us those parameters in order that we would constrain ourselves, not God. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone say “Who are you to put God in a box? Who says God wouldn’t make call X?” My answer to that is “I’m not putting God in a box – He both defined the box AND revealed the box to us. He doesn’t give call X, not because He can’t, but because He won’t. And I know this because He revealed it to us in His word.”

    As long as we check our “feeling” with His revealed Word, we do well. Where the Scriptures are silent, we need to allow room for a conscience tempered by the Spirit.

    Just my $5.00. :)

  27. says

    Aww, I’m hurt. Nobody linked to these articles.

    Really excellent points, Jared. Leaders haven’t confronted the semi-revelatory vapors of muzzy mysticism and the pastoral disaster of the Blackaby’s approach with sufficient seriousness and vigor. Thanks for your voice.

    • says

      Dan, thank you for the compliment.

      Just FYI: I’ve been an avid reader of your blog(s) and thoughts for years. Keep up the good work! You’re influencing many, many people that you may never meet on this side of glory.

  28. Bill Mac says

    I’ve been asked a few times to give career talks to youth (I teach at a university). The question invariably comes around to this: How can I find out God’s will for my life? I respond with three questions:

    1. Who told you that you had to find God’s will for your life?
    2. What makes you think God will tell you His will for your life?
    3. What makes you think you aren’t already living God’s will for your life?

    I then follow up with this:

    What do you like to do?
    What are you good at?

    Go do it. If you fail, keep trying or find something else. And quit waiting for God to tell you what to do.

    • says

      Reminds me of Gamaliel’s advice:

      [35] And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. [36] For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. [37] After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. [38] So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; [39] but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice,
      (Acts 5:35-39 ESV)

      • Doug Hibbard says

        The problem with Gamaliel’s advice?

        Islam’s been growing for a long, long time.

        Success and survival do not always equal that “God is in it.”

        • says

          Good point, which brings up another issue altogether – I have a hard time saying “God is not in Islam.” I liken Islam to the King of Assyria in Isaiah 10. God is certainly using Islam for a reason or else He would have squashed it dead long ago.

          Just as God raised up the King of Assyria to punish Israel, could He be raising up Islam to punish a wayward Christianity? We don’t like to think that way, but it’s certainly a possibility.

          I don’t know if that has anything to do with Gamaliel’s advice though – just a thought I had.

        • says

          Doug said, “Success and survival do not always equal that “God is in it.”

          Actually, God is always in it… just sometimes it’s judgement and not blessing.

          But you point is valid – very valid. Numbers alone are not a sign of God’s blessing.

          Squirrel

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Very valid point—I was taking the “God is in it” to be of a positive for the participants nature, as Gamaliel meant when he spoke of the Christians.

            It’s much like the error of “Hell is where God is not present”–actually He is–just present in wrath.

    • David T says

      As to questions #1 and #2, how do you take:

      Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:1-1, NASB)

      For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col. 3:9-10, NASB)

      • says

        Those verses are not encouraging us to pursue finding God’s hidden and secret will, but to know by experience the redemption that God us accomplishing in the world. Furthermore notice the corporate nature of those verses. Even if i’m wrong and this is encouraging us to pursue knowing His secret will…it is still discouraging an individual and subjective pursuit.

  29. says

    I’m in complete agreement with you, Jared. In fact, you stole my thunder (smile). I was going to conclude today’s post on my blog with an abbreviated version of what you’ve said here.

    Well done.

    p.s. In the interest of full disclosure, the Squirrel sent me your way.

  30. says

    (T)here are some people, I think, who think God’s will is lost and they have to find it. You hear people say, “Well I’m searching for God’s will.” Like, you know, God was sort of a cosmic Easter Bunny and He took His will and He hid it and He says, “Now go find it.” And He’s up there in heaven saying, “You’re getting warmer, you’re getting warmer.” Like this is some kind of a game that we’re supposed to play to find what God has hidden.

    – John MacArthur Knowing God’s Will

    The whole sermon is well worth reading (or listening to).

    Squirrel

  31. Dave Sexton says

    Just a couple of questions:

    How does the Holy Spirit Guide us into all truth?

    Do you think the promise of delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart could be saying that when we delight in God, He will place on our heart the desires that he wants us to have?

    • says

      Dave, I think the desires God wants us to have are clearly written down in Scripture. If we have the Holy Spirit, He points us to the revealed Word constantly.

      So, if you delight in the Lord, His desires become your desires… you thus desire to be obedient to His inerrant Word.

  32. says

    “I’m arguing that we have no authority to go beyond the text to claim God speaks in a way that is not in Scripture.”

    It is always interesting that when Paul wrote the Corinthians he lays out the parameters for the gifts by saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Which is why all prophecy is subject to the Prophets. To claim that you have a word from God is to claim the gift. If anything is revealed it will not go beyond what is written or it has not been revealed. The interesting things about feelings is that they have no such interpreter. They are what they are, feelings, not words. To interpret them is to give them meaning, and to claim that meaning is what God has spoken is, again, to claim the gift. What then, if it is the leading of the Spirit, He will lead you into all truth, not outside it. No a personal word, but the Word, for the edification of all.

    It is as simple as that. What a mess it becomes when we go beyond it.

    @ Dave Sexton: The answers are in the questions. He is the Spirit of Truth, and if you will read the rest of that portion of Scripture you will note that he leads us into all that Christ has said. Second, the desires of ones heart are defined by the context also. The delight in the Lord is the desires of the heart, or should be. Or as Paul said, if our hope is in this life, we are of all men to be pittied most. Why, because we claim a hope that is not seen, one fixed for us in the heavens, waiting to be revealed in the Day. How sad then, if we are looking at the desires of our hearts as those things Paul called dung. We press on, fixing our gaze on the author and finisher of our faith. If that is the thing you delight in, rest assured God will give you the desires of your heart, for those promises do not rest upon your feelings, but upon two immutable things, God, and the fact that unlike us, he cannot lie.

  33. Bill Mac says

    I’m not convinced that God does not speak extra-biblically. I am convinced however that what people call “speaking” is not. For me, therein lies the problem. Feelings, impressions, coincidences, promptings, etc, are not “speaking”. They may well be from God (or as likely not) but they aren’t speaking.

  34. says

    I am a former Charismatic, horrified by the destruction wreaked by the False Prophetic on the Church, but not willing to completely eschew the gifts; primarily because I have been so edified by them when they are properly and Biblically demonstrated in a discerning body of believers.

    I have great sympathies with your concerns, however. I have not read Blackaby’s book, but I understand what one commenter meant by “Baptist silliness.” I recently had to give a mild rebuke to a woman who said she felt God was leading her to “lay her family on the altar”, and seek His will for her life singlemindedly. That was alarming to me–I had visions of Abraham and Isaac. And she has very young children at home. I said, ‘Titus already tells you what the will of God is for your life, to be devoted to your husband and children, and working at home, and this seems a contradictory leading’.

    So I get what you’re talking about, and it should be of concern to anyone who has witnessed the abuses in the False Prophetic Movement.

    On the other hand, I am concerned by the hyperbole drenching your post, (Yes, DJP would tell you I am so guilty of it also, but I hope have paid for my sins there, and that is why I reject these as not helpful to the discussion.) I mean here, psychics and sins. Those are very weighty words.

    I am concerned about the tendency on your positions’ end to move towards a kind of hypercessationism. I see in Scripture room for a person, without presumption, to say God guides and directs a mind saturated with His Word–Prov. 3:5-6, for example, and Acts 15:28,”For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements:” These are not “Thus saith the Lord” pronouncements, but itty bitty letters, things to be tested, and judged and discerned. When prophesying is done decently and in order, it can be extraordinarily edifying to every one involved, which is why I believe it grieves the Spirit so when these gifts are quenched.

    I would resist any form of divination invading the SBC where I delight to worship the Lord. I have too many vivid memories of its presence in its actuality. But as one who speaks in tongues for the Biblical reasons–to delight my God, and myself–I resist anyone who would say the gifts have ceased. I will continue to pray for the Gift’s restoration, to their honored place. They adorn the Gospel. They stir up love in the family of God, and properly distribute the weight of equipping the saints for the work of service. In most churches, there is one conflated Head Pastor/ prophet.

    I will encourage my fellow orphaned Charismatics to leave their uninterpreted glossolalia and snakes at home when they visit their Reformed brethren–after all, the greatest is love! And thank you for demonstrating that supreme gift in the charity you show towards those with whom you disagree.

  35. says

    Jared,

    I’m being the drive-by commenter here. Your article doesn’t address all the issues of “Christian psychics” but it’s very concise and demolishes many of the problems raised by “tongue-less charismaticism.”

    I’ve read Henry’s book and thought it fell far short of proving what he set out to do. This kind of thinking was very prevalent in my early Christian life. I felt like a second-class citizen because God rarely “spoke” to me and half the time his “prophecies” never came to pass.

    Another thing I’ve noticed about this modern day prophecy phenomenon is that it doesn’t seem very concerned with communion with the divine, as the early mystics were. It seems quite focused on one’s future, assignment, or next project. I find that it fits in quite well with an American to-do list. Not all folks are like that, but it seems to be quite the majority.

    • says

      Scooter, I agree. The prophecy phenomenon today is largely selfish. It’s largely man-centered. If God tells us the correct decision to make before we make it, everything will work out according to our plan since we know the future. I think we have a great desire to know the future beyond what God has already revealed.

  36. says

    I should have said, “I’m the drive-by commenter because I’ve never heard of your before this afternoon.” Silly fingers.

  37. John From Down Under says

    Hi – my name is John, I’m a Pentecostal refugee and live on the other side of the world (sounds like an AA intro!). Chiming in after 140 comments as a first time visitor is like a little kid screaming in a crowded Luna Park for attention, but let’s give it a shot.

    Firstly, excellent article and Billy Mac’s on iMonk is equally thought provoking (I intend to link them on my fb wall)

    Secondly, as a former Pentecostal I am not here to enlighten anyone or proffer ‘authoritative’ insights into the mystical abyss of extra terrestrial communication. Just some perspective as someone who has spent over 20 years in the denomination that thrives on the experiential & the subjective. I don’t care enough about the charismatic gifts debate and have not yet signed a cessationist’s covenant card.

    In view of Jer 17:9 it would be ludicrous to rely on a faulty GPS for any form of direction. That’s the no brainer part. If God expected us to rely on this instrument he wouldn’t be loving but tyrannical, like those mean kids who pluck out fly wings just to watch them stumble and get disoriented.

    I have heard and seen enough anecdotal ‘God told me’ stories to last me three consecutive lifetimes (and I’m hoping for longevity). They range from the neutral (nothing good, bad or anti-biblical), to the ridiculous and the sublime. Even in my Pentecostal heydays I was suspicious about this 1800 open line to the throne. Many people’s lives and faith have been shipwrecked as a result of this nonsense.

    Having come out of all that now, I am faced with other extremes and it’s a case of baby and bathwater. I certainly share the concerns about ‘new revelation’ and the preservation of the canon as the only authoritative revelation. However, if a dude like Agabus got up in a meeting and gave a warning about an oncoming disaster, how does this interfere with the canon? Of course the litmus test will be the prophecy’s fulfillment, and if it doesn’t come to pass the loving elders would be encouraging the ‘prophet’ to stick to his day job.

    On a more personal level, a while ago my mother who is a Christian, got up one morning and had an overwhelming sense (no voices) to hold on tight to her bag when she went out. Her reaction was ‘get behind me Satan, I’m over all this Pentecostal nonsense’. During her trip to the mall later that day her bag got stolen. So we have two options here. If we say it was God the Holy Spirit we may be held criminally liable for theological abuse, so let’s go with the devil (as he obviously cared for my mother’s safety!).

    Incidents like these abound in my former circles and of course there’s a lot of rubbish in them but a lot of head scratchers as well. Remotely sane Pentecostals will say that such incidents are not normative but the exception. If you are in imminent danger, could God communicate something to protect you? And if he did, how does that add to the canon?

    There’s also that niggling word ‘revelation’(apokalypsis) still wedged in the middle of 1 Cor 14:26, but I would assume it would be a slam dunk for cessaniosts under the ‘pre-canon-now-obsolete’ argument.

    In closing (apologies for being brevity-challenged), could we argue that Jer 17:9 is a snapshot of the unregenerate heart and in the process of sanctification some of its faculties are restored though not in full, therefore it should not be a surprise on occasion if God used it not for ‘fresh revelation’ or important decision making, but rather those exceptional and personal things for which conventional wisdom or scripture cannot address (like ‘get out of town, a tsunami is coming’). The jury is out still on this last bit for me, but I’m certainly not losing sleep over it.

    • says

      John, thanks for the comment. I am a cessationist; however, I do believe that God is able to do miracles today. He still possibly may divinely intervene among His people.

      Concerning the story about your mom, I have a hard time believing that God would compell her through making her feel a certain way, since there is nothing like this in the Scriptures. I’m not saying that He can’t do this. I’m merely saying that we have no record of Him doing this in all of biblical history. Also, it could be a coincidence. I think we wrongly assume that if we feel a certain way, and something happens, that it must or may be God.

      Concerning the regenerate heart, I don’t think Adam and Eve before the Fall were lead by their feelings or emotions. I don’t think Christians are today either; and I don’t think we will be lead by our feelings and emotions in heaven. Also, the “heart” in Scripture was the seat of the mind, will, emotions, etc. In Western civilation, it’s the seat of the emotions. In Scripture the heart was basically what made a person human.

      Finally, God doesn’t need a regerate heart before He can speak to it. If He wants to tell us something, I believe He can and will. However, I have no biblical reason to believe that He will make me feel a certain way in order to get me to do something. My feelings and emotions are fickle, similar to a roller coaster. God however can get our attention when He wants to. Biblically, I must assume that He will get to me through my mind instead of through my emotions.

  38. Matthew Edey says

    I can’t help but feel a slight hint of arrogance whenever protestant theologians lecture about the sufficiency of the “Word of God” or “Holy Scriptures” as if Christianity would fall apart and dismantle without it. I’d like to remind these theologians that up until the invention of the printing press, (and still quite a few years later) did the Bible become readily available to most Christians. Before that, a copy of the Bible was extremely rare, with access only by religious leaders, the very rich, or catholic priests and bishops. Even before that, and even know, theologians and church leaders did not agree what ancient texts should be included in the “Holy Scriptures.” Not to mention the amount of translating, and writing the Bible has gone through, to the point of any discovery of ancient text dating back to the original writings that contradict modern translations are considered “blasphemous against the modern Bible that have gone through said countless rewriting and translating by Anglo-Saxons.”

  39. Terry says

    I agree with much of what you say, Dave. Lots of flaky stuff can happen when people establish emotions as the primary source of knowing God or being led by Him . . . but God DID give us emotions and He certainly uses them — often in life altering ways.

    Romans 10:10 For it is with your HEART that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

    Luke, the writer of the gospel, had an inkling that he should write down the eyewitness accounts of our Lord, so that his friend Theophilus might have a more certain knowledge of Christ. Luke WAS being led by God to do this, wasn’t he? :-)

    1 Cor. 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

    While God’s love is MORE than mere emotion, we cannot deny an emotional component to Love . . . yet it is greater than knowledge.

    Luke 15:20 (the parable of the prodigal son) says, ““ . . . his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

    Compassion is an emotion, isn’t it?

    Again, I heartily agree with much of what you say here, Dave . . . but God can move any way He wants to and I think Scripture backs this up.

    • says

      Terry, my article above is not against emotions. Rather, it is against trying to discern God’s will for my life through my emotions. Also, I agree with everything you say, but none of your examples speak of authoritative feelings or emotions. For example in the parable of the prodigal son, was the father moved with compassion for his son before he processed his son’s return in his mind? Of course not! His emotions followed his knowledge. Anyone that is lead by their emotions apart from knowledge is irrational. Emotions divorced from knowledge is always irrational.

      • Terry says

        Hey, thanks for your response, Jared. I see where you’re coming from and I’m wholeheartedly in favor of the Word being our plumb line.

        My concern is that there are times when people’s INTERPRETATION of the Word (intellect and ego) is what rules, not God. The Pharisees were the trained “experts” in the Law and Jesus acknowledged that they searched the scriptures daily . . . but He also said those very scriptures pointed to Him and they couldn’t recognize Him even though He was standing right in front of them.

        The two on the road to Emmaus felt their “hearts burn within” them when Jesus spoke, but didn’t understand at that moment what He was saying (or who He was!). Sometimes, it’s like that.

  40. says

    “Could it be God’s speaking is not “semi-subjective-quasi-maybe-kind-of nudge” but clear and plain and we are just hard of hearing?”

    When I saw Proverbs 3:5-6 leading the pack in the Daily Light on the Daily Path, it seemed good to return to this thread tho it seems Jared is no longer moderating. Here are some other pithy scriptures:

    I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
    —And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

    It seems to me as well when you suggest that God only spoke to a priestly caste, you are forgetting how Moses rebuked Joshua when he suggested he stop the elders of Israel from prophesying, and said he wished that all would prophesy. God spoke the same sentiments when Peter quoted Joel in Acts 2:

    And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
    and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    and your young men shall see visions,
    and your old men shall dream dreams;
    even on my male servants and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
    And I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
    the sun shall be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood,
    before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
    And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

    I believe the return of Biblically saturated prophetic utterance, and Holy Spirt directed guidance of believers, is not adding to the canon, and is a move of the Spirit to his Bride in this time that I believe is the Beginning of Birthpangs (and James MacDonald recently taught this on his radio broadcast, so I am in good company). I do believe we are in the Beginning of Sorrows. I believe these will more and more be essential to a persecuted, underground church.

    One astute commenter on my blog said, “To the chagrin of some I know, there is a growing population within Christendom of Reformed (soteriogically)/Charismatic/Continuationists.” I am afraid you see us as a kind of Glossalalia Peril, and that is sad. I believe both camps in the Church need each other, and would greatly benefit from rapprochment. Language like yours in this post worsens relations. I really really am offended that you would call me a Psychic! That is such loaded language to those of us coming out of churches where Bob Jones’ weird pronouncements were revered, and while it may score points in certain circles, I believe it does great damage to the Body as a whole.

    But reading these kinds of articles makes me so grateful to God that I landed in the church that I did, and he brought the pastor to us that He did–he rejects these extremes as well. So I guess God did a Romans 8 here for me, and I shouldn’t snivel so much.

    • says

      Karen, if you are trying to discern God’s voice through your feelings and emotions, then yes, you are playing the psychic. If however, you possess the spiritual gift of tongues or prophecy, then no, you are not playing the psychic. I must confess however that I am a cessationist; but, even if the miraculous spiritual gifts are alive and well in the church today, they are not psychic-related. Rather, they are knowledge-related.

  41. Dave Miller says

    Jared, as I have ruminated on this, I have one statement to make. I may write a response post at some time, explaining biblically why I think your basic premise is in error.

    But my quarrel here is with the use of the term psychic – a pejorative – to describe people who love Jesus but disagree with you about the subjective leading.

    I think that is out of line. To believe in the inner ministry of the Spirit leading and guiding Christians is very different from involvement in the occult and I think you can do better than to paint those who disagree with you on this issue as somehow dabbling in the occult.

    • says

      Dave, I appreciate your response. I however disagree with you. If God does not lead through inward emotions and feelings, then Christians that look inwardly for His divine leading, are diviners. It’s not about them participating in the occult; it’s about them depending on their feelings and emotions instead of the Word of God. I do believe it’s a type of divination. If I am correct, that God does not lead Christians subjectively through their emotions or feelings, would you agree that Christians are participating on a form of divination?

      • Dave Miller says

        No, you draw a false distinction and thereby paint a false picture of what people who disagree with you are doing.

        Yes, there are many who are simply led by their emotions. But there are also serious students of the Bible who follow God’s Word carefully, who also believe that God still does today what he did throughout the Bible – give direct leading on certain specifics through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

        You paint that as depending on emotions – which is simply NOT accurate and is disdainful toward serious Christians who do not agree with your position.

        I just wish you could state your opinion without being unkind, dismissive and disdainful toward those who disagree with you.

        • says

          Dave,
          How do you discern if God the Holy Spirit is leading you or not? Does He lead you through your mind or your emotions? I’m coming against those that discern the Spirit’s leading through their emotions. What you describe sounds like something different than what I’m writing against.

        • Dave Miller says

          Let me be clear about my point. By using the term psychic, you are essentially calling those who disagree with as false.

          I am more than willing to disagree over this and to discuss it. But I think it is unfair to put the “heresy” or “false brother” label on those who disagree with you.

          The Old Testament commanded that diviners be put to death. You’ve not argued for capital punishment, but by using the term psychic, you are essentially painting a large group of Christians as false brothers.

          I think that inflated rhetoric is unfair. We should be very careful in using terms like that.

          So, say you disagree with me and I have no problem. I’ve encouraged that on this blog.

          My objection is to being cast as a false brother – a psychic. I think you ought to be careful about that kind of rhetoric.

          • says

            Dave, of course I don’t mean that those who disagree with me are false-brothers. I do however believe that it’s a form of divination. To be fair, I think my title disagrees with your assumption: “WHY IS THAT CHRISTIAN dressed up like a psychic?” My article doesn’t question anyone’s salvation. I think you are reading into the article what isn’t there. I’m basically asking why Christians are participating in a form of divination. I think you’ve taken the “psychic” reference to a place beyond the article.

          • Dave Miller says

            “Thus, it is a sin to believe that God speaks through your feelings because you’re adding to the Bible; and it is a sin to claim that God is speaking to you when you have no authority to make such a claim. If you are committing this sin, you are practicing divination; and thus, you are a diviner (Deut. 18:10-11).”

            That which I believe, that God still speaks to the human spirit, is a “sin.” And those practicing it are diviners.

            That’s a pretty strong accusation. I think it is unfair.

            Thing is, I agree with MUCH of what you say. But I think you take it beyond what is valid, fair, and charitable.

            That’s my point.

          • says

            Dave, we may need to agree to disagree then. Believing that God still speaks to the human Spirit is NOT a sin, IF you emphasize the same method He does in Scripture. What I’m coming against is those that argue God speaks to them through their feelings and emotions. I do believe it’s a form of divination. Just like anything else Christians do that isn’t in the Bible, I believe it’s a sin to accredit something to God that His Word does not say.

            For example, I know you’re against looking at animal entrails to discern God’s will. I see no difference in looking at how we feel to discern God’s will. I see no biblical reason to look at how I feel to discern God’s will. I don’t think the comparison is “unfair.” Are you saying that Christians should look at their feelings and emotions to discern God’s will? If you do believe this, what Scripture do you use to make your point?

            Finally, I don’t understand how I’m being unloving. No one has brought any Scripture to bear on the subject yet. I’m open to being corrected; actually, I would love to be corrected. My life would be easier if those that disagree with me are correct.

          • Dave Miller says

            My quarrel here is very narrow – it is with the use of the term psychic and the divination analogy.

            Again, I agree with much of what you have written.
            I believe that many Christians foolishly follow their emotions and instincts and believe that every feeling they have is a “word from God.” (I’d likely describe that as folly rather than divination or the use of occult practices).
            I believe that we are to be led from God’s Word. I don’t need to pray about whether to witness or preach God’s Word. I don’t need a “word from God” to do what God’s Word said.

            But I also see that God often gave specific instructions to his people. He never said to his servants, “Read the Law and do what you please” – as has been advocated on this comment stream pretty frequently (by others, I believe).

            Antioch got specific instructions from God about who to send (almost sounds like a “call”). God did not just let Paul go wherever he pleased to preach the gospel, but gave him specific instructions.

            In fact, (I’ve just finished a book on this – not sure you’d like it much), pretty much every significant work of God in scripture – OT and NT – began with a direct and specific Word from God. “Build a boat – here’s the dimensions.”

            I have sensed that direction from God several times in my life. I do not get up and ask God every morning what color shirt I should wear. But I do sense a direction from God at times.

            I don’t know how to describe it in any way that the bulk of commenters on this stream would not ridicule. Emotions? Not really. I believe it is the Holy Spirit giving direction to my spirit.

            I NEVER place that above scripture.
            I NEVER argue that anyone in my church should obey my “promptings.” In fact, I always tell them to seek God on their own.

            The best way I can describe it is a convincing of my spirit. I know that is way too mystical for most here. But that is how I describe it.

            I do not think that is being psychic. Psychotic? Perhaps. But I think it is directly in line with the ways of God in Scripture.

          • says

            Dave, is this revelation that you receive on par with Scripture? It seems that you believe it isn’t; however, how does one argue for a sub-Scripture Word from God? If God said it, then shouldn’t it carry as much authority as other things God has said: Scripture?

            This may need to be reserved for an article from you on the topic. I appreciate the challenge brother; iron indeed sharpens iron.

          • Dave Miller says

            Let me tell a story, from back in the late 80s. We were doing a beach ministry in Ocean City Maryland and I had been talking to a guy named Joe, who was unsaved. We had a bonfire/evangelistic service at the beach. After we’d cleaned up, he realized that during some roughhousing on the beach, he’d lost his keys. I sent the youth and most everyone back and stayed on the beach with Joe and two summer missionaries. It was a dark night and finding the keys was nearly impossible.

            As we looked for the keys, I began to get this “gut” sense, an overwhelming conviction, I’m not sure how to describe it. All I can say is that in my spirit, it almost sounded like words. “Stop and pray.” I sensed that God wanted me to stop and pray. I didn’t really want to look foolish in front of Joe and explain why even though we prayed, we didn’t find the keys, so I resisted a little. But that feeling, or conviction, or inner voice or however you describe it would not go away.

            So, I said to the guys that we should stop and pray and ask God to help us find these keys. We did.

            After I said “amen” I turned on my flashlight and pointed it at the ground a few feet away. As soon as it hit the ground I saw the tips of two keys sticking up out of the sand. ‘

            Joe was dumbfounded (as was I).

            So, what was that? I would describe it as the Spirit communicating with my spirit. I heard no audible words, but it was almost like words inside my head, in my spirit.

            I do not consult my feelings for everything I do. But I do, at times, receive what I believe are specific instructions from the Lord about specifics in my life.

          • Dave Miller says

            I do not put it on par with scripture, for one reason primarily. I know that my heart is deceitful and there is that ever-present tendency for me to read my desires as God’s will.

            I try to avoid being mystical, but also avoid denying the inner working of the Holy Spirit inside me, speaking to my regenerated spirit.

          • says

            Dave, could the desire to pray have been spurred from your knowledge of the Word of God? “make your requests known unto God.” I have had similar experiences where I couldn’t find something, prayed, and found it immediately. I however don’t understand why we have to believe that it was God speaking or urging us beyond His Word. Since you’ve been in the Word diligently for years, couldn’t your desire to pray have been your conscience convicting you, having been informed by God the Holy Spirit and His Word, to apply God’s Word? Your conscience knew you should trust the Lord; therefore, God the Holy Spirit used His Word to convict you?

            Also, what you desribe is foreign to what many proponents of relative revelation argue. Many argue that you must “listen for the voice of God.” What you desribe however was something you could not control. You were not “waiting to hear from God.” He however spoke to your situation; I believe through His Word, and your knowledge of it. Could it have been the Holy Spirit convicting you through your conscience due to truth you understood in the Bible?

          • Dave Miller says

            It was more than just a normal desire to pray. It was a strong and specific sense. I don’t know how else to describe it.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Dave—finished a book?

            As in wrote or read?

            If read, I’d like to know which one.

            If wrote, send me a copy.

          • Dave Miller says

            I’ve written several books. Published? Not so much.

            The one I referred to is called “Significant Servants.” I examined the 16 great works of God and asked the question, “what does it take to be a significant servant of God?”

            I’m not done editing the book completely, but I hope to get it out there where people can skewer it!

          • Dave Miller says

            I was gonna try to work Jabez into the title, or perhaps change my last name to Lucado.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Dave, mine’s going to be entitled “Pastors need big trashcans.”

            I’ve got an outline, at the least.

            Maybe you should change your name to David Lucado Jabez.

            You could subtitle it “Fireproofing yourself to face the giants that have shrunk your territory to a pit with a lion on a snowy day.”

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Whatever you choose, man—just claim your name—or name your claim or—

            drat. History of Christianity is calling. Anyone want to discuss the Council of Nicaea with me?

          • Doug Hibbard says

            Unfortunately, the budget will not sustain such a trip this year. However, if the Lord provides, I will take that as His leading that I ought to go.

  42. says

    “if you are trying to discern God’s voice through your feelings and emotions, then yes, you are playing the psychic.”

    First, thank you for answering. I also need to take kids to music lessons in a moment, so I cannot get into an extended conversation at this time.

    I would wholeheartedly reject any leading based on subjective feelings. Perhaps it would be better to describe it, when I would participate in giving a word of prophesy or exhortation. And when I did prophesy at the church I attended, that did things decently and in order, it was not an emotion or feeling–sometimes I would get a sense of urgency, if I was trying to quench it, because, honestly I always have sat in the back of the class and liked obscurity. But that would be the only emotion I would feel.

    It was always a clear word, but I was so afraid of presumption that I would ask the Lord to give me a scripture that said the same thing. At least then I knew it would not return void. (It was one reason, but not the primary one, that motivated me to know the scriptures inside-out.)

    And then, and only then, would I speak. It was never ecstatic speech. It was often confirming and anticipating the pastors’ sermon, and was edifying to all, especially me, the speaker–it can be such a faith-building gift! It was always done with permission of an elder, and at the proper moment. After all the spirits of the prophets are in control of the prophets.

    I hope that helps you to understand why I might be upset at someone calling me a psychic. I do no readings, and I do not believe in the ‘reading peoples mail’ thing. That was an intrusion of the demonic into a divinely orchestrated move of God, the charismatic renewal of the 70’s–a la early Calvary Chapel.

    Thank you again for your courteous reply, Jared.

  43. Christiane says

    The Church often speaks of the ‘heart’ as the place where a man’s conscience decides for or against God. In sacred Scripture, the word ‘heart’ is also found in many references, for example, this
    from Romans 5:5:
    “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

    It is not from lack of biblical knowledge that people say of those who have no compassion for others, that they have no ‘heart’.

      • Doug Hibbard says

        Hey Squirrel—be careful out there. Saw one of your fellow furry mammals flattened on the road. I’m not taking it as a sign or anything, trying to read the fur lines—

        But there were no skid marks, so there’s some squirrel smashers on the loose.

        • Christiane says

          It’s the economy. Road-kill has become popular dinner fare again. There are recipes, you know. And even a restaurant:

          http://www.road-kill-cafe.com/roadkill.html

          My favorite on the menu is ‘Guess This Messs’ (if you can guess what it is, you get it for FREE)
          These days, it’s probably the most popular item on the menu.

          Squirrel.
          Oh my, reminds me of that scene in ‘Winter’s Bone’ where Ree is teaching her brother and sister how to skin, and gut a squirrel for frying. We sure take a lot for granted in this country. Maybe we need to be humbled, and thank the Lord for all good things. Even for the squirrels who feed people who would go hungry otherwise.

  44. says

    Jared,
    I was reading your recent (at the moment ongoing I suppose) exchange with Dave and here is what I get between it and our conversation above. It seems that you are attempting to mix in some charge of “extra biblical” revelation (as in adding to Scripture), toward someone who is merely speaking of God directing them in their lives. As a pastor who was called to move 1000 miles from home, I have firsthand experience with God using circumstances, people, events and other things outside (but not in contradiction to) His written Word to direct me as I walk.
    You yourself said that Jesus said things that weren’t recorded. So when God speaks, is it always Scripture?

  45. says

    Jeff, Yes, I believe that when God speaks that it’s Scripture. Concerning God’s use of other means to get you to do something, I’m fine with this: God using 1) circumstances: Circumstances happen because God at the very least has allowed them to happen. I must assume that God has placed me where I’m at for the purpose of His glory. He knows what it will take to conform me to the Image of His Son; 2) people: Proverbs is clear concerning hearing wisdom from others (Prov. 8:33); 3) events: I think this falls in line with God’s providence as well; 4) things outside, but not in contradiction of his written Word: I would need some examples. I don’t believe, apart from God’s specific revelation, that you can trust the above things you mention, like you can His Word. I always assume (and this is biblical), that if I’m not in violation of God’s Word, I’m exactly where He wants me to be. Do you believe God will hold Christians accountable to His “relative revelation” even though we cannot trust our wicked hearts?

    • says

      Jared,
      I tend to agree with most of what you say, but I am noticing that you have a tendency to paint with an overly broad brush and overly broad statements that result in inconsistent logic and categorizations. Since Jesus is God, and He said things that aren’t recorded in Scripture; it means that not everything that God says is Scripture just by base logic. Scripture as it is commonly defined, consists of only those things that God has chosen to reveal to us.
      Do you see the problem between this and your previous statement? It is this overly broad generalization that has caused you to assert that people who claim that God has directed them personally are “creating new Scripture” essentially and I think your charge is baseless and ill-conceived. God will not speak to us in a way that is contrary to His revealed Word, but it isn’t as though He is just sitting around not saying anything at present either.

      • says

        Jeff, I think you’re misunderstanding what I’m saying. Although Jesus said things that were not included in Scripture, I have no reason to believe that He revealed anything else besides what we have in the Scriptures. Since the Holy Spirit was going to lead the disciples into all truth, it is very probable that what we possess in the New Testament letters are the other things that Jesus taught while on earth. My point is that the other things Jesus taught were not “new” or “more revelation” than what we possess today.

        Concerning if God is still speaking today, I don’t believe He is. You seem to think that God is speaking, but that it’s not Scripture, even though Christians are receiving “words from God.” Does the Bible tell us to listen for God beyond the Scriptures? I don’t think so. I think the Scriptures are sufficient. And, I don’t believe God is just “sitting around,” for He’s speaking through His Word, and He is actively involved with His people and creation.

        If God is still speaking today beyond the Bible, and it’s not new Scripture, what is it? Is there a biblical category for what you believe God is saying today?

        • says

          Jared,
          You are committing a simple logical error. In plain speak, just because All A is B does not automatically mean that All B is A. While it is certainly true that all Scripture is God-breathed (God speaking); it is not factual to say the reverse, that all God speaking is Scripture. I have proven this to be true by simply showing the fact that God has been recorded to speak and the content of that speech is not present in Scripture. You continue to persist in the fallacy, so I am afraid we are at an impasse for attempting to further the dialog. This is further complicated by the fact that communication is not limited to audible speech.

          • says

            Jeff, If the prophecies were repeat prophecies, then their content is included in Scripture. This is my point. I’ll admit that I’m assuming their content was the same but you’re assuming that their content was different. We are both assuming, therefore, if I’m committing a logical error, then you are as well. I know that we don’t have word for word, all that God has said; however, I do believe we have in Scripture all that God has revealed.

            I don’t understand how God speaking is not Scripture. If it’s not on par with Scripture, then what is it? How can we say some is God’s Word, and some isn’t? If God says it, it carries divine authority; and if He works something out in a Christian’s life, then it’s edifying to other Christians. How is it different from Scripture?

        • John from Down Under says

          Jared, you said If God is still speaking today beyond the Bible, and it’s not new Scripture, what is it?.

          If an Agabus type prophecy was given in a church today (even though we’re in full possession of the canon), how exactly does that interfere with Scripture? It is doctrinally-neutral and has nothing to do with the moral will of God, especially if it is given in the indicative and not the imperative. Or as I said above, if one is in imminent danger and God wants to warn or protect them, what chapter and verse would take care of that occasion? I can’t see how having a dream that a tsunami is coming (that comes to pass), is introducing new revelation, doctrine or otherwise.

          I use the tsunami example, because a Sri Lankan family 3 doors up from me escaped the disaster in 2004 exactly like that. Should I go and tell them that they were either deluded or it was just a coincidence?

          I’m also NOT suggesting that God warns us ALL the time, because Christians also die in accidents and disasters. But sometimes he clearly does, but if you’re locked into an airtight theology you are compelled to find ways to discredit any anecdotal testimonies like that.

          I also think we talk past each other in some comments. You seem to be rigor mortis in your position because you always equate ‘revelation’ with doctrine, the canon and the moral will of God that must be obeyed. Thus you conclude that any form of revelation becomes by default a substitute to scripture, hence violation of Sola Scriptura. Yet the Agabus example and the allowance for ‘revelation’ in a church setting in 1 Cor 14:26 shows that there can be revelatory communication from God that is canonically neutral.

          • says

            John, I don’t understand the point of God speaking today, if the Scriptures are sufficient. I don’t want to rule out that God speaks today, for afterall, He’s God and can do what He wants. What I’m coming against is the method people use to discern God’s voice. I don’t think we can trust our feelings; however, I am open to possessing knowledge; such as the family you mention that knew a Tsunami was coming. If God is going to speak today, it’s going to be through the mind, not through feelings and emotions.

            Also, you argue that I’m rigor mortis in my theology. I’ll admit that I’m skeptical; for, I don’t want to chalk everything up to God speaking beyond the Bible. It’s harder today to find Christians that don’t believe God speaks beyond the Bible than to find Christians that do.

            You are wrong about me thinking that revelation becomes a substitute for Scripture. I don’t believe this at all; I merely believe that new revelation = new Scripture. Even if it’s not new doctrine, it is still new Scripture since it comes from God. Concerning your statement about revelation that is canonically neutral, could you explain what you mean a little bit more?

          • John from Down Under says

            There was no ‘reply’ option under your comment so I’m one above. Firstly, thanks for continuing the conversation, I truly appreciate you being a good host to an antipodean guest :)

            I’m a 100% with you on the scripturally-void argument that God leads through feelings and emotions, but you’ve taken that even further by saying that new revelation=scripture.

            By canonically-neutral I mean it does not add or take away from the canon or God’s already revealed will in scripture. I don’t mean to harp on about this but I take you back to my question about Agabus. How does someone saying / prophetically predicting an event like that today, becomes Scripture?

            Let me use a lame analogy (ran out of good ones!) If someone back in 2007 in the church you go to, said that God revealed to him (as much as I loathe this parlance), that GFC was coming, be prepared and warned, you’re saying he should be instantly dismissed rather than tested, because if you accept his prophecy it will constitute adding to the sacred texts?

            It gets confusing if you say ‘I will accept it as ‘possessing knowledge’ but not as ‘revelation’ because then it equals scripture’. But isn’t the disclosure of this secret knowledge a revelation in itself? So I think it boils down to semantics regarding the definition of the word ‘revelation’.

            Also, I would like to hear your exegesis of 1 Cor 14:26. There’s a niggling word called ‘revelation’ in this verse. What do you think it means? I for one, though a former Pentecostal don’t think that it is revelation in the sense of introducing new doctrine of teaching. For a cessationist, I gather that verse is obsolete. For soft continuationists like me, the verse still holds currency.

            In closing, even though we’ve had some friendly friction with our respective comments, I agree with you more than what you think. All my insistence is for things that I regard exceptions and rarities not normative experiences, all of which need to be carefully weighed, tested and discerned.

          • Dave Miller says

            John, the nesting of comments only goes so far – 5 levels if my memory is correct.

          • says

            John, you make some good points friend. I now understand what you mean by “canonically-neutral.” To answer your question concerning whether or not new revelation must add to Scripture, the answer is no. I however don’t understand why God would repeat Himself. This seems to be what your suggesting present-day prophecies are; God repeating some principle already found in Scripture? Or, God giving specific direction to Christians. I once again don’t understand why God would give specific direction to Christians today if He did not do this but rarely in Scripture. We’ve made God speaking beyond the Bible normative for the church today.

            Concerning 1 Cor. 14:26, I believe they were revealing New Testament Scripture through public prophecies. The New Testament had not been completed. I’m a cessationist, so I no longer see the point of this gift since we already possess all the revelation that God has revealed to His church. I don’t understand why God would repeat Himself to a lazy church (lazy in that He’s already said it in His Word, so go look it up).

            Also, concerning testing a prophet, do I get to take him out behind the church and stone him if his prophecy doesn’t come to fruition?

        • Lydia says

          If God is still speaking today beyond the Bible, and it’s not new Scripture, what is it? Is there a biblical category for what you believe God is saying today?

          The Biblical category is the Holy Spirit.

          The problem comes when people say God spoke to them and claim it for other people, too.

          I would never share most of what God has shown me. None of it is “extra biblical”. It is not often but I have received assurances, insight, and even messages from people that had no clue what I had been praying about but God used them. Those things make me fall on my knees in praise and I think of Hagar when she said : He is the God that sees me

  46. Shira says

    Wow. Thank you! I know someone that is always saying ‘God told me’ or ‘God laid it on my heart’ or ‘God led me’, etc, and almost every time I end up asking myself ‘What the crap?’

  47. Michael says

    agree with everything except #5 which I just don’t understand. Please talk more on that one.

    • says

      Michael,
      Concerning #5, what I mean is that we desperately long to know the future. If God will tell us what decision to make, then we can make decisions without facing any consequences. Also, if God is telling us the future, then we do not have to depend on Him when we make wrong decisions.

      For example, I have a buddy that put in his 2-week notice at one job because he got hired at another job. When he started his new job, they brought him in and let him go, because “they had over-hired.” If God speaks beyond the Bible, then he could have potentially avoided being unemployed. But now, he’s depending on the Lord’s provision in a way that he wasn’t before.

      I think part of the reason why we want God to speak beyond the Scriptures, is because we want an easy life.

  48. James Wing says

    I agree that we should never claim that God spoke to us when it is not true or when we don’t know. But despite what all of you want to believe, God can speak to us however He wants. I have many instances where I believe that He has spoken to me – it is not audible and it is not written in His Word. I will give you one example out of many: One morning I was praying. I prayed for the specific things in the lives of many that I knew. As I was praying, I “understood” (for lack of a better description) “I want you to pray for Steve.” So I started to pray for Steve B (not his real initial), but I heard “No, Steve A” So I started to pray for Steve A. Then I heard “Tell Steve that I have heard him and everything will be alright very soon.” I am not certain any more that those were the exact words (the quotes are only to indicate that I had heard some words), but they were distinct and clear. So later I called Steve A and told him that. He asked me a few questions about it for which I basically had no answers. Now I never heard any follow-up from Steve A so I don’t even know what that was all about, but I can assure you that it was no liver-quiver and it was as clear as it could be – I have experienced several other such “instructions” over the years, too.

    In the instance of this blog, for example, I have come upon it quite by accident, not being a Southern Baptist. It was on my computer with no retracer (no way to backup to where it came from) so I assume that my wife found it – but now I am not so sure. For some reason, the story of that donkey being ridden by a man in the process of doing something that God didn’t want him to do, comes to mind. The donkey spoke to the man. So why do you think that God wouldn’t speak to a man through another man? Don’t take away from God the means that He wants to use just because He doesn’t speak to you that way.

  49. James Wing says

    After I wrote the previous response, I was reading a book loaned to us by a close friend. His progenitor had been an evangelist in the Free Methodist holiness movement and later a bishop. The book is “Evangel of the Cross” by Bishop W. S. Kendall. In the first seven chapters of the book he describes his own path to Christ. He touches on some of this subject as well – worth reading.

    By the way, I am not a Free Methodist either, but I do believe in holiness teachings he discusses. I refuse to label these things because I believe in Christ, not a denomination (ie, not Apollos or Paul).

    • Doug Hibbard says

      Not a Free Methodist?

      Are there Methodists that you have to pay to join?

      :)

      By the way, welcome to reading and commenting at SBCVoices. We take all kinds, and actually do read and consider what folks say.

      However, there are a few that are goofy at times, and there are some that are vitriol in digital form. But we’re all trying to be better. Well, most of us are.

  50. says

    I’m with you, Jared. This is a huge problem in the church that, as you say, undermines the sufficiency of Scripture, teaches the wrong thing about God (and us), and hurts God’s people because failing to see how desperately they need wisdom from God’s word to live and make choices, they neglect God’s word and do not gain wisdom. The sad thing is, most people are well-meaning, and think they’re being as spiritual as they can in trying to “discern” what God is saying to them. They point to NT phrases like “led by the Spirit” and think they mean something they don’t. After all, they can walk in Lifeway and pick up any number of books by popular teachers that promote this error, and encourage them to listen for God’s inner leading. I appreciate this article, it’s very well articulated. I hope it helps someone—the truth about how God guides is good news, freeing, and God exalting. The other way is a terrible bondage.

  51. John from Down Under says

    Also, concerning testing a prophet, do I get to take him out behind the church and stone him if his prophecy doesn’t come to fruition?

    Personally, I prefer front row tickets to the public flogging or live webcam access to the torture chamber. :)

    You hit the nail on the head though about the laziness bit. Pentecostalism and charismania (what I call ‘freestyle religion’ because you can make stuff up as you go) has propelled this attitude of shortcuts to heaven. Why read the Bible, seek wisdom and apply critical thinking when you can have prophecy and ‘revelation’ on tap! Someone will develop an app for this soon, you watch.

    Seriously though, I see this as a trait of modern cultural influences that have infiltrated the church. It is the desire for instant gratification and ‘instant solutions’ that modern culture has conditioned us to lust after. Once this mindset enters the church, it takes a pseudo spiritual dimension.

    Thanks once again for being a gracious host Jared. I’ve enjoyed the interaction.

    • says

      John, thank you for taking the time to dialogue. I appreciate your patience in examining the subject, and in offering your understanding. Continue on for God’s glory alone.

  52. Christiane says

    From the Book of Daniel:

    20 ““Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
    to Whom belong wisdom and might.
    21 He changes times and seasons;
    He removes kings and sets up kings;
    He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to those who have understanding “

  53. says

    I have a question for everyone.

    If God is still speaking today beyond the Bible, and you have believed He was telling you something, but it didn’t come to fruition, doesn’t this mean that you do not have the prophetic gift necessary in order to hear the voice of God beyond the Bible? I’m curious because in the Old Testament, if a prophet got anything wrong, he was considered a false prophet. How many “prophecies” are you able to get wrong before you label yourself “unable to hear God’s voice beyond the Bible?” In the Old Testament, if you got one prohecy wrong, it meant that you were unable to hear God’s voice; or that God was not speaking to you. So, if we ever get prophecies wrong today, shouldn’t this also prove that we are unable to hear God’s voice; or that God is not speaking to us as well? Or, is it a totally different category today?

    • Dave Miller says

      The fact that I may sometimes hear God wrong does not negate the biblical fact that He speaks.

      And if God is still speaking and you are not listening, what does that mean?

      We can ask hypotheticals all day.

      • says

        Dave, “The fact that I may sometimes hear God wrong does not negate the biblical fact that He speaks.”

        This means that there are no false prophets today then. Which, if you’re basing God speaking on Scripture, where does the Bible give anyone authority to “hear God wrong”? In the Old Testament, you would be stoned to death if you put God’s stamp of approval on something, and He had not approved. Why do you get to hear God wrong, and still not be a false prophet? Also, has anyone ever “heard God wrong” in Scripture?

        Also, the concept of “not listening to God” speak is foreign to Scripture. Where is this at in the Bible? When God wanted to get someone’s attention in Scripture, He always did.

        Dave, I’m looking forward to your article.

    • Dave Miller says

      If the Spirit is not leading and guiding the human heart we are left with the “Read the Bible and do as you please” ethic that has been advocated several times in this stream.

      One question: Where in any great act of God in scripture did he EVER act that way. He spoke. He called. He gave specific instructions and the duty of servant was simply to do all that God said.

      The scenario you set forth is simply not the biblical way.

      • Lydia says

        “If the Spirit is not leading and guiding the human heart we are left with the “Read the Bible and do as you please” ethic that has been advocated several times in this stream. ”

        Good point.

        Jared, What do you believe is the function of the Holy Spirit in a believers life?

        • says

          Lydia, the fuction of the Spirit is to open our eyes to God’s truth, bring us to repentance and faith, inform our consicences with God’s truth, convict and provide us with His fruit, give us spiritual gifts, sanctify us, and exalt God the Son and God the Father.

          What do you think the Spirit’s function is?

          • says

            Jared, how does the Holy Spirit do that for you?

            Repeatedly you have shared throughout the dialogues, “I don’t think, I don’t understand, I don’t believe…” this or that about what others are saying. Just because you don’t think it, or understand it, or believe it, doesn’t necessarily make it true does it?

            When you came to Jesus…what exactly happened with you? Specifically. How did you know that Jesus saved you? You knew because of the written Word or heard Jesus preached, but at the same time, the Spirit Himself confirms the entrance of Christ in your heart. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and He does not sit still stagnating within your heart, soul, mind and body. Jesus Himself gives life, life moves and senses things. We have a conscience but that conscience only works when it is prodded by thoughts. Someone (and in my opinion) the Bible tells us that God gives us thoughts. God. Also we have evil, powers of darkness that give us thoughts….and those thoughts are the things that lead us in His way. The thought of Jesus returning gives me absolute goosebumps. I can hardly wait to hear that trumpet. It causes warmth to my heart and joy in my spirit to even contemplate the day of His appearing. When I am at my worst situation, like when my son was killed and the police called to tell us, I melted like an ice cream cone upon the sidewalk outside Applebees Restaurant. IN my agony and despair, the Lord told me “My grace is sufficient” every single time I cried out to Him. That is how God speaks to me. You can discount it, but no one can convince me that anyone other that my Lord comforted me. just saying…selahV

          • says

            Hariette, my opinion is irelevant. The Scriptures are the authority. What you describe sounds thoroughly biblical. God’s grace is indeed sufficienct; and yes, God the Holy Spirit was appropriating that Scriptural truth to your life in your very difficult time. I’m sorry for your loss. You have lived, and tasted that God’s grace is sufficient. Up to this point in my life, I know God’s grace is sufficient, but God has not had me taste this or live this reality is the same manner as you. Continue on for His glory alone; He is faithful… your testimony affirms this reality.

          • Lydia says

            Jared, I have the same question Harriete has in “how” does the Holy Spirit do that for you..

            I was hoping you would answer that.

            I do not think Harriet was giving an “opinion”, either. We have a “counselor” and Jesus said he was sending us the “best teacher”.

          • says

            Lydia,

            He does it through enabling me to understand the Scriptures. He’s active in applying the Scriptures to my life, He’s active in causing me to love God, Christ, and Himself; He’s producing and cultivating His fruit in me, etc. He’s actively involved in my life; however, I do not “feel” Him or see Him; but, His fruit and work are evident. To summarize the “how,” He changes me through His Word.

        • Christiane says

          I think that I can shed some light on the ‘mystery’ of this very strange statement: “Read the Bible and do as you please”.

          First of all, this ‘quote’ is WRONG.

          The original, very famous quote by St. Augustine looks like this:
          “Love God and do what you will.”
          In Latin, this very famous quote is: “Ama Deum et fac quod vis”
          Sometimes, Augustine’s quote is translated ‘and do as you please’ or ‘do what you want’.

          St. Augustine, a Father of the Church, and also a Doctor of the Church wrote circa A.D. 340-430. He had a contemporary who also wrote in that time frame:
          St. Ambrose, circa A.D. 340-397, also a Church Father and a Doctor of the Church.

          It is hard to know the ‘interplay’ or communication between these two great teachers, but here are some words of St. Ambrose that are RELATED to the content of St. Augustine’s famous quote:

          First Ambrose quotes St. Paul:
          “Wherefore, too, the Apostle found nothing better to wish us than this, as He himself said: “We cease not to pray and make request for you that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding walking worthily of God.” Colossians 1:9

          Then Ambrose writes this:
          “He taught, then, that this was the will of God, that rather by walking in good works and words and affections, we should be filled with the will of God, Who puts His Holy Spirit in our hearts.
          Therefore if he who has the Holy Spirit is filled with the will of God, there is certainly no difference of will between the Father and the Son.” (St. Ambrose, A.D. 340-397)

          I hope this helps.

      • says

        Dave,

        saying, “we are left with” is a scary thing to say; for, we are left with the sufficient Word of God. Also, the “do as you please” ethic you point to is a trust yet again in the sufficiency of Scripture and the sovereignty of God. After all, you do “do as you please” in most of the decisions you make in your life. You and every other Christian lives by this ethic most of the time.

        Also, calling what I’ve set forth “unbiblical” is unfounded. You are making God speaking beyond the Bible “normal” for the church today when it hasn’t ever been a normal occurence for all of God’s people. Where in Scripture do you gather that all Christians will be subjectively lead by God beyond Scripture?

        • says

          I am saying that what you present is contrary to the predominant biblical pattern. It just doesn’t appear anywhere in scripture. “Do as you please.”

          • says

            I think (at least Romans 14) puts the emphasis more on following the Lordship of Christ, with the understanding that people could have slightly different senses of that Lordship.

          • says

            Dave,

            How about if I rephrase it this way; “When faced with a decision on which the Scriptures are silent, prayerfully consider your choices and do what you believe to be right.”?

            (I say “on which the Scriptures are silent” because I hope none of us are struggling with “Should I steal this?” type choices. :D )

            And, let me ask you this? Do you think that there are any insignificant decisions in life? We don’t know the ramifications of every detail. Did you wear the blue tie this morning instead of the red tie? What ripples from that decision do you think there might be? You don’t know, and neither do I. But I believe that God sovereignly guided your choice of shirt, tie, coat, whatever this morning for His purposes and His glory.

            In the same way, He guided your (& my) choice of spouse, of house, of automobile, etc. He is God Almighty, and we can rest in the fact that He is in charge.

            Proverbs 16:9 “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
            Proverbs 20:24 “Man’s steps are ordained by the LORD, How then can man understand his way?”

            Squirrel

  54. Lydia says

    “He does it through enabling me to understand the Scriptures. He’s active in applying the Scriptures to my life, He’s active in causing me to love God, Christ, and Himself; He’s producing and cultivating His fruit in me, etc. He’s actively involved in my life; however, I do not “feel” Him or see Him; but, His fruit and work are evident. To summarize the “how,” He changes me through His Word.”

    Jared, And the point is, He changes YOU in specific ways through his word that may not apply to others. Not a change that will negate the foundational truths of the Word. Let me give an example if I can:

    Could the “principle” Jesus is teaching in this verse, apply to any believer or just to the 12?

    “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”Matt 19

    Is this principle closed with the Canon?

  55. says

    Lydia, I’m missing your point. I don’t understand what you mean about God the Holy Spirit applying the Word to my life in a way that may not apply to others?

    No, I don’t think that promise is closed with the canon, for He’s speaking of eternity, which is indeed a coming reality for all Christians.

    • Lydia says

      “No, I don’t think that promise is closed with the canon, for He’s speaking of eternity, which is indeed a coming reality for all Christians.”

      The scripture does not tell me to leave my family for His sake “specifically”, however, the Holy Spirit could guide me to do just that.

      He might not tell my friend to leave hers. That is what I meant about the Holy Spirit applying the word differently to people.

      It is a biblical principle that could be truth for some today. So, How would they know they should do it? How did they find out?

      Just to make myself clear, I should not tell others to leave their families because the Holy spirit told me to.

      But that is my example of God speaking to us today.

  56. John Fariss says

    Hi Jarred,

    I have read through the article and comments several times, and find myself still struggling to understand you. I do agree completely that there are folks who go completely overboard on this issue of “God speaking.” Some of the primary offenders would be those in the modern charismatic movement exemplified by Benny Hinn and others. (Someone mentioned Joel Osteen; I do not know much about his preaching. I know of him of course, but have never read anything by him or listened to his messages.) But still, I agree with you completely that some people go ‘way overboard with modern “prophesies” which often are inconsistent with Scripture, and even contradict it.

    But you made some rather drastic comments in the original article which in dialogue you seem reticent to affirm or bring back up. I will not go back and pull them up, as I have done so in earlier comments, and Dave Miller has much more suscinctly than did I anyway. Any thoughts here? Is it possible you were using hyperbole in those comments?

    One thing I think (emphasis on “think”) I hear you saying is that what people sometimes believe is God speaking to them is rather a memory of Scripture rather than any”new revelation” or “direct revelation” from God. Is this correct? If so, how do you understand the process of the application of something which is not specificially addressed in Scripture or even of God’s call, which is a very personal matter of discernment? And how is a personal application of something consistent with Scripture, ot even not inconsistent with it, adding to the Bible?

    Please do not take this the wrong way–but I find myself wondering if you do not value thinking, rationale, reason, and logic far and way above emotion, sort of a Christianized version of Mr. Spock (the Star Trek character, not the baby doctor). As someone–perhaps Christine–pointed out, God created us with emotions. Most of us tend to live either in our head or in our heart, neglecting one at the cost of the other, to some extent. I would add that it is possible to shut down one’s emotions. It usually happens when a person is under extreme emotional duress, and is hurting so badly, that it seems better to not feel at all than to feel emotional pain. I know, because I once did that, and it was a slow and difficult process to open my feelings up. If your address is to those who live in their hearts exclusively to the detriment of their head, I agree with you. But your comments can easily be understood as advocating living in the head exclusively, which is just as dangerous.

    John

    • Christiane says

      Hi JOHN FARISS,

      “As someone–perhaps Christine–pointed out, God created us with emotions.”

      yes, was ‘me’ :)

      The comment specifically involved the fact that we, as human beings made in the image of God, have only ONE nature, and we are a ‘unity’ in our human nature.

      I don’t know or understand from reading all of what Jared is trying to share with us in his post and comments, but I am trying to sort it out.

      • John Fariss says

        Actually, I thought it was you, but was to lazy to go back and search for it. BTW, I agree with your comments, and likewise am trying to understand all that Jared is saying.

        John

    • says

      John, I stand by my original article. I however am speaking specifically against those that believe they can hear God’s voice through their feelings and emotions, since I have no biblical reason to agree with them. I am open to the possibility that God speaks in rare instances today; but, we don’t have to be “listening” in order to hear Him. So, it’s not something we can teach people to be looking for; it’s God’s business, not ours’.

      Concerning applying the Scriptures, the application must fit on the foundation of Scripture. Such as God’s forming of babies in the womb, thus His image and activity are present from conception, so the destruction of a fertilized egg is murder. I believe Bill Clinton argues that a fetus isn’t human until it takes its first breath. I think he’s wrongly applying the “breath of life” God breathed into Adam, to mean that God does this with every fetus, to make it human.

      I do value thinking and logic above emotions because God gave us a book first, not a feeling. He gave us a message to carry to the ends of the earth first, not a feeling. Are emotions important? Of course! I believe we are theomorophic, in that God is perfectly emotinal, and we thus have emotions. However, sin has marred our emotions, and God has determined to get to the heart through the mind. We cannot “feel” what we have not processed through our brains. I’m an emotional person, probably more emotional than most men I know; however, logic, and rational thinking govern emotions. Emotions are secondary; and must never be primary. A person that loves based on no knowledge may have “fallen in love,” but, they can easily fall out of love as well. The Bible however commands love; and then, the emotion is to follow the choice, not the choice to follow the emotion.

      Did I answer your questions?

      • John Fariss says

        Some, but not all.

        Why, for instance, must emotions be secondary rather than co-equal? And please show Scripturally, as that seems to be your criteria.

        You said, “I do value thinking and logic above emotions because God gave us a book first, not a feeling.” I am not sure I follow the logic here. First, the Word was transmitted orally rather than in written form for a period of time–probably decades for the Gospels (or the information contained therein), possibly for hundred of years for parts of the Old Testament. But even if your premise is extended (your definition of the “Word”) to include its transmission both oral and written, your conclusion is still not supported by your premise, and again, very possibly you are arguing from silence.

        I asked, “One thing I think (emphasis on ‘think’) I hear you saying is that what people sometimes believe is God speaking to them is rather a memory of Scripture rather than any ‘new revelation’ or ‘direct revelation’ from God. Is this correct?” If you answered it, it was such that my simple mind did not find it. So again, is that correct? And if so, how is that applied in the process of discernment of things not specificially addressed in Scripture, and in terms of God’s call, whether generally in salvation or specificially in vocation or other matters? Am I understanding you correctly that you believe there is no active Word from God today save that which is contained in the canon?

        Not trying to argue, just to understand.

        John

        • says

          John, Yes, I do believe that people often believe God is speaking to them, when in fact it’s a Scripture that they had previously heard or studied. I agree with them that God IS speaking to them; but, just not in the same way many argue.

          Concerning God’s call, if you desire to serve His people, and you’re biblically qualified, then have at it. I don’t emphasize a “prophetic” call, but rather a pastoral one, where the desire is there, the qualifications are there, and the preparation and service follows.

          Concerning “active Word” from God today. Yes, you are correct in that I believe the only active Word today is in the Scriptures. However, I do believe that God can do what He wants. He can speak today if He wants to; however, I cannot teach that He does this, since I have no biblical reason to believe that He does or will. God however will get people’s attention apart from me if He wants.

          Concerning emotions, if anyone allows their emotions to govern them, they are irrational. Emotions divorced from knowledge are irrational. Let’s say a woman feels there is a prowler outside, even though there is no knowledge to back it up, she reveals her irrationality. Emotions are fickle, and should not govern humans. God gave us His Word; and we must first study it, and the emotions are a response to it. Emotions are always 2nd, never 1st. There is always a “why” to emotions. For example, why did Jesus weep? Why did Paul say that he’d rather go to hell than see his Jewish brothers perish? Can you find me any Scripture where emotions were 1st?

          Do you understand now?

          • says

            Jared,
            I don’t think you mean to suggest this, but your argument here makes it sound as though Jesus wept based on some sort of logical calculations. Do you really mean to suggest this? Is there something sacrilegious about Jesus being overcome with emotion and weeping? Sure there was a reason for it, but it was largely emotional, since He logically knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead.

            Let me offer a friendly piece of advice. Use of always and never in arguments will tend to lead to constant misstatements. I thought I remember seeing you mention that you are married. That being the case, you should surely realize that emotions aren’t always 2nd. :)

          • says

            Jeff, :). My point is that knowledge always preceeds emotion, otherwise, it’s irrational. Jesus wept for a reason… you even agree with me. Without the reason, would Jesus have wept? No… because knowledge always preceeds emotion. Jesus was indeed overcome with emotion, but He wasn’t just sitting around crying. The reason is what caused His emotion.

            I don’t understand when emotion should ever govern us? Is there ever a point in Scripture when emotion came first, then knowledge?

          • John Fariss says

            Well, Jared, I understand what you are trying to say a little better, but I do not agree.

            You say that Jesus wept because of his thinking ability to comprehend what happened to His friend–I think. I would say that He wept because of the event (I suppose you are referring to the death of Lazarus, though there are a couple of other possibilities, none of which absolutely require a logical rational). In this, you are equating a human “thinking” ability with simple comprehension–which BTW even animals possess. (If you don’t think a dog can grieve, you have never seen a close relationship between a dog and his owner, and that owner then die.) Simple comprehension is not what many people would equate with the sort of thinking or reasoning you elsewhere advocate as primary, and I don’t think it is what you mean by it, though your distinctions between the two seem a bit fuzzy in places. Bottom line, as I see it: you are not making Scripture normative (your stated intent), but rather your interpretation of Scripture. I am sure you disagree, so we will just have to agree to disagree there.

            I would suggest you check out a book called “Congregation: Stories and Structures” by James F. Hopewell (Fortress Press, 1987). It delves into a congregation’s (and by extrapolation, each individual’s) worldview based on four primary orientations. It might help you understand better why you are where you are and where others–within and without the congregation you serve–are likewise coning from.

            Thanks for the conversation.

            John

          • says

            John, ya’ll are killing me. You say that Jesus wept because of the event. Did He process the event in His mind at all? I don’t understand what any of you are arguing. You cannot weap over what you do not know, unless you are weaping for no reason. I’m not saying that “Jesus decided to weap; rather, I’m arguing that Jesus wept due to knowledge he possessed.” This is what I mean by emotions responding to knowledge; and knowledge necessarily coming first before feelings and emotions.

      • says

        I do value thinking and logic above emotions because God gave us a book first, not a feeling.

        I will wade back in one more time to point out a flaw with this assertion. God gave relationship first before there was ever a book. Relationship is strongly emotional. I don’t think you can or should rank one above the other. Both are God-given and are very much a part of us. Words sometimes fail us, but God knows how to deal with that (Romans 8:26). I think your chief error is in overplaying that balance to one side at the neglect of the other.

        • says

          Jeff, did God give relationship before He gave His Word? I don’t think so. Man was never meant to be apart from God’s Word or His relationship. However, before we can “feel” or be emotional, we must know. Logically, emotions always follow thoughts or they’re irrational. Do you think emotions come first or thoughts?

          • says

            I think you are trying to make a chicken or egg type of false dichotomy. God created both. I don’t remember reading anywhere in His Word that He sequenced them or elevated one over the other. They work hand in glove and are both a part of us.

          • says

            Jared,
            I am not the one suggesting there be any separation between them, but it seems as though you are. Sometimes feelings beat logic to the punch and sometimes it is the other way around. Neither one is right as long as both are involved there is balance.

        • John Fariss says

          Jeff,

          You have stated very precisely what I was attempting to communicate. Jared says that he is a very emotional person, and perhaps he is. But in this writing, he is attempting to say that emotions are and must have a rational or thinking basis, and thus to be secondary to thinking. That would mean that he either has or want to “live” in his head (which many do as a primary way of interacting, myself included), but he is reading that personal decision back into the Scripture and thus making it prescriptive for us all. He also seems (I am less certain of this mind you) to equate emotion with the intuitive process, which I find questionable, at least from an experencial perspective. (I have never tried to find examples of intuitive precess in the Bible, and probably cannot–not because it is not there, but because Bible writers and narratives rarely if ever let us into their inner world of how they arrive at decisions, other than the occasional “God spoke.”)

          John

          • says

            John, “reading that personal decision back into Scripture.”

            Where does the Bible indicate that emotions should ever govern us? Where are there examples in Scripture where emotions governed anyone?

            I think you and others are reading emotions governing individuals back into Scripture; I however have not found anywhere in Scripture where this is argued or encouraged.

            It amazes me that I’m the one “reading back into Scripture” when no one has offered any Scripture to argue that Christians should be governed by their emotions at any point. Also, in light of the fact that Scripture is a book that cannot be felt or responded to emotionally until the words are understood. This is what I mean, by God gave us a book. Can you “feel” love for God before you know God?

            Furthermore, the Bible does tell us how people decided in Scripture, many times, by simply pointing to their decision. You’re assuming something deeper is happening whenever you have no right to assume something deeper is happening if the Bible does not say. If I tell you I went to the store, you don’t contemplate over how I decided, if some grand, supernatural, divine feeling, led me to the store. I don’t understand why you do this with the Scripture writers either. You’re assuming something beyond the text, IMO.

            I’m fine with agreeing to disagree at this point.

  57. Karen in OK says

    Jared,
    I still don’t understand. For example, in # 234, you say that if a person “desires” to serve and is qualified, have at it.
    Is that not being led by the feeling of “desire”?
    Several other times, you say that a person can follow his desires.
    How are desires more reliable than other feelings?
    You don’t seem to classify desires in the same way as other feelings.
    I think, like John Fariss and Dave M., that you are reacting to one extreme by going to another.

    • says

      Karen, I desire to pastor, and am qualified to pastor, therefore, I’m called by God to pastor. Several local churches have agreed as well.

      The Bible says that a person must first desire to pastor: 1 Tim. 3:1 – “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” I’m saying we’re free in Christ to follow our desires, if they don’t violate the Scriptures.

      For example, if you desire to pastor, but are not biblically qualified, you are not called regardless what your feelings or desires tell you.

      I don’t understand how I’m “reacting to one extreme by going to another.” I’m open to being corrected by Scripture. Actually, I beg you to correct me with Scripture, if I am in error. Until I’m corrected by Scripture, I will continue to follow Scripture.

  58. Lydia says

    “Dave, do you “feel” before you “know”? Which one comes first? Knowledge or emotions? Which one governs you?”

    Jared, our very thoughts are “emotional” as much as I would like to say they aren’t. From the cold hearted Nazi to the saint carrying bedpans…all are emotional beings showing it in different ways. Evil lies and Godly truth.

    How can one be broken with godly sorrow for sin without emotion? That is a truth and it is an emotion. Is joy in the Lord a truth or an emotion or both?

    Jesus Rose again on the third day is a truth and an emotion. (I hope)

    I think what you might mean is to avoid is the over emotionalism used in many Christian circles. And I agree with that. Manufactured emotionalism which is used everywhere to grow churches. We don’t need it, the truth is enough.

    • says

      Lydia, I don’t understand how our thoughts are emotion? I don’t think that they are; I think emotions are separate. I don’t understand how a thought can be emotional.

        • says

          Jeff, what ya’ll are arguing doesn’t make sense in the least to me. The logical order has to be from something to emotions. Emotions are responsive; feelings feel in respone. They react to knowledge. When emotions govern knowledge, we call these people irrational; or possibly insane. I thought this was common knowledge? I’m willing to agree to disagree at this point. Onward to another article.

  59. Christiane says

    An ‘integrated’ personality (mind, body, soul, spirit) doesn’t mean that one area of that unified personality always predominates. Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 reminds us of our existence lived within ‘time’,
    but it also says this about the God who has made us what we are:

    “11
    He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put what is timeless into their hearts.”

  60. Lydia says

    “Where does the Bible indicate that emotions should ever govern us? Where are there examples in Scripture where emotions governed anyone?”

    Jared, I do not see anyone saying that emotions ‘should govern us”.

    “The logical order has to be from something to emotions. Emotions are responsive; feelings feel in respone. They react to knowledge. When emotions govern knowledge, we call these people irrational; or possibly insane. I thought this was common knowledge? I’m willing to agree to disagree at this point. Onward to another article.”

    I think I see what the problem is. Perhaps this will help. All truth/facts stand alone outside of us. The sky is blue, etc. What we think or do will not change that truth or that fact.

    But, neither you or I can “communicate” that the sky is blue to someone else without some emotion being involved. Whether it is belief, non belief, agreement, disagreement, caring about it, not caring about it, etc.

    Jesus is Messiah is a truth/fact that stands alone outside of us.

    I “Believe” Jesus is Messiah is both a fact and an emotion

      • Lydia says

        “is 2+2=4 both a fact and an emotion?”

        It is a fact that becomes ‘fact and emotion” when you understand it, believe it and agree or disagree with it.

        Understanding is an emotion
        Belief is an emotion
        Agreement is an emotion
        Disagreement is an emtion.

        I think the problem is that you think emotion and feelings are the same thing.

        My feelings tell me to get some rocky road ice cream. The fact and emotion tell me it is not good for me and I do not need it. :o)

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          That’s a very good explanation Lydia. I wish I would have thought of that explanation. :) As we grow closer to God, closer to Christ, more in tune with the Holy Spirit which happens through prayer, studying scripture, I believe the emotion becomes stronger than the feeling(using Lydia’s definitions).

          Christ is a personal Christ, we have a personal relationship with him, not a generic one that fits all, and God is a personal God etc. The beauty of Christianity as compared to other religions is that personal relationship. One on one communication which involves more than the scriptures speak to Jared.

  61. John Fariss says

    As Lydia says, no one is arguing that emotions should govern us. But you seem to be arguing that all emotions flow from logic and rationale, although your definition of what constitutes thinking and rationale is a rather fuzzy–at one point it is logic, at another, it is mere comprehension. Furthermore, you seem to argue that emotions should be divorced from the thinking process and thus from behavior, all this supposedly based solely on the Bible. Myself and others suggest that (1) this is neither spiritually nor emotionally healthy, (2) it suggests a schism in the totality of how God created us which is contrary to Scripture (Deut. 4:29 plus several other cites in Deut., Joshue 22:5, 1 Kings 2:4, 2 Chronicles 15:12, Matt.22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27), and (3) denies that a response can legidimately be emotional alone (Job 7:11 and other passages in Job).

    Oh well, I will let the topic rest and die.

    John

    • says

      John, all thinking is logical thinking, even comprehension.

      Where have I ever said that emotions should be divorced from the thinking process? I simply believe emotions are subservient to knowledge. Ya’ll evidently agree with me, since you do not believe emotions should goven us. If emotions shouldn’t govern us, then what should? Truth? In saying this, I’m not diminishing emotions, although this seems to be a huge assumption from you and others. I’m simply saying that emotions have their rightful place, and it’s not in leading or guiding us.

      This is my final comment dealing with this subject here.

  62. John Fariss says

    Jared, please pardon one last comment. It just seems to me that saying emotions should not govern us is considerably different from saying that anyone who acts on or gives credibility to a “feeling” about God’s leadership is practicing divination, and equivilent to reading the entrails of a slaughtered sheep, goat, or chicken.

    John

  63. Christiane says

    I do know that we have all had that ‘twinge’ of conscience on certain occasions.

    It comes as a feeling of discomfort . . . of recognition that all is not well with what we are doing or plan to do. A warning light.

    Perhaps we, as humans, are ‘programmed’ by God to experience these ‘twinges’ when we are contemplating any action that would violate the moral law God has inscribed on our hearts.

  64. James Wing says

    So, Jared, how about the unemotional concept of being “impressed” to do something – like the words are heard, but not actually heard with one’s ears. Is that not possible? Is the only way that one can receive instructions from God by reading the Bible.

    I’m thinking of something like the story of the man who was praying that God would use him as he was driving home one evening. Suddenly he “understood” that he should stop for some milk – he did. Then as he drove more, turn on the next street, stop, go to that house across the street and give them the milk. Feeling like an idiot, he did so. After a long wait at the door a young man came to the door. Our hero gave him the milk and said “I think you need this”. The man burst into tears and, thanking him profusely, said that he and his wife had been praying asking God for some milk for their baby because they were out of food. Are these stories just stories or is it possible that God could work like that? Your article tends to debunk anything like this. Do you?

  65. James Wing says

    In the second of your article’s points I read into it that the Devil is able to invade our thoughts – my understanding is that the Devil is not able to read our minds. Do you think that the Devil or something else (evil) is able to impress things on our minds so that we are mislead? Is that where these things come from? – playing on our pride?

  66. James Wing says

    Oops! I’m sorry, I missed Jared’s statement about that being his last comment on the subject. This discussion has been very helpful to me personally (even though I disagree with his main premise). May the Lord bless and keep you all!

  67. says

    James,
    God can do what He wants, He’s God. I however cannot teach others that God moves in the way you desribe, since I have no biblical reason to do so. I honestly wonder about the truth of such stories as you mention. God however could impress upon someone; but, if God still speaks beyond the Bible, then it’s in a similar vein as He always has, and He will get to the heart through the mind. “Knowing” you need to do something beyond the Bible is possible I assume. I however don’t think God will be fickle. You will “know” without doubt.

    If God moves as you describe today, then it’s not something we need to teach, since God will teach Christians Himself. It’s not a “normal” occurence. It is instead a miracle.

    Also, is it possible that the above story is a “coincidence”? I ask because I’ve heard that same story.

    Also, if God isn’t the One pressing you with this knowledge, He is still providentially behind everything. So, He deserves praise and glory for everything, regardless. He made the milk, and put air in the lungs of the man bringing the milk, etc., even if he didn’t put the knowledge in his head.

    Doesn’t it also make you wonder why there are so few verifiable stories? Also, isn’t this story for the benefit of those directly involved? If God’s written Word is sufficient, then God does not need to verify Himself beyond the Bible to His people. “It’s a wicked and perverse generation that seeks after a sign.” Because, the signs Christ has already given, are not good enough in their minds. So, we shouldn’t seek after signs to validate anything. God’s Word is sufficient; and so are the miracles and works Christ accomplished in the Scriptures. Miracles add nothing to the truth of God.

    God however can do what He wants, since He’s God.

  68. James Wing says

    Actually Alyssa, don’t you mean John 1:26-36, but I think even better is the story of Philip in Acts 8:26-40 – he was told by an angel of the Lord to go to a certain place (there are quotes used to describe what he was told), then told by the Holy Spirit to go to the chariot and stay near it (again quotes are used). Then after he had witnessed to and baptized the eunuch, Philip was “taken away by God”. That means Philip was physically removed from the man’s sight to another location (translated or something) I would think that this would make pretty clear that the suggestion that God does not do things like that in the new covenant is just so much poppycock! The suggestion that God cannot tell people things is not biblical. However, we still should not lie about it, and whether or not it is verifiable is not a requirement. If it is false, something will “clue in” the discerning person. And the experience gained from Ananias and Sapphira tells us that God doesn’t like someone who tries to be something that they aren’t (and lie about it).

Trackbacks

  1. […] Why Is That Christian Dressed Up Like a Psychic? – great article about decision making and the will of God and how sloppy some Christians get when it comes to rationalizing decisions.  From the intro: This is a pandemic problem in evangelical churches. How many times have you heard someone say, “God told me,” “God lead me,” “God laid it on my heart,” etc? One would think that these individuals heard the audible voice of God; but no, they base their statements on their feelings: a liver quiver, a gut assumption, butterflies, etc. The problem is that there is nowhere in the Bible where God spoke to anyone through their feelings… not one example. So, whenever these Christians make these statements, they have noauthority or example in Scripture to prove that God is speaking to them. They thus are playing the psychic. […]