One more thought on direct revelation

Yesterday I wrote an essay describing the preeminence of Jesus and how God in Hebrews 1:1-2 said He has spoken through His Son. What this means, for claimants of direct revelation, is that once God said He has spoken through His perfect, holy, supreme being of His son, God then chose to speak to and through Joe Blow in Peoria and Jane Q. Public in Waco? No. Jesus’ preeminence means God has the perfect vessel through which to speak, He has spoken, and He is no longer speaking through prophets, bushes, donkeys, mountains, or men. I’d made the bold claim that if a person says they have heard directly from God or Jesus, they do not believe Jesus is preeminent.

This post is a PS to that thought regarding direct revelation. It involves the content of these supposed revelations.

One thing you notice about these revelations, visions, dreams and intuitions, is that the content of them is small. They usually involve advice on jobs, careers, or other personal mundanities. If they involve biblical content, the revelations do not usually align with the Bible. Sarah Young, author of Jesus Calling, comes to mind, where the totality of her revelations are strikingly similar to one another and to what a middle aged white woman in America would say or think, not God’s grand redemptive plan. For example,

Softly I announce my Presence. Shimmering hues of radiance tap gently at your consciousness, seeking entrance. Though I have all Power in heaven and on earth, I am infinitely tender with you…

Like He was with Saul/Paul? Thrown to the ground and blinded?

The-Conversion-of-Saul-by-Michelangelo
The Conversion of Saul, by Michaelangelo

My face is shining upon you, beaming out Peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face to face with Me, your Peace… ~Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

‘Beaming out peace’ to even one of His believers?

zechariah
The angel strikes Zechariah mute

In the past, when God spoke to people or through intermediaries, did He dispense personal advice? Suggest jobs or where to buy a house? Promise career success? Give tips on how to resolve that prickly relationship with the mother-in-law? No, He only spoke of His redemptive plan or addressed immediate circumstances if it affected His redemptive plan, not the minutiae of personal life. See these excerpted thoughts from the Titus Institute. (Other than this one article I am not familiar with the Titus Institute, though it seems to be a good resource on first glance).

How Has God Spoken To His People Throughout the OT and NT?

After the fall, what we see throughout the Scriptures is God communicating with specific individuals at specific times for specific purposes that always involve his redemptive plan. He only addressed personal sin or other personal issues when it involved his redemptive plan.

God spoke to our forefathers (OT believers) through the prophets and has spoken to us (NT believers) in his Son.

God spoke to the people of Israel through intermediaries, the prophets. When he spoke to the prophets, it always had to do with his redemptive plan, not personal issues in their lives unless it involved his redemptive plan.

The pattern in both the OT and NT is God speaking to his people through intermediaries and those intermediaries receiving revelation only regarding matters involving God’s redemptive plan. Those intermediaries were then to speak to God’s people about righteousness. This involved preaching about what is good and right before God and about what is sin and evil before God which we as God’s people are to apply in our lives.

Those intermediaries then wrote that revelation down which became the OT and NT.
Even when God spoke to these intermediaries, we see infrequent communication rather than frequent regular communication.

He spoke to Noah 5 times over 950 yrs, Abraham 8 times over 175 yrs, Isaac 2 times and 1 time to Rebekah over 180 yrs, Jacob 7 times and 1 time to Laban over Jacob’s lifetime. These are just some examples.

We also see that God does not address personal issues, only issues that involve his redemptive plan.

In the New Testament,

Two major things we notice, the revelation from God was infrequent and it was purposeful, always concerning Peter and Paul’s ministry, not personal matters.
Most of the time, Peter and Paul were ministering for the Lord without receiving direct revelation from the Lord.

Even at important times of decision the Lord did not always speak to them. In Acts 1:21-26, Peter used the casting of lots to determine the Lord’s will. In Acts 6:1-7, there is no record of revelation regarding the selection of men for the widow’s ministry. In Acts 15, there is no record of revelation in the first doctrinal crisis of the early church regarding what is necessary to be saved.

We see that man forfeited at the fall, direct communication with God on a personal basis. He then only received direct revelation through intermediaries. God communicated infrequently and only as He deemed necessary to fulfill His redemptive plan.

When we get to heaven we will have direct communication with God again. That is part of the blessing of redemption.

Now Ladies, if you would, please think of how often we hear and see today’s ‘Bible teachers’ claim they heard personally from God. Then please compare with God’s actual activity recorded in the Bible. Think about how infrequently He spoke and about what kinds of things He said.

Beware of ‘teachers’ who claim to have had revelations apart from the Bible. If you think you have had a revelation yourself, please re-think that and refer again to the scripture in Hebrews 1:1-2. God spoke through His Son, who appeared in the flesh on earth to seek and save the lost, to die in our place for our sin, and who rose again to take His place next to the father. He is THE Word. His life and teachings are recorded in the Bible, which would take years and lifetimes to learn, understand.

The Bible is enough. More than enough, it’s a gift beyond measure. When we are glorified we’ll have an eternity of direct communication with our Savior. For now, rest on His written word, and do not seek vain communiques from a disembodied voice.

4 Comments

  1. Is there a difference between being ‘led by the Holy Spirit’ and claims of direct revelations from God? The Holy Spirit effectively brings us back to Scripture, correct? I am guilty in the past of having fallen for false teachers’ claims of receiving direct revelation from God, and not understanding how unbiblical this was when I was immature in my faith. The stronger I have grown in learning and understanding scripture and sound doctrine, the more terrifying it is that there are so many other vulnerable and well-meaning Christians that are being misled. Thank you for shining light on this issue.

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    1. Hi Taylor,

      That is a GREAT question, and it’s one that is often asked. In the 2002 Shepherds Conference, Phil Johnson answered at length. I’ll excerpt his answer here and give a link to his quote and to others who have spoken on this issue, from a blog I did in 2017. The quick answer is that the Holy Spirit DOES lead, but not outside of scripture. His ministry is always to point to Jesus, and in this current age, that means Jesus the Word (as contained in the Bible). Here’s Phil explaining the difference between leading by direct revelation (false) and leading by illumination (true):

      Phil Johnson, Shepherds Conference 2002, “Super Seminar: Private Revelations”

      Now, does the Spirit of God ever move our hearts and impress us with specific duties or callings? Certainly. But, even in doing that, He works through the Word of God. Experiences like this, impressions and all, are not in any sense prophetic or authoritative except as they echo what the Word already says. They are not revelation. Those sensations, those impressions, those feelings you get are not revelation, but they are the effect of illumination. When the Holy Spirit applies the Word to our hearts, and opens our spiritual eyes to His truth. And, we need to guard carefully against allowing our experiences and our own subjective thoughts and imaginations to eclipse the authority and the certainty of the more sure Word of God. This is a very practical application of the principle of Sola Scriptura.

      Think about this…to what ever degree you seek private messages from God outside His Word, you have abandoned the principle of Sola Scriptura.

      –end phil

      more here
      https://the-end-time.org/2017/03/23/how-does-the-holy-spirit-lead-us/

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