By Elizabeth Prata
Do you believe that the Lord still speaks? That He has a fresh word? That you can receive individual directions for specific circumstances in your life? Get career advice, parenting advice, life advice, by becoming still and waiting for impressions, thoughts, impulses, and urges?
A lot of people believe these things. There’s an entire cottage industry within Christian publishing telling us how to hear the whispers, voices, and mental impressions that you, too, can receive from God. There are additional books and guides telling you how to interpret them. Why wouldn’t you believe this, if entire publishing houses are promoting it? Why dismiss this idea if local pastors are teaching from these studies or telling you to listen for God? Or telling you they have heard from God themselves, as many claim?
Whoa. Hold on. Take a breath.
If God is still speaking then what He says is authoritative. It’s applicable to all of us. We would need to add blank pages to the end of our Bibles to write down these additional words.
It would render Hebrews 1:1-2 moot. It would render Revelation 22:18-19 void.
People try to refute this truth by saying, “Don’t put God in a box! He spoke to the prophets and the apostles and He can speak to us!” He can, but that is not how He promised to operate. I refer again to Hebrews 1:1-2 and Revelation 22.
They say, ‘But…but…God is always speaking! He never stops because He is the same yesterday and today and forever!” In one way, that’s true. He always speaks through His general revelation in creation (Romans 1:19-20) and that never stops. But as for specific revelation, as in speaking to the Prophets and Apostles, that did stop. Overall, through the 4000 years it took the Bible canon to be completed, it’s unusual. In fact, it was the exception and not the norm.
Lastly, for 400 years God did not speak audibly, to anyone. He said not a word between the close of His message to Malachi and the advent of Jesus through His forerunner prophet, John the Baptist. Silence. There was no angel, no prophet, no voice, no fire, no smoke. Nothing but silence.
So, God obviously operates in different ways. He always has. We know the Bible is sufficient for all our needs. (2 Peter 1:3; 2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible must be sufficient.
But I’m writing about a different reason to cling to the already-delivered word and not to seek a fresh word through an impression, impulse, or whisper.
Expecting or desiring future revelation destroys current obedience.
People who sit around waiting for personal directions or individually crafted guidance are actually planning to be disobedient.
These people do not believe the Bible is authoritative, because it is not final.
For example, if one accepts additional revelation, then one can more easily think, ‘I won’t follow THIS command, because there could be another command later (that I like better).’
If one is not obedient to study the word as it is now, including submitting to the verses which show the canon is closed, then why would one be obedient to a personally delivered word? Because it satisfies the flesh.
When you read of whispers and direct revelations, it’s usually along the lines of ‘You’re great.’ ‘You’re cherished’. ‘I have a great career in store for you.’ Did you ever hear of someone saying they received a direct revelation that announced ‘You wretch, mortify your depraved flesh immediately!’ Or, ‘Your sin of adultery must end!’ No.
Imagine receiving the word Isaiah received when he got his call from God in chapter 6. After Isaiah listened to the direct revelation, he asked of God how long this ministry will go on? Yahweh replied:
Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people, And the land is utterly desolate, (Isaiah 6:11).
Wow, quite the downer. This is quite a different revelation than, for example, Joanna Gaines’ supposed revelation, who said she “heard God say very clearly, ‘Joanna, if you trust me with your dreams I will take Magnolia further than you can ever dream.'”
In fact, what was happening was that Joanna was unwilling to obey the already given biblical precepts for motherhood (staying at home raising kids) until she received a ‘direct revelation’ affirming that her inner desire to be a career woman would eventually be fulfilled. ‘God’ assured her that this will happen, so then she obeyed. This is a prime example of which I speak.
Jonathan Edwards said of personal visions and revelations: [emphasis mine]
XI. It is no sign that affections are right, or that they are wrong, that they make persons that have them exceeding confident that what they experience is divine, and that they are in a good estate.
Those that have had visions and impulses about other things, it has generally been to reveal such things as they are desirous and fond of... Neither is it any wonder, that when they have such a supposed revelation of their good estate, it raises in them the highest degree of confidence of it.
It is found by abundant experience, that those who are led away by impulses and imagined revelations, are extremely confident: they suppose that the great Jehovah has declared these and those things to them; and having his immediate testimony, a strong confidence is the highest virtue. Hence they are bold to say, I know this or that–I know certainly–I am as sure as that I have a being, and the like; and they despise all argument and inquiry in the case.
And above all things else, it is easy to be accounted for, that impressions and impulses about that which is so pleasing, so suiting their self-love and pride, as their being the dear children of God, distinguished from most in the world in his favor, should make them strongly confident; especially when with their impulses and revelations they have high affections, which they take to be the most eminent exercises of grace. Jonathan Edwards Religious Affections, part 2
Obey the word as it is given. Isn’t it enough? Won’t it take a lifetime and an eternity to plumb its depths? Ladies please don’t seek further words. His word is sufficient, authoritative, and final.