By Elizabeth Prata
Part 2 of an ongoing discernment series addressing the issue of women, many of them ‘Bible’ teachers, who are claiming to hear directly from God. Part 1 here. Questions addressed in the previous part were
1. What is the “God told me” religion?
2. Does God talk to us audibly?
Today’s questions are:
3. If we do hear a voice, how do we know it’s from the Lord?
4. And if it’s not from God, then who is speaking?
RC Sproul explained that “An encounter with the holiness of God is always a traumatic experience. The Scriptures record events when men were allowed to see something of the holiness of God. Their response was always despair because they were forced to see their own sinfulness.” Yet today’s alleged messages many women claim to be receiving from ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ are absent this trauma. Let’s take a look at how today’s so-called revelations do not stack up to the actual messages we read in the Bible from the true God.
3. If we do hear a voice, how do we confirm it’s from the Lord?
Any audible conversation we hear from the sky is not from the Lord. So, that answers that! Hebrews 1:1-2 affirms that in the past times the Lord spoke directly in many ways, He has now spoken (past tense) through His Son Jesus in these latter days. The last days are between the time Jesus was born on earth to the time He returns the second time.
Despite the fact that the Bible declares the canon closed and not to be added to or subtracted from, (Revelation 22:18-19), and despite the fact that every other aspect of the main Christian life have principles outlined in the Bible for us to refer to (i.e. prayer, fasting, marriage, speech, money, worship…) but not how to hear from God. Sadly, an an entire sub-industry to Christian Publishing of ‘how to hear from God’ has cropped up. If direct revelation was such an important method of communing with God, why is it so lacking in instruction in the Bible? Why is this flourishing cottage industry of “how to hear from God” so prevalent? Did God forget to tell us how to hear Him?
One would think that if God is speaking so frequently to people that there would be a lesson or two in the Bible about how to hear Him. Leave it to Rick Warren, Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyer, Mark Batterson, Dallas Willard, and many others to pick up the slack and write books and curricula on this topic. The marketplace is flooded with this material.
These “Bible teachers” claim to chat God up. They are casual conversations. Beth Moore even puts Jesus on hold, telling him “I’ll get to you in sec.”
Answer #1 to the question ‘how do we confirm it’s from the Lord?’ Look to the Bible. You can tell the voice is from the Lord by how the people reacted. Let’s look at how the people reacted in the Bible when they heard the true voice of God.
In Genesis 3:8, the very first encounter of fallen man with Holy God was one of fear. Adam and Eve hid.
In Exodus 20, the people were encamped at Mt. Sinai and Moses was up the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments from God. The people heard the thunderings and were terrified unto death.
And all the people were watching and hearing the thunder and the lightning flashes, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it all, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but do not have God speak to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:18-19).
Isaiah was traumatized when he was given an vision of God in the throne room. In Isaiah 6 he said “I am undone!” Undone here means ceased to be, completely cut off, psychologically unspooled.
In Daniel 10, the men who were with Daniel did not see the vision that Daniel was given, but utter terror overwhelmed them and they ran away to hide. The same happened to the bystanders at Saul/Paul’s conversion. Saul/Paul was knocked flat, was fearful, and those who stood around saw the Light and heard either a voice or thunderings also felt fear.
When Peter recognized that it was the Holy One in the boat with him who had calmed the waters, he cowered and said “depart from me, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8).
John the Revelator fell down as if dead.
The true recipients of God’s word or even of His word thru an angel was they all fell down, they were crushed and undone as Isaiah was. They were told not to be afraid. It is “The trauma of holiness“, as RC Sproul used to say. “Peter, James, and John at first saw the revelation of Christ’s deity and their hearing of the Father’s voice not as a blessing but as a terror (Matthew 17:1–8).”
In summary, we can tell a voice is actually from God by looking at the reactions. It is not possible to have casual chats with the Holy One, the Ancient of Days.
Answer #2: You can tell the voice these people are supposedly hearing is or isn’t from God because of the content of the message.
His speaking recorded in the Bible always involved Himself and His redemptive plan, not personal guidance of life’s issues. His talk to Job was an angry rebuke to Job while at the same time He magnified Himself. He told Isaiah he was going to be a prophet but that no one would listen to him and he had to keep speaking until there was no one left to hear him. He told Mary mother of Jesus via Simeon that she would go through terrible grief. (Luke 2:35).
In contrast, you notice that these God revelations from today’s people are usually pleasant things. You will be rich. Your career will take off. You are a princess in my eyes. And so on. Do we ever hear these false prophet, modern day revelators say, “I heard from God and I fell down, awestruck at His majesty and then He told me to stop sinning and repent.” No, if that were to happen no doubt someone would dismiss the revelation, claiming it was just satan trying to get you down. The relentlessly positive, pleasant, and human-centric content of all these alleged messages from Jesus vary from the content and language of God we see in the Bible.
4. So if the voice isn’t from God, then who is speaking?
Satan. If someone hears a voice it could be the devil or his unholy angels. After all, satan masquerades as minister of righteousness, and so do his fallen angels. (2 Corinthians 11:14). Eve was deceived by satan masquerading as a serpent. In 2 Chronicles 18:21 we read that a lying spirit was able to go into the mouth of a human.
Mind. Alternately, it could be our own mind. Fleshly desires rearing up in the guise of God’s voice. The capacity for self delusion is great. Look at Judas. He dwelled with the Almighty for three years, personally in his inner circle and heard everything Jesus taught and watched miracle after miracle. Yet he was deceived and rejected Christ. Our own flesh has a deeper hold on us than we know. That’s why every NT book except Philemon warns against false prophets and false doctrine. Heavy warnings and constant warnings.
Here Pastor Gabe Hughes is warning against the method Beth Moore uses to cobble together a Bible lesson-
In this particular message, Beth began by saying that she asked God to give her a word, and the word He gave her was “net.” This is mysticism, and it’s exactly how the word-faith false teachers and prophets bloviate. A false prophetess like Cindy Jacobs will say, “The word of the Lord for this year is Breakthrough!” It’s as if we’re in Pee Wee’s Playhouse and God is playing the secret word game. Where does this word come from? It comes from nowhere but their own mind. But Beth believes her thoughts are God’s thoughts.
Lies. Finally these supposed revelations could just be lies. People lie. If a book and royalties are on the line, people could easily make up stuff. We know now that many Charismatics say that they felt marginalized since they weren’t speaking in tongues or receiving prophecies, so they made them up and pretended they were speaking in tongues or receiving revelation, in order to be in the in-crowd.
No one is hearing from God or Jesus. Various verses state the canon is closed, and what is written is ALL sufficient. Anyone who makes this claim is either deceived, mentally unbalanced, lying, or possessed. Secondly, when we compare the Bible’s God and His messages to the messages people are supposedly receiving today, they are miles apart in content and language. And most suspicious of all, these chats with Yahweh are so casual as if it’s over folding some laundry or cooking dinner. No one feels the trauma of holiness.
RC again- This holy God, we see in Scripture, inspires far greater trauma in those whom He encounters than any natural disaster. We see, for example, how even righteous Isaiah was completely undone by meeting the God of Israel face-to-face (Isaiah 6:1–7). ... We understand that nothing poses a greater threat to our well-being than the holiness of God. The Trauma of Holiness
THAT’S the God of the Bible!