Posted in encouragement, theology

Am I doing something wrong if I make a huge decision and don’t wait to hear from God?

By Elizabeth Prata

Does the Bible speak to whom we should marry? Which college to attend? Whether to join the Army? Should we relocate to another state? Change careers now, later, or never? Go back to college?

Christian decision-making … I’m often asked these very questions by women who care about being obedient to the will of God. But the Christian culture of the last generation has introduced a mysticism to decision-making (and to Christian life in general) that unfortunately includes waiting for personalized whispers, looking for signs, or other extra-biblical methods that will guide them along in deciding things that aren’t directly in the Bible.

Phil Johnson has explained about inner promptings and whispers, (transcript here from Super Session at the 2002 Shepherds’ Conference, audio here)

Now this kind of thinking is totally at odds with the principle of Sola Scriptura. We believe as Protestants don’t we, that the written Word of God – the Bible – contains everything necessary for our salvation and our growth in grace. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…listen to the next phrase…that the man of God may be PERFECT, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Scripture alone is able to equip us thoroughly, perfectly for all good works. Everything we need in the process of our sanctification. There is no need for extrabiblical revelation. The Bible will equip you for all good works. It will give you all the explicit guidance you can possibly get from God. It contains principles to help you be wise and discerning as you pursue the course of your life, and beyond that we simply trust God in His providence to order our steps. You don’t need an explicit message from God telling you whom to marry, or where to go to school, or where to go to the mission field. [italics mine]

So how should we approach making decisions?

I found this .pdf on How To Make Wise Decisions (Titus 3:12-13) from Crossroads Church in Daytona Beach (Formerly Daytona Beach Baptist Church) to be extremely to the point and helpful.

Any precursor to decision making would assume first that one is saved. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. (John 15:5). Secondly it assumes that the thing you’re undecided about does not involve sin. We never decide toward sin, we flee from sin. ( 2 Timothy 2:22; Genesis 39:12). Thirdly, it assumes that you’re relying completely on God’s word. If the item you’re trying to decide about is directly in the Bible, follow that command. “Should I submit to my husband?” isn’t really a decision to ponder, because it is already commanded.

Fourthly, the decision-making process assumes that, as the pamphlet from Crossroads says, you’ve yielded yourself to the Spirit of Christ within you. You’re striving, repenting, obeying, praying, etc. You’re as much as a clean plate as you can be, being a sinner, lol.

Now, how to decide those things which are not directly addressed in God’s word?

As from the Crossroad Church pamphlet,

Here are four questions to ask yourself:
• Have I yielded myself completely to Christ’s Spirit?
• Is there a clear Bible command concerning this decision?
• Is there a Bible principle that will guide me in this decision?
• Which choice would be most prudent in this situation?

The above are fleshed out more with scriptures, at the website. Here is the link again.

Did you know that You Are Part of a Grand Plan? It’s not like you can mess it up. If you make this decision or that decision, it isn’t going to surprise God, or alter what He has planned for you. Providence, as mentioned above by Phil Johnson, is secure. His plan will be fulfilled, and your decision making isn’t going to change it. You aren’t going to miss out on anything. Beyond what is specifically prescribed in the Bible, and “we simply trust God in His providence to order our steps” as Pastor Johnson explained.

In my own life, I moved from Maine to Georgia. I wanted a place with lower cost of living, and warmer weather. That’s it. He would have worked it out of I’d chosen Texas or North Carolina.  Deciding on Georgia wasnt’ a life-or death decision, just one that fit my life and made sense.

When I got to GA I applied for a number of jobs. I applied using common sense. What did I have experience in, was trained for, and was good at? It’s not like I consulted the Lord and waited for a sign or anything. I was following the biblical principle that he who does not work does not eat. I sought jobs I thought I had the best chance of getting and sustaining my means.

Some jobs I applied for were at the University in the journalism department, some with local magazines. The one I got (in His providential care) was for the Athens Banner Herald writing feature stories of people in my county as a freelancer. Later when I decided to go back to education – subbing at first and applying for parapro jobs, I didn’t consult the Lord. I just used common sense. The freelance job simply wasn’t paying enough. A job with the County Education system would:

-fairly secure as jobs go (education is the largest employer in the county)
-had health benefits (I was soon to be 50)
-was what I was trained for. (formerly certified teacher with Masters degree)
-I’d be working with kids (something I love and I’m good at).

If I’d decided to get a job as a bungee jumper trainer, lol, that would not be common sense. In His providence He’d likely shut the door to any nonsensical decisions.

I knew the Lord would work it out. In His providence He did not ordain that I was given the first job I’d interviewed for as a parapro at another school, but a year later I got a job at the school I’m at now, a great fit. I’ve been there 11 years, 9 as a parapro. It’s not like there is only ONE decision or only ONE path.

I’ll conclude with Phil Johnson

If your life is in harmony with all the commands and principles of the Bible, you can actually do what you want to do without beating yourself up with introspection and fretting over whether God told you to do something or not. When Scripture says He orders our steps it’s talking about His guidance through His hand of providence. We step out in faith, and He guides our steps.

bible out loud

Posted in discernment, theology

“God Told Me”: About those whispers to the heart…

By Elizabeth Prata

*This essay first appeared in July 2018 on The End Time. I have edited it and updated it. Enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What is a women to do when it seems like everyone is hearing directly from God…and you’re not? It seems like so many women say they hear audible voices, still small voices, whispers in the heart, voices from the sky…

For example, Joanna Gaines of the popular HGTV television show Fixer Upper said she heard God’s voice clearly. Jennie Allen who founded If:Gathering, said a voice from the sky directly told her to start that organization.

Bill Hybels wrote an entire book teaching how to hear a whisper from God. He wrote:

“On day three of my writing, the Holy Spirit impressed the following message on me: “‘…I am going to release you from the responsibility of leading this youth group so you can start a church…’

Since this essay was originally written, we can add Franccis Chan to the long list of teachers in Christendom who claim to hear directly from God. Chan said that his “theology left some room for hearing directly from God,” and it seems that God entered that room and now regularly speaks to Chan. He uses charismatic language to describe personal revelations from God. “On the plane here, it was revealed to me…” He said the Lord began instructing him to give away specific amounts of money, $50,000, $1M and so on. During The Send pre-rally in January 2019, Chan said he was given a room for an hour alone to commune with God in scripture and prayer. It was during this meditative moment that Chan divulged exact words God said to him.

Ladies, beware of how dangerous it is to claim to have heard directly from God and put quotes around the ‘message’ and use the pronoun “I”. Hybels there is actually speaking FOR God. Putting words in God’s mouth is not something you want to do. Ever. Yet Sarah Young heard from God and wrote a book quoting everything he (allegedly) said, and it’s still a bestseller 14 years later.

Beth Moore can’t go more than a minute or two in her lectures without referring to some kind of direct interaction- and she’s been saying that from her earliest days of lecturing. See all these statements from her 2000 book Praying God’s Word and her 2002 book When Godly People do Ungodly Things, plus one more from around 2013-

  • Before God tells me a secret, He knows up front I’m going to tell it! By and large, that’s our ‘deal.’
  • God compelled me to ink it on paper with a force unparalleled
  • God required me to fast…and it was He would release me
  • I didn’t ask to write some of the kinds of messages God has appointed me
  • In Praying God’s Word, God directed me to address the powerful yoke of sexual bondage
  • Because God chose to supply me with so much unsolicited data
  • I heard the voice of God speak to my heart
  • I also love how I could tell by the sweet tone of the silent voice whispering to my spirit that He was smiling
  • What God began to say to me about five years ago and I’m telling you it is in me on such a trek with him that my head is still whirling over it. He began to say to me, ‘I’m gonna say something right now, Beth. And boy you write this one down. And you say it as often as I give you utterance to say it.

I love this one, ‘I could tell by the sweet tone of the silent voice whispering to my spirit that He was smiling’…the voice was silent, but it had a tone, and the tone included a smile, which is also silent.

And lest one believe that Moore’s claims were simply youthful errors from back in 2000, she is still saying them, for example in one of her recent teachings called “Advance”:

When I get a key word, when the Lord gives me concept, that is a word, I mean He dropped this word into my heart a couple of weeks ago, and began to associate it in prayer and I mean when I get a word like that He drops in my spirit, I wait to see what city it’ll be connected with…then I look up the word into a concordance to see all the times it’s used in scripture…

Is that how to do Bible study? Wait for God to drop/whisper/speak/tell me something directly, like a word, then go and look up all the times the word is uses in scripture, cobble together and acrostic, and tech about Jesus that way? IS Jesus speaking in a still, small voice? It seems that those who claim to hear Him are the majority while we ladies who stick to hearing from God through the Bible have become a minority.

How common is it to hear directly from God? Here we have a 2013 NY Times article about an ethnographer doing field studies. The article is titled Is that God Talking? And it’s by TR Luhrmann. She said it is very common these days for people to say they have heard God speak to them. Remember, she is an ethnographer who systematically studies people and cultures and explores cultural phenomena from a secular point of view:

I still remember how startled I was when a young woman I was interviewing told me God had spoken to her, audibly. I was doing ethnographic field work in_________. This was the kind of [place] in which people sought an intimate, conversational relationship with God. It was not at all uncommon for people to talk about hearing God.

In where? Where was she doing ethnographic studies where people say they heard God talking? Burundi? Solomon Islands? No. Chicago. In an evangelical charismatic church. Luhrmann continued describing her attempt of trying to either include or exclude the cause. She first thought of schizophrenics.

The unusual auditory experiences reported by congregants just weren’t like that [the daily lengthy utterances that schizophrenics hear]. They were rare. Most people said they’d had one or two in their lifetime. They were brief — just a few words. They were pleasant. And they did not have that sense of command.

And there is your clue. The kind of utterances people say they hear lack authoritative command. They also tend to focus on the comfort and well-being of the person receiving these revelations. As Tim Challies noted in his essay 10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling,

Her tone does not match the Bible’s. It can’t be denied: The Jesus of Sarah Young sounds suspiciously like a twenty-first century, Western, middle-aged woman. If this is, indeed, Jesus speaking, we need to explain why he sounds so markedly different from the Jesus of the gospels…

So, no, Jesus is not calling or talking or teaching or delivering new revelations or meeting you with dates or smiling in a silent whisper. As the noted preacher and discernment lecturer, author of the excellent lesson Clouds Without Water, Justin Peters said,

It’s hard to understand how so many women can be wrong, but they are. They are either deceived, deluded, or lying, but they are not hearing directly from God.

We begin Genesis 3 with a woman accepting extrabiblical revelation, (from the serpent) and we end the scriptures with God charging a church for tolerating a false prophetess Jezebel. (Revelation 2:20). There is a reason satan targets women in deceiving them they are hearing from God. We are easily deceived and we must always be in the word ourselves, be with our husbands or fathers in the word, and be in church listening to the word.

The years upon years of Christian teachers and other leading women normalizing direct revelation has had untold and devastating effects on the faith.

Books and teaching material aimed at women usually create a scenario where God’s voice appears in a more romantic than biblical way. We read of ‘gentle whispers’ or moon-soaked walks where the quiet voice enters one’s heart, and the like. Yet is that how God speaks? Once in the Bible He came in a whisper, and to prove a point to Elijah. Mainly when God speaks it is in a THUNDER!!! (Exodus 19, Exodus 20, Job 37:4-5, Psalm 18:13, Psalm 29:2-4, Revelation 14:2, Revelation 19:6, etc)

And when the recipient hears that Godly thunder, they fall down as if dead! Here is Forerunner Commentary on Deuteronomy 4:32-36

What power! Those people were terrified when they heard the voice of God. It shook them to their very being—and that was God’s purpose! This, of course, “is written for our admonition,” as Paul says in Romans 15:4. Moses writes this to impress upon us the connection between “voice,” “words,” and “power.” So powerful is the voice of God that it is a miracle that they lived through hearing it!

Yes so many of these modern day false prophets claim to have heard God while shaving, driving, eating, etc, and they take it casually and go on with their day.

So we need to remember that Sola Scriptura is not merely the sola but also the Scriptura. ~Abner Chou, July 3, 2018

Here is Pastor Gabe with a 90-second video on hearing from God:

Here is Pastor Mike Abendroth with a 90-second video on ‘God Told Me’-

Here is Dr Abner Chou with an essay about how to study scripture correctly: Do Your Hermeneutics Hold to Sola Scriptura? Hermeneutics simply means “the science of interpretation, especially of the Scriptures.”

We know the Scripture is rich and deep (Ps 119:18). Verbal plenary inspiration demonstrates that every word is inspired, God’s very own communication (2 Tim 3:16). The biblical writers exhibit this as they show how individual phrases (Rom 4:3-12) and words (Gal 3:16) of Scripture bring forth its sublime truth. The clarity of God’s Word leads to its precision and profundity. All of it, down to the word, is useful, powerful, and binding.

In light of this, the question is whether we have done the hard work. Have I really studied a passage and understood the background, context, point, structure, theology, and applications of a text down to the detail of every word? Can I put all of this together so that I know precisely all the author has willed in this passage?

Doing that takes hard work but that is the very nature of Scripture and what it demands (cf. 2 Tim 2:15). The reason that sermons, Bible studies, Sunday school lessons, or devotions lack depth is often because we haven’t spent the time and effort to go beneath the surface.

Think about it. You can study the Bible by looking at “background, context, point, structure, theology, and applications of a text down to the detail of every word” or, you can simply be like Beth Moore and have God supply you with unsolicited data dropped directly into your head.

Which is more prideful? Laboring in sweat and tears in a small room by lamplight, obscure and unknown, or sit and wait for God to directly whisper something to you, so you can say later ‘God is talking directly to MEEE.’

Ladies, there is no still, small voice you’re missing out on. You’re not unworthy because it seems that God chooses to speak to so many other women and not you. If you never say “God told me” you are doing more than you know to uphold the faith. By saying “The Bible says in verse such and such” you are contributing building blocks for others to stand on. If you rely on His word as written in a good translation, you aren’t undermining scripture but instead you are honoring Jesus.

Saying “God told me…” is saying “Scripture is deficient.” By relying on the Word alone, you are relying on the Rock, that shall never be undermined.

f995c-sola_scriptura

Posted in theology

How does seeking direct revelation destroy your current obedience?

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.

Obedience.

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.

obedience

Posted in discernment, theology

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.

Posted in discernment, theology

If you think God is speaking directly today, here is what that means…

A follow-up to this essay is here, One more thought on direct revelation

By Elizabeth Prata

Women have for at least two generations now, grown up in the faith with famous or celebrity women Bible teachers claiming to have had personal revelations and interactions with Jesus. They say “God told me” or “God laid it on my heart to tell you” or “I want to share some of the messages I have received” or “I heard Him specifically say…” Their persistent claims of direct revelation outside of the Bible has normalized it when it was never even normal in Bible times! Worse, it has accomplished two things:

–de facto declared the insufficiency of the Bible
–made a generation of women illiterate, because why do the hard work of studying the Bible when it can just plop down from the sky?

God is not speaking today to people outside of His word.

Whenever I or any of my friends say this, we receive tremendous push back. We are charged with proving it. We are told we’re wrong/bad/ignorant of scripture or history. Or, demands are made for scriptures that say so. But when provided, those very scriptures are dismissed. We are given the excuse that we must not “put God in a box” because, after all, He has the ability to do anything He wants, including speak to us in any way or at any time He wants.

It’s true that in the past He spoke in many different ways. He spoke directly to man (Adam, Noah, Moses et al), through rituals, ceremonies, from the sky, from the mountain, a donkey, angels, prophets, and a burning bush.

I want to come at this from a different tack today. I was listening to Steven J. Lawson preach Hebrews 1:1-4. This is the classic text that declares that God has ceased speaking because, though He spoke in many ways in prior ages, He has spoken finally in this age, through His Son. WHat came to my mind as Lawson preached was this:

Jesus is the Supreme Being of the Universe. He is the unrivaled supreme one.

And that is why God is not speaking to you.

The previous ways God spoke to man described above are indicative of His progressive revelation. God was building revelatory knowledge of His redemptive plan thread by thread, weaving a picture in His tapestry of redemption through the ages. The pinnacle, the capstone, the zenith of that picture, is Christ. Jesus is God’s exact imprint. (Hebrews 1:3). He is the ultimate. He is the highest. He is all-authority. He said and did everything the Father wanted, perfectly. God’s words, His concepts, and His principles are supreme overall, and represent His final word through Christ.

People who insist that God or Jesus speaks to them, do you really think that after having set Jesus up as His apex, declaring Himself pleased, that God will then will go lower and speak through you? When He has Jesus He’s spoken through, He will speak through you instead?

Will God choose to speak through sinful flesh, when He has His own exact imprint of glory and perfection through which He has already spoken? What a ghastly thought! May it never be!

If you believe Jesus is speaking through you, or your favorite Bible ‘teacher’ or author, you do not hold Jesus as supreme. It is as simple as that.

No, the superiority of Christ drowns out every other voice!
~Steve Lawson sermon on Hebrews 1:1-4 The Unrivaled Supremacy of Christ

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20).

god is not speaking he is preeminent

A follow-up to this essay is here, One more thought on direct revelation

Posted in Uncategorized

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Eliphaz claimed to have been given a word

Our Bible Reading today brings us to Job 3-4. The speeches have begun. Job’s friend Eliphaz reproves Job for insisting on his innocence. To bolster his argument, Eliphaz claims to have had a vision or dream coincidentally on just this topic, coincidentally just recently. (Job 4:12-16). In relating this information, the words Eliphaz chooses to use are interesting. He said, “Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it.” Barnes’ Notes explains word, secretly, and little-

And mine ear received a little thereof – Dr. Good translates this, “And mine ear received a whisper along with it.” Noyes, “And mine ear caught a whisper thereof.” The Vulgate, “And my ear received secretly the pulsations of its whisper” – venas susurri ejus. The word rendered “a little,” שׁמץ shemets, occurs only here and in Job 26:14, where it is also rendered little. It means, according to Gesenius, a transient sound rapidly uttered and swiftly passing away. Symm. ψιθυρισμός psithurismos – a whisper. According to Castell, it means a sound confused and feeble, such as one receives when a man is speaking in a hurried manner, and when he cannot catch all that is said. This is probably the sense here. Eliphaz means to say that he did not get all that might have been said in the vision. It occurred in such circumstances, and what was said was delivered in such a manner, that he did not hear it all distinctly. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)

Some say Eliphaz did not really have a revelation from God, that he was simply using this claim to bolster his argument. Others say he truly did have a revelation, that it was truly from God. Here are two stances, yea and nay.

Argument that Eliphaz really had the revelation and that it was from God:

Some indeed have thought that this was a mere fiction of Eliphaz, and not a real vision; yea, some have gone so far as to pronounce it a diabolical one, but without any just foundation; for there is nothing in the manner or matter of it but what is agreeable to a divine vision or to a revelation from God; besides, though Eliphaz was a mistaken man in the case of Job, yet was a good man, as may be concluded from the acceptance of a sacrifice for him by the Lord, which was offered for him by Job, according to the order of God, and therefore could never be guilty of such an imposture; nor does Job ever charge him with any falsehood in this matter, who doubtless would have been able to have traversed and exposed him; (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Argument that Eliphaz really did not have the revelation and/or that it was not from God:

Apparently the words Eliphaz claimed he heard in his dream are given in these verses. For three reasons it is doubtful that the words were a revelation from God:
(a) “a word” (v. 12), not “a word of the LORD,” came to Eliphaz;
(b) the word came “secretly” (i.e., in an elusive manner, v. 12); and
(c) the message seemed to picture God as unconcerned about man (vv. 17–21).
Zuck, R. B. (1985). Job. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures

Personally, I tend to the latter, that Eliphaz did not receive a revelation from God. The above 3 evidences are pretty compelling to me. Going back to Barnes’ Notes, that the word Eliphaz uses indicates some of the message slipped away before he could catch it, Does God mumble? No, He does not. But one cannot be dogmatic. In the end, it doesn’t matter, because the words are recorded and there they shall remain.

However, a caution for us today. We know the canon is closed. God is not speaking now, except through His Son, the word (Hebrews 1:1-2). However, plenty of people who claim to be elders or teachers, august persons as Eliphaz truly was, say they have a received a word, or even a “fresh word” which they use cravenly to bolster their arguments.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap“. (Galatians 6:7, KJV). If you use God as a cover to imbue some sort of status or honor or importance to your words, you will reap a whirlwind which will rain down upon you. God spoke to people frequently in the former days, and Eliphaz’s claim of direct revelation went unremarked by Job. But as Hebrews shows us, today is another matter. Be careful.

 

eliphaz whisper

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Does God speak to us? Should I expect Him to?

How can I hear God? What do you do to listen to God? Will God be giving me explicit instructions for my life, like He seems to be doing for so many other women?

Beth Moore book: Jesus, the One and Only, p. 48.

Personalized whispers are not scripture, nor are they equal to scripture. “Personalized whispers” is not a teaching method Jesus uses. Yet women are being taught consistently and for decades that it is.

The concerning part is that this generation of younger women has been raised on a steady diet of women in celebrity positions who, for decades, have ‘taught’ the above, that they regularly hear the voice of God. Therefore, women coming up now believe it is the norm to have a personal God in your pocket whispering instructions to you for every little thing, from career moves to audible instruction in theology. But this is most assuredly not the case.

What these celebrity women leaders have done is create a discontent among female congregants who do not have a personal God and wonder what they are doing wrong because they don’t. Because of the poor teaching and constant eisegesis in their celebrity lessons that they, unfortunately, have relied upon, many younger women now realize they lack the skills to understand Gods will in a biblical way.

The will of God is to repent & believe, be baptized and participate in communion, and obey Him all your life.

We know how and where to obey in specific life choices because we read the Bible.

For example, as far as day-to-day choices go, like where to live, what college to go to, whom to marry or whether to marry, the more we obey, the more we’re conformed to Him, which means the more we can confidently decide for ourselves, knowing God prevents bad choices and ordains all things, AND makes all things work to the good of those who love Him. This is where trust comes in. We pray, (not to ‘hear back’ but to repent and submit and praise His sovereignty over all things), we understand the generalities of God’s will for our lives (Matthew 22:36-40). Then we pull up our big girl panties and we just decide.

Should we expect to hear from God? NO. Here are two scriptural explanations why. I repeat, we should NOT expect to hear God audibly, or in a still small, voice, or even in signs or omens, tell us specifically what to do or where to do at any given moment.

Ladies, expect to find God’s will by reading the Bible, whereupon the Spirit can conform you to His image and likeness and renew your mind. Don’t expect to hear a personalized whisper, an impression on your heart, or an audible voice directly telling you. Ultimately the reality of our sanctification is more delicate, mysterious, and beautiful than any whispers could ever be.

RESOURCES

“God told me…?” a 90-second video.

The Blazing Center has an essay titled “Listening to God without Getting All Weird About It“. HT Michelle Lesley

Two other resources for you on God’s will

Here is GotQuestions with a short answer to ‘What is God’s will?’
Know God’s will

And John MacArthur with a longer answer-
Taking the Mystery out of God’s Will

Sola Sisters, from 2012-
False Teachings About Hearing Audible Words From God Taking Even Deeper Root in Today’s Church

Grace To You blog from 2016
That’s Not Jesus Calling