Posted in theology

God told me: part 5, Conclusion

By Elizabeth Prata

For the last week I’ve been presenting different essays examining from a biblical perspective whether direct revelation is happening today. There were 4 previous parts to the series. Today is the conclusion. It was sparked from a conversation I’d had with Jennifer Ross of Confidently Called Homemakers on her podcast. Please go take a listen to the wonderful material Jennifer has for you over at her site.

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

Part 3 here
Part 4 here

Over the course of the series, I looked at what is the ‘God told me’ religion? We also examined whether God speaks audibly today. In part 2 we learned how we can we confirm a voice we hear. And if it’s not God, then who is speaking? In part 3 I asked what is the difference between hearing audible voices and claims that God “spoke to my heart?” In part 4 I asked if we should we avoid ministries where the person says they receive direct revelation.

Here is my final question: Why is all of this important knowledge for the average Christian mom and wife?

Continue reading “God told me: part 5, Conclusion”
Posted in theology

‘God told me’: part 4- Should we avoid ministries where the person says they receive direct revelation?

By Elizabeth Prata

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

Part 3 here
Part 5 conclusion

Question: I’ve heard Christian women claim “voices from God” promised them a large following, or popular ministry, or a specific calling. How does this go against what’s written in God’s word? And should we avoid their “ministries?”

Answer: Because that is what satan promises. The first time we hear satan speak in the Bible he is making false promises that raise up sin in Eve; sins of the pride of life, sin of the flesh, covetousness of the world. That is what satan promises. When God speaks in His word, is it about Himself (see Job) it is about His redemptive Plan or about sin & holiness (see the Prophets) it is of His law (see Moses), it is about His Son (see John the Baptist). And so on. He doesn’t speak to us about our daily needs and wants. He just says trust me to give you clothes and food, and as for the rest, He says in Proverbs 3:6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Peter did have a large following but what Jesus told Peter was that he would be crucified. Paul became renowned not only in his time but ever after, but what God told Paul was that he must suffer for the sake of His name in every city, first, without telling him of the fame and adulation to come in succeeding epochs. Job was restored double what he lost but God didn’t tell him that ahead of time, instead the communication Job received was a majestic rebuke starting in chapter 38. John & James asked for fame/exaltation, but what they received was a warning that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

When God spoke to His people or Jesus to His disciples, it was not to tell Mary Magdalene that she’d marry Aaron down the street or revealed to Peter his career prospects or the woman at the well to go on a play date with him at the zoo (as Beth Moore Claims Jesus said to her). Even saying this sounds silly when we substitute the names of the biblical characters but many women go around saying these stupid things and more. Avoid all ministers that are founded on, teach, or accept direct revelation.

In fact, Charles Spurgeon, the noted preacher from the 1800s, called people who claim direct revelation variously, hypocrites or maniacs, Semi-lunatics, madcaps, idiots, and their messages stupid.

I don’t advise being as harsh or direct as Spurgeon, but we can refer ladies to two verses in the Bible that show that the Lord takes seriously adding to His words. One is from the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” And we read in the New Testament in Revelation 22:18-19 where the Bible is closed out with this warning,

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”

God often commanded Jeremiah to warn against false and lying prophets. He says here in Jeremiah 29:23,

because they acted foolishly in Israel, and committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and falsely spoke words in My name which I did not command them. I am He who knows, and a witness,” declares the LORD.’”

God is holy and guards His holiness. When people attribute words to Him He did not say, these are lies, and the false revelator is including the Trinitarian God in his lie. Spurgeon said,

"If you feel your tongue itch to talk nonsense, trace it to the devil, not to the Spirit of God. Whatever is to be revealed by the Spirit to any of us is in the word of God already— he adds nothing to the Bible, and never will. Let persons who have revelations of this, that, and the other, go to bed and wake up in their senses. I only wish they would follow the advice, and no longer insult the Holy Ghost by laying their nonsense at his door.”

Yes, avoid any ministry from any man or woman who claims to have heard directly from God. He or she is leading you away from the word of God as written in the Bible, and bringing you down a primrose path of lies, and eventually judgment. The Jeremiah verse above promises death to false prophets and their example of judgment a curse on those tho tread in their direction. Commentator Matthew Henry says of the Jeremiah verse,

"Jeremiah foretells judgments upon the false prophets, who deceived the Jews in Babylon. Lying was bad; lying to the people of the Lord, to delude them into a false hope, was worse; but pretending to rest their own lies upon the God of truth, was worst of all." 

God took the time to reveal to us what He wants us to know, and took the care to preserve that word for all time. He sent His Son Jesus to speak that word as THE WORD to His sinful people. 1 John 5 says

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

You can trust the written word of God as all sufficient. It should be enough.

Posted in theology

God Told me, part 3: What’s the difference between hearing audible voices and claims that God “spoke to my heart?”

By Elizabeth Prata

I’m presenting a series of essays and podcasts that scripturally rebut the notion that God is still speaking to people individually today. Despite the glut of people, many of them women Bible teachers, who claim He speaks to them, dispenses life advice, or just whispers sweet assurances all day long, He is not speaking now.

Part 1 here
Part 2 here

Part 4 here
Part 5 conclusion

Now, for the past two parts in this series, I have been firm on the notion that God is not speaking to individuals today. I looked at where the Bible says He is not, at why He is not, and if this voice is not from God, then who is speaking? Today I want to look at the difference between God speaking audibly to people versus the Spirit’s inner work of sanctification, versus intuition and promptings.

4. What is the difference between hearing audible voices and claims that God “spoke to your heart?”

God speaking to my heart, or as often heard, “God laid it on my heart” is another shorthand like “God told me.” But it’s often an unwitting shorthand for a true doctrine- the doctrine of Providence. Just because God is not speaking directly to us today, does not mean He isn’t working in our lives. He is. How? Providentially. God is at work personally and intimately in each and every thing that happens on earth and in each person’s life, even if He isn’t telling us His business directly and even when He isn’t personally answering life questions like where to get a job or who to marry. God speaking today is not a question of His voice and how to hear it, but a question of HOW He works in our lives. We can read the definition of providence from Phil Johnson,

Providence is God’s continuous involvement with his creation whereby he preserves and governs all his creatures (from the greatest to the least)—so that in accord with his perfect will and design, he sovereignly orders everything he has made to accomplish everything he intends for his own glory. (Source)

Phil Johnson then goes on to speak about our intuition. It’s a tricky business to attribute our hunches and intuitions to God speaking to us directly, He doesn’t, but it IS true that He is working in our lives. We just cannot say that since an intuition turned out to be correct that it was direct revelation that prompted us. Phil Johnson goes on to explain.

[W]hat about those rare occasions when our intuition proves correct? Something we dreamed about seems to correspond to something in real life? A sense of foreboding motivates us to change plans, and it turns out to be a good thing?
Most of us have had experiences like that. Everyone has unexplained thoughts that seem to leap from nowhere into the mind. Most people likewise have hunches and instincts. Sometimes you just feel like you know a thing is true, but you can’t give an account for how you arrived at that knowledge rationally.
But how do we understand that inner sense, especially when God seems to use it to prompt us to pray, or witness, or duck and run at precisely the right moment? Because let’s be honest: that kind of thing does happen to most of us from time to time.
Here’s the point: I do believe that God might providentially use a spontaneous thought in my head to accomplish something wonderful. But that’s what it is, and no more. It’s a remarkable providence, not a prophecy. As I have been saying, God ultimately controls and uses everything providentially.
Here’s the problem: that’s as true of my sins as it is of the thoughts in my head. God can and does use them all for His own purposes. The fact that He uses an idea in my mind to achieve some good purpose doesn’t make the idea itself inspired. It also doesn’t make a bad idea good, just because God uses it for good.
Now, think this through with me: Since intuition is fallible—and almost everyone agrees that it is actually far more often wrong than right—we shouldn’t make much of it. Furthermore, since intuition is fallible, it cannot be considered “revelation,” even when it happens to be uncannily right in an instance or two. And if one or two of your guesses happen to prove accurate alongside a gaggle of dozens of failed prognostications, you should still be wary of granting your premonitions the status of a supernatural “spiritual gift.”
People who think moments of intuition are God speaking with a private message invariably become extremely superstitious. They foolishly order their lives by their feelings. They commit the sin of trusting too much in their own hearts.

Now, the ‘God spoke to my heart’ phrase could just be a casual shorthand for someone saying, “I have read the pertinent Bible passages and I now have a settled conviction that my decision to do X is consistent with God’s will.” But usually that is NOT what people mean when they say it.

Usually people mean it as a shorthand way of saying “God spoke to me and this is what He said I must do.” The latter is a way to escape accountability for their decisions.

Assigning to God the catalyst for your personal life decisions is a dangerous thing because it puts words in His mouth He didn’t say and pridefully indicates you know God’s mind at any given moment.

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

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.

Part of decision making is trust- trusting God, trusting that He is in control of our lives, and trusting providential out-workings from our decisions. You will not ruin His plan if you make a life-decision. So go ahead and turn left instead of right, marry that person, go to the college you want to go to, take the job in another city. As long as you are adhering to the general, biblical principles outlined in the Bible, you can safely fill in the blanks with your own decisions. God knows how to merge our decisions with His fore-ordained plan.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)

Judas decided freely in his own will to steal from the purse, to betray Jesus, to reject His miracles. Yet all was consistent with foreordained scriptures and was fulfilled exactly. God maintains that balance and we don’t have to know how.

In 2006 I decided to move to Georgia. I could have decided on Columbus Ohio, Honolulu Hawaii, or Anchorage Alaska, and it would have been the same. He established me in a church, found me a job, knit some friends into my life, gave me a dwelling place, and continued to sanctify me.

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. (Psalm 103:19)

God does speak to our heart, because the Spirit dwells in us and transforms the evil desires of our heart to holy desires of God. But we can’t and don’t know at any given moment that this particular idea or thought is God’s. What we do know is that Romans 8:28 is true:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28).

Posted in theology

‘God Told Me’ – part 2: How can we confirm a voice we hear? And if it’s not God, then who’s speaking?

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?

Part 3 here
Part 4 here
Part 5 conclusion

Continue reading “‘God Told Me’ – part 2: How can we confirm a voice we hear? And if it’s not God, then who’s speaking?”
Posted in theology

‘God Told Me’ , part 1: What is it? And does God speak audibly today?

By Elizabeth Prata

Part 2 here
Part 3 here
Part 4 here
Part 5 conclusion

This month, the gentle and humble Jennifer Ross of Confidently Called Homemakers contacted me to interview about the rampant theological crisis in women’s ministry- expecting audible revelation from Jesus. We had a great discussion about it, weaving our way through the thorny issues of direct revelation. We talked about why so many women think God or Jesus is talking to them, and what to do about it. She posted the interview here on her site. She gave me permission to post my notes after her podcast had been published and propagated. So in this series of discernment lessons, over the next few days I am going to address this issue here on my blog and my own podcast.

It is a true problem. “Bible” teachers such as Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Jennie Allen of IF:Gathering, and others claim that God talks to them, whispers to them, delivers prophecy to them, and directs them to launch ministries, even down to giving them the tagline. Many other women who claim Christianity but aren’t teachers per se, but have a large platform and influence, claim the same- God speaks to them, giving advice on career and daily matters. One example is Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper and Magnolia Enterprises.

Continue reading “‘God Told Me’ , part 1: What is it? And does God speak audibly today?”
Posted in theology

Another danger of direct revelation: It’s making women who should be lionesses into wet paper tigers

By Elizabeth Prata

Edmonton pastor James Coates was released from jail yesterday. In case you have not heard of this situation, Coates pastors a church in Edmonton Canada. Canada has been making restrictive COVID-19 requirements, and for churches, it meant that severe attendance caps had been enacted, masks required, and much more. Coates decided to continue preaching in his church with no mask requirement and no attendance caps, in violation of said health regulations. He chose not to restrict his gathering, by default, locking out some saints while allowing others in.

He was jailed for his action.

The imprisonment of the pastor was a shock and a surprise to many, since Canada has a charter that protects religious liberty. Others were surprised the restrictions were so severe, because churches have not been spreaders in the province. Others, because we are familiar with the jailing of pastors in the 10/40 window of hostile nations but haven’t seen such activity in First World countries.

Continue reading “Another danger of direct revelation: It’s making women who should be lionesses into wet paper tigers”
Posted in theology

A loud voice told her…She heard a whisper…

By Elizabeth Prata

Ladies, if you hear a disembodied voice talking to you purporting to be God or from God, ignore it and get to your pastor for prayer as soon as possible.

Did you know that most of the cults started in the world were because a voice from the sky directed them or revealed something?

Continue reading “A loud voice told her…She heard a whisper…”
Posted in discernment, theology

Being led by the Spirit: What does it mean exactly? Should I expect to hear directly from Him? part 2

By Elizabeth Prata

Yesterday in part 1 I’d examined the fact that women for generations now have been taught from so-called Bible teachers and book & devotional authors that we hear directly from God. Whether these revelations or direct contacts are in the form of whispers, prompts, visions, impressions on our heart, ‘told me,’ or audibly, we’ve been taught that it’s supposed to be normal to have a relationship full of lively, direct communication.

I’d said no, that is not the normal method of communication from God, He speaks from the Bible and the Bible alone. Continue reading “Being led by the Spirit: What does it mean exactly? Should I expect to hear directly from Him? part 2”

Posted in discernment, theology

Being led by the Spirit: What does it mean exactly? Should I expect to hear directly from Him? part 1

By Elizabeth Prata

On Facebook recently I’d posted a mini-discernment lesson regarding a tweet a well-known self-described Bible teacher had written advocating a process for distilling whether a prompt from the Holy Spirit is legitimate or if it’s your own imagination. Continue reading “Being led by the Spirit: What does it mean exactly? Should I expect to hear directly from Him? part 1”

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