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 discernment, theology

God told me!

By Elizabeth Prata
church
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. 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.

And lest one believe that Moore’s claims were simply youthful errors, she is still saying them today in 2018, in her very latest teaching, “Advance” from this past week:

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 learn 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 the Bible only have become a minority.

How common is it to hear 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 today,

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.

Today Mr Peters was interviewed on the podcast Theology.Driven,. There are quite a few new attacks on the faith that have risen up in these days. Peters said,

The attacks against the faith in the push for egalitarianism, same-sex attracted but non-practicing, work-based prosperity gospel, social justice, critical race theory, are ALL based on a rejection of the sufficiency of scripture, and we are losing that war big time. It all heads into theological liberalism.’ ~Justin Peters, special guest in today’s Theology.Driven podcast

I agree. And I believe it is the women within visible Christianity who are doing the most harm to the faith by undermining sola scriptura through their claims of hearing from God.

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.”

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 so much 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.

pulpit rock verse