Have you ever been around a person who can’t wait to share with her or his Christian friends what God had told them, hoping in some way, to be the envy of listeners? It happened again to me, and once again, it turned me off cold. Why do so many people, including pastors, say these things? Might it be because they want them to think that they have an inside track to God? It might sound spiritual, but I am pretty sure that it is not the voice of the Holy Spirit that they are hearing. I asked her, “What was the text in Scripture that you were reading when you got your revelation? If not, how do you know if it was God’s voice you heard? Is this a form of intimidation and manipulation?
There is no question that God spoke audibly in the Old Testament. His purpose was so the prophets would record His words and prepare a bloodline for the coming Messiah, Jesus. When God spoke, He was not focused on personal needs, but rather on God’s more excellent plan to save sinners. In the New Testament, with the early church movement, God also audibly spoke concerning His plan of redeeming humankind through His Son, Jesus. Once the Bible was written, it became God’s way of communicating to believers through His words with understanding and revelation from the Holy Spirit. His Word is sufficient in all areas of our life to guide and direct us through the good and the challenging times of life.
Through the work of the Holy Spirit, seekers are saved, filled, sealed, and made righteous. He reveals God’s thoughts, teaches, and guides believers to truth of the Holy scriptures. He helps us in our weakness and intercedes for us to our Father.
In John 14:26, Jesus told his disciples, “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:7-8).
Jesus told his disciples, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The “God told me” stories often center on personal stories and not God’s. Our focus needs to be on directing others to the scriptures and not on therapeutic fixes. People need to know the foundations of the Christian faith including, who God is, who we are as individuals, the reliability of the scriptures, the reality of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and what it means to be Christian without the performance. Churches and Christian schools need to be teaching and living out these truths but most are not.
John MacArthur writes in Strange Fire: “Preoccupied with mystical encounters and emotional ecstasies, [many] seek ongoing revelation from heaven – meaning that, for them, the Bible alone is not enough. [With them], biblical revelation must be supplemented with personal “words from God,” supposed impressions from the Holy Spirit, and other subjective religious experiences. That kind of thinking is an outright rejection of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. It is a recipe for far-reaching theological disaster.”
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” ((2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Charles Spurgeon in his sermon, “The Paraclete, said, “I have seen the Spirit of God shamefully dishonored by persons – I hope they were insane – who have said that they have had this and that revealed to them. There has not for some years passed over my head a single week in which I have not been pestered with the revelations of hypocrites or maniacs. Semi-lunatics are very fond of coming with messages from the Lord to me, and it may spare them some trouble if I tell them once for all that I will have none of their stupid messages..”
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
It is time for us to assess where we get our information about God. Is it from friends, Facebook, the pastor?
How much time do you spend in the scriptures to read and to learn? “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4: 3-5).