God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1–2)
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Scripture is a closed system of truth, complete, sufficient, and not to be added to (Rev 22:18–19). It contains all the spiritual truth God intended to reveal.1Yet, there are always those who seek for "more." More spirituality, more emotion, more revelation. There are those contemplatives and those mystics who teach that if one will only sit still long enough and be quiet enough, they may actually hear the voice of God. There are those who maintain that the Lord still sends prophetic dreams and visions. It is as if God still has more to say, that He didn't quite finish His sentence when the Apostle John closed the book on Revelation 22:21.
To these it may be asked, "Do you write down these personal prophecies and revelations given to you by "God" in the back of your Bible? Are you in the midst of composing the Book of Beth or John or Bill?" Such questions usually will be met with scoffing and exasperation, but are they not appropriate? After all, when God speaks, does He not speak authoritatively? Surely it is impossible for the God of the universe to speak with only partial authority! Either God speaks reliably and with supremacy, or He does not speak at all.
Those who seek after personal revelation, whose ears must be perpetually strained to hear the mumblings and whispers of "God" surely must be forgetting the words of the Apostle Peter. Peter, who himself witnessed the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ, says this about the importance of God's Word:
For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased'—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Once a congregation sees Scripture as less than the final, complete, infallible authority for faith and practice, it has opened the doors to theological chaos. Anyone can claim to be speaking God’s revelation--and almost anything can be passed off as divinely revealed truth. And make no mistake, some of the best-known charismatic leaders have abused their people’s trust by claiming they are receiving new truth from God, when what they are really teaching are lies and fabrications.2In spite of this great Word called the Bible, congregations across the globe continue to teach that God is offering progressive revelation, that He still is speaking to believers here and there through voices, visions and dreams. One such example of this is Pastor Rob Reimer of South Shore Community Church in Brockton, Massachusetts. In his book, Pathways to the King, Reimer states:
The gift of the Spirit is about a direct experience with God. We will hear God's voice—through dreams, visions, and prophecy—and that will authenticate the presence of God and draw people to direct experiences with Him. This is for all God's people: men, women, and children.3In a 2011 blog post entitled, "God Speaks. Are You Listening?" Dr. Reimer offers six ways in which he claims the Lord continues to speak today:
- An audible voice
- A whisper
- Through pictures
- Through emotions
- Through "a word we see in our mind's eye"
- To our "knower"
Says Reimer, "Jesus heard the audible voice of His Father." Well, yes He did. Of course, He was, after all, Jesus. Reimer offers Paul as another example of God speaking audibly, yet the Bible-reading Christian will note that Paul's experience was most certainly unique and not something that is to be expected by all Christians for all time.
"The old timers called it the still small voice of God. Often it is just God guiding our thoughts, but we learn to recognize when it is God guiding our thoughts, and when it is just us thinking." Unfortunately, Reimer does not reveal just how it is that this distinction between God's "guiding our thoughts" and "just us thinking" can even be made. Perhaps it is just trial and error? Yet, trial and error is hardly the method in which God revealed His Word to the prophets of old.
Of this means, Reimer states, "Not every picture that comes to our mind, not every dream we have is from God. Just like not every voice that is heard, nor every thought that we have is from God. We have to test it." Again one is left with trial and error. Oh, one may perhaps argue that the picture need only be tested against the truth of Scripture to discern its validity. This by necessity leads to the question, "Why isn't Scripture good enough in the first place?"
"Grief is an emotion. Sometimes the conviction of the Spirit comes to me and I feel it. . . . Many times, God speaks to us through love. Often I will begin to feel God’s love for a person, right before God gives me a prophetic word to encourage a person." Indeed, the Holy Spirit does convict of sin and the believer rests in the joy of the Lord, but man cannot trust his emotional whims. Emotions are fickle and easily manipulated. No doubt this is why Jeremiah warned that "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?"
Reimer explains, "It is like a cartoon caption. We see a word spelled out." The ridiculousness of this statement makes additional commentary unnecessary.
Says Reimer, "Sometimes we just know something. God speaks to us Spirit to spirit, and we just know something." How can one know that it is God who has spoken "Spirit to spirit"? Well, ironically enough, Reimer's explanation of this last point leaves one not knowing.
Though now two years old, this blog post of Reimer's sparked new interest as a reader, who calls herself Barb, recently left the following comment:
As such, this writer left three nearly identical comments over a period of a couple of weeks, simply attempting to engage the text. The persistence of this writer was due to the perhaps naive assumption that a pastor of the Word of God would be eager and anxious to discuss why it is he believes and teaches a certain thing. Unfortunately, none of those comments were published on Pastor Reimer's blog. Instead, an email recently was received from Executive Pastor Sharon Anderson (see this post for additional teaching on the unbiblical notion of women elders). That email reads as follows:
To Whom it May Concern:
This blog is the intellectual property of South Shore Community Church. We are under no obligation to publish your comments. However, the First Amendment gives you the right to express your opinions on your own blog. We would encourage you to do so.
Sharon Anderson, Executive PastorThis writer thanked Sharon Anderson for her reply and explained the reason for such persistence. At this point it is extremely important to note that this blog post at Do Not Be Surprised has not in any way been written out of spite or anger. Indeed, every blog owner has the right to publish or not publish comments on his or her own blog as is seen fit (even DNBS exercises this right per the posted comment policy).
Rather, the purpose of this post is to once again shed light upon the darkness that is found within the charismatic movement. How many caught up in this movement live in bondage and depression because they have not yet "heard" from God through voices, visions and dreams? How many live in despair that they have not yet exercised enough faith for God to "speak" to them? How many are robbed of joy and peace because they do not realize that God has spoken to them, fully and finally and personally, in His Holy Word?
The second purpose of this post is to ensure that all things truly are tested against Scripture. God's Word is the final and perfect authority. It points the believer to Christ, who is the Christian's hope, Savior, Lord and King. With that, below is the comment that was left at Pastor Reimer's blog and remains unpublished as of this writing:
The man or woman who seeks to have his or her personal experience trump the Word of God is one who desperately needs to seek the truth that is only found in that Word. May Christians pray that God would open the eyes of those who have been deceived by these dangerous and deceptive doctrines. May God rescue many who are wandering, lost amid the voices and visions in their head, ignorant that the way to the truth can be found in the most obvious of places: the pages of Scripture.
The truth is, there is no fresher or more intimate revelation than Scripture. God does not need to give private revelation to help us in our walk with Him. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16–17, emphasis added). Scripture is sufficient. It offers all we need for every good work.4______________________
1. John MacArthur, "Does God Still Give Revelation?" Accessed 18 August 2013.
3. Rob Reimer, Pathways to the King, (Carpenter's Son Publishing: 2013), 68.
4. John MacArthur, "Does God Still Give Revelation?" Accessed 18 August 2013.
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