21 February 2008

What if someone claims an angelic visitation?

by Dan Phillips

I can't do Phil's fancy font-effects, but have decided to bring a comment from the last post up into a post of its own. Craig Bennett asked:
Hey DJP,

What would your reaction be towards a person who said an angel appeared and spoke to them [sic] today?
To this I, of course, replied:
Cut to the chase, Craig: you're pregnant.
The good-humored Craig responded:
bawhhhaaa haaa nice 1 DJP,

No I'm not pregnant. However Scripture does tell us to be hospitable to strangers for they might be angels.

I'm just wondering if you would believe today if someone said they [sic] had an angelic encounter...
Here's my serious response.

Craig
, straight-up, I'd doubt it, on this basis:

Passages such as Hebrews 1:1-2, and 2:1-4 (among many others) make it clear that God is not sanguine about professed believers impatiently looking past His word for something better, more exciting, more entertaining. He didn't take it well when Israel ignored repeated (real-live, inerrant and binding) prophetic pleas:
Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets." 14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God. 15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God, and.... (2 Kings 17:13-16)
"And" what, you ask? Does it really matter? They turned from the word of God to something else. The specific form of rebellion and unbelief is secondary. He says again in Jeremiah 35:15 — "Also I have sent to you all My servants the prophets, sending them again and again, saying: 'Turn now every man from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to worship them, then you shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your forefathers; but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me'" (NAS).

Now that revelation has reached its climax in God's own Son (Matthew 17:5-8; Hebrews 1:1-2), is it sane or reasonable to imagine that God's attitude towards His inerrant, binding, sufficient revelation would be more shoulder-shruggy? If we imagine so, we aren't getting the idea from His Word (Hebrews 12:25).

That, in a word, is the mind of God for our age: hear and heed what He has already said. We don't need new, we don't need more. We need to deal with what He has given. And by and large, we aren't.

As every one of us here at Pyro assesses our age, professed Christians are "into" everything but the Word of God: entertainment, fake tongues and fake prophecy and fake semi-revelation, showmen, flattery, and all the rest that the three of us frequently hold up to the harsh light of Scripture.

We've seen it in many of our commenters over the past two years. Numerous brothers and sisters scarce peep when the Gospel is perverted, when Christ is in effect dethroned, when the truth is twisted. They're non-participants. Try to open up some doctrine of Scripture, and eyes glaze over. They're no-shows.

But boy oh boy oh boy, say a word affirming the sufficiency of Scripture, or critiquing their pet-distraction, and they've nothing more exciting to do than argue. To us, it's a bit like the doctor with his "Does this hurt?" "No." "This?" "No." "This?" "YAAOOOWWWCH! WHAT ARE TRYING TO DO, KILL ME? And besides, it's not a problem!"

So, to your question, I'd start out with the expectation that God Himself is unlikely to do something that would surely be turned into Excuse #47958 For Focusing On Something Other Than God's Inerrant, Abiding, Living, Sufficient Word, something that would birth books like "Walking with Angels" and "My Homey Gabriel," and seminars on finding your angelic guide.

If it grieves a dull pinhead like me to see "evangelicals" so indifferent to His Word, and so excited about made-up playtime amusements, it's hard to imagine how God must see it.

Lame analogy: every one of my kids has on occasion balked at something their mother (or I) serve at mealtime. Now my dear, long-suffering wife has never yet served them a plate of poison toadstools or bloated roadkill. Her food's always good, nourishing, edible, made with mother's love, all that wonderful stuff. So I require that they eat what they're served, no matter what dramatics they produce — and let's all grant that all kids know how to bring the drama.

Sometimes these sessions have developed into fairly long-lasting contests of will. I have memories and mental images that still amaze me.

Now, if I have said (sing it with me), "This isn't a cafeteria, it isn't poison, I expect you to you eat what you're served," and there's resistance — what should I do? If I go back on my word, then my kids know forever that I can be rolled, that I don't mean what I say, that they can't take what I say on its face and go to the bank with it. In short, that I'm a weak-willed liar. I would have done them a terrible disservice.

But suppose I came in and said, "Oh, while you're sitting there disdainfully contemplating the food your mother served you, and deciding for yourself what you feel like doing about it — whether you think you want to eat it or not — here's a bit of chocolate! And if you hold out longer, I'll go get some pizza and ice cream."

What then? Haven't I just undone my whole point, and made it easier for them to disrespect and disobey and miss the whole point of this exercise?

So, living as we do in the epoch following the completion and close of the Canon, I would approach a claim to angelic dialogue with a strong bias towards its unlikeliness.

And yes, I am aware of (and believe) the verse in Hebrews. It's about being hospitable. We should be hospitable. It isn't about looking for angelic visitation, is it?

Thanks for asking.

Dan Phillips's signature

104 comments:

VcdeChagn said...

If I go back on my word, then my kids know forever that I can be rolled, that I don't mean what I say, that they can't take what I say on its face and go to the bank with it. In short, that I'm a weak-willed liar. I would have done them a terrible disservice.

You've hit on the exact same thing I do to my kids. When I give them corrections (probably ones that are frowned upon in the great state of California), they always say they don't want them.

I ask them if they would rather I be a liar, because the corrections inevitably follow warnings. I tell them I could start lying about the promises I have made to do things with them, to give them things, etc. The inevitable answer (from the two that are older than 2 years old) is Nooooooooo.

I'm printing this article out for some Pentacostal friends of mine as well. You should be a fly on the wall during Trinity discussions :)

DJP said...

Well-put, VC. I've said several times words to this effect: "I want you to know that Daddy tries to keep all his promises, the happy ones and the not-so-happy ones."

When I went to teach on child-rearing years ago, I asked myself why so many Christian teachers hammered on consistency. Where is consistency in the Bible?

Then I realized: consistency is simply not lying. It's saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and carrying through with what you say. Like God does.

One of my greatest amazements at the spirit of this age is the apparent notion of many that the close of the Canon was not a marker of much significance, not an epochal milestone.

beaconlight said...

Recently we had a guest speaker teaching scripture to our church on Wednesday nights. She made a comment in passing about falling into a coma and during this time God apparently spoke things to her. She then continued on to expound the word.
Afterwards, I talked with a lady who once attended a Pentecostal church with me. The only subject she wanted to talk about was the speaker's comment on hearing from God. She was dying to know what God told her. That's all she could focus on. I thought, 'what about the scripture she explained to us tonight? Shouldn't we be focusing on the sure word of God?' I should have articulated my thoughts, but I knew it would have been a battle.

Brandon L.

Al said...

beacon,

Have you ever wondered if there is a correlation between women in the pulpit and extra-biblical revelation?

It seems to me that if a church permits women preachers it also allows for mystical, revelatory messages from on high. The same error manifested in different ways.
al sends

DJP said...

Yeah, Brandon, my little light started flashing at "guest speaker teaching scripture to our church...She...."

dac said...

re: Angels

If Angels are so important, why does their direct actions end (basically) with the Death of Herod (which is also after the death of Jesus) and don't seem to have much role until his return (Revelation)?

Second, djp, I am curious as to your application of Col 2:18 to this issue



Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. (NET Bible)

Of course the Message has their interpretation of the verse

"Don't tolerate people who try to run your life, ordering you to bow and scrape, insisting that you join their obsession with angels and that you seek out visions. They're a lot of hot air, that's all they are." (The Message)

Daryl said...

Good post Dan.

The thing that struck me when the original poster posted the comment you comment on (I see a trend there...).
My issue was the part of the verse that was left out. The verse in Hebrews talks about entertaining angels "unawares". Hardly the stuff of Mary/Joseph-like angelic visitation.
The whole point of the angelic part of that verse isn't that you'll be knocked over by some new revelation, it's that you wouldn't know it was an angel anyways, so carry on.

Johnny Dialectic said...

What about non-revelatory "appearances"? I've heard a variation on this many times: I was out in the desert and my radiator overheated, and out of nowhere came this guy with a water bottle (no, this is not the set up for a Stephen King novel). He poured the water in and I started up the car and got out to thank him, but he was gone!

I am asked about this. I can't rule out the angelic, because I don't find any Scriptural warrant for that. I am a tad skeptical, but I've heard this numerous times.

These aren't people who then go off and say God told them it's okay to commit adultery now, etc. They seem brought to a deeper worship.

Opinions?

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

As usual, great post. I especially like this part:

"professed Christians are "into" everything but the Word of God: entertainment, fake tongues and fake prophecy and fake semi-revelation, showmen, flattery, and all the rest that the three of us frequently hold up to the harsh light of Scripture."

I like it because I frequently read responses like the following which squirm in staunch objection to making the light of Scripture the ultimate authority for their epistemological basis:

"i understand that scripture is your ultimate authority for epistemological testing. make mine mystical, and reasoning, and scriptural, as you've described. add semiotic as well (actually...that might be a subset of mystical, on second thought.)

i appreciate your cautioning me not to elevate my subjective experiences above scripture. caution is usually given to people in danger. what do you feel i am in danger of, here?"

Whaddya gonna do? There are people who will partly bend their knee to the Word, but they refuse to bend their knee all the way.

Daryl said...

TUAD,
We just don't want to believe that Scripture is our final authority, do we? What people like the one you quoted don't seem to realize is that their opinion is meaningless, the authority over their life IS Scripture, whether they/we acknowledge it or not.

M. Stevenson said...

We have a rule at our house when it comes to food: "You don't have to like it, you just have to eat it." This is a great rule that has moved over to other areas of life, such as obedience: "You don't have to like it, you just have to DO it."

Of course, I recently posted of a rare opportunity to demonstrate grace rather than justice, but we tend toward consistency, even when it's painfully difficult.

As far as the Hebrews 13 passage goes, Craig's paraphrase left out an important bit: "some have entertained angels without knowing it."

I'm no scholar by any means, but a literal reading of this would indicate that the person who did the entertaining didn't know they were entertaining angels.

The next question I guess would be, is that the case all the time when it comes to angels? This is the point where I sit quietly and listen while the rest of y'all discuss amongst yourselves, not just because I'm a "she," either. :)

Hadassah said...

DJP--I just read an account from a missionary who was handing out Bibles that were translated into the native tongue of a closed country. The missionary had two separate people come and ask for Bibles, claiming that a dream had directed them to find the missionary at a specific place at a specific time. What are your thoughts on accounts like that? I'm really curious here, not trying to cause any kind of stink.

Stefan said...

Hadassah:

Not that my two cents are worth much on this topic, but there are numerous stories of people being led to God via dreams, etc. in places where the Gospel is not readily accessible.

But in such cases, the dream, vision, or what have you is not really revelatory in nature, but simply pointing the recipient(s) to what's already been revealed: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It seems to be more a case of God's providentially bringing together the missionaries and the people whom He had called them to help save.

Jugulum said...

DJP,

I hope you can get to Hadassah's question. I'm wrestling through the issues involved in dreams, visions, prophecy, and the Scripture, and haven't found an articulation that I'm ready to fully embrace. One of my nagging questions is related to the kind of extra-scriptural revelation that Hadassah mentioned.

Your view seems to be that in the current era, with the full canon, the need for any continued revelatory work of the Spirit is gone, beyond illumination of Scripture. I'm hesitant to agree, until I resolve this question: Are there kinds of visions/prophecies discussed in Scripture such that their value is not diminished in this era? Functions that Scripture does not "take over"?

The story Hadassah recounted seems to be one example, as does Paul's mention of Timothy's gift of teaching being given by prophecy when elders laid hands on him (1 Tim. 4:14). I'm not convinced it makes sense to put that kind of revelation in the same category as Scripture, such that a completed, sufficient canon conflicts with those things continuing to occur.


I do see the concern you expressed here: "I'd start out with the expectation that God Himself is unlikely to do something that would surely be turned into Excuse #47958 For Focusing On Something Other Than God's Inerrant, Abiding, Living, Sufficient Word"

But I'm not sure that a vision like the one Hadassah mentioned, or prophetic utterance of the sort in 1 Tim. 4:14 would actually do that. Chasing such things would be a problem, and people are certainly prone to chase flashy experiences, but legitimate things can always be approached in a wrong, dangerous way. (e.g., Emotional appreciation of God's love, grace, and glory can also be chased in an unhealthy way, but that doesn't mean there isn't a healthy way to seek it.)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

What people like the one you quoted don't seem to realize is that their opinion is meaningless, the authority over their life IS Scripture, whether they/we acknowledge it or not.

I agree Daryl. There is a hardened stubborness to surrendering and yielding fully to the Living and Written Word of God.

And I say that as a redeemed sinner in the long process of sanctification.

The Doulos said...

A friend of mine is in a counseling relationship with a young man who claims that the insights he receives while praying and recording his thoughts in his prayer journal are as authoritative as Scripture, since he received them from God. The guy is loosely connected with a local charismatic church, which would probably agree with his claim.

A quotable quote that I think I'll print out and post on my wall: "professed Christians are "into" everything but the Word of God: entertainment, fake tongues and fake prophecy and fake semi-revelation, showmen, flattery, and all the rest that the three of us frequently hold up to the harsh light of Scripture."

DJP said...

To the various "what-about...?" questions, I give the same answer in several ways.

Briefest: I don't know, and I don't care.

If that was so brief that it seems unfriendly, I don't mean it that way. It's just the bottom-line. As a rule, these stories are always told by people who knew people whose relatives heard someone once talking about a guy who told a story about a missionary who only spoke in their church one time, ever, who he didn't know from Adam's gardener, and this missionary told a story about....

And I have to make up an answer about that?

Second form of the same answer: tell you what. You make a guy in a mission field who has no access to a Bible a regular reader of Pyro, and let him ask the question after a year.

Oh, but wait — if he can read Pyro, he does have access to a Bible! And so do you (any Pyro reader, not one particular commenter)! So why are we talking about this?

Third, I spoke to this general category of issue at some length in this post. It drove some folks absolutely ape, but I still agree with myself. (And the paragraph that starts "So pose the second question" made me laugh until I coughed, on re-reading [I have a cold].)

Hope that's of some help. If not, sorry, it's what I have, and what I really think, since you're asking.

DJP said...

Yep, Doulos. Another way I respond to that sort of thing is, "Tell you what, sport: let's you and I memorize, understand, believe, and consistently practice everything in the 66 books we've got. Then, once we've done that, if that isn't enough, we can talk about needing more."

The Interface said...

Very well said indeed!

Strong Tower said...

My step-father had a few quips about meals:

If you don't like what's for supper, dinner's over...

Eat it or wear it...

If you don't like what set before you, don't sit down...

If you don't like what's for dinner, it's breakfast...

From this, in my first marriage to a liberal anthropologist, non-christian, I initiated a recyling program. What wasn't eaten by my daughter in one meal was brought out for the next...well...it wasn't my daughter who rebelled. Even now, remarried to a Christian, I find her "extra-revelation" about who is the head of the household the greater rebellion. My kids just simply follow the path of least resistence without thinking about the authoritative word...

Daryl jumped on it, the angels are entertained unawares, or as dac said, it is imaginary...

Not wanting to devolve into a discussion of charis, I have to say this: I came out of the occult into the faith by a vision. I won't explode the whole story except to say that I went from being a paranoid schizophenic whose fear factor was a 10.0 on the weirdo-recluso-meter, to actually being able to feel comfortable about being seen by other human beings. I was so fearful that the fear of not being able to remember my name made it impossible for me to remember the name of the man in the mirror. For seven years I didn't enter a church. In fact, I rarely ever met another Christian in public, which is strange when you think of it. I have had numerous encounters with occult manifestations over the years, both BC and AC, and they neatly blended with my experience when I entered the church through the back-door of Pentecostalism. I felt right at home. I graduated to Charismatic experiences, then out to a more orthodox mainstream in the SBC (though I found there much of the 'super-spiritual' lingo and beliefs that I had left). Now, having been through that weirdness, I have come to the DoG. Through all this, I have grown. Rather than being a declining experience, all the manifestations of spiritual things have moved me closer. I do not recommend it.

One of the things that set me free from the confusion of those experiences has been simple Scripture. Such as "When I became a man I put away childish things." But, even clearer ones. "...learn from us not to go beyond what is written." Beside the fact that we have been told that we have a faith once and for all delivered to the saints, these simple boundaries provide protection from the many voices we hear around us.

We should never discount the reality of the unseen. It is real. However, we do not follow cleverly concocted fables, but the Word, which for people like me provides a strong tower to which I can flee. I know now, what I didn't then, that the word shatters the darkness. I do not need to fear then what even my mind might tell me. I can lay it beside the word of God, and by the word measure it.

The similarities between household rules and the authority of Scripture is a good analogy. And just like the mention of women in the pulpit tending to be given to extra-biblical revelation, well, that is how they got to the pulpit in the first place. When you have removed the boundary the Lord becomes vengeful. And, the only way to appease his wrath against the walking away from his word, it to turn, an submit to it.

Jim Crigler said...

Dan ---

You complain when I mention that Very Old Subject Phil started (but never finished because of continuation / cessation interruption) in Pyro1, but then you actually post on it. Hmmm ...

Stefan said...

Jugulum:

I'm going to give a longer answer than Dan gave, but if you or Dan examine it closely, I would hope that our replies actually jibe, even though they may seem be at odds with each other on first glance.

I would not put Hadassah's story in the category of extra-scriptural revelation. This does seem to be a way that God draws some people who are stuck in Romans 1 territory to salvation: but salvation that is strictly by grace alone, through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, according to Scripture alone.

It can happen in this culture, too. The Gospel is all around us, if only we have ears to hear. But I grew up with an atheist, secular Jewish worldview. We celebrated a secular Passover every year: I thought the main character in that story was Moses—I wasn't even taught that there was this entity "God" who was involved in the Exodus; let alone that the whold thing was merely a foreshadowing of the coming of the one true Passover Lamb.

When I was about 20, I had a couple of dreams that shook me to my core, but made no sense to me whatsoever at the time. I spent my whole adult life trying to figure out what those dreams meant, and I couldn't rest until I knew. As a result, I explored many kinds of false belief in the years following to try to find the answer, but every avenue I went down, I came no closer to understanding what those dreams meant.

They finally made sense many years later, after God led me to a conservative evangelical church, and He redeemed me by the atoning work of Christ. My quest was complete, when after so many years, these dreams finally made sense in light of what the Holy Spirit had imparted in me through regeneration. The theme of each dream—a theme I didn't see at the time—was the sacrificial atonement of Christ for the redemption of sinners.

In hindsight, I see (or at least believe) now that these dreams were ways through which God called one of His elect who had no other opportunity to be pointed in the right direction except through His direct intervention. But here's the critical point: everything in those dreams was consistent with biblical doctrine, and in no way constituted some kind of new, extra-scriptural revelation—in the end, they simply pointed me to Scripture, and eventually to Christians who hold a high view of it, through whose teaching I could repent and be saved.

Now, I regularly hear stories of believers who have undergone similar experiences—but the common denominator is that they were all unsaved at the time, had no ready access to the Gospel, and were pointed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a result: not imparted with some "new" "revelation." It is not an experience that believers should seek, and I have no reasonable expectation of ever having another dream like the ones I had, because there's no need now: I have found my hope in Christ, which was the sole point of the dreams.

I don't know if what I've written is consistent with the doctrine of cessationism, but nevertheless, this seems to fall into a wholly different category than prophecy, tongues, etc.

Writing and Living said...

Throwing my two cents in on Hadassah's question.

There have been times when I have awakened in the middle of the night with an overwhelming urge to pray for someone I know and love. There have been times when I came to learn later that that person really needed prayer at that particular time. Other times they were sleeping soundly. :o) So, when I feel the urge to pray, I pray. I have learned that while it *could* be the Holy Spirit, it might not be. I tend to be very intuitive, but I'm also a sinner, so I'm not always right.

There have been a few times that I do feel God has used a dream or circumstance to remind me of something that I should have already realized from His Word. But I'm really not comfortable relating the specifics of those instances to others, just for the fear that I'm wrong.

And it probably goes without saying, that if I dream an angel came and told me to stop doing the laundry, that's not from God, that's just me trying to find an excuse for being lazy. :o)

Jugulum said...

DJP,

Thanks. A couple things:

1.) In regards to third- or fourth- or umpteenth-hand stories, I'd say that an "I don't know and I don't care" reaction is appropriate.

2.) If your link to "Unanswered Bible questions and the need to know" was directed at me, I should clarify--it doesn't seem to be the kind of thing I was asking about.

I entirely agree that if the Bible leaves a particular question unanswered, then that is a point of doctrine that we don't need to know.

I was not asking about particulars that the Bible does not address, but rather categories. That is, suppose the canon had been completed before the event Paul described in 1 Tim. 4:14. Should we conclude that this prophecy from the elders would not have taken place, because Timothy had the entire canon now? It seems like category error to me.


I should note that as far as decision-making goes, I wholeheartedly subscribe to the Wisdom model, as opposed to the "Seek a Word from the Lord"/"Hearing the Voice of God" model. That is, I do not believe anyone needs to "hear from God" before seeking to exercise a gift of teaching, if wisdom indicates that they have it. If we prayerfully seek insight and wisdom from God (using all the means of discernment that he has given us), then we are free to choose without worrying, "But what if this isn't God's will?" But then, Timothy didn't need to "hear from God", either.

Robert W said...

DJP:

Today's post is sort of what I was driving at in Tuesday's comments. I just wasn't as 'bibley' as I should have been.

stratagem said...

I agree with pretty much everything you've said, Dan. I also note that you've not (that I've noticed) said that angels no longer appear to people. You've simply said that most of the stories that are told are very questionable, and those that give extra-Biblical general revelations are bogus. I agree with all of that.

However I do know there are some people who encounter angels even today, and sometimes they don't tell anyone but a few close friends, they weren't looking for a experience or seeking a sign, they don't claim to have gotten a general revelation or anything else in conflict with Biblical teaching, they don't write a book or go on the Benny Hinn(drance) show, they don't use it to draw attention to themselves, and so on.

The ratio of genuine angelic appearances to bogus pentecostally-inspired claims is, I'm sure, astoundingly low. But I do know that they exist, and I know of no Bible verse that would contradict my position. (Which may also be your position, I can't tell).

If we could know how often the Lord sends unseen, unheard angels to protect us, I'm pretty sure we'd all be amazed and encouraged.

Strong Tower said...

I don't know, and I don't care...It drove some folks absolutely ape, but I still agree with myself..."Tell you what, sport: let's you and I memorize, understand, believe, and consistently practice everything in the 66 books we've got. Then, once we've done that, if that isn't enough, we can talk about needing more."

...many decades later: "Now, what was your question?"

Dan, you make all so easy...

Jugulum said...

Oh, I forgot to mention something with number 1.

The missionary story is very umpteenth-hand. But another piece of data is first-hand stories. I don't have the link handy at the moment--I can find it this evening, if anyone wants it--but I was listening to a sermon on "hearing God's voice" from Sovereign Grace Ministries, and the pastor was recounting a somewhat similar story... But he was the one who had received the "indication" that he should go somewhere. It was during a camping trip. When he went there, it was another campsite where two non-Christians had just been talking about God and wishing they had someone to explain some things. If I recall correctly, he preached the gospel to them and they believed.

Now, I realize that if our biblical convictions lead us to conclude that such things will not happen in this era, that should be it. Scripture interprets experience, not vice-versa. We don't have to be able to explain everything that people report.

My concern is, I don't see how such occurrences would in any way or in any sense detract from the sufficiency of Scripture. I can't find a strong biblical basis for denying such categories of "extra-Scriptural revelation".

Daryl said...

Jugulum,

Personally I'd respond with that story with "Hey Cool" and leave it at that.
By leave it at that, I mean, don't seek that kind of thing, don't expect that kind of thing, don't insist that anyone believe that kind of thing.
Be thankful that someone was reached with the gospel and don't plan on that happening again.

The biggest trouble I've run into with that kind of thing is people insisting that I acknowledge that it was God speaking or insisting that whatever was said as a result of such an encounter, must be taken to heart by me.

If it's not from Scripture, drop it. If it is, use it, and give the credit to the God for giving us the Scripture (in exactly the same way you would give thanks if you were reading one night and noticed something you hadn't seen or understood before), not the private experience we/they/you might think we/you/they had.

agonizomai said...

There is no extra-scriptural revelation in this example. What we have here, in couching it that way, is a category error. The scripture is the authoritative revelation and the individual experience (though seemingly supernatural in origin) is pointing the man to the scripture. Where's the harm? Where's the error? Where's the extra-scriptural revelation?

For the last three years I have been attending a weekly mixed denomination men's Bible study. The majority of the people are Pentecostals, but other brothers are Brethren, Free Evangelical and so on.

Whenever (and it does fairly often) the question of some personal experience is raised related to "God told me to do this" or "I has such and such a dream or vision" I never question it directly. It is a personal experience which could be true or false. But I always point out that the "vision/dream/voice" needs to be checked against scripture, a la 1Thessalonians 5:19-21. And I say that I have no way of confirming or refuting a thing that a person experienced in their own mind - but the Bible does. Of course, I always try to lead that person to passages that are relevant.

The Bible won't say whether a person today actually heard a voice or saw an angel, but it most emphatically will tell us whether what a person heard or saw was "good" and to be "held fast to" by rigorously scrutinizing what the voice communicated to the hearer.

In the case in point a person was "told" to go get the word of God in written form. For goodness sake, isn't that what the church is supposed to do - deliver the word of God!? Why don't we all rejoice that it happened instead of parsing to death something that happened, the whole of which is somebody else's experience, but which brings the word of life to someone who not only needed it, but also had been moved to seek it?

The Bible is not just the final authority, it is the only authority - but we ought not to get so caught up in that fact that myopia sets in and we cannot see that God works in many ways to bring people to and under that authority.

While God is preparing a messenger, He has likely been preparing a hearer, too. And if a hearer has been made receptive, the messenger that is sent can only rejoice. (Cornelius and Peter in Acts 10 come to mind).

DJP said...

Jugulum, I thought I said pretty clearly that my response was intended to group together all the "what-if" type questions.

Leftover, I only see 1 Tim 4. I haven't redefined "prophecy" since Exodus 4 and 7, and Deuteronomy 13 and 18; and I don't look for any prophecies since the completion of the Canon.

donsands said...

Great post.

"..but you have not inclined your ear or listened to Me'"

So true that so many thousands in the Church don't really hunger for the Holy Scriptures. Sad. They tell us all we need to know, and there's so much in the Bible to learn, and it never gets old. This is where the Holy Spirit, who indwells the Church will take it.
Angels are here to protect us, but the Holy Spirit, who is God the Father and the Son making their abode with us, and His Word are our greatest treasure.

"The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them." Psalm 34:7

Jugulum said...

DJP,

Yes, and I thought I said pretty clearly that I agree with you that "We don't have to be able to explain everything that people report," but that "My concern is, I don't see how such occurrences would in any way or in any sense detract from the sufficiency of Scripture. I can't find a strong biblical basis for denying such categories of 'extra-Scriptural revelation'."

If you're not saying that such occurrences would detract from the sufficiency of Scripture--if you would just take the approach Daryl discussed--then OK. If you are, I repeat that I don't see a Biblical or logical basis for saying so.


I had asked,
"That is, suppose the canon had been completed before the event Paul described in 1 Tim. 4:14. Should we conclude that this prophecy from the elders would not have taken place, because Timothy had the entire canon now?"

You said,
"Leftover, I only see 1 Tim 4. I haven't redefined "prophecy" since Exodus 4 and 7, and Deuteronomy 13 and 18; and I don't look for any prophecies since the completion of the Canon."

I know you don't; I probed that idea by asking my question. I'm not clear on whether you answered it. Are you saying, "No, Timothy wouldn't have received that prophecy is the canon had already been completed"?

If that's your answer, and you want to leave it at that, OK. But I want to clarify my purpose in asking the question: I understand (and agree with) saying "the role of prophecy ended with the close of the canon" when we're talking about roles that Scripture fulfills--doctrine, reproof, instruction, training in righteousness. (The stuff that your "Unanswered Bible questions" post addressed.) I do not understand saying it when we're talking about something like the prophecy in 1 Tim. 4:14.

Now, I suppose that if you're correct that 1 Cor. 13 teaches that prophecy will cease with the close of the canon, it doesn't matter whether I understand it or not. :)

Frank! said...

Growing up in a hispanic Pentecostal church (you don't get more Pentecostal than that!) I heard the weirdest things. But that didn't sour me on the supernatural. It just made me way more cautious. However, in reading the Bible, I don't know that I have found anything that says angels can't appear. I don't know that you addressed that point. It didn't seem that this person wanted to find an experience for lack of devotion to scripture. This may have to do (I'm assuming of course for the sake of the argument) that a person is minding their own business and out of nowhere something extraordinary happens. I would cautiously wait and see. Of course if said event happened to me I would ask them who Jesus was and take it from there. We must take care in saying what God will or won't do. Church history has many interesting moments where things happened that were certainly "out there". Augustine's conversion experience. Matthew Henry's dream-that saved his life. The Presbyterian missionaries mentioned in "Men of The Covenant" and "Fair Sunshine". They certainly weren't fringey. I believe John Flavel wrote about such experiences in "The Providence of God". Some referred ot it as non-canonical extra-biblical revelation. Speaking of the Scots, what do we do with George Wishart-John Knox's son-in-law and translator of the Helvetic Confession? http://www.calvinistcorner.com/wishart.htm

Stefan said...

Jugulum:

As I and other commenters have averred, Hadassah's story is not a case of "extra-Scriptural revelation." It is not "revelation" per se at all, but pointing the recipient to all-sufficient Scripture, which in turn also makes it not "extra-scriptural."

Stefan said...

Frank!:

If you read through the comments carefully, you'll see that some of your points have already been addressed.

Jugulum said...

P.S. FYI, I'll be away from the blog till late tonight.

And one more thought: If it does come down to whether 1 Cor. 13 says that prophecy will cease with the close of the canon, then...well, that settles the question conclusively regardless of any of these questions. But this distinction I'm seeing in the text--between categories/roles of prophecy--would still have this importance: If the distinction is real, and various arguments against continuation of prophecy don't take that into account, then as a result those arguments may be specious. And if we want to teach someone why they shouldn't "earnestly desire that they may prophesy", but we use such an argument...then it's going to distract from the arguments that should and will persuade.


Stefan,

Right. That's what I meant when I said, "if you would just take the approach Daryl discussed--then OK." It seems right.

And my next sentence meant, "If you are [saying that such occurrences would detract from the sufficiency of Scripture], I repeat that I don't see a Biblical or logical basis for saying so." (You might have thought I meant that I don't see a basis for taking Daryl's approach.)

DJP said...

Don't know what to say, Jugulum, because I think I've answered both of your questions, and you don't. If prophecy ceased with the close of the Canon, then no, Timothy would not have received prophecy after the close of the canon. Which I said. As to the other, the whole post was about that, except that I believe I used the word "distraction" rather than "detraction."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I liked the tv show "Touched By An Angel" that was broadcast by CBS.

Naturally, I wish they would have mentioned Jesus or mentioned the Bible more in the show, but I realize that the writers and producers had to work within studio constraints on what they would allow in the show's broadcast.

I hope that some people came to saving faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord as a result of watching "Touched By An Angel."

Zulu, deflector shields up. Anticipation of incoming meteor stones. ;-)

Jugulum said...

DJP,

You replied quickly, so fortunately I'm still here. :)

I wasn't saying you didn't answer my question about whether Timothy's prophecy would have occurred--it wasn't clear to me whether you had or not. OK, you say, "No, it wouldn't have."

As I said, if that's based on 1 Cor. 13, then I understand. If it's not--if it's based on a "Scripture is sufficient" line of reasoning--then I don't, for the reasons I've said. (Category error. And see my clarification about the Wisdom model.)

If your reason is the "distraction" line of reasoning, then I'll repeat what I said above:

-------
I do see the concern you expressed here: "I'd start out with the expectation that God Himself is unlikely to do something that would surely be turned into Excuse #47958 For Focusing On Something Other Than God's Inerrant, Abiding, Living, Sufficient Word"

But I'm not sure that a vision like the one Hadassah mentioned, or prophetic utterance of the sort in 1 Tim. 4:14 would actually do that. Chasing such things would be a problem, and people are certainly prone to chase flashy experiences, but legitimate things can always be approached in a wrong, dangerous way. (e.g., Emotional appreciation of God's love, grace, and glory can also be chased in an unhealthy way, but that doesn't mean there isn't a healthy way to seek it.)
------

In other words, the possibility that people may try to do something in an unhealthy way provides no indication as to whether we're supposed to be seeking to do it in a healthy way. The possibility of abuse does not argue for disuse.


OK, I'm actually leaving the computer now. :)

DJP said...

Yes, it really does.

To return to my analogy: suppose I say to my kids, "This is dinner. If you want to eat, you eat this" — and then, when they stare at me for a few minutes, I add "...or there might be some snacks coming your way now and again...."

What's the net effect on whether or not they look to the meal on the table as where they've got to go if they want to be fed?

Again, the whole point of the whole post.

Stefan said...

And Jugulum, I'm saying again that what Hadassah described does not fall into the category of prophecy.

It's something that happened to a non-believer in preparation for receiving the Gospel: not something that happened to a beliver that suggests the insufficiency of the Gospel. These are two fundamentally different things.

Strong Tower said...

What's the net effect on whether or not they look to the meal on the table as where they've got to go if they want to be fed?

Which is why I said: When you have removed the boundary the Lord becomes vengeful. And, the only way to appease his wrath against the walking away from his word, is to turn, and submit to it.

I also said in speaking about extra-biblical experience: I do not recommend it.

Simply because it is not needed. What is, is the Word. Though I cannot discount such occurances because there are too many unanswered questions, our response has to be: to avoid confusion, eat your dinner and don't expect treats, nor seek pasture elsewhere. And, don't think you're gonna get away with eating junk food on the sly. It will spoil your appetite and your father will find the empy food wrappers.

A good father, then will insist his children eat what he is feeding. And, I take it that Dan means a good Pastor/teacher feeding the word of God, prepared with care and love for those who need nourishment. So that when dad is no longer around or has to gone of unexpectedly to England, the kids know how and what to feed to themselves on their own.

Stefan said...

"So that when dad is no longer around or has to gone of unexpectedly to England, the kids know how and what to feed to themselves on their own."

LOL. What did Phil go there for? To set Rowan Williams straight? Have a debate with N.T. Wright? Chew the fat with Adrian Warnock? Some emergency Spurgeon stuff?

Craig Bennett said...

G'day Dan.

Thanks for taking my question seriously and posting the reply to it.

It seems that your answer has answered a question that I did not ask, or has assumed I am asking from a position that I am not.

Firstly I would say that in every example in Scripture of Angels appearing to an individual not one of those individuals were seeking one and therefore I do agree with you that we are not to seek such visitations.

The real basis behind my asking the question was in regards to your post about Angels appearing to certain individuals. If we were there at the time and told by Mary or Zach that a Angel had appeared to them and said xyz would we have believed them...?

Back to this current post though. It seems to me that Angels in the Scriptures appear for various reasons, some to help win wars, to provide food and comfort, to give a specific direction or lead the way - such as Peters escape from prison. And sometimes to guide someone into hearing the revelation of God - such as the examples given by some of the commentators about people being led somewhere to witness to some one else about Christ - again this is in keeping with the Scriptures such as the example of Peter and Cornelius when he was told someone would come and explain it to him...

Again I agree with you that we are not to seek God for angelic visitations. We are however told to seek God Himself and ask for his help in many ways and if God wants to answer that person through an angelic visitation why should you then say I doubt it?

Bill said...

Great post..again.

This reminds me of the response that the rich man received from Abraham when he asked to send Lazarus back and warn his brothers about their pending doom. He was told
"If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead"

I take from this that the Word of God (which before was given through the prophets and which has now been revealed and is closed in written format - not to mention has also come in the FLESH) is sufficient. If someone chooses not to accept the written Word by faith but rather needs to have some sort of supernatural experience to validate something then they just won't get it.

Bill

DJP said...

Hey, Craigh, you're certainly welcome.

Now, two funny things:

First, you begin by saying, "It seems that your answer has answered a question that I did not ask" -- and then you end by saying, "if God wants to answer that person through an angelic visitation why should you then say I doubt it?"

Which is EXACTLY the question I DID answer.

Next, you re-set your question in the days before the close of the Canon. Yep, I did not answer that question, and I still don't.

Craig Bennett said...

Dan,

I can see how you think it was funny.

My comment was two fold.
1.) I was talking about my question.
2.) I was then commenting in light of your post.

In regards to your latest post there are a couple of issues I think you need to address.

1.) It seems to me that you are saying / implying that every one who has an encounter with an Angel is seeking post Scriptural revelation.

2.) You imply that every one who has an encounter with an Angel is not serious about the Scriptures

3.) You then turn from looking at what the Scriptures say about Angels to using you post as a chance to tar and feather every Charismatic with the same brush, using rhetoric and building a straw man case against them.

Now in the scenario you painted I am one of the first to agree with you that it highly unlikely that God is going to send an angel to give extra biblical revelation.

To be honest and Biblical though we have to have the mindset of Scripture in that part of Gods provision in answering the prayers of his people for help and provision could be through sending an Angel.

The litmus test has to be through the testing of the Spirits, does it glorify Christ, or does it take away from him.

Now you might say that by talking about the experience you are not glorifying Christ, rather you are glorifying the experience and therefore the experience is not of God...

Yet that argument will not stand up to the scrutiny of Scripture for Scripture shows us that the many encounters various people had with Angels resulted in the glorifying of God / Christ.

Gordon Cheng said...

Many of the problems and questions regarding 'angels' simply evaporate when you completely translate the Greek word 'angelos' not as 'angel' (more a sexy transliteration than a translation) but as 'messenger'.

Of course, the messenger may only have a spiritual body (as evidenced by doing things like flying in the night sky), but more normally than not, the messenger is just another meat-based life form like your or I.

DJP said...

Well Craig, your last comment actually illustrates my point. THe interchange is becoming a bit wearying, though: you say A, I respond to A, you say "No no no, I wasn't talking about A, I was talking about B! And, besides, A." I respond to A and B, and you say, "No! Not A and B! C! And anyway, A and B!"

And I have long observed (and illustrated) both here and at my blog that Charismatics do share this trait with Mormons and Roman Catholics: every on-target Biblical criticism is a "straw man," which they emphatically reject.

And then illustrate.

DJP said...

BTW, to clarify the tone of the last — when I say "wearying," what I mean is hard for such an old man as I to keep pace with the change-ups. It wears me out. Not any other tone in which that could be taken.

Mike Riccardi said...

Dan,

I really appreciated this post. It was a great encouragement to me. I really admire the three of you guys if for no other reason because you so often articulate exactly what I'm thinking in such a way that I never could. It's tough to have all sorts of ideas and thoughts and then not be able to get them on paper (or a computer screen) in any sort of coherent fashion. This was one of those things that helped me do that.

So take heart. You're labor, though perhaps wearisome at times, is bearing fruit.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

So take heart. You're labor, though perhaps wearisome at times, is bearing fruit.

I agree Mike Riccardi. But I think there are severe critics of TeamPyro out there who would claim that it's rotten fruit!

Craig Bennett said...

I agree Mike Riccardi. But I think there are severe critics of TeamPyro out there who would claim that it's rotten fruit!

Only some of it, only some of it.

BTW Dan, I posted on the subject of speaking the truth in love which I think you have failed to do regarding this post.

You can check it out here

http://trinitariandance.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/speaking-the-truth-in-love/

Ian said...

We had an interesting thing happen at our church in the last year.

We purchased the old rectory from the church of England for our own use. (where the vicar lived) and decided to turn it into a day nursery for outreach into the community.
One of the things that was prayed over the building was that God would send his angels to project the whole site. One of the children in the church told his father that there was four angels at various points around the site.
One night this father was working in the church on the PA/AV systems on his own, when there was a knock on the door.
When he opened the door, he saw it was the police, who asked him if he could give access tot he nursery. Which he could not has he did not have the keys, but he was able to give access to the nursery garden.
The police had been called because screams had been heard coming from the garden area.
What they found was a young man who was very frightened and was screaming "get them away from me". He had hopped over the wall with the intention of robbing the nursery, but the angel had stopped him.
aalso a few years ago there was a pray event held in my local football stadium and when the same child went to the event, he asked his dad did you see the angels on the floodlight towers..
to which he replied No, and then asked his son if he had spoken to them. to which the son had said no, you should have seen the size of him.

so there are angels....

DJP said...

Craig, your link did not work.

I'd encourage anyone who wishes to, to read my post answering Craig's questions, and the subsequent comments, then read . I think it's very instructive.

David Castor said...

Many of the problems and questions regarding 'angels' simply evaporate when you completely translate the Greek word 'angelos' not as 'angel' (more a sexy transliteration than a translation) but as 'messenger'.

Of course, the messenger may only have a spiritual body (as evidenced by doing things like flying in the night sky), but more normally than not, the messenger is just another meat-based life form like your or I.


I hate to have to say it, but I agree with Gordon - who'd have bet on that? I've always thought that God would bring certain people into our lives when we needed them to minister to us in some way. These are our angels, and by closing our doors on these people, or indeed any people, we risk missing what God has to teach us.

Daryl said...

Thanks for the last link Dan.

I'll never understand why disagreeing with someone automatically becomes unloving...

You made a good, Scriptural case in this post.

Well done.

Johnny Dialectic said...

VERY instructive, Dan. I find it highly ironic, not to mention unfair in the extreme, to see the charge of "dishonesty" being leveled at a brother (indeed, a team of brothers) in a post about "speaking the truth in love."

I have been a longtime reader of this blog and have disagreed with some things. Even vigorously at times. But one thing I have never observed is dishonesty.

Sometimes there is a "failure to communicate" (which is apt to happen in a combox), but there is no question, in my mind, of TeamPyro's integrity in seeking after Truth and championing the Word of God.

jimbo said...

Excellent reminder, Dan. I attend a Christian and Missionary Alliance church and have been reading Tozer lately. I especially appreciate his take on this subject. The quote's a bit long, so I understand if you'd rather not post the whole thing, but I think it's an excellent defense of the sufficiency of Scripture.

"Some of my friends good-humoredly – and some a little bit severely – have called me a 'mystic.' Well I'd like to say this about any mysticism I may suppose to have. If an arch-angel from heaven were to come, and were to start giving me, telling me, teaching me, and giving me instruction, I'd ask him for the text. I'd say, 'Where's it say that in the Bible? I want to know.' And I would insist that it was according to the scriptures, because I do not believe in any extra-scriptural teachings, nor any anti-scriptural teachings, or any sub-scriptural teachings. I think we ought to put the emphasis where God puts it, and continue to put it there, and to expound the scriptures, and stay by the scriptures. I wouldn't – no matter if I saw a light above the light of the sun, I'd keep my mouth shut about it 'til I'd checked with Daniel and Revelation and the rest of the scriptures to see if it had any basis in truth. And if it didn't, I'd think I'd just eaten something I shouldn't, and I wouldn't say anything about it. Because I don't believe in anything that is unscriptural or that is anti-scripture."
— What Difference Does the Holy Spirit Make?, AW Tozer

Daryl said...

Jimbo,

That's a great quote. I love it.

dac said...

As Christians, we should expect the Holy Spirit to be active in our lives, conforming our minds and prompting actions to be more in alignment with God's.

Thus, it should not surprise us when opportunities, coincidences, promptings, happenstance and other things occur. It is not angels or karma or good luck - it is God within in us (and others) working things out according to his will.

David Castor said...

The quote's a bit long, so I understand if you'd rather not post the whole thing, but I think it's an excellent defense of the sufficiency of Scripture.

Well, it's not really a defence, is it? It's just a declaration of one man's obscurantism.

Libbie said...

obscurantism? To insist that an apparition proves 'revelation' from scripture? In what sense is the sufficiency of scripture an exercise in the withholding of knowledge? In what way is it vague?

Daryl said...

Ian said... "so there are angels...."

No one is saying there aren't, and no one should be saying that we develop our thinking on angels based on anecdotes and something a kid says he saw.

Stick with Scripture Ian, you'll do just fine.

Strong Tower said...

There' Believin

Then there's not.

Preson said...

Dan,
In your opinion, Which compiled books consisted of "the word" referred to in the Hebrews passage you referred to? Just the collected works they had in possession? Or do you think the author was looking forward to the entire cannon and decided NT books? And if so, did his audience know this?

Just wondering how different people interpret it (chronologically) when the Scripture speaks about itself in first person.

SolaMeanie said...

Aside from the angels question, it's bothered me for a long time that churches (including most of where I've fellowshipped over the years) insist on buying the hottest new video series, or hottest new book series, or hottest new curriculum for their Sunday school classes. All instead of merely cracking open a Bible to see what God's Word has to say.

Same thing about going to many "small groups" or "Bible studies." The last thing being studied is the Bible. I find it beyond irritating.

Craig Bennett said...

Hi Dan

I believe your post was dishonest for the following reason.

You assumed the person had been seeking God for extra Biblical revelation and so you spoke against what you assumed the person had or had not said to you.

What would you say to a person who lived in a Muslim country and had an encounter with an Angel which led that person to knowing Jesus? Would you still say exactly what you posted on your blog?

I think your posting was dishonest because you answered out of biased assumptions and not out of wanting to know the circumstances behind the persons experience. And therefore that is not love.

Blessings craig b

Stefan said...

Craig:

I and some other commentators have already addressed that question several times: a supernatural experience that happens to an unbeliever that brings the unbeliever to Christ.

What Dan addressed is a real or imagined supernatural experience that happens to a believer, that may lead the person away from Christ.

Craig Bennett said...

Yet Stefen,

Dan assumed that is what I was talking about! I asked him a more general question

What would your reaction be towards a person who said an angel appeared and spoke to them [sic] today?

He said this is what he would say to them...without any qualifications as to why they said it, he said he would doubt it...

And no where in my question or other posts was it mentioned about an encounter that led people away from Christ and in fact my question was asked in Dans post about Angels appearing to usher Christ in...

In my reply I said I agree with his what he said about people seeking God for extra Biblical revelation...but he did not tackle my question in a Biblical fashion.

DJP said...

I'll say as I've said before: I'm exceedingly grateful that this is all in the open, that any honest reader can see the whole exchange, that no one can bring a private, undocumented conversation as "testimony."

Strong Tower said...

"They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do."

Preson said- when the Scripture speaks about itself in first person

It is interesting, isn't it?

Then you asked-Or do you think the author was looking forward to the entire cannon and decided NT books?

The answer is also found in Hebrews: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

Or we could look here: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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."

The author, that is the source of Scripture is not a man, but the Lord. Now I want to be careful about this so that no one accuses me of deifying the text. However: "The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever." So the Scripture itself answers the question. Scripture was finished from everlasting to everlasting, `owlam- in Hebrew, and as you pointed out Scripture is not merely what is recorded in the texts, it is a Person, but one in whom completion is now the I AM.

And if so, did his audience know this?

They did not need to. There was nothing yet to be recorded that was not already. Let's see what Moses recorded that God said: "You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you." And Solomon: "Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar." Jesus: "Scripture cannot be broken". Paul: I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers,that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another." Peter: "And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." Looking forward to what John would say about the Sun of Righteousness) : "' Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.'" Which is capped by John with: "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

The cannon was completed before it was written. What is needed is the sure word of prophecy, the Gospel and he was the Lamb of God slain before the foundations of the World. Is there anything lacking in the books of Moses? Even in John's Gospel, he merely reiterated the Gospel found in the first chapters of Genesis; a light shining in the darkness, giving new life to that which was dead by the breath of God, electing each according to its kind... as the Preacher, the
the son of David, king in Jerusalem said through Solomon:

"Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises. The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after."

Beautiful recapitulation of the Gospel and why every generation must hear again that old, old story. But, to see the Scripture one must be anothen gennao.

Stefan said...

A more prosaic answer, with deference to Strong Tower:

During the apostolic time, Scripture consisted of what is now the Old Testament. But everything that's in the New Testament—everything that makes it "new"—was already there in the Hebrew Scriptures: both the kindness of God, and the severity of God. His grace towards repentant sinners. Salvation by grace alone through faith in God alone, mediated by the Passover Lamb to come. The salvation of God's chosen people from every nation, both Jews and Gentiles. The promise of a New Covenant (Jeremiah).

The story of Rahab in the book of Joshua is the essence of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry in a nutshell. It was all there already in the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms and the poetical books, just waiting to be crystallized by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers after the resurrection of Christ.

Strong Tower said...

Gotsta get me sum dat Prosaic!

My daughter suggested a by-line for my blog: "Words words words..." Then she told me it was the mutterings of some crazy Shakespere dude...


Enter HAMLET, reading
O, give me leave:
How does my good Lord Hamlet?

HAMLET

Well, God-a-mercy.

LORD POLONIUS

Do you know me, my lord?

HAMLET

Excellent well; you are a fishmonger.

LORD POLONIUS

Not I, my lord.

HAMLET

Then I would you were so honest a man.

LORD POLONIUS

Honest, my lord!

HAMLET

Ay, sir; to be honest, as this world goes, is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.

LORD POLONIUS

That's very true, my lord.

HAMLET

For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a god kissing carrion,--Have you a daughter?

LORD POLONIUS

I have, my lord.

HAMLET

Let her not walk i' the sun: conception is a blessing: but not as your daughter may conceive. Friend, look to 't.

LORD POLONIUS

[Aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter: yet he knew me not at first; he said I was a fishmonger: he is far gone, far gone: and truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love; very near this. I'll speak to him again. What do you read, my lord?

HAMLET

Words, words, words.

LORD POLONIUS

What is the matter, my lord?

HAMLET

Between who?

LORD POLONIUS

I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

HAMLET

Slanders, sir: for the satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams: all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.

LORD POLONIUS

[Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

HAMLET

Into my grave.

LORD POLONIUS

Indeed, that is out o' the air.

Aside
How pregnant sometimes his replies are! a happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave him, and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between him and my daughter.--My honourable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.

HAMLET

You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal: except my life, except my life, except my life.

LORD POLONIUS

Fare you well, my lord.

HAMLET

These tedious old fools!



Soli deo deference.

Preson said...

Stefan, Thanks. Well thought out, I would agree with that answer. There are many people that don't see the same story in the old and new testament. It wasn't a loaded question (like people usually assume they are).

I would also, like Dan, be very skeptical of extra biblical revelation, but not out of religious conviction, but more because I'm a skeptic by nature. I don't really think there is anything else that could be said that the scriptures don't address. God is in the business of redemption, and that's the story we see. But I always have to remember in the back of my mind, that God is not done communicating with us, so I'm always listening... at all times and through all mediums... and God is always prompting me, and giving me reminders that He's here, and He's working.

ezekiel said...

preson,

Mediums?

Isaiah 8:19 And when they say to you, Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? 20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

David Castor said...

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever."

It seems a very common tactic to evangelicals to apply their own meaning to words and phrases. Can you prove to me, Strong Tower, that "word of our God" necessarily relates to Scripture?

It seems like you've also taken several other verses out of context, including the reference from Revelation:

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

Quite clearly this refers to the book of Revelation itself, not the Protestant canon as you know it. And even if you did twist the meaning of that reference to include the Protestant canon how can you prove that (a) a book like Jude is intended to be in the canon and (b) the books of Maccabees were not?

Gordon Cheng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gordon Cheng said...

Anyway, how come everyone keeps ignoring me except David Castor? I don't even agree with David's stuff, but he at least had the good sense to see the intrinsic brilliance of my comment.

'Angel' means 'messenger' I tell you. It's that simple. So if we stop talking about 'angelic' visitations and start talking about visits from 'messengers' (which is the correct translation of the Greek as any fule kno), all Craig Bennett's problems are solved. Well one of them anyway, I know he has a couple more ( hi Craig-o! ;-) )

craig-o said What would your reaction be towards a person who said a messenger [correct translation, remember?] appeared and spoke to them [sic] today?

All of a sudden the question becomes somewhat mundane. And the correct answer is "Dunno, it happens to me all the time that someone brings me a message, so I really suppose it depends on what the message says. Are they telling me
I won the lottery, or is it just a bill from the water board?"

Anyway, you lot keep going. I like it when Craig-o gets caught up in another discussion, as it slows him down on the Sydney Anglicans forums a bit and that has to be a win all 'round, as Craig himself admits that the Sydney Anglican forums sometimes take too much of his time. Also my post count over there is now well ahead of his.

cheers all and carry on.

[and sorry about the delete just above, there were a few annoying typos I had to fix]

SolaMeanie said...

Strong Tower,

Hamlet? I believe that's the first time I've seen Shakespeare mentioned on TeamPyro.

However, we need to make this "relevant" for the 21st Century and the ex-hippies and De-Generation X-ers who make up the ...well, I won't say it. Anyway, here you are . . .

DJP said...

Oh. My. Bunions.

Now I get to spend the rest of the day finding a way to make one of the rules forbid linking to BeeGee's songs.

EVER.

Preson said...

ezekial, yeah, not the same thing. There are many variations on that word, you know what I mean, but since people love to change what people are saying to make them look like heretics (which we are all on some level), I'll explain.
God can speak to you at any time, through any medium (please use the contemporary meaning of that word, not the ancient). Christians know this, that's why there are Christian authors, and musicians, and artist, and bloggers, they are all displaying the truth of the Lord through their medium.
I have also been moved to worship through even the art and poetry of those who don't know the Lord because whether they know it or not, the fact that they breathe and think and attempt to make works of beauty is confirming the truth that God is real, and is the author of beauty and wisdom and life.

All of these things prompt me to be convicted, or to worship, or to meditate on the Lord. My relationship with Him invades every area of my life, and He is constantly reminding me of that.

That's what I meant.

ezekiel said...

Preson,

Yes, God can speak to us anytime. The real question, is what we are hearing actually from God? How do we tell? How do we know if it is from another source?

My next post explains how I look at it.

ezekiel said...

Gordon Cheng,

You ask:

“Quite clearly this refers to the book of Revelation itself, not the Protestant canon as you know it. And even if you did twist the meaning of that reference to include the Protestant canon how can you prove that (a) a book like Jude is intended to be in the canon and (b) the books of Maccabees were not?”

You prolly won’t be satisfied with this answer, just don’t want you thinking I am ignoring you. When the WORD tells us this, I believe Him.

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

The way I read this, the Holy Spirit can only tell us what He hears. Who does he hear it from? The WORD. The Authority.
Now it appears that you question the completeness or accuracy of the Word. By doing so, it seems you deny the power of a Sovereign God to communicate truth to us. His people.

So the same Rock that provided water in the desert for Israel, today has become less than fulfilling, less than adequate to keep us alive. (In your opinion)

Today (in your opinion) we need more than what we have to be saved. Today, we have the WORD, we have the Holy Spirit and yet you question if that is enough.

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. 25 These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, 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.

Now you are a free man. You make the choices you think are best for you. But when I read your post, I see you questioning God just as the Israelites did in the wilderness. The manna just wasn’t good enough. They wanted meat.

In the same way you grumble at the bread from heaven (John 6) and ask for meat. You question the completeness of the Word or the power of the Spirit.

Others look for signs and wonders, Angels and such.

Something for all to remember, all signs and wonders won’t be from God (2 Thes 2:9) and all angels are not of God either.

2 Cor 11: 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

The warning in Hebrews 2....

2 1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

That is good enough for me. I am a Son, a Brother (Heb 2:11). I judge angels (1 Cor 6:3).

Even when we call them messengers.

Ray Deck III said...

Someone said once that all of philosophy is just a footnote to Plato. In the same way, all of Christian preaching ,teaching, writing, blogging, and singing is just a footnote to the Scripture. There is nothing new under the sun, only new ways that the old truth is communicated.

I blog at raydeck3.wordpress.com & ministrytools.wordpress.com

SolaMeanie said...

LOL, Dan..

Although you have to admit, their earlier pre-disco material was better and more akin to English rock than the Saturday Night Fever stuff.

I could have linked you to "Semi Detached Suburban Mr. James" by Manfred Mann, but I thought that might get me banned.

Jim Pemberton said...

There are many comments and I haven't the patience to read them all so forgive me if I repeat anything.

"Angel", meaning "messenger", in the Bible refers sometimes to a class of created being designed to carry out the will of God bearing the sword of His word. It also refers sometimes to humans who do likewise (as in Revelation 3). The point of an angel is the message, not the messenger. While angelic beings are portrayed most gloriously, their purpose is to glorify God. That goes for people who would bear God's message (and I would extend this to all who otherwise unwittingly bear His image - sheep, goats and least of these all). Many who claim angelic visitation do so because they seek glory for themselves antithetically to this purpose.

Preson said...

Ezekiel, It's pretty easy to know. Even a child could.

ezekiel said...

Preson,

So why do we look for angels or listen to theologians?

Stefan said...

Ezekiel:

Your response to Gordon Cheng was actually to David Castor, who made the comment on Revelation 22.

Gordon Cheng is the one tousling with Craig Bennett on the Sydney Anglicans forum, which I've never checked out, but compared to which why do I suspect Team Pyro would look like a playground sandbox? ;)

ezekiel said...

stefan,

Thanks for pointing that out!

Sorry about that Gordon!

Gordon Cheng said...

No worries ezekiel, thanks stefan.

But my point was that 'angel' means 'messenger'.

I'd be happy to be ignored or mistaken for the evil David Castor if people picked up that point and engaged with it! ;-)

F Whittenburg said...

Is the discussion on the existence of spiritual beings or on our Biblical instructions to interact with them? Angelic visitations are spoken of through out the Bible, but I will only quote from the New Testament.

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have enertained angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2 KJV).

But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my tight hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:13,14 KJV)

This verse (Heb 1:13,14 KJV) says that a Christian has a ministering spirit (angel) sent to them by God. Another example of this is Paul’s shipwreck.

For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Ceaser: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee (Acts 27:23,24 KJV).

How did Paul know the angel was standing by him and the rest of the people on the ship couldn’t see him? The angel even spoke to Paul. Apparently this "appearence" was for protection and not revelation. I have one question. What are you suppose to do when your shadow moves and you do not?

Gordon Cheng said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gordon Cheng said...

Oh, and I just noticed jim pemberton just made almost exactly the same point as me. There you are—listen to him! At least he confessed to ignoring me, which is nice, I think...

Strong Tower said...

David,

I gave several references that all said the same thing. If, you can explain how Genesis is not a book of prophecy of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, perhaps Pyro will someday post on the Canon and we might engage the issue then.

Until then, I gotsta get me sum dat Prosaic...

pastorbrianculver said...

"hear and heed what He has already said. We don't need new, we don't need more. We need to deal with what He has given."

looks like our Mormon friends are going to not like that statement!! That comment seems to go against what many self-professing "Christians" believe. At the heart of their matter is the fact they don't want to have to deal with their sins. If they can create a god who is pleased with them regardless of their sinful lifestyles, then they are happy. We must go to the Word of God and see what the Word says in all matters!

thank you for this post, very good!

jeff said...

Dan,
Thanks for the good post. It made me open up the Bible. God bless.

Mike Riccardi said...

I have one question. What are you suppose [sic] to do when your shadow moves and you do not?

Get some sleep.

And stop watching scary movies before bed.

Revivalfire said...

I have to say, I find a lot of the content in this post and the comments rather frustrating since they impose certain assumptions upon the initial question.

Initial question

What would your reaction be towards a person who said an angel appeared and spoke to them [sic] today?

The imposed assumtions on the question are seen in this answer (and others like it within the comments)

Answer

So, to your question, I'd start out with the expectation that God Himself is unlikely to do something that would surely be turned into Excuse #47958 For Focusing On Something Other Than God's Inerrant, Abiding, Living, Sufficient Word, something that would birth books like "Walking with Angels" and "My Homey Gabriel," and seminars on finding your angelic guide.

Throughout the posts there are assumtions that the person who claimed the visitation was 'seeking' something extra.

the 2nd assumtion is that such a visitation would take away from the suficiency of scripture.

What you forget is that Scripture reveals Christ, Christ is living and sovereign. His revealed word reveals that he sends angelic messengers to do his will. Paul in sugessting that 'even if an angel form heaven should come preaching another gospel...' does not tell the church to reject such thing because angels dont visit, instead he calls the Galatians to discern the true and false gospel.

I think much of the content regarding the denial of angelic visitations actual detracts from the Soveregnty and glory of God, ironicly this is the very thing that many hear think they are defending.

John
http://revivalfire-johnsblog.blogspot.com/

Craig Bennett said...

G'day John

Your comment is exactly what I was trying to say.

Blessings craig b

Revivalfire said...

"G'day mate" ;)rxeb

So this is where you found my link lol

I have to admit I didnt have the time to wade through a hundred comments on a post that annoyed me, the few comments I did read just seemed to pat the blogger on the back and add further misrepresenations of the initial question! I have since read your comment and can only say Amen! Its a shame that people who shout so loudly about truth should excersise such intellectual dishonesty in these matters, but I guess bias blinds.

in Christ
John http://revivalfire-johnsblog.blogspot.com

DJP said...

F Whittenburg — those verses are all true, but your comment reads as if you read neither the post nor the comments. The question was "What if someone claimed an angelic visitation today?", and my response gave Scriptural elucidation as to why I'd doubt it.

Thankfully, my shadow has always behaved according to God's natural laws.

Revivalfire — you seem completely to have misread the post, as others did. Your admission that you didn't think it worth reading the discussion thus far before adding to it is telling, I'm afraid.

So here's a concluding summary of the case I built from a number of Scriptures:

Are professed believers today sufficiently attending to God's completed and sufficient Word?

No.

Has God ever been sanguine to the rejection off His Word?

No.

Given that, is God likely to do something at this moment that would surely STILL FURTHER distract attention from His Word?

No.

Hence my conclusion: I'd be disinclined to believe it.