04 May 2010

Is this the central issue in Christian thought, life and ministry? — 1

by Dan Phillips

Of course, the central issue is the Lordship of Christ. But there is an issue that I see coming in direct descent from that question: Is the Bible the one fully-sufficient source for all we need to know as Christians?

Note the careful wording. It doesn't deny that other resources can be helpful, be they creeds or commentaries or books or sermons. Nor does it assert that everything that can be known or that needs to be known on other subjects, is in the Bible. It simply asks whether the Bible is the one genuinely and truly sufficient source to teach us all we need to know, as Christians.

I want to think that all Christians would answer "Yes." Formally, surely Christians would answer "Yes." But I am coming to see that the rubber meets the road just at the point where practice parts from theory.

Charismatic leader Pat Robertson answered "No," for instance. On page 114 of his book The Plan (Nashville: Nelson, 1989), Robertson writes: “Probably 95 per cent of all the guidance we need as Christians is found in the clearly understood principles of the Holy Bible.” I have no doubt Robertson thought that he was exalting God's Word by according it such a large number: ninety-five per cent. Why, that's almost 100%!

Almost, but not quite. Math isn't my best subject, but I'm pretty sure that if you take away 95 from 100, you're left with 5. So five per cent of "all the guidance we need as Christians" is not "found in the clearly understood principles of the Holy Bible." Now, notice: Robertson says "clearly understood principles." So even legitimate extrapolation won't get us there. We simply must look someplace else for the guidance we "need as Christians."

Turning from what some might try to style extremist Charismaticism to doctrine accepted broadly within the good ol' Southern Baptist Convention, we have the Blackaby doctrine.

Once I attended an SB church where the pastor suddenly paused in his sermon, announced that the Holy Spirit had "told" him to stop preaching, and if he continued it would be in his own power — so he stopped. One wonders why the Spirit had not told him where to stop when he prepared his sermon. It leaves the impression that the Spirit changed His mind, which I'm confident this good brother would not affirm. Why would he do such a thing? On a hunch prompted by a thought from my dear wife, I asked him if he were an admirer of Blackaby's teaching.

"Oh yes," came the enthusiastic response. "We've taught that material here!"

A newcomer might well wonder, "What's the problem with the Blackabys?" I went into that at great length in a pair of posts titled "Non Sola Scriptura: the Blackaby view of God's will." The Blackabys sound very like Robertson when père et fils write that the Bible is "the primary way God communicates with His people" (How Then Should We Choose? [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2009; 55). There it is again: "the primary way" — 95%? more? less? — but far from the only way.

Of course, the whole unique contribution of the Blackabys is devoted to filling that gap. As I argue in the posts to which I linked, it is a massive chasm. Most of what we do (viewed one way) is not directly touched on by Scripture. Should I read Pyromaniacs? Using which browser? Which version of that browser? On what brand computer? What size monitor? At what resolution? With which OS? Accepting which security patches? Using which antivirus software — or should I "trust God" to protect my pc? And on and on and on and on.

That being the case, the Blackabys helpfully tell us how to listen to that non-inscripturated never-promised voice of God, to fill in the immense, continental gaps their view finds in Scripture. Since the Bible is absolutely silent on the subject, they must be (and are) very creative. Clearly what they are selling has resonated broadly within evangelicalism.

But let us return to the broad landscape of Charismaticism. I critiqued the language and thinking in Francis Chan's note about his decision to leave the church he pastors.  The critique was very upsetting to a couple of Tim Challies' readers. Yet here is maybe the central issue of my critique: I am simply asking the question, "Are you really saying that you are experiencing the inerrant prophetic revelation we see in the Bible as your language implies, or are you saying something else? If something else, where is the Biblical authority for it?"

As to Chan himself, I do not pretend to know. Perhaps he is "saying something else." If so, he is one in a vast company. Many Christians today are "saying something else." Not only are many Christians "saying something else," but they are passionately and insistently "saying something else." Touch that sacred cow, and you might as well have caught a rock with the same hand on the Sabbath in Jesus' day.

You will note in all the discussion that, like a modern Charismatic trying to instruct someone in how to get tongues (against the complete silence of the NT), the absence of data doesn't even slow the view's advocates. They'll appeal to Biblical stories of direct, verbal, inerrant revelation as analogous to their feelings and hunches and leadings. But they're not analogous. Are they saying that they're experiencing the same thing, or not? I observe that they will appeal to the Biblical story, then back off from it when confronted — but still insistently cling to it as analogous.

We should require honesty and candor, though, if nothing else.

If they are claiming the exact same experience we see in Scripture, then they must be called to say so explicitly. They need to tell Christians: "I hear God speaking to me in inerrant, binding, prophetic words."

For instance, a fellow on FreeRepublic (I don't want to send traffic to his blog) regularly posts words written in the personna of Jesus Christ. Written words of Jesus. Inerrant? Universally-binding on the conscience? I don't know if he thinks so. He should say so.

If they are not claiming the exact same experience we see in Scripture, they need to tell Christians: "I have a model of spirituality whose core premises I cannot directly demonstrate from the Bible. I do not see the Bible as fully-sufficient for all we need to know as Christians."

Believe it or not, all that was introductory. I plan to develop what I mean and make my point more specifically, in the next post.


Dan Phillips's signature


James Scott Bell said...

That's a whale of an intro, Dan, and I completely agree. It seems to me that those who claim, a la Robertson, a "5%" direct revelation zone, always give more authoritative credence to that than they do to Scripture itself.

Why? Because that does not require faithful study and perhaps some wise restraint before action. That's what looking to Scripture requires. But if I get a "Word from the Lord," then boom, nothing else to do.

Looking forward to the rest of the series.

VcdeChagn said...

Well, I sent this one to my mom with the subject line "Dan's at it again." She gets a kick out of your posts because she deals with a LOT of this.

So do I, being in a somewhat charismatic church (which, unfortunately due to the ebb and flow of the "feelings" of the members is like being "sort of" pregnant).

So thanks for the theological home run.

As a final note, somewhat disappointed that neither "chrome" nor "Google" are not in my concordance.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Good post. I have to say, the Evangelical church movement would be a lot less of a laughingstock if your principles denoted here, were applied universally.

DJP said...

Johnny, that's a terrific point and terrifically well-made. I'm seriously considering sticking it into the post, or the next.

The 5% becomes inflated into 95% of our lives.

Thanks for that.

Paul D said...

Dan - great post. Really looking forward to more. This is a terribly confused topic in the life of every Christian I know, including myself.

I think it's much easier to say "I feel led" to do such and such than take responsibility for a decision.

And It's really a show stopper when it comes to wisdom - "Have you considered what Jonah says about such and such?"...."Well, no - but I feel called to such and such."

jsmitchell said...

I'm sympathetic to Dan's argument. Yet I'm unsure how he views ambiguous (in the sense that they are not explicitly "direct, verbal, inerrant revelation") passages such as Lk 2:25-27, 12:11-12, Jn 14:25-26, Acts 9:1-2, 15:27-29, 16:6-7, 20:22-23. Of course there are plenty of examples where the Holy Spirit speaks directly and verbally, but are we to assume, though Scripture is not explicit in these other instances, that this is nevertheless still the case.

John said...

Phillips on Blackaby: agree 187%

Phillips on Chan: agree 192%

SB = Southern Bostwanian?

DJP said...

Sum Babdiss.

Stefan Ewing said...

The Bible:

You cannot subtractfrom it (through higher criticism or easy-believism) without denying its sufficiency and authority.

You cannot add to it (through legalism, ecclesial authority, or extra-scriptural revelation) without denying its sufficiency and authority.

David Regier said...

It's going to be tough to persuade a nation that believes that the Bible is made up of a bunch of verses that are inspiring rather than the whole inspired Word of God.

For 150 years, pastors have treated Bible verses as springboards for their own thoughts and Chicken Soup for their Congregations. Because people find out that these little inspiring encouragements only go so far, and they really aren't sufficient. So they have to figure out other sources to work from when the Bible verses fail.

You're really going to have to start with, "Gentlemen. . . THIS . . . is a football."

DJP said...

I think you're exactly right, David.

Plus, where They really go wrong is at the universally-agreed-upon observation, "The Bible does not tell us what to do about every detail of our lives. So...."

It's what comes after the "So."

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheldon said...

I think it also is a very short step to allowing the extra biblical revelation (or whatever it really is) to begin to override clear biblical precepts.

Unknown said...

Sorry, had to re-write my post due to bad html. Why didn't some "spirit" tell me about it without me having to check a guide that someone else wrote, or "lead" me to double-check my work? Oh, wait, that "be diligent" thing is OUR JOB in response to Scripture's teaching. I guess the work of the Holy Spirit is to aid us in studying, understanding and believing what God HAS ALREADY SAID and FINISHED SAYING. I guess... ;)

Here's what I meant:

I talk with people whose experiences run the gamut from "the L*rd told me" )when they mean they reasoned an answer based on what they know of Scripture) to "the S*pirit is leading us" to seek manifestations of things like gold dust and angel feathers. Angel feathers. Really.

No, really. Angel feathers.

Sigh. In these last days, God has spoken to us through His Son, and His Son said "THY WORD IS TRUTH."

Wycliffe and many others did not die for the right to have something CALLED God's Word and then patently ignored, which is what those who relegate it to ANY place but the SOLE source of instruction for the Christian.

TmanTroy said...

That's a true statement, that 5% could turn out to be much more in reality.

Brad Williams said...

Oh the stories that come to mind. The funny ones, not the sad ones.

Short story. As a young Christian I naively wandered into a conversation where some brethren were grousing about a member being persecuted at work. I was aghast! I said, "What happened?!"

They said, "Brad, it's awful. We went to Brownsville and the Holy Ghost fell on us. Now, some of us have the Holy Ghost shakes. One of our friends, her right arm, it starts shaking when she gets in the Spirit, and she can't quit because she doesn't want to quench the Spirit. It makes her unable to type at the bank while it's happening, and they are threatening to fire her if she doesn't quit it! What do you think about that?"

I said, "Weeelll...it seems to me that people went to Jesus to get rid of that sort of thing, not to catch it." (0.o)

And all of that happens because people do not take the Bible seriously.

Sheldon said...

I think part of the problem stems from the belief that God created the scriptures primarily to give us direction in our lives instead of primarily as a means of revealing Himself to us. Once the bible becomes about us and not about God then compromise is inevitable. The bible does not speak to every single things we do, as you pointed out Dan. But if it is supposed to then we have to seek out extra biblical revelation to determine what to do. If we operate with the understanding that the bible is not meant to specifically tell us how to spend every second of every day then the need for specific guidance for every second of every day disappears. Then we are free to search the scriptures to try to understand the Creator better so that we might love and serve Him better.

Stefan Ewing said...

On what David wrote—I hope this is not off-topic, because the question of the authority of Scripture is crucial to this issue:

The biggest myth or misconception about Scripture—in almost all camps Christian and non-Christian—from evangelicalism to lay Catholicism to much of Judaism to hardcore skepticism—is that the Bible is some random collection of sayings and stories, that it's a hodgepodge of different books and narratives, that the whole doesn't cohere together, that it's confusing or contradictory or not relevant for today.

At best, it means we can rip "inspiring" (thanks, David) verses out of context. Worse, it means we can make what we like of the bits of Scripture we like and ignore the rest. At worst, it means there's no hope for us as lost sinners before a holy and righteous God.

...And one of the most precious truths about the Bible is that the whole does cohere together, despite its being written by three dozen authors over some 1500 years, all under the inspiration of a single Author. That the books do complement and interpret each other, and that they do present a single, simple, coherent narrative from Genesis to Revelation: God's redemption of a people unto Himself through the broken body and shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. And that's the only hope for us as lost sinners before a holy and righteous God.

Gov98 said...

I had a conversation with an episcopalian who explained about their 3 legged stool...Scripture Reason and Tradition. Which all sounds really good, except when the rubber meets the road it just means that reason or tradition can trump Scripture. Scripture makes the opposite truth claim.

That is Scripture claims it is greater than reason (Let God be True and every man a liar) and tradition (you have by traditions of men abrogated the law of God).

The 5% like JD said grows and grows because that's the part were we get to do what we want, not what Scripture says.

Mark Patton said...

Sound. Biblical. Straightforward. I'm hooked. Keep 'em comin'.

Sheldon said...

Just to clarify my previous comment....

I do believe the bible is perfect and sufficient for everything we need. I just agree with Dan that a great deal of what we do is not "directly" addressed by scripture. As long as we believe scripture or God should directly guide every decision (like which browser should I use to read Pyromaniacs) then we find the need to invent revelation when the bible fails to provide it.

Unknown said...

Once more you are writing on a topic that I think about frequently, but can not articulate in this format. Thanks for your candor and we are praying for you.

Jessica Kramasz said...

Pastor Bob DeWaay preached a great sermon dealing with the very issue you mentioned - it can be found here:
Or go to http://twincityfellowship.com/archive.php - it's the sermon from Nov 4 2007.

The short answer is that we must test the "spirit" as we are told in 1John 4:
1 John 4

1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

The Holy Spirit will always preach Christ - just as He is found in the Scriptures.

David Regier said...

I was going to quote a verse or two from II Peter, but the whole book is pretty instructive regarding this matter regarding the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.

Thanks for the post, Dan. You have changed my thinking significantly in this area.

I'm framing your comment where you said you think I'm exactly right.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry, are you saying that God speaks outside of Scripture and that we can know if it's Him by testing the Spirit?

If you're not saying that, then ignore my question.

If you are, how do you propose that we test the spirit?

I'd say that we test the spirit by looking for how the Bible is being quoted. If it's not, it's not new information from God.
If it is new information, it's not God.
If it is a direct quote from Scripture then that's easy, God's Word is God's word.

Of course, that all falls within the understanding that God directs all things. So to say that God directed me to go here or there is like saying I stood up because I stood up.
God directs all of everyones lives, and so His will is always done. We don't need any further direction, He's got it all under control.

But, as I said, if your comment was agreeing with Dan...then you can ignore what I just wrote.

BTW Dan, does it seem to you (as it does me) that once the doctrine of providence is jettisoned, it's only natural to turn to extra-Biblical revelation as a means of making sure that God's will gets done?

I've had this conversation in the past, about whether God's will is always done, and it seems that those with charismatic leanings are the ones who most consistently insist God's will is patently not always done and that we need to hear "a word from God".

That's not to say that there are no Calvinistic Charismatics. It's just to say that I don't understand them...at all.

Matt Gumm said...

A friend of mine from church & I have been discussing the Chan thing, and your response to it, so your post here is very timely.

I'm hoping that at some point in this series you'll flesh out what you see as the role of the Spirit and the role of godly counsel. I love the strength of your statement on the sufficiency of Scripture, but it seems, at least on the face of it, to preclude any other guidance from God.

I know you don't believe that, so I would be interested in hearing how you see these things working together.

Tom said...

So Dan,

Do you believe like MacArthur that the Spirit does provide internal guidance and direction to the believer?

If so, how can a believer discern that guidance and direction?



Jessica Kramasz said...

Daryl, I agree with you completely...the Holy Spirit nevers gives us extra biblical revelation, ever. I was just trying to explain those passages that the other commentor had brought up. Most of the passages they referenced had to do with speaking. We can only know it was the Holy Spirit if the message stands up to the test of 1John 4. The Holy Spirit will always confess Christ, or cause us to. All we know of Christ is what we can find in Scripture - anything not found in Scripture is not binding or authoritative and we can't say that it is from God. Thanks for your comment, I really should have been more clear.

Jessica Kramasz said...

My line "Most of the passages they referenced had to do with speaking." Should have read "the Hoyl Spirit peaking"....
Ugh. Not my morning for writing!

Anonymous said...


No worries, your last line should have told me what I was looking for...

"...just as He is found in the Scriptures."

Anonymous said...


You asked

"If so, how can a believer discern that guidance and direction?"

I would ask this. If God works all things according to the counsel of His will, and if He's given us His all-sufficient Word in Scripture, then why would someone need to discern His guidance and direction, except in retrospect?

Matt Gumm said...

Daryl said: I would ask this. If God works all things according to the counsel of His will, and if He's given us His all-sufficient Word in Scripture, then why would someone need to discern His guidance and direction, except in retrospect?

Here's an example. We're looking for a new pastor at our church. Had more applicants than you can shake a stick at. We are trying to discern God's will for which candidate He has selected to lead our church, but it is only in retrospect to Him, not us.

This is part (but not all) of what prompted my question about the role of the Spirit and of godly counsel.

Anonymous said...


This is an all too important subject to be blogging about regardless of the theological side you may be on. There is simply too much fuzziness in our Christian language that leaves open confusion on this topic. As a Pastor I am having to deal with this all the time, over coffee, in discussions with people over how they are making decisions (it is "God's Will" you know), and in counseling.

God told me to comment to your post, so consider it as...


Scot said...

Dan, I deeply appreciate how you expose duplicity. You point out that "We believe X" but then you say, "Yes, but by your actions you really believe Y2K." Lords knows I need that kind of exposure in my life.

This topic is one I meditate on often as I was functionally a Blackabian for several years. A lot of what I've discovered would be that I denied Christ's command to "Fear Not" sprinkled with some Osteen "Your Best Life Now." I wanted to know the future would be great for me and I didn't want to put effort into figuring things out. I spent more time asking God what he wanted me to do rather than just obeying what he said.

I've learned that with freedom comes responsibility. God gave me much liberty in my Christian life, I need to learn to use it responsibly and in doing so give glory to my Creator and Redeemer.

Looking forward to this series.

Brad Williams said...

Well, God doesn't "tell" me to do a lot of stuff. But He has certainly ordained me some interesting conversations, I can tell you that.

wordsmith said...

Instead of the 80-20 rule, JD's got the 95-5 rule!

Larry Geiger said...

I'm a simple guy and I understand simple things.

Is this in any way accurate:

Bad: God told me to go do A.

Good: God's word says in Mark 16:15 - "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." After much study and prayer I have decided to do A.

John said...

Should I read Pyromaniacs? Using which browser?Which version of that browser? On what brand computer? What size monitor? At what resolution? With which OS? Accepting which security patches? Using which antivirus software — or should I "trust God" to protect my pc?

Yeah, God told me to use my macbook. Funny how we use common sense to determine things like what computer to buy, or what car to drive (I'll bet it was Consumer Reports, and not God that told you to buy that Camry), but we act like Muppets when it comes to really important things.

By the way, I have never heard of the Blackabys before.

Stefan Ewing said...


I'm a simple guy too, but what you wrote seems to be a very apt illustration: turning to God's certain and revealed Word for guidance in our lives.

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Mark B. Hanson said...

I want to completely re-craft the 3-legged stool analogy of Scripture, tradition and reason.

Scripture is the bicycle, and tradition the training wheels we need until we can interpret the Scriptures for ourselves. Always assuming it is an orthodox (not Orthodox) tradition.

And reason? Reason is the map. Fallen reason tempts us to steer the bicycle off to one of the pleasant roads to hell; redeemed reason draws from the Scriptures the map to heaven.

Have fun with this one.

Anonymous said...

Matt Gumm,

It would seem to me that selecting a pastor is kind of like finding a wife.
Instead of wasting time finding "the one", should we not look for those who are qualified (Biblically and whatever it is you're looking for in a wife), and to whom we are attracted, all the while making sure that we ourselves are qualified, and then marry the one who fits the bill, we are attracted to and who is attracted to us?

I think finding a pastor involves, finding a qualified candidate (and all that that entails, references, Biblical requirements, things your church would like to see) and then if you like the guy and he likes you...you've got yourself a pastor.

Finding "the one", in any situation, be it house, wife or pastor, seems to me to be problematic on just about every level.

Phil Johnson said...

Robertson's "95 percent" brought to mind this horrible video from James McDonald.

After totally butchering the question of how God speaks to us (treating even the Scriptures as a source of fortune-cookie-style guidance) McDonald arbitrarily assigns percentages to different mystical ways of hearing God "speak."

Though McDonald claims at the end that he has given us "biblical" guidelines for hearing from the Lord, there is nothing biblical about it--and I wonder where he got his percentages. (Perhaps they were revealed to him in a dream.)

I have to say I like Robertson's "95 percent" better than McDonald's scheme.

No, I take that back. I don't like either idea at all.

But when a leader like James McDonald (generally orthodox enough and capable of sound, biblical thinking) is touting such a mystical view of hearing from God, you know the evangelical movement is in deep trouble.

Jim Pemberton said...

The three-legged stool I learned is all scripture: Piety (devotional life), Study (learning about God) and Action (evangelism, teaching and exhortation).

There is no act of the Spirit that will controvert the scriptures. He does guide us using the scriptures and our study of how to apply them. More than once he has led me into situations and has given me what I needed to say. Normally, it comes out from the body of study I have done, but I know that the Spirit, who thinks more quickly than I, is prompting my discourse and can do naught by obey and gladly so for he is always faithful to the scriptures and always uses such activity for good purposes that he often shows me later.

Now, perhaps this is not prophecy. But it seems that it would be helpful to distinguish between such prompting and the false prophesy that we too often observe.

23rd of October said...

The comment on Robertson I fully understand but the comment on Francis Chan has me baffled. It appears he acted Biblicaly in leaving Cornerstone Church. Maybe in the following post I can learn more.

God's Grace!

Stefan Ewing said...


Oh, I wrote out a long comment and lost it!

Reason: Yes (in my own fallen and fallible opinion), provided that it is the handmaiden to Scripture and isn't elevated above Scripture as "Reason" with a capital "R," as has sadly been so often the case over the last 200-odd years.

Tradition: What kind of tradition? If we're talking creeds and confessions, don't they rather fall under the rubric of "reason"? (Except for the non-scriptural bits that sneak into our fallible human confessions!)

If we're talking just church tradition in general, this definitely fills out and informs our worship lives—our modes of worship and liturgy, our order of service, our music, our collective heritage—and can provide useful background information (e.g., studying the Didache to learn about life in one early Christian worship community; learning the meaning and significance of the four cups of wine in the Passover meal; citing the early fathers on authorship of the Gospels), but as far as guiding our interpretation of Scripture is concerned, I'm hesitant to go there....

Matt Gumm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Matt Gumm,

What I mean is, we look for "a one" not "the one".

God will supply "the one".

I guess my question would be this. Where in Scripture are we told to look for "the one" of anything?

Wyeth Duncan said...

Dan: Speaking of the extra-biblical “5%”, I wanted to briefly share an online experience I had a few weeks ago, and ask a couple questions.

One of my Facebook “friends”—a former high school classmate who now considers herself an “Apostle”—posted the following statement as a “status”:

“God’s Word carries the Faith it need to bring its own self to pass. But it must be continually spoken. ‘I have given you Creative Power… That Creative Power is produced by the Heart (Your spirit) then Form by your Tongue, and then Released out of your Mouth in a Word Form. ‘My Word is not Void of Power! No Word of Mine is powerless! It only becomes powerless when it is unspoken!’ Selah…”

I assume she considered this some kind of “prophetic” statement. I briefly commented that this statement was false and had no biblical support but, almost immediately, my comment was deleted (“I don't waste time debating with Religious spirits, I just cast them out!”). In the meantime, several others commented approvingly, rejoicing over the “dominion” and “authority” they’ve been given to “claim” whatever they want.

This kind “name-it-and-claim-it”/“word-of-faith” nonsense has spread like a cancer in parts of the church, and it seem like once someone swallows the lie it’s futile to try showing them how that teaching is in error. A week or so earlier, I asked another Facebook friend (another former high school classmate) for biblical support for her “word-of-faith” assertions. Her response was to “de-friend” me! It seems professing Christians just want to believe whatever they want to believe, and don’t want to be bothered with doctrinal facts. It’s quite discouraging.

My question: How would you handle a person like this? Outside the context of the local church, is it even worth the bother?


Matt Gumm said...

I said: Daryl: in many ways I agree with you.

Respectfully, though, you can't have more than one pastor (or spouse). In a real sense, we are looking for "the one," even if it can only be affirmed in retrospect.

Daryl said:
What I mean is, we look for "a one" not "the one".

God will supply "the one".

I guess my question would be this. Where in Scripture are we told to look for "the one" of anything?

That's a fair question. I think we may be tripping over semantics. I agree that for us it may be "a one," but that doesn't change the fact that it is still "the one" God has ordained. I don't say "the one" in the hand-wringing, oh-I-hope-I-don't-make-the-wrong-decision sense, but in the God-cares-about-and-orchestrates-every-detail-of-our-life sense.

DJP said...

Phil — Wow... there's even a chart.

I don't have words.

Well, except the ones I've written, and the ones I plan to write.

DJP said...

10/23 — read the article on Chan I linked to. It explains everything.

DJP said...

wwduncMy question: How would you handle a person like this?

Me? I'd probably start a web site, then do a blog, make a general nusiance of myself everywhere I could, then hope that someone like — oh, I don't know — Phil Johnson had a notion to partner up with me, then see if I could get some book contr....

Wait, I'm not helping, am I?

I'm being a smart-aleck (hel-lo? "Dan Phillips"?), but I actually do have a point. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). You have opportunities and abilities I can't touch. God gave them to you. Use them for all you're worth, in His service and to His glory.

Rachael Starke said...

..."we test the spirit by looking for how the Bible is being quoted:
If it's not, it's not new information from God.

If it is new information, it's not God.

If it is a direct quote from Scripture, then that's easy, God's Word is God's word."

That was really helpful, Daryl.

One of the things I run into in Reformed circles is a fear of talking about ordinary things we "want" to do without tacking on the magic letters D.V. at the end so as not to, you know, jinx it. Or be all unholy and stuff.

As if one of the things the Holy Spirit doesn't do is inform our wants through the means of grace (study of His word, prayer, fellowship, etc.), so that over time our wants align more and more with God's wants.

This is a great series. Or, I'm sure it will be, given that this is just the introduction. :)

donsands said...

"Is the Bible the one fully-sufficient source for all we need to know as Christians?"

Absolutely positively.

And what a blessing to live for, and walk with the Lord, having His Word in an abundance, and knowing the Holy Spirit will help me understand the truth of God.

Thanks for the post, and look forward to hearing the next one.

Kurt said...

Wow Dan, keep this coming please.

Question (possibly rhetorical):
Why do we stop short of calling this kind of false prophecy a sin?

Christians need to be warned He will discipline them for this behavior.

Thankfully not all shy away: Calvin called wanting to know the secret will of God wickedness in his institutes, and MacArthur called it false prophecy in a recent blog post over at gty.

The flesh desires to know, and we have all but lost the awareness that it is an evil desire.

Where is the shock and shame when people say "God told me so"? Especially when this phrase is used to manipulate and abuse on such a widespread basis. The horror, the horror... :-)

Henry said...

Interesting article DJP,

but I don't think it is persuasive:

1) Regarding your opening question I would first want to ask 'does scripture actually make this exact claim for itself'? This is a HUGE presupposition that you cannot just entitle yourself to. If Scripture itself indicates that I should be open to getting knowledge from a supernatural avenue then it would be disobedient not to do so.

2) I think you need to define your terms more clearly. What is meant by 'need'? As a Christian I 'need' to know which job I should take. I 'need' the insight of B.B. Warfield on the Inspiration of Scripture. And if God ordains a dream to be the means by which I escape a famine then I 'need' that dream.

Scripture itself indicates the 'need' for teachers in the church to help the saints know stuff (e.g. Acts 8:30-31) - Scripture is not sufficient to magically do this for me just by me reading its pages - God has ordained other channels of His truth, although all of it is ultimately sourced in Him (Bible included). But here on earth all other sources of knowledge must be subservient to Scripture and only Scripture can authorize all the doctrine we need to know and only Scripture is infallible as a source of truth.

Nobody can get by with a 'just me and my bible' approach. If it had not been for the insight of gifted teachers I would still be an Arminian and an Egalitarian. I am just too thick to figure it out myself with just the Bible. John Piper gave me the knowledge of why the Bible teaches Calvinism, Scripture alone did not do it for me, it required a skillful teacher also.

And this does not undermine the sufficiency of Scripture as the foundation for all doctrine we need to know - including the doctrine that we need help from outside the pages. But we should claim Scripture is sufficient for things it does not claim to be sufficient for - it is not sufficient to teach me about John Calvin's life, it is not sufficient to show me who to marry etc... God has ordained other means to answer these things.

3) As to your question "Are you really saying that you are experiencing inerrant prophetic revelation" - it is only possible to answer 'Perhaps' to this. We can never know with 100% certainty if it is God. I'm not a charismaniac but I do not see where Scripture has closed the door on supernatural communication for today. God is able to communicate inerrantly today. But how can one be 100% sure it is God communicating? You can't. You can only be sure if it is NOT God - if it contradicts a true doctrine.

But who said you need to be 100% certain? Jeremiah was unsure that one of his prophecies was from God until after it came to pass - Jer 32:8 'Then I knew it was the word of the Lord'.

I think God can (by the witness of the Spirit) make a prophecy clear enough to act on though, which is all that is needed. But there is no requirement that the receiver of a prophecy must be absolutely certain that it is of God - and this is why your question cannot be answered with a 'yes' or 'no', just a 'maybe'. Because of this, any revelation outside the Bible must always take a subservient place to the Bible which is the only Sure Word.

4) Why is genuine supernatural communication a problem? Many Bible characters benefited from it, why can't we? It worked for them when God deemed fit, why not me? Plus, we benefit from many other sources of knowledge outside the Bible (e.g. history books) so why is this particular source arbitrarily off-limits?

p.s. I would love to dialogue more here but have exams up until May 21st. Please can you delay your second post until then so that I can comment???:) Long shot I know, but if you want to hear an opposing view...

Mike Riccardi said...

Ok, so I'm a cessationist. I believe the canon is closed, and the Word of God sufficient, like it claims to be (2Tim 3:16; 2Pet 1:3).

But I have a question regarding your point about prophecy either being inerrant and authoritatively binding or not being prophecy. Do you think that the prophecy of NT prophets (like those mentioned in 1Cor 11) was inerrant and authoritatively binding? Was it on par with Scripture?

If so, why wasn't it enscripturated? Is there a legitimate category for inerrant, inspired, authoritative, non-canonized prophesy in the Apostolic age?

If NT prophesy wasn't inerrant and authoritatively binding, how would that be different than what we see today in conservative continuationist circles?

Trust me, I'm not jumping ship. Just would love to hear how cessationists like myself could provide helpful answers to those unsure or already in the continuationist camp.

Henry said...

Mike Riccardi:

"Trust me, I'm not jumping ship."

DJP is watching you. And so am I. If you dare give any hint of sympathy with continuitionism you are a damnable heretic and will burn in hell forever.


donsands said...

"Why is genuine supernatural communication a problem?"

If the Lord speaks a word, or sentence to you, or perhaps a paragraph, then you need to write it down and put it with the rest of His Word, I would think.

And if it isn't the Lord, then it's simply w person hearing himself think to himself, or herself.

Here's what I believe, and trust in, with all I can muster up to trust, and ask God to help my untrust:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths."

I pray each morning for the Father to give me the Holy Spirit, to help me, lead me, fill me, so that I might live for Christ, and bear fruit for His honor.
And in fact I pray this same prayer throughout the day.

Do I still get off track? Every day. I hate it when I do.

Is God's sovereign hand upon me when I am walking the fine line, and when I stray and wander?

Do I feel the Holy Spirit touch me and move me?
I believe that the peace, joy, and love of the Spirit, which is His fruit working in me is experimentally received and, also when I have heavy sorrow, and am grieved, this is an experince of the Holy Spirit in a believers heart.
I don't understand it all, and I can't really judge the subjective feekings I have. I simply rejoice in my salvation, and the truth that God lives in me; the Son, and the Father, through the Spirit, and my body is a temple.

The Pat Robertsons, James MacDonalds, Benny Hinns, the Blackabys, these are taking a lot of liberty, and it's dangerous for the sheep to be fed this kind of spiritual-thrills and frills doctrine.

Any way those are my thoughts. I still need to understand much more, and so I thank the Lord for TeamPyro, and for all who shared their hearts here.

Stefan Ewing said...


Regarding your first point, are you referring to the question, "Is the Bible the one fully-sufficient source for all we need to know as Christians?"

The Bible does in fact make that claim of itself, in Paul's second letter to Timothy:

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17)

So this means two things:

(1) ALL Scripture is breathed out by God—so we can't just ditch some parts of the Bible as not being relevant to us as believers.

(2) ...that the man of God may be competent, equipped for EVERY good work. This would seem to mean that there is no "good work" that Scripture cannot equip us for.

Getting to the point of being competent and equipped for every good work is facilitated by means of "teaching, ... reproof, ... correction, and ... training in righteousness."

Does the Holy Spirit guide us? Absolutely! Do godly elders, pastors, teachers help to guide us? Absolutely! Is God sovereign and is His hand of providence over every aspect of our lives? Absolutely! But in terms of God's direct communication to us, we have His Word.

Can He communicate with people by dreams and visions? Sure—He has the power to do whatever He wills to do. But we should not be seeking such experiences, we should not expect such experiences, and we must be very careful in judging the source of such experiences.

On your question 3, maybe this is a trite answer, but the difference between Jeremiah's prophecy-in-hindsight and you or me, is that his prophecy is canonized in Scripture, and therefore received as having definitely, authoritatively, and unambiguously been the work of the Holy Spirit.

On question 4, I'll make a full disclosure.

I wasn't raised to know the Bible, or in an environment where I would hear the Gospel. In the years before I was saved, I had four incidents of a seemingly supernatural nature, but at the time I didn't know what to make of them. In hindsight, they all only made sense after I was reborn in Christ.

But the thing is, that none of these incidents was of a revelatory or prophetic nature—they were all simply pointing a lost sinner to the Gospel.

DJP said...

halo... delay your second post until then so that I can comment....

I find that an interesting, and perhaps telling, turn of phrase.

Henry said...

I really should be studying, but:

Donsands said: "If the Lord speaks a word, or sentence to you, or perhaps a paragraph, then you need to write it down and put it with the rest of His Word"

You should tell that to Phillips daughters. And the Corinthians. Also, just out of interest, what makes you feel you can add this rule of yours to Scripture - I thought you believe the canon is sufficient and complete?

Stephan said: "ALL Scripture is breathed out by God—so we can't just ditch some parts of the Bible as not being relevant to us as believers."

Does that include 1Cor14:1?

DJP: You see straight through me:)

Love the blog!

Kurt K said...

Interesting discussion.

My best friend comes from an Assemblies of God background. I'm a cessationist, and she's a very skeptical continuationist. Her argument is that a lot of the tongues/prophecy is faked, but that the genuine article occasionally manifests. The real thing, she says, consists of a message comprised entirely of bits of scripture strung together in a way which is relevant to somebody present. She gives the example of a visiting family, new to the church and to charismaticism, who were profoundly moved by the message given, as if it applied directly to them.

This is the "real thing," according to her. The view has the strength of being entirely comprised of scripture. Of course, this is also a weakness of the approach, since the verses may or may not be properly interpreted. She also confesses that there's no way to judge whether or not the message is ordinary or extraordinary, even if it is "acceptable." That's another important distinction to make, I think. Just because such a message is "acceptable" doesn't necessarily mean that it was the Holy Spirit doing the speaking. And with tongues, the speaker can't even verify the interpretation anyway, right? That's very convenient, if you ask me.

Anonymous said...


I would say that those prophecies really were equivalent to Scripture when they were given. However, God saw fit to have them only available to those to whom they were immediately given.

So while they didn't become Scripture to us, they certainly must have had the same weight as any word of God, to the receivers.

We, on the other hand, know that Scripture, now complete, is sufficient, so no additional word is necessary or useful.

The OT is full of prophets giving words to kings and rulers, that never made it to Scripture. Still, those words must have been authoritative and binding, when given.

That'd be my thoughts anyways.

Mike Riccardi said...

Very helpful, Daryl. Thanks.

Stefan Ewing said...


That's interesting. Instead of agreeing, disagreeing, or even commenting on the substance of my answer to your question ("Is Scripture sufficient?"), you asked a completely different question.

donsands said...

"I thought you believe the canon is sufficient and complete?"

I do.

I just saying that if God speaks to you, as he does, for example, Benny Hinn, that Benny needs to put his book in with the Scriptures, right after Revelation perhaps.

I wish i could talk with Philip's daughters. Some day i shall. I'll make a point of doing just that.

DJP said...

You should tell that to Phillips daughters

There's only one Phillips daughter, and she affirms the sufficiency of Scripture.

donsands said...

"So while they didn't become Scripture to us, they certainly must have had the same weight as any word of God, to the receivers."-Daryl

Good thought.

Paul also wrote other epistles we don't have. Would love to read them.

jsmitchell said...

Redeemed1 - "Most of the passages they referenced had to do with [the Holy Spirit] speaking."

Actually, none of them explicitly refer to the Holy Spirit "speaking". Rather, the verses say, "it had been revealed ... by the Holy Spirit"; "the Holy Spirit will teach you"; "[we were] kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching in ... Asia"; "the Holy Spirit warns me"; etc. That's actually my point: Scripture doesn't reveal how the Holy Spirit revealed, taught, prevented, or warned in these passages, just that He did it.

I'm a cessationist. But is Dan asserting that the influence of the Holy Spirit (to do the things listed above) is included among those gifts that ended with the Apostolic Age?

Or is the argument that, although Scripture doesn't say it, the Holy Spirit accomplished those things referenced above by "direct, verbal" means?

By the way, I don't know how I managed to include Acts 9:1-2 in my list of passages, since it's not on topic.

Henry said...

Kurt K said: "she's a very skeptical continuationist. Her argument is that a lot of the tongues/prophecy is faked, but that the genuine article occasionally manifests"

I totally agree. I grew up in a charismatic church and almost became a cessationist because I think (and still do) that so much of what passes as 'prophecy' and 'tongues' is not the real thing at all. Hearing some people's attempt to speak in tongues strikes me as equally possible without God. You cessationists should try and then post some audio to see if there is much difference.

I think it is very harmful to churches to allow people to continue to do this because it makes people like me despise the gifts.

Rather, just as we don't allow a person who does not have a teaching gift to teach we should not allow a person who does not have a prophetic gift to prophesy. Yes they can be given a chance to see if they have it (privately perhaps is best?) but if they repeatedly get it wrong where it is verifiable and if the elders judge that nobody is really being encouraged by their endless prophesying then plug should be sharply pulled.

Unfortunately, IMO, pastors do not want to do this because there would not be much prophecy left - I think 95% of it would be wiped out in most charismatic churches.

But I think that would make the real thing much more appreciated when it does come along rather than being drowned out by the spurious all the time.

Ironically, I think most charismatics in practice do not obey 1Cor14:1 because they assume they already have the gift when they actually don't.

jsmitchell said...

Sorry Dan, I keep referring to you in the third person instead of directing these questions directly to you. Consider that to be my intent, although I covet responses from all.

Stefan Ewing said...


Now, that's a biblical response.

Beyond that, I won't say, because I'm "cautiously" cessationistic.

But I'm still bemused that your response to my answer to your question came in the form of a completely different question.

Kurt K said...

Hi Halo,

I'd wager that tongues and prophecies don't come out clearly on sermon recordings since )in my experience, at least) they come from Joe Sixpack in the congregation. Nobody rushes to hand him a microphone. As such, the prophecy doesn't get saved for future reference, even though if it were truly God speaking, I'd want to record it and add it to the prophecy-filled MP3 player attached to the back of my Bible with rubber bands. ;)

You also mentioned that "we should not allow a person who does not have a prophetic gift to prophesy." Isn't this difficult to apply, since the office of prophet is tied to the gift of prophecy, and the gifts wax and wane from week to week (one person speaks this week, another that week, the roles change)? Or does the prophetic gift linger on somebody who speaks week after week? This has been a debate between my friend and I, and I'd like to hear yours and others' opinions on the subject.

Henry said...


I wasn't being nasty, just polemical. Love you really! I just don't see how 2Tim3:16 excludes prophecy given that the very same author seemed to think it did not. Plus, that verse is largely referring to the OT, so on your logic we should not have allowed the NT to be added.

Daryl said: "I would say that those prophecies really were equivalent to Scripture when they were given. However, God saw fit to have them only available to those to whom they were immediately given"

The same could be said of prophecy today. The Body of Christ doesn't need to know that God told Joe Bloggs to take the job with Wall-mart. God has chosen to leave huge amounts of information out of Scripture, why do we assume that He would want every single prophecy included?

Donsands: I was asking where this rule comes from that we must put every true prophecy that is spoken in Scripture? I have not read that rule in the Bible.

And since I don't think Scripture teaches this I questioned if you really believe in the sufficiency of scripture - why else would you need to add this new authoritative rule for us to follow?

DJP said...

Halo - Don't have time to say much more than: you don't even seem to grasp the issue. Every shot you're rapid-firing is going wide. Wish I could get you to slow down, listen and think.

Henry said...

Hi Kurt,

Yeah I'm not totally made up on that yet. 1Cor14:29 says 'Let two or three prophets speak', which implies that we should only let people who have a genuine prophetic gift speak. I think mainly in the NT we see that the people who prophesy have a consistent gift (Agabus, DJP's daughter etc...) - the very fact that someone can be called a 'prophet' implies that they have a consistent gift.

However the Joel prophecy 'your sons and daughters shall prophesy' perhaps seems to be more wide ranging than that perhaps? And Paul encourages all believers to seek to prophesy (1Cor14:1). Also, Paul says after the bit I quoted from 1Cor14:29 that 'you may all prophesy one by one', I am not sure if this is referring just to the 2-3 prophets or the rest of the congregation. If the latter then we should be open to the possibility that any old Joe may be given a prophecy from God to share.

But Paul says "Are all prophets?" No. So there seems to be an expectation that at the very least not everyone operates in this gift regularly, just like not everyone has a teaching gift etc..

Stephan said: "Now, that's a biblical response."

I didn't even quote a scripture in support and yet you crown my anti-charismania response with such high praise! Please don't used my skepticism of charis-manic behavior as justification for your cessationism!

Ok, I really need to study, please don't ask me any more questions until Sunday.

Stefan Ewing said...


Thanks—that last response was more on point. I was anticipating that, and yes, Paul was certainly referring to the Old Testament. But we also have such verses as these:

Paul to Timothy: "For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,' and, 'The laborer deserves his wages'" (1 Tim 5:18), implying that Paul regarded Luke's Gospel (10:7) as Scripture on the same par as Deuteronomy.

And Peter to his audience: "There are some things in [Paul's letters] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16), which accords to Paul's letters the same status as the Old Testament.

Since Luke drew on other Gospels as well as eyewitness testimony, and since Matthew and Mark were sources for him or drew on the same body of testimony; and since Matthew, John, and Peter were all disciples of Jesus during His earthly ministry; and since Paul was only recognized as being an apostle after a LONG period of discernment by the other apostles; and since the author of Hebrews as well as James and Jude were contemporaneous with and accord with the other New Testament authors; and since all of them accord with Old Testament teaching; and in light of the teachings on discerning true and false prophets in Deuteronomy 13 and 18—these writings were received early on by the church as having been inspired by the Holy Spirit (some books earlier than other books, as we know from church history), and clearly, some of them were already regarded as such at the time that Peter and Paul wrote.

Stefan Ewing said...


I said it was a biblical response because it was in line with Paul's teaching on discerning (and discernment in exercising) spiritual gifts.

bp said...

Dan or Phil,
Call me wacky, but I didn't see McDonald's little talk as outlandish. Are you saying that God never gives a word of encouragement to someone via another person? We're not talking extra-biblical reveleations here, but just an encouragement. And are you saying that God never ever speaks to people via the Holy Spirit?

True example:
'bout 10 years ago I went through a VERY difficult time that started out as insomnia and turned into full-fledged anxiety. I barely slept at all for 2 1/2 months. One morning, after being awake all night, I felt flu-like sick. I remember telling the Lord I couldn't handle this too. I was so weak and filled with anxiety.

I was lying in bed, when my daughter (4 at the time) came running in and plopped a little book on my bed and said, "here mommy, I thought you might want this." And then she ran out. I didn't ask her for it. She was out playing with her sisters. After a few minutes I took it in my hands (it was "Our Daily Bread") and opened it up to that day's date. It had Phil 4:6 as the Scripture and the story talked about anxiety. She found this little booklet tucked in the pocket of my bible that was on the 2nd shelf of a coffee table. It was not out in the open by any means. Was this not a word from God?

Also, during this time, I (as only one of two times in my whole Christian life) felt/sensed the Lord actually saying some specific things to me over the course of 2 days. Are you saying you think this cannot be so and that I imagined it? Thanks.

DJP said...

Philippians 4:6 is the word of God.

bp said...

True. ok, so it's possible that God might bring to mind Scripture for someone to share with another person, but not anything else?

Also, can you comment on the last paragraph of my last post?

Bobby Grow said...


So it's not that the Spirit doesn't "speak," but that when He speaks to the "heart" (cf. Rom 8:16; I Jn 3:24) He speaks within the boundaries of His Word.

I've had the same kind of scenario that BP speaks about as I've been dealing with my cancer. In fact I've had two different nights where I've been distraught; and I just opened up the Word, once to Is. 43:1-3 and the other time to Jer. 29:11-14. I take both of these instances to be examples of God's comfort and "Word" to me in a very applied way. Not only that, but all throughout this process of finding out about my cancer and even until now; the Lord has been speaking to my heart, especially passages like John 11:4 and Matt. 21:21ff (and many more).

So for you, Dan, the issue isn't if the Lord speaks; rather the question seems to be, if in fact He speaks "new revelation" beyond His Word. Am I reading you right?

You believe that He "speaks" to the heart of His "sheep who know His voice," but that what He speaks is limited to what He has revealed in His Son as disclosed in Scripture; right?

Because I think I agree with you, but I just want to make sure.

I wouldn't say I'm a cessationist though; but not a so called continuationist either. The canon being closed (which I think functionally it is) I think as Mike R. refers to seems to be a separate issue.

... said...


Here is the book no one is talking about but everyone is apparently reading: it is #1 on the CBA bestseller list. And no, it is not The Shack.

Here is the list:

It is Sarah Young's book Jesus Calling. She has compiled daily devotional readings from the words that Jesus supposedly spoke to her.

It is a tragedy in the church that so many wish to find God speaking everywhere- except in His own Word.

I did find it a bit humorous that she bumped Chan's book to second place on the list. :)

DJP said...

bp, that is what this post was about, what the Chan article I linked to was about, what I plan the next post to be about, what we've/I've written repeatedly about (like for instance here). So maybe check out the past stuff, and please stay tuned.

donsands said...


I don't want to add Benny's book to the Bible.

I thought you might get that.

Benny says, "Thus says the Lord."

If this is true, (which it's not), then we need to study Benny's epsitle's and books, as we would the rest of the Word of God.

Tha's what i was saying. I guess my way of communicating failed once agian.

"...but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,"

" Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,"

The Prophets and Apostles were given the Holy Spirit to write God's Word for His beloved. And for the world, to bring conviction, for sin, for righteousness, and for judgment.

And these prophets were just sinners like us. They were fishermen, farmers, and tax-collectors; and scholars as well.

Do we have any apostles and prophets today?


Could God if He wanted, raise up a prophet like Elijah, or John the Baptist? Sure.

And if He does we will have no doubt, will we.

But for me, God's awesome blessing to His people is the precious Bible. It's a treasure. The Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that these things are so.

Those who are not the Holy Spirit's, will not embrace the Scriptures with a thankful heart, and love.

And the devil, has those who use the inerrant Bible for their self-righteous agendas as well, as the Pharisees were children of Satan, so the devil still has his so-called righteous servants; shining for the angel of light himself.

B.B. Warfield: "..how can I close without expression of thanks to Him who has so loved us as to give us so pure a record of His will,--God-given in all its parts, even though cast in the forms of human speech,--infallible in all its statements,--divine even to its smallest particle!" [From The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 1 Revelation And Inspiration]

David Rudd said...

point of clarification which may be helpful:

is this post about the sufficiency of Scripture or about the closure of the Canon? (or are the two identical in Dan's mind?)

Don, I understand where you're going when you said,

If the Lord speaks a word, or sentence to you, or perhaps a paragraph, then you need to write it down and put it with the rest of His Word, I would think.

But that wasn't John's methodology.
(John 21:25) Of course, we're not John!

Bobby Grow said...

David Rudd said:

is this post about the sufficiency of Scripture or about the closure of the Canon? (or are the two identical in Dan's mind?)

That's what I was wondering; maybe you'll get a response.

bp said...

Dan, I read both. Very interesting topic. Looking forward to the next installment. It's hard for me to agree with you 100% because there were 2 times in my life when I truly heard (not literally)/sensed/felt God say very specific things to me. He didn't tell me to go live here or there or to tell someone else something they should do, but (and I know this prolly sounds crazy), but I sensed Him telling me to do some specific things that were not Bible-related.

God was teaching me to trust Him during this time and looking back I can see how greatly my faith/trust in Him grew because of it. And mostly (there were other things), I sensed Him telling me repeatedly, "Look to Me" and "Trust Me", but I also sensed specific directives from Him. And it wasn't the usual "thoughts" that pop up in your head. They were definately not my own thoughts because I was not trusting Him. There was a battle going on within me at the time and I was losing..I was falling apart at the seams and had 5 young daughters to raise.

Anyway, that was too long. But as I said, I'm looking forward to reading your next article. Basically, I don't know what I believe. I know God spoke to me during this time, so I can't say God never speaks to people. Yet I have a friend who (via Joyce Meyers teachings, sadly) is always saying, "I sense God telling me this" and "I sense God telling me that". And I don't agree with that either.

donsands said...


What I was trying to say, which i didn't, was that when our modern day prophets, like David Wilkerson, or Benny Hinn, or Harold Camping, write down in their books, and writings, and then publish these words from God, we can join them with our Bibles, and should really.

Rachael Starke said...

phantom of the bookstore -

Seriously??? I think my head is going to explode.

Bobby Grow said...


It is clear from Scripture that the LORD speaks to His people, or sheep --- we know His voice (Jn 10:27). He bears witness with our spirit that we are his children (I Jn 3:24; Rom. 8:16) --- and this witness bearing is most needed in times of suffering (Rom. 8:17ff). He comforts us through the encouragement of brothers and sister in Christ (II Cor. 8:6) by being communicators of God's salvation and grace.

The Lord speaks to us in many ways; think of the OT, and how He "spoke" to Hagar (see Gen. 16) --- she was neither a prophet nor the Son of a prophet --- but the Lord encouraged her in a great time of suffering and need (and, of course this was all within the framework of her relationship to God's covenant people under the "umbrella" of Abram). Or think of Abimelech (see Gen. 20:6), Yahweh spoke to him (an unbeliever even) in a dream (again the context is in relation to Abraham, God's choice for bringing salvation to the nations). There are plenty of other examples that should at least "suggest" that the Lord still "speaks" to His people. Of course this speaking is surely centred on Him "speaking to us in these last days" by His SON (Heb. 1:2) mediated through His Apostles (and thus we have an objective criterion by which we can test whether "He is speaking" or another "spirit" I Jn 4 is). But to limit God's ability to encourage the hearts of His "suffering" people --- when it is in line with His Word --- is overstated.

I appreciate the tension you struggle with. Certainly TBN style Christianity is off the mark; they speak beyond God's Word, and unfortunately many who follow them adopt the same paradigm for making "decisions" in their daily life (i.e. "beyond revelation" and not "controlled by it"). But I believe that God can and does indeed "speak" to the hearts of "His people" in order to encourage them and point them further and deeper into Jesus (cf. Jn 14--16). The anchor of all of this speaking is "God's Word," and thus we are able to objectively test whether "what we're hearing" is indeed God's Word (it will always point us to Jesus).

Bobby Grow said...


Of course all that I'm saying presupposes that we know and are filled with God's Word (the scriptures). If we don't know the Word, then I would imagine that He will often seem silent. All that I'm saying is that I believe that we have the objective written Word, and we also have the divine author of that Word present in our lives (Rom. 8:10). So what we "hear" subjectively is proportionate to what has been given objectively by the same author (the Holy Spirit). And further, "He" is able to apply His Word to our individual situations (from all kinds of context within the scriptures); as long as those personal applications are consistent with the general principle of whatever passage He is choosing to give to us in applied ways. In other words, say you're suffering; concerned that you may have a deadly illness that might take your life, and in the moment of deep concern the Holy Spirit comes to you and provides you with a passage like Jer. 29:11. The context is referring to God's covenant people, Israel; but the principle is that God provides hope and a real concrete future for His people. So the Holy Spirit is free to apply this scripture to a situation, like a health issue, that provides you or me with a real hope (because we see that God is a God of hope). I hope this makes sense. This is how the Lord has been speaking to me lately (in large measure); and I have no doubt that it's Him.

Stefan Ewing said...


Oh boy, here goes.

You're not alone. I went through a spiritual crisis about two years before I came to faith in Christ, and underwent a series of strange "coincidences" that put me squarely on the road to the Cross—even though it took another two years to get there.

Among other things, in the midst of this, certain words came to mind—not spoken words, but certain distinct words that came either from my own subconscious, or seemingly from somewhere outside of myself.

As it turned out, they were the exact words to prepare me for and sustain me through the next two years, which turned out to be two of the roughest and most testing years of my wife's and my lives, and which ultimately helped to lead me to the Cross.

I cannot and would not definitively say that the words came from God. I emphatically did not hear an audible voice, but rather that these words were simply brought to mind, from either my own subconscious, or through some internal or external mechanism. And I would not dare to put any of this in the category of prophecy or ongoing revelation.

I would only make the general affirmation that God can and does work through whatever means He ordains to bring lost sinners to salvation, and in light of the ensuing circumstances in my case, these words did help to lead me to hearing and receiving the Gospel, and to repentance and salvation.

Bobby Grow said...


Sounds like the work of the Holy Spirit to me (cf. Jn 14--16); why not just attribute "those words" to Him. You describe well what I am "trying" to "sloppily" communicate myself; there is a "sense" wherein God is "able" communicate to His people through. I've been being encouraged by God's "still small voice" (sorry a bit midrashic) through this rather desparate time in my (and my families) life. It is always encouraging, always points me to Jesus, and always is grounded within the "principles" of God's more sure Word! Thank you for sharing this, Stefan; I think folks in "healthy" situations (i.e. non-TBN circles) are often afraid to admit that they've been encouraged by the LORD in these ways.

Btw, I would appreciate all of your prayers; I'm going in for serious/complicated cancer surgery May 6th (either I'm cured or not, and I think I will be, trusting the Lord).

Aric said...

I am looking forward to the rest of this series. My wife and I just were talking about the Holy Spirit speaking to people this morning before I left for work; then – volia – here’s DJP with a post I needed. As a recovering Charismatic/Pentecostal, I wrestle with this subject often. I think a main sticking point is that when someone like DJP says what he does about God speaking, the Charismatic hears “God could never, never, never, ever, ever do that.” Rather than realizing that, yeah, God may do something miraculous. HOWEVER, by definition a miracle is something out of the ordinary and not expected to be the norm (hence the word normative as compared to miraculous). So, I will wait and read. Thanks for picking my brain on a regular basis.

One true story to add to the weird file: wife and kids are having a picnic. Daughter (5 at the time) suddenly looks startled and says to wife, “God just told me you were going to have a baby in the fall.” Sweet and all, but I had not yet had my vasectomy reversal; nor had I even discussed that with my wife. Long, painful story short, I had the reversal and we had a baby that November. True but weird. Was it God? No way to prove it, but it is interesting.

donsands said...

"I would appreciate all of your prayers" -Bobby

I shall go to our Lord's throne of grace for you brother.

SolaMommy said...

Great post, Dan. Looking forward to the rest of the series. This topic reminds me of a Beth Moore conference I attended in 2005...she is very into this "word from the Lord" idea, and I have yet to meet more than a few women who have picked up on the danger of that. Maybe they do exist and they're Pyro fans :-)

bp said...

Bobby, I totally agree. I def.feel shy sharing this experience, especially with friends who I know are skeptical of this ever happening. But God really ministered to me in a very personal way during this trial and I know it was Him.

I will pray for you, brother.

bp said...

Stefan, one thing that distinguishes this experience (and one other) is that I KNOW that they were not my own thoughts. Very different than the normal conviction of the Spirit or thoughts that I have where I think maybe God is telling me something or teaching me something here and there. Very set apart from that. Did you feel that way in your situation? (you say that you can not definately say the words came from the Lord).

Stefan Ewing said...


That's in two days! Don said it better than I could, but I too will pray for you.


I'll be honest, and say that it the time, it certainly felt as if the words came from God—promptings of the Holy Spirit, as I would put it in hindsight—but I can say that with 100% definitive certainty? No. Did it square with Scripture? Yes. Did it lead me to Christ? Yes. Okay, so insofar as the natural man wants nothing to do with Christ, then we can reason that it probably came from God.

But to put it another way, Isaiah knew when God was speaking to him in the Temple. John knew when he was receiving a revelation from God on the island of Patmos.

We can tentatively ascribe things to the workings of the Holy Spirit in hindsights, but the only Words of God that we can definitively say with full assurance are unmistakably from Him are His revealed words in Holy Scripture.

Stefan Ewing said...

Oh, so many typos, and no time to correct them! You get the idea.

Verification word: "cessest." Make of that what you will!

Anonymous said...

The "pretty sure" its from God thing is really a non-starter for me.

As Stefan (I still think Sewing...) said, in Scripture, the prophets always knew without question. And not just in hindsight either.

There is also the thing about Satan being an angel of light. Is it not possible for him to provide encouraging stuff, almost as a setup for later attempts at delusion? (What else would an angel of light do?)
I say this because if that's on the table (and I don't see how it can't be) then how can we ever determine that a "word" was God?

In all of this, for those who say God speaks apart from Scripture, how can that be tested?

Rick Potter said...

Was the word of God sufficient to the people of Isaiah's day when Isaiah 28:11-12 was given? What happened when they would not listen? Isn't it Paul's theological conclusion in 1 Cor. 14:21 that the inappropriateness of the use of tongues in congregational setting is based exactly on Israel's salvation history? Was not this "stammering speech" the stigma of alienation?

Merrilee Stevenson said...

While I didn't have the time to read all the comments, I just wanted to say that I'm so glad you're doing this. I've been wanting to go back and take a critical look at the Blackaby stuff (EG) that I did in college, because I'm hoping my hindsight will be 20/20 to be able to see the problems with it that I just couldn't see back then. My parents are going through the EG stuff right now and enjoying it, but I mentioned to them my reservations about it, and questioning how much of it is actually scriptural. I'll have to do some homework (read your previous stuff/links) to prepare for your next installment. With anticipation.

Bobby Grow said...

Don, Stefan, and BP

Thank you for the prayers, guys; yeah, only two days away -- nervous and excited at the same time.

Daryl said:

Is it not possible for him to provide encouraging stuff, almost as a setup for later attempts at delusion?

That's why we have the Word of God to test "our thoughts" against God's. But like scripture says, His sheep know His voice.

I guess my question is on what basis do folks say that God does not "speak" to His children. The context of Heb. 1:2, since this is a crux passage on this, needs to be exegeted or developed further to understand what in fact that means in its context. I'm hoping Dan addresses this passage and develops it further in his next post/postings on this.

In fact Acts 2 says that:

'In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.

The question this at least raises is if this should be viewed as normative or only particularized to the situation that Peter is addressing in the context there; relative to what the Lord would be doing in His Church in the "Last Days" (which we've been in since Christ ascended, and will be in until He comes again).

The context seems to universalize this given Peter's application and reference to "Last Days," as if the Lord would be communicating this way during and throughout the "Last Days." If in fact God does communicate this way --- given the "need" --- it could in no way contradict or go beyond what He has already established as "His Word" (the canon of scripture); since presumably any "visions or dreams" would be from the same God.

Of course given the narrative nature of Acts we have a "descriptive" thing going on here; so we would, again, have to flesh out how this passage should be taken --- wondering if it has "prescriptive" or "normative" force today.

These are some of the things I'm thinking through.

Rick Potter said...

Bobby Grow: says "I guess my question is on what basis do folks say that God does not "speak" to His children. The context of Heb. 1:2, since this is a crux passage on this, needs to be exegeted or developed further to understand what in fact that means in its context."

I like this. It's a very good question. As I look at Hebrews and think of the many passages that speak of "inheritance" (such as 1:14; 6:12, 17; 9:15; 11:7–8; 12:17) as a key theme, I'm guided to Ps. 2:7,8 which speaks of the Son's coronation. (Heb. 1:5 quotes Ps. 2:7). So, in my thinking, God, as He has "spoken to us by His Son", is a reminder to me of my inheritance "in Him" (1 Peter 1:4 and especially Rev. 21:7) especially due to the eschatological import of Ps. 2:8.

I'm sure this is much less than Dan will show. Just my thoughts.

I will be praying for you also.

Bobby Grow said...


Thank you for the prayers, brother!

I totally agree with you on the inheritance point; there is no doubt that the context speaks to that.

In the past I have often used this passage as a prooftext to counter the idea that God speaks to us today (i.e. in the pentecostal sense). But as I look at the context further --- both near and far --- the author certainly is contrasting the revelation provided by the son as "ultimate" or supreme to the "penultimate" (the prophets, and by tradition the "angels" see Gal 3) revelation that "only" (in shadow like form) pointed us to Him (thinking of passages like Jn 5:39 as well). Considering that the argument of the book is to undercut the idea that going back to the "old" (covenant and Judaism) is good idea; I would say the author kicks this off just right by making clear His thesis statement --- The Son is greater than the prophets who spoke of Him and the angels who are "only" ministering servants (1:14). So we should hear Him.

Given the context of this passage, and understanding the basic arguement of the book, then; can it be applied to counter the idea that God "speaks" today (at least in the ways I've tried to highlight above)? I would say strictly speaking, no.

I'll have to do a deeper study on this when I get the chance. I appreciate your insight, Rick; the inheritance is well taken, and certainly the main part of the authors arguement to kick it off, so to speak.

Again, I appreciate your prayers; and I appreciate HIS prayers too (Heb. 7:25 ;-).

The Squirrel said...

In response to...
You should tell that to Phillips daughters...
DJP said...
There's only one Phillips daughter, and she affirms the sufficiency of Scripture...



Stefan Ewing said...

BP, Bobby, Daryl:

First of all, I'm just a sinner saved by the grace of God, so nobody should take my word for anything. I just didn't want BP to think she was out to lunch.

Secondly, Daryl's caution is well advised.

Thirdly, I would not consider anything I wrote in previous comments to come within a football field's length of Joel 2 or Acts 2.

Fourthly, I still agree with Dan's statement, that "the Bible the one fully-sufficient source for all we need to know as Christians."

Fifthly, we should certainly not make decisions based on experientialism, but only by dwelling in the Spirit-breathed, revealed, all-sufficient, written Word of God. ...Meaning reading it, studying it, hearing it taught from a competent teacher, and praying on it.

The Holy Spirit might work through all kinds of means to guide, comfort, convict, or strengthen us, and we can look back on certain situations and thank God for His providence.

But we all know the damage and deceit that is done in the name of "God told me to..."—to individuals, families, churches, and our witness to the world.

Oh, and one more thing. How many times is a theophany in the Bible accompanied by terrible fear and dread in the human witness? (E.g., Isaiah 6:5; Daniel 10:10; Matthew 17:6.) How many injunctions are there against false prophecy? And what about Nadab, Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-2) and Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:7)?

Why do we Christians have so little fear in worshipping God so cavalierly, or in claiming that we have some kind of direct revelation from God?

When some big name TV preacher says something like, "I saw the Lord last night in blinding light and fire, surrounded by fearsome angels, and I was so filled with dread that I got down on my hands and knees and repented for my sins and the sins of my congregation...," then I'll listen.

Henry said...

Daryl said:

in Scripture, the prophets always knew without question. And not just in hindsight either.

That is not true. Read Jeremiah 32:8 for example.

davidinflorida said...

Most Pastors that I know have said that they were "called" to preach the WORD and be in the ministry full time.

Did they find this in the BIBLE , or did they get the "call " some other way?

Stefan Ewing said...


Okay, so that's a good counter-example.

But what does it mean? It means that Jeremiah had to test the prophecy in 32:7, to know whether it was from God or not (Deuteronomy 18:22).

When it came to pass, then he knew that it was from God, whereas before (implicitly), he couldn't be sure.

And there is no indication that between the time when he heard the prophecy and when it came to pass, that he told anyone, "Thus says the Lord," because (implicitly) in this case he wasn't sure whether it was from God or not, until it came to pass.

It's also noteworthy that even though this prophecy was related to the purchase of a property, it was the polar opposite of a Joel Osteen-style real estate transaction.

The purpose of the purchase was not to enrich Jeremiah—in fact, this was a losing deal: 17 shekels of silver for a property that would soon be as inaccessible to him as some nice swamp lots in Florida.

The purpose of the transaction was rather to demonstrate God's covenantal faithfulness to the remnant of Israel, even in light of the impending devastation at the hands of the Babylonians, and the impending 70-year exile.

Anonymous said...

Halo, read the whole passage...here's just a bit of it:

Jeremiah 32:8-9

"Then, just as the LORD had said, my cousin Hanamel came to me in the courtyard of the guard and said, 'Buy my field at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. Since it is your right to redeem it and possess it, buy it for yourself.'
"I knew that this was the word of the LORD; so I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver.

There's nothing there about Jeremiah not knowing it was God. In fact, he begins in verse 7 by saying "The word of the Lord came to me saying..."

All Jeremiah was saying there was that since he knew it was the word of the Lord, he bought the field.

Remember something...the punishment in the OT for claiming to be a prophet, when you aren't, is death.
Remember also, that the same passage that calls for your head, also says "Do not fear him, he is not a prophet."
Do you really thing that Jeremiah, a faithful prophet if ever there was one, would put it all on the line for a "it might have been God but I don't know" moment?

It's clear, if you don't know 100% for sure, you're not a prophet. And if you're not a prophet, it's not God.

Stefan Ewing said...

And to synch up my reply with Daryl's:

Until Hanamel came to Jeremiah, there is no indication that Jeremiah was certain that what he had discerned had come from God.

And so he did NOT go to Hanamel and say, "God told me to buy this property."

But when Hanamel came to him and said exactly what had been foreseen, then Jeremiah knew it was from God—all the more so because of the totally improbable and metaphorical nature of the property transaction involved.

So that when Jeremiah was reciting all this to Zedekiah after the fact (see verses 1 to 6), he could say with certainty to the king that this had come from God—even though he was already in prison and knew that prophesying doom and destruction to an unrighteous absolute monarch is a dumb idea (in worldly terms), and even though he knew that the biblical punishment for blasphemously claiming to be a prophet of God is death.

Anonymous said...


Not to belabour this point...but verse 6 says "The word of the LORD came to me: Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, 'Buy my field at Anathoth, because as nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.'

I don't see any testing or uncertainty there at all. I see God telling Jeremiah that Hanamel was going to come and tell Jeremiah to buy a field. And then it happened.

I have to wonder if Halo was looking for a verse the legitimized not being sure that God was really talking...if so, I don't think that's the verse to use, and I don't think such a verse exists.

Stefan Ewing said...


Even if my interpretation were correct (and I'm not saying that it is or isn't), it still doesn't legitimate categorically assigning hunches, leadings, words, etc. to God. But John Gill agrees with me, for what that's worth.

I was also wrong about saying that Jeremiah said these words to Zedekiah. Most commentators seem to place verses 6 and following in prison, after Jeremiah was brought before Zedekiah.

All the same, this much is clear:

(1) Jeremiah did not do a "God told me to buy this property."

(2) When Hanamel came to him (if not before), Jeremiah knew unambiguously that this was from God.

(3) The unworldly and metaphorical nature of the transaction totally goes against every charismatic teaching.

Henry said...


1) Jeremiah 32:8 says: "Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord." This grammar implies that before 'then' he was *not* so certain that the prophecy he received in vs6 was from God.

Another similar example is Zechariah 4. Read the context and note what the angel says to him in verse 9: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you." This clearly implies that prior to the prophecy taking place he would not be as certain that this was really God.

There are also many places in scripture where God admonishes a person for not fully believing a divine revelation. See Jer 32:24-27 for example. Or Gideon and the fleece (Judges 6:36). Or Sarah the wife of Abraham (Gen 18:9-15). Or John the Baptist's father (Luke 1:20).

2) The aforementioned examples contradict your claim that a prophet is always certain whether a revelation they receive is from God or not.

I would like to know the biblical basis for this claim of yours. Where is it clearly taught in scripture?

3) It is also clear that in the New Testament people may not be sure if a prophecy is real or not. That is why Paul instructs the Corinthians to 'weigh what is said' concerning prophecy and to 'test' it. (1Cor14:29 and 1Thess5:20). Are prophets exempt from this command to test their own revelations? If not, then it implies they might get it wrong.

Daryl also said: "Remember something...the punishment in the OT for claiming to be a prophet, when you aren't, is death.

I don't think that is totally accurate. Read Deut 13:1-5 and Deaut 18:20-22. I don't think you can conclude from this that the honest person who genuinely thought he had a true prophecy but was repentant when he was mistaken must be put to death. Rather it is speaking of those who 'because he taught rebellion' and 'speaks in the name of other gods' and because he speaks 'presumptuously'.

Now I think this would make a lot of modern day 'prophets' guilty, but not the honest saint who made a mistake just like the mistaken saints in Acts 21:4.

Also, punishment for adultery in the OT was also death. I assume you do not think that applies in the New Covenant. Do you think think a modern prophet should be killed if gets it wrong? Why did Paul only tell the Corinthians and Thessolonians to 'weigh' and 'test' what the prophets said - why did he not command that they should be stoned also?

Rick Potter said...


Your reference to Gal. 3 reminded me of Calvin's good words. "What did the Law and the Prophets deliver to the men of their time? They gave a foretaste of that wisdom which was one day to be clearly manifested, and showed it afar off. But where Christ can be pointed to with the finger, there the kingdom of God is manifested. In him are contained all the treasures of wisdom and understanding, and by these we penetrate almost to the very shrine of heaven."

Source: Calvin, J. Institutes of the Christian religion. (II, xi, 5).

Jim Pemberton said...

This has been a helpful discussion. I'm not fully settled on the issue, but this is helping refine my thinking on this. However, I want to point out a possible and interesting tension at play.

I'm reformed soteriologically and tentatively cessationist understanding the cannon to be closed yet holding that God can and does still speak directly to his people. There are way too many accounts of Christ appearing and speaking to people in closed countries in recent times calling them to faith to discount this.

But it would be odd to hear one who is reformed who holds to a "hyper-cessationist" view who would claim that God doesn't today direct his people by other than naturalistic means.

Janice said...

I'm late commenting (just read the article), but I am REALLY looking forward to this series, Dan! It is so needed! Several people have commented that the problem lies in the way we read the Bible: Man-centered (reading it for tips on how to get through life) vs. God-centered (seeing the Bible as God's authoritative, inerrant, sufficient manifestation of Himself).

Teach me the God-centered way, Dan!

donsands said...

"Did they find this in the BIBLE , or did they get the "call " some other way?"

I know a Reformed pastor, who is full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and as a 17 year old, growing up an an agnostic home, he heard an audible voice, while kneeling in his bedroom, crying out to God.

Never before did he, nor ever since.

He's a solid man of God, and so...

Bobby Grow said...

Talking about prophets in the OT and "hearing from God" today are separate issues; unless someone is claiming to be a prophet today.

I think it is wrong to interpret scripture or even this issue using modern day American style/Azusa street inspired pentecostalism as the foil for how we approach this issue --- as if they embody what the categories and issues are, Biblically. And yet this seems to be the "fear" that is driving the rejection of the LORD speaking to the hearts of His people. "Reactionary exegesis" is wrong every time.

As Jim Pemberton notes there are too many stories of Christians like in China (read "The Heavenly Man" the story of Brother Christian Yun) who are indeed "hearing from the LORD" (through visions, dreams, etc.); and who are seeing many miracles. They aren't "seeking" these things, they are seeking Jesus Christ; and Jesus is meeting their "needs" in the way that a compassionate Savior does (total opposite of what goes on with ministries like Hinns).

Thus far noone has made a case for refuting that the LORD does not or cannot work as He did in Acts for His people. The problem comes when people seek for the signs and wonders; instead of seeking Jesus, if He sees a need, then He is freely able to meet that need the way he wants. In fact He's been doing many "miracles" in our situation (I should actually be dead right now --- given the normal pathology of my cancer).

I understand the fear of opening the door to anything "supernatural" --- not wanting to be associated with charismania (I don't either) --- but they aren't representative of how the Lord really works. I don't think "hearing from the Lord," miracles, etc. are normative; but I do think He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He is free to do what He wants when He wants (esp. to comfort His suffering saints).

I find it interesting (I'm a good ole' Baptist boy myself) that missionaries can come and share amazing stories about miracles and things the Lord has done for them on the "field;" and we won't even flinch, even as "cessationists" at what they're saying --- instead we'll typically praise the Lord for His faithfulness to them. But when it comes to the Lord working in our daily lives --- being lived out for Him --- we baulk at any notion of God speaking or working miraculously here in the West (as if God is limited by our space or locale in the world). I find this a strange phenomenon (probably more of a cultural one than scriptural).

And the canon being closed, in my estimation, has nothing to do with this discussion.

Bobby Grow said...


For the record, I don't believe that tongues are being credibly practiced today. In fact from my reading, tongues in the Bible reflect a known/spoken language --- not a mystical "angelic" language.

Just wanted to clarify that point in re. to other things I've said --- not that anybody cares :-).

Stefan Ewing said...


I disagree with you on certain other issues (like the whole Scottish-vs.-Scholastic dichotomy), but in my totally fallible and personal opinion, you've made some interesting observations on this topic.

Personally, I lean more towards Jim Pemberton's position, with a healthy dollop of Daryl's caution.

Okay, yesterday the verification word was "cessest." Today it's "dessess." I take this to mean that I should cease and desist on this topic, because I'm tired, spent, and have things to do! (Note: I am NOT serious about taking the verification words literally, but I am serious about needing to move on to other things.)

I'll be praying for you.

bp said...

Amen Bobby. Well said. And I think there are two subjects in this thread.

1. God speaking to/through someone to encourage, exhort or direct them.

2. Whether there are modern-day prophets.

They're not the same thing, right? How is a "prophet" defined?

Anonymous said...


I see what you mean about Jerermiah 32:8. The translation I was looking at said "Just as the Lord has said" but I've since found 2 or 3 common ones that say "Then I knew..."

As far as stoning the false prophets. My point, as I made it, wasn't to stone them now, but that the text in Deuteronomy goes on to say that they are not a prophet.
I agree, stoning is out, thank the Lord.
But I don't think it allows for "honest" mistakes. God is not to be toyed with, and by Deuteronomy's definition, punished or not, the guy is not a prophet gets it wrong even once.


For the record...I flinch at those stories... :)
May the Lord be with you as you head into surgery. His will be done.

I agree with bp's last statement that the issue of modern day prophets and God's speaking outside if Scripture being different issues. But I only agree with that because I think people want to make them separate issues.
Most of us here don't want to say that there are prophets among us, but claims of God speaking do make that difficult, if we believe those claims.

I think Dan's direction, as to how this impacts our belief in the sufficiency of Scripture, is the right one.

I bet we can agree on this at least...
As Bobby has said, whether you believe God speaks outside of Scripture or not, asking and expecting Him to do so, is flat wrong. (I don't say wishing He would is wrong, who hasn't wished for that from time to time?)

DJP said...

Daryl: like absolutely every Bible verse Halo and Bobby have thrown out, and like bp's story, Jeremiah 32:8 has absolutely nothing to do with buttressing their notion of the inadequacy of Scripture or the critical need for ongoing sorta-revelation never described in the Bible.

Jeremiah identifies what he was writing as the word of Yahweh (32:1, 6), no doubts whatever. In verse 8, he says nothing like "Then I knew that I had spoken the word of Yahweh... because, before that, I wasn't really sure."

Jeremiah is saying is that at that point he saw Hanamel's coming as the fulfillment of the word of Yahweh. He knew that that situation was the word of Yahweh coming to pass. He does not indicate the least shadow of a doubt that it would happen; he simply did not know when, until it in fact did happen.

So far, the Scriptures that provide a basis for according any authority to ongoing inner mumbly voices, feelings and experiences apart from Scripture stands at zero. Lord willing, we'll continue the series tomorrow, look at what Scripture claims for itself.

We're done here.