30 August 2012

How can Christians hear a word from God? I mean, really?

by Dan Phillips

Some guy named "Phillip R. Johnson" (whatever; I think he writes about creation, or something) posted this video from James MacDonald, in which MacDonald explains ways to receive a word from God. Turns out there are five. To wit:

Wellnow, let's us chat about this.

First, to do that thing that drives drivebys crazy, let's anticipate the first response defenders will have: this is a very small excerpt from must have been a much longer talk, and it is out of context.

Fair enough. Absolutely true. It is possible that, just before this video, MacDonald said,
"For the next two minutes and fifty-six seconds, I am going to present some traditionalistic notions that are very popular among many Christians. I'm going to do it with warmth and enthusiasm, and even add a personal anecdote, just to be sure I'm doing a fair job of representing their position. Then, starting with the fifty-seventh second of the third minute, I'll show you why this is such dangerous nonsense."
If so, that would absolutely change everything, and taking this video as representing MacDonald's thoughts would be very unfair.

So let's just focus on what is actually in the clip, rather than on MacDonald himself.

This is a test. Let's see what you've learned from our dozens of posts on this general area. How would you respond to what he said?

But even beyond that, let me broach something I'm not sure I've said before in this way.

Before giving it, I note that the vid above proceeds on the premise that of course we should accept all five ways as ways "God speaks," as ways to "hear from God," to have "the Holy Spirit speak a word," or to get, as he says explicitly and more than once, "a word from God." It's the results that we are to test by Scripture — not the ways themselves.

Note too that we need these ways, according to MacDonald. We need them. We, Christians, all Christians. He makes that very clear.

But what if we asked a more fundamental question? What if we tested the ways, and not just their results?

Suppose, in response, we just asked this multifaceted question?
What would be the premise for, and ramifications of, promoting only the way(s) in which Scripture directly and in so many words urges and directs all Christians without exception to seek and find what it itself directly calls, in so many words, a "word from God"?


Should be both fun and profitable.

POSTSCRIPT: I untangle and answer that question HERE.

Dan Phillips's signature


DJP said...

Because I care for you, let me just share with newcomers something that others have learned, often to their chagrin: I try very hard to phrase myself as precisely as possible.

A few critical re-reads before blurting would save a lot of bruised feelings.

Scot said...

I'm offended that you hypothetically called my reading skills into question! (Sorry couldn't resist)

Let me give the question a shot. I think my answer might be more specific than you want, but only one way to find out.

Premise: One of God's commands is to go and reach the nations (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Christians often fail to obey God. Therefore God speaks to individuals to go plant churches, start missions, feed the poor, etc.

Ramification: God's actions in the world would be a more coordinated. Benny Hinn would be getting far, far less money and someone like World Vision would get far far more. Missions in the Bahamas, London, and the Swiss Alps would be just as numerous as Mozambique, Mali, and the Altai Mountains.

Tom Chantry said...

How would I respond?

I would start with this: Pastor MacDonald is absolutely right with one statement: "If it's from the Word of God, don't test it, just do it." Amen!

Let's take that and apply it down the list. Let's say I listen to a sermon from Dan Phillips. Dan is preaching God's Word. I need to be humble and check to make sure Dan is accurately quoting and applying the Word, but then I'm right back to #1 - which is that since it's the Word of God, it's true. Is this really a different category? I can't see how it is, but that's a niggling detail.

#3 is a person speaking what is biblical, but not expressly teaching Scripture. Now it gets confusing. Let's say I'm reading a blog-post by Dan Phillips, and I find it biblical. Can it convict me? Yes. Is it a "word from God"? In no way! A great and biblical post convicts me to - get this - obey the Word of God!

The running theme throughout all this is, if it's the Word of God - don't test it, don't be cautious, just obey it. And we know what the Word of God is!

#s 4 and 5 make absolutely no sense at all. If I have to run around checking with other people whether or not something is the Word of God, we've got a major problem. If it is a Word of God, I'm treating it very irreverently. Imagine treating, say, Philippians this way. I want to respect the Word, but I just don't know about Philippians. I'd better ask ten Christian friends whether they think Philippians is the Word of God. Absurd, isn't it? But we're told here that God speaks to us in this way, and that we're supposed to cautiously wonder about asking other people. That's neither reverent nor obedient.

In fact, we have to do this because we all know that our inward inclinations are very often not in any way from God, but are very personal.

Tom Chantry said...

By the way, Dan, this video finally brought home to me the full force of your use of the word "mumble" - or maybe it was "mumbly."

Consider the full implications of that chart. Sometimes when God speaks, he does so with a clear voice. What he is saying might be more or less understandable, but it is no less clearly God speaking. We call this the Bible.

But sometimes God disguises his voice by sneaking it in through other people, and sometimes he whispers, and other times he just sort of gestures and makes facial expressions. The further you get down the list, the more it becomes like being around someone who keeps coughing and muttering to himself, and you're constantly asking, "Excuse me, did you just say something?"

"Mumbly" indeed! Nice to have it so well illustrated.

Frank Rue said...

Premises: God's Word commands that all of it be taught (Matthew 28:20). God's Word itself claims to be all that we need for a man to be COMPLETE (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and equipped for EVERY good work.

Ramifications: I do not have to question what is read, I can merely get to the "obeying" part.

Scot said...

Oh that's rich. Somehow I read, "What if we tested their ways, and not just their results?" I feel a Level 9 Irony Storm forming over my head.

Let that be a note to myself: re-re-re-read.

Linda said...

Tom Chantry, "I would start with this: Pastor MacDonald is absolutely right with one statement: "If it's from the Word of God, don't test it, just do it." Amen!

I hope you don't mind me asking you, what about people like Barbara Marx Hubbard who took the passage "be still and know that I am God" directly "From the Word of God" or who took her teaching directly from the "Lord's prayer"? I think she's a good example of why we had better think again about "just doing it" without testing the "spirit" behind the word of God. Same with the Devil who quoted scripture...Same with us. We might not have the correct motives and thus we need to pray for the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth to lead and guide us.

We should test the spirits

Tom Chantry said...


Which would be why I wrote the following:

Let's take that and apply it down the list. Let's say I listen to a sermon from Dan Phillips. Dan is preaching God's Word. I need to be humble and check to make sure Dan is accurately quoting and applying the Word, but then I'm right back to #1 - which is that since it's the Word of God, it's true

Tom Chantry said...

In other words, there is a fundamental difference between checking to see whether it is God's Word and checking to see whether I am understanding it rightly. That is a difference which Pastor MacDonald's chart does not acknowledge.

threegirldad said...

Clearly, you had only two motives for publishing this post: 1) to needlessly incite your Charismatic brethren, and 2) to drive traffic to this blog.

This is a test. Let's see what you've learned from our dozens of posts on this general area.

I'm bored with the topic at this point; it just isn't that important. So, you should stop talking about it already.

Other than that, I'm relieved to learn that it is still "very common" for God to speak to us "From Word of God Itself."

Ted Bigelow said...


I don’t know if it would be THE premise but at least A premise, is that Scripture tells Timothy to take the “things” he heard from Paul and entrust those “things” to faithful men who will teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2).

So, where does Paul pass along to Timothy, or to us in his apostolic writings, that we get a word of the Lord from people, or impressions, or even that Romans 8:14 means being led by audible words? That's what MacDonald claims. But the fact is that being led by the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:14 is doing the hard work of putting to death the deeds of the body – Romans 8:13.

And if Paul didn’t pass along these things, well, where did MacDonald get them except his fertile imagination?

But then that leaves us to ponder yet another mystery....

Who is this man to determine the relative importance of unbiblical sources of authority in the believer’s life?

Eric O said...

I assume James is not referring to "new revelation" when he talks about hearing from God.

We know from experience or testimonies that God does speak thru one person to give a "word" to another person about some "life" situation they are going thru. Correct?

Morris Brooks said...

To hear a Word from God, it must be the Word of God.

This isn't the same as God answering prayer through circumstances. We were praying about a certain building for our church. The building sold, and is being remodeled for a new retail place. Did God answer our prayer with a no. Yes, He did. But that was not a Word from God.

I was praying recently, and after the prayer I had three Scriptures come to my mind in answer to the prayer. Did I hear a Word from God? Yes, because it was the Word of God.

Again, you can only hear a Word from God, when it is the Word of God.

DJP said...

Ted throws his knife and hits at least right next to the ten-ring, if not in it.

Eric O — and I swear, I am not saying this snarkily — completely misses its point. Or is doing a deft satire that exactly makes its point.

Again, I swear, no snark intended.

DJP said...

...and Mo does pretty darned good, too.

Morris Brooks said...

"Who is this man to determine the relative importance of unbiblical sources of authority in the believer’s life?"

Great point, Ted.

Jared T. Baergen said...

For some reason my blood starts boiling when the "God told me" topic comes up.

I was out on a boardwalk evangelizing last week, and during a conversation with a guy...we'll call him Bill--who told me that God spoke to him. I asked him how. His response was that God gave him some vision of some billboard that told him to do such and such. I then proceeded to give him the following argument:

If God is still speaking, it is arbitrary and inconsistent with His own character. Thus, we couldn't really know anything at all.

Further, Scripture clearly instructs us not to go "beyond what is written" (1 Cor. 4:6); or add or take away from Scripture (Duet. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19). If God is still speaking in anyway, we ought to be adding new revelation to Scripture. Yet that is exactly what we are commanded not to do.

That's the short version, But Bill stood there with a stumped look on his face and said (more or less), "you know what, you're right. It would be arbitrary and inconsistent with God's character, and it would contradict Scripture. Therefore, maybe it was providence or my own imagination, but I don't want to dishonor God by going beyond what is written."

So back to the original post: The premise is that Scripture does not "directly and in so many words [urge] and [direct] all Christians without exception to seek and find what it itself directly calls, in so many words, a 'word from God'", because (Ramifications) it would be arbitrary and inconsistent with the very character of God; and it would be in direct opposition to commands already revealed in Scripture.

More could be said, arguments could be expanded, and on and on. Time for lunch.

Linda said...

Thanks Tom it just didn't register~

that's my concern Mac Donald..If we go by his "just do it" with the word of God then we will misapply verses such as

Jesus said to the man in Mark 10:17-19 what he must do to inherit eternal life: "Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Just do it MacDonald.. Sell all your possessions to the poor

Tom Chantry said...


You do make an excellent point. "Just do it" presumes that we have understood and applied the Word accurately.

(By the way, I'm proving that I am actually a robot today. I've had to re-enter validation on every comment.

Gary Good said...

This may not be completely on topic, but...

God's Word (the Bible)is clear and succinct (even though we may not clearly understand it, at times).

Before we had the written Word, God spoke to prophets. He spoke to them clearly and succinctly. The prophets didn't say, "well, I got a sense in my heart that God is saying this.."

So, why would God now speak to us in unclear and unsuccinct ways?

Now, I have heard some relate their experiences as full on conversations with God. One such person admitted that God doesn't really talk to him that way. He just gets some kind of faint sense. Blowing a faint sense into a full on conversation just goes further to demonstrate the absurdity, if not dishonesty, of this kind of teaching.

FX Turk said...

I can't believe Phil Johnson posted a video on YouTube.

Linda said...

Morris Brooks, when I was first saved, I was so full of God's love and his joy. one week later I became afraid and very upset that I could lose my salvation. So I cried out to the Lord in tears as to why he would take his love from me. one nite it was about 7pm I'll never forget this, to please give me a verse from a sister or brother that assures me that Satan cannot take us away.
The very next day, I went up to my church to the book store. I began discussing my concern with the lady there. she said, well you know it was odd because I was reading another book in my bible and found myself drawn oddly to this verse just last nite at about 7pm and she gave me John 10:28"I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."

THAT was from GOD there was simply no other explanation...I was effusive to say the least. We both were at AWE and had chill bumps(not that we go by how we feel but this was what happened..

DJP said...

Leave it to Frank Turk instinctively to discern the very heart of the matter... and then make a beeline to land somewhere else.

trogdor said...

Does scripture ever directly and in so many words urge and direct all Christians without exception to seek and find what it itself directly calls, in so many words, a "word from God"?

We are to study scripture diligently, because it is the word of God. Beyond that, I cannot think of anywhere where we are commanded to seek a "word from God". Never.

So the premise is, scripture doesn't ever say that. The ramification is, we should stop this unbiblical nonsense and be satisfied in heeding the Word of God which we unquestionably have.

And those who teach us to go beyond that should be corrected, if not completely regarded as false teachers.

Full disclosure: in the 4+ years we were at Harvest, there were two times I thought it was necessary to register complaints/concerns with the higher ups. This was one, the other should be fairly obvious. In retrospect, they seem to be joined at the hip.

Jeri Tanner said...

Dan, here are some further thoughts in addition to some great ones already.

1. The premise for promoting "only the way(s) in which Scripture directly and in so many words urges and directs all Christians without exception to seek and find what it itself directly calls, in so many words, a "word from God":

Premise: The ways Scripture "directly and in so many words urges and directs all Christians without exception to seek and find" any doctrine, including this one, needs to be studied and understood, and then promoted, because it is God's truth (which glorifies Him and liberates His people from sin and error). There is a doctrine of how to seek and find what the Bible itself directly calls, in so many words, a "word from God". Therefore, that doctrine needs to be understood and promoted. The welfare of the church depends on getting this right; a lot of damage and harm has been done by getting it wrong.

2. The ramifications of promoting only the way(s) in which Scripture directly and in so many words urges and directs all Christians without exception to seek and find what it itself directly calls, in so many words, a "word from God":

Ramifications: Promoting the ways Scripture urges and directs Christians to hear from God are that the sufficiency of Scripture may gloriously be recovered in the church. If that happens, the church will be strengthened, encouraged, renewed, empowered, enlightened, emboldened, filled with the Spirit as the word of Christ richly dwells in her. The church will discover the joy of knowing that the written word of God, illumined by the Holy Spirit of God, is not only completely sufficient for faith and practice but is superabounding with power for making men holy. And Christians will be delivered from the terrible bondage of believing they must listen inwardly for the voice of their dear Savior, who never put such an awful burden on them.

Great exercise in thinking.

DJP said...

Jeri, you're right near the bull's eye too.

I really am starting to think -- and again, I assure you, ZERO snark -- that I put my question far too densely and lawyerly. If it doesn't pop open for someone, I owe it to you to open it up in normal-person English in another post, with apologies.

But then again, material for another post on this topic = win, to me.

trogdor said...

OK, another shot:

Premise: Only God can declare the Word of God - and only God can decide how his Word is to be known. Same as how God decides how he is to be worshiped (and making up our own way is idolatry), God alone decides how he will give us his word, and we can't unilaterally decide to get it some other way.

Ramifications: claims to receive God's Word apart from what God has declared to be his Word would be the same as idolatry. If we wouldn't stand someone bowing to a golden calf, we shouldn't put up with this "God told me" blasphemy either.


Joshua Elsom said...

To teach that God will not speak to His Church outside of Scripture, in the New Covenant era, without providing Scriptural evidence of an abrogation of prophecy, is to assert a position that is inconsistent with your own standard of revelation.

Ramification: A large segment of the Body who despise prophecies, and the people who strive to live in absolute dependance upon the Word and Spirit.


Jeri Tanner said...

I looked at the question again and saw that you are starting with the premise that there are no "way(s) in which Scripture directly and in so many words urges and directs all Christians without exception to seek and find what it itself directly calls, in so many words, a "word from God"? The use of the phrase "a word from God" would be the clue there, a direct quote from MacDonald... so I see your meaning.

Therefore, the premise for promoting only the ways of Scripture in this would be that we would promote the fact that it's not in the Scripture (your slightly serpentine wording there makes my head slightly hurt). The ramifications would be that we wouldn't promote false teaching--something along those lines?

donsands said...

The thing that I don't agree with is when James says he had a strong urge, or soemthing like that.
Big deal.
And yet, he was very bold to say it was God who gave him the woman's name, and to call her, because she was having a miscarriage, so he could pray with her.

I just don't get that.

And I have been having some really incredible dreams lately. I had a dream with my Mom in the dream. I can still remember it.
I told my wife the next morning, (actually the dream was more near just before I woke), and she said, "What do you have to eat last night?"

I like living a noraml life with the Bible.

A teaching like the one James gives can cause harm, and confusion.

To trust our emotions is very dangerous.

To truat the truth of God, which is His Word, and it's eternal truth, is such a awesome gift. And He gives us His Spirit, to be with us, and in us.

The Father draws us to Himself, for He seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth.

Thanks for the good post.

Have a terrific holiday weekend, and especially Lord's Day!

Jeri Tanner said...

"I like living a normal life with the Bible."

Great thoughts, Don.

Nash Equilibrium said...

SO where are we taught to seek a word from God? You mean if our name doesn't happen to be Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Paul, etc.? Nowhere that I can think of.

Frank tweeted this video the other day, and my fantasy was to be able to somehow superimpose a hologram of Pat Robertson standing next to MacDonald, nodding approvingly.

Nash Equilibrium said...

PS: Obviously, we are taught to seek The Word of God, not a word from God.

Clark Dunlap said...

OK, I need some help here. I'm with Frank about 99.9% but I don't know how to handle the .1%. MacDonald didn't say he had a "Word" for that lady. He said he was impressed to call her and didn't know why. But the incredible timeliness of the call could make any one suspect that it God prompted.
Then there are references like, the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Does that not involve something more subjective than the written word. OR, how about God Himself drawing the sinner to himself and giving them faith and repentance. The whole idea of regeneration seems like a subjective move of God on the heart and mind of the individual.
I am really tired of "God told me" and people telling me of these silly conversations they've had with God about when to go to the grocery store. But are we going too far to rule out every subjective "impression" or "Feeling" in the category of "Not God"?
Now Frank and Tom, don't beat me up on this or I'll tell Walt Chantry when I see him soon. ;-)

Tom Chantry said...


Leaving aside Pastor MacDonald's personal testimony - which could mean absolutely anything - the other two examples you cite are, I believe, examples of the doctrine of illumination.

This frightening-sounding doctrine has nothing to do with God illumining us, but rather with the Spirit shedding light on His Word. God says that His Word does not return to Him without accomplishing its purpose, and the reason for this is that the Spirit acts upon the hearts of God's people to convict them of the truth of the Bible. It is through the Word that He shows us we are children of God, and through the Word that He draws us to Himself. That is not special revelation, it is the illumination of the revelation we have. Put another way, it is not a new word from God, it is the Spirit's turning on the light for us and pointing us toward the Word which is complete and sufficient.

And I assume you're going to attend Founders Southwest? Should be a good conference.

Jeri Tanner said...

This is ranging a-field of your *simple* question and the scope of what you're addressing here, Dan, but I do think it's important to note that many sincere and serious people, who have questions about what's being promoted by people like MacDonald, just need the good and comfort-inducing doctrine of God's Providence; and at the same time, need to understand that using the language of God "speaking" outside his word, or of us "hearing from God" outside his word, is a huge problem, and why. Yes, the Holy Spirit could put someone on my mind, and I could call them and find that they are helped by my call, needed me to call, etc. We don't call that God "speaking", or "hearing from God". Such things have historically been understood to be Providence-- "God’s works of providence are the holy, wise, and powerful acts which he preserves and governs all his creatures, and all their actions" (Baptist catechism). That's because I may have a thought about someone, call them, and find they are doing fine, having a great day, etc. It is presumptuous to use the language of God "speaking" to us, of hearing from God, when we are so fallible and still have sin marring our minds. An understanding of God's providential ways keeps us from this kind of presumption, keeps us child-like and trusting that he will get done what he intends to get done, and excitingly, we may get to play a part. http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/God-Moves-in-Mysterious-Ways (Sinclair Ferguson)

Jeri Tanner said...

That link may not be working, but this one looks good. On providence: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-providence-of-god-ten-part-course-from-john-piper

Nash Equilibrium said...

I think it's important to focus on what Dan actually is asking about in his post: Seeking a word from God. God can cause us to do something he wants us to do, but seeking a word from God (aside from his word) is grabbing God by the lapels and shaking him until we think we heard something. Which most of the time, we didn't. "An evil generation seeks after a sign..."

Anonymous said...

Based on his grid, we should examine his grid "very carefully"

donsands said...

"God’s works of providence are the holy, wise, and powerful acts which he preserves and governs all his creatures, and all their actions"

Nice catechism.

James may be missing on the Sovereignty of God in his teachings. So many in the Church today don't understand God is sovereign, and it shows.

rom623rom828 said...

I was an eyewitness of the entire sermon. Don't remember exactly when, but seemed to be fairly recent, perhaps earlier this year.

I dont think anything in the sermon,before or after portion captured in the video clip would alter your perspective on what is said in the clip.

You are loved. Yes Tom, you too :)

By the way Tom your tweet on this was legendary imho:

Step 1: Concede the whole charismatic doctrine.

Step 2: Insist that this stuff is very rare.

Step 3: Pretend not to be charismatic.

Tom Chantry said...


Thanks. I especially appreciate that when you say it, it isn't the prelude to a merciless beat-down.

Jeremiah Greenwell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron Snell said...

The premise for promoting the things listed?

A real doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.

The ramifications?

A life of seeing and being satisfied in the unlimited banquet already set before you.

donsands said...

I was thinking about when Jesus called to Mary at the tomb once again.

How sweet His voice must have sounded to Mary, as He spoke her name.

Can we hear our Savior as Mary did? He actually does call us all by name.

Clark Dunlap said...

Tom, thanks for the clarification and yes to the Founders Conf.

But, and this for anyone, let me push the envelope just a tad. Can I conclude that through the illumination of His word and His divine providence guiding us, we go where He wants us and endeavor to live according to His Word.
And that's all we need.
Or am I missing something?
Because there seems to be such a demand from people to "Get a word from God!" Is there anything to this? Or, is that all flesh? And, was it all flesh that had Jacob wrestling and not letting go? OR is that two different things?
Thanks in advance for your patience.

Linda said...

donsands,"The thing that I don't agree with is when James says he had a strong urge, or something like that."

lol donsands I have to say this,,maybe those urges were gas pains or maybe his stomach growling?

@ Nash, I think you are correct that we are not to "seek" a word from the Lord. We are to seek or pursue after Jesus Christ.

DJP said...

I do believe Aaron Snell has nailed it exactly.

DJP said...

And truly: that such sharp readers found it such a challenge HAS TO mean that I phrased it unhelpfully. That's on me. I'll open it up further in future posts.

Most of you said things that were terrific and helpful, whether or not exactly on-target for what I was saying.

Still wondering which Bible believers Joshua Elsom thinks have ever despised prophecies since 100 AD.

Tom Chantry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Chantry said...


I can't say definitively where that desire comes from, but I guess that at least three lacks are behind it:

Some lack a true appreciation of the Word of God: the truth that all that we will ever need in terms of divine revelation.

Some lack an appreciation of the value of sanctified wisdom: the ability of the Christian as he grows in the knowledge of the Word and his application of it to make wise decisions.

And some lack an appreciation of our freedom in Christ: the liberty to simply choose between two moral options.

Tom Chantry said...

(I had a strange, eerie feeling that I needed to reword my statement after saying, "I can't guess...but I guess..." Perhaps I was being prompted by, uh, common sense?)

trogdor said...

Well, there are some believers who despise prophecy so much, they claim it's fallible.

DJP said...

See? This is EXACTLY what I mean, but I don't ever remember such a double-decker delight. Chantry, AND THEN Trogdor, easily DOUBLE whatever the value of the post was.

Sibs-in-Christ like them (and Jeri and others) are why I don't want to have to close the metas. They're value-added. But for them to get to do that, sometimes I gotta weed.

Oh wait, sorry, that was the last post...

Clark Dunlap said...

I was teaching from Mk 7 last night about the Syrophoenecian WOman. It struck me that she was satisfied with the crumbs that fell inadvertently from the table of GOd. what a tremendous attitude. And I had to ask (cause this is what we do) "are you satisfied with the crumbs of God?" Afterall, God's crumbs are still gold.
I don't need God to speak audibly to me or call my name so that I can hear it. After all this name shall pass. I'll have a new one. I am satisfied with the crumbs of God.

No snarkiness intended here either.

Anonymous said...

It seems that most people want a shortcut in life. Diet pills instead of a diet. Cliff notes instead of reading the book. A word from God instead of steeping the scripture in their heart. Even were I to get a direct revelation, how could I tell anyone without making myself into the subject and thus diminishing God in other's lives? Nay, I take providence when it comes as confirmation of my faith. Other's do not need to be confused with flourishes.

DJP said...

Incomprehensible-name-person, I think you're right.

Just add this: if I'm hungry, and there's ONE cupboard with food in it, how diligently will I search it out — even if it's hard to reach? But if I can choose from five different cupboards, each of which might have food, do I pick the harder cupboard, or the zero-effort ones?

Anonymous said...

Further, if the topic is How it can be done, then I, as pasotr, might be the one to have done it, hence follow me.

Tom W
sorry for the AIM name.

Nash Equilibrium said...

The donuts and milkshake diet.
The "God Told Me" Bible study.

Linda said...

Well Maybe I'm misreading your blog post and I apologize if I am. But I have a problem of concern with the (person) promoting this: "only the way(s) in which Scripture directly and in so many words urges and directs all Christians without exception"

I'm uncomfortable with "ONLY" and "without exception" since this places the seat of authority on the one promoting it"

Bipolar in Transition said...

i came across this quote from John Calvin in my G+ feed yesterday, and it ties in very nicely with the discussion here (EHMAHGERD, PROVIDENCE!!!1!)...

“Since no daily responses are given from heaven, and the Scriptures are the only record in which God has been pleased to consign His truth to perpetual remembrance, the full authority which they ought to possess with the faithful is not recognized unless they are believed to have come from heaven as directly as if God had been heard giving utterance to them.”

David A. Carlson said...

so tricksey....

but of course if we are limited to only things that ALL are called to, then no one should be a teacher, n'est pas? (James 3:1)

DJP said...

Wow. It took all day for you to figure out a way to miss the point of the post, but by golly you did.

Sonja said...

This is making Dan's point from the other day. My little brain keeps churning, not over JMacD's chart, but the post and the comments that follow. I came up with one word:


Only the Lord swears on Himself. Only He can. I'm part of my evidence but only one witness to me. I can't rely on experience, the words of someone outside of Scripture and I surely won't consider a dream. He's not a God of confusion.

Thanks for all of this. Sola Scriptura!

Bipolar in Transition said...

So what you suggest is that all of us are equal in Christ, but some just happen to be more equal than others?

How very Orwellian of you

Aaron said...

I get very perturbed when Christians start talking about signs, feelings, or other subjective strong indications that they received a "word from God."

I'm craving Cheetos. For some unexplained reason, my wife had bought cheetos and left them on the counter right when I'm craving Cheetos. I have a strong feeling I should splurge on Cheetos. But wait, I can't tell if this is one of those strong feelings that is the "word of God." Is it God or is it my flesh? I don't know now. I better go ask fifty people what they think because nothing in Scripture tells me whether I can have Cheetos. Now I'm stuck in an unending cycle of indecision because I can't be sure if I'm making a decision in the flesh or whether I'm receiving instructions from God.

Stupid, right? But it is exactly the same logic that people apply to everything else and it's annoying. Just thank God for the Cheetos and eat them already!

Linda said...

Sir Aaron you reminded me of something Ravi Zacharias said about feelings:

He said "Well in some cultures they love their neighbors and in other cultures they eat them -Both on the basis of feelings. So do you have any personal preference on the matter of feelings here?"

David said...

When I read Wiersbe's 'Be Faithful' his comments on 2 Tim 3:16 stayed with me- 'The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine (what is right), for reproof (what is not right), for correction (how to get right), and for instruction in righteousness (how to stay right)'.

If these things make us the "complete man of God" then everything else is nothing, and anything else diminishes the Scriptures.

Daniel said...

Didn't a demononized slave girl follow Paul around in Acts 16 saying (rightly), “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation”?

The fact that she was right does not lead any sober reader to conclude that it was the Holy Spirit speaking through her.

The first question we should be asking is why should anyone assume this speaker's anecdotal impression was the work of the Holy Spirit? The second question should be upon what authority to do we assert our answer to the first question.

Kyle said...

Tom said "...I need to be humble and check to make sure Dan is accurately quoting and applying the Word ..."

And therein lies the trap... because when left to ourselves to determine the breadth of God's Word, we (OK... "me", not necessarily "you") often find ourselves (OK, "myself") limiting the application, or going well beyond what God intended.

Tom Chantry said...

I'm not sure I followed that comment. Just to be certain, are you saying that Acts 17:11 is a trap?

Kyle said...

Hey Tom, What I so poorly expressed is that my brokenness prevents me from seeing and understanding as I should. As much as I may search the texts Berean-style (Acts 17:11), my ability to refute wrong teaching is imperfect. Improving day-by-day, yes... but my veil of ignorance and bias persists.

Tom Chantry said...


And yet, be encouraged. As imperfect as your (and my) understanding may be, if we are pursuing knowledge and understanding in the Word of God, we are doing the very thing God commanded.

donsands said...

"upon what authority"

Good question Daniel.

And what happened to Paul and Silas after Paul cast this spirit out of the women was horrific. He suffered greatly, and yet God was sovereignly using all this for His glory, wasn't He.

Good passage of truth to read and ponder. God's word is there and it is a Word for us all.

Morris Brooks said...

It has been my observation that as Christians become more steeped in Scripture, as they become more grounded in the Word, as they become more subservient to the Word, they stop hearing these other voices and no longer confuse indigestion with the Holy Spirit.

You may ask, "Why then would someone is a well known pastor with a large church, who says he believes in the authority of Scripture (name shall not be mentioned, but we have his video) purport that there are other ways to hear a Word from God." My response is that there is a difference in saying you are under the authority of the Scripture and actually putting yourself under its authority in all areas.

Linda said...

Morris Brooks said...
"It has been my observation that as Christians become more steeped in Scripture, as they become more grounded in the Word, as they become more subservient to the Word, they stop hearing these other voices and no longer confuse indigestion with the Holy Spirit"

Exactly and well said! that's my observation as well. Being a baby in Christ is when our Heavenly father has to hold us and nurture and change our diapers. But as we learn to walk God lets go of our hand a bit he weans us off to trust in his WORD more and more

Rick said...

What about his 'word' (or 'impression') to call the woman who just had the miscarriage? Is that 'fate' or is that God? What about 'the indwelling Spirit of God' who reminds us of truths from scripture?

DJP said...

And how important is it that we even decide? And is it a good point to preach? Is it good and sound enough to exalt it into a principle to preach from the pulpit, to exalt to an actual "way to get a word from God," without so much as a syllable of Biblical support? Is there so little in the Bible that IS worth preaching and proclaiming, that we need to fill time with stories and anecdotes and counsel others on those bases? And is this how we do Christian thinking, preaching, counseling, ethics? Is it significant that such stories plunge us into the psyche of James MacDonald (or myriads who do the same) instead of the Word of God, and Christ Himself? And if we really believed that Scripture were sufficient, and were all that it claims to be, would we really be investing so much time and energy in the telling and debating and evaluation of such stories rather than the study and preaching and teaching and practice of the Word of God?

Linda said...
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Linda said...

DJP, Great points. it's stepping on a banana peal for sure

I agree wholeheartedly with Calvin when he said, - “we owe to the Scripture the same reverence which we owe to God; because it has proceeded from him alone, and has nothing belonging to man mixed with it”

We worship Jesus-a Person and we accept the Bible because it enshrines and embodies that Authority of the Lord Jesus Christ IN Scripture-our supreme treasure.

Apart from God's word we have no standard to go by. What we want is the BEST available form of Christ's revelation-"uncovering of Jesus Christ", and we believe we get this ONLY IN the Bible and not in any other way. All ways outside of God's word become aberrant, boring, lame, dead.

Rick--Here's an analogy: when you fall in love with a person you want to get to know that person, right? You certainly cannot get to know them apart from spending time WITH them and talking to them. Nor can you get to know them apart from them revealing their love to you and who they are. They are away for a season and you are apart. But they have written love letters they've written specially for and to you because you're so important to them. I don't know about you, but if a person I love has written me letters, I'm going to open them up, read them and cherish and hang on every word what they say because I'm getting to know them. I can choose to let their love letters sit on the table and try and reminisce or figure out that what I'm hearing is them. That's just not the best way at all and some of our thinking could lead us astray.

Same with God's word. Open His love letter-the Bible. We have to do what God's word says to get to know Him by letting his word be a "lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path" we want to KNOW and WALK with the LORD don't we??- Well, we can't get to know Jesus Christ until He reveals himself to us through his WORD alone. The Holy Spirit is the Author of Scripture and he is the Spirit of TRUTH. He leads and guides us into ALL truth with His word and not apart from it.

John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come

Eric O said...

“And how important is it that we even decide?”

I would say it’s important for you, as a pastor to know, so that when you do get a leading from God to contact one of your sheep, you can freely move on it.

No, it is not good and sound (according to biblical principles) to exalt a teaching without biblical support.

Rick said...

Linda... not dismissing the need or desire to 'read the love letters'(been regularly doing so for the past 30 years) - but if that Person is alive and living and active and indwelling - can't that Person's speak personally (impression,giving desires etc.)to me (albeit never contradicting or adding to what He has already spoken in His love letters)? Why indwell us with His Spirit?

DJP said...

Rick, see the follow-up post.

Linda said...

Rick, To be totally honest with you, I do agree with you and I have had the Holy Spirit "personally (impression,giving desires etc.)to me (albeit never contradicting or adding to what He has already spoken in His love letters)"----and many here will disagree with me on this which is fine.

But it's not objective truth.we have no proof outside of Scripture that it IS for sure God. we have no criterion apart from Scripture.

Example: Just before I was saved, God reached down to me one day after a week later from reading his word. I was completely and utterly abject. He said my name not audibly... Is my name in Scripture? no it's not. did I imagine it. No it was the furthest inclination from my mind. God was always so far away somewhere out there. He also said why don't you give my son a chance.. I didn't think this up. Is this in the bible?

"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

Jim Pemberton said...

Okay, I think I have achieved a level of great spiritual maturity where God speaks to me directly...

I think I'm getting a word from God right now... wait... wait... YES! God has spoken to me directly! And He says:

"Read the Bible."

That's it? I feel like Ralphie who just got a decoder in the mail and the secret message said to "DRINK YOUR OVALTINE." I mean, where's the special message just for me? All I get is the same Bible everyone else already has? But I'm supposed to be special and get a different message all for myself.