Saturday, September 18, 2010

God Told You to What?

How many times have you heard someone say “that God told me” or you have heard someone say, “God spoke to me.” I wonder if one were to take a poll of the two most blatant yet inaccurate statements ever made which would win? Those two statements are “The Devil made me do it” and “God spoke to me or told me to do such and such.”

Usually it is the ones who are way out there that claim God told them to kill their family, blow up a building, or commit some heinous crime. The overwhelming majority of people reject those outlandish claims. They know that regardless of whatever horrible demons are torturing those poor individuals by bending their minds into horrible atrocities, it did not come from God.

The real danger lies in those who are connected to the “church” or who are on the fringe of the church and claim that God has spoken to them. How do you combat that? When someone such as a Pastor tells you that “God told him to do such and such” how do you refute that? The only way of course is with Scripture.

The problem with “extra-biblical” revelations is that they are subjective and subject to all sorts of interpretation. For example, I could see a beautiful Christian woman who may be married, and yet tell her and the whole world that God told me to tell her to divorce her husband and marry me. Who would believe that? For starters, my wife wouldn’t believe it. I think she would have trouble with it, don’t you?

I know what people mean when they say God spoke to them or told them such and such. Many times it is an impression on their heart by the Holy Spirit. If it is such an impression it will be in line with the revealed Word of God. The Holy Spirit will never lead us contrary to Scripture or the character of God. No matter how strong the impression or how real it seemed if it was from the indwelling Holy Spirit it would not contradict God.

It is hard to convince people who believe that God has spoken to them. I have had to deal with this on occasion.

I have counseled people who have told me that God told them to divorce their current spouses in order to marry each other. God does not contradict Himself. He has made it very clear what He thinks about marriage and divorce.

First, let me say that revelation has ceased. God does not speak to anyone today, whether in an audible or inaudible voice. God does not send messages, commands, instructions, or directions to anyone in this present age.

Hebrews 1:1-2 makes it clear that God at one time did speak through prophets. Now, God speaks to us through His Son. This Scripture states that God has spoken finally and fully in His Son and since the New Testament fully reports and interprets this final revelation of his Son we need no other voice from God. Once the New Testament was completed, revelation ceased.

Yes, Joel and Acts both make it clear that God will one day again speak through prophets, both men and women. That is future and we yet wait that time in revelation will again operate. We call the period of time the tribulation period.

Second, there is a means of knowing what God expects of us, desires of us, and has planned for us. The means that God uses is the Bible. Romans 12:1-2 makes is very clear that if we “renew” our mind with the intake of God’s Word, and if we refuse to be shaped by the philosophies of this world, we will be able to prove what God’s will or directives are. God has revealed very clearly how we are to live, what is right or what is wrong, and how we are to behave.

Third, God will never, ask anyone to do something that is against His character or nature. God does not contradict Himself. When one reads Scripture, prays for guidance, and senses that the Holy Spirit is leading them, one can be assured that this leading, this sense will always be equal to the revelation we already have.

You say, what about, Godly men and women who state unequivocally that God told them to go to the Philippines, or to Ecuador, or to Morocco as missionaries of the gospel. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit impressed on these men and women’s hearts through Scripture, their own backgrounds, education, desires, opportunities, and using all of these things impressed them to leave family and friends and spend their lives in their respective fields. God did not speak to them and tell them to do that. I have no problem with someone saying “God laid on my heart to do such and such.” If the such and such does not violate Scripture and God’s Holy character and God through His Spirit acting in conjunction with His Word directed them to the specified activity.

I have had people tell me that God impressed on their hearts to do something for me. I have also been impressed by God to minister in various ways to individuals. I recognize that God through His Holy Spirit who lives within me used principles related to God’s character and revealed in His Word to so impress me.

I am not arguing that God cannot through His Holy Spirit and His Word impress specific activity upon our hearts. I am arguing that God will speak to anyone today outside of His Word.

We have seen the last few days just how dangerous this thinking can actually be. First, Terry Jones, a “pastor” stated that God told him and his church to burn the Koran as a means of warning and protest. This violates any number of Scriptural principles which makes it spurious immediately.

Sapp, an associate pastor, said the church is "still in prayer over the whole thing" and could cancel. "God is leading us right up to the moment. It's no different than Abraham and his son. God didn't tell him, 'Go right up to the point where you might sacrifice him.' He wanted him to be fully committed. We're prepared to do what we're called to do."

Sapp has likened this command to burn the Koran to Abraham’s test by God. Abraham lived in an age in which God did speak. God spoke both through men (prophets) and directly to various people. God spoke to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and others.

Sapp leaves no room to challenge him or to say that God would not give such a command. Sapp states that this church must be prepared and must be committed to go as far as God tells them to go. How far is that? Who is the judge? Obviously it is Jones or Sapp or the congregation he deceives, oops I mean leads. How can you challenge him when he says God called him specifically to burn or not to burn the Koran? How can you challenge me if I told you that God told me to tell you to send me $50,000 dollars no later than Friday? After all I am a Christian, a man of God, and a pastor. Couldn’t I say God spoke to me? How would you know if God did or didn’t speak to me? I will tell you how I would know, I wouldn’t have $50K dropping by my house anytime soon.

This is why God in His infinite wisdom caused revelation and revelatory speeches to cease. The subjectivity is just too dangerous. Look how it got out of hand at the church in Corinth. Paul had to establish regulations and rules for those who said God was speaking to them. By AD 95 revelation and the voice of God stopped. Today if you would hear God, go to the Scriptures and to His dear Son.

Stop hiding behind “God told me to do it.” If you are so angry and frustrated at false doctrine, decisions made by liberals, or etc., then man up or cowboy up or whatever up it is and say that you are mad. Say you think burning Korans, The Book of Mormons, or Undaunted Courage will make you feel better. Throw the Hobbit on the fire and say that you hope this will bring attention to a matter you think is important. Please stop cloaking sinful actions and attitudes behind the voice of God. Search the Scriptures and see how God would have you to respond to the enemies of the gospel. The Scriptures will dictate your behavior.

[Written prior to  a similar post on Pyromaniacs but scheduled for today's queue]


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Thought provoking post Gregg I read this with interest .

Have a pleasant week-end;


Persis said...

Well said, Gregg!

Do you know where and when this whole thing start about "God told me", etc.? I've always been curious because it's so prevalent among Christians to give divine attribution to any twinge or feeling. Also, isn't it a presumptuous thing to put our words in God's mouth?

Kansas Bob said...

I hear what you are saying Gregg. Sometimes in counseling situations I would say lets leave God out of this for a while and talk about what is going on in your life. Playing the God-told-me card is generally a poor rationalization to do anything. I would rather have a person own up to a desire deep in their heart to do something rather than to rationalize their good or bad behavior using the God-told-me card.

That said I do think that it is okay to say that the Holy Spirit led me to do such and such a thing.. he is after all the Counselor.. but I do think that it would be better to stay quiet and simply follow His lead.

One other concern I might have about a dogmatic approach to this is that it lends itself to a Deist like view of God that says that God assembled the scriptures and now no longer communicates to His creation.

Brian Ray Todd said...

This would be a great segue into "answered" prayer. How does God answer prayer?

Gregg said...

Yvonne - I am humbled and glad that this post was thought provoking. I hope it was also beneficial.

Persis - I don't know when and where this started. I do believe it can certainly be presumptous. I know what many people mean when the say this, but it still is something to watch out for.

KB - Yes, I would that people would own up to what they are really thinking or feeling. Most people fear what they are thinking sometimes and they fear being rejected if they do share.

Absolutely, I have no problem with people being led by the HS. I hope to God I am led by the HS.

I would disagree that it leads to a deist view. I made it clear that God does speak through His Son, He leads through His Word. My only point is that He doesn't "speak" in a revelatory fashion. This certainly doesn't imply He has stepped back and out of the universe and doesn't communicate.

Brian Ray Todd - God answers prayer in a number of ways. He answers through His people, through angels who minister to us as heirs of salvation, through direct and indirect intervention. Answering prayer doesn't require Him to give new revelation either verbally or otherwise. Thank God He answers prayer, I'd be a gonner if He didn't.

Kansas Bob said...

@Gregg - Not sure that I am understanding - I can be dense at times. What do you think the difference is between being led by the HS and the HS speaking to you? Love to hear your take on that.