Dangerous Ground

RoyalG_89_Pg133“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” {Revelation 22:18-19}

Recently several preachers have claimed to hear God audibly. By that I mean they have claimed to hear the voice of God with their physical ears. I will not mention their names because they come from different backgrounds and affiliations but none are from a charismatic background. And one of these men has been a dear friend to me and big influence in my life. Seeing as how in just the past few months I have heard more than one man say “God told me thus and thus ” or  “I heard God speak in a audible voice”  it must be a growing trend.

I do not think that these some of these men realize the danger of making such claims publicly. I believe these claims occur for a few different reasons.

I think some of these men walk so close with their God that it “seems” as though He spoke to them audibly.

I think some of these men are using this experience as a way of expressing some sort of spiritual superiority, sort of a rite of passage or a bragging point.

I think some of these men may have heard a real audible voice but it was not His voice.

That is just what I think and $1.06 and my opinion will buy you a small cup of coffee.

But I will tell you what I know. To claim that the God of the Bible spoke to you audibly is a serious claim. If God did actually speak to you, His words to you are on par with scripture are they not? If God did speak to someone in an audible voice like he did Paul or Peter should we not consider what God said audibly as Divine revelation?

“God spoke to me.” “God told me.” “I heard God say”

I believe these types of statements are very dangerous ground.

There is a difference between communing with God and saying that God spoke to you audibly. There is a difference between, “God impressed upon my heart” and “God told me”.

There is a difference between “God spoke to my heart” and “God said to me”

I believe in experience. I believe God does speak to His children. I believe that a person can get very close to God. So close in fact that He seems to be almost physically present. On more than one occasion I have felt His presence in an indescribable way both in private and in corporate settings.

When a person publicly states that God spoke to him or her audibly, my guard goes up. It frightens me. I get the impression that something is not quite right.

Jonathan Edwards lived in the 18th century. He was a very conservative Calvinist who had seen God move in a Great Awakening in New England. He was the direct opposite of a fanatic. But in his writings you will find that he had some very deep and emotional encounters with his God.

I give a couple of instances below,

“Once, as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also great above the heavens. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception … which continued as near as I can judge, about an hour; which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears, and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in him; to live upon him; to serve and follow him; and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure, with a divine and heavenly purity.”

“I have many times had a sense of the glory of the third person in the Trinity, in his office of Sanctifier; in his holy operations, communicating divine light and life to the soul. God, in the communications of his Holy Spirit, has appeared as an infinite fountain of divine glory and sweetness; being full, and sufficient to fill and satisfy the soul; pouring forth itself in sweet communications; like the sun in its glory, sweetly and pleasantly diffusing light and life.”

{From A Personal Narrative – Jonathan Edwards}

Yes, I believe God still communes with His people. And I believe we should pursue a closer and experiential walk with Him. But we ought to be more careful how we speak about it. – Shawn

“We find the children of God sometimes upon very high places—their spiritual life is vigorous and their inward joy is abounding. When we give you descriptions of saints in that condition, many of the Little-Faiths at once cry out, “Alas, I know nothing of this! Would God it were so with me! But, indeed, it is not.” They are greatly discouraged by those very things which should raise their spirits and stimulate their desires—for surely if one Believer is able to climb the Delectable Mountains, there is all the more hope that another may do so.” – C. H. Spurgeon

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