God Revealed to Me…

I cannot tell  how many times I have heard religious folks say,

  • “The Lord spoke to me…”
  • “God revealed to me…”
  • “I felt led by God to…”
  • “The Holy Spirit guided me…”

And many other such phrases, indicating that God somehow directly communicates with them and does so on a regular basis.

Honestly, my first thought is usually “God has never spoken to me like that–am I not His child, too?”

But then I take it to Scripture, and I want to ask, “Exactly how has God spoken to you, and in what way is He leading you?” If they define what they mean in a biblical way, perhaps we are no so far apart.

For instance, if they mean they searched Scripture diligently and discovered what God wanted them to do, I totally understand walking in God’s wisdom and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in that way. Or if they mean they sought godly counsel from wise Christians who gave them biblical advice, I understand that, too. But if they mean that God actually spoke words and sentences to them, communicating through a dream or a vision, that is outside my realm of Christian experience. I will not insist they didn’t hear those words or see those visions, but I will remind them that God Himself instructs us:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4.1)

One major test (perhaps THE major test) is to check what you hear against what God has already revealed in Scripture. In that way, God’s revealed and tested word continues to stand as the basis for every other word or message we receive in life. No external message (from someone claiming to speak for God) or internal message (from a feeling, a heart-tug, or a word coming into our mind) can stand above and supersede God’s already revealed word.

Ezekiel 13 powerfully exposes the rampant false teaching among the Jews just before Nebuchadnezzar leveled the city in 586 BC. God describes those false prophets as those who…

  • “prophecy from their own hearts” (13.2)
  • “follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (13.2)
  • “have seen false visions and lying divinations” (13.6)
  • “say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them” (13.6)
  • “have mislead My people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace” (13.10)

Our deceptive hearts can fool even ourselves, and we can think that a certain strong feeling to do something is the word of the Lord. Let us be careful not to blindly trust in our feelings one way or the other. God has certainly planted a conscience within each of us which either condemns us when we do something wrong or commends us when we do something right, but that’s not the same thing as God speaking to us directly.

Examine the Scriptures and find how God spoke to prophets. He did not leave them with feelings; He always spoke clearly, directly, to the point. That’s how God communicates. If you tell me that God told you to do something, please don’t be offended when I ask how you received that word. I’m testing the spirits, and maybe I can help teach you how to test the spirits, as well.

How tragic to lean on our own hearts and our own spirits for guidance! How terrible it will be for those who follow their feelings to stand before Jesus and say, “But it felt so real!” and to have Jesus respond, “But I never said that. That wasn’t Me speaking.”

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. (Proverbs 3.5)

Christians Only

White_sign_racial_hatredMy grandpa lived through the fall of Apartheid in South Africa. He tells powerful stories about the segregation of those days, how blacks, whites, and colourds were not to be in each others areas after sundown. Racial animosity saturated the country, and these forms of segregation are not dead in the world! Far from it, folks split, mark, name, keep distance, and even kill because of racial, religious, social, and economic differences.

Because of the sins of mankind, God divided men at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). He caused different families to speak in different tongues so that they could not communicate effectively and so that they would divide from one another! That’s right–God intended men to divide, and it was a punishment for sin. They were not obeying His mandate to spread out and fill the earth.

Much later in history, God drew men of all races back together in His Son, and He began this process by overcoming the language barrier on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Jesus broke down the greatest dividing wall in existence, a religious wall, the Law of Moses, which separated the Jews from the Gentiles (Ephesians 2). Now He calls all men to repent by submitting to His Son Jesus Christ. There is no place for segregation in Jesus Christ!

In Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, no slave or free, no male or female, because all souls belong to God in the same way. All souls have the same value to God. There is nothing within you or me to make us greater or less than our neighbors or our spouses or the folks across the ocean.

When Jesus arrived on earth and began His ministry, He came into a split and divided Jewish community. Even within Israel itself existed a myriad of factions: Pharisee, Sadducee, Essene, Zealot, Herodian, etc. And Jesus pulled men from all of these factions to be part of His most trusted team of twelve, the apostles! Matthew, the tax collector, lived in truce and allegiance to the authorities who were currently oppressing the Jews. Simon, the Zealot, hated those traitors with a passion. Paul, on the fact-track to becoming a great leader of the Pharisees, would never have accepted half of the other twelve because of various traditions and Scripture interpretations.

But Jesus Himself did not accept any of the factions. Graciously, He ministered to all of the factions, but He continued to challenge every one of them. No Jewish sect was correct. Only God is correct; only Jesus walked the pure walk; and His challenge to us is to walk as He walked!

Denominations in USA

Can we walk outside the gross religious sectarianism of our day? Can we lovingly minister to men and women of every denomination without accepting the corruptions existing among those denominations? I believe God’s challenge to us is exactly this: to walk with Him without allowing any earthly, man-created system to dictate our path. King Hezekiah, King Josiah, Nehemiah and Ezra, and the reformation leaders in the late 1400s and 1500s had this same heart: return to Scripture Alone! Those men sought to escape the power and systems of men in order to walk simply with God.

I’m afraid those same fighters and martyrs would view our current fractured landscape of so-called “Christianity” with heavy hearts. I know I do. First, I seek to align myself first with the Lord through the word of His Holy Spirit. Second, I seek to align myself with brothers and sisters who have a heart for that same word of God: Scripture Alone! Though this is the only way to unity in Christ, because of our messy human situations and imperfect understandings and sin, we’ll never achieve perfect unity on earth. But can we strive for the ideal? Can we give ourselves to tearing down the walls separating the sects, as Jesus gave His life-blood to tear down the wall separating Jew and Gentile?

We surely cannot do this by creating another sect! We must be Christians only.