(by Lisa Robinson)

It has been five years since my ‘conversion’ from being a somewhat radical charismatic to embrace a soft-cessationist position…I think.  The reason I say put that qualifier on there is because I have had to wrestle through not only some doctrinal dilemmas concerning the cessation of gifts, but also some more pragmatic concerns – that of experience.  That is not to say experience is the qualifier to determine what is or is not a legitimate spiritual expression, but it does challenge some cessationist positions or rather some allegations concerning cessationism.

Most notably, it is the idea that cessationism means that God has stopped speaking.  This has been a common statement I have heard, most often in the form of a question, as noted by the title of this post. The statement presumes that cessationism means God has stopped speaking, except through scripture.  This is a position that hard cessationists take, but not all.

However,  I have come to conclude that this question misses what cessationism espouses vs. how God communicates today.  Let me explain.  The premise of cessationism is that revelation is complete.  We see that God has revealed himself progressively through scripture and ultimately through his Son.

“God after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  And He is the radiance of His glory and exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of his power.  When He made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high…” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Here, God speaking and his revelation are inextricably  linked, so that his final expression is found in Christ, who reveals God.  The significance of the apostolic witness is related to the testimony of Christ as the ultimate revelation of God.  Since the testimony of Christ is transmitted through the apostolic witness, the apostles teaching provide the same authority as the word of the Lord, which would ultimately become scripture.  Thus, since God has already spoken in His Son, and Christ’s work is complete, this presumes that God has nothing further to say.  While the continuation of all spiritual gifts is not the topic of this post, I do believe that certain gifts were to authenticate the apostolic message during the apostolic age.  This is why scripture does not indicate that certain gifts have ceased because the apostles were still alive when the letters were penned. But let’s not go there.

So does this mean that God has stopped speaking? Yes…and no.  If his speaking is related to His revelation, then yes, He has stopped speaking.  He has already revealed Himself, Christ has accomplished the Father’s will and has established the faith once for all (Jude 3).  The authoritative witness of scripture is the final authority concerning what God has wished to reveal concerning Himself, including apostolic instruction for the body of Christ.  So cessationism negates schools of thought that proclaim new revelations from God concerning Himself.

However, I don’t think it means there is nothing further to say related to what that means for us.  This is where I believe the ministry of the Holy Spirit plays a vital role, submitted to the complete canon of scripture as the final authority of faith and practice.  Now while I do believe that John 14:25-26 is directed exclusively to the apostles as eyewitnesses, the fact that the same Spirit indwells every believer suggests that the Holy Spirit informs our consciousness concerning the completed revelation and what the Father wishes concerning specifics in our lives that scripture does not speak to.   In other words, God still speaks through his Spirit concerning His desires, both individually and corporately.

In fact, I have heard a number of preachers, who I know hold to a cessationist position, indicate that in prayer we should listen to God.  Now, I have become increasingly persuaded that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit bears upon our conscience that affects the immaterial part of us that comprises our volitional will, thoughts, and emotions.   So a conscience that is influenced by the Holy Spirit will produce thoughts that speak to the will of God.  Is it any wonder why Paul says in Romans 12:2 that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind to prove what the will of God is?  Or in Romans 8:26 that the Spirit plays a role in identifying what we should prayer for when we don’t have a clue?  So listening involves hearing, but the “small still voice” most likely it is our own voice that is being directed by the Holy Spirit.  But that means God is still speaking.

Of course, this raises the question of words, thoughts or impressions that we get concerning others.  Is this prophecy?  I would say that it depends on how you define prophecy.  The “word of the Lord” as described in the Bible is related to revelation.  So if someone indicates they have a word from God, it can easily be confused with a presumed revelation.   For this reason, I cringe when I hear someone say they have a word from God.  It is the same with identifying one as a prophet.  Ephesians 2:20 indicate that apostles and prophets provide the foundation for the church with Christ being the chief cornerstone.  There are a few different interpretations, but the one I stick with is that these are New Testament prophets who are authenticating the apostolic message.  There is more I can say about prophecy and might do a follow up post specifically addressing that issue.

But on the other hand, the ministry of the Holy Spirit can direct our thoughts to vocalize what the Spirit is bearing witness to related to others or a particular situation.  I think it would be quite dishonest of me to suggest this means that God has stopped speaking, when in fact He is through the Holy Spirit. A show of hands of all who have expressed something through discernment concerning people or a situation OR who have been the recipient of such words.  How can anyone deny that God is communicating in this instance?

So that is where I am 5 years later and obviously still wrestling with some finer points of cessationism vs. continuationism.   In fact, I have said on many occasions that I went from being a crazy charismatic to a crusty cessationist and now live in a place called Tension 🙂


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    68 replies to "If God Has Stopped Speaking Then Why Do I Still Hear Him?"

    • Laurie M.

      I’m learning to live with tension in a lot of areas….doing the doctrinal tightrope walk.

    • Miguel

      “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

      When one asks God for wisdom, does it always come through what has been written? It should be sifted through what has been written, but I think the thrust of this verse is communication of another source.

    • Evan

      Thanks Lisa!

      Just a quick question–
      Is it possible to be convicted based on false beliefs? For example: if you happen to be a judgmental person by nature, and after spending much time with your friend, you judge something he says to indicate that he is not saved. You get increasingly convicted to talk to him about it because he needs to be saved, and yet when you finally “give in” to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, he talks to you and gives you plenty of evidence that he is saved. Is that possible?

      Also, does God tell us who he wants us to marry, or do we decide that based on what is scriptural and who we love?

      Just trying to resolve some conflicting ideas..

    • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TylerFlipboard, John Calvin Hall. John Calvin Hall said: If God Has Stopped Speaking Then Why Do I Still Hear Him?: (by Lisa Robinson) It has been five years since my ‘c… http://bit.ly/gNVSWE […]

    • I am convinced one of the reasons for the confusion in this area is that words are used differently by people to mean different things and are often used confusingly by all involved. “Prophecy”, “word of knowledge” and “word of wisdom” are often used differently by different people on both sides of the fence and not every charismatic regards them on the level of inspired Scripture (I certainly do not). Hard cessationists are rare birds (I know I used to be one). For those who cannot embrace the extremes, how much of this whole issue comes down to fighting over words?

    • cherylu

      Mike,

      I wonder if hard cessationists exist much more frequently in the blog world, (a higher percentage,) then they do in the “real world”?

      It seems to be quite common to read folks using the verse in Hebrews that Lisa quoted above to state vehemently that there is no such thing at all as God speaking to us in any way other then in the Bible since Jesus came. To them, “thoughts and impressions” are completely unacceptable because of their subjective nature.

      I honestly don’t understand how this works out in real life. There are way too many areas that we deal with on a day to day basis that the Bible can not begin to directly address.

      If people in the book of Acts needed directions by the Spirit on issues other then the direct revelations that became God’s Word, (like where to go next as a missionary or warnings of upcoming famine), I don’t know why we think we need such things any less. Yet I have read people argue strongly that is no longer necessary.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Evan, just to be clear, do you mean to say that false belief as related to your example, is the idea that we can believe something wrongly about someone and confuse that for the Holy Spirit? If so, then most definitely. Jeremiah says the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful, who can trust it? It is not all that difficult to impose “us” into the equation and insist that it is God, especially when it comes to determining one’s genuine faith based on outward signs. We can miss it. This is one reason why I give pause to using ‘a word from God’.

      As for your second question regarding a mate, that is tricky I think and depends on the situation. I have heard two divergent opinions concerning this – 1) that there is not a specific person we are to marry but we choose based on Biblical principles or 2) there is a specific person. I think either is plausible but I give preference to the latter where that is confirmed through a variety of affirmations.

    • Lisa Robinson

      And the affirmations must be aligned with Biblical precepts and principles. For instance, we know that God will not tell us to marry an unbeliever or align ourselves with a believer who doesn’t support the principles concerning marriage.

    • JasonS

      Lisa,
      That’s a very good post. To be honest, I think that we must learn to live with a certain tension. There’s a tension that is a pulling tension that tears us apart; then there’s the tension that is the binding, supporting tension that keeps us from falling. I think you’re dealing with the latter. It’s such that you are not falling into the emotionalism trap, yet you are left understanding that, no matter how much you may think you have it all figured out, you must still rely on Christ and not your knowledge of Scripture alone.
      I think, in the end, we may find that the voice we often heard was a heart that is shaped by truth, guided by the Spirit, and is often not a direct voice from God, but one mediated through our experiences: a kind of intuition that comes from experience, knowledge, and wisdom.
      Just some rambling thoughts.

    • Dr Michael

      Good post Lisa.

      Regarding what you said about discernment, I would not say it is the same as prophecy. A prophet, both OT and NT, spoke the words of God. If these words did not come true, than this person is not a prophet (and the OT had rules for what to do with them.) We all know our discernment has been wrong many times.

      Of course, once the cannon is closed, there is no need for prophecy. If there is still a need for prophecy, then the canon is not closed.

    • HC Wap

      Were all prophecies of the 1st Century written down as scripture? Really? All those that were spoken in Corinth? Certainly not. Not all prophecy was (or is) intended as inspired Scripture. Prophecy may simply be this:

      (1 Cor 14:3) “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”

      Cessasionists really need to get out (of their ivory towers?) more often.

    • Alex Guggenheim

      The key word in the context of the Holy Spirit guiding your thoughts is “your”. They cannot be treated as communications of God. At best they are God using your thoughts in the process of enlightenment in comparison to his thoughts, i.e., the Word of God which is Scripture.

      This categorically is not considered God speaking but God “illumination” through what God has already revealed. It is a misuse of the theological category of divine communication to classify what you described as “God speaking”. It should be classified as illumination. And yes, when God speaks it includes illumination but illumination does not always include the classification of God speaking and in this case the illuminating process you described is just that, illumination by means of God’s Word which has already been spoken as process and contained within “your” thoughts.

      This is a critical distinction and one we must observe with discipline in our categorizations of spiritual phenomena.

    • Evan

      Lisa,
      That’s exactly what I meant! I’m glad to know that, because I’ve been convicted of things which absolutely contradicted each other after my change of beliefs on the subject. That caused me to wonder if the Holy Spirit worked through my beliefs based on my knowledge of reality and the word of God or through direct intervention despite our beliefs.

      With regards to a marriage partner, I really have trouble understanding the latter option. I wish it was true, because it would make life easier, but I’ve known many people who’ve felt like God was telling them to marry one person–who they later divorced and then later felt like God was telling them to marry another person. I just don’t see why God would do that!! Mark Driscoll claims that God told him to marry his wife– and I believe him, because it was an audible voice. But should we govern who we marry based on feelings/ interpretations of “confirmations” which may or may not be from God?

      thank you a ton for your…

    • Evan

      “I think, in the end, we may find that the voice we often heard was a heart that is shaped by truth, guided by the Spirit, and is often not a direct voice from God, but one mediated through our experiences: a kind of intuition that comes from experience, knowledge, and wisdom.”

      Jason, I tend to agree with you on that. I’ve been searching for some way to summarize what I believe about the Holy Spirit works [specifically with regards to hearts] and this helped me clarify.
      Thank you!

    • Craig Bennett

      Lisa; there is a huge difference between being radically charistmatic; or what I term Chandelier Swinging Pentecostal – to becoming a cessationist.

      Both positions are extreme polared examples of the Biblical witness…. The truth is that the gifts of the spirit continued throughout the existence of the early into the modern church. Augustine writes a lot about his experience in seeing this happen in his book “The City of God” in it he recounts stories of events that happened in his day; deliverance, healing’s, prophecy, provision etc; though he did have a poor view regarding tongues.

      The issue is in regards to how you understand and use those gifts….. I’m not a radical charismatic; but neither am I a cessationist… I became radically saved through the miraculous working of the holy spirit…in miraculous circumstances and have seen a number of times the miraculous happen…

    • I agree the heart is deceitful above all else and we need to be careful not to take every impulse and assume it is from God but test it carefully to conclude whether it is (1Thessalonians 5:21,22), but I think it is a mistake to go to the opposite extreme and say God will not guide our thoughts in any way.

    • Hodge

      I think we’re fudging on biblical language when we say that God still speaks to us. Speaking is speaking, not in a “I feel the force speaking to me” type of way, but in an audible voice. The prophets aren’t inspired. They’re writings that become Scripture are. Otherwise, they get stuff in audible speech. So the pattern is to have God say audibly to them, “Go tell the people this,” not “I really feel like God is speaking to my heart right now.” So the question is whether people claiming to have God speak to them literally hear His voice. If not, they’re using the word “speaking” in a non-biblical manner. God directing our thoughts and enlightening us through the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives isn’t the same thing at all. The former is prophecy. The latter is more teaching through the giving of understanding rather than something audible.

      BTW, by “audible” I don’t mean that everyone can hear it. Prophecy came by way of vision or dream to most prophets in the OT.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hodge,

      I agree with both you and Alex, that the biblical use of speaking related to divine communication is revelation. I said that in the post. I further agree with Alex’s statement that the Holy Spirit provides illumination on that which has already been revealed.

      However, on-going communication through the Spirit is not the same as how God has already spoken. So while I do agree with you that there is no direct communication from God, as was accomplished through the prophets, that does not negate on-going communication from Him by way of the Holy Spirit, who is also God, btw. Here is where I will disagree with Alex who says there is no further communication.

      What if I substituted “speaking” for “communication by way of the Spirit”? If God is impressing upon us by the Spirit something He wishes to convey, how is that not communication? No, it is not the same as how He spoke directly but it is still something He wants to transmit to us.

    • Rick

      Lisa,

      It has been my experience and the experience of others that sometimes God speaks (using His voice) to give His children specific instructions to do something completely consistent with His will but applicable only to that person in that moment. It is not revelation because ti does not apply to all.

      This type of Communication from God is extremely rare but if you have experienced it you know it was the voice of God and it wasn’t still or quiet. My experience and the testimony of others also indicates it comes unexpected and usually while you are praying but not necessarily about what you hear God say.

      Summary – Not revelation because it is specific to one person at one time to do a very specific thing. Doesn’t violate cessionists beliefs but because it is specific it is extra-biblical but doesn’t contradict.

    • Hodge

      Lisa,

      “Communication” would be a better word. God communicates through everything as secondary to His revelation, where He actually communicates through speaking (whether His audible voice or by way of inspiration of the text, i.e., moving the authors to write His divine message for all of His people). So it’s important that we emphasize the primary as what is known to be Him speaking. His other forms of communication are left to our interpretation of them; and therefore, we ought to use the primary as our way of interpreting the secondary rather than vice versa. I know you agree with this already, but many churches don’t seem to get this.

    • rusty leonard

      Lisa,
      Thanks for your wonderful observations and insight. I appreciate your regard for experience. I think you have hit upon a nail worthy of hanging more on. Joseph was a dreamer of dreams and his subjective experiences were mocked until they were shown to be prophetic. Job 19:23 Job experienced, it appears, prior to the written expression. Abraham’s experience in Gen 22 seems to be prophetic as well. To Abraham it was a test, but to us a wonderful view of what God was going to do.

      Lu 24:32 talks about a subjective experience we have all had. So much of our lives are built on experience that we miss the subtly of it. We all know the color red, the feel of sunshine on our face, the smell of bacon. We learn and understand by experience so why wouldn’t God speak through it as well?

      I have life experiences that are unique to me but when I retell them within the context of the Gospel they become universal. Is it God teaching me only or using me to teach others as well?

    • Rick C.

      From OP—>“A show of hands of all who have expressed something through discernment concerning people or a situation OR who have been the recipient of such words. How can anyone deny that God is communicating in this instance?”< —

      Years after dropping out of a Pentecostal Bible college–after having become quite discouraged, I had become an alcoholic, agnostic, and thought I *might* be an atheist. I drank myself to sleep: 15-20 beers daily.

      So on a Sunday afternoon, I woke up with a massive hangover and went to buy some beer to get rid of “the shakes.” As I staggered out with my beer, a petite lady walked about a foot from my face, froze in her tracks, and said *boldy* – “God knows you and LOVES you and and wants you to get right with Him NOW!” and turned around & drove off.

      *NO* doubt in my mind: This woman was Spirit-led! (I think she had a “word of knowledge” on me). Her ‘witness’ stuck! and led me back to faith and sobriety!

    • Rick C.

      P.S. Lisa

      I grew up in a pretty “old-fashioned” Pentecostal church and saw some “extreme” type stuff. And what I couldn’t fit into the above was: Though this lady was really intense (it was weird, my jaw *dropped*) I can’t deny she was sent from God.

      I don’t know what I’m trying to say….

      I guess it’s that, regardless of our experiences, whether good or bad, or odd, or whatever — let’s trust God to speak in His time in His way and leave our doubts @YouTube!

      God bless you!

    • bethyada

      Lisa, I think a helpful book in this regard is Leanne Payne’s Listening Prayer. Could be better written, but I think she offers helpful advice and many cautions.

    • Alex Guggenheim

      Rick says:
      January 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Lisa,

      It has been my experience and the experience of others that sometimes God speaks (using His voice) to give His children specific instructions to do something completely consistent with His will but applicable only to that person in that moment. It is not revelation because ti does not apply to all.

      _____________

      The idea that for something to be “revelatory” it must be applicable to all is incorrect. This is not a qualifier for the term itself, rather certain class of revelation.

      Revelation is new divine communication not previously given. Whether individually or corporately, either way to receive such new information is called revelation. What many are failing to do here is distinguish between illumination and revelation, their thoughts and God’s thoughts.

    • Leslie Jebaraj

      Hey Lisa:

      I do not know when exactly you moved into Tension, but now we both are neighbors, really! 🙂

    • jim

      I agree with Alex #12

      I would use the word illumination as well, not God speaking. As well I would agree with Hodge(Wow) that alot of churches that don’t test the secondary communication against his word.

      #22 Rick : I don’t see this as anything other than one being a true witness to our saviour. You were drunk, had beer , it would be obvious that you were not on the right road. God gave the woman the desire and strength to witness to you…..I think the words were hers not necessary a sentence God gave her. I am glad you have returned to the flock. God Bless !

    • Rick C.

      Jim – it’s good to be saved & sober, tyvm, and God bless you! I appreciate that you simply think this lady was a ‘bold’ witnesser. I wasn’t drunk; I had a hangover. There were other ‘characters’ in the store who looked about like me. That this small lady ‘got in my face’ instead of someone else’s, coupled with the fact that I was having many experiences like this in a short period of time, still leads me to conclude God spoke to her directly to speak to me. I knew this on the spot! When my initial shock was over, I tried to ‘wave her down’ but she was too far away. In any event, she was led of God, no doubt. I agree that the “words were hers.” I don’t know if God gave her specific words to say (as in), “Go say to that man.” I’ve been led to witness to specific strangers (like this woman’s being led to me). What I said to them wasn’t “dictated”, nor ‘conversational’. But they were Spirit-inspired-led.

    • Rick C.

      P.S. Jim – it just dawned on me that I had said the same things (essentially) that this woman said to me once. I was ‘street preaching’ as well as doing ‘conversational evanglelism’ outside of bars in downtown Springfield, MO. I talked with a truck driver briefly, when he said he didn’t want to talk any more and walked off. When he got to his truck, about 60 yards away, I yelled, “God loves you! and will always be there for you!” He got in his truck and drove off.

      Spiritual experiences are hard to explain, even in person. Also, spiritual gifts are not always ‘exact’. They may, and do, overlap. “Evangelist” is a specific gift, while a ‘bold witnesser’ might be ‘used in’ or exercising a “word of knowledge”, “encouraging”, and/or other(s).

      Thanks!

    • Lisa Robinson

      All, I just corrected a typo I made at the beginning of the 6th paragraph. The response to the question of does that mean God speaks today concerning his revelation should be no and I had put yes, by accident. I think it was understood that I meant ‘no’ but just wanted to point that out.

      Alex, you said

      What many are failing to do here is distinguish between illumination and revelation, their thoughts and God’s thoughts.

      But God’s thoughts are transmitted through the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer, no? I do concede that God is not directly speaking to us the way He spoke to the prophets, but there is still communication going on that do infiltrate our thoughts. So there must be something that distinguishes thoughts we have without the Spirit’s influence vs. thoughts we have with it.

    • ScottL

      Hodge –

      I think we’re fudging on biblical language when we say that God still speaks to us. Speaking is speaking, not in a “I feel the force speaking to me” type of way, but in an audible voice. The prophets aren’t inspired. They’re writings that become Scripture are. Otherwise, they get stuff in audible speech. So the pattern is to have God say audibly to them, “Go tell the people this,” not “I really feel like God is speaking to my heart right now.” So the question is whether people claiming to have God speak to them literally hear His voice…

      BTW, by “audible” I don’t mean that everyone can hear it. Prophecy came by way of vision or dream to most prophets in the OT.

      Your last sentence got you out of a pickle, for most people who wrote Scripture didn’t hear an audible voice. The same is true today – most don’t hear God in an audible voice, but in varying ways. Hence, Heb 1:1 says God spoke in many ways.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      The biggest thing we have to recognise, which I believe can help us relax on this topic, is that God’s revelation could be looked at in two categories: 1) redemptive & 2) non-redemptive. This is extremely important, for in Christ, we find the completion of God’s redemptive revelation and work, with nothing to add to that work. But, God’s non-redemptive revelation still continues. Why? Because God is a speaking, revealing, communicating God. It is simply His nature. I expect God to keep saving because He is truly a saving God. I expect God to keep showing justice because He is a just God. I expect God to keep revealing because He is a revelatory God. And so on.

      So Scripture testifies to us that God’s redemptive revelation & work is complete in Christ. But the canon does not testify that God has stopped revealing and speaking. Even Heb 1:1-3 says God has spoken in His Son in these last days. We have been in the last days for about 2000 years.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      In fact, I have heard a number of preachers, who I know hold to a cessationist position, indicate that in prayer we should listen to God.

      It is amazing to see so many churches that had been in the stronger cessationist camp start speaking about hearing God, listening to God, God speaking. This would not have been common 30 or more years ago.

      So listening involves hearing, but the “small still voice” most likely it is our own voice that is being directed by the Holy Spirit. But that means God is still speaking.

      This statement does baffle me.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      Sorry, last comment. The comment boxes don’t allow as many characters as in the past.

      For this reason, I cringe when I hear someone say they have a word from God. It is the same with identifying one as a prophet. Ephesians 2:20 indicate that apostles and prophets provide the foundation for the church with Christ being the chief cornerstone. There are a few different interpretations, but the one I stick with is that these are New Testament prophets who are authenticating the apostolic message.

      What about Eph 4:11-13 that says we need all 5 ministry gifts listed until we reach unity in the body and become the fully mature body. We are not there yet, are we? We need these ministries to prepare us.

    • Darrell Pack

      I love this sight but sometimes it makes me a little nuts. Especially on the spiritual gifts/manifestations/offices issues. Some of the charasmatic chaos-third wave confusion that you experienced and describe would not be likely in a traditional Pentecostal church. Have you ever looked at how Assemblies of God leaders dealt with the so-called Latter Rain movement? I think you’d find it interesting. Maybe rather than tension, God’s voice is leading you to the blessing of balance?

    • Finny Varghese

      Lisa, thanks for the great observation that God still communicates to us personally. I haven’t been convinced from His Word yet that God does not communicate audibly with his children even today. Our lack of experience of it doesn’t make it unreal! But as has already been stated we have a sure knowledge in His Word through which He still speaks. All other leadings in our life must complement His Word, it cannot contradict it! Having said that, how does one discern His personal leading? Well, discerning is just that! For me this means staying true to His Word (through obedience) and setting aside my priorities (seeking God’s glory). This becomes easier for me when I go to Him in prayer! After all, prayer is speaking to God! Why do we speak to God, if He would not communicate with us personally? And could it be only through His Word? Perhaps, perhaps not! (continued…)

    • Finny Varghese

      I am not sure if we should term all other forms of communication apart from His Word as God speaking or being illuminated. If all illuminations are aligned with His Word, it must have originated in His Word even though we find it some other way. I believe we experience such a personal leading when we spend more time in His Word. It is also true that someone who is not in His Word cannot truly discern such a personal leading or illumination!

      Nonetheless it is needed! I may not be all wrong in stating that our nation grieves in many ways because we have neglected such a personal leading!

    • Lisa Robinson

      Hey Finny,

      Good to see you over here. I agree that we can only discern what God wishes to communicate by being yielded to the Spirit. And that leading will never contradict His word and moreover, be informed by it.

      I also wonder what qualifies as audible. My experience has been actual words and sentences that are produced in my thoughts. For example, several years ago I had joined a start-up ministry and one day during worship, the thought came to me over and over “there is sin in the camp” It was so bearing that I knew I had to pray about it. I found out some time later that a key member of the original group had started embracing a homosexual lifestyle and was being subject to church discipline. Now, the only place I heard it was in my mind but in an intelligible sentence and I realized that it must have been in relation to this circumstance unbeknownst to me at the time.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Scott,

      I don’t know that we can say God speaks directly to us as he did the prophets nor do I see Hebrews 1:1-3 making a distinction between redemptive vs. non-redemptive communication. Do you mean to say that this passage does not speak to revelation?

      To reiterate points made in the post, there must be something about the indwelt Spirit that now bears witness to the testimony of Christ. I don’t know that we can call that revelation, since revelation has already happened nor would I consider it direct speaking, since the Hebrews passage indicates that whereas he spoke directly before Christ, now he speaks in Him.

      Anyways, I suspect we will never agree on this point.

    • Tim

      Thanks, Lisa! As one who would consider myself charismatic, I don’t honestly see a ton of difference between your stance and mine. Authoritative revelation today – no. Intimate involvement and leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives (even prompting specific insight into situations) – big yes!

    • Finny Varghese

      Hey Lisa,
      I am not sure how to classify your experience – as ‘leading’ or as ‘audible’. Obviously, in the literal sense it is not audible, but we must admit the tension here even when unsuspected words and sentences are formed in our thoughts (as also with the petite, bold lady confronting Rick). I am not surprised by it! Whether we qualify it as audible or not, it is still strange! Was it from God is the real question, right? Your response to pray seems to me to be most appropriate. Who knows, it may have gone as far as to be the cause for the conviction and correction, as you stated was the end result! But was more expected from you? I don’t know. But on the other hand, if more was expected how come more was not pointed out to you? And certainly you wouldn’t have been in doubt on the contrary!
      Btw, the tendency for self glorification (which is against God’s will) is not an excuse for the possibility of such a leading, as I have heard many argue!

    • Rick C.

      In closing his section on spiritual gifts, Paul wrote – 1 Cor 14:26 (NKJV) How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. The gifts as listed in 1 Cor are @ 1 Cor 12:7-11.

      Lisa, you had a revelation (“of sin in the camp”). You didn’t speak it, in which case you would have been prophesying. I’ve witnessed folks who had similar revelations and did prophesy in church. The “wording” included an urgent call to repentance, these being the “exhortation” type of prophecy, 1 Cor 14:3.

      Obviously, there’s a clear distinction between “God’s revelation of Himself to us in Christ” (and as recorded in the Bible), and the revelation that you had, which Paul wrote about in 1 Cor 14:26.

      I’ll propose 2 types of revelation: 1) God’s revelation of Himself in Christ and, 2) God’s revelatory guidance thru the gifts.

    • Hodge

      Scott,

      What I was saying is that it is not audible to everyone. “Speaking” is audible to someone though. It is actual speaking, not some feeling one gets or a thought that pops in one’s head. The various ways the author of Hebrews alludes to are seen throughout the OT, which is the corpus to which he is referring. So what are those methods of speaking? A dream to the non-professional “prophet,” a vision, which is a dream while awake, given to an experienced prophet, an angel, or God Himself directly (this is only with Moses and Jesus). The only other way that God speaks is through Scripture, and that is by the moving of the Spirit, a speaking that is still in words written and then read/preached. So it always involves a voice that is heard or a text that is written because God is known through the invisible word rather than through omens, feelings of the heart, idols, etc.

    • Rick C.

      [b](Cont’d)[/b], Re: “I have a word from the Lord.” I’m charismatic/continuationist but haven’t been ‘active’ in these circles for some time. When I was quite active in the great Charismatic Movement of the 70s, and also in AG churches, people just prophesied in worship. Getting someone’s “permission” to do so wasn’t even thought about. Since the charismatic movement has ‘waned’ in the US and my ‘being back around Christians’ from 11 years ago, I’ve asked around what the status of the charismatic movement is, asked people stuff. And, though it isn’t new (by any means), I’m hearing of lots of strange things going on. No need to elaborate on this.

      What I truly do wonder, though, is if folks have ever seen ‘the real thing’ (the true, biblical gifts in proper manifestation). People who say they haven’t seen genuineness in charismatic circles may not have. Because there’s no mistaking it when the gifts of the Spirit are Really-Real!

    • Rick C.

      @ Darrell, #35 You mentioned stuff about the AG, how they have handled issues like false doctrine, etc. This article is sort of old (1990) but has very pertinent things related to our discussion: Church and Institution: The AG (An excerpt), “….the Assemblies of God faced some of the same problems that caused the early church of the first centuries to abandon “signs and wonders.” Over the years many voiced caution about performing “in the flesh,” suggesting that the manifestation of many of the so-called gifts was unauthentic.”

      When I was AG, I never ‘fell’ for the excesses that came along at the end of the Charismatic Movement. The AG didn’t either.

      Otherwise, we seem to be covering various sub-topics here. I would like a response or so on what I’ve posted so far, like from Lisa, maybe. I kind of get the feeling that I’m not really ‘inter-acting’. Thanks!

    • Rick C.

      @ Darrel #35 I googled “AG, spiritual gifts” and came up with: AG teaching on 'Imparting of Spiritual Gifts'. It’s about the “Latter Rain” teaching from the 1940s you mentioned, which I was unfamiliar with. But, in talking with some charismatics recently, things they’ve ‘seen’ are similar to what happened with the LRs in the 40s. (An excerpt), “Predictive prophecy about imparted gifts discredits the working of the Spirit when those gifts are not then seen in operation. Only the Holy Spirit can give supernatural gifts. There is no record in Scripture of humans prophetically imparting spiritual gifts.”

      One lady told me about a ‘school of prophets’ who were ‘giving away’ gifts in this manner (as above). I’m no longer AG (I became amillennial and no longer hold to ‘initial evidence’). AG’s doing a good job overall on teaching about gifts!

    • mbaker

      I think some of us are getting it. At least I hope I am . Revelatory messages from the word of God as a corporate entity has ceased with the advent of Christ the ultimate prophet. So the office itself has ceased. However, revelatory messages as personal guidance from the Holy Spirt provided of course it agrees with the word of God already given is ongoing.

      Otherwise, there would be no reason we are individually indwelt by the Holy Spirit as our guide to truth, as believers, upon our acceptance of Christ. The canon itself is closed but our ongoing revelation of it is ongoing because of that. Again, that is provided our personal revelation agrees with what has been revealed as God’s truth.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      I think we have to answer a couple of questions. I am sure you have asked these, but I think they need highlighting.

      1) What is revelation?

      It means an unveiling, an uncovering. Like when a curtain is pulled back for a play in the theatre and your ‘eyes are opened’ to see what is behind it – characters, stage set-up, lighting, etc. God is continually unveiling and uncovering. It’s just in His nature from opening chapter to closing chapter of the Scripture, with a continuance in church history.

      2) Can revelation come in varying manners, or ‘categories’?

      I don’t want to get all stuffy on labels, but I recognise that revelation comes in a whole host of measures – specific redemptive revelation, specific revelation to a congregation (i.e. book of Revelation), to a particular person (i.e. some words given to Paul in Acts), etc. We have to recognise not everything is looking to add to the finished redemptive work in Christ. But God keeps speaking, keeps…

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      I don’t know that we can say God speaks directly to us as he did the prophets…

      Does this mean God goes through some specific barriers or hoops to communicate now, post AD 100? When you communicate to someone, even if you use your mobile phone to do so or a thank you card, though you used another means than person-to-person, is this not you speaking-communicating? If God still gives dreams, visions, impressions & speaks to our inner-man, is this not Him speaking? That’s how He did it long ago.

      nor do I see Hebrews 1:1-3 making a distinction between redemptive vs. non-redemptive communication. Do you mean to say that this passage does not speak to revelation?

      I don’t see Heb 1:1-3 making that distinction either. But I do see this distinction as I read through Scripture. As I said above – revelation comes in a whole host of measures – redemptive revelation, revelation to a congregation (book of Revelation), to a particular person (in the Corinth…

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      Final comment 🙂

      To reiterate points made in the post, there must be something about the indwelt Spirit that now bears witness to the testimony of Christ. I don’t know that we can call that revelation, since revelation has already happened…

      Revelation has already happened? So it has completely stopped? Or is it that God has nothing new to add redemptively, but can still speak to His people and churches and nations, etc? Again, we have to confirm our definitions of these words.

      Anyways, I suspect we will never agree on this point.

      You are probably right. 🙂 My biggest struggle is this. First off, I know you approach this from a pastoral-teacher heart to guard against bad stuff. And you (and I) have seen some bad stuff. But I really believe your definitions are so tight & put up so many barriers that cannot be easily established from the Scripture (Heb 1:1-3 & others). Nor do I believe it can be established because of God’s track record…

    • jim

      Scott:

      I firmly believe that the holy spirit convicts and leads a regenerated, born again believer. I feel scripture is the vehicle upon which we should test our convictions. These leadings which are spirit lead have never been an audible voice to me nor have they come to me in vision or dreams. In my Chrisitan walk they have been desires(feelings) and thoughts. These feelings could be sympathy, love, dispair, joy, etc. Our emotions God may use for the building up of his kingdom. There is nothing revelatory about that. His command is to go into all the world , to preach and tell others of Christ and his redemptive work. We are told to discipline one another through his word, that to me is what the spirit urges us to do.

      Rick : Sorry, didn’t mind to imply that you were drunk, but you had mentioned that you staggered out with your beer so I assumed you were still impaired.

    • ScottL

      jim –

      These leadings which are spirit lead have never been an audible voice to me nor have they come to me in vision or dreams.

      What we have to consider is that these have come in dreams and visions for many, many others. And, though we many times think that, in Scripture, when it speaks of God’s voice or God speaking, we automatically think of an audible voice, it was not always an audible voice. Still, sometimes it was. Granted, I personally have not audibly heard God’s voice, and I don’t know if I can point to any close friend that has that I can think of. But there have definitely been times God has spoken as clear as clear can be, giving a revelation such as a word of knowledge, a word of wisdom, a prophetic insight, etc.

    • jim

      Scott,

      You could be right but most times this word of knowledge and wisdom are so general in nature that I certainly would not consider it a voice from God or prophetic insight. Conviction of the holy spirit I would not consider as a charismatic gift. That has been my experience and often experiences are quite subjection and we make connections that don’t necessarily apply.
      I remember a pastor annointing and praying over a bad knee of a church member (elderly) a little later during the prayer service he asked if her leg felt better to which she replied yes. He claimed a healing and answer to prayer. Within a few days the knee was bothering her even more than in the past. I am not saying anything about whether God can heal(he does) but the quick association of healing by annointing was claimed. I know God might have had a reason for a partial or temporary healing but it could have been a case of mind over matter as well. I just don’t like the jump we often make.

    • ScottL

      jim –

      I agree with all you have said and appreciate it.

      Just one comment with this statement: You could be right but most times this word of knowledge and wisdom are so general in nature that I certainly would not consider it a voice from God or prophetic insight.

      A true word of knowledge (i.e. Jesus’ insight with the Samaritan women at the well and her multiple husbands) or word of wisdom (i.e. Solomon’s ‘in the moment’ wisdom about how to deal with the 2 mothers arguing over the baby) are specific and direct insights from the Spirit, rather than just general knowledge or wisdom we have from walking with God as Christians.

    • Lisa Robinson

      Scott,

      We seem to have differing understandings of revelation and particular as it relates to Hebrews 1:1-3. When God spoke, it was to reveal Himself. Before Christ, He revealed Himself through the mechanisms cited in vs. 1. I take the “but now” to mean, that since He speaks in His son, He no longer needs to speak through the other mechanisms. Now, I recognize that the passage does not specifically indicate an abolition of such means, but it is the implication.

      If God reveals Himself in His son, whom has completed the will of the Father and now sits at His right hand, what further unveiling concerning Himself is needed? But that revelation is now attested to by apostles who teach what that means for the church.

      Since the believer is indwelt by the Spirit, He affirms this witness concerning Himself and particularly through God’s word. As I see it, the on-going communication is not a further revelation of God but communication of what that means for us.

    • Lisa Robinson

      (con’t) Also, I’m confused about the redemptive vs. non-redemptive distinction as you have defined it. Do you mean that this passage speaks to one and not the other? Is redemptive communication then entitled to further revelation? If so, what I am suggesting is that is the ministry of the Holy Spirit but not further revelations.

    • Hodge

      “And, though we many times think that, in Scripture, when it speaks of God’s voice or God speaking, we automatically think of an audible voice, it was not always an audible voice.”

      No, this is just not correct. I think you’re understanding “audible voice” as something that you hear with your waking ears. That pretty much never happened unless it was an angel or God Himself at Sinai or with Christ revealing something. What I mean by “audible voice” is something you hear God say. He actually speaks it. But you may be hearing it in a dream or vision, not with your actual eardrums. I challenge you to find me a single place in Scripture where God speaks to our inner man and through intuitions. God may direct us with these, but when He speaks, He speaks.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      We seem to have differing understandings of revelation and particular as it relates to Hebrews 1:1-3. When God spoke, it was to reveal Himself. Before Christ, He revealed Himself through the mechanisms cited in vs. 1. I take the “but now” to mean, that since He speaks in His son, He no longer needs to speak through the other mechanisms.

      Is to speak via His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ as well, then ‘another mechanism’? That is how it was taking place after Christ’s ascension. That’s why Christ sent another just like himself to continue the same work he began.

      If God reveals Himself in His son, whom has completed the will of the Father and now sits at His right hand, what further unveiling concerning Himself is needed? But that revelation is now attested to by apostles who teach what that means for the church.

      It’s not so much God revealing new things concerning Himself, but revealing new things about us, our situations, and how His plans can…

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      Also, I’m confused about the redemptive vs. non-redemptive distinction as you have defined it. Do you mean that this passage speaks to one and not the other? Is redemptive communication then entitled to further revelation?

      I think that Heb 1:1-3 speaks more in regards to redemptive revelation. But as to non-redemptive revelation, it still takes place. Jesus’ word of knowledge about the woman at the well. This was unequivocally a revelation (with the Son in his humanity relying on the Spirit). This revelation happens today by God’s Spirit. A person does not study another, psychologically analyse, etc. They are given a revelation by God’s Spirit. Paul recognising that a girl is filled with a demonic spirit (Acts 16:16-18) is a revelation through the gift of discernings of spirits (not psychological analysing or general wisdom).

      These are revelations, non-redemptive, and they continue today. It’s about God revealing things that help us walk out His purposes today.

    • ScottL

      Hodge –

      I agree with what you have said about ‘audible’ voice. I would just encourage you to consider utilising another way of explaining, i.e., distinguishing between actual audible voice and the voice of God that speaks as one hears it within via a whole host of things – the voice speaking to us, dreams, visions, impressions, etc.

      I challenge you to find me a single place in Scripture where God speaks to our inner man and through intuitions. God may direct us with these, but when He speaks, He speaks.

      This is hard to lay out in small comment boxes on a blog. Personal interaction would be best. But I am not talking about intuition, as if only feelings. I do believe we can sense things in God, without God’s ‘voice’ speaking. I might point to Acts 21:4 as a smaller example – it seems they were speaking forth what they sensed by God’s Spirit. I believe the revelation through discerning of spirits can be a sense, rather than an actual, ‘That person is oppressed by…

    • jim

      Scott : You said: “I would just encourage you to consider utilising another way of explaining, i.e., distinguishing between actual audible voice and the voice of God that speaks as one hears it within via a whole host of things – the voice speaking to us, dreams, visions, impressions, etc.”

      Technically to hear something it needs to be audible. To feel something or be moved to an action through the spirit in our innermost I can understand but voices through dreams and visions I have never experienced.
      They can be just so subjective and as I have mentioned before from the charasmatic’s I know , very general in detail. My wife has good intution but I don’t believe that is a gift, but maybe .

    • ScottL

      jim –

      It’s ok. I don’t regularly have visions and dreams, though I do believe God has given me (maybe ‘impressed upon my mind/spirit) a visual picture to help communicate a truth-revelation of His. I think I can only remember 1, maybe 2, dreams in my whole life that I felt were God specifically speaking to me.

      Yes, things can be subjective. Heck, I bet you at times the biblical writers were wondering if it was God or just them. Each follower of Christ goes through this. Thankfully we have the body of Christ and the word of God to keep us on track. But, again, I am not talking of intuition, i.e. as in woman’s intuition (though God gives those good natural abilities, gifts and talents). I am speaking of true God-communication through what we sense by His Spirit.

    • ScottL

      Let me also clarify this way.

      A word of knowledge can be utilised in God’s redemptive work in the life of a person or persons. No doubt about that. Any of the gifts are ultimately there to draw people to Christ and strengthen those already in Christ. So, if we wanted to say redemptive revelation is primary and non-redemptive revelation is secondary (but tied into the great redemptive work of God in Christ), I am very good with that.

      Therefore, God is not saying anything knew about His redemptive work that has been completed in His Son. But He continues to reveal, speak, unveil, communicate to us for the actual and practical outworking of His redemptive work.

      I hope that makes sense.

    • Hodge

      Scott,

      I think we are mostly in agreement, except for the idea that intuitions or thoughts that pop in one’s head are God speaking. Acts 21:4 seems to be saying that these were prophets, i.e., those who receive audible words in visions. What they seem to receive is made clear by the text’s recording of Agabus’s prophecy, i.e., that the Spirit is actually saying to them that Paul will be imprisoned in Jerusalem. They seem to interpret that as a warning not to go (notice that nothing is said in the prophecy in terms of a command for Paul not to go, only that he will be bound once he does). Paul knows that he is to go there anyway. So their interpretation of the revelation is off, but the revelation is given in audible language.

    • ScottL

      Hodge –

      Wow, we are coming to some sort of agreement! 😉

      Again, I am not talking about intuition. As I said, having this conversation over the internet is hard, for defining words is not easily typed out. Body language, facial expressions and voice inflection could help.

      But, please don’t anyone roll their eyes at these expressions, as I am only trying to say what it has been like for me and others. What I am talking about is as if God ‘drops’ something into your mind/spirit. Almost like a small download of a revelation. Even, at times, it could be a strong sense which you begin to pray and ask God for clarity.

      A friend of mine was praying for a lady that had wanted to be healed. God told him (in no vision, but in his mind/spirit) to ask the lady about her mother, that this was the real problem. When he did, the lady burst out with an angry reply, ‘Don’t talk about THAT woman.’ And there, through the word of knowledge, God unveiled something that needed to be healed…

    • Jacob Jarvis

      In John 14:26, you say that you believe Jesus is talking directly with the Apostles. I disagree. Just before he says that, he says things like, “Anyone who loves he….” or “Anyone who does not love me…” making it seem as though the audience he is talking to is not closed off to the apostles. I believe his audience is mainly the apostles, but to limit it to just them is a gross understatement.

    • surely water down an individual’s better in cold conditions water according to the courses for Woolite incorporate 2 tablespoons per two cups of water, as for UGG modern australia more clean cross punch on a somebody to one proportion, for a all natural house cleaner just like Ecover fragile in order to, combin just a third of just a capful about 2 1/2 liters of wintry water,

    • gary

      Growing up fundamentalist/evangelical, I was told that as a born-again Christian God would “speak to me”, “move me”, and “lead me” so that I would know and could follow his will. I listened to others talk about how God spoke to them, moved them, and led them to do this and to do that…but He never did the same for me. I finally came to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with me because God had decided he didn’t want to talk to me. So I left the Church.

      Many years later I became an orthodox Lutheran and was told that God doesn’t work like that. The evangelicals are wrong. The voice they are listening to is their own. According to “true” Christianity, God speaks to Christians in only one manner: through his Word, the Bible.

      That gave me a lot of peace…until I found out that the “Word” is full of discrepancies, errors, and scribe alterations.

      I was very sad (and angry) to find out—it is ALL nonsense.

      So what about my problem of not hearing the “voice” that other evangelicals were hearing speak, move, and lead them? After deconverting completely from Christianity, I came to realize that it was THEM, not me, that had the problem. They were hearing voices. I was the sane one…who did not.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.