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My Experience with a Prophetic Vision Today or “How to Test Prophecy”

I just left the house of a wonderful Christian family who is experiencing some very odd stuff at their house. I would not necessarily call this “paranormal” and I don’t know if I am comfortable calling it “demonic.” They don’t know what to do with it either. There are too many details for me to share, but most of the “activity” centers around a nine-year-old boy. If I were to summarize this in modern evangelical or charismatic language and use assumptions from the same, I would say that this family is being harassed by a demon. If I were to put it in modern American language, I would say this house has a “spiritual entity” or a ghost. If I were to put it in modern liberal language, I would say that some people in this family need to be on medication. But these are all dangerous places to start.

Let me say first of all that the family does not read this blog. Regardless, I am going to keep most details somewhat obscure so as to create some opportunity for discussion without risking their privacy. Second, let me say this: I don’t know what is going on. There is some odd stuff such as shadows appearing out of the wall, footsteps when no one is home, angels appearing in times of trouble, and little men with black painted faces running into and through people (which is, believe it or not, a very common testimony). However, considering my recent blog post about my dream and the subject of prophecy, I do want to talk about a couple of specific things somewhat unrelated to the “entity” about which I was called. I want to talk about some of the prophetic things involved with this family.

Here is essentially what I believe about prophecy. A prophecy is the act of speaking on behalf of God. So far so good? Prophecy is not a prediction about the future. It is simply a claim to transcendent knowledge that could not be acquired by any means other than a connection to God. Any time someone claims to have a prophecy (whether encouraging or discouraging, through direct contact or through dreams, whether it is someone else or myself) I require two things:

1. Mark of Transcendence: Is it absolutely evident that this “prophecy” came from God?

In other words, does the person claiming to speak on behalf of God bring a sign or wonder with him? Does he or she do something that is miraculous? This could be raising the dead, parting the sea, or healing the blind. It could even be embedded in the prophecy itself. Though we have to be careful with this, due to the reality of obscurity, does the person predict something that comes true or does he or she know things about me that would require transcendent knowledge? Of course I have seen so much obscurity here that we have to be careful. To put this another way, telling me, “You are going through financial difficulty!” does not qualify, as with our country’s current economy, the “prophet” has a pretty good chance of getting this right! Neither does, “God wants you to take that new job,” or, “God knows your depression and he loves you.” These are not precise enough. It has to be something really specific. . . Think the David and Uriah situation here. And it cannot be a predictive prophecy like, “It is going to rain tomorrow.” Neither can it be, “In five years, you are going to have a child.” There is no reason for you to hang your hat on hope which cannot be verified for a long period of time. This is not God’s M.O. If there is going to be a far-in-the-future predictive prophecy, there will be a near predictive prophecy which will establish the testimony of the far one (Isaiah 9 is an awesome example).

Why such requirements? Deut 18:21-22 says as much. The prophet will always have an attesting sign. God cares too much about his word to allow people to be flippant, casual, or vain about it (as was the case with the nations that Israel was disposing). He has a pretty big reputation to protect.

2. Mark of Orthodoxy: Does this contradict any truth already revealed in the Scripture?

I primarily get this from Deut 13:1-2:

“Suppose a prophet or one who foretells by dreams should appear among you and show you a sign or wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder should come to pass concerning what he said to you, namely, “Let us follow other gods”– gods whom you have not previously known– ‘and let us serve them.'”

Notice the assumption of an attesting sign or wonder. However, here God allows the mark of transcendence to give the false prophet the appearance of legitimacy (i.e., there was a miracle present). However, these guys were calling on Israel to worship other gods. There may be times when someone does something extraordinary, like the magicians in Egypt at the time of Moses. But they are not qualified by this alone. They must speak in concert with already revealed truth. In this case, they are calling on people to believe and be devoted to the idea that there are many gods that we need to call upon.

Those are the two tests to which I subject any prophetic claim. Now, back to my experience today.

First, there was the mother who was experiencing visions and feelings that one of her children was going to die in a car accident in three years’ time. These visions have been continual and clear. The tragedy is terrible. In this case, the mother was having a possible prophetic vision. Now, I don’t think this fails with regard to the orthodoxy test, as I don’t think there is a requirement for all prophecy to be positively encouraging. I think we have a standard of there being a point to the prophecy and I would wonder what the point of this prophecy is. Was it that she spend more quality time with the child? Maybe. Hezekiah was told to get his house in order as he was about to die (Isa. 38:1). And I don’t think we can set a requirement that all prophecy has to be positively encouraging. After all, wasn’t God’s primary complaint in Jeremiah 23 that all the false prophets were only giving good news, when death and judgment were on the horizon?

Jer 23:17-19 17
“They [the false prophets] keep saying to those who despise Me, ‘The LORD has said, “You will have peace “‘; and as for everyone who walks in the stubbornness of his own heart, they say, ‘Calamity will not come upon you.’ 18 But who has stood in the council of the LORD, that he should see and hear His word? Who has given heed to His word and listened? 19 Behold, the storm of the LORD has gone forth in wrath, Even a whirling tempest; It will swirl down on the head of the wicked.

Often, false prophets will couch their prophecies in good news because they want us to believe it. We like good news from God, not bad. It is just easier to accept.

However, I told her that she has no obligation to consider or believe this vision, impression, or dream, as it does not have any mark of transcendence. In fact, I told her just the opposite. If she let her life be guided by such things, good news or bad, she would find herself departing from the Lord as she would be allowing his name (reputation) to be taking in vain (empty; in need of no substantiation). So then and there, we prayed that if this “vision” were true, God would provide a substantiating sign or wonder right now. Not later…now (after all, he had already given the vision). Nothing happened as we sat there and prayed. We waited about 30 seconds. Still nothing. I gave her the best pastoral advice that I could: “You cannot believe this any more. Let it go.”

Second, the son, according to his testimony, had been taken up to heaven in a vision. There he saw many things, including the throne of God, Jesus, and Michael the Archangel. Some details in his description of heaven caused me to raise my eyebrows about what heaven looked like, but none of them were overtly unorthodox. As well, for him, this was a very encouraging dream. It made him feel good and loved by God. It also helped him feel protected in spite of his fear of this “entity” in their house (which I am not going to talk about).

But as good as this may have made him feel, I discouraged a belief in what the vision communicated. “How could you?” some of you may say. Forgive me, but I don’t think we have the right to believe something just because it makes us feel good or because it can be squeezed into a grid of orthodoxy. Simply put, I don’t believe these visions passed the test of transcendence either. Some may say that the vision itself was of a miraculous nature. I don’t think so. It would be like saying an impression or dream is miraculous in nature. The boy says he passed out and saw this vision.

I told the boy to get with his parents and ask that God would confirm the reality of this vision to all three of them at once through some evident sign. If he did, then he could take encouragement from it. But until then I told him to take prophetic encouragement from the Bible. I also told him that if he builds a habit of allowing unsubstantiated dreams and visions to bring him encouragement, this would create a “second canon” in his worldview. Since it is experience based, it could (and would) eventually take the place of Scripture (the first canon) completely. I even told him and his parents that if this happened, their visions could be better attributed to an evil source.

It was a very hard visit. It involved so much more than what I have just told you. The worlds of demons and spirits, dreams and prophecy, experience and emotion are real, but you had better have a game plan before you enter or they will quickly take over and redirect your entire life. This is the way experience is. Left in neutral, experience will hop in the driver’s seat. It is important, but it must be harnessed.

Set your standards high for God’s word and prophetic message, no matter how encouraging, discouraging, or personal it may be. God expects nothing less. And he does test us.

With such high standards, you may ask whether I have ever personally experienced a legitimate prophecy before. My answer is no. Have I ever heard of a legitimate prophecy in the history of the church? Yes. I have heard some here and there that, if true (and for some, they come from an incredibly reliable source), would pass both tests.

43 Responses to “My Experience with a Prophetic Vision Today or “How to Test Prophecy””

  1. Btw: Scott L gave a personal prophetic experience in the comments of the last post about God holding his hand (you will have to read it) that I do believe more than I don’t. It encouraged me quite a bit. It almost brought tears to my eyes. I believe it because it fit these tests.

  2. I am sorry but I do not see any place in Scripture where it requires the demand for an immediate attesting sign for prophecy and the only ones to demand such a sign are the Pharisees and company. Deuteronomy 18:21,22 says that every sign given must come to pass but not that an immediate sign must be given. I am convinced that we must be very careful in accepting every prophetic claim without careful scrutiny. But I not see the Biblical basis for the demand for an immediate sign. Jeremiah repeatedly predicted the fall of Jerusalem but gave few if any signs before it happened. This is not uncommon in the Scriptures.

  3. Mike, I would read a good commentary on the sign the Pharisees sought. I read four them yesterday and they all said that it was obvious that this is not teaching that we are to look for a sign since the entire ministry is Christ’s fulfillment of the need for signs. John the Baptist was told to look at the signs he was doing. The commentaries will point out that the sign that they wanted was insatiable and specific. But was not that we should have accepted Christ without a sign. The entire book of john is structured around this assumption that signs demonstrate who Christ is.

    “many other sign Christ did, but these have been written *so that you may believe that he is the Christ*.

  4. It’s hard to know what to make all of this, not having the full details. (And I bet being there, it was still overwhelming!) I can’t say that I have ever heard of one family experiencing all these things. I can’t imagine being called in to counsel people in this situation. From what you’ve said, it seems you approached it wisely.

    The main focus of all my comments so far has been to point out that Christian people these days often look to experiences and emotions as the foundation of their Christian faith. Oh, they claim it’s really the Word, but it’s not. After all, the Word is a book. Books require things like reading and study and thinking through difficult concepts. Who needs it? It’s much easier and fun to look to some emotional experience or other such thing.

    If you don’t believe me, check out how many people will come to a prayer meeting or bible “study” where it’s all about experiences, with a few verses thrown in, as opposed to how many show up to learn something like apologetics or biblical history. And then see which group of people are more mature and stable.

    This is a serious problem, and it’s only getting worse.

  5. Missy Markum 2012-06-10 at 8:05 am

    Well, there you have it. Mr. Patton is a charismatic. A charismatic-light maybe, but a charismatic. Maybe we should call him a “Grudemite”. Enjoy your confusion.

    But to something stated:

    “Let me say this first of all that this family does not read this blog. Either way, I am going to keep most things distant and somewhat obscure so as to simply create some opportunity for discussion. Second let me say this: I don’t know what is going on. There is some odd stuff such as shadows appearing out of the wall, footsteps when no one is home, angels appearing in times of trouble, and little men with black painted faces running into and trough people (which is, believe it or not, a very common testimony).”

    You have “seen” this, it is documented or you accept this simply on the value of people saying it is so? You are a gullible man, and the demons know it. The further you stray from sound hermeneutics and sound doctrine the deeper you will travel into this charismatic void. But you’re a good rationalist, I am sure you will develop good arguments as to why you are where you are and how God led you there.

    Mean? No, mean is leading people into confusion, you’re the mean one Mr. Patton.

  6. It seems he took a balanced approach in not simply accepting all these events as being from God, but also being open in a thoughtful way. As I said in my comment, it’s hard for us to know the full story because obviously he’s trying to be discreet so as not to put a family’s personal life on the internet in detail for all to see. Just because they don’t read here doesn’t mean it’s hidden. The internet is forever, after all.

    But nowhere is he taking all this and accepting it as being signs from God, just because it happened. So why the nastiness about him being a charismatic and in the negative sense of that word as you are using it here?

    Here you are once again being nasty, making assumptions and accusations and all the rest. What exactly is your purpose with this? Or are you here just to be rude?

  7. About the little men with black painted faces:
    When I read this I was immediately reminded of a piece of artwork used in a prayer set to music on You Tube. (If you search for Jaredhaze Saint Michael you should find it). It’s a prayer to St Michael the archangel, but that’s not my point. My point is that during the song, one old piece of artwork shown portrays St Michael protecting a nun from a little man with a face that looks to be painted black. I had no idea this may possibly be a common manifestation.

    About keeping visions in perspective:
    Your judgement about not letting visions, etc. replace Scripture seems very sensible. The CC’s teaching on this is right along the same line…that a distinction must be maintained between private revelation and public revelation (which ended with the age of the apostles), and that private revelation must never replace and never contradicts public revelation, that public revelation always trumps private revelation.

  8. Missy Markum 2012-06-10 at 9:26 am

    Mo,

    I see, you being nasty to me is of course fine and acceptable as you complain about allegedly nastiness of others. Do you have any idea the hypocrisy of your nonsense?

    Mr. Patton is doing a grave disservice to the body of Christ. If all he can tolerate are choirs singing his cheers, he is indeed a spiritual child of the worst order but it seems you, certainly, cannot tolerate anything but agreement. I leave you to your spiritual bottle of spoiled milk and diapers.

  9. “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

    “The Devil can come all dressed up as an angel of light.”

    The only things that we can trust are true (when it comes to God), are His Word and sacrament. Other things may be of God…they might be other spirits working against our faith.

  10. I am not charasmatic. However, as a rational evangelical I try to be open to things in the Bible that other believers may have focused on more than I. Charasmatic types are more aware of demon influence and demon deliverance than I realized. They don’t include exorcism in that.

    I had the opportunity to get to know Bill Schnoebelen. He is a former charasmatic and before that a Satanist heavily involved in the occult. By the way you should hear what he has to say about mormonism and their plans for the presidency as he was in leadership there also.

    He is gloriously born again and writes books, produces dvds, speaks, appears in documentaries, on the occult. He and his wife were counselors with Ed Decker in a deliverance ministry. They led an amazing life encountering supernatural phenonenum, intrepreting and dispelling darkness in people’s lives. They were brought the worse cases because of the reputation they developed. They worked with professional psyciatrists many times to help patients having demonic attacks, visions, influences, etc.

    While some may consider Bill as a little out there on the edge, I dare say that if you knew C.S. Lewis personally you may have thought him so, as he had a fascination with the supernatural and a very high IQ. To know someone like this is a privilege, I believe.

    Bill with his wife and ministry partner published many books, but the one on what demon influence is and how to conduct deliverance sessions explains in detail WAY more than any other book I have read, about this topic that most evangelicals are extremely naive about. This cost them dearly.

    I would not go to Bill on an deep theological issues, but his personal experience with the supernatural realm for real, is unsurpassed, eye-opening and enlightening. I wish every evangelical would reach into the abyss read this book. I pray much differently and much more as a result. I live differently and perceive more deeply.

    “Blood On The Doorposts”

    http://www...

  11. Missy, indeed, this blog can stand disagreement but not blind assertions that are ad hom. You need to tackle some specific issue with scripture or reason. Glad you are here, but this is a different type of blog.

  12. @ Missy –

    There has been no nastiness from me to you. You cannot point to any. I, however, can point to plenty of it. And not just toward me, but toward the author of this post, where we are guests.

    Since you do not know how to speak without insulting people, I will not longer engage you in conversation.

    I see you were warned at least once. Hopefully you will be banned/removed soon, if you do not stop this behavior.

  13. @ Anita –

    “I would not go to Bill on an deep theological issues, but his personal experience with the supernatural realm for real, is unsurpassed, eye-opening and enlightening.”

    This statement raised an immediate red flag. Does it not also to you, as you read it back?

    I went to his site and the FAQ list had PDF documents that weren’t found, so I was not able to read them. (Perhaps it’s my computer that had a problem.)

    Looking him up a bit, he sounds quite out there. I am listening to his testimony on YT:

    http://youtu.be/JwDSXINYkwo

    All I can say is that while his story may be real and his ministry may be for real, we must be careful.

    Once again, it’s much more exciting to hear wild accounts like his, than it is to do the day to day work of actually studying the Word of God in order to become more like Christ.

  14. Mo, I’ll say it like this. Firstly I am careful about what I say of a brother in Christ, which Bill is. Coming from a charasmatic background when he was born again….only church that would take him seriously…. there are some subjects theologically he is super on and others not so much. For example, he is a stringent KJV-only believer, which I understand with the way he used the KJV in his ministry. But for the life of me, I don’t agree. He prays and fasts before ministering to others more than anyone I know. He is very spiritual. It is just that with a brilliant mind like he has, I cannot possibly second guess him except in areas that I am very up to speed on. So I don’t judge, I accept him for his major strengths, which I cannot touch in this lifetime, and can tell you personally that he is probably the most experienced with helping others with demonic influence, by far, that I am aware of.

    Bottom line is, if I have someone with demonic accounts, whether a Christian or not, I want them talking to Bill. He has a professional counseling degree as well and will accept phone calls in order to witness to and perhaps save the very life of a bound individual. He has God’s hand on his life in that area.

  15. I dare say that C.S. Lewis was not a major theologian to say the least either. However, what Christian has had a more powerful worldwide ministry than the English Professor? I will let God do the picking and choosing who He wants to use for what.

  16. @ Anita –

    See, this is the type of attitude that concerns me. Of course I didn’t mean that everyone who is/wants to be used by God needs to have an official title, letters next to their name, or be officially trained by a seminary.

    What gets me is the immediate defensiveness when someone even suggests that we should use discernment whenever we hear someone’s claim a certain type of experience.

    Then there’s the usual cry of, “Don’t judge!” which is not applicable here. Using discernment and thinking carefully about any issue is not judging. It’s what God calls us to do.

  17. Mo,

    I love theology and apologetics. I feel our first call is to know God so that we can love Him as He loves us.

    You spoke some things about my brother in Christ that I felt needed to be defended. I am hardly making a blanket statement that we ought not to be careful. I am not defending everyone who may appear wild as you say. But I am defending him. He is a loving, gentle and wonderful spokesman for God. I would not recommend him if I were not certain of his life before God. I find it somewhat offensive but not surprising that you feel red flags are necessary, and that I should be warned, and that you have not done a careful check of him. I know this man personally and have studied his life. I listened in full to the link you referenced just now. It is over an hour long by the way.

    http://youtu.be/JwDSXINYkwo

    Did you listen all the way through? In other words, did you give him a fair hearing? Are you giving me a fair hearing? He has hundreds of hours recorded and many books. Why don’t you start with the one I recommended? “Blood On The Doorposts”. It simply has more detail about how one can be won over from the occult or demon influence.

    And now that I think about his theology, he probably uses more quotes from scripture in his book than most. His theology is basically pretty good. But it is the practice of being a Christian where he excels.

    Again, I think we can get tunnel-vision with other Christians that think just like us. We need to break out of the professional veneer sometimes and be open to what God is doing. Be careful and be discerning, but don’t be judgemental and condemning without a careful hearing.

    If you wish to talk more about the benefits of winning people over from the demonic, yes even Christians, then I am all ears. That is the purpose I am here in this forum, not to debate you about the difference in judging and discernment.

    Love in Christ,

  18. CMP, I’m afraid I missed the near predictive prophecy to which you referred in Isaiah 9. Could you elaborate? The far off prophecy of Messiah is obvious. A synapse must have misfired for me on this one.

  19. Michael,

    It is stated in John 10:41 the John the Baptist did not miracles, was everyone correct in totally discounting him until Jesus came along. I am not saying God does not provide signs to confirm His Word, but I am uncomfortable with the idea that we can demand an immediate sign and reject something if it is no given. It is not that I think these things were really from God. I am in fact highly dubious. But I am equally dubious of too easy methods to determine this one way or the other.

  20. “You spoke some things about my brother in Christ that I felt needed to be defended.”

    It’s incredible how you’re acting as though I am making some sort of personal attack on the man. My comments are there for anyone to see that I did no such thing.

    That’s the last I have to say about it.

  21. I appreciate Michael’s commitment to uphold the authority of God’s word. I don’t think he accurately portrays prophecy. Here is Michael’s comment about prophecy:

    “Here is essentially what I believe about prophecy. A prophecy is the act of speaking on behalf of God. So far so good? Prophecy is not a prediction about the future. It is simply a claim to transcendent information that could not be acquired by anything but a connection to God.”

    There are a number of problems:

    a. First sentence is a definition of prophecy that is too broad. This definition would include teaching based on a scripture. But usually prophecy is distinguished from teaching by being seen to based on a direct revelation.
    b. Second sentence is too narrow. Prophecy can be prediction as even Michael recognizes later in the post.
    c. Third sentence contains qualifications that are not right. There is no reason why the information must be “transcendent”—it could be “mundane.” There is no reason why the information could not be acquired through other normal means. In reference to these issues I would recommend an important article by Vern Poythress entitled “Modern Spiritual Gifts as Analogous to Apostolic Gifts:
    Affirming Extraordinary Works of the Spirit
    within Cessationist Theology.” Especially take note of the distinction between “process” and “content.” Poythress distinguishes between “discursive” and “nondiscursive” processes. Also, he makes a distinction between “teaching” and “circumstantial” content. Poythress’ analysis is nuanced and subtle. It makes better sense of trying to understand “modern” prophecy than does Michael’s analysis–and this is done by a cessationist!

    http://www.frame-poythress.org/poythress_articles/1996Modern.htm

  22. Micheal, I understand that you intended this post as a way of continuing a discussion from an earlier post. I’m not sure it’s that closely related. Demonic manifestations are not really “charismatic” territory. We certainly talked about these in cessationist DTS without going anywhere near “spiritual gifts.”

    The “dreams” component, does bring us back to your “dream” post, however.

    There the bottom line, I’m afraid, is that what you disclose, without meaning to, is that at this point in your inquiry into “spiritual gifts” and specifically prophecy–you don’t know what you don’t know.

    You seem to want to learn, but not enough to be a learner.

    That’s fine, as a matter of abstract exploration, you do whatever you wish. If you prefer to discount the particular advices of people who actually know what they are doing–or at least more than you do, why, that’s your prerogative.

    But now you’re ministering to others, counseling a family. And the bottom line of this blog post is you’re in over your head. Now not yet knowing what you don’t know can be dangerous for someone else.

    You either really want to know or you don’t. And if you do, things may turn out to be somewhat different than you think. If you don’t at least explore that possiblity and table some of your pre-suppositions, then why bother to pretent to be exploring at all?

    This is not meant as a dis, but as an encouragement. Look at Matt. 13:52. You’ve got the scribe thing down. Maybe its time to be a student in these other things.

  23. I think this is wherein the danger lies that CMP is referring (and, CMP, let me know if I’m off): “Modern prophecy” (or the practice of operating through prophetic gift claimed by those with a charismatic bent) has taken on a different definition from Biblical prophecy. Therefore, what is claimed by those that “speak prophetically” today is taken as authoritative, yet we must remember Sola Scriptura. When there is a failure to discern “modern prophecy” in light of what Scripture says, then there is a danger of accepting what the “modern prophet” has said (often because we have itching ears).

  24. @ Paul M. –

    I don’t know whether this was the author’s intention as well, but you have hit exactly on my concern about all of this. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve hear, “God told me this-and-such.” Even if it’s not something blatantly contradicting Scripture, it doesn’t mean God did tell you/lead you to do any such thing.

    But as has been demonstrated in this thread, even raising this concern leaves you open to charges of not knowing Scripture, being spiritually immature, or even of personal attacks against whoever is claiming they’re speaking for God or have had some experience.

    I have to admit, I was not expecting this reaction!

  25. To Irene (comment 7):

    The depiction of demons as little men with black faces (or all black bony bodies and crazy hair) is quite common in early and medieval Christian art — see, for just a few examples, the Book of Kells (8th/9th cen), the Hortus Deliciarum of Herrad of Hohenburg and the Scivias of Hildegard of Bingen (both 12th cen. and both by women), and numerous 14th-cen. images of death and the plague.

  26. A general question to those who accept the possibility of valid prophecy today: do you also accept the possibility of vaild prophecy throughout the history of Christianity? And if so, how do you judge what is valid prophecy from what is not?

    I ask as a medievalist and specialist in the writings of Hildegard of Bingen, whose prophetic visionary theology (as well as art, music, and holistic medicine) in the 12th century mark her not only as one of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages but also one of the most extraordinary thinkers and theologians, regardless of gender (a reason why the Roman Catholic Church will recognize her later this year as a “Doctor of the Church”, a designation of special theological contributions so far given to only thirty-three people, of whom Hildegard will be only the fourth woman). All of her theological writings are couched in the terms of prophetic visions she received from “the Living Light” throughout her life. Furthermore, as with most visionaries and mystics of the Middle Ages, her prophetic gifts was closely scrutinized by a variety of ministers for an extended period of time before being accepted as authentic.

    Would Hildegard’s writings be accepted as “inspired” by today’s charismatics, with the obvious caveat that no writings can be invested with the same divine and universal authority as Scripture (i.e. all post-Scriptural prophetic writings are subservient to Scripture)?

    (I ask this out of genuine curiosity / my own ignorance of contemporary charismatic practice.)

  27. Truth Unites... and Divides 2012-06-12 at 12:58 pm

    CMP: “This world of demons and spirits, dreams and prophecy, experience and emotion, are real, but you had better have a game plan before you enter or it will quickly take over and redirect your entire life. This is the way experience is. Left in neutral, experience will be in the driver’s seat. It is important, but it must be harnessed.

    Set your standards high for God’s word and prophetic message, no matter how encouraging, discouraging, or personal it may be. God expects nothing less. And he does test us.”

    Two thumbs way, way up!

  28. Michael, #1:

    I believe the ‘hand-holding’ experience was described in two comments–#31, 33– on June 6 by Craig Bennett, not Scott L. I agree, the story he tells is deeply touching and convincing.

    I appreciate your reasonableness on this subject. I am a refugee from Charismania because of its lack of regard for Scripture, its failures of discernment and its promotion of false prophets. But I have not been persuaded that the gifts are no longer extant, as I know of too many experiences like that of Craig’s. Yet I agree with you, the test for truth must be so much higher than it is for those who play with a very strange fire.

    I look forward to reading in your archives. I am new to your site, and I have been so edified by what I have already read of your struggles with depression and grief. Thank you for your openness — you do a great service to the Body of Christ.

  29. I’m not convinced that we can so quickly dismiss the boy’s vision or perception of heaven. Heaven (or at least one or more of them if we accept Paul’s report of visiting one level of heaven) is a completely transcendent reality, solely spiritual. HOw does one use physical based terms to describe a spiritual reality that one sees?

    Moreover, even eyewitnesses of solely physical events are rarely identical.

    Further, take Old Testament visions of heavenly realities–like Ezekiel’s visions. His were hardly orthodox, meaning like previous revelations of heavenly realities.

    I don’t expect that the boy’s description of the transcendent reality that was (possibly) revealed to him to be like anyone elses–even if someone else had the exact same vision.

    In probing his vision, I suppose we could start with whether anything he describes is contradictory to something taught in Scripture. We could then also look to inconsistencies. And e could ask the boy if what he say could be described any differently.

    I don’t think that descriptions of visions are “teachings” per se and I don’t think that the descriptions need to be identical or even similar. I think that we also have to take into account that whoever describes their vision will use words and word pictures that are part of their cultural reality and framework. That is what Ezekiel, etc. did, and I would expect that the boy would use words and word pictures that he has heard that capture at least part of what he say–e.g. “thrones”.

    As CMP reports, none of what the boy described was “uorthodox”.

  30. RE B. Schnoebelen

    He may be saved by Jesus; only God knows for sure. However, he does not deserve any spotlighting on this website. B.S. mixes fact and fiction in his lifestory and his other stories. And tells really bizarre tales, including ones about humans actually growing fangs to be vampires, or that he had sexual intercourse with a demon as part of an initiation rite. Though he may have been high on drugs during the rite, BS believes that it was an actual demon and not just an hallucination or someone dressed up.

    Not just his stories, but many of his teachings can be documented as errors, such as his teaching that the only Witches prior to the 1980’s were classical satanists, or his claim that Mormons stole wiccan rituals (but modern wiccan rituals postdate the 1830 founding of the Mormon church by a hundred years).

    Etc., etc.

    Anway, I do hope that the focus of this thread stays on Michael’s main point.

  31. Mike, you remind me of a non swimmer at the side of a pool shouting instructions to someone in the water. No matter what books he has read, his knowledge is of little reality until he also gets in the water and tries to swim. Only then will he be able to understand what he is talking about.

    I have lived, operated and walked amongst prophetic people for almost 40 years. Indeed, my whole perspective on life and daily business is based on prophetic words which I have personally received from the Lord or someone has spoken to me. They have been amazingly valuable and directive for the present and the future. I would be lost without them.
    I have never heard anyone demand, nor do I find it in scripture that there should be any miracle accompanying them for them to be validated.
    Prophecy is a gift of the spirit, like miracles are. They are not necessarily found in the same person.
    If we put the demand that no one can prophesy until he can also do miracles, it is like saying you can’t go swimming until you learn to fly also.
    PS My wife had detailed visions of heaven when she was only 3 years old. She ascended and saw the Lord, the throne room and the gates of the city made with precious stones, plus many other things.
    She comes from a non christian family and knew nothing of the bible. She didn’t read a bible until her teens, and when she did, she read in the Book of Revelation all the details of what she had already witnessed.

  32. So, John I.,
    It’s ok for you to come on here and make statements and then you don’t want me to come back and defend them? That’s real fair. Many of the statements you make are wrong. But nevertheless, the reason I brought up his book, “Blood On The Doorposts”, is that I know him to be an expert on the occult and he had a most effective ministry for years as a credible degreed licensed professional counselor helping people with just these experiences. Some of the remarks that Michael Patton mentioned sound like demonic influence to me. I don’t know many experts that have lived and breathed the demonic and then are gloriously saved like Bill. He is for real. I have read all his books, heard him speak many times, know him personally, and have been a guest in his home. He is basically retired now, but still writes books, speaks and he will take a phone call from anyone being abused demonically. He is responsible for many salvations from unspeakable evil. We like to close our eyes to the devil, but he is out there alive and well, roaming around seeing what he can devour. Better to get wise. Bill S. has experiences that are hard to believe, but you can get cooberating accounts from others who were involved in the occult. He is not a one off. But I will stop here and just let others check him out for themselves. I pray that all this chatter will be helpful to some desperate person out there. I apologize Michael, for the tangent. Blessings, Anita

  33. I agree with your 2. I don’t agree with your 1.

    Not all ‘communication’ that came of God was prophecy. Some was commandments, instruction, teaching etc.

    I agree that prophecy need not necessarily be about the future – and I suspect that is why you defined 1. as you did, but God is outside of time.

    This means that when God glances at human history, beginning to end, he see’s no future, no past, just the human story unfolding. When He communicates what he sees, this is prophecy, it is atemporal, and it won’t necessarily come to pass either!

    Jonah was told what would happen if Nineveh did not repent. Nineveh repented. Prophecy and history are indistinguishable, as are prophecy and avenues of history that might unfold should something happen or not. History and future are also indistinguishable from a prophetic perspective.

    Does this mean prophecy can be of some source other than God? No.

    Prophecy, IMHO, are those instances God narrates the human story (beginning, end or middle) from His perspective wherever it fits in our timeline – whenever it is relative to our own time.

  34. I am someone wrestling with the cessation/continuation issue. I’ve seen enough unbiblical granola in charismania to step back. I also ask, when the bible speaks of prophecy and word of knowledge, does it mean the same thing that the charismatics think it means? And what of the source of supernatural stuff?

    The idea of a vison or message that persistently forces itself on the hearer until their resistance is eroded doesn’t sound like how the Holy Spirit works. (re woman with car accident vision) Do unclear visions sound consistent with Matt. 5:37’s command for clear direct communication? Or Peter’s very pointed vision of unclean food animals in a sheet, followed by gentiles at his door?

    One common error I’ve seen among both christians and unsaved people is the idea that : If it is supernatural, and if the information imparted is accurate, then that proves it is God. Yet scripture describes satan as a liar, and capble of appearing as an angel of light, in other words , a convincing representation of something emanating from God. The incident with the slave girl possessed of a spirit of divination would pass the tests of many christians today. What she said was accurate and it seemed to glorify God and uphold His purposes. Just because something speaks facts, radiates with love, communicates bible verifiable info about heaven or reveals hidden knowledge, doesn’t mean its God. Satan has seen the throneroom too and he knows what it looks like, having been the anointed cherub that covers.

    When the rich man was in hell, asked for someone ressurected to be sent to his five brothers that they might believe, the answer was that if they didn’t believe Moses and the prophets, it wasn’t going to make much difference if someone resurrected came and preached to them. (Luke 16:20-31) Supernatural manifestations are not known to create faith or obedience in the Israelits or the multitudes that departed from Jesus even though they had seen miracles.

  35. GoldCityDance 2012-06-19 at 7:03 pm

    I thought the continuationist/cessationist debate is about whether “gifts of the Holy Spirit” are still present today in the church.

    So… I must confess I’m a bit confused by people here calling others “charismatic” simply because those people believe in the existence of demons and demonic influence. Since when is it unorthodox or heretical to believe that demons are real and they are an anti-Christ force active in the world today?

  36. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
    (Hebrews 1:1-2 ESV)
    How does this verse/s apply to modern day prophecy? Can there be such?
    “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,” (Rev. 22:18)

  37. While I am not necessarily a continuationist (though Craig Bennent’ story had effected me more than I would expect!), the Rev passage can’t be used for Cessationism. This same idea of not adding to or taking away from the word of God is a common biblical theme. It is used by cessationists because of where it occurs in Rev (the last book of the Bible!) yet it can also be found in Deut and Prov. the idea is never to add to or take away from God’s word which continuationists readily agree with (well, the Evangelical continuationists).

  38. I have experienced a prophetic dream with a sign. BTW I go to a cessationist church and let me tell you I don’t share this. It was dramatic, specific, it awoke me from sleep. It was regarding something happening on the other side of the world. There is no way I could have known or would have even been thinking about it. I was so disturbed that I got up and felt strongly that I needed to open my computer email. (It was like 3am) There, on the computer, was a bizarre email with a time stamp of exactly the time of the dream. EXACTLY. I did not know the person who sent it or how he would have ever known me from Adam. How did this person get my email, and why email me at exactly the time of my dream? Never before and never again have I received further communication from this person (whom I had never met and I have no idea who he is). The email confirmed exactly the dream. I was instructed in the dream to warn the person to leave the country where they were living. The email stated that the persons I had been told to warn were in danger. This did not change any doctrine of the Bible, it just warned people. But still, I can’t share. People either do not believe me, or think it is evil/wrong/not according to theology. The accusatory response of the person posting above “satan is the liar” type of response is why people can’t talk about this. It was not a “sign to create faith” in that sense, but it did impact MY faith, since I am a scientist and prone to skepticism. I have zero doubt but that God spoke to me clearly through the dream. Even writing that seems “weird” but it is true.

  39. I know I am supposed to be referring back to scripture but I do have one comment gleaned from personal experience before I go into the scripture.
    I grew up in a family involved in the occult. What these people are experiencing is very much like what went on either in our house or the house of other family members or friends in the occult.
    God saved me in my twenties, I went to Bible school then seminary. We went on the mission field to SE Asia for 6 years. We saw these same things in our dealings with people from the 4 major religions in the region. It stems from worshiping or practicing or participating in some way with the occult or idolatry.

    What I can say scripturally is… SIN HAS CONSEQUENCES. And “spiritual” sin has “spiritual” consequences which include but are not limited to having “dreams, visions, prophecies” concerning a death of themselves or a family member. Supernatural phenomenon looking very close to scripture was very common. I can say without a doubt –supernatural phenomenon were a weekly, if not daily, experience as we preached the gospel & prayed with people in those idol worshiping countries.

    1) The scriptures that we applied then as now are “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (schemes) of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:11-12).
    2)This is starting to happen in reverse because people from those nations are relocating to the western world & bringing these practices here! “When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…” —Deuteronomy 18:9-12a

    3) False predictions of astrology are sternly warned against (Jeremiah 10:2; 27:9-10; Daniel 2:1-4; 4:7; 5:7-9) & repeatedly condemns the associated practice of worshiping the sun, moon & stars (or “deities or demons associated with them”) (Deuteronomy 4:19; 17:2-5; 2 Kings 21:3, 5; Zephaniah 1:5; Job 31:26-28; Jeremiah 8:1-2).
    3) Astrology reference …For you have trusted in your wickedness… THEREFORE EVIL shall come upon you… trouble shall fall upon you… Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, And the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from what shall come upon you. Behold, they shall be as stubble, The fire shall burn them; They shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame… -Isaiah 47:10-14a
    4) occult magic or divination are a manifestation of demonic powers or the result of demon possession (Acts 16:16)

    5) witchcraft and sorcery are denounced– anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 2 Kings 21:6; Micah 5:12; Isaiah 47:12; Ezekiel 13:18, 20; Acts 8:11-24; Leviticus 20:27; Exodus 7:11; Revelation 9:21; 22:15).

    6) The Bible strongly warns people not to consult mediums & spiritists (those who consult with spirits) for the truth, but to inquire of God (Isaiah 8:19). These “gifts from God” must be 100% accurate to meet the biblical test. it is not a gift from God (as some falsely claim). The Bible condemns & forbids these practices many times (Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 27:9; 2 Kings 21:6; 23:24).These despised practices of the heathens (Ezekiel 21:21; Isaiah 19:3; 1 Samuel 28) are shown to have disastrous consequences. Scripture says that one of the reasons King Saul died was “because he consulted a medium for guidance” rather than God (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).

    7) People in the “west” have “adopted” practices in various forms of exercise, medical intervention, meditation….the list is long….. with no regard to the actual history or basis (religious belief system) behind what they are engaged in. What we see is a massive deception of people in the west presuming that,”if it’s helpful & its been used other places, then it must be ok.” Just research the background information on “Yoga”…even “Christian Yoga” which was started by a Hindu. It’s the worship of gods in all the postures. ( My mom was a yoga enthusiast for 40 years.)

    The enemy of God is deceptive. People can be drawn into all sorts of things that they have no idea are occultic or basically practicing another religion. Since I spent the first 25 years of my life pursuing those things before I was saved I have seen what it does…what it promises…& how incredibly deceptive it can be.

    Caveat Emptor….Let the buyer beware which applies to the spiritual realm! GG

  40. I dream a lot too I never get like god talk thru my body or angels then dream angels the warriors teaching me how to fight I even seem sword. They tell me never trust demons they might sneak up I even dream the word I don’t like saying. Prohect one day hope .learn they mean.I was raised preach daughter

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