(Lisa Robinson)

In my first semester of seminary, I had to read Surprised by the Voice of God  by Jack Deere to complete a theological method paper for my Intro to Theology class.  I’ve been re-reading it in preparation to grade the same assignment. If you are not familiar with the book, Deere writes about the need to hear the voice of God beyond the Bible, namely through dreams, visions and prophetic utterances. He is a former DTS professor turned Charismatic and encourages a vibrant relationship with the Lord through the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t intend to do a review of the book here. I can only recommend that you read it for yourself to make up your own mind about his proposals. But there’s a few things that bother me that I have issues with, especially as it relates to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Bible and our Christian walk.

Deere proposes that in order to have a vibrant walk with the Lord, we need to model the way in which God spoke to the people in the Bible, namely the prophets, apostles and even Jesus himself.  He uses a plethora of examples, including his own, that portrays a staid and rather lifeless Christian existence by relying on the Bible alone and the inability to really hear from God. This is contrasted with an energized Christian walk that relies on the ability to hear God speak beyond the Bible. The thrust of his proposal is that if you want to really experience the Holy Spirit then the Bible is not enough.

Now I’m not going to quibble about the continuation of gifts vs cessationism. Michael and Sam Storms have a pretty extensive exchange on the that subject. But Deere’s proposal exposes a festering concern that I’ve had and that I hear frequently from many believers. To varying degrees, it is the idea that the Holy Spirit is only partially present in Bible and that if we really want to experience the Holy Spirit it requires going beyond the bible to “hear the voice of God”.

I propose that this position undermines the work and presence of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Biblical text.  It presumes that the Holy Spirit cannot be fully active with just bible reading alone. Now Deere does not dismiss the power of scripture, since he does have a chapter entitled God Speaks Through the Bible. But the thrust of his proposal is that it is insufficient. I think many Christians have adopted this view. But I don’t think it adequately relates the Holy Spirit’s involvement revelation, which is how God made Himself known.

Deere’s premise rest on the fact that the Holy Spirit began the age of revelation in the book of Acts, which gives us a prescription for how we should hear from God [1] Well, if we see that scripture is a product of revelation, that is how God made himself known, that prompts us to go back to Genesis and follow along as His story progresses. The covenant promises and acts of God in relation to his people unveil a progressive revelation, in which he provides the Law and to which the prophets testify.  The people and miracles that he used were for the purpose of revelation, which unrolls progressively through Israel’s history with the expectation of fulfillment of covenant promises. The progressive revelation culminates in the Son so that the fullness of the Godhead is revealed in the Son (Colossians.2:9; Ephesians 1:9-19). The Son fulfills the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17-18).

So looking at Hebrews 1:1-3, it makes that all things done prior to the Son’s unveiling were for the purpose of that unveiling and there is a shift in how God spoke, which is the word of the Lord. The Old Testament foretold, the gospels unveil, the apostolic letters explain and Revelation finalizes. Prophecy of scripture is equated to the word of the Lord; God the Father speaking in His Son through the prophetic and apostolic witness through the written word concerning the Son – “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).  Prophecy relates to the word of the Lord about Himself.

But I think what is significant to see is the Holy Spirit’s involvement in this, especially concerning God’s Trinitarian outworking. Peter said that that the prophecy of scripture did not come from men but from God “as they were moved along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).  In prophecy, the Holy Spirit communicates the will, heart and mind of the Father and he is the one influencing them concerning what God wants to communicate. So if the men who were moved by the Spirit also wrote down the prophecy concerning the Son, then Scripture is a product of the Holy Spirit.  In fact, 2 Timothy 3:16 indicates that Scripture is breathed out by God. So the words we read are spiritual because they are from the Spirit of God who testifies concerning the Son.  All scripture concerns prophecy of the Son, the word of the Lord.

I have even heard some go so far to say that Holy Spirit cannot be found when reading through written pages. But just as the Holy Spirit was actively involved in prophecy,  he is actively involved in scripture because he is the means by which men wrote scripture. This doesn’t mean the words become spiritual. They are not turned into magic bullets that become whatever we want them to mean, but trying to understand as best as possible what the author meant them to mean in whatever setting he was addressing. So when we read scripture, it is the vibrant ministry of the Holy Spirit.  That means the Holy Spirit is fully involved.

Ironically, I’ve also been reading an older gem of a book The Witness of the Spirit, by Bernard Ramm. Ramm builds his case for the testamonium (testimony of the Spirit) from the work of the Reformers. I love the explanation of the Trinitarian outworking concerning revelation;

In the course of divine revelation, the revelation reveals its own structure. The speaker is God the Father, whom revelation exhibits as the Sovereign One of the Trinity, the author, originator, and Lord of all. What the speaker says, he says through the Son, for the Son is the mediator of the Trinity. In the Son the Godhead steps out into the open. It is the Son who is the Logos – the uttered speech of God. It is the Son who is the incarnate God. His person is the mirror of the divine knowledge. He is the mediator and content of revelation. What the Son mediates is realized within the creature by the executive of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. He touches the creature so that revelation may come into his orbit, into his consciousness and into his hands. [1]

So when we read Scripture, according to how the author intended, aligned with the progressive revelation of God and the full unveiling in His Son, we can expect for the Holy Spirit to be fully active. God is there. We should then ourselves be aligned with the Spirit and open to hear what God is saying through his word. He will move us, woo us, convict us and energize us. If we read it piecemeal, detached from the metanarrative or as a book of moral principles, then we probably will experience the same lifeless existence of Deere’s examples and certainly look for other ways to hear from God.

I’m continuing to work through this material with the hopes of producing a very user friendly book on the subject and for development of my thesis topic.  If you’re interested, I started my own site here in which you can check out personal updates and writing that I might not do on this site.

[1] Deere, Surprised by the Voice of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 53

[2] Ramm, The Witness of the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1959), 31


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon 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. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    41 replies to "Surprised by the Deficiency of the Spirit"

    • Rey Reynoso

      Agree. That sort of thinking totally ignores the Book of Hebrews where the author specifically sees God speaking in history, through the text, to us right now. The Word is God’s Word not because it stands apart from him but because he’s actually talking: it is divine discourse.

    • ScottL

      Lisa –

      You knew I would respond. Now for Marv to follow. 🙂

      You stated: To varying degrees, it is the idea that the Holy Spirit is only partially present in Bible and that if we really want to experience the Holy Spirit it requires going beyond the bible to “hear the voice of God”.

      Of course, you realise most Christians actually hear the “voice” of God outside of Scripture. I mean, technically, we are not reading Scripture all day long. But we still note his continuing voice, his communication, his promptings in all sorts of ways throughout the day. Doesn’t negate Scripture. But this is why I believe prima scriptura is more a proper response than sola scriptura. Many people come to a revelation of God in Christ before ever reading a Bible as people preach the living word of God. At times, we fail to realise that Scripture’s reference to the “word of God” (& other similar phrasings) is actually not in reference to the written graphe-Scripture, but rather the living proclamation of God’s living word (this includes Heb 4:12).

      You also stated: The Old Testament foretold, the gospels unveil, the apostolic letters explain and Revelation finalizes.

      The Scripture canon finalises the redemptive revelation in Christ. Nothing need be added to such. But I would say God still reveals non-redemptively & always has been. A communicating and speaking God can do nothing but communicate and speak.

      I’d argue we are firstly people of the Spirit before we are people of the book. Scripture serves the Spirit, not vice versa. For many this sounds scary. And, of course, people will abuse it. But those who abuse are probably not willing to submit to Christ’s lordship and the role of the body of Christ, which is the pillar & foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). And, as I always remind us – Abuse & misuse should not lead to abandoning something. Rather it should lead to healthy…

    • ScottL


      That sort of thinking totally ignores the Book of Hebrews where the author specifically sees God speaking in history, through the text, to us right now.

      The great thing is that Jack would agree with you. No argument otherwise from him.

      A letter of mine to my wife is actually my discourse, me talking to her. And she treasures and has saved those love letters. Gets them out every once in a while to read them again. And they still stir her, speak to her of my love and affection for her. But it doesn’t negate the continued need of my living and active speech now.

      All illustrations fail, but I think the point is made. Scripture is God speaking. But the author of Hebrews never intended his words to communicate God stopped speaking in Christ (or in our 66-book canon). We can easily forget God was still speaking while he was writing his letter.

    • Ben Thorp

      You say that you’re not going to quibble about cessationism vs continuationism, but then provide an argument that is only sustainable within cessationism by implying that suggesting that the HS speaks outside of the Bible is to imply that He’s not fully active when you are reading the Bible.

    • Mutax

      Please understand my rudeness here. I felt anguished reading some of this. I gladly take back what i state bellow, if i’m lacking the understanding or missing the real focus of what is being discussed here.

      Though awakening may be sometimes of a sudden nature, it is also build by terrain preparation. Be content with that and this work.

      The Verb made the WorLd. Is it qualified as a Book too?
      Spirit partially present on Bible? Can we split the spirit? It is whole in whatever part it is present, and where it may be “seen”.
      Add vibrancy to your walk?

      Why i agree with
      1) “if you want to really experience the Holy Spirit then the Bible is not enough.” (i would change the IS to MAY BE)
      2) “…requires going beyond the bible to “hear the voice of God”
      Because anything can help you to awake or to sleep. This is the advertisement to do.
      So, i think that per individual basis it is legit to make your thinking more clear (less prone to subversion by wishes, let the light of reason be what it is) and to seek and see God’s fingerprints all over creation using any means. (Even studying Richard Dawkins who, unknowingly off course, was instrumental to a better and profound and rich understanding of many aspects of God. (The study of organisms is not the same as seeing life/soul/spirit)).

      Isn’t simplicity not enough bliss to witness? Or are we seeking adrenalin or endorphin? I think the first voice to be listened to is our own uncompromised voice. There could be other voices too, but i fear skipping lessons and rushing for the rewards.

      This is scary or a bit disturbing:
      “Deere proposes that in order to have a vibrant walk with the Lord, we need to model the way in which God spoke…”
      Who is this “We”?
      “Model”? Is there a system, a method which if applied can force
      results? Dedication and sincerity of will and humility wouldn’t be “sufficient” anymore?
      “Vibrant” is better than real?

      Oh people, i sincerely worry about…

    • Mutax

      Oh people, i sincerely worry about myself and apologize if i’m being blindly arrogant.

    • Ed Kratz

      Hi Ben, you said

      “…by implying that suggesting that the HS speaks outside of the Bible is to imply that He’s not fully active when you are reading the Bible.”

      No, I don’t think that’s what I’m implying that the Holy Spirit is not fully active when reading Scripture. But what I’m addressing, or hope I was addressing is the sufficiency of the Spirit to speak through the Bible alone. Deere himself says so. I don’t have the book with me now but I’ll post his own words on the subject. Also, I’m not asking the question if the Holy Spirit speaks outside of the Bible or if we call that prophecy so that’s why I indicated I didn’t see this post as about cessationism vs continuation per se. Hope that makes sense.

    • Seraphim

      Lisa, I think the problem came when folks went from believing the Bible is God’s Word to Man, and rather that it is simply Man’s Words about God.

    • ScottL

      Ser –

      That is not the foundation of Pentecostal-charismatic theology, which Lisa is assessing. Or even more, Lisa is assessing Deere, who probably would not be in strong agreement with a Sparks or Enns. We have to separate out the discussions rather than act as if they are fully related.

    • Marv

      Hi guys. Yeah, I pretty much have to chime in. I’m happy to join in a conversation my friend Lisa started, my friend Rey contributed to, my frend Scott contributed to, and which I now will contribute to. Since I’m name dropping, I also know Jack Deere, who was my prof in his before days…

      His two books are absolute treasures. Everyone should read them.

      He uniquivocably says that the Scriptures are the primary way that God communicates to us. He himself is extremely dedicated to the written word of God.

      However, he has rightly come to the understanding–which is pretty dang clear IN this written word of God, that our Lord’s desire and design for us is to also hear His voice through the Spirit.

      This is true. This is vital. This OUGHT to be uncontroversial. It’s right there in the Bible.

      What is not in the Bible, what specifically is NOT in Hebrews is any kind of suggestion that He doesn’t do that any more. Just doesn’t say that. Not no way. Not no how.

      It isn’t the Spirit which is deficient. It isn’t the Scriptures. However the DISCIPLE who doesn’t hear the voice of the Spirit, that is deficient.

      This is really a bit moot, since one cannot be a believer unless one hears God’s voice. (Jn 6:45). So in fact, friends, you DO and you HAVE. Why not continue to do so? Since this is what the Lord instructs.

      Deficiency? If you had a new car delivered and it seemed to be lacking both left wheels, would you say there was a deficiency somewhere. Indeed, much of the church SEEMS to recommend driving with a car like that. I say go with all four wheels. Call me crazy.

    • Marv

      Hi guys. Yeah, I pretty much have to chime in. I’m happy to join in a conversation my friend Lisa started, my friend Rey contributed to, my frend Scott contributed to, and which I now will contribute to. Since I’m name dropping, I also know Jack Deere, who was my prof in his before days…

      His two books are absolute treasures. Everyone should read them.

      He uniquivocably says that the Scriptures are the primary way that God communicates to us. He himself is extremely dedicated to the written word of God.

      However, he has rightly come to the understanding–which is pretty dang clear IN this written word of God, that our Lord’s desire and design for us is to also hear His voice through the Spirit.

      This is true. This is vital. This OUGHT to be uncontroversial. It’s right there in the Bible.

      What is not in the Bible, what specifically is NOT in Hebrews is any kind of suggestion that He doesn’t do that any more. Just doesn’t say that. Not no way. Not no how.

    • Marv


    • Susan

      Good article, Lisa. I have found that I’m much more aware of the Spirit’s active promptings as I make myself available as a verbal witness of the gospel. As He brings people to mind and I find myself reciting the gospel mentally I have learned to take that as my first clue that the Spirit is directing me to pray for someone and be open to conversation with them that might lead to presenting the gospel to them. I think that Christians who don’t actively share the gospel with nonbelievers have a much smaller experience of the Spirit’s active work directing and empowering us for witness, and this includes His help with wording and knowing what to say, on the spot, to nonbelievers. Christians who don’t share the gospel are also cutting themselves off from one of the greatest sources of joy in the Christian life. There is much joy in responding to the Spirit, seeing the Spirit work to bring the nonbeliever to an available witness and orchestrate circumstances…and then the biggest joy of all….seeing someone come to true faith in Christ!

    • Luke Geraty

      I am extremely happy with the way that the Continuationists in this thread have responded. I want to co-sign all that they have said.

      As has been stated (even by Lisa), Jack Deere would certainly not suggest the extremes that are found within some circles of “charismania.” As a certified Continuationist who has lots of friends who are also Continuationists, I have yet to really meet one that has a low view of the Bible. All of the ones that I know tend to have an extremely high view of Scripture and the Spirit’s role within.

      In fact, I think it could also be argued that one of the reasons why people ARE Continuationists is because they have a high view of Scripture, but I know that argument isn’t happening here… 🙂

    • Marv

      This should be chiseled in stone somewhere (from the comment above by Luke):

      “I think it could also be argued that one of the reasons why people ARE Continuationists is because they have a high view of Scripture”

    • Steve Martin

      I like what my pastor said to someone who asked him how to know if the Spirit is at work in you.

      He said, “You’re breathing aren’t you.”

      (then He is at work in you)

    • Jim in Hong Kong

      If you really want a solid response, let me suggest two resources available freely from Desiringgod.org: “The Authority and Nature of the Gift of Prophecy” and “Why the Gift of Prophecy Is Not the Usual Way of Knowing God’s Will.” Both are well grounded in Scripture. Blessings, Jim in Hong Kong

    • Alexander M. Jordan


      Thanks for the article. I read Jack Deere’s book a while back as one trying to wholeheartedly embrace charismaticism. I went to a charismatic church; heard all the standard charismatic teaching. The church I went to was not one of those “extreme” places but had respect for the Word. Nevertheless, the problem I saw there and continue to see in this approach is a terrible subjectivity. When one claims to have had a word from God that directs them to do this or that– there is no way to verify this. Whether the thing comes to pass in accordance with the word, or doesn’t, proves nothing. I had people give my family a “word that did not come to pass. I had people give me so called pictures and visions that were completely useless. But if they had somehow come to pass, what would that have proved? In Scripture those given special revelation are the exceptions, and true prophets don’t act on subjective “inner impressions” but on objective, external revelation given them by God, which always come to pass when the Word truly is from God. I know Scott, Marv and others like them are not extremists, yet nevertheless I think their approach opens the door to a subjectivism that produces nothing that is of more value than the sure Word of God.

      • Karoly

        The prophets spoke of a relationship with God and God confirmed that He did nothing without communicating with His servants, the prophets. An unbiased reading of the prophets’ stories shows that they had revelation and insight from God, which came as “a word from the Lord”, the presence of the “Spirit” etc and even as “fire in my bones!” This suggests that these were personal in nature and would thus be described as both “subjective” and as, in a sense “inner impressions”.

        Both Elijah and Elisha appear to support the sense of a normal ongoing awareness of God’s actions – so much so that Elisha seems surprised that God had hidden something from him. When God opens the servant’s eyes to see the chariots, he did not open the eyes of all the other people present. The revelation was of something real – in the spiritual realm – but this is something which an outside observer would consider subjective. Pentecost shows that God intends a “prophetic people”, not merely in terms of predictive prophecy, but rather the relationship with God that comes from the indwelling Spirit and for which Moses longed as something for the whole people of God. Paul, in Galatians, even points to the inheritance of the Spirit as the goal of the work of Jesus. This inheritance replaces our childhood under the Law. It seems clear that Paul, and other NT writers, had in mind the New Covenant as mentioned by Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the promise of the presence of the Spirit.

        Of course, we must be careful of not being led astray, Paul advocates testing all “prophecy” but does not forbid it. In terms of the original article, we must ask what the Bible actually teaches – do we listen to the Bible in order to come to the Bible, or is the goal of Scripture to point us to Jesus and an ongoing relationship with Him by the Spirit? In saying this, I do not denigrate Scripture, since it is the Word that teaches about this goal. I like the analogy of Scripture to a letter. I once spoke to a pen-pal on the phone, I had never heard their voice before, nor they mine, but we knew at once who we were speaking to, because our conversation was consonant with what we had written to one another. In the same way, if an inner conviction or guidance* is not in accordance with Scripture it should be rejected. This is precisely what 1 John says – do not believe “the spirits” if they deny the truth you have been given. Note, neither Paul nor John say “you’ve got our inspired epistles, so stop having anything to do with spiritual gifts and knuckle down to study.”
        (*even non-charismatics accept that God can guide our decisions!)

        If we haven’t learned to discern God speaking in Scripture – which is something more nuanced than simply reading a few favourite verses – we won’t recognise when he seeks to guide us personally. So I don’t think that accepting God’s guidance in day to day things necessarily means a lessening of the importance of Scripture. I also believe “charismatics” and those who emphasise Scripture only are not always as far apart as they think. Many people experience God’s guidance without labelling as “a word of wisdom” and I think that is because God has promised to guide us and He is not limited by our theology. I think that God only has to shout when we are not listening, so if we are trying to walk with God and actively want to do His will, He won’t encounter much resistance. He may only have to nudge us gently, so we may not even realise that a “sudden good idea” was actually guidance.
        I have had a lot of experiences when I did something, apparently on a whim, such as phoning a friend, and discovered that they had been praying for help and saw my action as divinely prompted. Sometimes, this just felt like a good idea, or even just something I felt like doing, it was only looking back that I realised that I was being guided, but not being pushed. This side of things it is impossible to prove that this was “charismatic revelation” or that it was “sanctified common sense”. It doesn’t matter too much, does it?

        We are not surprised that those who have deeply rooted prayer lives often testify to answered prayer. We should not be surprised that those who spend more time with God, in worship, prayer and in reading the Word, often have the deepest relationship and are often guided in surprising ways. The strongest argument for this can be found in those saints who believed in Scripture above all and who may even have denied the present necessity of spiritual gifts or miracles and yet who were guided in miraculous ways. George Muller comes to mind, or Charles Spurgeon.

        If you look just at Acts, it is clear that the apostles are guided by the Spirit of Jesus, it is also clear from their preaching that they are saturated with Scripture. They saw no contradiction between God speaking from Scripture and God guiding their actions moment by moment.

        It is not an either or, but both and. But the temptation always seems to be to set one against the other. When Jesus called the first disciples, they could have said “we already have an inspired Scripture, thank you!” But they recognised that Jesus came to fulfill their Scriptures, not to destroy them. In the same way, to live in the full relationship with God that Jesus offers by the Spirit is to live in accordance with Scripture and not at all, to deny it.

    • Craig Bennett

      Lisa, I think you would be hard pressed to find that the Spirit speaks through the Bible only, being supported by Scripture.

      Even Paul says that all of Creation speaks of the glory of God, and therefore the Holy Spirit is speaking through all of creation… why, because the Holy Spirit is the author / creator of creation.

    • C Michael Patton

      Interesting stuff guys. I love the gentleness here. What a great conversation. I think everyone makes good points, but I stand with Alex. The “test” that most people use is so subjective it distances itself from the biblical examples and practical usefulness and always tiptoes on the line of destruction. I think that God still moves today and in such speaks through our emotions and experience. But when he has a direct prophecy, his footprint is very big.

    • ScottL

      It is interesting to note that one of the arguments against things like prophecy/revelation today is that of the subjective nature of such. I do understand the problem, mainly because we have all seen difficulties and some even major problems arise from the allowance and use of these good gifts (yes, they are good since they come from our Father).

      But I believe we easily forget that in “biblical times”, there wasn’t some kind of objective/subjective tester that was 100% full-proof. We look back retrospectively and say, “Because it’s in the Bible, that means it was completely objective and easy to recognise it was completely objective.” But that is far from reality. These people, like you and I, had to walk out in faith what they believed they were receiving from God. Though we think it was easily determined, just because there were “external” expressions, this made nothing absolutely verifiable and objective.

      I am not negating the truth of God’s revelation recorded in Scripture. But there is an element of non-objectivity within it. Such non-objectivity does NOT negate its truth. But they had to reasonably discern, reflect on, consider, test, weigh, etc, all that took place.

      Then, if something external were to take place today – like an accompanying miracle or healing or whatever one claims is necessary for something to be confirmed – we get to add in the caveat, “Well, that doesn’t PROVE anything.” It’s called having your cake and eating it too……Where’s the proof? Oh, and if the “proof” comes, it doesn’t mean anything necessarily.

      One of these days, or decades, we will have shifted away from an insatiable modernist appetite for empirically verifiable and indubitable objective proof. Only God in his complete essence meets this requirement. But God still has revealed & will continue to reveal himself to non-objective humans. He chose us to record his revelation in Scripture. He still chooses us to make his revelation known…

    • Ed Kratz

      I want to reiterate the question I’m addressing in the post. It’s not “does the Holy Spirit speak outside of the Bible” but “is the Bible enough for the Holy Spirit to speak fully”. To the latter, Deere and others would say no.

      But I also want to pick up on Alex and Michael’s comments regarding direct speech and leverage Rey’s comment. When God spoke to people directly it was according to what he was building in the salvation history according to his covenant promises. There was always a corporate element. When he did speak to the individual it was to one who was leading Israel, most notably judges and kings. And of course there were prophets who spoke to the kings. His speech was directly related to his program.

      In the NT, he was establishing the church as Acts shows that rolling out from Jerusalem to Gentile territories to witness to the Gentiles regarding eternal promises in Christ. Again, individual communication was related to his program in salvation history. If the premise is that prophecies still exist today, then 1 Cor 14 suggests it would be for a corporate edification. This is a far cry from the examples that Deere cites in his book about words for people’s lives personally.

    • […] at Parchment & Pen (a blog that often has thought-provoking and informative posts), a recent post comments on hearing the voice of God and specifically Jack Deere’s book of the mid […]

    • ScottL


      1) “is the Bible enough for the Holy Spirit to speak fully” – I hate to break this to many evangelicals, but the Scriptures do not contain the full counsel of God on all things. That’s why it isn’t comparable to a car instruction manual that gives you hundreds of minute things to do if this or that light comes on. If Scripture were all we had, would it be sufficient? Yes. Praise God! But it is not the sole revelatory speech of God (and I might challenge us to remember the living Christ is the most important, which is now acting by his Spirit amongst his bride). Again, I’d argue there is no additional revelation needed in the salvation purposes of God. Christ is the final word. But God kept speaking after the first Christ event. And he has continued to reveal. It’s part and parcel to his revelatory/speaking/communicating nature. He cannot get away from it. Remember this also – God was continually speaking outside of what was being recorded in the Scripture text. Check out the importance of 1 Tim 1:18-19 – prophecies not in Scripture able to help Timothy fight the battle & hold on to the faith. Wow!!

      2) I love your emphasis on the corporate. But there are plenty of references where “personal” prophecy/revelation/miraculous acts of God took place, in both OT & NT. And it’s very anachronistic to argue that, because something is in the Bible, that means it was initially spoken in a corporate setting. God spoke to individuals to then move on to speak to the people. But where did it start?

      1 Cor 14 shows that all gifts are for the edification of the body. We need a pendulum swing that way in the midst of privatised Christianity, as you suggest. But it does not negate God speaking personally into situations. Not to mention that we make Scripture so abstract at times forgetting that it was written into particular situations, addressing particular circumstances and issues. Think of the one person that 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus & Philemon were…

    • ScottL

      “is the Bible enough for the Holy Spirit to speak fully”

      In all, creation and good general revelation is enough for the Holy Spirit to speak fully. So is Scripture. So is the voice of the body of Christ for 2000 years. Anything is plenty enough for the Spirit to speak, including the Bible. But, whether we like it or not, the Spirit has delighted to speak in varying measures making known our good God, his Son and the gospel. We ought to rejoice in such a reality rather than say, “No, it must be in the Bible alone and it is the Bible alone that fully answers all things.”

      Prima scriptura – let’s start there, let’s return there continually, let’s here the God’s voice coming loud and clear in Scripture. But, while it could be enough, God has delighted in continuing to speak in varying ways. It’s something to celebrate, even if you have people abusing it. I celebrate marriage and raising children, even if others have abused it at times. I celebrate good wine and beer, even if others have abused it at times.

    • Marv

      “is the Bible enough for the Holy Spirit to speak fully”

      Lisa, Deere and others say no.

      Add Jesus to that “others.”

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      To know the right answers to the most critical questions of life, such as, how does one inherit eternal life, Jesus consistently directed people to Scripture (e.g., Luke 10:25-28). He characterized Scripture as the highest authority, and His own ministry as being, not a contradiction to the Law and Prophets, but a fulfillment of them:

      Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:17-18 ESV).

      Paul concurred with our Lord’s view on Scripture, testifying that

      “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).

      The Spirit of course speaks through the Scriptures, being the Author of them. Can and does He prompt people towards certain thoughts and actions apart from direct interaction with Scripture? Yes, but I would argue such promptings are always in accord with the Word of Scripture.

      Are we supposed to be directed specifically by God’s “voice” in every decision and choice we make, as many in charismatic circles claim? I don’t think the Bible teaches this. In fact we read in James,

      Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:13-17, ESV).

      James speaking by the Spirit tells us human beings don’t know…

      • Karoly

        Jesus said to some of his opponents, “you search the Scriptures . . . but you are unwilling to come to Me” John 5:39 Scripture is not the goal, Jesus is.

        I completely respect Scripture in the terms which you outline. The problem I have is that you assume that being led by the Spirit is necessarily antithetical to devotion to Scripture. But it is Scripture that tells us that the Spirit is our inheritance (in Galatians) as well as a sign of our future reception of our full inheritance. Paul’s argument in Galatians suggests that the Spirit is both a mark of maturity – being freed from the law as our tutor or guardian – and in a sense a replacement for the instructions of Torah. Romans 8 confirms that Paul saw the guidance of the Spirit as the distinguishing mark of our relationship with God. Indeed, where we assume the Spirit “must be” present because someone is a Christian, Paul and the NT generally, argue the other way. They recognised the Spirit’s presence and activity as the sign that someone belonged to God. Unless we want to suggest that Galatians and Romans no longer apply to us, we need to take seriously their claim that being indwelt and guided by the Spirit is what the new covenant is all about. (Paul even speaks in ways shocking to evangelicals, since he seems to suggest that Christ’s death and resurrection took place in order that we might receive the Spirit. In this sense, the Spirit is goal or telos of our salvation. This does not, of course, mean that Christ is diminished or dethroned, since the Spirit we receive is the Spirit of Jesus and the Paul who wrote about the Spirit is the Paul whose entire life is defined by Christ and His cross.)

        The entire NT speaks of believers maturing. Part of that maturing is learning discernment, e.g.; of good and evil, or being able to handle mature teaching – both in receiving and giving it. Thus, there is a sense in which expecting God to guide “every decision” or “every choice” is immature. As a friend says, praying for God to wake us up in the morning may provoke the response “alarm clock” and asking God to get us out of bed may provoke the reply “Muscles” – as in “get out of bed yourself!”. But, this does not deny the fact that a) in relation to God we are all children and b) we do face situations where we need specific guidance – as you say, in accordance with the word.

        While maturity in Biblical terms does involve both knowledge and personal responsibility, it does not remove our need for God’s enabling. Paul condemns religion that is only formal and lacking power. Whatever the weakness of charismatic practice, it does remind us that faith is about living and walking in a new reality, which is not solely cognitive. The extreme conclusion of the anti-charismatic position is that we are somehow more mature than the first generation of believers, that they needed their hands held, but we do not, since we have Scripture. But there were issues then, as now, where Scripture does not tell us what to do. Just as Paul needed guidance to go to Macedonia, so may we need to be specifically guided to where we should go.

        Your quote from James is addressed to people who arrogantly assume that they can do what they want. There is nothing in the passage to indicate that James is addressing charismatic guidance at all. In fact, there is nothing in the passage to deny the possibility of guidance. It is not about that, but about the limits of our knowledge. Since we do not know what will happen we should not make confident plans as if we did. (I know a lot of bible-believing Christians, who eschew charismatic guidance and who feel no hesitation in accepting preaching engagements years ahead. The church has no problem with this, apparently, but has a problem with someone who says, “I will pray about it and see what God says to me.”

        Constantly seeking reassurance through immediate guidance may be immature, it is hardly the sign of the kind of arrogant and over-confident person James is addressing. Gideon kept checking God’s will precisely because he did not have confidence in himself, nor in God’s choice of him. In scripture, the ones who are identified as arrogant are those who do not listen to God, nor to His prophets, nor even to His Messiah.

        When James says “If the Lord wills ” it might mean a general statement of our frailty – we may not even be here next year, but it does not rule out that we might be enabled to discern the Lord’s will in specific circumstances. (Elsewhere, James offers very strong reassurance that the prayer of a righteous man avails much and even insists that the prayer of the elders will heal the sick. Thus, his counsel of humility does not exclude the possibility of knowing God’s will in specific instances.]

        After all, it was James who said “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us . . . ” when pronouncing on a major issue.

    • Alexander M. Jordan

      (contnued from above)
      (and cannot know, since we are but “mists”) the future. Yet so many supposed words given in many Christian circles today are dealing with precisely this– what we cannot know, not being God. If we claim to know, James says we’re boastful sinners. Moreover, we are not required to know such information, to live a life pleasing to God.

      “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV)”.

      Reading James, it seems to me that a hunger for secret, unrevealed knowledge, is evil and leads believers into dangerous territory. Open the door to subjectivism and all manner of deception follows, as evidenced by the rampant error that characterizes so much of Christendom today, as it follows in the charismatic way.

    • […] have been commenting over at Parchment and Pen on a post titled, Surprised by the Deficiency of the Spirit by Lisa Robinson.  I decided to turn my comments there into a post […]

    • ScottL

      Hey all –

      Just a reminder, and I don’t think Lisa would consider this spam, Marv and I do host a blog with continued input around the areas of continuationism & cessationism. Feel free to interact with us at http://continuationism.com.


    • JFDU

      Subjectivity is a dirty word for good reason but here’s a fleeting thought.

      I can read in the Scriptures that I’m a child of God until I’m blue in the face. It’s a pretty simple concept to grasp intellectually but unless his Spirit bears witness with my spirit (Rom 8:16) the reality of adoption doesn’t dawn on me. God chooses my intuitive nature to “communicate” that truth to me. If reading was all I needed then this extra step would be superfluous.

      That sounds pretty subjective and personal to me.

    • Hman

      Theologimeneutics required. I go back to the original scriptures. LOL

      “To varying degrees, it is the idea that the Holy Spirit is only partially present in Bible and that if we really want to experience the Holy Spirit it requires going beyond the bible to “hear the voice of God”.

      Jack Deere claims that the Gospel is more than justification by faith. We need the supernatural revelation, including all that stuff. It is about adding to the experience of Christianity.

      His logics is the same vein as Wimber, i.e. all the way back to Branham and you can trace it from there. 1) Christ and the apostles performed miracles, raised dead and heard God’s voice through the power of the Holy Spirit. 2) 21st century believers share the same Holy Spirit as Christ and the Apostles. Therefore 21st century believers should do the same miracles as Christ and the Apostles.

      Isn’t that enough? Faulty logics, and failure to make a valid point.

      I agree totally that this position undermines the work and presence of the Holy Spirit. It does so much more than that, but from strictly revelation point of view it certainly does. How and why? If we hang up our faith on how we feel, our faith is not on the rock but in the sand. It will also reflect in our Gospel which becomes swaying and contradicting. If we promise that God will heal people and make them rich, as long as we have faith and get our prayers down pat we have the secret recipe to health and happiness, here on earth. That is not what Jesus came here to present. That is not what we should preach. Life is rough, we are fallen. We were destined to eternal death, but God has by grace given us a second chance. That is what we should preach, full stop.

      Innit? 🙂

      Liked the post, looking forward to the book! Sry bout Yoda and grammar.

    • Lou Gray

      Totally agree! Thanks

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Hi ScottL and Marv,

      Have you guys ever interacted with the TeamPyro cessationists, Dan Phillips and Frank Turk? There’s a post today about a Charismatic Lexicon, Part 1.

      Also, in the TeamPyro archives there’s a post about Jack Deere. They actually met with him and some other fellow. And they write about their meeting.

    • GEM


      I have read TeamPyro’s blog in the past and referenced it again after reading your post. I really don’t see why any continuationist would want to subject themselves to their “ministry.”

      For them, it seems all continuationists are lumped into one group of extremists who cast out the Bible in favor of a new revelatory experience.

      The tone of their argument is not one of love and correction or even an attempt at understanding, but one of mocking and belittling that separates the body of Christ.

      If you disagree with their position you are banned from their comment section. I just banned their website from my computer.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      FWIW, I found the article from TeamPyro’s archive on Jack Deere:

      Should Type-R Charismatics Get a Free Pass?

      Excerpt, but do read the whole post:

      “Shortly after that (in early 1992), John MacArthur, Lance Quinn, and I met with Paul Cain and Jack Deere in John MacArthur’s office at Jack Deere’s request. Deere wanted to try to convince John MacArthur that the charismatic movement—especially the Vineyard branch—was on a trajectory to make doctrinal soundness and biblical integrity the hallmarks of Third-Wave charismatic practice. He brought Cain along, ostensibly so that we could see for ourselves that Cain was a legitimate prophet with a profound gifting.”

    • […] Robinson is re-reading Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Voice of God. James Rogers reviews N.T. Wright’s How God Became King. Hans Madueme reviews Peter Enns’ The […]

    • Andrew Lohr

      Liked the wedding analogy. There’s a danger that the wedding covenant won’t define a relationship, and there’s a danger that husband and wife stop communicating. Lisa is right tho that the Holy Ghost can speak richly using the Bible, and the hearing other voices doesn’t guarantee even salvation (Mt 7). Let not the cassationists despise the continuationists, nor vice versa.

    • Gordon

      If the Holy Spirit is unable to completely reveal everything sufficient for a church out of a group that is completely isolated from any gospel preaching, but needs the Bible, then the Holy Spirit is insufficient. If he cannot build a church with an isolated illiterate tribe deep in Borneo, then the Spirit is just a derivative of the book instead of a person, and just a personification of God’s will, not a person of God. It means that the Bible is what really saves, and the Holy Spirit just tags along, unable to breathe without it. It means that God is helpless without the Bible, and might as well not exist outside of the Bible today. If God must bow to the book, then your god is the book.
      And again, it means that the New Testament is the gnosis instead of the evangelium.

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