I accused my wife of infidelity last year. No, there was no evidence. No, there was no change in our relationship. No, it is not characteristic of her in the slightest. However, I had my reasons . . . but I am getting ahead of myself.

What probably became evident to many of you last year is that I am not a charismatic. I don’t believe in the continuation of gifts such as “effecting of miracles,” healings, or prophecy. I want to; I just don’t. Out of all the so-called charismatic gifts, I believe prophecy and healings are the most important for people to really think deeply about. With so much disease and sickness in the church today, we don’t want to be flippant with any ideas like, “God wants to heal you, but you lack _______.” This can be utterly destructive to people’s faith and hope in the Lord.

Just as difficult is the gift of prophecy. To say that God wants to speak directly into your life through a prophetic encounter is no small statement. It can redirect the entire course of a person’s life. It can send them on witch hunts, cause them to start churches, or even make them drown their kids and blame it on the Lord. I even had a guy at the Credo House last year say that his life long mission was to take down Nike. Why? you ask. Well, according to him, God told him to do so.

However, this reality hit home for me last year more than any other time in my life. I had been discussing this issue with a charismatic friend whom I respect a great deal. Throughout our discussion, I promised him I would keep a prayerful, open mind about the issue. And, to the best of my ability, I was doing just that. I certainly didn’t want to “quench” any movement of the Spirit in my life or my ministry. We happened to be talking about the gift of prophecy. While I believe that God moves sovereignly and definitively in our lives, I have never believed that I should seek or expect any direct encounter from him. Whether through a dream, a vision, an audible encounter, a visit from a prophet, or a donkey talking, I have never heard from God in such a way. I would love to, but I simply have not and have not ever expected to. Yet, I want to be open.

One evening after discussing prophecy with my charismatic friend, who believes that I should live with more expectation to hear from God prophetically (including through dreams), I prayed earnestly before bed that the Lord would take me in the right direction. It was late at night. It was one of those prayers you pray just before you go to sleep. That night, I had a dream. (I am incredibly hesitant to include this for many reasons that will become evident, but I think it is necessary for you to understand the spirit of my writing here.)

The next morning was like any other. Most of the time all dreams of the previous night are never brought to memory. Scientists tell us that during REM sleep, dreams are forgotten as quickly as they occur. Normally, you can only remember the dream you had just before you wake up. All others fade quickly. But even then, the last dream is only remembered with some effort as your memory system processes things differently during the dream state. However, this time was different.

That morning, as the events of the last dream casually moved through my mind, just as I was about to discard this dream without second thought, I remembered my plea before the Lord, “Lord, if you have something to say to me through prophecy or through a prophet, please help me to know and accept it.” Was this something that the Lord wanted me to know? Was this dream a word from the Lord? Surely not. But, if I am serious about what I prayed, I need to consider this. It was an unusually clear dream (or was it?). It was an unusual dream. I dwelt upon it all morning. The moment I would discard it as ridiculous, it would resurface. It was as if I was supposed to remember this dream. Before I left for work, I thought about talking to my wife about it, but then I changed my mind. I need to leave this one alone, I kept thinking.

By midday I was consumed by the dream. Finally, I got on my wife’s account on Facebook and queried “Lewis Johnson.” My dream was about my wife. In the dream, she was having an affair with a man named Lewis Johnson (those of you who are theological gurus, quit laughing!). The main thing I remember from the dream was what I was supposed to do. Indeed, it was what I felt compelled to do. I was to search my wife’s account on Facebook for “Lewis Johnson,” the man with whom she was having an affair. After wrestling with this all morning, I finally did. I went to her account, signed in as her, and typed “Lewis Johnson” in her Friends query. Result? No Lewis Johnson found.

I hung my head in shame. How could I have had such a terrible and wayward thought? But, sadly, this fruitless Facebook search did not stop my wandering (prophecy seeking?) mind. You must understand: I have never accused my wife of cheating on me. Never. I have never suspected anything. Never. In fact, in our family, it has become quite a joke about how unsuspecting I am. We have had those in our family who have battled suspicion about their spouses, but not me. I have been the go-to relative to help those who, from time to time, get caught in this trap of undue suspicion (and it is a terrible trap). Nothing has ever made me doubt my wife’s fidelity. However, this time it was different. This time, I might have had a word from the Lord, through a dream, that made my (otherwise completely unwarranted) suspicions true.

So, that night, I approached my wife very casually and did a name drop. I don’t remember exactly how, but I asked her if she knew a Lewis Johnson. Both the look on her face (or lack thereof), and her casual attitude concerning the name, confirmed my suspicions. She had no clue who he was. She was not having an affair.

Now, I don’t want to be overly dramatic with my story here. My rational mind did not ever really think she was having an affair. However, there was a bug in my ear that caused me to have “what if?” thoughts of infidelity that I never would have had otherwise.

Why all of this? Because seeking an extra-biblical, personal revelation from God – right or wrong, biblical or not, continuing today or not – is a dangerous thing. I let down my guard with the Lewis Johnson Facebook thing. I lowered the standard that a prophecy must pass in order for it to have a legitimate claim to my beliefs. I actively sought prophecy and ended up accusing my wife of infidelity. Luckily, the consequences were not severe. My wife actually liked the idea that I might be jealous. Since then it has turned into a joke, as I ask my wife every once in a while if she has been talking to Lewis Johnson. But this kind of stuff can be terribly destructive and potentially life-altering. Any time people believe they could be privy to transcendent knowledge and commands, the ante is raised. Many people are controlled by prophecies they were given when they were young. Though the “prophet” of my dream gave no compelling signs that he was truly a prophet, many people hang on dreams they have. Why? Because they are taught to expect a word from the Lord. My wife had a prophetic word given to her when she was a teen. She was told that she would die of cancer. A guy at the Credo House told me the other day that he was told he would be a great preacher. Another is told to take this job or that. I was told that I would be hurt in a car crash in a red sports car in my early thirties.

My contention is that we must never believe these things unless there are absolutely compelling reasons for us to do so that go well beyond emotional disposition. Casual dreams or someone coming up to you and saying, “I have a word from the Lord for you,” with nothing to back it up, are not only irresponsible for us to believe, but completely dishonoring to the name of the Lord.  Doing these things can ruin your life.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

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

    156 replies to "The Day I Accused My Wife of Infidelity"

    • Richard Klaus

      Last year Michael had a post that prompted similar discussion. It is here:

      http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/09/my-feeling-from-the-lord-this-morning/

      What came out in that discussion in the comments was Michael’s commitment to “methodological naturalism.” See comments #45-47 and #49. I know Michael believes he is open to communication from the Lord (at least that is what he was doing last year in his post) but his “methodological naturalism” seems to get in the way. Also, another problem last year was Michael’s using a “fleece” as a decision making process. I had pointed out that there were other scriptural procedures derived from Acts 10 (see comment #8) he could have used in his decision making process.

      It seems to me that Michael wants a “miraculous sign”. Anything less than this will be filtered through “methodological naturalism” or an attempt to cajole an allegedly supernatural response in the form of a “fleece.”

      I’m not trying to denigrate Michael. He has been bold enough and open enough to share his experiences. In so doing he is engaged in an exegesis of those experiences and is inviting us all to also engage in the interpretation of those experiences.

    • […] The Day I Accused My Wife Of Infidelity:  Seeking an “extra” revelation from God or wanting to feel we have an insight not given to every believer can take us down a dangerous path, as C. Michael Patton explains in his blog at Credo House Ministries. […]

    • Mark

      I think that Grudem’s position on prophecy sounds convincing to me, namely that the word “prophecy” in the NT context didn’t necessarily mean “thus saith the Lord” like in the OT. One example I have of how I think NT prophecy is played out is with my mother in law and her friend. Quite frequently after an exceptionally challenging week, her friend will say that she felt burdened to pray for her this week. It’s not a proclamation of the future and can’t really be “tested” in the OT sense but it’s clear that something like this is used to build up the church.

      In the biography of George Muller, people would suddenly “feel” like they needed to give to his orphanage and those funds were needed right then. Does God communicate somehow to people in order to meet this type of needs? It’s really the only way to explain how God can receive the credit for the provision. The Bible may teach people to give generally but not to give at a certain time.

      Just my thoughts on this.

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Mark,

      That is a good observation. Even for those who feel the special gifts of the spirit may no longer be granted, that does not stop God from using His spirit to direct or aid people as He wills.

      I know in prayer many times, I suddenly find I am remembering a verse or series of verses that apply to my request. Is that God’s spirit? I hope so, for sure I am going to give Him credit. However does that mean I am inspired or even right in my theology? Nope, or Mormons’ could just as easily claim they are. The only real way to know is not subjective, but objective. Not simply does the “feeling” exist, but does our theology truly reflect Biblical Christianity, or not.

    • C Michael Patton

      As of this issue needed more discussion! Nevertheless, I wrote a new post based on my experience today. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2012/06/my-experience-with-a-prophetic-vision-today-or-how-to-test-prophecy/

    • C Michael Patton

      Please friends, no more private email interpretations of my dream. It is getting exasperating even if it does illustrate my point in this post.

    • philwynk

      Oh, please.

      Since when is the abuse of a thing a legitimate argument against the proper use of it?

      If you agree that the abuse of prophetic ministry to direct people to drown their children (for one example) argues against legitimate prophetic ministry, then you also agree that the abuse of Christianity to do the same (they are Christian prophets, after all) argues against legitimate Christianity. You cannot have one without the other.

      Or, you can simply admit that your entire argument here constitutes a “poisoning the well” fallacy, and go find a logically suitable argument against legitimate prophetic ministry, instead of wasting our time with logical fluff and nonsense.

      Cessationist Evangelicals never cease to ply the logical fallacies in their quest for self-justifying their rampant, disgusting, anti-biblical, anti-Christian unbelief.

    • Duncan Vann

      Most men are, I suspect, quite capable of finding fault with their wives without needing help from a misleading dream or false prophecy. I know I am.

      So we all need to know how to test our attitudes to see whether they are from God, whether we believe in prophecy or not. And it seems that you have been putting your faith into practice. At any rate you were wise enough to approach your wife tentatively as if you were testing, rather than fuming or sniping at her.

      I bet that helped. I bet that helped your wife to think it’s all funny, instead of whatever.

      I’m pleased to see so many people respond explaining that prophecies must be tested. Because in my experience that’s what really worries more traditional evangelicals: the idea that someone could claim to have the word of God; and the supposition that there could be no argument with that, since God said it.

      That would be nonsense. Churches that believe in prophecy test prophecies. If you’re in a church where folks continually listen out to God and bring the word to one another, then you’re in practice. If you’re in a church where you just listen to a sermon and never talk to each other, never seek to speak into each other’s lives, then how do you know to test when God does speak to you?

      Of course in your case even if your church wasn’t teaching you anything, you would have your wife. And I bet you challenge one another in the Lord and test the spirit of what each other is saying? When she brings a word for your good, don’t you react against it and then eventually stop to listen to her? I know I do. But I am talking about Christ and the church. For in a way you do already exercise and test the gift of prophecy, don’t you?

    • Shannon Gilmour

      Hello, I really appreciate your healthy attitude. I truly believe that there are those that do not give enough attention to dreams and then there are those who give too much.

      I am a person who recieves dreams and visions from God. I cannot doubt that they are of God and it takes a great deal of knowing who you are and who God is to figure out whether the dream is from the person dreaming the dream, or God, or the enemy.

      The first time I had a dream from God, Jesus visited me and answered questions that I had in a really hard time of my life. I was alone, had no family, no friends and really needed answers. I called out to Him ‘ Why is this happening to me, I didn’t ask for this?’

      What I was told by Jesus Himself- although I did not see His face, He wore white that shone a brilliance that no white on earth can create, It wasn’t until a few years later did I realize that Jesus backed up His words and spoke from scripture. Not verbadum, but the truth that He spoke in my dream was found in the bible.

      That was over 15 years ago. I’ve had dreams from the enemy and I’ve had dreams from my own needs, wants and desires. I truly believe that we all make the mistake in not giving the time, and the patience it takes to figure out which dream is from which.

      What I’ve come to discover is that we don’t ask God ‘ God did you mean this, or that?’ nor do we ask God ‘ God what did you mean by this? ‘ Alot of times we allow our hearts to guide us into what we think the answer is or what we should do, and this leads us and steers us wrongly.

      When God speaks to me it is often about personal things that He brings to my attention for me to work on. I’m very fine with that.

      I always take my dream to prayer, and line it up with who I know God is in scripture. Dreams are always subject to our interpretation and I have to strongly suggest this is where we fail. If what we are shown cannot be backed up with scripture- it most likely comes from another…

    • Dan Martin

      Late to the party, I know, Michael, but I really appreciate this. Like you, I absolutely believe God *could*give miraculous gifts to people today and I’m almost equally certain that everything I’ve ever seen that made that claim was counterfeit or a delusion on the part of the claimant. Someday maybe I’ll write up a story on a “prophet” of the 70s charismatic movement who made a very specific prophecy about my three brothers and me…in a public forum. None of his words came remotely true.

    • Terry Danley

      I came in on the middle of a radio message by a preacher who was talking about this “I have a message from the Lord” scenario. He was focusing on the idea of “testing the spirits” and using spiritual wisdom in such situations.

      I particularly liked his comment about how when someone just comes in off the street to his church, claiming to have “a word from the Lord” for his church, he questions them as to where they came from, how they got the message, and what they know of the church. Usually, he said, the conversation (boiled down for time) goes something like, “L have a WORD from the Lord, and I must deliver it to your church today,” with the preacher’s response being, “I have a word for you; sit down and shut up and listen to the word of the Lord that he gave me for this church today!”

    • Joseph

      You know Michael, I just went through a similar event, but mine came true. I felt compelled to leave my wife about two years back because she was sleeping around on me and if I didn’t I would get hurt, but there was no proof. She just wasn’t doing it, or to my knowledge she wasn’t. I prayed for confirmation and had brothers and sisters, without knowing of what i was told, stand up and tell me not to leave her and to work out whatever situation we were in.

      We were not getting along before I left for the middle east and i was convicted, once again, that I needed to leave her because she was an adulteress, so I prayed for confirmation once again and ran into a brother who told me, once again, that I should not leave my wife, even if she did commit adultery for real.

      Weeks before I came home, my wife’s disposition towards me changed as I got closer to Jesus. She started wanting to talk more and wanted my attention physically, a change for the positive I thought.

      I returned home from the sand box hopeful and convicted that I needed to be a better husband and father after meeting brother after brother who had spouses that had either cheated on them or they cheated, and I saw how stupid I had been in all my pride in praying and trying to change my wife. I found that it wasn’t my wife that needed to change for our marriage woes to go away, it was me. So I did.

      I came back ready to work: to be the man of God I should have been, the spiritual leader of my family and best hisband and father i could be. I came back unfortunately only to find that my wife had committed adultery.

      I forgave her, but while I was gone she had become hooked on softcore porn and eventually started talking to men on booty call web sites after I got her to stop talking with the man she had an affair with.. I fought for around 9 or 10 months to keep our marriage together, praying that God would be there and save it.

      Sadly, it was not His will. What He proclaimed from the beginning…

    • Duane

      Craig – you misunderstand “earnestly desire the greater gifts” – It is a criticism, not instruction. It says, instead of seeking to use spiritual gifts by God’s design for edification of the Church, you Corinthians are “earnestly desiring” (meaning wrongly coveting) the greater or “showy” gifts to “edify” yourself. In other words, pride and arrogance and selfishness. They were looking to puff themselves up, to “edify” themselves in the wrong way. The passage goes on to say that I show you a better way – love.
      All things are to be judged by Scripture. The offices of prophet and apostle have ceased and their authenticating sign gifts with them. The only “prophesying” today is to exegetically exposit the Word and teach it.
      There is no justification anywhere in Scripture to look to dreams or anywhere else other than the written Word for instruction.
      Personally I have never, ever had any kind of a dream I would even remotely consider as some kind of message from God. This is sheer foolishness and an indication of the biblical illiteracy that is rampant in our churches today.
      We’ve gone from “thus saith the Lord” to “thus saith Rome” to “in my opinion.” It’s time to get back to sound Bible study from Genesis to Revelation. Scripture is not a a matter of anyone’s private or personal opinion.
      We are to seek to discern, “what hath God said?” and not to challenge Him like Genesis 3, “Hath God said?”
      We are at risk of being like Israel who stoned the prophets God sent to her when we dismiss today’s godly Bible teachers whom He has given to instruct us.

    • George Augst

      I like your honesty and openess. The diversity of personal experience with the Holy Spirit is amazing. After 35 years of experiences, I have found that God speaks to me profoundly thru his word. 99.9% of my prayer experience starts with some aspect of Scripture. I never ask for a word or sign (or dream) from God. However, the remaining 0.1% is very interesting. I will share one occuranece. I was driving down the road when I saw a
      4-wheeler for sale on the side of the road. I wondered if it would better in the back of my pickup than my current one.
      I stopped about 100 yards down the road. As I got out of my truck a thought came to me: “be looking for a wallet”
      Needless to say I thought it strange. But as I walked the ditch I looked for a wallet and didn’t find one. Looked at the 4-wheeler and forgot about the wallet. But as I turned to go back to my car, you guessed it, there was the wallet.
      It had been there for 6 months. There was $40.00 in it and no I.D.; but there was a paper with 5 phone numbers on it. It took 3 weeks and several conversations to finally find the owner. The one conversation that was the most fun was at the local hospital. I had found an appointment card in the wallet. I related my story to the receptionist,
      who then called the appointment person. The appointment was missed and they had no way of tracing it. However,
      while waiting for the info. the receptionist gathered a dozen nurses to hear my story. Needless to say, it had a profound affect on them. I finally got to return the wallet to a teenage girl. Her final words to me were: “Gee, maybe I should start to go to church?” and I said. “Seems like an excellent idea to me.

    • Joseph

      Love is th best way! You don’t need to be a prophet or miracle worker, but it doesn’t change the fact that God still works in this world. The spiritual forces of darkness rejoice at Americas captivity of materialism and this idea that the Holy Spirit of God that we have been blessed with lacks power is music to their ears. Just because you can’t see it or haven’t been blessed with it does not mean that spiritual gifts do not exist; because they do.

    • Nic

      “God wants to heal you, but you lack _______.” This can be utterly destructive to people’s faith and hope in the Lord.

      But what if this was the truth? Truth can only hurt people when it is not ministered in love.

      If one withholds the truth about healing to a brother one is not loving his neighbor as commanded.

      I’d rather see so offended with the truth (and eventually repent) than sick and deceived.

      I believe that it is God’s will for everybody to be healthy and full of life, but a lot of things happening in this world are not God’s will but a result of sin and death.

      nic

    • Ruby

      The fact that one does not believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit does not mean they are not real. The fact that they have been abused does not mean that there are no genuine manifestations.
      Some of us have had and are still having genuine experiences because we believe. Besides such a power, your ministry might not have life and dynamism.
      Ruby

    • Brian Millhollon

      Discussions about spiritual or supernatural gifts, particularly among those that have little personal experience, remind me of a group of Bedouin goat herders having a critical discussion about the risks of surfing the giant waves in Maui. The great power and potential for disaster is undeniable. But with proper training and equipment, you might just be in for the ride of your life. Beats swatting flies in the “safety” of an infertile wasteland.

    • Don Donaldson

      Wow, so many great comments! CMP, thanks for sharing this episode. I have had similar experiences with strange or vivid dreams that seemed to convey a special message but turned out to be… nothing at all. I’ve learned to be wary of dream advice!

      Re: comment #15 – you advocate that if our personal experience doesn’t match up with our interpretation of Scripture, we adjust our interpretation accordingly. Perhaps, in some cases. But this view is the number one reason why so many don’t understand such things as tongues or healing today – they had a contrary experience so, well, the Bible must mean something other than what it actually says. No, no, no! Rather, we re-examine our experience and prayerfully question God about it, reminding Him of what His Word says. Keep seeking!

      It was my insistence that the Bible means what it says (e.g. “the prayer, offered in faith, will make the sick person well”) that led me to eventually understand my negative experience and ultimately receive healing. My problem was that I misunderstood the essence of faith – what it is and how it works in our relationship with God, prayer life, etc. Not simply a matter of “having enough faith” but of even understanding how faith comes – how it is sought and received as a gift from God. Blessings…

    • Brian Huggins

      There is fully NO reason for any of the gifts to exist today. God has spoken ALREADY — He has revealed His will for each one of us, and it’s not that complicated — KNOW HIM. Read the Word, feed orphans and widows (and all that are hurting let them know you care), and love ALL that God has put in your life. We are so caught up in ‘gifts’ and getting what we don’t have that His work isn’t getting done, and other aren’t getting what God has called us to give! Live sacrificially, lay down your life, and kneel at the foot of the cross and bask in Jesus’ love, repent. Know Him. I believe if we do this He will lead and direct our paths.

    • Cheryl Ford

      Be careful not “to throw the baby out with the bath water.” Just because you got a faulty dream, doesn’t mean that God no longer uses dreams, prophecies, or whatever. Be careful not to call any gift from God second-rate or unworthy. I remember Jesus said He’d go away, but I don’t remember the Holy Spirit ever saying HE was going away or removing His gifts/graces from us. We don’t say the fruit of the Spirit went away so why say His gifts went away. Yes, there are mysteries, and yes, we have our issues, but the Holy Spirit is not in conflict with Himself. He has no problem with His gifts.

    • Treovr Geddes

      When Paul claimed the Spirit prevented them entering Asia but they were then spoken to in a dream from Macedonia, I do not see him suggesting that these were spiritual gifts.
      I think the issues of gifts and God speaking should be separated.

      There is considerable NT evidence that God speaks to those whom his Spirit dwells within (Paul is an example), and this indeed is part of being “led by the Spirit” (Romans 8) or being “my friends” (to whom I tell what I am doing) (John 15).
      But hearing the voice of God surely involves a process of learning, just as a child has to learn to hear the speech of its parents. That is only to be expected. The fact that you had a dream you interpreted as possibly being from God when it wasn’t, could be viewed as part of a learning curve in discernment. It does not have to be viewed as evidence confirming that thinking God can speak through dreams is to be avoided. Many good things can be dangerous if not treated with caution.
      In our church we encourage folk to believe God can speak to them but at the same time we teach them to learn to discern his voice, always subject what they think they hear to Scripture and be humble and non-defensive when challenged.
      This has led to health in our community, not the problems you suggest may result. People have become followers of Jesus as a result of this.
      Oh, and I once had a dream that a man I had not seen for several years had left his wife. I felt so convicted by this that in fear and trembling with great embarrassment I rang him at his work that morning. He had indeed left his wife the previous night and was so shocked I had been shown this in a dream he came to see me and went back to his wife that day. To this day they are still faithfully married.
      That has happened to me only 3 or 4 times in my life. Dreams involving me or those closely attached to me I always treat with great caution, but occasionally God has spoken about others.
      Thanks for the helpful posts.

    • Don Donaldson

      Brian Huggins: You advocate a beautiful, faithful life in Christ. But the “gifts” are very much needed today for the building up of the body of Christ, not to mention the confirmation of the gospel with power. Healing the sick, driving out devils, praying in the spirit, etc. all serve a vital purpose, and to live without them is like missing a limb (or several) – sure we can get by, but we’ll only be getting by. Prophecies, dreams, etc. must always be approached with great care and discernment.

      Trevor Geddes – Amen!

    • KC Klarner

      I appreciate your candor and tenderness on the subject.

    • Mo

      @ philwynk #9 –

      Sheer hatred: This is what biblical discernment draws these days, and from supposed Christians.

    • Joe Losiak

      Jacob, the father of Joseph, Joseph, Daniel and in the N.T. Joseph and Mary personal directives were given. Peter & Paul had visions. It was the Church age. I’m like you Theologically, but like you not willing to decide for God or limit Him in any way. We can discern by His word and the witness within what is or is not from God. When I was twenty or so I had a clear vision of going to Poland and sitting with the leaders of Poland to bring them the Gospel. I did meet with some key Communist leaders whose purpose was against God’s will – so did the vision really come from God? Well yes, for me it was verified because I did meet many times with the true leaders of the Poles who were R.C. Priests and with their backing scores of evangelical missionaries were for a time allowed to preach and teach many. There was a second vision years later which led me to go back 30 years later. However I think that Satan and his demons can also present themselves and do disappear as soon as you reject them and the deed they propose. The angels did not minister to Jesus in the desert until He chased Satan away.

    • Stuart

      Two issues here. First, if the Holy Spirit does not speak to individuals today, in any form, how is anyone called into ministry? Or is that just another vocational choice?

      Second, I think you have taken a caricature of the gifts to prove a point. It is as if someone said that they believe in eternal security, so that means they can be an executioner in a nazi concentration camp because they walked an asile in church once. The fact that they have twisted the meaning of eternal security would not be a valid argument against it for someone who believes it.

      If you or anyone demands a particular kind of word – a dream or a prophetic word from someone else – you are likely to get it. It just isn’t likely to be from God. I don’t think most people who believe the Spirit speaks today, at least not most who are balanced, would suggest that anyone change their life based on an uncomfirmed word from another person, or on an unconfirmed dream. God is able to confirm in multiple ways anything that requires significant changes.

      I’m about out of words, so I’ll leave off personal experience stories.

    • Brent Vermillion

      First, because the author had a flaky dream (he probably had too much pizza before going to bed or maybe a subconscious fear surfaced) this does not mean that God does not give the real thing to people on occasion. The Scripture teaches us to test the spirits (spiritual manifestations). We are also told to desire spiritual gifts. We are told to hold to the good and to reject that which is wrong. Dreams that accuse another person can just as easily come from the Devil, The Accuser of the Brethren as Rev. 12 calls him. Being prophetic is not an excuse to make false accusations. It seems the author simply got flacky and now wants to throw out the baby with the bath water based on one erroneous dream.

    • Leonard

      My, that was quite the time you had. So you are taking it that because you had this dream and it was not something that panned out as being a true signal from God, that such things do not happen?

      I do believe that these portions of the Bible that tell us of dreams or of prophecy, or of miraculous healings and works of God are for today, it is far simpler to accept and interpret the Bible by doing so.

      What I think you have is a good object lesson in not just believing that any message or word or dream is a real message from God. There are cautions in the Bible, particularly in Paul’s writings to Corinth and Thessalonica, or even in the Old Testament that warn us of false prophecies, or just erroneous human thoughts, and that the people of God are to pray and to seek God.

      Do remain open to the genuine article, for it does happen upon this Earth of sinful wayward beings.

      Of a number of prophetic messages that I have heard, a few have been confirmed or were so fitting and held up. For others, we don’t know how applicable some word may be. I think that is why Paul says to not despise or to quench prophesying, even at the same time as we are to employ such discretion as we have. Not to say that you are despising, it sounds clearly like you are open to God on this.

      God bless you.

    • David Van Lant

      UR kind of a weird guy huh?

    • C Michael Patton

      U don’t know the half of it.

    • John S

      I think the author has an incorrect view of the gift of NT prophecy. As described (below) it has a corporate function, at least primarily, and is for ‘upbuilding and encouragement and consolation’. It is not predictive in nature like OT prophecy (if so it can be easily judged).

      I’ve seen it function in this way, often in conjunction with a passage of scripture, as a reminder of a truth about God – of his grace, mercy, forgivenss, faithfulness et al. It is not held as anywhere near equal to Scripture, it is not meant to be instructive in nature, it is understood to be delivered by a falible man or woman, it is overseen by the pastors (they can take the mic and make a clarification or correction if it was erroneous in any way) and it is not ‘weird’ or gnostic. Perhaps the ‘word of knowledge’ is something more along the lines of the Spirit revealing a fact to someone. It’s hard to say, but in any case it’s meant to edify – not to be amazed at in itself but to direct someone to be amazed by God. Like the Corinthians were enamored with tongues. The tongues weren’t the problem it was their hearts.

      I find arguments from Scripture for cessation very weak at best. Arguments from experience can be compelling, but this is throwing out the baby with the bath water. I’ve heard terrible, heretic preaching many times. Does that mean preaching itself is the problem – no more preaching!

      (1 Corinthians 14:3-5 ESV)
      On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

    • Rick

      Just had a thought — what if no one shared their ‘word of knowledge’ for some reason; fear, uncertainty, embarrassment, etc. What would God’s response be? Would He be angry? Would He be upset that the person didn’t trust him? Would He feel like we had really missed an incredibly significant moment in our worship? I’m thinking not. I’m thinking if we didn’t get the ‘word of knowledge’ everything would pretty much remain status quo. I’m certain that those who feel they’re compelled to share this ‘word’ have gotten it wrong too. What’s God’s response to that. Is it, “Oh well.” Or is it, “I’m so tired of these people thinking they’re using their gifts?”

    • donk

      Having been around longer than most of you, I recall when the word “charismatic” was coined at Yale Divinity School(mid-60s). At first, it was used mainly by intellectuals as a basket term for pentecostals and the new full gospel people, people who remained in the churches they belonged to even though they were no longer cessationist, hence, Full Gospel Presbyterians, Full Gospel Lutherans, Full Gospel Methodists, etc. Their attitudes and understandings of charisms varied significantly and that has not changed. Rather, an independent church movement that has grown significantly since then has made the differences greater. Denominationalism haunts all parts of the Reformation church and her descendants. Thus, to use the word “charismaticism,” as one has here makes little sense.
      I, personally, have never been able to see the argument for cessationism as usually explained. The reference in I Cor.13:8 is an out of context nightmare. If the time had come (within the context) we would be seeing Him face to face “in all His glory,”as the song goes. But we still sing “bye and bye.”
      Rightly seen, the the coming together of the Bible through council, or other means, had it been so, is a prophetic event, or something much like one- a work of the Holy Spirit. Yet most of the cessationists I have met or listened to predate cessation to the formation of the canon. How churches without a complete canon or charisms could escape heterodoxy is hard to see. Obviously, some didn’t remain orthodox, but, that most did, requires scrutiny.
      One common misunderstanding is that the purpose of prophesy in the pre-kerygma period was to add to the canon. Any careful reading of the Old Testament or Luke 2:25-38, for that matter. Further, Elijah is called the greatest of the prophets, apart from Moses, yet we have little of his prophesy and almost as much of his grumbling. (continued)

    • Glenn Shrom

      Michael, I don’t know if anyone has pointed this out yet, but your prayer was answered. You prayed that if God had anything to say to you through prophecy, for you to accept it. It seems to me that God spoke to you through this whole supernatural experience to confirm His word: “do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold onto the good.” I Thes. 5:19-21

      God was telling you through a dream and your follow-up, that you are to test everything to see if it is from Him or not. Now you don’t only know the importance of this because of what you read in the Bible, but also the importance of this because God used a circumstance, an experience, a word in a dream and on Facebook, to confirm it to you.

      Prophecy often is an example that God shows us, which we relate to a spiritual truth found in His Word. Prophesying in I I Cor. 14:3 is a word from God that strengthens, encourages or comforts. It can be a Scripture used appropriately, or something that illuminates the Scripture given through the Spirit.

    • Joseph

      I think it’s funny, as I look at this debate and get to know more and more about theology, to see just how divided we as brothers and sisters in Christ can make ourselves. Seriously all, the debate needs to stop on these subjects! Why are we sitting here debating when the world doesn’t even know their Savior? We need to unite on the essentials and run the race, spreading the gospel as we go. Look to Jesus and worship the Lord our God with all that you are!!! That’s what He wants! He is calling to each of us, even the world, to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. We are not all leaders, teachers, or prophets, but we all are slaves, servants to the most High God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Those of us who do not believe in the gifts need to stop looking at those of us who do as if we are crazy, and those of us who believe in the continuation of gifts need to stop looking down on those who do not accept it. We all know the proof is in the puding, so let reality set in and eat it. Those who divide us work against us and do us all a real injustice. If you haven’t experienced a healing or heard a prophecy, then AMEN!! If you have then AMEN!! Each of you received what you needed to minister or be ministered to for that time set for you and those around you. Do NOT discount one another because of skepticism, but seek the face of the Holy One of Israel and praise Him for His glorious will being done. A liar will be proven to be what he/she is eventually and The weeds among us will catch fire and perish under the scrutiny of His Holiness. For If our Father is in a ministry, then it will succeed and perpetuate righteousness, but, if not… Peace!

    • donk

      Considering their importance, one might have expected more of the prophecies of Samuel and Nathan than of Nahum and Obadiah by the measure proposed.
      Put another way, any book represents either the intellect of its author, an academic exercise, or the intellect, emotions, life history and geography, goals, hopes, dreams, etc. So, if we say, that at its highest level, God is the author of the Bible, we may draw one of, at least, three conclusions.
      The first is that the book exists primarily or entirely for academic reasons. The second is that the intellectual level of the book does not exceed that of its likely reader. The third is that the book is likely to exceed the reader and its purpose is to bring the reader above his limitations.
      That the first is not so is obvious from its content. That the second is also not true takes a little more thought. Is it written to be best understood by the median reader or the apex academics? It could not have been written to the meanest of intellects as the content, once again, indicates.
      The third is almost certainly true. God is intellectually superior to any in His creation. This is complicated by the total lack of commonality of experience, emotions, goals, experience. That He sends His Son to live in our circumstances and much of the worst of them affirms this. It truly follows from this that He needs to provide a helper to lead and guide us into all truth, not merely the intellectual parts, but the parts of living, fellowship, courage, etc. He might do this on His own, but He says He will come along side us and we can do it together. It is to this end that the charisms should be considered. In my many years as a Christian, I have seen great intellects who have spent years never getting it from the paper to life and a near illiterate who have understood some subtlety of the koine, not plain in the KJV, but because he trusted that he could walk & talk with Him, as they trode the sea.

    • Fitz

      Michael.
      The scriptures warn us in 1 John 4 to test every spirit. I believe in your case here the dream was the “spirit” in question that needed to be tested. How you ask? Perhaps the test in this case could have been to wait it out. To wait and see if you would encounter someone with that name and perhaps it may have been revealed what, if anything, it meant. It could have meant that the wife of someone named Lewis Johnson was being unfaithful..or it could have been nothing at all.
      PS. Maybe you just ate too late…lol!

    • Crystal

      I think you just had a dream and a bad dream. I believe if you believe you hear a word from the Lord there will be confirmation. He says his sheep will know his voice. I believe it is learned.

    • snooop1e

      Listen up people, when ALMIGHTY GOD contacts you there will be no doubt in your mind that ALMIGHTY GOD has contacted you. If God wants to contact you He knows exactly how to do it and there will be no doubt whatsoever in your mind that God has spoken to you. So no, that was not the face of Jesus you saw in your slice of Pizza last night while watching the NBA playoffs and that dream you had does not mean you should take out NIKE. Paul had no doubt that he had met God and neither will you. Now stop looking or prophecy in the lint screen in your clothes dryer and go spend some time with your wife and kids or clean out your garage. Peace in Christ

    • Mo

      @ snooop1e #4 –

      Thank you! This is what has needed to be said all along!

      This entire thread has been illuminating, and not in a good way. I’d been noticing this new trend in Christianity of this business of seeing/hearing God’s voice/direction in everything. (Except God’s Word. More on that in a minute.) But until this discussion, I hadn’t realized to what extent this thinking had taken over the Church. Everything is a sign, everything is something to be deciphered. As you have pointed out, when people in the Bible heard from God, they KNEW it was God! He’s not unclear. He doesn’t give hints. He doesn’t make you figure it by stringing clues along that might mean this or might mean that. Could it be that we don’t quite understand things sometimes? Sure. We’re human. But if you will just go to the Bible and see God’s interactions with people, you will see that it is NOTHING like what we have made it to be today!

      Announce a group to “learn how to hear God’s voice” and you’ll have a crowd. Announce a group to learn how to read God’s Word in context, learn the history, learn the customs of the day, learn about the OT covenants, and learn how to think through today’s issues from a biblical worldview, and you’ll have a hard time getting people interested.

      Who needs all that work when all you need to do is open your Bible at a random point and get your private message for the day? Why bother doing the hard work of learning how to think through issues from a biblical worldview, when all you need to do is pray and God will give you a sign or a dream?

      Let’s leave this Christian superstition behind and let’s get back to the book we say we believe are the very words of God to man!

    • Ben Thorp

      You seem to be under the (albeit common) misapprehension that a) charismatics aren’t equally troubled by this trend in the church at large, and that b) these 2 things are somehow mutually exclusive.

    • Steven

      Michael, Thanks for sharing this struggle. Honestly, you made me laugh at times, but I also recognize the seriousness of what you are saying, and I loved the honesty.

      20/20 – You should have just told your wife about your weird dream in the morning and asked her what she thought about it b4 the whole facebook thing and mental anguish. I bet you already got this by now. Live and learn 🙂

      I hope you stay open to spiritual gifts. I agree we can be led way astray without checking what people say to us or experiences we have against the Bible. I think part of the problem with some of us can be pride too b/c we want to think all these cool supernatural things are going to happen to us because we are so special to God. We are all special to God! My wife actually has prayed to God not to see anything, and she hasn’t – b/c she believes already and doesn’t want to be frightened.

      But I also think the enemy gets really active when we reach out for more, and I think God does test us at times. So where did that dream come from – I think your wife helped you figure it out some. But I think these things take time.

      I have experienced supernatural visions and have been really scared, amazed, confused, and questioning. At another time, I have also been made to feel that my lack of ______ led to the failure of a healing on someone I really loved. Could they be correct? Sure. Could they be wrong? Sure. But it didn’t turn me from God, it brought me closer to Him. I just don’t understand all His ways, but I trust He works all for good and I know Jesus has my back.

      Keep up the good work.

    • (Here is an article ezplaining the reason Reformed Christians reject the outrageous claims of Charismatics)

      Does R. C. Sproul Believe in Miracles? From R. C. Sproul

      http://www.ligonier.org/blog/does-rcsproul-believe-miracles/

    • donk

      Hershel,

      Giving ourselves the right to be outraged is giving ourselves the right to disengage. If your statement was in regard to some of the claims some of the people you regard as charismatics, it is too broad.

      I say regard because the word increasingly includes a larger and larger number of groups with differing histories and doctrinal streams- Pentecostal, Latter Rain, Full Gospel, original Charismatics, some of the Jesus People and so on. They are not identical in their views on charisms, dreams, miracles or many other doctrinal matters. You can no more say, “all charismatics are (or believe)… than you can say, “all Blacks are…” or “all Hispanics are…” or “all Asians are…”

      But it is also true that, in this instance, Sproul is wrong. See Ephesians 3:20-21. If He is willing to do exceedingly above all we can ask or think, then we should expect that He will. Sovereignty is a tool that never goes unused. If Sproul were right, then the very affirmation of this scripture would suffice to prevent the miraculous and, I suppose, a number of other things. But, since it was Paul’s experience that the miraculous happened, it is hardly likely that he was praying for its cessation in this two verse prayer, especially in the context of Ephesians chapters one through three. All we have here, then, is Sproul’s take on what should and should not be called a miracle and why, in his considered opinion they cannot happen now. It is lacking.

      As a matter of good practice, I try not to confuse my opinions with His truth, no matter how well reasoned. Perfect arguments based on defective premises always lead astray.

      (For the purposes of disclosure, I am frequently called a charismatic, but I don’t use the name. I find it unhelpful).

    • Thank you Mr Donk for your response. I will say this and then let it rest.

      Considering that I was in Charismatic churches for over 16 years and have preached in many of them and having attended all types of charismatic churches, anything from Assembly of God, Church of God, United Pentecostals, Independent Pentecostals, etc…..then I can brush with a broad stroke.

      I actually still receive a magazine or two from some of these denominations and they still speak of visions and dreams.

      I realize that.Charismatic doctrines have spilled over into every denomination: Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopal, etc….. and having originated in these latter years in Roman Catholicism, we seea uniting of all denominations in an ecuminical move to be one, but not because they all believe the same doctrines, but because they are all being united by the same false spirit.

    • Ben Thorp

      I mentioned the RC Sproul article in a comment on a newer post.

      I have to agree with donk that I find Sprouls argument to be flawed and somewhat circular. He seems to be arguing that miracles are supernatural events that authenticate an agent of revelation. But given that he doesn’t believe in “agents of revelation”, he doesn’t believe in miracles, and because he doesn’t believe in miracles, there obviously aren’t any “agents of revelation”.

      Beyond it being somewhat circular (which I wasn’t overly surprised at – Sproul is a very hard cessationist) I find it difficult to reconcile with Jesus advising that there would be false prophets and false workers of miracles in Matthew 7:21-23.

      Whilst I appreciate Sproul in many areas, he is not, IMO, the best cessationist apologist.

    • ken

      This is really common in charismatic circles. That’s is why I moved away from them. I got tired of being accused by some jealous fool because of some prophetic dream. The only antidote for this is some straight up theology and Bible study. It clears the head and keeps the devil from whispering his lies into the believers ear. I was a little surprised to see my hero fall for this trick. I am glad he is so transparent to show us his own experience to expose this trick of the enemy.

    • Paul Leonard

      A friend left because they kept pressuring her to speak in tongues, etc. That isn’t how it would work.

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