On December 18, 1989, a very special friend of mine lost his battle with AIDS. Reportedly, Jesus appeared to him that morning, telling him it was time to go. So, surrounded by his mother and friends from her church, he took off his oxygen mask. He lingered until 11:00 that night, listening to the prayers and worship songs of those who had gathered in his hospital room. At that point, his cousin told me, he said he again saw Jesus, and then he drew his last breath.
Over the next few months, his mother called me several times. In one conversation, she told me that Jesus had given her a vision that He now employed her son in heaven as an intercessor for people living with AIDS. Her vision was confirmed, she added, by an acquaintance of hers who independently experienced the “exact same” vision.
This vision offered me a measure of comfort as I grieved. It offered a sense of purpose to a death that otherwise held no meaning that I could understand. So I embraced it.
I continued serving with Love In Action, and its AIDS support group, frequently praying for those who had tested positive for HIV. One night, while praying with particular intensity, I found myself praying to my deceased friend as if, because the visions cast him in the role of an intercessor for those with HIV, he was some sort of intermediary between me and the Lord.
My misdirected prayer amounted to necromancy! Deuteronomy 18:10-12 clearly prohibits this practice, so my actions horrified me. I instantly repented, and have never again prayed to any being except the Lord.
My sin of praying to a dead person caused me to begin questioning the assumptions of the Charismatic movement, beginning with visions and prophetic utterances. I began searching the Bible and reading John MacArthur’s book, Charismatic Chaos. I began my journey away from Charismatic teaching, learning to evaluate my subjective experiences by Scripture rather than forcing patch-work fragments of Bible verses (in conveniently selected versions) to lend credibility to my experiences.
The Lord used my friend and his mother to teach me the critical importance of His Word, even when it challenges my theology. Over the 25 years since He began delivering me from Charismatic theology, I’ve had to relinquish some cherished experiences that I’d believed were personal revelations from Him, and the process has been humbling. But I rejoice in His faithfulness to correct me through His Word