Over this past week’s celebration, I saw a Christian from a solid, Bible-believing church (the church I attend, actually) give someone a set of Jesus Calling books for Christmas. Admittedly, this lady hasn’t been attending the church very long, but all the same, her lack of discernment troubles me.
Later in the day, I commented that God speaks to us exclusively through the Bible. She agreed enthusiastically, although fifteen minutes earlier she had been talking about a sign God had given her in response to a prayer. I shook my head, both grieved and frustrated by the obvious disconnect in her thinking. She needs good discipleship.
Sadly, she can’t understand my speech and she gives me reason to think that she believes I have intellectual disabilities (she’s not online, so she doesn’t read my blog). Additionally, she’s older than I, and therefore I wonder if she’d have the humility to accept instruction from me if I wrote her weekly letters? Maybe. Doing so would mean not blogging as often, but it might help her develop discernment.
As I see it, the Number One need Christian women have is Biblical discernment. (Men also need it, but I know Scripture limits me to teaching women.) Although I don’t believe women are stupid, I do think that we tend to let emotions affect our reasoning. As a result, we gravitate to mystical experiences as supplements to the Bible.
We forget that God’s Word needs no supplement. Consider the apostle Peter’s claim:
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ~~2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)
And lest we suppose that we can arrive at”the knowledge of God” through personal experiences, Peter insisted that even his very real experience of witnessing Christ’s Transfiguration found validation only in the “sure word” of Scripture.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ~~2 Peter 1:16-21 (ESV)
According to verse 3, then, God has already finished speaking with the completion of the Bible. Therefore, we must approach things like Sarah Young’s book by asking ourselves why we need a new word from the Lord.
Sarah Young’s book, Jesus Calling claims that Young wrote down words as she “listened” to Jesus. In an October 25, 2013 article in The New York Times entitled “A First-Person Defense of Writing in Jesus’ Voice,” Mark Oppenheimer demonstrates Young’s double-speak in trying to uphold Scripture as a closed canon while representing her words as His.
“I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying,” Ms. Young writes in the book’s introduction. She qualifies her project by writing, later, “The Bible is, of course, the only inerrant Word of God; my writings must be consistent with that unchanging standard.”
But then she tacks back the other way: “I have written from Jesus’ point of view; that is, the first person singular (‘I,’ ‘Me,’ ‘Mine’) always refers to Christ. ‘You’ refers to you, the reader, so the perspective is that of Jesus speaking to you.”
Either way, the average reader will most likely accept the Jesus Calling books as the actual words that Young heard from Jesus. In future posts, I hope to compare a few passages from Jesus Calling to Scripture, but for now it’s enough to ask whether or not we should read a book that suggests that it contains new revelation from the Lord.
I submit, dear sisters in Christ, that the possibility of Jesus speaking personally to us (whether through Sarah Young’s books or in our own prayer time) appeals to our flesh. But if Peter’s correct, the Lord has already given us everything we need to live godly lives. I pray for the lady from my church to understand this truth.