I’d Almost Forgotten That People Still Think God Speaks To Them Directly

Maybe a blessing of the current controversies about John MacArthur opening his church and feminism creeping into Reformed churches is that I haven’t been hearing as many claims about personal words from God. I spent decades in churches and parachurch ministries where such expectations were normative, making it kind of surprising that I’d now be shocked to come across them. But when a friend on Facebook shared a word that God had supposedly spoken to her, it indeed caught me off guard.

In a way, I’m glad it surprised me. How refreshing to think that people depend on the Bible rather than personal revelation to hear the Lord speak! He certainly speaks to me each morning as I open His Word and work through it in context. In the past few years that I’ve approached Scripture using proper hermeneutics, the Holy Spirit has taught me more about spiritual things than I’d ever learned when I believed God spoke to me apart from Scripture.

Apparently I’ve grown accustomed to hearing Him speak through His Word.

It’s also rather nice that I’d come to expect my friends to have outgrown the notion that they would receive personal words from God. Had I finally learned to believe the best about people? They’d never given me any real indication that they’d stopped believing in direct words from Him, but it had been so long since I’d been exposed to any suggestion of mystical experiences that I guess it didn’t occur to me that my friends hadn’t changed.

Please don’t think I pat myself on the back for thinking well of my friends. I can only credit the Lord for working that attitude into me. I only mention it because it amazes me that I thought the best.

Reading my friend’s post did throw me off kilter for a little while, however. It shouldn’t have. The idea that God speaks to us without the medium of the Bible migrated from Charismatic churches to all evangelical churches in the mid 1990s when Henry Blackaby wrote Experiencing God and somehow got Southern Baptist Lifeway to publish it.

What in the world made me think that people would suddenly put aside the idea of God speaking directly to them?

As I think about my sense of surprise regarding my friend’s post, I praise God for reminding me that this battle hasn’t gone away. Yes, other concerns now obscure it, demanding time and energy from us. And we must address those matters. At the same time, we still need to continue fighting older battles, including the battle over the sufficiency of Scripture. Let’s remember the apostle Peter’s words:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. ~~2 Peter 1:2-5 (NASB)

Although it was nice to forget about personal words supposedly from the Lord, I praise God for my friend’s Facebook post. I needed to remember this battle, even as I learn to fight the newer battles.

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