By Matt Allen
Change. This has been the beacon call of numerous social agendas throughout the years. Get rid of the old hard line thoughts/ideals and bring in a more non- judgmental and tolerant atmosphere. Rational thought and reason behind one’s actions is tossed out and his decisions and opinions tend to be based upon emotion. This change, from the rational to the emotional, has now crept into the politics and religion of the day. While we lament the change in the social and political arena, we are most concerned with the change going on around us in the religious world. The change going on in the religious world is now creeping into the Lord’s body. Christians — be aware!
The trend in modern American religion is now point- ing away from biblical proof and reason toward a better felt than told experience. One does not have to look very far to see this. That the confusion by many so-called “Christians” concerning the workings of the Holy Spirit has come about is due largely to the false teaching of men who claim to have spoken personally with God or the Holy Spirit. Perhaps some will recall the story from a few years back of Oral Roberts being instructed by the Holy Spirit to go up into his prayer tower and stay there until a certain amount of money was raised. The popular television evangelist of the 90s, Benny Hinn, claims to speak with God regularly. But it is not just the televangelists that make such claims. The number of men and women now claiming that God himself or the Holy Spirit speaks to them is continually growing — especially among those who are charismatic in religion. Perhaps you know someone who claims that God speaks to him. Some claim that God personally tells them what clothes to wear, what to say, what to believe, and what to do in matters of religion.
What does the Bible say concerning such? In all reli- gious matters one must be governed by the precepts contained within the Bible. Colossians 3:17 says, “What- ever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” The Bible means what it says and says what it means. No Scripture can be interpreted in such a way as to put it in contradiction with any other passage. All things in religious matters can be ascertained if one will approach the subject with an open mind and a honest heart. Does the Bible teach that God still speaks personally to men today?
If God speaks to men personally today, God is a re- specter of persons. What makes the men that claim to have personal conversations with God more special than the rest of us? Why can’t every believer have the same access to the Father as these men do? What exactly does God sound like as he imparts the information to the hearer? Is it a voice? A gentle breeze? Could it be through the rustling leaves of a nearby tree? How is one to distinguish these messages from nature? If the claims of many of our religious friends are true, then God shows partiality toward a selected few and neglects all others. This would contradict the plain teaching of Paul found in Romans 2:11. Here he writes, “For there is no partial- ity with God.” Peter spoke words to the same effect in Acts 10:34-35. Observe: “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partial- ity. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’” God treats all men the same, everywhere. It is understood that in the past, God communicated with the prophets and apostles to impart his word and will to men. This was done during the giving of the Law of Moses (Exod. 19:3), warnings to Israel and prophecies concerning the Messiah (major/ minor prophets), and during the first century as the New Testament church was being established. The mission of those men was simple: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’” God treats all men the same, everywhere. It is understood that in the past, God communicated with the prophets and apostles to impart his word and will to men. This was done during the giving of the Law of Moses (Exod. 19:3), warnings to Israel and prophecies concerning the Messiah (major/minor prophets), and during the first century as the NewTestament church was being established. The mission of those men was simple: to impart the message of God to the masses. They sought in no manner to bring honor, fame, and popularity upon themselves (contrary to many today) but rather chose to esteem God as being worthy of the glory. For God to show favor on one person by speaking to him personally would cause him to show partiality — which the Scriptures plainly deny.
If God speaks to men personally today, the Scriptures are inaccurate. How is this? The Scriptures teach over and over again that one may be made complete through the Word of God. The passage found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 perhaps is the most explicit concerning this matter. Paul writes, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” From this passage, one finds that through his application to the Word of God — he may be made complete — ready for the work of the Lord. Paul told the Colossian brethren that they were complete in Christ. They had received and adhered themselves to the gospel preached to them by the Apostles. We can become well pleasing to God when we adhere to the teaching of the gospel found in the word of God! Since one can be made complete through the Word, why then would God speak directly to men today?
Is there something new and different that God now wishes to impart to men? If that be the case, Paul taught us not to believe this “new revelation” because there is only one gospel, and that is the one of the apostles, given by inspiration, found in the New Testament (Gal. 1:6-9)! Psalm 19:7 teaches us that the law of the Lord is perfect, making wise the simple. James 1:22 echoes this. If what we have received (the Bible) is perfect, what else needs to be added?
If God speaks personally to men today, then the word is not our final authority. This, I believe, is the root cause of the claims of many men today. A principle being taught or some particular practice does not fit into the pattern of Scripture, so one simply makes up his own declaration from God. This is usually the convenient thing to do, and when the supposed revelation from God is portrayed in some mystical manner the masses overwhelmingly accept it. The Scriptures plainly teach that they are the final authority in religious matters. Jesus said that his words would judge the world at the end of time. John 12:48 says, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” If God still speaks to men today, how could the New Testament be the final authority? There is no doctrine according to Oral Roberts! There is no doctrine according to Benny Hinn! There is only one doctrine and that is found in the gospel of Christ given to us by the apostles (1 Tim. 1:3). Let us seek to apply it!
If God speaks personally to men today, then he is contrary to his word. God speaks to men today through the Word of Christ, the gospel. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.” Paul wrote that the things he wrote were not from him, but from God (1 Cor. 2:9-13). Prophecies and gifts of the Spirit have ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-12).
Let us not fall for the religious emotionalism of the day! While we may be intrigued and entertained by the claims of men, we must remember that God speaks to.