As an Assembly of God pastor, it was not unusual for me to hear someone say “God told me” such and such. Though I was an undershepherd of God’s flock and was skeptical of this in my own mind, I withheld judgment just in case I was wrong to have the opinion that this person was mistaking an emotional impression or fleeting thought with the voice of God.
I would only intervene if the person was making the claim that God told them to commit a sin, or what “God said” to them was patently untrue. We have all heard of people who killed others with the claim that God told them to do it, and, of course, I rejected that God would do such thing.
Sadly, I did not jump in, however, when the church member did something that was probably unwise. For example, one single woman said that God told her to quit her job. A month later, she said she may have been mistaken in thinking God told her that, but that He was now telling her to look for another job in another city.
When people would say “God told me you should do” such and such I did believe this crossed a line and I would challenge them on the basis that if God wanted to tell me or a third party something he would surely do it directly. That is not to say I believed God does speak to people that way today, but that due to uncertainty, I was unwilling to question it openly.
I am now fully convinced from Scripture that all such claims to hear the voice of God directly are false. Let me repeat myself. God no longer speaks to mankind this way, and I do not hold this belief for any reason other than I believe the Bible clearly teaches this truth. God warns of false prophets who claim that “God has said” when He has not sent them:
Ezekiel 13:1- 3,6,7; 23:31 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! … They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith [it;] albeit I have not spoken… behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
Why does God not speak that way know, when he surely did in an earlier age? God in His Word said in Daniel 9:24 that
“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Regardless of ones interpretation of Daniel and the last days, it is clear from this passage that there would come a time when vision and prophecy would cease. The passage indicates that it is during the time when “the Most Holy” is anointed and reconciliation was made for iniquity.
The New Testament was written by Apostles, the Old Testament by Prophets. When the men who held these offices died, the offices ceased and the gifts that accompany them ceased also (especially the ordination to pen the Word of God).
Several New Testament passages are relevant here:
Hebrews 1.1,2a God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son
Romans 16:25,26 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.
We are established by the gospel and revelation we have already been given; we need no other foundation. Many passages show us that the foundation of the church and gospel kingdom was built by the prophets and apostles:
Ephesians 2:19, 20 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.
Ephesians 3:3-5 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
Revelation 22:18, 19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
II Timothy 1:8-14 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
God has spoken in His word. If he still gives revelation today, then we do not have a complete gospel, as the apostles claimed. If God does still speak today, it would be authoritative. If God speaks, it is the Word of God and it is binding upon all who hear it. When “charismatic Calvinists” claim that the prophetic gifts of the spirit are for today but not equal to the Bible, they are trying to split the difference between uninspired and inspired, as if there are words directly from God that are semi-inspired. There is no such gift. The gifts of prophecy in the New Testament were miracles.
Now I will readily grant that when some people say that God told them, what they mean is that they believe that God wants them to do a particular thing or that the Spirit of God applied something in the Word of God to their own lives. Well and good. But such impressions or thoughts are not the private interpretations of those who claim “God told them”. The public and revealed Word of God, on the other hand, is elevated above even the actual experience of the apostles when they saw Jesus transfigured and saw Moses and Elijah face-to-face:
II Peter 1:15-2:1 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
All such new revelations today are to be shunned by everyone. Otherwise, we no longer have a sure word of prophecy: The Bible. Many, such as “charismatic Calvinist” Mark Driscoll, are also suggesting they “see things.” I refuse to link to the video in which Driscoll makes the claim itself for it is, as one blogger puts it, “pornographic divination.” He claims God downloaded into his brain visions (videos) of actual rapes, adultery and child molestations as if they were on TV. Why would God have Driscoll watch things that God himself would consider so vile that He would turn away from them? Where did such a vision come from, then, if it wasn’t from God? Delusion, flashbacks, a lustful imagination, or demons are possibilities. Or Driscoll is simply lying.
If God doesn’t talk to people directly today, he surely isn’t going to send offensive X-rated videos either.