Did You Hear From God?

I sometimes get asked what I think about dreams or visions. Do they mean anything? Is God trying to tell us something through them? How do we interpret them? Or what about prophesying? Can people prophecy today? Do we listen to them? I always say the same thing; how can you know if the message is of God? How can you be sure this came from the Almighty and not the serpent? It won't be obvious because the Bible tells that the devil masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). So how could we ever be sure we aren’t being deceived by the enemy? How do we know the prophecy, dream, vision is of God and not His enemy? Simple, we turn to the only thing we know without a shadow of doubt comes from God...the Bible. What do I mean? Check everything against scripture. Turn to the truth  to know if you were given a lie. If you had a dream where you believed God told you to go and kill someone, a quick look at the scriptures would tell you this belief isn’t from God. Then I take it a step further. If you would have to go to the Bible to make sure it was true, why not just turn to the Bible to begin with? Instead of being enamored with dreams and prophecies, be enamored with scripture. Instead of following something that might be from God, follow something that is definitely from God. 

Whenever I’m asked about this I’m reminded of a few things that prove this out. For instance I have a family member who was told as a teenager by a prophet that he would be a minister. Today, while he has a great family and vocation, he is not a minister. I also think about King Saul going to the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28:7-20). There is much debate as to whether or not it was really Samuel that King Saul spoke to. If it was not really Samuel, that then proves all the more how the devil can deceive us in this medium  (pun intended). If it really was Samuel, Saul still committed sin and went against the Bible! What is my point? If Saul would have just followed the Bible to begin with, he wouldn’t have been in this situation. He wouldn’t need to summon the dead. It’s not that he didn’t know God’s will, it’s that he had been avoiding it his whole life! I also remember someone (we’ll call him Jim) that started coming to my Dad’s church. He walked in the door and was a pleasant surprise. On fire, godly, zealous, charismatic, giving and gracious. He was a gift from God, that someone this on fire and ambitious randomly showed up at the church. One day when I was talking to him I asked for his testimony. He told me this fantastic story of a vision he had. It was very graphic and dramatic. Jim started by saying he was not godly but was generally a good person. Then one night, he had this vision. He saw this monster in one corner of his room and God in the other. The monster was trying to lash out and take Jim. The monster wanted Jim. Then God stopped the monster and told the monster not to touch Jim because he is one of God’s children. From then on Jim followed after God. You know what was not in his testimony? Sin, repentance, conversion, God’s forgiveness, God’s grace. You know all the things that the Bible says involves someone becoming a Christian! What is interesting, when I realized this later on, I wanted to ask Jim about these concerns I had. But Jim never returned to the church.

We too often are allured to the mysterious and magical. We want to think that every dream, circumstance, peaceful feeling, goosebumps, impressions or open door is a secret message from God. Why? He has already spoken to us in a very clear manner, in the Bible! We think that we always have to “figure out” God’s will for us. But God has never told us to do that. And how do I know? The Bible!. The thing I know without a shadow of doubt is the voice of God. Kevin Deyoung on this topic says, “too many of us spend too much time trying to divine God’s will and too little time striving to obey the plain commands of Scripture. God’s will is not a corn maze or magic eight ball. His will is our sanctification. God promises to direct our steps all throughout life, but he never promises to show us what each step is ahead of time. Too many of us are prone to passivity and indecision, because doing nothing feels more spiritual (and less risky) than doing something. So we stumble around in chains of subjective impressions and wander here and there and in and out of our parent’s basement. God’s will is not a bullseye to hit, but a life to live.”

There is a cartoon where a Christian is crying out into the sky, “Lord, please talk to me!” Then God’s hand comes down from a cloud and hands the guy a Bible. That is where we turn to, not tingling feelings from within. Now I am not saying that God would never use a vision or dream to speak to people. There are stories of people becoming saved in closed countries by visions and dreams from God. But what I am saying is that these are the exceptions not the rule. What I am saying is that nothing overrules the Bible. No matter what you feel or see or dream, the Bible is the standard and God would never contradict Himself. To get my point across let's look at this past election. Steve Strong, Pat Robertson, Curt Landry, Jeff Jansen, Sid Roth, Charlie Shamp, Apostle John Benefiel, Frank Amedia, Tracy Cooke, Rick Joyner, James Goll, Dr. Etienne Graves, Francine Fosdick, Jeremiah Johnson, R. Loren Sandford & Robin oBullock all prophesied that Donald Trump would be the next president. They were not guessing. They were not giving political analysis based on polling and surveys. They were saying God told them that Donald Trump would be president. To give you an idea, Tracy Cooke said, “[God] showed me three times in a dream...I dreamed that Donald Trump got reelected, that is no guessing game, he is the one that God is gonna put his hands on…” Steve Strang said that when Trump does get reelected it, “...proves that the prophetic is something from God that we need to pay attention to.” Now some of them to save face have been saying that Trump did win and the Democrats just stole the election. That does not hold water. They took the Lord’s name in vain. If God really did talk to them about the future, then it would have been so because no one can thwart the plans of God (Job 42:2). Are they really gonna say that the Democrats are stronger than God Himself?!

Or look at what happened at the Capitol Building on January 6th. The Wall Street Journal had an extensive interview with Doug Sweet because he was one of the people that went into the Capitol Building. The article says, “ People waving Trump flags and wearing MAGA hats were swarming the bleachers erected for Mr. Biden’s inauguration. They were scrambling up the walls. Rioters had overrun Capitol Police and forced their way into the building. Mr. Sweet could hear the thuds and see the smoke from flash-bang grenades going off inside. He says he and Ms. Fitchett walked up stairs on the Mall side of the Capitol, where he found the doors open.
He says he hesitated. He says he felt the need to go inside to share his views with Congress but wanted to consult God first. He prayed aloud: “Lord, is this the right thing to do? Is this what I need to do?” He says he felt God’s hand on his back, pushing him forward.
“I checked with the Lord,” he says. “I checked with Him three times. I never heard a ‘No.’”
You know how I know that Doug never really heard from God? Would God ever ask him to break the law? What does the Bible say about governing authorities? “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities…” (Romans 13:1) Would God contradict Himself? What does the Bible say? “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind…” (Numbers 23:19) “for [God] cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13) This is what I mean, God’s word is what we should be following, not anything else. Our hearts are evil and deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9) and can deceive us into thinking something is right and godly when it is not. Focus on His word. Focus on listening to what you know for a fact has come from God. Not on what may have come from God. Now some of you might be thinking, “What about the passages that have prophecy or dreams in it? Jesus’ parents were spoken to in a dream! There is even the spiritual gift of prophecy!” Very true. If I tell you to follow the BIble and the Bible has these things in there, then where is the line? I will talk about that in my next blog. For now, just remember that the Bible is the standard that everything else is measured against . You should be eager to listen to His word. And any other voice in your life should be held in the light of it.

“Evangelicals always lose their way when we forget we are a people of the Book.” Dustin Benge

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