God Spoke to Me
Lately, I have been very worried about what I hear said very often: "God told me that...", "God has revealed to me that...", "God spoke to me that..." followed by either a personal interpretation of verses from Scriptures or something out of nowhere or even from sermons which to me are anecdotal at best.
I am struggling with this because I know God can speak to anyone in any way He wanted to but how would I know what that person said is really something God has spoke to him directly or something he worked out in his own mind? I wouldn't know now would I?
Moreover, I am even careful with my own thoughts to differentiate which are the promptings of the Holy Spirit and which are just my own thoughts and desires. Sometimes I can't even tell and as a result I have to be more focussed on His word on one end, and have myself more attentive to Him on the other.
What one of my friends said is true: she said to me that whenever anyone tells her God spoke to them, she will respond by saying that it is good that God spoke to them and if it is to be, God will speak to her too but as off now, He hadn't yet.
I read something from this blog and I concur. It gave reference to a CD-set entitled From Truth to Experience: Why the Church is Losing Its Vitality in the 21st Century by Greg Koukl. I checked Koukl's website Stand to Reason but it was no longer on sale.
What I gather from the blog post is that there is a deep concern about the church's ability to fulfill Jude's admonition to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" because of a trend in the church that is getting worse. The church is becoming increasingly ineffective because there is an unhealthy hunger for an experience of personal revelation that has replaced our hunger for truth.
We desperately want God to communicate with us directly. We go to the Bible not to study the text for its truth but to look for private, personal, individualised messages from God to us. We think that God put His will in code and we must decipher in order to find "God's will". We think that a vital part of a real relationship with God is learning how to receive private, personal, special revelation from God.
The problem Koukl saw was that we've placed too much importance on the aspect of experiencing God. These days, feelings seem to be much more relevant, and valid, than "mere" academic or what they like to call "head" knowledge. Many emphasise that one can "experience God" when one enters into a "personal relationship" with Jesus. And instead of hearing and learning about God through Scripture, there is a call to connect at "deeper and deeper levels", and that they would yearn to learn more about God, but do they?
Instead we see them striving to get more of "the experience", and they flock to listen to more anecdotal sermons and sharing sessions dressed up as bible studies that do not actually study the bible but talk about how they have "experienced" more of God.
I am not saying that we do not experience God. What I am trying to say is that God has revealed Himself to us through Jesus, which is his Word and the entire Bible is what God has given us to "experience" him, so to speak. Not some mystical or titillating extra-biblical stuff that we think we hear.
Trouble comes when we elevate experience over revealed truth, i.e. personal revelation of experience over the general revelation of Scripture, because we will run into the problem of relativism.
Imagine, if you read a verse and you say it says something personal to you and I read the same verse and that it says something else to me and he reads the very same verse and that it says another different individualised thing to him, what does that mean? When a static passage of text can mean one thing to you and another to another person, then the text is being viewed relativistically and that is not way to view Scripture.
What we really need is to go back to what God has so graciously given us - His Word. We need to read it, hear it, study it and let it change and transform us. Only then will we understand what it means to experience God.