אַף כִּי־אָמַר אֱלֹהִים Did God really say? ʾap kî-ʾāmar ʾĕlōhîm? So goes the hiss of the serpent as the first seeds of doubt are planted in the mind of the first woman.
On the mountain bearing the name, Jabal an-Nour, in a cave called Hira, from what eventually became a book called the Qurán, an angel named Gabriel, brought a word for God to a man named Mohammad. Eventually, this event was the beginning of a series of events that resulted in what is today one of the largest religions in the world; Islam. Islam exists because a man claimed that God spoke to him on a mountain, in a cave, through an angel named Gabriel. Did God speak to Mohammad?
On Easter morning in 1935, in the Korean mountains, a young man was praying, when suddenly, Jesus appeared to him in a vision. In that vision, Jesus supposed informs the young lad, Sun Myung Moon that he is to finish the work that Jesus started 2,000 years earlier. From this experience was born the Unification Church, a.k.a. the Moonies.
One spring day, in 1820, a 14-year old boy went into a grove of trees to pray. This lad petitioned God for an understanding of which church was the true church. The young man reported that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. The Father and Jesus Christ informed the lad that all of the religious denominations were preaching false doctrine. He was told to wait for further instructions. According to the Church of the Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith’s revelation was the greatest revelation in the history of the Church since the Christ event. This experience produced the Mormon Church.
One man, on a very popular Christian network, tells his audience that God spoke to him and told him that Fidel Castro would die in the 90s. The same man said that God told him that Homosexuals in America would be destroyed by fire in 1995. This man also claimed that Jesus would appear physically in churches to show His people how close we are to the second coming. This man is none other than Benny Hinn.
I very recently heard someone claim that the Holy Spirit will oftentimes tell us the exact amount we should give, and to which causes. No so long ago, I had a dispute with Darrell Bock over at DTS regarding his position that God still speaks to us today by way of dreams and visions. Indeed, it is frightening that the idea that God is continuing to reveal things to us by way of personal, mystical encounters, has invaded even our most conservative evangelical and reformed churches, and it has done so with great haste and sensation. I can hear claims in our own conservative, Baptist church that parallel those of Mohammad, Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, Sun Myung Moon, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Hagin and many, many others.
It seems to me that there can be no doubt that the foundation of Christianity for many, if not most professing evangelicals has eroded to the point that it no longer exists. The foundation of God stands firm. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:19-22)
Recently it has been reported that John Piper publicly engaged in the Catholic practice of Lectio Divina. And if you visit Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC, Tim Keller’s church, you will find Lectio Divina is being taught there. Click here for Redeemer’s teaching on lectio divina. It is no secret that Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC has gone off the deep end a long time ago. He recently spoke at the heretic, Mike Bickle’s IHOP. Click here to read more. I have been saying for years now that if Christianity is to be preserved in one’s life and in the local church, it will only be preserved insofar as Scripture is preserved. A proper understanding of the phenomenon of Scripture is essential for a healthy, vibrant Christian experience.
What is happening in the modern, American, evangelical churches? In order to get to the root-cause of this problem, we must return to the garden and our original parents. After God created Adam, he spoke to Him, saying, The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17) God spoke to Adam. God’s speaking was clear. God’s speaking was authoritative. Adam knew without question that God had spoken. Adam trusted God’s Word. However, when the time was right, Satan entered the garden disguised as a serpent. While Satan would have obviously been out of place appearing in the garden, the serpent was not. It was an appropriate and clever disguise.
Eve willingly entertained a word from the serpent that contradicted God’s word. Eve was willing to consider the possibility that God’s word could be evaluated, tested, and scrutinized. Rather than accept God’s word for what it is, Eve listened to the tantalizing seduction of the serpent, Satan in the flesh so to speak, and ventured out into the realm of autonomous human reason. And when Eve reasoned using the serpent’s method, a method that cut God out of the process, she concluded that God’s word was not the final say in the matter. There were other possibilities. When man reasons apart from God, he will always, to varying degrees, conclude that God is wrong. So it was in the garden, and so it is today.
ὁ θεὸς…..ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ. God has spoken to us in the Son. Semantically, the aorist is consummative. The writer is emphasizng that the fact that God has spoken one final time through the person of Jesus Christ. The revelation of Scripture is the final event of God speaking until we are united with Christ in eternity at his return. What this means is that all claims that God has spoken to someone else apart from Scripture are false. If we dare venture down any other path, we are left with the seriously flawed argument that we can test personal revelation by an appeal to biblical revelation. The fact is such an endeavor is impossible. Take Benny Hinn’s claim that Fidel Castro would die in the 90s. How would it be possible for anyone to have evaluated Hinn’s claim at the time? Suppose I claim that God spoke to me in a dream and told me to give $15,000 to a particular ministry. How could I or anyone else know for sure that God had spoken to me?
If a claim of God speaking can actually be tested by Scripture, then the event itself can be ruled superfluous. That is to say, a person claiming that God spoke to them in a dream not to cheat on their spouse is redundant and unnecessary. These modern claims then are untestable. Not only are they untestable, they are ambiguous. The way God spoke in the biblical revelation compared with how God supposed speaks to people today is radically different. When Mary was visited by the angel, it was beyond doubt. When Jonah was instructed to preach to Ninevah, there was no question that God had spoken. When Adam was forbidden to eat from the tree, it was crystal clear. There was no chance that these people could have mistaken God’s word for some internal impression. Today, people have things pop into their minds and claim that it is God telling them to do something. It is just that ridiculous. How do you know God told you anything when all it is is a thought that popped into your mind? The claim that God spoke is a very serious claim indeed. But modern, American evangelicals think God is the all-tolerant sweet grandpa who will let you get away with anything because he is such a loving God. This picture of God is the product of a sinful, hedonistic, nihilist society that suffers from the accute condition of self-fascination. No one wants to offend or be offended. Everyone is interested in being politically correct, even most of those who say they don’t. And as a result, we let everything slide. We tolerate any and every claim that walks onto the field. If we didn’t, the charismatic movement would have died long ago. If we didn’t tolerate everything, Ronnie Floyd would have been publicly rebuked and maybe even replaced by now.
When we abandon the actual revelation of the self-attesting Word of God, we open the door to an anything goes atmosphere. It is only when we can point to a final, actual, knowable revelation that we can distinguish false claims of revelation from true revelation. Only then can we know what is true and avoid what is false. In reality, the contemporary refusal to regard any truth as sure and certain is the word kind of infidelity. [John MacArthur, The Truth War] When we see the Bible as uncertain and perhaps even wrong or highly questionable in some places, it makes other claims that God has spoken much easier to posit. It is only when we hold to the doctrines of the sufficiency, necessity, perspicuity, and authority of Scripture that such claims melt away under the heat and light of divine truth.