Do You Hear Voices?
One of the most frequent expressions used by radio and television evangelists is, “God spoke to me” and then there follows what is allegedly a special message from God. Here is a for instance. A national television preacher, the well known “faith healer” Oral Roberts, once issued eleven prophecies for 1992. He claimed the prophecies came directly from the voice of God. Here is his own testimony. “I have personally heard God speak audibly to me in my inner being 22 times. “ (11 Major Prophecies for You in 1992, by Oral Roberts, page 7).
This could be multiplied dozens of times by many others like Mr. Roberts. Our friends in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began with the alleged “special revelations” given to Joseph Smith, Jr. I say candidly and respectfully, that there is no reason at all to believe anyone since the days of the apostles of Christ has heard God say anything audibly. And in this lesson we will see why.
If you believe the Bible you must accept it as the complete, sufficient, inerrant and final word God has revealed to mankind. The Bible either is the last revelation God gave to man or it is a worthless document. The next revelation from heaven is the return of Christ who will conclude everything by bringing the world into judgment. Jesus said: “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then recompense every man according to his deeds” (Matt. 16:27).
It is by the plain biblical teaching that all the world will be judged. Jesus said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). The word that you have from God, right there in your own Bible, is what Jesus said will be used as a standard of judgment on the last day. It is essential that we all understand that the last day is the last day. There will be no more days after the last one.
Wise people will discard anything that is not part of what God has clearly revealed in the Bible. Unfortunately many do not. But the word of God is all anyone needs. Paul wrote: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). To put it simply: if it is not in your Bible, you don’t need it. If it is in your Bible, you must believe it and obey it or come up lacking when Christ comes to judge us all.
A look at the world of Protestantism shows that a majority accept the Bible as God’s one and only complete revelation of His will for man. But those who give lip service to this fact really accept the Bible only partially. After you find out how many denominational pastors, teachers, and scholars do not believe the Bible to be fully authoritative, and then you learn that many of them refuse to accept some of the fundamental teaching of the Bible, you are left with a precious few who really respect and accept the Bible as God’s will for man.
The Bible is used by many as a philosophical spring board. They take enough Bible to get started, and then fill in the rest with these imaginary direct revelations from God and land in a cess pool of human wisdom. If they cannot find what they want in the Bible, they claim God gave them a special revelation. What is also interesting is that when they do find in the Bible even the slightest help for one of their ideas, they don’t bother about claiming special revelations. The Bible becomes a sort of chameleon; it will become whatever they want it to become. They are described in the Bible. Listen: “And regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation, just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:15-16). Anyone who would distort, either intentionally or deliberately, the sacred word pronounces his own guilt and destiny.
There is a long list of religious folks whose very existence is inseparably based on a contention that their founders received special revelations directly from God. Like Oral Roberts, many claim they heard the actual voice of God, audibly. Mention has already been made of Joseph Smith, Jr. He was the founder of the many branches of the Mormon religion. He claimed that angels visited him and instructed him to go to a sacred grove where he would find golden plates. He was given the power to translate these plates out of an imaginary fictional language called “Reformed Egyptian.” From that came the Book of Mormon, the sacred book of all Mormons.
Ellen G. White, who founded the Seventh Day Adventists claimed God spoke audibly to her. In the same trail came Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science Church. She also claimed to have heard God speaking audibly. The Pope of Roman Catholicism claims that God speaks to the Catholic Church directly through him at various times. Then add, Jimmy Swaggart, Robert Tilton, and numerous other Pentecostals to this list and you have quite a menagerie of those who claim that, in addition to what the Bible reveals, God has given them something special.
The intelligence of all who hear this should be insulted. If people are so gullible as to think that God is actually speaking through each and every one of these mentioned, they are too gullible ever to know the truth. All of these claims cannot be true. But what do the rest of us do about it? Do you just pick out the one you think has some direct line to God and believe him (or her)? You ought not to believe any of them. Here is why.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, a badly divided group of Christians, he condemned their division. Some of them believed in Peter, others in Paul, others in Apollos, and some (evidently from a factious motive) believed in Christ. Paul argued that he, Peter, and Apollos were simple servants of Christ and that no one ought to place any man on the same level with Christ. Now listen to what he says about the word of God. “Now these things brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other” (1 Cor. 4:6). What is written is much more important than what either Apollos or Paul would have said — according to Paul. If that is true with Apollos and Paul, it is most assuredly true of men today.
John wrote: “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God: the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). How important is it to you, right now, that your whole life, what you believe about yourself and God, about the church you are in, about the things you do religiously, are all “in the teaching of Christ?” How can one have all this “in the teaching?” Whatever I believe or practice in the name of Christ must be that which I can read about in that teaching. But what if I cannot read about my faith in the Bible? Dear friend, if you cannot read about your faith and your practice in the Bible, you do not have fellowship with the Lord on high. But how many of the things I believe and practice must be in the teaching of Christ?
Every step one takes on an athletic field must be “in bounds.” We all know what “out of bounds means.” A pass to a wide receiver on a football team is incomplete if the receiver makes only one step out of bounds before catching the ball. Basketball players cannot score points by shooting at the basket from out of bounds. The person who wants the fellowship of God must be in the teaching of Christ in everything. One step beyond any boundary puts one over the line. That is just how important it is that we study our Bibles and reject all of the claims men make for “special revelations.”
Consider this. Many who claim they hear God tell them things are also the strongest in claiming some divine grant from the Holy Spirit. Either they were allegedly baptized with the Spirit, or they claim they have the Holy Spirit compartmentalized somewhere inside themselves. The Holy Spirit revealed the word of God. I hope you have a New Testament somewhere near you right now. If you do, turn to John chapter 16. Look at verse 13. It reads: “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13).
Please go back to the thirteenth chapter and notice that Jesus was eating the Passover feast with only His disciples — the apostles. It was to these that He said the Spirit would reveal all the truth. Since all the truth was promised to the apostles, how could more truth be revealed to others who are not apostles? Possibly that verse should be revised to read, “The Spirit of truth will guide you into most of the truth, or possibly all the truth you need, but not all truth for all men of all time.” However it doesn’t read that way, does it? But in practice and effect that is precisely what is done by those who claim God is still giving them special revelations. They are unable to accept the finality of the Bible as all the truth.
One of the most dreadful and severe warnings ever presented is found in Galatians 1. “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel, which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1 6-8).
The word accursed means: “a thing God has devoted for destruction because of His disfavor.” . . . In Galatians 1:8-9, the apostle declares in the strongest manner that the gospel he preached was the one and only way of salvation, and that to preach another was to nullify the death of Christ.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Volume II, page 141).
If you were a follower of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, who claimed that angels came to him to give him another testimony of Christ to the world, how would you feel when you read such a verse? It would make me want to abandon all such false claims. And the same is true with each and every single one who claims God is talking to them audibly today.
The late Jack Meyer, an excellent Bible student and gospel preacher wrote this several years ago.
“Long before the arrival of the present crop of claimants to special revelations, the Bible recorded a Spirit guided apostle’s statement: ‘Seeing that His divine power has granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that called us by His own glory and virtue” (2 Pet. 1:3). ‘All’ does not mean ‘some, and that statement proves that God granted — or revealed — nothing to anyone concerning godliness after the Bible revelation was complete. Thus it is to your interest to accept the Bible as the complete, sufficient, and final will of God revealed to man. In doing that you will automatically brand as false and reject as destructive heresy any claim that men have received special revelations of godly truth after the Bible was completed. Let it be the only book of authority on your religion.” To that I say simply, Amen!
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