Wednesday, July 14, 2010

‘God Told Me’

from:  the Christian Standard 
Beyond the Misguided Spiritual Disciplines
Brian Jones

Years ago I used to frequent a Vineyard Christian Fellowship’s Saturday night service. . .

I’ll never forget the Saturday the worship pastor stood up and told the congregation, “In my prayer time this week God told me that we are supposed to begin taking our worship to the streets. So what we’re going to do is rent a huge flatbed truck, put our entire worship team on it, hook our speakers up to a generator, and drive it through the streets playing worship music and lifting our hands to Jesus!”

That’s just wonderful, I thought, because, I don’t know, people don’t already think Christians are freaky enough.

The problem wasn’t the goal. As stupid as I thought the idea was at the time, I appreciated the desire to get out in the streets. And the problem wasn’t the method. While I’m not sure turning 10 artsy people loose on a flatbed truck with microphones was the smartest thing to do, at least they were trying something. The problem was with their definition of worship.

Kent comments:

The most significant problem here (though the definition of ‘worship’ certainly is a problem) is found in the phrase “God told me.”

Far too many people associated with Christianity have the idea that God continues to deliver these individual, personalized messages to everyone, everywhere, all the time.  Some even see it as a mark of some kind of spiritual achievement.  If God doesn’t deliver these little messages to you, then there must be something lacking in your spiritual life – or so the thought goes.

Historic Christianity is a “faith once for all delivered.”  It has no addenda.  It is not all delivered except for that little part God still needs to deliver to you.

The “God told me” folks never seem to think about what would need to be the case if God, in fact, told them something more than what He revealed through the prophets, the Son, and His Apostles.  If you think God just told you something, then you should ask yourself some important questions:

Question 1:  What kind of miraculous sign did God provide to prove He was speaking.  That was His habit in the Bible.  Keep in mind that the sunrise, the birth of a baby, and the beautiful tree in your front yard are not miracles.  (Wonderful, yes; miracles, no.)  In other words, how do you know that the information you think God just told you is, in fact, from God?

Question 2:  Why shouldn’t the things God just told you be added to the Bible?  If God just told you something, then that is revelation.  What makes the revelation that just came to you any less worthy of being scripture than that which came to, say, Peter?

Question 3:  What if God just told me that He did not just tell you the thing you think He told you?  Think about that one very carefully.  What happens when God tells you one thing, and tells me another that is in conflict with yours?  Suppose the “worship pastor” says, “God told me we should get a truck . . . etc.”  Then the “youth pastor” says, “God told me we should stay on the corner of 5th and Elm and sing, etc.”  There is absolutely no way to settle who is correct, which points to the pointlessness of the whole, “God told me” scheme.

There is no good reason to think that God delivers personalized, individualized messages today.  As one songwriter so eloquently put it:

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said—
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

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