A good while back, someone contacted me about her close friend.  She hadn't seen this friend in a while.  This friend of hers had some very strange ideas about what God was telling them and it seemed to involve the book of Revelation as well.  This friend of hers claimed that God was giving her a special word or message that was very personal.  The message was also pretty un-biblical.

Here are some excerpts from my response....

It sounds like she is in grave trouble in her spiritual life because of a certain misunderstanding not about the book of Revelation, but about how God provides revelation.

There is a certain emphasis in churches on how we should have a close interaction with God, that we should hear His voice, that we can know Him deeply, personally, and intimately, that we should listen to His voice and obey His commands, etc.  These are wholesome teachings, but can be very dangerous if they are not given some clarification. 

What many people slide into-- (and incidentally this happens especially in the charismatic/Pentecostal churches, small Baptist churches, churches where the pastor lacks education, or where people have isolated themselves from their local church)---is a belief that God is revealing things and speaking to them even though the instructions have little relation to the Bible (God’s authoritative word).  The following is a bold statement that some people might object to, but the real truth is that God won’t communicate something to us that can’t be supported, found, understood, or concluded from the Bible.  That means that “the voice” inside many people’s heads might or might not be God.  For a good example of "hearing from God" gone wrong, take a look at the book Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsh.  

God has revealed Himself through His word.  If in the practice of “hearing God” we neglect the Scriptures, many things can get distorted by ourselves or even by the enemy.  A general knowledge of scripture can sometimes be more harmful to someone than none at all in cases like this.  To hear from God accurately, we need to have spent hours absorbing His words and infusing the entire Bible’s wealth of content into our very soul and minds until it becomes second nature...until it informs all of our thinking.  Only then can our thinking or “hearing” be remotely close to what God desires.  

God has already given to mankind all of the revelation that we need to have...Nature itself leads us to contemplate Him and believe He exists, Jesus came to earth as the fullest revelation from God, and the Bible makes clear exactly who He is and what He desires from us.  We don’t need any special experiences beyond what God has already given us in nature (known as God's general revelation), in Christ, and in the Bible (the last two comprising God's specific or special revelation).  We don’t need a fresh personal word that gives us goosebumps, we don’t need a secret word from God that He has only given to us, etc.  There is a reason that the canon of scripture is considered to be closed.  We're not going to add any more books to the Bible because it is a finished and complete book with no need of addition.  In fact, God warns of adding or subtracting from His words within the scriptures themselves.

There is very great danger in this erroneous understanding of how God reveals Himself.  This is how many cults get started, this is how scriptures get twisted, and this is also a way that many people develop or encourage their own mental or psychological disorders, etc.  This friend of yours has a great need above all to know that God’s word is actually in contradiction to some of the things she is claiming...She also needs to know that God’s word has to have a central place in her “hearing from God”, and that she absolutely cannot be a lone ranger – without the love of Christian community, there is an even greater chance of destruction in your friend’s life.  A church family provides a balance and a protection against this sort of isolation and this sort of misunderstanding about Biblical revelation.  For myself, if I ever start to have bizarre experiences with God that other Christians around me or throughout Christian history have not experienced, I would be very concerned.  (This also happens to be a good rule of thumb for Bible interpretation as well...If you have a bizarre interpretation that nobody has ever shared with you, or that nobody in the entire history of Biblical interpretation has arrived at, you are potentially entirely misguided in your interpretation and probably need to seek a better understanding of the passage.)

Sometimes depression, anxiety, fear, and severed relationships can wound a person to where they isolate themselves from church and situations in someone’s personal life can contribute to the problem as well.  Sometimes charismatic television evangelists encourage the problem as well by practicing this same spiritualizing and experience-driven understanding of God’s revelation.    

I came across a couple of excellent books the other day as I was browsing some new titles and IVP (Inter-Varsity Press) has these great ones of the topic of hearing from God.


God Talk by Ruth A. Tucker ISBN: 978-0-8308-3331-3 

Hearing God by Dallas Willard   ISBN: 978-0-8308-2226-3


Here is an article that may be boring, but touches on the very subject that I discussed about how God speaks to us today.