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July 3, 2018

Are You Sure That's God You Are Hearing From?

By Anthony Wade

A growing contamination in the church is the turn towards experiential Christianity in lieu of biblical truth, led by personal revelation based upon a poor teaching of how we hear from God.


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So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -- Romans 10: 17 (ESV)

Apathy regarding biblical illiteracy is crippling the church today. With the proliferation of purpose driven church models of growth, individual biblical studies are nonexistent and the word received on Sundays is no longer the coherent Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead it is a smattering of verse fragments wrested horribly out of context to fit a pre-conceived biased messaged designed to tickle the ears and please the goats. Most people know what Jeremiah 29:11 says but have no clue about the events leading up to the 70 year captivity in Babylon. Let alone the split in the nation of Israel resulting from the sins of David and his son Solomon. Most believe that God is just waiting to throw open the windows of heaven over their lives if they would tithe regularly because of some guy named Malachi but they have no idea they are being lied to. More importantly, they don't care. The illiteracy part is disturbing enough but that could be fixed by simply reading the Bible. The apathy however is the true aim of Satan. To have a church that simply does not care about the Word of God. To have Bill Johnson tell millions that we do not worship a book, when that book is the actual Son of God! To have Darren Wilson create whole movies designed to turn Christianity into an experiential hot mess of personal beliefs at the expense of biblical verity. To have Andy Stanley preach that we should stop saying the Bible is inerrant and detach the Old Testament from our lives. One of the schemes of the devil that has allowed this to occur is the marked increase in accepting personal revelation in lieu of the Bible. The Charismaniacal landscape is littered with false prophets and teachers who always start everything they say with, "the Lord told me." No offense but unless He gave you chapter and verse, I am not buying it. Can God speak to us through means other than the Bible? Of course He can -- He is God. You have to ask yourself why He would though if He has already given us His insight in the final revealed will of the Lord? Did He forget something He intended one of the bible writers to write down and now is letting some huckster know about it to tell you? I doubt it. The key verse today is very clear. It contains no ambiguity at all. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. Not the alleged revelation of Joseph Prince or the sneaky squid spirit of Jennifer Leclaire. The above linked article is from Pastor Ben Godwin through Charisma News and Pastor Ben thinks he has identified the 12 ways God speaks to us today. Let us reason together beloved to see how the corrupt NAR and purpose driven industrial complex has poisoned the thinking of well-intended pastors today in the church.

"Skeptics say God doesn't speak anymore. Even some Christians claim God only speaks through the Bible. Really? Did He get laryngitis and lose His voice? Did He change? Did He cease being God? Malachi 3:6 affirms, "For I am the Lord, I do not change." That means if God saved in Bible times, He still saves today. If He healed then, He still heals now. If He spoke to people in the past, He still does. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). The question is not, "Is God still speaking?" The question is, "Are we listening?" Jesus implored all seven churches of Asia, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev. 2:7). Consider these 12 ways God still speaks today:" -- Ben Godwin

These are the typical nonsensical defenses offered up by people who prefer false supernatural encounters over the assuredness of the Word. What are we to make of his bible offerings here? Let's do the work of a Berean:

"For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, 'How shall we return?' -- Malachi 3: 6-7 (ESV)

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. -- Hebrews 13: 7-8 (ESV)

This is why the Bereans were considered nobler. It is easy to take verses out of context and use them to prop up your unbiblical arguments. First the Malachi verses are God reminding His chosen people that He does not change because if He did He would have to consume them for all of their rebellion against what? His Word. They have turned from His statutes! Yet He made a covenant with Abraham and Israel was His chosen people. They always will be. The Hebrews verses show us the same thing beloved. Consider how your leaders spoke to you the Word of God! Consider the outcome of their lives because Jesus Christ does not change! Both verses used by Godwin disprove His point and reveal that only the Word of God is paramount. The same goes for the seven churches in Revelation, five of which were no longer following the Word. Let us now see the 12 ways Ben Godwin believes God still speaks to us:

"Audible Voice: Though seemingly rare, God has and still can speak audibly. Adam and Eve heard God's voice in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). God spoke audibly to Moses from the burning bush (Ex. 3:4-6) and to all Israel from Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:1-22). In the New Testament, the Father endorsed Jesus at His baptism and His transfiguration with a literal voice. Saul and his posse saw Christ in a blinding light and heard His voice (Ac. 9:3-7). God is sovereign, and He can speak however and whenever He wants." -- Ben Godwin

These biblical references are all true and I am sure there are more instances recorded in the canon of Scripture but what are these really? Are they normative or outliers? The answer is if you have only a handful of instances within a 6000 year record of history, they are outliers. They are not the norm yet in modern Charismania on any given Sunday you could have hundreds of preachers claiming a direct audible voice of God. Joseph Prince alone has claimed more audible words from God than the totality of instances in the Bible. It is just absurd. Another way of seeing the absolute silliness of this is the nature of the encounters. Even the most conversant encounter, such as Moses, is depicts Moses filled with reverent awe. Not so with the evangelical leaders of today who seem to have something akin to the red phone from Commissioner Gordon's office with a line straight to the throne room of God. Consider the testimony of Kim Walker Smith, worship leader for the heretical Jesus Culture. She claims that Jesus Himself visited her while she was awake and whisked her away to the third heaven where she met the Father face to face. Did she fall down in worship? Did she say she had unclean lips like Isaiah? Not at all! Instead she stammered like a coy school girl and asked the vapid question, "What were you thinking about when you made me?" The Father allegedly responds by ripping out a piece of His heart and molding a miniature Kim Walker-Smith to place in a music box to dance and worship for Him as He clapped demonically. I say demonically because we know this was a demonic visitation. How are we sure? Because the Bible assures us that if she had met the Father face to face she would be dead. This is why you do not abandon the surety of Scripture for the longings of our wickedly deceitful hearts.

"Angelic Visitation: Angels are agents on assignment--God's messengers sent to minister to heirs of salvation. There are numerous instances in Scripture where angels informed, warned or conveyed divine messages to individuals. They are still on the job.

Visions and Dreams: "I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh ... your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17). A vision is an inspired appearance (something you see literally with your eyes or in your mind or spirit). A dream is something seen in your sleep or something you imagine doing--a goal or an aspiration. God can insert images and ideas into our minds whether we are conscious or not.

Signs: Is it wrong to ask God for a sign? It depends on our motive. People who asked Jesus for a miracle just for show or to prove His divinity were denied, but those who asked God for a sign to ascertain or confirm His will were often rewarded. Gideon put a fleece out sincerely seeking confirmation of God's will and was obliged (Judg. 6:36-40). We serve a supernatural God of signs and wonders." -- Ben Godwin

Similarly to audible voices, angelic visitations are relatively rare. To read Charisma News it seems as if there is an angel on every street corner looking for work. It cheapens the reality that angels do exist and according to the Bible we will likely entertain them without even knowing. Then we have visions, dreams, and signs which are constantly abused within Charismaniacal circles. The story from Walker-Smith essentially was a vision but it clearly was from a demon disguised as an angel of light. Most dreams we have are related to what is on our mind, what we last watched on TV or what we recently ate. One of the larger problems within these denominations is that they make the supernatural mundane. Every dream is not from God. Every dream does not have some hidden gnostic meaning that needs to be parsed out and interceded for. Yes, God can insert ideas into our minds but so can the devil through his minions and this world. How can we know the difference between what is from Him and what is not? The bible! That is what discernment means!

"Coincidences: Albert Einstein noted, "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." When I was praying about printing my first book, the estimated cost was $3,000 in the late 1980s. I was in a meeting when a woman I had never met before nor seen since gave me an envelope and said, "God told me to give this to you." It contained a diamond ring which appraised for ... you guessed it, $3,000. You can call that a coincidence; I call it providence--God confirming and providing for His will." -- Ben Godwin

Beloved, I have no problem with the account Godwin gives here. I too have experienced things the world would chalk up to coincidence or happenstance but I know God orchestrated what I needed. I do not know if this qualifies as a method of communication from God other than to remind us that He is sovereign and in control of everything.

"The Written Word: The logos (the Bible) is a main way God speaks today, but it is not the only way. The logos is God's general Word for everyone. God speaks to us when we read the Bible on nearly every issue that applies to modern living. Jesus, the Bread of Life, taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matt. 6:11). God has fresh spiritual manna to share with us every day if we'll take the time to read His Word." -- Ben Godwin

Number six on the list. You have got to be kidding me. Nothing sums up the problems of the apathy towards biblical illiteracy than this. Godwin is just telling the truth beloved. If you asked Bill Johnson to name the top ways God speaks to us he would list the bible after dreams, visions, signs, wonders, audible encounters and possibly even coincidences! What do the first five have in common? They are all subjective in nature. You have to interpret dreams, visions and signs. You draw the line of coincidence. You convince yourself there is an audible voice and ascribe it to God. The word is completely objective. It was God breathed, which means God wrote it. It is infallible and inerrant. The bible assures us that our heart it desperately sick, wicked, and deceitful. It lies to us like it lied to Kim Walker Smith that day. The primary way God speaks to us is through His Word. The more we read it, the more we can expect to hear from God. Do not go chasing gooseflesh and carnal emotional experiences you can assign to God. They come from the depths of your deceitful heart.

"The Living Word: Jesus said, "The words [Greek: rhema ] that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). The rhema word is a specific message the Holy Spirit inspires to you personally. It's a specific word for a specific time and for a specific need. It occurs when the written or spoken word comes alive with special meaning in your situation." -- Ben Godwin

Godwin is a little vague here but a rhema word is an utterance from the Lord for that time. Have you ever been reading a bible story you have read a million times before and suddenly the Holy Spirit illuminates it for you in a different manner this time that applies directly to a situation you are presently facing? That is a rhema word.

"Through People: "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11). An "oracle" is an "utterance, a spokesman or mouthpiece." God speaks through preachers and teachers, but He can also speak through our spouse, kids, friends and even enemies. God uses human channels to speak words of prophecy, tongues and interpretation and words of wisdom and knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8-10). God also expresses Himself through human vessels to distribute His message in anointed sermons, songs and writings." -- Ben Godwin

God can speak through anyone; this is most definitely true. When I preached it was God and not me. God speaks through worship, pastors, prophets and all that Godwin outlines. I would just add caution here to confirm any word given by someone to you. We are all susceptible to being deceived. Any word from God must never violate His written word! This is not a pagan ritual of confirmation either. I had friends who wanted to move once to Pennsylvania and suddenly all the cars on the highway had PA license plates! Hallelujah; yeah it doesn't work that way. Again, stay tethered to the written word and you can be sure if what you are hearing from other sources is in fact from God.

"Mass Media: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations" (Matt. 24:14). Due to technology, this Scripture is literally being fulfilled as the gospel proliferates the globe. While Satan manipulates the media to spread his vile message like a virus, God also utilizes the media to disseminate His truth via satellite TV, radio, internet, websites, social media, books, podcasts, movies and music.

Through Creation and Nature: Psalms 19:1 proclaims, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork." The vastness of space and the complexity of nature testify to God's intelligent design. You can hear the Creator's voice in a bubbling brook, in the song of a bird, in the wind whistling through the trees and in a baby's cry.

Through Our Conscience: God hardwired us with an inner awareness of what is right and wrong with an inclination to do right. George Washington said, "Labor to keep alive within your breast that little spark of celestial fire, called conscience." -- Ben Godwin

I grouped these three together because they seem to be smaller avenues. Let me start with creation. There is no question that creation testifies to a creator. I find it sad that an atheist can look at a sunset and think of it as a random event. I am not sold on the notion of our conscience preceding our knowledge of right and wrong which is derived from the written word. I do not think a baby shows the slightest inkling or care regarding what is right or wrong. If we are raised under biblical admonishment then we will have a black and white understanding of right and wrong. If we are raised by the standards of this world it will be distorted by shades of grey. The notion of mass media as a method of God speaking is just off. We may choose to use media to spread the word about God but that is our choosing. I make this point because the vast majority of mainstream media used to spread Christianity is so compromised it is doing the work of the devil anyway. Godwin concludes:

"His Still, Small Voice: Elijah was camping in a cave on Mount Sinai when God manifested Himself. Elijah saw a powerful wind, a mighty earthquake and a fierce fire, but God wasn't in any of them. Instead, God spoke to him in a "still, small voice," also translated "a gentle whisper" (1 Kings 19:9-12). God often speaks to us by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit to our spirit (Rom. 8:14-16). God will speak to us more often as we learn to recognize His voice. We expect to hear from Him at church, but God doesn't just speak on Sundays. He wants to speak to us all through the week. Jesus indicated, "My sheep hear My voice" (John 10:27). God is still speaking; are we listening?" -- Ben Godwin

Ahh, the mystical still small voice false theology. This occurred one single time in 6000 years and now all Charismatics want to pretend it is a primary way God communicates with us. The point God was making to Elijah is that there need not be pomp and circumstance every time God speaks. There were other times God spoke through a whirlwind or through a fire. He is not limited by the earth or our finite thinking. To take this one time happenstance and trump it up to be a normative event that requires us to also listen for that still small voice is hermeneutically criminal. Now it is true that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth but nowhere in Scripture does it say the Holy Spirit speaks to us in a still small voice either. Here is today's hard lesson. When we shut everything out and meditate, which is taught at places like Bethel and IHOP, that still small voice we eventually here is not God beloved. It is the devil.

I do not know Ben Godwin so I will give him the benefit of the doubt that there is no malicious intent. It matters not because this teaching reveals how poorly pastors are being taught within Charismania. How everything subjective is embraced and the objective Word of God is relegated to 1/12th importance, sixth down on the list. Everything becomes super-spiritual, supernatural, and downright spooky. Bill Johnson actually teaches personal experience is more reliable than Scripture! Beloved, God does speak to us today and every day if we are willing to open His Holy Word and seek Him with all of our being. Leave the devil's schemes of experiential Christianity behind and hear what truly sayeth the Lord.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- July, 3, 2018

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.