The Other Ditch
In my recent postings I've been counseling caution with regard to "dreams and visions." The thing is, I have personally heard of a few examples lately that just seemed to me to be, well, highly questionable. So I've been focusing on the need to think critically about such matters.
Do you remember the Raiders of the Lost Ark movie where Harrison Ford stands at the edge of a great precipice? He's supposed to step out over the abyss, for he was told that if he did so, a bridge would appear miraculously beneath his feet. He would not fall! Of course he was a little reluctant to try his luck, but the situation, you may recall, left him no choice. There was no turning back. So he takes the fateful step and sure enough a stone arch appears beneath his feet. See? You just gotta believe!
A friend of mine recalled that scene recently and used it as an analogy for taking a "step of faith" in response to the prompting from God. My friend calls it a "witness in the heart." Just trust God and step out . . . sure it seems foolish, but God is faithful! To back off would be to distrust your heavenly Father.
Well, my point is, it all depends on whether that witness in the heart was really from God or not. This is really the crucial issue, it seems to me. In an age that has made an idol of the "heart," we should remember Jeremiah's warning: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Has anyone else ever noticed that, more often than not, stepping off cliffs is sheer suicide?
But I understand that there is an alternative danger here. My blogging companion Greg Burnett commented:
There is definitely a ditch that one can fall into without being grounded in the scriptures and accepting 'words from God' indiscriminately. But there is an equally dangerous ditch on the other side of the road: one that refuses to respond to a speaking God and Who intends to lead His church in an interactive way. As Tozer also said... God is one who, by His very nature, communicates. Dreams and visions among God's people should be considered normal Christianity.Greg is right, of course. But in my posts I happened to be investigating one ditch and not the other, that's all. I do not question that God communicates with his children in ways other than the Scriptures. However, as I said a couple of days back, even if I never receive another image, word, or gentle nudge from God, nevertheless all is well with my soul. The Scriptures, in other words, really do provide all the light I need.
But that's a purely hypothetical "if," and one I do not expect to have to abide. I know it sounds just exactly like the apologetic of a cessationist, but in fact I really do treasure the gifts of the Spirit. I try to include as many "Spirit-filled" bloggers on my blogroll as possible (like Greg Burnett, for example). To walk by the Spirit means nothing if it does not mean a living breathing Spirit-endowed life. Still, there is a reason that John said, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) The sad history of the cults provides more than enough cautionary testimony to justify, in our own times, John's ancient imperative.