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February 20, 2008


This has come up a lot in my life recently. I have a friend who waits for what she thinks is personal extrabiblical revelation, and her views on it are even more extreme than Blackaby's(Experiencing God). I worry for her a lot.

My friend, Nick, did a series of blog posts on this very topic after I talked with him about it. His view is that God has commanded us to learn the way of wisdom(such as Proverbs), and to make good decisions accordingly -- not wait for personal extrabiblical revelation.

One of the guys at Pyromaniacs also wrote an awesome post on this topic. I know I'd butcher the quote, so I'm going to paraphrase to the best of my ability. He said that the expectation of personal extrabiblical revelation breeds gullibility, not discernment.

I don't know your policy on links, so I'm going to ask rather than assume. May I have permission to post links to the blog posts I mentioned above?

God is a father not a slavemaster.

This reminds me of an old song by a small group known as everybodyduck. The gist of the song is the same, that God has given us our brains and to use them. The punchline, "When the storm comes, pray to God, but row to shore."

Sure, Derek! Feel free to post the links. We generally allow people to post links unless they're spam (and by spam I mean the links are promoting products that are unrelated to the post).

That's amazing that you got hugged for saying such things. Most of us get hostility for suggesting such things.

Thanks, Amy! The HTML tags seem to get "eaten" every time I click "preview," and the URLs are pretty long, so I'm only going to include the URLs of the main blog websites. I will provide the names of each blog post. Both blogs have a search feature, so finding the articles will be very easy.
This first blog, Deeper Waters, belongs to my friend Nick. As I mentioned earlier, we had some good discussions on this topic due to concern for one of my friends. He surprised me by doing an entire series of posts on this topic. The specific posts are as follows(and a good bit more numerous than I remembered):

If It Feels Right, Repent...
Testing Experiences For Truth
Feeling Led
My Sheep Hear My Voice
Samuel And Hearing God's Voice
The Still Small Voice
Abraham and the Voice of God
Acts and the Voice of God
An Alternative To Hearing The Voice of God
The Retreat of the Church
The Problem of Conversion
Return to Scripture

That's a chronological list of posts that he did on this topic, exploring different arguments for and against the "Experiencing God" view and other ways Christians often put feelings and emotions above developing wisdom and discernment from the revealed truth of Scripture.
Next up are 3 blog posts from Pyromaniacs. Their search bar is down a bit on the right side, so you may have to scroll down to find it. This small series begins with the specific example of Willow Creek Community Church's responding to the failure of their program-driven ministry by developing yet another program, and then expands to deal with larger issues in the Charismatic movement(not unique to them, mind you, just more pronounced within that movement than in most other movements). They are:

Still Not Clear on the Concept
If You Can't Say Something Nice...
Something "Nice"?

The third one mentioned above has the absolutely brilliant quote that I paraphrased in my last comment. Here it is, in its totality:

"The belief that extrabiblical revelation is normative does indeed 'regularly and systematically breed willful gullibility, not discernment.'"

Sean mentioned EveryBodyDuck. I just happened to discover tonight that you can download all of their songs from the lead singer's website:

I'm not sure which song Sean's referring to (I'm not familiar with their earlier albums), but I recommend Creation to Creator as a great worship song.

Wow, talk about good timing!

Today's Pyromaniacs blog post, entitled "What if someone claims an angelic visitation?", is possibly even better and more on-topic than their blog posts from last October/November that I mentioned above.

Good stuff about being into everything BUT the Bible, showing disdain for Scripture, and not being critical of certain experiential claims people make.

I agree with Dever's point of view, but I am in the minority in the women's Bible study that I attend. Most of the women believe that the godly approach is to pray for "a word" and then wait for "confirmation." And the Bible is read more for personal application than for information about the nature of God, etc.

Expecting a "subjective sense of leading" or waiting for a "confirmation" is about the same thing as Putting out a Fleece. Generally considered a sign of spiritual immaturity.

I know about the fleece story, and you're absolutely right. My friend who's into "Experiencing God" actually tried to use that as a defense of her "waiting for a confirmation." She wasn't happy when the flaws in that proof were pointed out to her.

This is how it works:

God (in the person of the holy spirit) grants us the subjective certitude for that which we already know to be true through his word. Sure, you don't sit around waiting to hear a declaration from on high, but you also (if you are a christian), should not go against that which your conscience tells you to be good and holy. The spirit speaks through his word, and anything he says today must be consistent with what he said yesterday, and so on, all the way back to the apostolic era. God quickens our hearts to provide us with the conviction to do what we know we should do but don't want to do.

Wow! Thanks for the link Roger. I need to pick up the Live and Unreleased works to complete my collection.

As a sidenote, the song I'm referring to is "Some Balance" on the 8 Seconds (on a Holy Cow) album.

would someone please tell me what's wrong with "Experiencing God" Im curious, I have the book but have never read it really....someone please e-mail and give me the low down. Thanks


Go to the home page for Stand to Reason and do a search for "Blackaby." You'll find some of Greg Koukl's comments on Experiencing God.

The hardest thing in the world to figure out is deciding between two options that seem equal in every regard. It's the most difficult thing in the world, when you are forced to make major life decisions that will determine the course of your life perhaps for years to come, and yet you are unsure what to do!

I'm talking about decisions about jobs, schooling, place to live, etc. What do you do after you've examined everything the Bible may have to say on it and used wisdom (in accordance with biblical principles), you've asked advice from knowledgeable/godly people, you have prayed, and all the rest and yet you are still as confused as ever? The world says 'follow your heart'. I would think the Scriptural way would be something different.

I've been trying to understand this for years and still haven't found any good answer.

Mo, I think in that case, after wisdom and morality have upheld either decision, you make a decision, trusting that God is in control and is directing your steps in a direction that will ultimately make you most like Christ. (Prov. 16:19--"A man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.")

This may even mean that your life will be more difficult with that decision. But still, God's greatest goal is to shape your character so that you better glorify Him in front of the world. He will do this in any and every situation. So, as long as there are no moral difficulties in either choice, there is no wrong choice.

I think Erwin McManus in his book Chasing Daylight touches on this. He makes the excellent point that in a lot of cases God has already told us to act.

We don't need to sit around asking God if we should help someone in need - because God has already said "Yes!"

I try to keep that in mind when I'm praying about something. I don't want hesitation to occur just because I'm afraid.

Thanks, Amy.

And that is a great point, e.barrett! I suppose if we're honest we'd have to admit that if we spent our time doing the things we know for SURE we ought to do, the rest would fall into place.

(Alas, as with everything in life, easier said than done.)

Hi Amy, I like what you've said above to Mo, especially the part about becoming more like Christ. When Paul says "examine yourselves to see if you be in the faith", it is implying that one can evaluate themselves based on objective standards. In the case of decision making, fallen creatures do make self serving decisions as a default predisposition, and examining ourselves checks that selfish motive.

Who among us in making a decision selects hardship and enmity with the world as a first principle? Dont we usually select the easy path, or the one that provides the most reward?

Dont worry too much, the true wealth may be in the hardship that comes from making a decision when it is not clear what path to take. There is an element in trusting God that does take pressure off the believer so long as he is faithful to examine him or herself.

Brad B

I have this theory about making really hard decisions. The only reason a decision between two alternatives is hard is because neither is clearly better than the other. That means that for all you can tell, they're about equal. If they are equal, then it doesn't matter which one you choose. If it doesn't matter which one you choose, you might as well just flip a coin. That makes all hard decisions easy. Unless there are three options, of course. Then you have to flip three coins and choose the odd one.

The only problem with flipping coins to make decisions, though, is that you have to decide which option will go with which side of the coin. That's the REALLY hard part about decision making. You can't very well flip coins to decide or you'll get into an infinite regress of coin flipping, and you could never decide anything.

The toughest decisions are not the black and white decisions, but those whose options are very similar, and which may have a lack of clarity on what the outcome might be. Just like the examples that Mo presented on his post (decisions about jobs, etc.). It has been my experience that, whenever I am confronted with those type of decisions, in which both options are morally right, the main issue is not the decision itself, but my fears. That's the time when, I think, faith steps in. It is in those situations that I need to remind myself to trust in the Lord, and to not be afraid. My destiny is sealed; and looking at the big picture, my life in this world is so short compared to the hope of eternity with Him. Paraphrasing what the apostle Paul said; Yes, I can do everything in Christ who strenghtens me. Raul

Some good words there Brad B & Raul. Maybe sometimes there's a such a thing as thinking TOO much.

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