Audio of Interview with John Eldredge
On Tuesday I participated in a radio interview with popular Christian author John Eldredge (widely known for his best-selling 2001 book Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul). Eldredge came on the program to talk about his new book Walking with God: Talk to Him. Hear from Him. Really. In this book, Eldredge tells his readers that they should have a “conversational intimacy” with God that includes hearing Him speak just like people in the Bible heard God speak.
The regular host of the radio program couldn’t be there, so I was brought in at the last minute to give some biblical and theological cross-examination during the course of my co-host’s interview. All of that to say, my co-host Penna Dexter was prepped for the interview, and I was not. I came into it cold. I only got to peruse his book very briefly as I walked into the studio.
In any case, the conversation turned out to be pretty interesting. My co-host and I pressed him on whether or not he heard audible voices from God. Eldridge responded that he does not. When I asked him how he could equate his “hearing” God’s voice to the experience of Old Testament characters who heard an audible voice, I thought his answer was rather unsatisfactory. I don’t think he answered well when we challenged the biblical basis of his proposal.
Anyway, after the show one of my colleagues pointed me to Tim Challies‘ review of Eldridge’s book. After reading Challies’ review, I was glad to find that someone who had given the book a more careful reading concurred with my evaluation of Eldredge’s proposal. Eldridge’s prescription for “conversational intimacy” with God is loaded with biblical and theological problems. Challies writes:
“As a glimpse into the life of John Eldredge this book may have some appeal. But as a guide to hearing from God, it has little value. What the author teaches is fraught with peril. Feeling that we need to hear direct and fresh revelation from God in every matter is a prescription for paralysis. . . Walking with God offers confusion rather than clarity. Take a pass on this one.”
[You can listen to the interview above or find it on my podcast here: Launch iTunes Music Store.]
Thanks for posting this.
Eldredge seems to have hit a nerve on important issues for men (esp. Americans), but he also conveys some interesting interpretations of the Scriptures that are, unfortunately, without footnoted explanations (which seems necessary when anyone provides new interpretations and refutations of what the church has believed for centuries).
His passions for men seem valid in many places, but he seems to stretch the Scriptures to make them fit what he wants to say.
More and more people are catching on to his strange expositions as time goes by, and I wonder if the church will not look back in regret a few years down the road, that we bought into his philosophies prematurely.
BTW: Trying to listen to the interview, but nothing seems to be happening.
Thanks for pressing him on these issues.
On your treatment of John 10 as Jesus speaking audibly to his audience: Would you say that it has continuing application as referring to those of us who now read (hear) Jesus’ words in the pages of Scripture and follow him?
I remember hearing/reading Mr. Eldredge describe on occasion when the Lord told him to go on a hike or fishing trip for himself on Mother’s Day. It seemed then and seems now that as long as I can say “the Lord told me” no one can argue with me and I can pretty much do what I want.
Unfortunately, his interpretation of John 10 isn’t much different than Henry Blackaby’s (Experiencing God) who we revere.
Yes, you and I “hear” Christ’s voice in the scripture. That’s what I was trying to get at.
You did a good job walking in fresh. I was encouraged through your careful distinctions to the common ground that Eldridge was asserting. BTW…nice job resetting the context in John 10, that clears up a lot.
I was going to call in and ask if you have read ‘I Want More’ by Robert Jeffress. Another book is ‘Hearing the Master’s Voice’ by the same author. Dr Jeffress sames to take the approach of listening to God by reading the scripture and letting the Holy Spirit guide you. The second book covers a lot of the last sermon series.
First off, he said “Penny” and not “honey”. Second, you don’t distinguish between God “leading” and “speaking”. You seem to say that God can “lead” in a number of ways (through Scripture, other people, etc), but is this not God “speaking” as well? Also, what is the point of the Spirit if it doesn’t speak to us? I would say what Eldredge is arguing for is an inner pressing upon one’s heart that the Spirit does to communicate to us, which I see no problem with even though we can’t necessarily say it’s inspired and definitive. Frankly, I wish more people would spend time in silence trying to “listen” to the voice of God instead of just making “wise decisions” or trying to get a dose of God’s voice through some proof-text in the Scriptures. I guess they were standard arguments that I expected though.
OK, so now Iâ€™ve listened to the interview.
I like the way both you and Eldredge went about asking and explaining. I felt like you were all respectful of one another, even though there was obvious disagreement.
Eldredge says that one way to confirm the reality of Godâ€™s voice is by the fruit that results.
I guess my question is, â€œIf a mission trip (as in his example) yields no conversions or changed lives, would that then confirm that the folks who went mistook Godâ€™s voice?â€
I think it was either Hudson Taylor or William Carey who saw very little fruit in his lifetime, but who was used by God to plant the seeds of future harvest.
I am grateful that he did not abide by the same logic.
As a pastor, I must admit that I am sometimes overcome by doubts and confusion, unsure if what I am doing is the right thing, when it comes to the complexities of ministry.
But it seems to me that perseverance is tested most when God is silent, yet we press on in our ministries and our marriages and our parenting, not seeing the promises (Heb. 11), but entrusting ourselves to Him who judges justly.
Interesting. While I don’t hold Elderidge in much esteem, likely because I have little use for pop Christian literature, I think his contribution in this area is a needed one. Having not read the book, likely I would disagree with his exegetical decisions, etc. However, on the face of it, I would like to defend the proposition that God speaks to us. What seems to lay below the surface of these discussions and the critiques of Elderidge and others seems to be a fundamental necessity for preserving a “bundle of theological positions” rather than being practical in spirituality. What I mean is that people who are so ardent about Elderidge and others promoting confusion as opposed to clarity presupposes that Scripture itself is clear, that the issues of revelation (in a technical sense), inspiration, and canonization are settled, closed-book issues as it were. Moreover, I think these reactions are largely based in a necessity to prevent any belief in God’s speaking today because of the perception that such would/could/or will somehow undermine Scripture. The real issue not being addressed is that most people, as opposed to conservative evangelicals, don’t think that matters are so cut and dry in terms of to whom and when God speaks. Revelation and inspiration are the issues that must be addressed, and I think Elderidge is one of many who no longer are comforted by the same standard answers that have been so easily received in modernity.
I thought it was interesting that he used the term “coached” in the beginning of the interview. Boy is that scary!
I hear you John (in #10). We think b/c the Bible doesn’t have a specific proof-text or because it’s ambiguous means that it doesn’t happen and God doesn’t work that way. Well, God works with people and meets them where they’re at, and yes, sometimes that could mean speaking audibly to them. It’s easy for us in our Western, American, industrialized nation to say these things, but you should hear some of the stories I’ve heard from missionaries. All of them would be kicked out of people’s churches on here. I’m amazed at how closed-minded and black and white conservatives really are.
I’m amazed that one would think that God doesn’t speak to us. Why would God not speak to me. I understand the point that God leads us, absolutely, but why not SPEAK to us. Is that not what relationship is?
In a lot of instances in scripture there is nothing to indicate that the hearing and seeing that characterised the faith of biblical believers was of a physical sort. God’s ordinary mode of communication, both in biblical times and today, is to speak and appear to those who have the spiritual capacity to hear and see spiritual realities (ezek 12:2; matt 11:15; 13:9-15; acts 7:51). it is a spiritual hearing and seeing, and as such it is a private experience, given only to the one God intended. it is an experience that Eldrege pointed to as being perhaps an inner voice. for example, young samuel heard the voice of God, but Eli could not hear it (1 Samuel 3:2-10). When Daniel received his vision of a man by the Tigris River, he said that he “alone saw the vision; the people who were with me did not see the vision” (Dan 10:7). More pressing Denny is Daniel referring to the other visions he received as revelations that “passed through my mind” implying that they were subjective experiences (Dan 7:1, 15).
What is the big deal in trying to argue that God doesn’t speak to us through our imagination?
Ferg, I think they are worried about the excesses that occur by some people and thus relegate hearing from God to exegesis of the Bible. Unfortunately this means that since the Bible wasn’t available to the common person until rather recently it would seem most people were unable to hear from God throughout history.
Really I think it is a throwing the baby out with the bath water. Since some people abuse the hearing from God thing or they do and say some kooky stuff then they must be wrong and no-one personally hears from God. It’s going over bored in my opinion though.
What’s interesting though is that the argument against people’s experience of hearing from God is often really rooted most firmly in a complete lack of experience. Some reason that since they are pretty good Christians and they don’t hear from God in the way these people speak of then they must be wrong, and then they set out to try and prove it. I guarantee you anyone who believes that God doesn’t speak today (and not just through scripture) would quickly abandon every scriptural and philosophical reason for that position the second they hear from God. I’ll be honest, I think it’s the same as scientific naturalism; since I’ve never heard God speak then he must not speak.
That’s my take on it anyway.
I listened to the interview, and just wanted to share the testimony of God in my life…
I was saved in the privacy of my bedroom, after just having spent 1/2 an hour cursing God from the top of my lungs. I was truly about to turn to the evil one and surrender my life to him, once and for all. I was also about to walk out of my marriage. I had been taught in a hyper-dispensational world, that God doesn’t speak to people today. Consequently, he also taught that abortion was fine by God…but that’s another issue for another time. (Bob Thieme, for those DTS grads.)
Instead, the Spirit of God spoke to my heart that day…He cut right through my tirade, and said,…”You have given Me lip service your whole life, but you have never given Me your life. This is the man that I have planned for you, and I have plans to bless your marriage but I DEMAND your obedience!”
I had been taught my whole life that God doesn’t speak to people today. I’m so glad that He is bigger than what I had been taught!
I wouldn’t have heard His voice from the Word at that point, because I wasn’t in it, and the few times that I did pick it up, I just did the “flip study” of the Word.
But, my life has never been the same since that moment. I surrendered all to Him that second, and obeyed many other things that He spoke to my heart that amazing day.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but He was teaching me His Precepts. He was writing His law on my heart from that very moment.
That day, through the Lord’s leading, I did a purge of my home. I didn’t know that was a Scriptural precept.
I didn’t know that the precept of lip service without life service dated all the way back to the nation of Judah in the book of Jeremiah.
He has spoken to my heart many times since, although not by my demand…always as and when He desires, and always to bring glory to His name.
Were it not for the power of the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart, I would be a slave of sin today.
My heart was so hard, that ONLY God’s Spirit speaking to me could have penetrated it.
Eldridge says he has God tell him he is William Wallace…….riiiiiiiiiight, the Sovereign God of the universe resorts to American pop-culture to make a point….
thanks for that bryan much appreciated.
and jessica, thanks for your testimony; i love how God was so real and personal with you.
brian – nice way to limit God. “yeah like the soveriegn lord of the universe would come into town on a donkey!”
what kind of a statement is that? The Bible is full of instances where God resorts to the culture to make a point. In fact, if God didn’t do this, then none of us nor the biblical characters would have ever understood what point God was making! I really hope you’re joking with that statement.
What do you do with people like Wayne Grudem and C.J. Mahaney? These are just two men who are very faithful to the text of Scripture and yet they believe that God still speaks to the hearts of men today (though not audibly).
I am a graduate of Southern Seminary in Louisville, and while I was in seminary a professor of mine told our class a story about a former PhD student of his who was a total cessationist. After graduating he went to Saudi Arabia to start an underground church.
As he was standing on a street corner one day, a man walked up to him and said that he had a dream the previous night. In the dream, he said that he saw a man standing in a totally white garment who told him to come to that particular street corner and that there would be a man who would tell him what he needed to do. The man shared the gospel with the Arabian man and the Arabian became a Christian.
At that point the cessationist realized that he needed to re-evaluate his beliefs about how God works in the world because he began to see things happening that were very biblical (1st century Book of Acts-type occurrences), but they did not align with his cessationist paradigm.
It was not until it happened to him that he began to believe it, however. And I think that this is why many cessationists do not believe that God still speaks to the hearts of men today. It has not happened to them; therefore, it does not happen anymore.
i too appreciate your testimony. you have provided evidence of what i believe to be true regarding God speaking. He is God and He can do whatever He wishes, including speaking to people, but He will never speak something that is contrary to His Word. you recognized that your Spirit-led thoughts and actions corresponded to Scriptural truth.
is it possible that you had been taught these things, or even heard these truths in the past? that the HS brought them to mind at this point? just askingâ€¦
granting that such communication from God is possible, and again i donâ€™t doubt it is, how do we know it is God speaking and not our own minds leading us to do something; or worse, satan whispering in our ears to go some direction? we test everything by Scripture
i have heard similar stories, and your example also corresponds to my belief of what Scripture teaches.
apparently, God spoke to this man, pointing him to a â€œpreacherâ€ who could share Godâ€™s Word, that this man might be saved.
Romans 10:14-17 salvation: call on Christ, in whom you believe because you heard a preacher who was sent. faith from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. i contend that we know the Gospel and share the Gospel from the Bible.
is there any other way to know the substance and truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
if God has ordained something so important as salvation to be intricately, and inseparably tied to the Word, is it such a stretch to believe our sanctification is also tied to the Word of God?
i donâ€™t question God speaking, but the subjective should be tested in light of the objective: the Bible that God has given us.
Your point is well taken. There are many conservative and reformed people who claim that Godâ€™s Spirit speaks to redeemed hearts. (and I, too, once claimed to be a cessationist, until I heard from people on the mission fieldâ€”now Iâ€™m not so sure!)
I donâ€™t want to put words in Dennyâ€™s mouth, but it seems to me that the issue is NOT, â€œDoes God speak to us?â€ but more along the lines of, â€œHow do we discern that God has indeed spoken?â€
I think Eldredge answered this well, when he said that we must test our claims against Scripture.
Yet as I read reviews of his latest book, his way of â€œlisteningâ€ to God sounds almost more mystical than meditational.
“What shirt should I wear today? When should my wife and I go and cut down a Christmas tree? Should we eat chicken or steak for dinner?”
In other words, it sounds as if Eldredge is waiting on Godâ€™s orders for every decision. This seems to me to be an easy way to become legalistically paralyzed.
As was your point, I think we need to consider the source whenever a person claims that God speaks directly to him (e.g., Koresh, Jim Jones, Benny Hinn).
Iâ€™m certainly not going to lump Eldredge in with such extremists, but having read, â€œWild at Heart,â€ I find that he interprets Scripture in some strange ways (which may be right, but he often offers no validation to show how his views trump 20 centuries of church history).
Yet Eldredge also claims that God speaks to him, so I fear that he will play the â€œGod told me, and thus I canâ€™t be wrong,â€ card.
Eldredge writes in WAH that the redeemed heart is no longer deceitful (Jer. 17:9). Ergo, if Iâ€™m redeemed, and I believe God said something to me, then it must be true; for my heart no longer deceives me.
Maybe thatâ€™s why Eldredge writes with such certainty about his biblical views (which, incidentally, seem to be more influenced by Jung than Jesus at times).
After studying, WAH, I sensed that no one would be allowed to question him, because he claims that God has spoken to him; case closed (you need look no further than the WAH study guide to see such arrogance, as he refers to those who might question his interpretation of Genesis 1:26-28 as a â€œdoctrine Nazi.â€)
So to clarify what Iâ€™ve just said, I donâ€™t think the issue is whether or not God speaks to the heart, but HOW we validate that it was indeed God, and not one who disguises himself as an angel of light.
Let us then have the humility to say, â€œI sensed that God was telling me X, but I confess that I might be mistaken.â€
Well said! I have not read Eldredge’s book, but I have read some reviews from other’s about it. I DO think that he says some things that are squirrely (a hawk looking at him and God saying, (paraphrase)”it means My love.” That definitely sounds as if it could have come from Eldredge’s own heart, wanting it to be God, but merely being his own desires. I would have a very difficult time writing something like that in a book. Men of less sound minds can come up with all kinds of craziness and call it Godtalk. I am a strong adherent to the total depravity of man.
My point was definitely more towards the issue of “does God still speak today to our hearts?” My view is that everything does need to be tested in light of the Scriptures but that God can and does still communicate to His children in many ways.
Brian l in #16,
Since when is William Wallace American pop culture? Did I miss something in my history of Scotland?
What does cessationism have to do with your Saudi Arabia story? Or with a believers ability to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit(though not audible- still heard)?
Cessationism has to do with certain Spiritual gifts no longer functioning and not Godâ€™s ability to perform the miraculous or His ability to use dreams like your story mentions. I fail to see the conflict you have described.
Sorry, maybe my terminology was wrong, but in the interview Denny was asking Eldredge if maybe his “voice from God” could be described as prophecy, to which Eldredge said, “maybe that’s it.” Prophecy would fall into that camp of spiritual gifts, as would dreams and visions.
I think your terminology was fine, I just don’t see how your story undermines cessationism. A Saudi man having a dream to meet a man dressed in white who would tell him what he needed to do regarding salvation in Christ has nothing to do with spiritual gifts and everything to do with the power of God bring salvation to the lost.
By the way, just because a spiritual gift has ceased, as Paul said, “tongues will cease”, doesn’t mean God is now limited in His power to miraculously have someone speak in a foreign tongue, as in Acts, to proclaim the mighty works of Jesus. I too have heard of stories from the mission field of things like this happening. And I would not discredit those accounts. Miracles still happen! Praise God that He is not limited by my faith, your faith, or other’s lack of faith; but is powerful to do what so ever He is pleased to do.
Can anyone name one legitimate miracle worker today who could exercise his so called spiritual gift of healing to lame hands/legs; blind eyes; raising the dead (Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers…),etc. Does anyone know of a man/woman possessing that kind of power???
I should have said, ‘Does anyone know a man/woman possessing that kind of Holy Ghost power???’
“I am a strong adherent to the total depravity of man.”
Maybe being a ‘strong’ adherent to total depravity can be an issue of a born again spirit really understanding that a person can have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Just a thought?
Proverbs 16:1 (ESV) The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
Based on Prov. 16:1 we could say that everything people say is “God speaking”. 🙂
Two hours and no response. Ok.
Can anyone name one legitimate Bible teacher today who could exercise his/her so called spiritual gift of teaching to anybody/ any where/ any time? Does anyone know of a man/woman possessing that kind of Holy Ghost ability???
You’re mixing two different kinds of “spiritual gifts” into a bag and calling them all the same thing…a gift of teaching is different in purpose and function from a gift of healing or working of miracles. Dude.
I’m not getting into another cessation debate. I’ll leave that to the upcoming Southern Baptist Convention. Yee-haw!!!
Forget about the spiritual gift of teaching.
Any answer to post 28/29???
We’ve been out all day so I didn’t make the 2 hour deadline. 😉
In reading of the work that God is doing through our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in Asia and other parts of the globe, I have read of amazing healings. K.P. Yohannan writes of native missionaries whom God has used to bring the dead back to life.
Granted, I haven’t witnessed this in person, but when you read of this in context of Dr. Yohannan’s heart for God’s Word, I do not doubt it.
In reference to the questions posed to me about God speaking (and yes, I’d describe is as being through the still small voice of the Holy Spirit), this is what I believe and what I teach my children.
1. You must always make sure that what you believe He has spoken to your heart, aligns with His Word. In order to do this, you must know His Word.
2. What He speaks to your heart will always bring glory to His name if you choose to walk in obedience to what He tells you.
He may speak to your heart in order to convict you of sin, or He may speak to your heart in order to call you to action for His glory,…but it will always be for His name sake.
The following are my experiences with the Lord’s voice in my life..
1. When He speaks to my heart it isn’t about someone else. It’s always been about what He wants to bring about in my own life…even if it pertains to my children or to my husband, the issue is always what He wants from me.
2. It isn’t condemnation.
3. It isn’t “new revelation”.
4. It is always, always a precept found in His Word.
5. He doesn’t speak by my demand.
There have been times in my life that I have BEGGED Him to speak, when He has instead chosen deafening silence. I believe with all of my heart that those are times that He has used to establish my faith in His Word even more.
He isn’t my puppet. I am His.
I cannot imagine trying to coach someone in how to listen to Him. I would instead use that time to ground them in the study of His Word. If by knowing His Word, they are being coached to listen to His Spirit..then I’m all about that!
I assure you, if God speaks to your heart, it’s hard to miss. Doesn’t seem it needs coaching to me.
With regard to the question asked about whether what was spoken to my heart would have been something I had heard previously, here’s how I’d answer that…
Certainly I had been exposed to the Word from the time I was a child. However, I thought that salvation meant just saying a prayer. I had ZERO concept of a covenant relationship with God. I did not understand that true belief meant a faith walk of obedience.
As far as the precept of lip service, I had not been taught that. As far as the precept of purging the land of sin, I had not learned that either.
I had learned the basics, intermingled with a TON of false teaching, which only served to confuse the basics.
I thought that even as a “Christian”, which I thought I was but absolutely was not, that I would always be under bondage to sin.
I viewed my life as a huge boxing match between Satan and Jesus. I had never learned the precept that Jesus had overcome death in victory.
So I would answer that no, what God spoke to my heart that day were not things that I knew from His Word.
However, since that day, many times what He has spoken to my heart has been right out of Scripture…He has brought to mind that which I have learned, and uses it in application in my life.
Praise be to our God and Father that Jesus came to do His will!
Thanks for your post. I too believe in a God of miracles. There is a young lady I know of who was healed of cancer in her jaw. She went to the church I attended and we all could see her jaw had a huge lump in/on it. Obviously, none of us at the church claimed to have the spiritual gift of healing and simply prayed over her and for her for months. The day she went in for surgery, they pulled the back teeth to get at the cancer, and it was gone. Nothing there but air. This was done at Baylor in Dallas over by DTS. They had all the MRI scans/etc. They knew something was there and now it was gone. The Doc. told the parents to simply ‘kiss the ground’. They told him they were going to give honor to Christ. And they did. Awesome. That’s the only time I’ve known someone personally to have an instantaneous healing. I too have heard of all the stories from somewhere else. If you wanted to speak with this family I could give you name and phone number.
So my questioning isn’t about God’s ability to heal. The question is one of spiritual gifting, of an individual possessing the same evidential power as the apostles when exercising their spiritual gift of healing. Of individuals like Peter/John/Paul. I just donâ€™t see them anywhere. And itâ€™s always a story about someone far, far away.
Again, thanks for sharing your personal story of God speaking to your heart. Iâ€™ve enjoyed reading it.
Thanks for your kind words. He’s awesome! So AWESOME!
I don’t personally know anyone who has laid hands on someone and been used of God to heal them, or anyone who has had healing occur instantaneously. I do believe that it still happens, as God sees fit, but haven’t seen it with my own eyes.
I have 3 friends who have been healed by God after having been given a death sentence. One of them’s story was almost identical to the one that you shared…cancer there, cancer gone. Blessed be the name of the LORD! 🙂
I did have a good friend when I lived in Tulsa who was a Southern Baptist pastor. He told me of a time when he and his best friend from childhood went on a missions trip to Russia just after communism was removed.
He explained that they got off of the train, and there was a man running up to them speaking in Russian, almost screaming.
His friend, who spoke no Russian, and whom he had known since he was a boy, turned to him and said, “He’s saying “I hear you’ve come to tell us about this Jesus! I hear you’ve come to tell us about this Jesus!””
Then, my friend’s friend turned back to the man, and in fluent Russian, shared the Gospel. The man gave his life to Christ right on the spot, and then begged them to go back to his house with him.
Once there, his friend again shared the Gospel in fluent Russian, and the whole household came to faith in Christ.
My friend never spoke the language, himself. He never understood Russian either, but he spoke of the miracle of God in bringing those people to salvation.
Also, Joel Rosenberg, author of “Epicenter” and other top selling books, tells of Muslims who are coming to faith in Christ in mass numbers because they have seen a dream or vision that leads them to Him.
He’s so all-sufficient, He will use whatever he pleases to draw people to Himself.
That’s what I believe.
Have a super weekend!
benjamin – in your posts 28/29 – i’m well aquainted with a man who has a clear gifting and calling from God to cast demons out of people in the name of Jesus. would that be included in your list?
I don’t know what you mean about “possessing that kind of power” like it’s something we control and use as we please regardless of our relationship with God.
From reading the thread here, it seems that people are lumping all sorts of things together (as I see it) and referring to different things as the same thing…it’s hard for me to clarify and elaborate in this forum of limited space and the written word.
First, there’s Jesus saying that all authority and power had been given to Him (by His Father) and then turning and delegating that authority and power to His disciples, telling them that “believers” shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover, and that in His Name “believers” will drive out demons and such.
In this case, I don’t think this is so much a “spiritual gift” as it is delegated authority from Christ to His Church. God hasn’t changed. He still works the way He always has. By words, God creates something from nothing. He gives life to the dead and calls things that be not as though they were. For example, with His words, God created the world we see. How? God spoke, and the Holy Spirit (who was hovering over the face of the deep) acted upon the words and brought them to pass. We see Jesus, the GodMan, doing the same thing: speaking God’s words and the Holy Spirit brought them to pass. Now, as Christ’s body in the earth, we must do the same: speak God’s Words and watch the Holy Spirit bring them to pass.
This isn’t a spiritual gift, per se, it’s living and functioning in the authority given to believers according to God’s Word. Why doesn’t this “work” for all Christians? I don’t know. I’m not God to know such things. But I would check a few things: A) Jesus said “believers” shall… I would check to see what I’m believing in. 1. Do I believe in Jesus as God’s Son? 2. Do I believe the Word of God? 3. Do I believe that this power has been delegated to me by Christ? B) Jesus said that if we abide in Him and His Words abide in us, we shall ask whatever we will and it will be done for us (by His Father in Heaven…see, the power is not “ours”). So I would ask myself: 1. Am I abiding in Christ? 2. Do His Words abide in Me? 3. Is there some other “doctrine of men” that abides in me to the point of choking out God’s Word regarding this subject of authority and healing? There’s more…but that’s a start.
We’ve not been given authority over other humans, or over God. We’ve been given authority over the devil and the demons and the dark principalities of this world. And we’ve been given authority over “our world”: our own body–and over the wellbeing of our family as husbands and the spiritual head of house. But have we taken our place?
As far as spiritual gifts go, there are 9 listed in First Corinthians 12 that I believe refer to what you’re talking about.
3 are “Revelation Gifts,” or gifts that “reveal” something: words of wisdom, words of knowledge, and discerning of spirits (the latter of which people confuse all the time, claiming to have the “gift of discernment” when there is no such spiritual gift, per se. This discerning of spirits is actually seeing into the spiritual realm and SEEING an evil spirit or angel.)
3 are “Power Gifts,” or gifts that “do” something: gift of faith, working of miracles, and gifts of healings. From what I understand, (Denny is the scholar), each time this third power gift is mentioned, both “gifts” and “healings” are in the plural. There is no such thing as “gift of healing”—“simple healing” is the children’s bread and belongs to the entire body of Christ according to the Abrahamic Covenant and the price Christ paid at Calvary.
3 are “Utterance Gifts,” or gifts that “say” something. They are: gifts of
prophecy (not the edification, “simple gift” that we are all told to use to prophesy and build the Body up), gift of tongues (not the baptism of tongues that is available upon request to all believers), and the intepretation of tongues.
None of these gifts belong to individual Christians. They were give to the “Body of Christ” as a whole and have a particular function and purpose: primarily, to bring people to Jesus. That is one reason why they are more in action in other countries, where the people are being evangelized in mass numbers as opposed to here in America where everyone has heard the name of Jesus and there’s a church on every corner. (As a sidenote, IMO, there is more unbelief in America regarding these gifts which also hinders their operation. This blog is a good example of stalwart Christians and Christian scholars who don’t believe in them.)
As I said, none of these spiritual gifts belong to an individual. To clarify: 1. Healing belongs to all believers. There are many ways to receive healing, which I could go into, but this comment is way too long anyway. Simple faith in God’s Word is the best way, because you don’t need anyone else or outside prayer to receive it. And once the physical manifestation is yours, it’s the hardest to “lose” so to speak. 2. Every promise of God in the Word of God belongs to us all. 3. We’ve been given delegated authority which belongs to us. 4. There is God’s “healing anointing,” sometimes referred to in the Word as God’s power. Power, anointing, virtue…it’s God’s and flows from Him to us. We don’t possess it, but it’s given to us for our benefit and to “flow through us” for the benefit of others. This is what is seen in the healings done by Peter and John and the lame man (combined with the power in the Name of Jesus). It’s also what flowed through Jesus to heal the woman with the issue of blood. And it’s what healed people through Paul’s shadow. But healing wasn’t the end in itself. It was to witness of Jesus, to glorify God, and to bring people to salvation. It’s been said that “healing is the dinner bell to salvation,” which is another reason there are mass healings at evangelistic meetings.
But the 9 spiritual gifts are AS THE SPIRIT WILLS, which is a doctrine that will be hard for any Calvinist to embrace, since he feels that EVERYTHING is as the Spirit wills. But in the doctrine I’ve studied, been schooled in, and practiced and preached, there is a BIG difference between what believers do “on their own” which really means something we do empowered by our relationship with God, since it’s all His power to begin with. And something the HOLY SPIRIT does through us, as He wills, when He wills, nearly IN SPITE of us. That’s where these spiritual gifts fall. However, some of them should ACCOMPANY a person truly called to a particular ministry office. They still don’t belong to that person, and aren’t operated as he wills, but they belong to the OFFICE and should be in more frequent manifestation if that person is truly called and anointed by God for that office. For example: the revelation gifts accompany the pastoral office. And the power gifts accompany the office of the evangelist. I could go into more detail (and give scriptures) but this comment is WAY TOO LONG, and I’ve just tried to some up about a year of Bible school into one comment.
Does this help at all? I know I probably didn’t answer specific questions because I felt that some foundation clarity was needed, because I couldn’t answer your question in a way that satisfied myself because I thought some of the questions and comments themselves belied a false foundation or misunderstanding that I didn’t want to build upon.
Does that make sense?
Pardon all typos: this was too long for even ME to re-read and proof. :o)
I just wanted to tell you that I appreciated your time in writing that post.
It has given me much to chew on, and I thank you for that.
Denny interpreted the voice in John 10 as Jesus’ audible voice in speaking to the people of that generation. But John 10:16 may suggest that it is more than that:
But I have other sheep which are not of this fold. And it is necessary for me to lead them also, and they will hear my voice, and they will be one flock, one shepherd.
Most interpreters agree that the “other sheep” are the Gentiles. Jesus never went to the diaspora Jews, and they were really of the flock of Israel anyway. Jesus did not go to the Gentiles during his lifetime, since his ministry was to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (with a few notable exceptions). So Jesus is speaking of something future. The Gentiles would hear his voice too. But this would not necessarily be an audible hearing. Yes, they would hear his voice in Scripture. But Denny’s premise that Jesus was speaking of his audible voice speaking directly to people suggests that he could have meant more than that Gentiles would hear his word in yet-to-be-recorded Scripture. One might advance the “one flock, one shepherd” idea to the millennium to get an audible voice when Jesus returns to rule the earth, but it is now, according to Ephesians, that Jews and Gentiles are one body in Christ. Jesus is their Shepherd now in one flock, and we need to listen to the voice of a Shepherd now. If God the Shepherd spoke to his sheep throughout their history, in the OT and NT, why would the Shepherd not speak to his people now? If one of them is lost, he may not be reading his Bible to hear that way.
And what about the sheep that existed before Jesus came. Did no Shepherd call them by name or lead them with his voice?
John 10:8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
The sheep who lived before Jesus came knew that thieves were not the Shepherd because they knew the voice of the true Shepherd. We know that God spoke to Israelites in individualized ways, so we have every encouragement to think that the Gentiles will hear the Shepherd in these same ways.
this is the first time i’ve read an article with people commenting like this. it’s beautiful 😉 the Lord is speaking to me through this experience. While reading your words, He has brought me to a greater understanding of Himself in me.
He’s told me things that, if put into words, would sound like:
“This is not to be forgotten.” (when reading in post 15, ‘Were it not for the power of the Holy Spirit speaking in my heart, I would be a slave of sin today.’) Thank you Jesus for using Jess. She has spoken into my Life.
“Be calm, you don’t have to respond to that comment.” (after reading something my Heart says to be cautious of.)
In my deepest Heart I hear Jesus speaking to me all the time… or whenever I get out of my own way, that is. Sometimes, even if I’m not in His light, he still gets through to me. He’ll say, “Hey, Brian! Remember me?” by a subtle smile from a passing stranger.
I think it’s possible for me to be completely honest with myself. I’t hard, but possible… with God’s help. It seems when this honesty is present, and space is made, discernment is made easy. Things become clear. Truth cannot be used.
There is no need to fear someone saying, “God speaks to me and He told me so, therefore it is true.” because YOUR space and discernment will tell you about Truth. You will know if they speak Truth or if they don’t. Help us, Lord, to have compassion for those who do not! Have compassion on me for when I do not!
Thank you Jesus for being bigger than any idea we might have and thank you for all the ways you speak to our hearts. Bring us towards You always and help us remember that You Know, not us.
p.s. thank you Denny, for being open to God working in your life. This work has helped minister to me.