When prophetic people speak of supernatural experiences they’ve had, sometimes it can be confusing or intimidating. How do you argue with, “I was caught up into heaven and saw ________.” Or, “Jesus came to me and told me this, word for word”? Or, “Gabriel appeared to me with this revelation”? Our inclination is to think, “Well, it must be so, if she saw or heard it, especially because she has a bazillion online followers, and they all think it’s the coolest revelation ever!”
Maybe, maybe not. The Lord explained it to me this way: “Seers can see wrong, just like hearers can hear wrong.” Even well known prophets can be fooled by their imaginations or by lying spirits posing as Jesus or God’s angels. Yes, that makes me uncomfortable, too, but we have to face it. Didn’t the Lord warn us, “…Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14)? Prophetic seers can also misunderstand something they really saw, and then almost turn it into a doctrine for the rest of us.
We shouldn’t have to say this again, but it seems we do:
Any prophetic revelation which goes against something in the Bible isn’t true, no matter who is giving it.
It doesn’t matter how convincing it sounds or how sincere the person telling it is. It’s not so.
I think we should also be cautious with revelation which doesn’t directly oppose Scripture, but isn’t supported there either. We may not have to reject it completely, but maybe it should go in the “I don’t know, so I’m not going there” box in our minds.
Some questions to consider:
In visions which go beyond what Scripture tells us, was the person seeing something literal, or was it a parable-like explanation of how God works?
For instance, one lady described a vision of little spirits nestled in the heart of the Father. She said this means we preexist as spirits in heaven before we are physically conceived here on earth. It’s a commonly accepted belief in Charismatic circles, but did you know there is no biblical basis for it?
So, what could seeing spirits in the heart of the Father be about? They aren’t literally dwelling there as already-created beings. It might simply mean we’ve always been on God’s mind and in His plans. He loves us before we even exist — because He is outside of time, bringing His purposes down into time.
Or, how about the body parts room in heaven seen by many? It could be literal, but perhaps it’s just a vehicle to explain that God can create new parts in us if we need them. It doesn’t necessarily mean a room with a catalogued inventory of parts exists.
In the Bible, sometimes God comes down to our level by using pictures and words we can understand to get His message across. An example is the phraseology in Genesis 18:21, concerning Sodom and Gomorrah: “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it which has come to Me, and if not, I will know.” One would think in a surface reading of those words that God was clueless about what was happening until He left heaven to see it with His own eyes. But we know from other Bible verses that He knows everything from beginning to end (Examples: Isaiah 46:10 and 1 John 3:20). In this instance, He just chose language to convey an idea on our level of thinking.
If God sometimes uses language in this way in His Word, He might do it in visions too. His Word also teaches concepts through parables, so we should realize many visions are parabolic in nature as well.
Does God reveal new mysteries about Himself today?
If it is really about Him and His ways, it is somewhere in the Bible already. Sometimes He brings revelation to the forefront which has been forgotten or neglected by His people for a long time, but it has still been there in His Word all along. We’re just rediscovering it.
Where is that in the Bible?
In Charismatic circles, we’ve accumulated a few generally accepted beliefs which are actually contrary to Scripture. They are often based on visions from celebrated prophets which have been told and retold, until after a while, no one seems to question them anymore. It’s sort of like Ben Franklin’s maxim, “God helps those who help themselves.” Many people think it is in the Bible, just because they have heard it so often. We’ve got to start measuring long-held beliefs by whether they are actually in the Bible or not, and whether those ideas hold true all the way from Genesis through Revelation.
There is no viable reason why Spirit-filled people cannot equally be people of the Word. It isn’t one or the other. What the Holy Spirit has laid down in the Bible, He will not contradict or supersede through a vision. He does not play, “that was then, this is now” in how He speaks today. He is eternally consistent.
Let’s not be bamboozled into swallowing every vision and “Jesus told me” thing that comes along. Measure everything by God’s Word. Inquire of Him whether it is true or not. If we do that, we won’t get off into weird places.
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