“God told me” is a bad substitute for “It is written.”
So why do so many Christians fall for this?
The short answer is because they don’t believe God has spoken, until he speaks to them. In essence, they turn away from God’s voice in the Spirit-breathed Scriptures in order to hear man’s voice in his subjective “spiritual” experiences.
Tom Ascol puts it plainly, when he says, “We have a book.” That book is none other than the Bible; the only book in which God has spoken to us. If you don’t believe this is true, then just say it, rather than claiming God speaks to you apart from the Bible.
To suggest that God continues to speak today like he spoke to the prophets of old is not only arrogant, but absolutely dangerous. The prophets, who spoke for God, were enabled by the Holy Spirit to speak God’s Word with 100% accuracy, and that is why their words are contained in our Bibles as Holy Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). God’s final and supreme act of speaking came after the prophets, as the writer to Hebrews tells us:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
God in his infinite wisdom has ended a particular way of speaking (through the prophets) and provided the Holy Scriptures as the most complete, necessary and sufficient means to speak to us. From that time forward, the Father commands us to listen to his Son (Matthew 17:5, Luke 9:35). We do this as we hear what the Prophets and Apostles wrote of the Son under the Spirit’s guidance in our Bibles. And this is what our churches should be all about. Hearing and harkening to the voice of God in Scripture. Church leaders are not called to invent a new word, but are commanded to preach the old Word (2 Timothy 4:2).
To proclaim that ancient message, which is the same commandment from the beginning (1 John 1:1, 2:7).
The Apostle Paul said if we (that’s any of the apostles) or even an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8)
John said, “Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.” (1 John 2:7)
To say, “God told me” apart from Scripture, is actually adding to God’s word which is absolutely forbidden.
“You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you… Do not add to his words lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6)
Unfortunately, I used to believe this very thing. I used to say these things because I believed it was from God, I believed it was good and somehow spiritual. But when this practice is tested in light of scripture, it is dangerous, even deadly. It mimics the error of the cults that claim that God has also spoken to them , yet clearly deny the truth of Scripture.
Paul reminds the Corinthians:
“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.”
(1 Corinthians 4:6)
All that God has spoken to us is plain to see as revealed in scripture. The apostle Paul who says I determined to know nothing but Christ crucified warns us not to go beyond was it written.
Much better it would be for us to adopt Jesus’ approach on the matter. Jesus viewed Scripture as God’s inspired, authoritative, infallible, and sufficient Word. That’s why, “It is written,” was his go to response to the devil, his disciples, and his many
detractors. How much better it would be for us to say, “It is written,” than, “God told me.” To do so is to think God’s thoughts after Him, and to stand upon His infallible Word, rather than our own fallible feelings.
Two hymns remind us:
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said.”
“[God’s] Word alone is solid ground.
The mighty rock on which we build,
In every line the truth is found.
And every page with glory filled.”
All that God has spoken to us is written for us in scripture. What is written is complete and wonderfully wise and necessarily relevant for all time. Read it and hear him speak. “Have you not read what was said to you by God.” Matthew 22:31
With love and truth,
Pastor Mark Hamilton