Friday, December 5, 2008

God Told Me

I visited blogpastor a few days ago and in one of the posts (Day by Day with Joseph Prince), one guy commented (I am pasting what he wrote below so that I do not misquote him):

"I think JP and many W-F teachers teach the way they do because of their lack of theological training. Not that you must have a PHD to know God’s Word but to accurately exegete God’s Word requires a fair amount of training in hermeneutics, languages, etc,. Employing Vine’s dictionary is most elementary. All of you do know that Vines’ is inaccurate, right?

Basing one’s teachings on an esoteric experience is also not the best any teachers of the Word could offer their audience. Btw, could anyone GENTLY correct me, but how come I keep hearing similarities to these “God-told-me” new revelations and the writings of Hagin, Copeland, Yonggi, etc,. Shouldn’t it mean “God told me-second-hand?” Plagiarism without proper footnote or referencing is cheating."

While I agree that it is dangerous to blindly accept what preachers say when they claim "God told me ...", I feel it is also not right to casually dismiss what they say because God does speak to his children.

On the road to Damascus, the apostle Paul (at that time he was still Saul) had an encounter with Jesus. Jesus spoke to him!

Acts 9:3-7 (NLT)

3 As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?”

5 “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.

And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! 6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one!

A few verses later, Jesus spoke again! This time He spoke to a disciple, Ananias telling him to look for Paul and pray over him.

Acts 9:10-12 (NLT)
10 Now there was a believer[b] in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord!” he replied.

11 The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. 12 I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.”

God does not speak outside the scriptures; even when Jesus was tempted by the devil, He spoke the scriptures to rebuke the devil. Therefore it is up to us listeners to check what the pastor say against the Word of God, and decide for ourselves whether the things being said are consistent with scripture.

Btw, why can't God choose to speak similar things to different people at different times in different locations? After all, people from many different countries are now able to watch the same live broadcasts of the World Cup in their own individual homes in their own individual countries.

I agree that formal theological training is useful but by the same token, we should also not casually dismiss the teachings of ministers with no FORMAL theological training.

After all, unlike Paul who was trained as a Pharisee, the apostle Peter was just a fisherman. However, immediately after Peter received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, he preached his first sermon and 3,000 people were saved!

Ultimately, the Holy Spirit is the best teacher. That was why the disciples had to wait in the upper room to be filled with the Holy Spirit before they began their ministry.

John 14:26 (NLT)

But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Luke 12:11-12 (NLT)

11"When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, 12for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."

In any case, Paul despite his religious training was also taught by the Holy Spirit, not man!

Galatians 1:11-12 (NLT)

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.

I can accept that one may find it necessary to voice out one's disagreement with others' theology and put forward his own case but I feel that one should not be dismissive of preachers, including those with no formal theological training, who do not preach or subscribe to one's brand of theology because all men are fallible and cannot claim to possess absolute wisdom.

Let me use an analogy to illustrate:

Let's imagine that "theology" are the shoes that help us to walk the Christian walk. There are many brands of shoes available on the market and you may feel that certain brands are not suitable and maybe you even feel that some of the brands deserve to be banned.

Most likely, one would want to choose and stick to a brand of shoes that will help him to complete his Christian work comfortably and enjoyably. This process may involve trying out a few brands and finally deciding to stick to one brand that is most suitable. Ultimately the choice of brands of shoes is up to the individual because he has to walk his own walk, no one else can walk it for him.

If an individual decides to choose what in your view is the wrong brand, there is no need for you to berate that person or the person who recommended that "wrong" brand to him. You must consider that you have already done your job by pointing out the "correct" brand and keep your peace.

In the end, the person wearing the shoes will have to live with the consequences of his own choice himself.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


charis-aletheia said...

I hate to mention but these are the Holy Spirit inert 'christians'. Why did I put the quotes? Because I 'm not very convinced if they know the Lord personally. They will also go beyond saying that we are domesticating the Holy Spirit, which I have been accused of once by this young chap 'SzeZeng'. So my question back to him was "so it's ok to domesticate your own spirit?" Clearly they are rejecting or the right biblical term to use is "quenching" the Holy Spirit.

You mentioned Blogpastor? I hate blogs that sit on the fence. Beware of the subtlety of his postings, though he looks alright by some of my friends. He is not very spritually correct with his use of scriptures. He had once a posting that you may be able to find in his archive entitled "Is the God of Jesus speaking through a Buddhist monk?". So, you see what confusion his blog is creating? I shan't make any more negative talk on these 'christians'.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi charis-aletheia,

Actually I seriously thought about starting my own blog to have my own say partly because I went to comment on the buddhist monk post and got drowned out by those pseudo-theologians with their big words and convoluted arguments.

As for blogpastor's posts, my personal view is that his posts are deliberately ambiguous to stimulate comments and discussion. Blogpastor may have left out his own views to avoid skewing opinion.

Anyway, I have given up expressing serious opinion on his blog as the regulars there seem more interested in shouting you down than engage in proper discussion.

I also find that they place more stock in the theologians that they have studied than on the Holy Spirit's guidance. Btw, I don't understand what is meant by "domesticating the Holy Spirit", another example of those big words that do not clarify their line of argument. I get the feeling that if they cannot convince you with a simple rebuttal, they will overwhelm you into confusion with all the big words.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stanley,
"place more stock in the theologians that they have studied than on the Holy Spirit's guidance" - totally agree with this statement. Probably so because although we are all Christians, I suspect they are more from the Bible-pres, brethen type background. Nonetheless, I believe we will all meet Jesus in Heaven. The difference is do we reign in life while "Hangin" around on earth!!

Stanley, you have a great blog going on here.


Stanley Wong said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for your kind words.

I think one of the problems of these "theologian" types is that they believe that eternal life starts after we die, not while we are here on earth, so when they hear preaching that we can have health and wealth in the here and now, they reject it as being "worldly."

I'll blog about this later. Shalom.

Malcolm Loh said...

Blogpastor gave me a call after he received the D2RD that I posted out to him.

I agree with Stan that his blog is to stimulate debate, so he deliberately does not take any stand.

Geri is planning a gathering at her place next weekend for the likes of us, and we will be inviting him to join us.

So by faith, I believe that he is edging ever so nearer to catching the grace message.

Another brother is this chap who calls himself "stillhaventfound". He's been to several churches but has now settled in newcre because he "hasalreadyfound" :-D