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The Day I Accused My Wife of Infidelity

I accused my wife of infidelity last year. No, there was no evidence. No, there was no change in our relationship. No, it is not characteristic of her in the slightest. However, I had my reasons . . . but I am getting ahead of myself.

What probably became evident to many of you last year is that I am not a charismatic. I don’t believe in the continuation of gifts such as “effecting of miracles,” healings, or prophecy. I want to; I just don’t. Out of all the so-called charismatic gifts, I believe prophecy and healings are the most important for people to really think deeply about. With so much disease and sickness in the church today, we don’t want to be flippant with any ideas like, “God wants to heal you, but you lack _______.” This can be utterly destructive to people’s faith and hope in the Lord.

Just as difficult is the gift of prophecy. To say that God wants to speak directly into your life through a prophetic encounter is no small statement. It can redirect the entire course of a person’s life. It can send them on witch hunts, cause them to start churches, or even make them drown their kids and blame it on the Lord. I even had a guy at the Credo House last year say that his life long mission was to take down Nike. Why? you ask. Well, according to him, God told him to do so.

However, this reality hit home for me last year more than any other time in my life. I had been discussing this issue with a charismatic friend whom I respect a great deal. Throughout our discussion, I promised him I would keep a prayerful, open mind about the issue. And, to the best of my ability, I was doing just that. I certainly didn’t want to “quench” any movement of the Spirit in my life or my ministry. We happened to be talking about the gift of prophecy. While I believe that God moves sovereignly and definitively in our lives, I have never believed that I should seek or expect any direct encounter from him. Whether through a dream, a vision, an audible encounter, a visit from a prophet, or a donkey talking, I have never heard from God in such a way. I would love to, but I simply have not and have not ever expected to. Yet, I want to be open.

One evening after discussing prophecy with my charismatic friend, who believes that I should live with more expectation to hear from God prophetically (including through dreams), I prayed earnestly before bed that the Lord would take me in the right direction. It was late at night. It was one of those prayers you pray just before you go to sleep. That night, I had a dream. (I am incredibly hesitant to include this for many reasons that will become evident, but I think it is necessary for you to understand the spirit of my writing here.)

The next morning was like any other. Most of the time all dreams of the previous night are never brought to memory. Scientists tell us that during REM sleep, dreams are forgotten as quickly as they occur. Normally, you can only remember the dream you had just before you wake up. All others fade quickly. But even then, the last dream is only remembered with some effort as your memory system processes things differently during the dream state. However, this time was different.

That morning, as the events of the last dream casually moved through my mind, just as I was about to discard this dream without second thought, I remembered my plea before the Lord, “Lord, if you have something to say to me through prophecy or through a prophet, please help me to know and accept it.” Was this something that the Lord wanted me to know? Was this dream a word from the Lord? Surely not. But, if I am serious about what I prayed, I need to consider this. It was an unusually clear dream (or was it?). It was an unusual dream. I dwelt upon it all morning. The moment I would discard it as ridiculous, it would resurface. It was as if I was supposed to remember this dream. Before I left for work, I thought about talking to my wife about it, but then I changed my mind. I need to leave this one alone, I kept thinking.

By midday I was consumed by the dream. Finally, I got on my wife’s account on Facebook and queried “Lewis Johnson.” My dream was about my wife. In the dream, she was having an affair with a man named Lewis Johnson (those of you who are theological gurus, quit laughing!). The main thing I remember from the dream was what I was supposed to do. Indeed, it was what I felt compelled to do. I was to search my wife’s account on Facebook for “Lewis Johnson,” the man with whom she was having an affair. After wrestling with this all morning, I finally did. I went to her account, signed in as her, and typed “Lewis Johnson” in her Friends query. Result? No Lewis Johnson found.

I hung my head in shame. How could I have had such a terrible and wayward thought? But, sadly, this fruitless Facebook search did not stop my wandering (prophecy seeking?) mind. You must understand: I have never accused my wife of cheating on me. Never. I have never suspected anything. Never. In fact, in our family, it has become quite a joke about how unsuspecting I am. We have had those in our family who have battled suspicion about their spouses, but not me. I have been the go-to relative to help those who, from time to time, get caught in this trap of undue suspicion (and it is a terrible trap). Nothing has ever made me doubt my wife’s fidelity. However, this time it was different. This time, I might have had a word from the Lord, through a dream, that made my (otherwise completely unwarranted) suspicions true.

So, that night, I approached my wife very casually and did a name drop. I don’t remember exactly how, but I asked her if she knew a Lewis Johnson. Both the look on her face (or lack thereof), and her casual attitude concerning the name, confirmed my suspicions. She had no clue who he was. She was not having an affair.

Now, I don’t want to be overly dramatic with my story here. My rational mind did not ever really think she was having an affair. However, there was a bug in my ear that caused me to have “what if?” thoughts of infidelity that I never would have had otherwise.

Why all of this? Because seeking an extra-biblical, personal revelation from God – right or wrong, biblical or not, continuing today or not – is a dangerous thing. I let down my guard with the Lewis Johnson Facebook thing. I lowered the standard that a prophecy must pass in order for it to have a legitimate claim to my beliefs. I actively sought prophecy and ended up accusing my wife of infidelity. Luckily, the consequences were not severe. My wife actually liked the idea that I might be jealous. Since then it has turned into a joke, as I ask my wife every once in a while if she has been talking to Lewis Johnson. But this kind of stuff can be terribly destructive and potentially life-altering. Any time people believe they could be privy to transcendent knowledge and commands, the ante is raised. Many people are controlled by prophecies they were given when they were young. Though the “prophet” of my dream gave no compelling signs that he was truly a prophet, many people hang on dreams they have. Why? Because they are taught to expect a word from the Lord. My wife had a prophetic word given to her when she was a teen. She was told that she would die of cancer. A guy at the Credo House told me the other day that he was told he would be a great preacher. Another is told to take this job or that. I was told that I would be hurt in a car crash in a red sports car in my early thirties.

My contention is that we must never believe these things unless there are absolutely compelling reasons for us to do so that go well beyond emotional disposition. Casual dreams or someone coming up to you and saying, “I have a word from the Lord for you,” with nothing to back it up, are not only irresponsible for us to believe, but completely dishonoring to the name of the Lord.  Doing these things can ruin your life.

156 Responses to “The Day I Accused My Wife of Infidelity”

  1. CMP,

    I don’t know what to make of some of the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Cor 12 either. I’m no longer a cessationist in the sense that I now believe that Paul believed that all the spiritual gifts he listed in 1 Cor 12 would remain throughout this dispensation (if I may use the term). But what does it mean for someone to have the gift of prophecy? Or the gift of healing? I just don’t know.

    Sometimes when I’m in a bad mood I’ll make dark prophecies about the dissolution of America into warring regional powers, but I don’t think that’s what Paul meant by the gift of prophecy. On the other hand, sometimes I’ve felt compelled to say an encouraging word to someone at church, or just hug them, but I’m not sure that’s the outworking of a spiritual gift either. Meh.

  2. Mark Driscoll said in a sermon — “[I] Go up to another person. “Hey, I believe that you were sexually abused when you were young. Did so and so do this to you when you were this age? And you know, did a comforting spirit come to you at that point and, a demon masquerading as an angel of light?” And he said, “Yeah, how did you know?” I was like,”I saw it.” I started having dreams. I started seeing things. I started reading people’s proverbial mail.” — http://hereiblog.com/mark-driscoll-prophetic-dreams-seeing-future/

    It’s a difficult issue, and I really appreciate your point of view. I think Mark Driscoll’s POV above demonstrates that we feel we need to be more connected to God than we are and perhaps we even create a self-fulfilling prophesy for ourselves. It’s a dangerous business. What are your thoughts about Driscoll’s interpretations/imaginations/prophetic visions?

  3. Rick,

    But if Driscoll has a dream of what happened to someone when they were young isn’t it just that, a dream, and not a spiritual gift?

    I believe that people can have dreams and visions concerning things that they could not otherwise have known – heck, I’ve had a few of those myself – but surely this isn’t what Paul meant by spiritual gifts.

  4. Rick, I love and respect Driscoll a great deal. But there are always going to be things about people I love and respect that I have problems with. His casual attitude about these things is, in my opinion, very dangerous. I am glad that it is not a central part of his “Gospel”!

  5. Lewis Johnson June 6, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I swear I have never met the woman!

  6. @NW God can and does speak to us through Dreams, But i have learned through experience that there are some who God gives to them Prophetic Dreams on a consistent bases.

    I actually came to Christ because God through my Pastor spoke to me at a bible study, So i believe and know God does speak in Vision and Dreams but we must Pray about it and see if it is from the Lord or not and if it is according to Gods written word

  7. Michael. Scripture tells us to eagerly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that we may prophesy….so to eagerly desire those gifts is commendable.

    However, Scripture also tells us that all prophecy must be submitted for evaluation as we can be deceived. I once had a vision, of a big sword. A voice said take this sword, it is the 2 edged sword of the Holy Spirit which will empower you for ministry…I got the hebie jebies, asked God if it was of him, and it turned into a snake and slithered away.

    This experience however didn’t turn me away from seeking the spiritual gifts, as the devil can only fake that which is real.

    You often use your own experience as the criteria for dismissing the gifts of the Spirit – but have you ever had someone give you a word that was true? Or have you ever believed something about a Scripture that was false?

    Did or does your false belief in that Scripture make the Scripture false?

    • Interesting. What does this test look like? Like how would you go about testing a dream such as mine. I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but I have heard this before. The answer is always to “test” the prophecy. However outside of whether it conflicts with sound doctrine, what does such a test look like?

  8. CMP,

    I really appreciate your journey as I personally have moved from Charismaticism to something … not that. Your writing has helped me be okay with what I see as the deficiencies in those beliefs for myself.

    But I am curious why you struggle with this. Why do you … want?

    Its probably really easy for me to accept the non-charismatic positions as I have travelled through that road. For lack of a better concept – I possessed them, but lost them. You never had them. So I can understand how you might feel you are missing something.

    But perhaps I can posit something that may facilitate your (not)/wanting. God makes us for His purposes. And we are unique in those purposes for the body – eye, ear, foot, hand stuff. Is it l possible that (lets assume for this discussion they are normative in the church) that your purpose doesn’t involve those graces? That without them you serve a different group that needs that kind of person?

    I know I did, as a former “charismatic.”

  9. Agreed from the perspective that we should err on the side of caution in such matters. Even so, I do believe in the perpetuity of the gifts, qualified by the perspective that God will speak to me first and then confirm his words through unrelated events or people.

  10. Michael. From comment 8.

    I ask myself a number of questions.

    1. Do I know and trust the person giving me this prophecy.

    2. Does the prophecy fall under the scrutiny of Scripture?

    3.)Does the prophecy encourage or condemn – build up faith or weaken it. Does it build love or build hate?

    4. In the Epistles of John we are told to test the spirits. While I know this could mean messenger, most translations still use the term ‘spirits’…so I take it at face value. I speak to God about it.. Ask him if this encounter is from him – I ask the spirit who gave it to me if they confess that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh – I ask the spirit if they honour and bow the knee to Christ. A couple of times I have done this, I have let rip a mighty yawn and the thought is gone.

    5. I submit it to others to pray about and seek their advice.

    Just some thoughts.

  11. I have a gift. I’ve an ability to read through situations and often am able to literally fortell the future. But is my ability infallible?No. Sometimes I’m wrong even though the majority of the time I’m right. But the Bible is clear that genuine prophets are always 100% right. I think that God gave me a natural gift like intelligence or athletic ability that gives me insight I can’t easily explain. This could very easily lead me to believe I’m a prophet when in I’m just acting within in the realm of fallible natural gifting. I’ve never met a charismatic who meets the standard of 100% accuracy and I was raised in a charismatic church.

    I don’t know that I’m a cessationist. I’ve seen too many crazy things to discount. But I believe about 95% at least of charismatic gifts are not genuine. And I think they can lead to huge harm as noted in this post. The vast bulk of what I receive as the word of God is conviction of sin or other things I know I already know I should be doing…

  12. Michael, thanks for sharing this…I appreciate your ongoing desire to seek out the truth. That said, to what extent do we allow experience to trump scripture? I think often times charismatics are guilty of allowing the (supposed) experience and emotion of spiritual gifts to supersede the clear teaching of scripture. But I also see the very real possibility of it working the other way: that negative experiences concerning spiritual gifts may make us unduly skeptical and cautious of God’s work in our lives. As someone who’s still very cautious and perhaps too skeptical about spiritual gifts, I find myself continually reminded to return to the Bible…and though the case for the continuation of the gifts is less-than-definitive, I am becoming increasingly convinced that that is what the Bible teaches. So despite my lack of overt experience of any of those gifts, and despite your negative experience concerning them, I still think it’s important to continue to seek God’s gifts in our…

  13. Brian, thanks for your story. I suppose that I want to believe in these things because I love the manifestation of God the represent. Who would not want to have the gift of healing available? Who would not want God to speak directly into their lives. I have a lot of questions for h!

  14. Dan,

    You are right. Experience is important for both sides. But, tho we don’t want to admit it, experience is a hermeneutical trump card for everyone. If the Scripture says that we will see God if we love him, but we love him but have not ever seen him and don’t know anyone in history who has, we adjust our interpretation accordingly. When Jesus says ask anything in my name and I will do it, yet our experience proves otherwise, we adjust. It is the same here. The adjustments are not uncalled for. Sometimes they are the only responsible thing we can do.

  15. Craig,

    Thanks for the list. But it is very subjective. There does not seem to be any way to know anything with any degree of certainty from that list. Not to put you on the spot, but can you put my dream to the test and tell me if it was prophetic or not?

  16. Michael,
    I think we too often and inappropriately use PERSONAL experience as a hermeneutical trump card. But there’s a huge difference between personal experience and the experience of the church throughout history and into the present day. My personal experience points me towards cessationism…but cessationism is clearly not the corporate experience of the body of Christ. If even one Christian today is truly receiving supernatural spiritual gifts, then cessationism can’t be true.

  17. OK, I’m really creeped out. When I began reading this post, I thought I was reading an older post that, perhaps someone had just now commented on and it alerted my Email. To confirm my thoughts, that it was an older post, I glanced at eh date at the top. Nope. Today’s date. How can that be? I know I have read this before. The only thing I don’t recall is the guy’s name, Lewis. But everything else I knew. What is that all about? Somebody please tell me Michael has written this before and this is a rerun.

  18. Cessationism IS the corporate experience of the historic body. Was that a misstatement? I have read three books which try to argue that these gifts are broadly represented in church history. All they did was solidify my position that they are not as the supposed representation are simply Gods intervention at best, mystical relicalism at worst. The mass majority of church history is cessationist.

  19. And if you are just talking about today, then I am not sure. But I don’t agree that even if one person has a true experience Cessationism can’t be true. Maybe hard Cessationism can’t be true, but this does not mean that charismatic view of continuationism is true. The charismatic view requires the idea that these gifts are “normative” in the experience if the church. Exceptions do not meet this rule.

  20. Michael great question to ask. From comment 15.

    Dreams have many sources. They can be prophetic from God. They can have a subconscious element to them and they can have a demonic element to them.

    It’s obvious in hindsight that your dream wasn’t a literal prophetic dream from God. Subjectivism is all part of the Christian experience. For instance, having peace in a time of turmoil is a subjective experience.

    Every prophetic experience in the Scriptures is a subjective experience. Visions, dreams etc…how did the prophets receive the word of God?

    It took Peter around 12 years to get it into his thick noggin that the gospel was even for the Gentiles, and that came about through a subjective experience.

    One of the gifts of the Spirit is the Discernment of spirits. Note its not of people. This gift is much needed when dealing with prophecy…think about Paul and his encounter with the slave girl and her prophetic words.

  21. Lol. I have told this story before, but this is a different post. It’s the illustration that is not new.

  22. Craig, I see what you are saying, but maybe my wife is lying. Does her statement that it is not true provide you with definitive proof that this was not prophetic. Maybe it was and I need to call her on it? I don’t think a criteria such as “does you wife SAY it is true should have any bearing on its truthfulness if this was prophetic. If this is the case, David could have simply told Nathan “I did not sleep with that woman” and Nathan would have had to dismiss his prophecy as subjective dilutions.

  23. I have been a Pentecostal minister for over 35 years, and have pastored several churches. Nothing gives me a rash (figuratively speaking) more than people who cannot take the time to carefully consider the Biblical evidence on the manifestation of power from the Spirit. It is the unthinking actions of the over-zealous but un-grounded that gives others a bad taste in their mouths about spiritual gifts. Whatever happened to Acts 17:11? I would suspect that there are those who classify themselves as cautious about spiritual gifts have seen the abuses — and from what I have seen over the years, I don’t blame them one bit! The Bible must always be our only authority and rule of faith and practice — and when it comes to spiritual gifts, there can be no exception. 1 Corinthians 12, 14 and Romans 12 need to speak into the lives of all believers, and especially those who are continuationists.

  24. Michael.

    It’s been my experience that a ‘true’ direct prophetic word like that will cut deep into the heart of the situation. Think about the times you have read a passage of Scripture over and over and suddenly you get a ‘aha’ moment! That is what that is saying. You get convicted of it, you might even get excited about it. But what ever it does, you simply cannot ignore it.

    Simply put, it seems that you have fallen ill of a lying spirit and you would rather believe that experience saying that all prophecy is wrong…simply because your experience hasn’t been sound…. Yet is your negative experience of it, a better sounding board than say your friend Sam Storms positive experience of it.

    Btw… I am in a situation at the moment where I am dealing head on with some pretty major abuses of the prophetic and so I am not one to say that all is well within the charismatic scene. But I can also say that I have had some major prophetic experiences which were positive.

  25. Craig, I am not trying to dismiss prophecy, I am just saying that it must pass tremendous tests. My assumption is that if God want to talk to us, he knows how to make it clear. I am also saying that if it does not pass tremendous tests, it should never be thought of as prophecy. I don’t mean to be combative, bit your tests are not too tremendous.

  26. Michael.

    I don’t think they are that ‘tremendous’ but I’m not sure what you think should be the tremendous tests that are needed.

    What do you think the tests should be to judge prophecy?

  27. As best I can tell, there are two:

    1. Test of orthodoxy. But this is an easy test. “God want you to start a church” or “you will die of cancer” will pass.

    2. The test of transcendence. Is there an accompanying miraculous sign that the “prophet” or person gives. Without this, anyone can SAY they have a word from the Lord.

  28. “I suppose that I want to believe in these things because I love the manifestation of God the represent. ”

    I think that last part got garbled. did you mean “they” not “the”? My question would be how do you know if you love his manifestations if you have not experienced them?

    This is the fallacy I see in Charismania. Too much biblically is said about how the presence of God can be a terrible thing for material beings to encounter.

    “Who would not want to have the gift of healing available? Who would not want God to speak directly into their lives.”

    Dude, remember I have the filter of experience with this. I for one do not want those things. First, the responsibility of them is too much. Especially healing. Two, the lust for power and importance in the broken soul causes many to long for these things and ultimately misuse what they perceive them to be. And that brings me to back to my first question.

    I have a lot of questions for h!”

    Him?

  29. I agree with your first one Michael, which is the same as my second or third test.

    But, can you expand your second point more. It seems to me that the miraculous is not a major test to prove legitimacy… for the Egyptian priests were pretty much able to match most of Moses’s miracles…

    And the thing is, anyone can say they have a word from the lord, which is why there are accepted practices for giving such a word – to judge it and to allow others to judge its veracity.

  30. I will give you an example of a personal vision and prophecy.

    In 2001 I was walking down the back of the acreage we were renting, hand in hand with my 3 year old son. We were talking about the grass, the sky, the grasshoppers, clouds etc and I was filled with a deep awareness of how much I loved my son.

    Suddenly my left hand rose up, and I had a vision / sense that God had grabbed my hand and we were walking together through that back paddock. I felt in my heart God telling me that just as I loved my son so deeply, he also loved me, only more so. …what in reality was only a few seconds, seemed like hours.

    Fast forward to 2009. I’m separated because of abusive circumstances in my marriage. I have been disabled since Oct 2007. Been black banned from my church because I dared to separate from my wife who bite me, had threatened to stab me, plus much much more.

    continue next comment

  31. As a reformed-continuationist I agree with you have demonstrated above. Anyone who is charismatic or continuationist needs to be extremely careful with any dreams, visions, or pictures that deal with any type of specific detail about the past or the future. I also wonder though, if that is really what New Testament prophecy is really centered around.

    1 Corinthians 14:3-4
    On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.

    It seems that it should be more centered around words of encouragement and upbuilding and consolation that God specifically gives in specific situations. So, pictures, insights, dreams, etc that are given for that purpose and because God gave it and knew the needs of the particular person who would hear it makes it particularly effective towards the end of encouragement and upbuilding and…

  32. An old friend who lives a distance from me, rang me saying “Craig, I have been struggling with this for a few days, but I feel the Lord wants me to tell you this….

    “Just as I held your hand in that back paddock in 2001, I am still holding your hand right now, and still love you very much.”

    I broke down crying, told my mate I had to go and that I would explain it to him later on.

  33. OK, I’m not weirded out anymore. I didn’t dream the story after all. I can go to bed and know I will do my usual and dream dreams I can’t recall. Goodnight all.

  34. Two important things to remember (at least from my experience):

    1. All “prophetic words” should be tested. In our church we use a framework called “BART” – is it Biblical (ie following the follow of Biblical teaching), is there Agreement of others (ie seeking wise counsel), is it Relevant, and does it “Testify” in my spirit. We’ve been using this for a while, but only recently did I realise the similarities between it and the Wesleyan Quadrilateral.

    2. Dreams are frequently metaphorical, rather than literal.

    3. Dreams and visions should really be interpreted. My experience (as a charismatic) is that the gifts are best served within community, not isolation. Many times I find that one person has the vision, but another has the interpretation.

  35. CMP –

    Thanks for openly & honestly sharing your heart.

    You said: My contention is that we must never believe these things unless there are absolutely compelling reasons for us to do so that go well beyond emotional disposition.

    I think one will be disappointed if their measuring stick is “absolute”. I’m gonna bank on it that even our friends we read about in Scripture were not “absolutely” sure, in an objectively verifiable sense. They had real encounters with God, but this doesn’t mark it as “objective”.

    I am beginning to realise how our pursuit and knowledge of God is much more subjective than first thought. Even the biblical canon is not fully objective. None of this means it is false and untrue. It’s simply not as fully objective as the rationalistic mind would hope.

    I think Craig Bennett has given some very solid feedback on these things. I am more a teacher-shepherd than a prophet. I find comfort from those who walk closely with me in discerning…

  36. CMP –

    Lastly, on the church history comment, the one where you said 3 books on the topic only confirmed your belief that cessationism is the normative reality of church history.

    Who has recorded history?

    I’m not bashing some of the fathers of the faith. They are beautiful assets to us. We are indebted to them in so many ways.

    But guess what kind of history you get when you read of American colonial pioneers? Then guess what kind of history you get when you read Native American descendants?

  37. I always find it odd that people who want to support a cessationist view always talk about their one bad “charismatic” experience and how that taught them it ALL was bogus. The odd part is that no other part of the Christian experience gets subjected to that strict a test.

    For instance, no one abandons fellowship because they encountered ONE church that is unfriendly. Or splits before the sermon because of encountering one bad preacher. Or leaves when the offering plate is passed because one church was too focused on money. Or…well, you get the point.

    Keep learning. Learn to hear God’s voice. Grow a little more. Then re-evaluate. That’s maturity.

  38. Michael,

    I have been in charismatic/continuationalist churches for the past 25 years and am grateful to say that the abuses you describe are absent from my experience.

    I regularly offer prophetic words. In practice, they are generally directed to the congregation for their encouragement and edification. Personal prophesy is much less common and is not directional in the sense of “leave your wife, quit your job, start this ministry, etc.”

    Are there unhelpful examples related to prophesy? You bet. But the same thing can be said of preaching, counseling and teaching. But I think the remedy for abuse is proper use, not disuse. Would you agree?

    Also, let me encourage you to disconnect dreams and prophesy as you continue to consider this. I believe that God can speak to people through dreams (though I don’t believe we’re called to pursue that kind of direction), but prophesy generally occurs absent the shut-eye in my experience.

    Thanks,
    Dave

  39. aaron: Given your comment “But the Bible is clear that genuine prophets are always 100% right.” I suggest you go back and listen to Sam Storms on previous podcast episodes – he does a better job than I would do at questioning this assumption.

  40. I remember back in the mid-90s, I was in an unhealthy dating relationship. I knew intellectually that I should end it, but couldn’t bring myself to emotionally out of fear.

    One night I had a dream in which I was the main character in a Mission Impossible/James Bond like movie. I was trapped in a building, running from the bad guys, but couldn’t get out. But I did have explosives, and my only way to survive was to destroy the building. I blew it up, and got out alive.

    The next day, I broke up with the girl I was seeing. Over the next few weeks, I learned several more things about her that confirmed my decision to end the relationship. I truly believe “blowing up” the relationship may have saved my life, at least emotionally/spiritually, if not physically.

    I think God gave me that dream to break through my emotional unwillingness to do what I cognitively knew was the right thing. To drive home how high the stakes were. Notice, it was a CONFIRMATION, not the only factor.

  41. One of my former pastors (now a denominational official in the national office) tells the story about how when he was a single itinerant evangelist, someone prophesied that he would marry a blue-eyed blond (turns out the woman who gave the “prophecy” had a daughter who fit that description). He ended up marrying a black-haired, Dutch/Chinese immigrant. Did he miss God? The longevity of their marriage and fruitfulness of their ministry say “no.”

    One of the things I learned from him was that, as a general rule, God will only use a word of personal predictive prophecy to confirm what He has already been speaking to your heart. I don’t see God speaking through someone prophetically to tell someone to start a ministry that He hasn’t already given them a heart and disposition for. I do think He uses such speech to put the “exclamation point” on what He has already spoken to the person’s spirit.

  42. Michael,
    As to the idea that all of church history supports the cessationist position, I thought Sam Storms provided a nice summary of why this isn’t the case here: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/11/why-i-amnot-charismatic-church-history-and-the-gifts-sam-storms/
    But sadly, that page is no longer online :(

  43. That’s odd – I also have that link in my feed history, but it’s gone from the main site. In fact, a good number of those articles are missing :( Care to shed some light, Michael?

  44. (FWIW, Sam has an old blog post which seems to be somewhat similar – http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/gifts-in-church-history/ )

  45. Thanks Ben for that link. I too wonder what happened to all those great articles in the Why I Am/Not a Charismatic series.

  46. Last year when Michael and Sam were discussing these issues I posted on this site some comments that may be relevant. I looked at Acts 10 and how both subjective and objective elements combine to show Peter truth. My comments can also be found here:

    http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2011/09/acts-10-and-objective-and-subjective.html

    Also, over at J.P. Moreland’s site there is ongoing series by Timothy Bayless on objections to hearing God.

    http://www.jpmoreland.com/2012/04/02/objections-to-hearing-god-part-four-does-god-try/

    I wonder if Michael is looking for something epistemically incorrigible when it comes to this issue. It is as though the only way to avoid error is to raise the bar so high that only a transcendent “burning bush/fire from heaven” experience will ever be enough for Michael to accept.

    Dallas Willard’s book “Hearing God” may be helpful here. To my mind his presentation is scriptural, sane, and avoids the kinds of errors that concern Michael.

  47. Man commenting is sooo limiting for good discussion.

    I think the issue is how do we come to believe what we believe. I think this is where Michael is at. He is being genuine in his assessment of his experiences and knowledge. His point of view says he doesn’t see it. Those of us who have experienced charismatic events assess our beliefs differently. We do see it.

    Paul said I am what I am by the grace of God. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought. God has given to each person a measure of faith. Paul also said be a Jew to the Jew and be weak to the weak.

    I don’t think its our place or effective to try and convince that there are real genuine experiences in present day Christianity when it comes to ‘certain’ gifts (where are the stories of human limbs being restored?). As many legit stories, there are three times that amount that aren’t. For as many that sought and received, they are three times that amount that didn’t.

    Honor the different parts for their…

  48. Incorragable?

    Well, all I can try to do is take God’s word seriously. I don’t want to go around saying “God has said” or even “Maybe God has said” as this can be very manipulative and destructive. I want God to say . . . , but I live in continual fear of misrepresenting him. Therefore, I seek to do nothing more than to live by what I see as the requirements of those who claim to speak on behalf of God. Deut 13 and 18 lay these out well. One has to be orthodox and show some type of miraculous sign. This is the standard that God set, not me.

    The egyptian magicians had the miracles without orthodoxy (after all, the said “lets follow after other gods”). One of two is not good enough. For me, it must be both.

  49. It’s hard to argue with someone’s experience and that’s why it’s hard to make experience the deciding factor in any of this.

    What do we say to Mormons when they say that they’ve had the experience of “their bosom burning,” and that’s how they know that Mormonism is the truth? Don’t we deny the validity of that experience as coming from God?

    I have been in music groups with Pentecostals who ALWAYS pray in tongues (that BTW, no one ever translates). They don’t pray any other way during the group prayer meetings ever. I find it to be (in my experience), an arrogant display of religious superiority. I do not believe that they are actually praying in the spirit when they do this, they are rather, (in the flesh) making themselves out to be more spiritual. The lack of humility is telling and I believe Mark Driscoll is doing the same thing: he’s creating for the flesh something he would like us to believe is a deeply spiritual experience that puts him on a higher spiritual level, a deeper connection with God than other people experience.

    Having said that, I am not suggesting that no one can speak in tongues authentically any longer — nor do I believe that God cannot work miracles when he sees fit to, or speak to Mark Driscoll in a dream about something. My experience tells me that that happens very infrequently however.

    Just as our experience aptly shows us that God does not see fit to always provide the miraculous solution which might demonstrate His real presence, I would suggest that He does not see it fitting to always have us pray to him in tongues either, as if He needs to use our experience to demonstrate the reality of His connection to us.

  50. Hi,

    One of the problems with those who stress the gifts is that it is a focus on staying a babe and not progressing.

    Note:NIV Hebrews 6:1-3

    “1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.”

    The laying on of hands covers the granting of the gifts. Yes God is Sovereign and can do a he wishes. However those who are so focused on any Gift that it dominates their theology, have not progressed from the babe state. It is not a mature theology.

    While we want God’s leading in our lives, that is far different than seeking a special gift from God to confirm we have His blessing, when such is really not necessary. It sidetracks people and also hurts many, not to mention the outright fraud that has existed in such movements.

    Read and study God’s word and pray and you will have all the guidance you need. Your response to what you learn will confirm if God is with you or not.

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