Your God-experiences have to jibe with the scriptures.

by K.W. Leslie, 17 June 2021

In the year 610, Muhammad ibn Abdullah al Mecca began having visions of an angel he identified as Jibril, who’d be גַּבְרִיאֵל/Gavryél, “Gabriel.” Because Muhammad was at the time illiterate, Jibril had him memorize certain recitations, and these were later collected into the Quran, Islam’s scriptures.

Problem is, Muhammad never double-checked ’em against the Christian scriptures. Even though his revelations told him to.

Quran, 10 (“Jonah”) :94
So if you’re in doubt about what We revealed to you, then ask those who’ve previously read the bible. Truth has truly already come to you from your Lord. So don’t be among the doubters.

Despite this instruction, he didn’t. He presumed Jibril would never steer him wrong; why would a holy angel do any such thing?

Hence the Quran has a lot of things in it which contradict the Christian scriptures. The way Muslims reconcile the differences is to claim Jews and Christians must’ve twisted or distorted the bible. (Usually they figure we let errors slip in, but the more paranoid sort assume Jews and Christians deliberately altered our scriptures, just to mess with them.) Whereas Christians figure whoever Jibril is, it’s not the angel Gabriel from Daniel and Luke: Either it’s an invention of Muhammad’s imagination, an outright fabrication, or an evil spirit messing with the poor guy.

I bring up Muhammad because he’s a good example of someone who sought a God-experience, and, well, got something. Got several. Every chapter of the Quran comes from a different revelation, so he had at least that many experiences. But were they God-experiences? Muhammad surely thought so, as has every Muslim since.

But like the Quran itself teaches, we’re meant to silence our doubts by comparing it against the scriptures. Our God-experiences shouldn’t depict a different God than we find in the bible. Nor should it deviate from orthodox Christianity, from what our fellow Christians have taught from the beginning—because plenty of heretics claim their deviant teachings are totally based on bible, but they’re based on out-of-context readings, and obvious violations of the clear intent of the scriptures.

The bible is a product of legitimate God-experiences. If we had a legitimate God-experience, it should be wholly consistent with the scriptures. If it’s not, we got a serious problem. It’s either a psychotic delusion, a serious self-delusion, an elaborate hoax by a rather evil prankster, or an evil spirit trying to lead us astray.

Those who regularly blaspheme the Holy Spirit, who claim all present-day miracles and prophecies and God-experiences are caused by evil spirits, don’t bother to compare these experiences with bible either. Oh, they claim to. Usually they quote the passage about how these activities will ultimately cease—

1 Corinthians 13.8-10 KJV
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

—and the reason these revelations will cease is because Jesus is returning and we won’t need supernatural revelation when we can simply FaceTime Jesus on our mobile phones and ask him personally. (Well, he’ll be busy ruling the world, so it won’t be that simple. But you get the idea.) But if you’re cessationist, you’ve been taught to misuse this verse to claim these activities already ceased. Ceased a long time ago. So “according to bible” God doesn’t do that stuff anymore, and therefore every present-day supernatural activity must automatically be Satan… and if any one of them is the Holy Spirit, guess who they just blasphemed. Yep.

Christians should know better than to embrace any doctrine which claims Satan can do more than the Almighty. But neither should we blanketly accept every supposed God-experience as legit. We gotta test stuff. At the very least, it’s gotta be consistent with the scriptures. If it’s not even that, don’t accept it! Don’t believe it.

Galatians 1.8 KJV
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Jibe with. Not “be proscribed by.”

One of the regular complaints I’ve heard from cessationists who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, is “What they’re doing, what they’re saying, what they’re practicing, isn’t in the bible. And if it’s not in the bible, we shouldn’t do it. It’s wrong.”

Usually it’s a complaint about some strange-sounding practice rumored to take place is charismatic churches. Fr’instance “fire tunnels.” They’ve been around for a while; I saw ’em in college. (Yes, I participated in one or two.) Basically you take an aisle in your church’s auditorium, line up Christians on either side of it, have a person walk down the aisle, and as they do the Christians on either side pray for them and lay hands upon them so they can receive the Holy Spirit. Ac 8.17 He’s the “fire.” Sometimes they do receive the Spirit’s baptism, or he fills ’em with his power; more often they just feel really good about receiving all those prayers and positive encouragement. But cessationists are convinced the Spirit doesn’t condescend to get involved in any such thing; and all “fire tunnels” do is spread euphoric emotions… and germs from all the touching. (Even though they will eagerly shake dozens of hands every Sunday morning.)

Okay yes: Fire tunnels aren’t in the bible. They’re a Christian invention. As are lots of our practices. Like hymns and worship choruses. What, are we supposed to ban all Christian music unless they come straight from the Psalms? (Thing is, in some churches this is exactly what they teach.)

The proper question is whether a fire tunnel contradicts the bible. Does its practice violate anything Jesus and the apostles instructed? Does it violate the intent, or spirit, of the scriptures? Does it produce bad fruit?—at worst because it’s meant to, at least because it’s meant to produce good fruit but somehow never does? Is the only reason the Spirit would never use such a thing, because you think he removed himself from human activity ever since bible times?

See, this is the main reason blasphemers presume all this stuff is devilish: They pre-assume the Spirit doesn’t, and would never, have anything to do with charismatics and their wacky practices. Mostly because they would never—and they presume the Spirit thinks exactly like they do. They don’t like it, and presume he doesn’t like it either. They’re looking for any excuse to disparage it, and “That’s not in the bible” will do them just fine.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying because blasphemers are wrong, fire tunnels are therefore fine. Sometimes they are; sometimes not. The bible doesn’t forbid ’em. But they really oughta produce fruit! If they don’t—if they’re just a regular exercise Christians use to whip ourselves up, and make ourselves feel really good, but we aren’t following Jesus any better, aren’t otherwise producing good fruit, aren’t growing: What good are they? Are we using fire tunnels as a substitute for all the stuff we oughta do? Sometimes they totally spur those good works… and sometimes yes, they are spiritual distractions which achieve nothing. We gotta discern which one they are.

But blasphemers, same as the scribes who said Jesus did devilish exorcisms, discern nothing. They already made their minds up, so now they’re just scrounging for “proof” their preconceived beliefs are valid. “That’s not in the bible” isn’t proof. What you want is “That’s forbidden in the bible”—and fire tunnels aren’t. Same as many other weird charismatic practices. Ain’t nothing wrong with weird.

“Ask those who’ve previously read the bible.”

Yeah, I’m quoting that verse from the Quran again. Hey, truth is truth. If you have doubts about any revelations you think God gave you, it’s wise to go to experienced Christians, who know their bible and can quickly tell you whether something’s consistent with it. It’s wise to go to Christian prophets and see whether God’s shown them the same thing.

It’s wise to confirm these things, instead of presuming you and you alone are God’s present-day prophet—the very mistake Muhammad made, and the reason he went wrong.

And if you find out they’re not consistent with the scriptures, you need to talk with God about this. Is he testing you, to see whether you’d pass, like he did Ezekiel? ’Cause he totally did that to Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 4.12-15 NLT
12 “Prepare and eat this food as you would barley cakes. While all the people are watching, bake it over a fire using dried human dung as fuel and then eat the bread.” 13 Then the LORD said, “This is how Israel will eat defiled bread in the Gentile lands to which I will banish them!”
14 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, must I be defiled by using human dung? For I have never been defiled before. From the time I was a child until now I have never eaten any animal that died of sickness or was killed by other animals. I have never eaten any meat forbidden by the law.”
15 “All right,” the LORD said. “You may bake your bread with cow dung instead of human dung.”

Funny, those people who love “Ezekiel bread” never bother to bake it over dung like the LORD instructed… but I digress.

Yep, what the LORD commanded Ezekiel to do, initially went against the scriptures. Human feces are ritually unclean, Dt 23.12-14 and as a priest Ezekiel had made a point of a ritually clean lifestyle. So the LORD’s command made him flinch: “Wait, I have to do what?” But this was meant to get Ezekiel’s attention—and ours, ’cause we’re meant to likewise flinch when we read these instructions in Ezekiel. It’s nasty, and meant to remind us of how nasty the Israelis had behaved towards their God with their idolatry and sin.

So yeah, when it initially looks like your God-experiences aren’t consistent with the scriptures, sometimes we gotta double-check with God himself. Is he testing our bible knowledge? Is he making sure we’ve been paying attention to his scriptures? ’Cause that’s consistent with the bible too.

Knowledgeable Christians will know this, encourage you to double-check everything, and warn you when things are going a little too far off the beaten path. We need to listen to their concerns, and not just presume our revelations mean we can dismiss them, because we know better than they. Jesus created the church so we could have each other’s back, so let theem watch your back, and ask all the questions that we might be too excited to even think about. If it’s really God, it’ll stand up to this level of scrutiny—and if it’s not, it’ll fall apart easily. So never be afraid to test those God-experiences good and hard.