by Zach Mapes
This is not an uncommon question. With various nuances I don’t know of anyone that is trying to grow spiritually that hasn’t asked this at least once. It is a safe question to ask as well. On one hand we have to always ask this question to keep ourselves clean and safe. The first thing that we should ask ourselves is does what I am seeing, hearing, sensing, feeling, or receiving line up with the Bible. The first questions that we should ask the Bible is will God give me revelation if I ask for it?
This is answered in Luke 11:11-13 “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” This tells us quite clearly that God our father does want to bless us and give us what we ask for. The next question that arises is “is it ok to practice the gift”?
In the Old Testament we see examples of schools for or of the prophets. This implies that they did train to be prophets. This also indicates that people called to prophesy should be trained and that it is not an instantaneous event from the moment of calling to the moment of full function in the gift.
But what about the rest of us? Those who aren’t certain that they have been called to be prophets, or those that deeply desire to function in the gift, do they have a place pursuing gifting? Is it safe? In 1 Corinthians 14:39 it says “Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.”
We can see that it is good to ask for revelation, we can to train in the gift ideally with others, and that we are supposed to want to grow in this area. While it is difficult to answer on a case by case point “is this God or is this me?” we can with relative certainty say that we are on the right path if we are seeking him in accordance with Biblical principles.
There is one danger here that is what I call the Infallibility Complex. This is where a person becomes so certain that they hear from God so clearly that everything they say is unchallengeable. The infallibility complex can only happen outside of real relationships. Because good friends simply won’t let you get away with it. They are the ones that know us and will keep us on the straight and narrow.
What steps can be taken to grow safely?
- Pursue relationship first. We all experience God in our own way. Focus on growing in knowledge and understanding of how God relates to you. Invest your time with him.
- Talk to God, then listen and respond. He wants to bless us and he wants us to pursue relationship with him.
- Never stop training. There is an element of humility that is needed to be able to say that you are always training. But, unless you know everything, keep training.
- Remain in relationship with others. Know your community, but stay close to the handful of people in your life that keep you grounded.
The final thing to remember is that revelation is not our end goal, or the final destination. Revelation is a means of two way communication with God as Peter Lord writes in his bookHearing God revelation is the means that we shift prayer from a monologue shopping list for God, into personal, two way communications with God. Revelation is the listening half of prayer life. One of the things that I have learned with some certainty in my life is you can rarely get into trouble and difficulty from listening.
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