The week or so break I anticipated has turned into a month! Being reunited with my family has kept me very busy. I have had many good ideas (good by my estimation, anyway), I just haven’t had the time to write them down and work them out into a form I could post.
This post comes straight from something that I experienced a couple of weeks ago. My family and I have done a lot of visiting with friends and family to get caught up with everyone. So a couple of weeks ago, we were invited to attend a church so that we could meet the people there who knew of us through mutual acquaintances and had been praying for us.
The church is a Pentecostal church. It is, in my estimation, a very traditional Pentecostal church. The pastor frequently blasts the Word Faith heretics from the pulpit. Nonetheless, they are still Pentecostal. Twice the service was interrupted by a so-called “word.” I listened very carefully to what was being spoken and, as a disinterested visitor, I could determine no reason why the “word” was even needed. Nothing of any substance was said.
But the thing that stood out in my mind is the burning question no one in Pentecostal circles ever asks: If these “words” are truly from God (which makes them God’s words), how and why are they any different from Scripture. If I can ignore them without consequence, then they have no authority. If they have no authority, they can’t be from God. God’s word is God’s word. Moreover, if they are from God, why are they not additions to the complete revelation of Scripture? Why isn’t the speaker guilty of adding to God’s revealed Word? The same could, of course, be said of tongues-speaking, but I digress.
This simple logical conundrum weighed very heavily upon my mind the whole time I was a Pentecostal. I could never figure out how we could read Revelation 22:18, and then with a straight face blurt out some “word” and expect no confusion. I found out very early that such prickly questions are not welcome either.
If I claim to have a “word from the Lord,” how is that any different from the Scriptural declaration “Thus saith the Lord”? I don’t see how you can argue that one word of God is more “real” or binding than another. If my “word” is really a Word from God, is it a sin to disobey it? If it is a sin, then my “word” is identical to Scripture, at least in its authority. In fact, it is even more authoritative than Scripture because it carries more immediate influence. And it makes me just as much a prophet as Jeremiah, Daniel or Elijah. There’s just no way to get around this. If God speaks, we must obey or perish. Can we honestly say that our eternal souls hang in the balance based on our obedience to all of the various “words” that are given every Sunday throughout the Charismatic world? I think not. If we can’t say this, then how can we say that they are really words from God? God’s word is God’s word, right?