There is a heinous bit of false teaching that has plagued the church of Jesus Christ for centuries. It is identified by several names and it has been more prominent in some eras and in some church groups than in others but it has wreaked havoc everywhere it has gained a foothold. In our day it is centered in Charismatic and Pentecostal circles but it can be found in many conservative and evangelical churches as well. It is the belief that God has not done enough for us in giving us His Word. There is more to know, there is more to understand about God and His will than He has revealed to us in the Scriptures. God will reveal more to us if we look elsewhere.
In New Testament times it was known as Gnosticism (from the Greek word for to know). Gnostics claimed to have special knowledge about God and you had to be one of them to get this special knowledge. It has been the foundation block of most cults. Mormonism’s Joseph Smith claimed to have received special revelation from God that no one else had. Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Russell, and Ellen White each claimed special knowledge from God that went beyond the Bible and on the basis of those “revelations” we now have Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventism.
But what does the Bible say? Listen to Paul’s words to Timothy—
All Scripture is breathed out by God and is useful for teaching, for conviction, for correction, and for disciplined training in righteousness, that the man from God may be complete, thoroughly furnished for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Did you get that? Three times God says His Word is sufficient. We are
For every good work
Peter said much the same thing when he said that with the Scriptures God has given to us “all things that pertain to life and Godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
You can understand the appeal. Believers long for heaven and when a loved one dies they search for more information. Irresponsible publishers put forward books by authors who claim they died, witnessed heaven, and returned with a message from Jesus—information beyond what God has given in His Word. But do you remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus? The rich man plead with Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers but Abraham replied,
“They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.” But he said, “No, father Abraham. But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.” Then he replied, “If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if somebody rises from the dead.” Luke 16:29-31
Believers, not satisfied with what God has revealed in His Word, turn elsewhere for the information they desire. God does not give answers in Scripture to the questions they have about who to marry, what school to attend, what church to join, what car to buy, or even what Pastor to call. So rather than doing the hard work of studying what the Bible does say about these matters and making wise decisions on the basis of what God has already revealed, they seek for God’s guidance through feelings, promptings, urges, dreams, tongues, or God’s “still, small voice.” You should be on guard whenever you hear someone begin a discussion with the words, “I felt led to . . .”
Dear friends at Calvary, such thinking is not harmless error, it is heresy. It is an assault on the goodness and character of God. It is unbelief. It is a rejection of God’s Word as the sufficient revelation to mankind. The Scriptures themselves claim to be sufficient and no where do they teach us to pursue such communication from God.
The relevance of all this to our search for a pastor should be obvious. In the days to come I will be reviewing with you what the Bible says about calling a pastor. Nowhere, however, does the Bible instruct us to employ these kinds of mystical tactics to discover God’s man for our church.