Do you have any pet peeves? Things that just irritate and frustrate you without measure? I think we could come up with a pretty long list of things that people could give as a pet peeve of theirs. I have one that just drives me silly sometimes, and that is when people either put words in God’s mouth that He has never said, or they try to say that God doesn’t always mean what He says or the way He said them. When people begin to put words in God’s mouth, or to downplay or change what He has said to mean something other than what He clearly said, they are in essence changing God into a God that fits the way they want to live or believe, and that is very dangerous.
In Revelation 22:18-19, the Apostle John gives a stern warning about taking away from or adding to what is written in the book. While I believe it is dangerous to do that with any of the books found in the Bible, we need to remember that John is very specific in that his warning is in regards to the Book of the Revelation, and not the Bible as a whole as there was no “Bible” at the time. Again, even though there is a strong warning not to take away from or add to the Book of the Revelation, it is still a dangerous thing to do with any of the books or letters found in the Bible.
In the past several decades we have seen and heard a lot of things within church circles. We’ve heard of “holy laughter”, gold teeth and dust, just to name a few. There has been a lot of discussion as to whether or not any or all of these things are of God. Some would argue that with God all things are possible and we should be open to such manifestations of His power. Others, still, argue that if it’s not in the Bible then it’s simply not of God. I take a different approach to this, an approach that many of you might also embrace.
I agree that with God all things are possible, and He’s free to manifest Himself in any way He chooses. When we look at the various reports of different manifestations that have apparently taken place, we need to test them and whether or not they conform to the heart and nature of God towards us. For example, there was a time when people would begin to act and behave as animals, making animal noises as they did so. I think it would be safe to say that this wasn’t of God for the simple reason that God looks to exalt us above the animal kingdom, not to lower us to that level. In fact, God created mankind to have dominion over the animal kingdom, but to have us act and behave as animals would contradict the very nature and mindset of His creating us. While God can, and does, have a free and sovereign will to do as He pleases, He’s not going to say or do anything that goes against His very nature or His plan for humanity.
As a result of those who try to remain open to any manifestation being of God, and even defending it with passion, others go to another extreme that would be viewed as a safe approach to the subject. They say that if it’s not in the Bible then it’s not of God, but is that true, and is it something that we can rely upon as a test of what is and is not of God? Some would say that because God giving people gold teeth is not in the Bible, then it surely can’t be of God. While I have to admit that I may not understand why God would give people gold teeth, as one example, I think one would be hard pressed to arbitrarily conclude that it isn’t of God simply because it isn’t in the Bible. Let me explain.
In John 20:30-31, after the resurrection of Christ, the Apostle John tells us that Jesus did many signs in the presence of His disciples, “which are not written in this book”. Later in John 21:24-25, the Apostle John goes even further by letting us know that there were a lot of other things that Jesus did that was not even written in the book, so much so that all the books in the world could not contain them if each one was listed. So, to say that something is not of God simply because it’s not in the Bible is a dangerous thing in that in doing so we could be limiting God by putting Him in a box. God is greater than any box we may create and try to keep Him inside of. However, many people attempt to do just that simply because they are too uncomfortable with a God that is free to move and operate in whatever way He chooses, or as a means of controlling how and when God is free to move.
So, where does that leave us? How can we know whether or not something is of God? The first test, of course, is whether or not it conflicts with Scripture. If it conflicts with Scripture, then it’s not of God, but if it doesn’t then we need to be open to the possibility that it is of God even though we may not understand or agree with it. If it doesn’t conflict with Scripture, we have to consider whether or not it goes against the heart and nature of God. While I may not understand the phenomenon associated with gold teeth, or why God would cause an iron axe head to float, or even change water into wine, I have to be open the possibility that if it is of God there is a pretty good reason for it whether or not I know what that is. Another test is in the area of the leading of the Holy Spirit. What is the Holy Spirit telling us about it, if anything? Or I should first ask, are you even open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, or have you already made a judgment on the subject based on the box you created or your comfort level that hinges on your understanding of it?
While we need to be alert to manifestations that are not of God that some are attributing to Him, and to subsequently have no part of, we need to be equally cautious to not be so quick to discount something as not of God simply because it isn’t in the Bible or goes beyond our understanding or comfort levels. Jesus told us that the time leading up to His return would be filled with deception, and the enemy of our souls is the great deceiver in so many subtle and not so subtle ways. Let us not be deceived in either extreme as we look forward to His soon and imminent return for His bride.