Wednesday, June 10, 2015



 Because they were one of God’s methods of revelation the Bible contains a record of many visions. Visions increased with the arrival of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (Joel 2:28 with Acts 2:17). One of my favourites is part of what John sees on the Isle of Patmos: ‘Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea’ Revelation 21:1. Sometimes the visions contained real scenes and other times they contained symbols. Context helps us decide which. However, my old theological professor never tired of saying that what John saw was this old heaven and this old earth renewed not replaced!

It is precisely because visions in the Bible are revelation from God that we can determine how we are supposed to understand them. The Bible is self-interpreting, which is to say that ‘The infallible rule of interpretation is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.’ (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1, para. 4)

I don’t know about you but I think there is more than enough going on with the revelation of the sixty-six books of the Bible than having to worry about people claiming to have had a vision. Whereas the former can be interpreted objectively, on account of it being subjective interpreting the latter is fraught with many dangers. Not the least of them being darkness posing as light! I recall one preacher telling his congregation about the vision he had while looking at a tapestry. What it meant to him might have been edifying but it was wasted on me, so much so that I saw it as my cue to leave that congregation to find another in which the Bible was expounded! This is not to suggest that Christians cannot experience the close and intimate presence of God.  However, I personally favour the Spirit working with His written Word in my heart than me wondering whether Satan was trying to trick me with a lying sign or wonder! The former is objective (and therefore can be tested against the rest of Scripture) but the latter is subjective for the one who experienced the vision and also for anyone who wishes to believe it.

New religions have been formed by people claiming to have had visions, e.g., Joseph Smith’s ‘Mormonism’ and Muhammad’s ‘Islam.’   

After my conversion and thus my becoming spiritually tuned into God as a new Christian I entered into an intellectual and emotional wrestling match at the subjective level. How was I supposed to tell the difference between the Spirit of God acting on my personal life and the spirit of darkness posing as light? Scripture says, ‘Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.’ 1 John 4:1. How are we to test the spirits? We test their view of the Jesus revealed in the Bible. Scripture says that He is the Word, the final revelation of God, which is to say that there are no more prophets to come after Him. E.g., ‘God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son’ Hebrews 1a.

The Bible is complete. Jesus is the last prophet. ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth’ Job 19:25.    

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