Dreams, Visions, and God's Word
September 8, 2018
The article I am writing is in response to the eighth article in David Wickey’s eight-part series entitled “Buy of Me Gold Tried in the Fire."
To read the article I am responding to, please Click Here.
I was glad to see that Mr. Wickey placed a high priority on Scripture, the Holy Spirit, and the church. Because God knows that we are spiritually frail, He has given us these wonderful tools, as well as other great possessions. In addition to appreciating the things that Mr. Wickey prioritized, I was also encouraged by the obvious trust he places in Christ alone for salvation.
Psalm 40:2 says, He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. God has given every Christian talents and gifts that He intends us to use to serve Him and others. Mr. Wickey has a gift for writing and is familiar with Scripture.
Unfortunately, at times, our strong points can also lead to some of our weaknesses. The devil knows this truth; he knows the human race like a mechanic knows cars, and he has had thousands of years to perfect his methods. He knows where we are likely to fail, and he uses our inherent weaknesses as weapons against us. The devil doesn’t care what method he uses, but rather, he only cares that his methods are successful.
Even after salvation, our sinful flesh tends to plunge us into the miry clay of the confusion and evil that we were saved from. We cannot lose our salvation, but we will still willfully or involuntarily slip; no one is exempt from failing from time to time.
Thankfully, the Bible is steady, secure, and black and white; it is not goofy, nebulous, or barbaric—even when dealing with the deepest and finest of points. There are parts of the Bible we don’t understand due to our limited wisdom. God, in His mercy, knew that we needed a common denominator and reference. He knew that we needed a checkpoint when dealing with our own spiritual frailty. He knew that we needed a weapon to fight the devil, and a comfort in times of trouble.
Colossians 3:16 says, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. This verse sums up our need for Scripture and a local church that is led by a pastor called of God. The Bible is the truth we rally around and seek to study in order to ensure that we are on the right path.
While I was glad to see so many Scripture references in Wickey’s article, I feel that the main emphasis of his article was on dreams and visions. I do not deny that God could use dreams to speak to us as individuals; He certainly uses many things such as circumstances and events. However, when we take these experiences and try to teach others what we have learned, we sometimes cause confusion in our audiences if we aren’t careful.
First Corinthians 14:8-11 says, For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
In 2 Peter 1:18-20, the Bible clearly states that Scripture was to be trusted even more than the vision Peter had while with Jesus: And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
Peter is reminding his listeners of his own vision when he was with Jesus. He then states that Scripture is better than visions, since visions are a private interpretation of what God said. Scripture is “more sure” because it can always be tested with other parts of scripture. Visions, on the other hand, cannot be compared and tested, because they are not part of Scripture.
Some personal experiences are not good teaching points. Rather, there are many verses that are more easily understood and are better methods of teaching than dreams. To abandon the solid tree trunk of the Bible as a reference point and to go out on the slender limb of a dream or vision of one man is dangerous. If our pastor got up in church and instead of a Scripture text, shared about a dream he had recently, I am sure we would all be concerned. Should we not have the same standard when learning from a written article?
The early church was warned to use discretion with their spiritual gifts among unbelievers, lest they be thought crazy. We are trying to reach souls for Christ, not cause more confusion (see 1 Corinthians 14:23). I do NOT believe that all spiritual gifts are alive today, since we have the Spirit and Bible to lead us. I am simply using these verses as a parallel principle as I think it applies.
I am a young man and do not wish to be disrespectful to my elders, since the Bible requires me to have a high respect for age. However, I respectfully but flatly disagree with Wickey’s eighth article, in the sense that the emphasis was on dreams and visions and not on the solid rock of Scripture.
With all due respect,
Marvin J. Miller
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