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The Danger of God Talk

It is not uncommon for a person to stand up in the middle of a worship service and announce they have something to say in the name of the Lord. It may be a man, it may be a young person, it may be a woman, but the idea is the same. God has said something specific, and special to the individual, and they must share it.

Often, what is shared, upon analysis, seems to be more of the flesh than of God.

In one worship service I attended a well-meaning person just had to publically reveal what God had been saying in private over several nights. First, the well-meaning individual wanted everyone to know, Satan was in the sanctuary and had to be cast out. Second, there was to be a ring of prayer formed at every worship service, and personal sins were to be confessed. Third, attention was to be paid to the sick. They were to be anointed with oil, and prayed over.

One immediate effect on the assembly was shock and awe. It is always a shocking revelation to be told that Satan is in the congregation and has to be cast out. The idea of a ring of prayer was not a bad exhortation. Most worship services involve a time of prayer. Christians are commanded to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17) The idea of anointing people with oil and praying for them was also good because it is a biblical mandate. “Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:14-15) Sins are to be confessed. Public sins are to be confessed publically, and private sins are to be confessed privately, but confession of sin is a biblical mandate. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

What was, and remains, of particular concern is the pretext of speaking to a congregation because God has given to the individual a private revelation. The local church has a responsibility to test the content and context of individuals who engage in prophetic utterances, or God talk, much of which is learned.

There is a way of talking in religious terms that is not natural, but, heard often enough, and practiced long enough, the lingo can be acquired and a feeling of spirituality is enjoyed when used. The practice of uttering a prophetic word is one way of talking in religious terms that exalts the ego and makes an individual feel important. “God spoke to me in a dream.” “God told me to tell you.” “God has given to me a personal revelation that I must share.”

It is all a little too much for several reasons.

First many of these people who just have to share what God is saying to them are emotional by nature, and they are talkers. In private conversations it is hard to get a word in because they like to chatter on and on.

Second, the alleged word of God they have to share is often very general, casts too wide of a net, and is designed to make people feel guilty. The smaller the assembly, the greater the feeling of guilt.

To say that Satan is in a local congregation without proof, or evidence, is a way to control the moment, make people feel ashamed and guilty, and produces hard feelings. It is also a good way to make new people never want to come back, for few people want to get near a demon, let alone near Satan himself running amuck in a local church.

Third, every word that a person speaks, especially in a Church service, and in the name of the Lord, is to be evaluated by the Bible which is a sure word of prophesy. What does the Bible have to say about private revelations, and open ended prophesies given by emotional people?

First, the person who does speak in the name of the Lord should be Biblically sound. Many Christians have some general Bible knowledge, but little comprehension of sound doctrine, when they are examined.

Second, any word from God that is designed to correct God’s people should come from the Bible. There is such a thing as false guilt, and people are masters at making others feel small, insignificant, and guilty. When a person talks their “God talk” in rambling, incoherent sentences, but with great emotion, it cannot be of the Lord because “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1 Cor. 14:32) God is not the author of confusion or emotional outbursts.

Finally, the Bible says that prophesying shall cease “when that which is perfect is come.” “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (1 Cor. 13:8-10) That which is perfect is the Bible.

My personal counsel for those who just have to say something in public is, be careful. More harm might be done than good. If something needs to be publically articulated, tell the church leadership, or, at the very least, have a chapter and verse from the Bible to support what is to be said. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20) Enough with the “God talk.” Let everything be said decently and in order. (1 Cor. 14:40)

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