Visions, dreams and voices – who needs them?

People keep popping up who claim they’ve been given “messages from the Lord” through visions, dreams and voices in their heads. But is it really God speaking to them, and how do they know?

It’s a well-known fact, for instance, documented brilliantly in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ that the human mind can create people and events that seem utterly real that aren’t real at all. A person claiming a hotline to God, then, could in fact be a schizophrenic, whose premonitions, proclamations and prophecies are caused by nothing more than a chemical imbalance in the brain. Can anyone say for certain, then, that his visions are supernatural when the cause could be quite natural, like medication, mental illness, intense stress, or simply eating too much before bed?

The mind is a tricky thing, and it can be easily manipulated. A hypnotist, for instance, can also create visions in a person’s head and make people think all kinds of crazy things, none of which are from God. So there’s an element of doubt, surely, when a person states with absolute authority that his visions are from God, when visions can quite easily be created without God being involved at all.

Fortunately, God himself provided the means for detecting a real message from him. He sent Jesus Christ with all the messages we’d ever need, and then confirmed his choice of messenger personally by bringing him back from the dead. So all we need do when someone says he or she has a vision or a message from God is compare it to the message of the one messenger we know for certain came from God, and if it agrees, great, and if it doesn’t, ignore it.

And to aid us in that quest, God promised us a Spirit helper who would help us understand what Jesus taught (John 14:26). No spooky premonitions or wild prophecies, just a clear guide for detecting if a “message from the Lord” really is of God, or not, so we can tell if a charismatic visionary or a self-proclaimed prophet is talking through his hat.

People will keep popping up, however, who claim they’ve had revelations from God, which is tragic, because look at the fruits of such “revelations” so far. We have a world full of confusing, differing religious cults and self-proclaimed prophets, all of them a law to themselves in deciding what God’s will is. The result is a tragic mess of warring religions, denominational splits, wild speculation, failed prophecies, arrogant know-it-alls, chronic self-deception and all too often, horrible disillusionment.

Surely by the fruits, then, we can ask the question, “Visions, dreams and voices – who needs them?”

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