By Brannon S. Howse
“Pentecostal theologians,” C. Peter Wagner explains, “have made the helpful suggestion of distinguishing the ‘logos’ word of God from the ‘rhema’ word of God; the rhema is regarded as a more immediate word or rhema, . . . the rhema is regarded as a more immediate word from God which we do not find in the 66 books of the Bible.” (emphasis mine)
Wagner admits to believing in extra-biblical revelation, and yet Scripture tells us in places such as Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Revelation that we are not to add to the Word of God. But either the canon is still open, and God is still speaking, or the canon is closed, which means we are not to add to the Word of God, and God is not speaking outside of His Word. The Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God to us as believers and helps us understand Scripture. He convicts us of sin in addition to helping us understand the Word of God, and He can and does lead and guide us providentially. I don’t have to have a bell, sirens, lightning, or a voice from God to direct my steps where He wants me to go. He providentially orchestrates meetings or appointments with individuals for the purpose of the Gospel. So I’m not undermining how God moves today, but we can be led by God, providentially taken to places, or led to do things, but that does not require extra-biblical revelation for those things to come to pass.
After this Church age, things may be different. When the Church is gone, there will be a time during the tribulation in which we will see things happen that we have not seen in the Church age. Two prophets will show up in Jerusalem, and they will do signs and wonders. There will also be a time as recorded in Revelation that an angel flies across the sky, preaching the everlasting Gospel. Yet even the two witnesses will be killed and will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three days. The entire world will observe their bodies and will celebrate that the two witnesses of God are dead. Then they will arise and shock the world will. It will be a major “sign and wonder.” But that is then, not now.
A miracle happens when God suspends the known laws of the universe or the known laws of science and does something extraordinary. His providential guidance, though, is not a miracle. It is simply God at work in the world. God can providentially direct me to be somewhere without any “bells and whistles.” He can simply put it on my heart and mind to go somewhere tonight for dinner, for instance, where I will run into someone with whom He wants me to share the Gospel. No known laws of the universe have to be suspended in order for that to happen. So we have to be careful not to classify things as a miracle that really fall under the category of God’s providential control.
God does perform miracles today; salvation is a miracle. The Holy Spirit moving on someone to bring understanding of their sinfulness, need of repentance, necessity of placing their faith and trust in Christ, and becoming a new creature in Christ is a miracle. We also witness things we cannot explain, such as a person filled with cancer being healed, but people like Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland aren’t needed in order for that to happen. They don’t have the gift of healing. God is the healer and can choose to heal whomever He will. Our job is to make sure we don’t confuse a miracle with providence, and we certainly do not want to believe that something extra-biblical has to occur for God to accomplish His will in the area of leading, moving, or healing. Too many people today confuse those issues—and open the door to false teaching as a result.
As with the other reasons we’ve outlined, the Roman Catholic Church gets to the same place of unity with NAR and Word of Faith but from a bit different direction. Here’s an example of how the Church of Rome is involved in falsely teaching the possibility of ongoing revelation:
[quote] We confess that whatsoever new thing the pope of Rome may have instituted, whether it be in scripture or outside of scripture is true, divine, and salvific and therefore ought to be regarded as of higher value by laypeople, than the precepts of the living God. . . . We confess that the pope has the power of altering scriptures or increasing or diminishing it according to his will. We confess that the Holy Scripture is imperfect and a dead letter until it is explained by the supreme pontiff and permitted by him to be read by laypeople. [end quote]
How’s that for believing in extra biblical revelation?
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