God gave us His Word in three ways: Revelation, inspiration, illumination.
1. Revelation – from God to man. Man hears what God wants written.
2. Inspiration – from man to paper. Man writes that which God wants written (II Ti. 3:16; I Pt. 1:21).
3. Illumination – from paper to heart. Man receives the light of that which God has written.
The Bible gives very clear tests for prophets and prophecy.
1. The prophecy must be true (Ezk. 13:4-9).
2. The prophecy must not contradict previously revealed truth (I Co. 14:32, I Jn. 4:1).
3. The prophecy must come to pass without fail (Deut. 18:20-22).
If a prophet or a prophecy fails any of these tests both the prophecy and the prophet are not of God.
How then should we view dreams? Often dreams are a product of imagination and can be stimulated in various ways: circumstances – something we have seen, read, heard; medical problems, or even something we ate. From Scripture we know that God in the past has at times given dreams as a vehicle for Divine revelation. However God is not giving revelation through dreams today! God clearly tells us that His revelation is complete for now. “The faith” was “delivered” “once for all” to the saints (Jude 3). This rules out ALL inspired prophecy, seers, and other forms of new revelation until God speaks again at the return of Christ.
Dreams are subjective – can be interpreted in any way depending on the person.
A particular family was out of church. The husband had a dream where God showed him he was to go back to church. They did. However, they are now out of church again. Did God give a dream to reveal His will to this family? NO! Scripture already revealed God’s will for them in Heb. 10:25. The issue was is a matter of obedience not revelation!!
God is sovereign! He is in control of all things. He can use a dream we have to remind us of some spiritual truth in God’s word. A person dreams about the death of his mother. They awake and decide to write a letter of appreciation to their mother. Was this divine revelation? NO! All men are appointed to die!
A story was told Moslem holy man who converted to Christ through the faithful witness of a missionary. The final thing that broke through to this man was in a dream he remembered a particular writing in the Koran that pointed him to the truth of Scripture.
God does speak to us today! He speaks to us through His Word – All others must be judged by the WORD! God speaks to us through people – Through pastor, friend, book, article or song. God also speaks to us through circumstances – open and closed doors . God speaks to us through giving us peace in our hearts.
God can also speak to us through impressions however these impressions must always be evaluated by the Word of God. Years ago a popular CCM musician claimed God told her to divorce husband.
God can guide our thoughts as we speak and witness. God can help us find solutions to problems. But nowhere in Scripture are we promised the kind of impressions that give us the right to tell others, “Thus saith the Lord, you should do this or that.” The Holy Spirit does lead us into God’s truth and direct us into God’s will for our lives. But He does it through God’s Word, never apart from it! To refer to the Holy Spirit’s leading and empowering ministry as inspiration or revelation is a mistake. Terms and concepts of Eph 5:18,19 and 2 Pt. 1:21 are not to be confused.