After listening to a recent sermon entitled: "Is God still revealing Truth," by John MacArthur I began to think about the common thread that exists for all the extra revelation that is being presented. By "extra revelation" I mean teachings, experiences, visions, tongues, revelations, dreams, trips to heaven, declarations made from "hearing from the Lord" or speaking ex-cathedra that are outside of the Bible itself.
God warned in Revelation 22:18-19: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
There is a very serious warning to those who try to add or subtract from God's only revelation of Truth: The Bible. All 66 books of the Bible are inspired of God and are our only source of truth. When people start to add to the Bible through proclaiming "the Lord told them" this or that, or "God gave me a vision or dream", or "I speak on the same authority that God speaks", there is ultimately falsehood!
I want to bring to your attention a few examples of this:
The Charismatic Movement
Most of the extra revelation supposedly coming from God outside the Bible comes from the Word of Faith movement. This movement teaches that God is still speaking to prophets and apostles today and revealing 'new' information outside the Bible. This is often in the form of dreams, visions, personal experiences or encounters with God, or through speaking in tongues. The problem with this extra revelation is that it is supposedly coming from the Lord. That would give it the same authority of the Scriptures. If God speaks, it carries the same weight. There is no way to really test these revelations except to compare it to the Bible, and even then the revelations given by these people are subjective.
For example: "In 1987 Oral Roberts told his nationwide audience that God had threatened to “call him home” if he couldn’t raise eight million dollars by his creditors’ deadline. Whether and how that threat might have been carried out, the world will never know; Roberts received a last-minute reprieve in the form of a large check from a Florida dog-track owner. (see: Does God still Give Revelation?-MacArthur)
Or this one: "Kenneth Hagin surely has the most unusual story of all. He says that when he was younger and still single, God led him to break off a relationship with a girl by revealing to him that she was morally unfit. How did that happen? In a most unconventional way. Hagin claims God miraculously transported him out of church one Sunday, right in the middle of the sermon. Worst of all, Hagin was the preacher delivering the sermon!
Suddenly I was gone! Right in the middle of my sermon, I found myself standing along a street in a little town fifteen miles away--and I knew it was Saturday night. I was leaning against a building, and I saw this young lady come walking down the street. About the time she got to where I was standing, a car came down the street. The driver pulled up to the curb, sounded the horn, and she got into his car. He backed out, turned the other direction, and started out of town--and suddenly I was sitting in the back seat!
They went out in the country and committed adultery. And I watched them. I was still in the cloud. Suddenly I heard the sound of my voice, and the cloud lifted. I was standing behind my pulpit. I didn’t know what to say, because I didn’t know what I had been saying, so I just said, “Everyone bow your head,” and we prayed. I looked at my watch, and . . . I’d been gone about fifteen minutes in the cloud." (see: Does God still Give Revelation? -MacArthur)
The Cults of Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses
These may be the most obvious organizations that have strayed from God's Word, but it's also a common thread in falsehood. The extra revelation received by these prophets: "Joseph Smith" and "Charles Taze Russell," have built organizations that have led countless millions astray from the truth of God's Word.
For example, consider the many false teachings of Mormonism such as works based salvation, having multiple wives, created spirit babies, and attaining to godhood (see: What Mormonism Teaches). Also the numerous false prophecies made by Joseph Smith (see: JS False Prophecies)
The Jehovah's Witlessness's extra revelation have produced false teachings such as Jesus was the archangel Micheal, there is no Trinity, Jesus died on a stake, and good works are necessary for salvation (see: JW's Beliefs). They also have numerous false prophecies (see: JW's False Prophecies).
When people start to believe there is revelation outside of the Bible, these are the type of things that can become of it!!!
Lastly, the biggest perpetrator of extra revelation outside the Bible is The Roman Catholic Church. There are many teachings that are inconsistent with the Bible that have come from the Popes speaking ex-cathedra. Ex Cathedra is when the Pope speaks out his authority on behalf of the church. It is recognized as holding to the same authority as the Scriptures. Many of these false teachings arising from this is the immaculate conception of Mary, the work of redemption by Mary, the apparitions of Mary, a works based salvation, praying to Mary, etc. (see: Catholicism vs. The Bible)
The many supposed appariations of Mary throughout the world is a classic example of extra revelation that is deceiving millions and "adding" and "subtracting" from the Word of God (Rev. 22:18-19)
In Conclusion, there is a common thread that ties all of these movements and many others together, and that is they use extra revelation outside of God's Word to teach and promote "doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1) Not only will they suffer the judgment described in Revelation 22:18-19, but they will have led millions of people away from the simple and clear truth found in God's Word.
"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:3-4)
In Christ -Dustin