January 09, 2011 Q & A

Do Christians still receive visions?


How should I respond to a relative who claims that Christians continue to have visions from the Holy Spirit? He thinks that these visions are gifts from God and they enhance his worship.


Your relative clearly loves the Lord and wants to worship him. That said, he is, as you perceive, erring in his assumption that visions from the Holy Spirit continue to this day. I assume you want to try to help him understand God's Word more clearly on the subject, but I would caution you not to be harsh or to give the impression that he is being sinful in his thinking. I come from a charismatic background (about 35 years ago, though I did not attend a church at that time, nor did I know much about the Bible). He does love Jesus, but his head has not yet caught up with his heart.

What your relative wants, at the root, is to know that God does not change, that he will reveal himself to his people faithfully. He assumes that it must be the same way God revealed himself to the church in the past (e.g., Ananias in Acts 9:10ff). What he has not realized is that the Lord at that time had not given the whole of Scripture yet. Therefore there were certain things God needed to reveal in a special way. Furthermore, he does not understand that such things were given only to select individuals who moved his work of redemption in history forward (Ananias was to help Paul make progress into his service of Christ). Your task, therefore, is to show him these things from Scripture. Then, turn his attention to 2 Tim. 3:16 and 17 and help him to understand that he is a complete man of God if he has the Scriptures, and to Heb. 1:1-3 and help him to understand that Christ is God's final new revelation and that Christ speaks to us through Scripture, not visions. You might consider also showing him 1 Cor. 13:11 and encourage him to be a man of God who does not need the helps given a child, such helps as were given to the church in its childhood (visions, for example). He is to worship God in Spirit and in Truth (with all his heart, by the grace of the Spirit and in accordance with his Word of Truth). But then be sure to approach him in the Spirit of 1 Cor. 13 or you will only alienate him.

What if he does not listen or believe you? Then simply pray to God to give him more light and love him in the meantime.



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