Evaluating Listening Prayer and Brad Jersak

Listening Prayer

I first heard the name “Brad Jersak” during the 2002/03 school year.  He was a visiting speaker at a youth conference at Briercrest Bible College and I went to hear him give a presentation on a subject he called “listening prayer”.  I couldn’t quite hear him in the crowded library where he spoke, but it sounded like he was advocating some sort of contemplative prayer.  I didn’t think much of his presentation at the time and from what I heard, it sounded flakey but not too threatening.  Brad Jersak came back to Briercrest and taught several more times, but I was never able to hear him again.  With the demands of both full time college/seminary and full time work while I was at Briercrest, I struggled for the time to do a “fun” project on the side and examine this “listening prayer” stuff.  But after sadly hearing about the hallucinating experiences of several friends of mine who have since discovered “listening prayer”, I decided that I would make time to examine Jersak’s teaching.  Upon reading Brad Jersak’s book Can You Hear Me, I realized that Brad doesn’t simply espouse some new form of lectio divina or contemplative prayer at all. The book Can You Hear Me is a charismatic guidebook for becoming a prophet based on superficial use of scripture and the total abandonment of sound biblical hermeneutics.

Understanding Listening Prayer

Can You Hear Me is broken up into three sections.  The first section goes through the “what” and “why” questions, attempting to give a biblical basis and argumentation for the reality and necessity of listening prayer.  The second and third sections answer the “how” and “when” questions, explaining how listening prayer works and how/when to use it in various situations.  In order to properly define and evaluate listening prayer, one only needs to define listening prayer and examine the scriptures from he supports it.

Defining “Listening Prayer”

Brad Jersak introduces the phrase “listening prayer” on the sixteenth page of Can You Hear Me, but takes his time defining exactly what listening prayer is.  Walking through the introduction, Jersak comments on how he studied the Bible intently and became proud of his seminary degrees and personal piety but had never heard God’s voice.[1] He says “I had accumulated Bible facts but ended up bankrupt because I didn’t know the Living Word, Jesus”.[2]

He continues in the introduction to record how he “recognized none of the early Christian experience or ministry in my own life”, how the Lord shattered his “rationalistic” master of divinity degree and how he prayed that God would show Jersak his glory.[3] It sounds like Jersak realized that he wasn’t experiencing charismatic phenomena in his life and sought to do so, and this helps one get a general angle at what he means by “listening prayer”.

In commenting on his credentials, Jersak states that his education will not “authorize me as a spokesman for God’s heart”.[4] That seems to sound like prophetic language and he seems to confirm that when he comments about the purpose of his book, writing that “it offers an alternative that appeals to those mystical cravings yet demystifies the process”[5] and that it is written to pastors and leaders to prepare them to “train their congregations to hear God without fear of producing prophetic flakes”.[6]

In the first chapter, Jersak writes that “in listening prayer, we meet none other than Jesus Christ, the voice of the living God”.[7] Meeting Jesus sounds good, but that statement is not a definition in itself.  He talks about the frustration of how some people “go around claiming ‘God told me’” (wrongly claiming or utilizing prophetic revelation) and then contrasts that with “Jesus Christ’s approach to hearing God”, which is apparently given in John 10:2-15.[8] Skipping ahead, Jersak comments that Jesus promised Christians the reception of propositional revelation beyond the canonical scriptures[9], that Acts 2 brought a flood of revelation[10], that prophecies, visions and dreams are all versions of God’s voice[11], and that when Jesus poured out the Spirit in the book of Acts, “…he began to pour our the Spirit-the Spirit of revelation in particular-on every believer”.[12] It seems quite clear that despite his nebulous rhetoric, Jersak sees “listening prayer” as essentially “functioning prophetically” and Jersak sees this promise of prophetic function to be for all believers.  This claim seems to be a large one and Jersak indeed has a large goal in mind if he is to give adequate biblical proof for his position.

The Biblical Case for Listening Prayer

Jersak’s key text is John 10:1-18, and he reads John 10:2-15 as applying directly to Christians.  He extrapolates several promises from the passage: Christ has a voice, he does speak and his sheep do hear his voice.[13] Given that he defines God’s voice as “prophecies, visions, and dreams”[14], he apparently takes the passage to mean that Christ speaks propositional revelation and his sheep hear his voice prophetically.  He comments on John 10:2-15 saying, “Note that Jesus did not say ‘My prophets hear my voice.’…According to Jesus, his voice is not reserved for the spiritually elite, the priest, or the guru”.[15] Just to be clear, Jersak takes John 10:2-15 as “Jesus Christ’s approach to hearing God” and given his definition of “God’s voice”, the passage becomes Christ’s prescription for functioning prophetically.[16]

Jersak then asks why he used to not hear God’s voice.  He answers himself with Elihu’s words from Job 33:13-18, learning that God does speak (regardless of personal doubts), he speaks all the time and he speaks in many ways.[17] He goes on to say that “Elihu is telling us that God’s radio station is always on.  He’s broadcasting loud and clear, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The trouble is, we are not dialing in”.[18]

Not only is God “broadcasting” his thoughts, but he wants to share what he has to say with people.  He comments that Psalm 139:17-18 states that God is constantly thinking innumerable thoughts about Christians (individually) and John 16:12-15 explains that “he (God) is willing-no, longing– to share those thoughts with you”.[19] Commenting on John 16:12-15 Jersak writes,

“Jesus told his disciples that even after we consider everything he told them, both that which is recorded in the gospels and all that was not, he still had much more to say.  But he withheld it, because they could not handle it yet…The Holy Spirit would come and continue sharing that which Jesus had left unsaid.  He would guide them into all truth (John 16:13).  If you wand to personalize this message, what Jesus is really saying is, there is so much more he wants to share with you.  Were you to memorize every word of the Scriptures, the Lord would still not be satisfied.  There is still more.  And this “more” is what the Holy Spirit is sent to deliver.“[20]

So what more beyond the scripture does the Holy Spirit share with us?  Jersak writes,

His (Holy Spirit) task is to share “whatever he hears.”  What does the Spirit hear?  And whom does he hear? The Spirit hears the Father and Son.  He eavesdrops on their conversations-on the innumerable thoughts they exchange with one another.  Remember, a myriad of those thoughts are about you and for you.  The Spirit overhears them and then comes over to say “Do you know what they’re saying?  I want to tell you.”.[21]

Jersak comments that “in the Old Testament era, the voice of God seemed rare, sporadic, and exclusive” but when Jesus poured out the Spirit in the New Testament, the pouring out of the Spirit was “generous, continuous, and all-inclusive”.[22] Jersak states that “According to Paul, our God is no speechless idol.  He is a God whose Spirit speaks to and through his people (1 Corinthians 12:2-4)”.[23] He also quotes Jeremiah 33:3 and observes,

“As we call out to God, let us rehearse this straightforward promise.  God does not say ‘Call to me and the devil will answer and deceive you.’  Nor does he say ‘Call to me and I might answer you when I feel like it.’  Nor does he say ‘Call to me and I will answer you if…’  Rather, he promises us (upon the life of his Son), “I [the Lord and no other] Will [most certainly] answer [respond to, converse with] you [not just the prophets or the priests, but you my children].”[24]

Addressing Skepticism to Listening Prayer

In efforts to explain to his understandably skeptical readers that they already are experiencing what he is talking about, Jersak comments on several ways that God regularly “speaks” to people that they do not recognize.  He comments that God already “speaks” to people through salvation,[25] scripture,[26] preaching,[27] worship,[28] conviction of sin,[29] burden of conscience to pray for individual[30] and prompting of conscience to encourage individuals.[31] Jersak notes how “normal” circumstances and convictions are, in actuality, God speaking.[32] He rebukes his readers in missing God’s common methods of speaking, saying how it is wrong to think that “… God will only speak in grandiosity…”.[33]

Jersak then addresses the problem of extra biblical revelation when he writes “God’s voice is heard primarily through the Scriptures”,[34] but when one reads the Scriptures, one is not necessarily hearing God speaking.  Jersak asks his readers “…did you know that you could carefully study and faithfully memorize the Scriptures all your life and still never once hear the voice of God?”.[35] He evidences this statement up by quoting John 5:37-40, paralleling cessationists with Pharisees, saying “The doctrine of cessationism taught that once the canon of Scripture was complete, God had delivered his final word; when the last word of the book of Revelation was written, God ceased to speak.  Modern-day prophets were said to have crossed the line of orthodoxy”.[36] So what changed his mind?

Jersak records that “The turning point came for me when I encountered a genuine, modern-day prophet for the first time”.[37] After that experience, Jersak explains how he “returned to the Scriptures with new ears to hear the truth concerning God’s voice” and learned, from the Scriptures, that “God’s voice may be heard via at least three broad avenues: messengers, circumstances, and direct messages to our hearts”.[38]

It seems rather difficult to misunderstand what Jersak is suggesting.  He seems to clearly expect that though not every Christian does prophesy (receive propositional revelation from the Holy Spirit either audibly or visually), they should.  The possibility for every Christian to receive extra-biblical revelation is both promised in the Scriptures and should be part of the normative Christian experience.  Is Jersak’s position biblical?  Is he faithful to the teaching of Scripture?  An examination of his supporting texts and a look at his hermeneutical practices will show whether his position on “listening prayer” stands or falls.

An Examination of Texts Used to Support Listening Prayer

There are essentially four texts of scripture that Jersak takes as prophetic promises regarding ‘hearing” the voice of God; John 10:1-15, Job 33:13-18, John 16:12-15 and Jeremiah 33:3.[39] The verses are used to form the formula of listening prayer:

  1. God speaks propositional communication to Christians (John 10:1-15).
  2. God speaks propositional communication regardless of its perception (Job 33:13-18).
  3. This propositional communication is extra-biblical revelation that the Holy Spirit will make known to Christians (John 16:12-15).
  4. The Biblically prescribed method for accessing this revelation is by request (Jeremiah 33:3).

John 10:1-15

It must be noted that John 10:1-21 follows John 9 without transition and the audiences of both passages are likely the same[40].  In John 9:1-12, Jesus heals a man born blind, 9:13-34 the Pharisees interrogate the healed man, attempting to find a way to discredit Christ, and in 9:35-41 Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah to the healed man and condemns the Pharisees for their spiritual blindness.  John 10:1-21 then must be read in the immediate context of the Pharisees’ (and Jews’) obstinate rejection of Christ in the face of obvious and unavoidable miraculous testimony to Christ.

In John 10:1-21, Jesus delivers two allegories; 10:1-5 and 10:7-18.  In both allegories Jesus uses the metaphor of a shepherd and his sheep. Also, both allegories contain a general contrast.  In 10:1-5 the true shepherd is contrasted with the false shepherd and in 10:7-21 the good shepherd is contrasted with the hired man.[41] It seems to be difficult to miss that the Pharisees/religious leaders are the false shepherds/hired men, and Jesus is clearly speaking of himself as the good shepherd.  Hendriksen writes, “just as Jesus is both the door and the good shepherd, so also his enemies (the Pharisees) are represented as thieves, robbers, strangers, and hirelings”.[42] Carson writes, “in the context of Jesus’ ministry the thieves and robbers are the religious leaders…”[43] MacArthur writes that the religious leaders in Israel were among a long line of false shepherds.[44] Morris writes “He (Jesus) must have in view the whole of the Jewish hierarchy of his day.”.[45] Burge writes “…the most likely target of Jesus’ criticism is the Pharisees, who have been the subject of Jesus’ teaching since chapter 9.”[46]

If Jesus is contrasting himself with the Pharisees, and the contrast is essentially “belief and unbelief”, then what does Jesus mean when he says “the sheep hear his voice” (10:3)?  This is the exegetical key to the passage for Jersak.  Again, the contrast is between those who recognize (believe) the voice of shepherd (Christ’s testimony about himself) and follow (like the man born blind) with those who do not recognize (disbelieve) and do not follow (like the Pharisees).  There seems to be a consensus among the consulted commentators that the call given to Christ’s sheep was a call to come out of the flock of Judaism into Christianity; a call to salvation.  Kostenberger writes that the “sheep” are those called out of Judaism to Jesus’ new messianic community.[47] Hendriksen writes that Jesus gathered his flock, “leading them out of the fold of Israel and of heathendom”.[48] Carson writes that hearing Jesus’ voice was hearing his claims and recognizing him as the revelation from God.[49] Burge writes that those who heard Jesus’ “voice” were those who came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah.[50] Macarthur writes, “Christ said that his sheep hear his voice when he calls them out of Israel and into his messianic fold.  His imagery pictures the human response to the effectual, divine call to salvation”.[51] I could not find a single commentator, even in charismatic literature, that took John 10:1-21 (especially John 10:3) as having anything to do with prophetic ministry and hearing the revelatory voice of God (in the sense of the spiritual gift of prophecy).

Job 33:13-18

Job 33 is a relatively straightforward text.  In Job 33:8-12, Elihu repeats Job’s complaint that he is sinless and undeserving of his punishment.  Then, in 33:13, Elihu asks Job why he complains that God does not give account of himself.  Finally, in 33:14-18, Elihu explains to Job how God does speak to men to keep them from sin, though they may not perceive it aright (and is possibly suggesting that Job’s bad dreams from 7:14 were divine communication)[52].  So, the text seems to suggest what Jersak says it does; God does speak through dreams, visions, whispering in the ear.  The problem with Jersak’s understanding of the passage is he just grabs an Old Testament text as if it is normative for Christians with no regard to its context.  Alden anticipates this question when he writes that the difference between Elihu and modern believers is that “…there is available to us now the inscripturated revelation, which was not the case with the biblical characters”.[53] Though Job 33:13-18 does record that God spoke in Job’s day through various revelatory modes, it must be read through the lens of the New Testament to understand if it is either prescriptive or normative for New Testament believers.  If one wishes to claim the theology of Job for the church, one must at least be consistent and teach a clear and obivous prosperity gospel (Job 42:10-17).  To my knowledge, Brad Jersak does not embrace or teach a prosperity gospel.

John 16:12-15

When Brad Jersak comes to John 16, he exegetically strikes out again.  Jersak says that the “more” that Jesus wanted to tell (all believers, not just his disciples) was extra biblical revelation that is specifically the content of the internal conversation between God and Jesus regarding individual believers.  One cannot but be utterly confounded at how Jersak decided to use Psalm 139:17-18 as an exegetical “key” to decipher John 16:12-15.  Does any commentator besides Jersak think this?  MacArthur thinks the “more” that Jesus had to share was “the significance of the cross, the resurrection, and the ascension”.[54] Morris agrees with Macarthur[55] and Carson writes that it is “the filling out of revelation nodally present in Jesus himself”.[56] Borchert writes that it was “information about their forthcoming unbearable persecution and even death”.[57] Either way, John 16 does not refer to the Holy Spirit revealing the conversational contents between the Father and the Son regarding believers.

Jeremiah 33:3

This passage is simply a promise made to Jeremiah; that if he calls on God he will receive an answer.  Jerusalem was being besieged by Babylon and Israel was understandably frightened.  Is Jeremiah 33:3 a promise made to Christians, or specifically to Jeremiah (and Israel by extension)?  Dearman suggests that it is a specific promise made to Jeremiah in a time of desperate need[58], as does Ryken[59], Thompson[60] and Huey.[61] The passage is a promise for Jeremiah alone and to grab the passage as a promise for New Testament Christians means to tear Jeremiah 33:3 out of it’s historical, grammatical and covenantal context and insert a foreign message into the text.  That’s known as eisegesis, not exegesis.

An Examination of Jersak’s Primary Interpretational Errors

How does Jersak get such consistent misunderstandings and misapplications of scripture?  How is it that a person with a several degrees in biblical studies is so opaque to the clear meaning of relatively unambiguous biblical passages?  It seems that when Jersak abandoned his “‘rationalistic’ mastery of divinity”[62], he actually simply abandoned sound biblical hermeneutics and exegesis in two areas; inspiration of scripture recognized in a single intended meaning of scripture and consideration of genre.  Though his errors are numerous (like his bizarre attacks against cessationism and sola scriptura)[63], these two theological errors form the foundation of his misunderstanding of scripture.

Single Intended Meaning of Scripture

In the simplest terms, instead of seeking the meaning of any text (what it means), Jersak only seeks the application of a text for the given moment (what it means to him, in the moment) and thus equates application with interpretation.[64] In this respect, Jersak is at odds with historical grammatical exegesis, which holds firmly to the concept of a single intended meaning of scripture.  Kaiser writes “No definition of interpretation could be more fundamental than this: To interpret we must in every case reproduce the sense the Scriptural writer intended for his own words. The first step in the interpretive process is to link only those ideas with the author’s language that he connected with them”[65] as well as “God’s meaning and revelatory-intention in any passage of Scripture may be accurately and confidently ascertained only by studying the verbal meanings of the divinely delegated and inspired human writers.”[66] Kaiser would likely have a serious problem with the hermeneutics employed by Brad Jersak; he doesn’t seem to believe, or at least function like, there is a single intended meaning to Scripture.

In embracing an allegorical reading of scripture, Bernard Ramm would also have harsh words for Jersak.  Regarding the implicit denial of authorial intent in allegorical reading of Scripture, Ramm writes

“…a very pious Protestant might be in a place of indecision whether he should take a certain trip or not.  In his devotions he reads how the Church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas away on a missionary trip.  So this Christian feels that God is speaking to him in that passage and it is now God’s will that he should take the proposed trip.

This is a very direct assertion of the plurality in the meaning of Scripture. (i) The first sense is what the record means of Paul and Barnabas setting out on a missionary trip. (ii) The second meaning is that God is telling this pious Christian of the twentieth century to take a trip.

But the pious Christian who does this has no idea that he is asserting a plural meaning of all Scripture.  He does not know that much Catholic dogma is supported by allegory which is based on a plural meaning of Scripture; nor does he know that many cults base their theology in Scripture by the use of plural meanings in Scriptural texts.  In short the Protestant who uses his Holy Scripture this way is unwittingly in some very bad theological company.”[67]

In fact, I would suggest that if the  Bible can mean anything, Chrisitanity ceases to exist.  For example, Exodus 3:10 records God saying to Moses “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”  If that specific passage has any meaning, it either means what the words mean in their original context (divine commission to go to Pharoah to redeem the Israelites) or it means something unrelated to the meaning of the words in their original context.  If the message of the scripture isn’t related to the actual words of scripture, then in his effort to reveal himself to mankind, God failed.  So much for claiming to know anything about God at all and Christianity, with all it’s bilbically derived doctrine, becomes an ensemble of fools speculating about the divine from a book that is as certain as the stock market.

Narrative Passages and Normative Application

Seeing that Brad Jersak doesn’t seem to function in a historical grammatical hermeneutic that recognizes a single intended meaning of scripture, it is not surprising that he then takes narrative passages (like John 10 and John 16) as prescriptive, and that he selectively reads Old Testament passages as being normative for believers.  Kaiser comments on the historic specificity of scripture, writing “its words are most frequently, if not always in the Old Testament, directed to a specific people in a specific situation at a specific time and in a specific culture”.[68] Specific instruction to specific people in a specific time is not universal, nor is it necessarily prescriptive for contemporary readers.  Also, regarding this error, Gordon Fee writes a general rule regarding narrative that reads “Unless Scripture explicitly tells us we must do something, what is only narrated or described does not function in a normative (i.e. obligatory) way – unless it can be demonstrated on other grounds that the author intended it to function in this way”.[69] This is the same hermeneutical fallacy that spawned the post Y2K “Prayer of Jabez” craze, where many people ended up praying 2 Chronicles 4:9-10 without asking “should we even be doing this?’  If scripture means whatever a person wants it to mean and basically any passage can be read in a prescriptive, normative way, then the meaning of the Bible becomes subjective to the point that a person can end up using the Scripture to support anything and can be sure of nothing.

One might retort that a person simply must rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit to understand what the scripture means, but in such a situation one is caught in a wretched circle.  One must first prove that the passages that teach about the leading of the Spirit mean what they appear to mean; i.e. that the Spirit actually leads in the way that the specific passage describe.  If one cannot have confidence in the passages that talk about the leading of the Spirit, then one cannot have confidence that the Spirit will actually lead in the ways those passages teach.

In reality, the sort of “abandon the meaning and listen to what the Spirit says it means” hermeneutic is a rhetorical mask for someone overthrowing biblical doctrine.  If one cannot overthrow a doctrine from the text of scripture, one must overthrow the text of scripture itself.  This type of usage of scripture is consistently associated with people who are historically remembered as enemies of biblical Christianity.  Brad Jersak uses it to support listening prayer (i.e. modern prophecy), and he has recently used it to abandon a historically orthodox view of the atonement.[70] Though horribly sad, this move is consistent with his established theological direction.

The Verdict on Listening Prayer

After one examines Jersak’s scriptural support, one realizes it falls apart at even a slightly critical examination.  When one examines Jersak’s use of scripture and explores his hermeneutical approach to the Bible, one realizes that Jersak interprets the Bible allegorically and ignores all forms of context (literary, covenantal, historical, etc), making his usage of Scripture to be exceedingly flippant.  “Listening Prayer” is simply prophecy.  Can You Hear Me is a guidebook for becoming a prophet based on frivlous use of scripture and the abandonment of sound biblical hermeneutics. Brad Jersak may certainly hear something, but he provides no biblically compelling reason at all to conclude it is God.


[1] Brad Jersak. Can You Hear Me (Abbotsford BC: Fresh Wind Press, 2003), 10.

 

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid.  “A spokesman for God’s heart” definitely sounds like Jersak is simply talking about being a prophet, for that definition seems strikingly familiar.

Walvoord defines a prophets as “authoritative channels through which God could give divine revelation, sometimes about the contemporary situation and sometimes about the future.” John Walvoord. 1986. The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts. Bibliotheca Sacra 143 no. 570 (April-June): 113.

Stitzinger defines a prophet simply as someone who functioned “as a spokesman for God…on the basis of possessing supernatural knowledge.” James F. Stitzinger.  2003. Spiritual Gifts: Definitions and Kinds. Master’s Seminary Journal 14 no. 2 (Fall): 167.

Farnell almost uses the same words as Jersak in defining prophecy, saying that a prophet is a “spokesman or mouthpiece for the Lord”.  David Farnell. 1993. When Will the Gift of Prophecy Cease? Bibliotheca Sacra 150 no. 598 (April-June): 173.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, 12.

[7] Ibid, 16.

[8] Ibid, 17.

[9] Ibid, 21.

[10] Ibid

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid, 22.

[13] Ibid, 18.

[14] Ibid, 21.

[15] Ibid, 18.

[16] Ibid, 17.

[17] Ibid, 20.

[18] Ibid

[19]Ibid.

[20] Ibid, 20-21.

[21] Ibid, 21.

[22] Ibid, 22.

[23] Ibid, 26.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid, 27.

[26] Ibid, 28.

[27] Ibid, 30.

[28] Ibid, 31.

[29] Ibid, 32.

[30] Ibid, 33.

[31] Ibid, 34

[32] Ibid, 35.

[33] Ibid, 35.

[34] Ibid, 37.

[35] Ibid, 38.

[36] Ibid, 39.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid, 40.

[39] On page 70, Jersak re-lists his “promise verses” as Matthew 28:20; Joshua 1:5; John 10:14,27; Jeremiah 33:3 and Matthew 7:8-11.  The verses listed though are the main passages from which Jersak derives his exegetical support in his opening chapters and Matthew 28:20, Joshua 1:5 and Matthew 7:8-11 are not to be found in the first 2 chapters as part of that exegetical support.  It is confusing why Jersak changes his supporting texts in the third chapter, but the change is not addressed by Jersak.

[40] Andreas J. Kostenberger.  John. Baker Exegetical Comnmentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2004), 297.

[41] Ibid, 291.

[42] William Hendriksen. Exposition of the Gospel According to John. New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953), 98.

[43] D.A. Carson. The Gospel According to John.  PNTC (Grand Rapids: W.B.Eerdmans, 1991), 382.

[44] John MacArthur Jr. John 1-11. MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 2006), 426.

[45]Leon Morris. The Gospel According to John.  NICNT (Grand Rapids: W.B.Eerdmans, 1995), 451.

[46] Gary M Burge. John. NIVAC. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 290.

[47] Kostenberger, 297.

[48] Hendriksen, 105.

[49] Carson, 382.

[50] Burge, 299.

[51] MacArthur, 427-428.

[52] John E. Hartley.  The Book of Job.  NICOT (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1988), 443.

[53] Robert Alden. Job. NAC (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 326.

[54] John MacArthur Jr. John 12-21. MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 2008), 205.

[55] Morris, 621.

[56] Carson, 539.

[57] Gerald L. Borchert. John 12-21.  NAC. (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2002), 169.

[58] Andrew J. Dearrman. Jeremiah. NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 305.

[59] Philip Graham Ryken. Jeremiah and Lamentations. Preaching the Word (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2001), 498.

[60] J.A. Thompson. The Book of Jeremiah.  NICOT (Grand Rapids: W.B.Eerdmans, 1980), 598.

[61] Huey seems to almost humorously write directly against Jersak, saying “The NT equivalent of this verse is John 16:13, but neither of them justifies a “crystal-ball” mentality that seeks to know the future.  There is no “secret” formula for unlocking the doors to the future.” F.B. Huey Jr. Jeremiah & Lamentations. NAC (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993), 298.

[62] Jersak, 11.

[63] Jersak seems to think the “doctrine” of Cessationism is the denial of extra biblical revelation (Jersak, 39) and he seems to think that sola scriptura means scripture is “our only authority for confirming God’s voice” (Jersak, 82).  His errors on these subjects are legion.

[64] This concept comes from Robert Thomas’ examination of the hermeneutical aberrations of Gordon Fee, where Thomas walks examines how Fee equates application with interpretation. Robert Thomas. 2003. The Hermeneutics of NonCessationism. Masters Seminary Journal 14 no. 2 (Fall): 300.

[65] Walter C. Kaiser Jr. “Legitimate Hermeneutics” in Inerrancy, ed. Norm Geisler (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 118.

[66] Walter C. Kaiser Jr. “The Single Intent of Scripture” in Rightly Divided: Readings in Biblical Hermeneutics, ed. Roy B. Zuck (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1996), 168.

[67] Barnard Ramm.  Protestant Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970), 112.

[68] Walter C. Kaiser Jr. Toward and Exegetical Theology: Biblical Exegesis for Preaching and Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1981), 37.

[69] Godron Fee and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), 119.

[70] Jersak has recently (2007) expanded his flight from biblical doctrine, co-editing a book with Michael Hardin that is a compilation of essays critiquing the penal substitutionary view of the atonement from questionable scholars like N.T. Wright, Marcus Borg and Miroslav Volf.  It is called “Stricken by God?  Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ”.

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84 thoughts on “Evaluating Listening Prayer and Brad Jersak

  1. KJV: John Chapter 14

    [10] Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

    [11] Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

    [12] Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

    KJV: John Chapter 15

    [15] Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

    From your elaborate expose of Mr Jersaks interpretation of scripture, you come across as though beleivers aren’t to hear His voice. As Jesus heard the Father, so also are those that are His. Did not even Paul in 1Cor 2, declare that by having the Spirit of God, one is enabled to know the very mind of God?

    It just seems sir, that one will be judged in the same way they judge, and you seem to appear as judging quite critically. Therefore, your judgement shall be as critical, I hope you are able to measure up!

    Regards
    Lawrence

  2. Since the fruit of the pudding in all of Christianity, is how much is the believer becoming like Chist.

    After reading your eloquent vocabulary on exposing error, I really wonder how much of the character of Christ you possess sir? Christ said, ” Regard My Love, more than Wine! It appears you are more interested in the right character of the Wine….

    Sincerely
    Lawrence.

    • BarElohim, or Lawrence, or Earl, or whatever your name is today,

      Here’s what you said:

      1. “From your elaborate expose of Mr Jersaks interpretation of scripture, you come across as though beleivers aren’t to hear His voice.”

      I do? Well if that’s the case, I should make a correction:

      *It should be the normative experience of all Christians to hear the “voice of God”*

      The million dollar question is “how does that happen?”

      2. “As Jesus heard the Father, so also are those that are His.”

      Yes, I agree. All that are saved are those that have heard Christ’s effectual call in their hearts.

      3. “Did not even Paul in 1Cor 2, declare that by having the Spirit of God, one is enabled to know the very mind of God?”

      No. Paul did NOT say that “by having the Spirit of God, one is enabled to know the mind of God”, if by that you mean that every Christian has direct, unmediated access to the mind of God.

      You need to ask yourself who the “we” in 1 Corinthians 2:16 is:

      a. Is it “we” as in “We Believers”?
      b. Is it “we” as in “We Corinthians”?
      c. Is it “we” as in “We who preached the gospel to you”?
      d. Is it “we” as in “We (Paul, Apollos, Peter) from chapter 1″?

      4. “It just seems sir, that one will be judged in the same way they judge, and you seem to appear as judging quite critically. Therefore, your judgement shall be as critical, I hope you are able to measure up!”

      Okay. I welcome actual interaction with what I’ve written.

      I’m not really excited about your typical tactics; ambiguous rebuke through throwing random scripture quotes at me in some act of prophetic condemnation. That’s basically another way of saying:

      “I can’t actually interact with your argument because I either don’t understand it or don’t have an actual counter-argument, but I hate what you say and my anger necessitates that I do SOMETHING”.

      Of you want to interact, even hyper-critically, I welcome it.

      If you want to advertise your piety through slander or drive-by citation, I’ll simply edit your rebukes from now on to at least be funny.

      5. “Since the fruit of the pudding in all of Christianity, is how much is the believer becoming like Chist.”

      My Pudding Fruit isn’t like Jesus?

      Am I NOT like Christ in exposing error of false religious systems or wrongful understandings of scripture?

      You cannot possibly be insinuating that condemning falsehood is not Christ-like.

      6. “After reading your eloquent vocabulary on exposing error, I really wonder how much of the character of Christ you possess sir?”

      What does vocabulary have to do with character?

      That’s called an “Ad Hominem attack”.

      When you cannot actually engage an argument, attack the man by doing things like insinuating that eloquent vocabulary equals a lack of conformity to Christ.

      7. “Christ said, ” Regard My Love, more than Wine! It appears you are more interested in the right character of the Wine….”

      No he did not. Christ never said that anywhere.

      You’re making up citations now to make your case.

      What do you call someone who is untruthful about things like references?

      The words “love” and “wine” only appear in the New Testament in 1 Timothy 3:3, and that’s neither a quote from Christ nor is the word “love” in the original.

      Note for the future:

      If you have to make up a biblical citation to make your case, it weakens your case and detracts from your credibility. Take a lesson from Ergun Caner.

  3. {7. “Christ said, ” Regard My Love, more than Wine! It appears you are more interested in the right character of the Wine….”

    No he did not. Christ never said that anywhere.

    You’re making up citations now to make your case.

    What do you call someone who is untruthful about things like references?

    The words “love” and “wine” only appear in the New Testament in 1 Timothy 3:3, and that’s neither a quote from Christ nor is the word “love” in the original.

    Note for the future:

    If you have to make up a biblical citation to make your case, it weakens your case and detracts from your credibility. Take a lesson from Ergun Caner.}
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    And there lies the problem sir…. Christ did speak that to me, and it is found in scripture, where wine is revelation truth.. Which is why He said, ” You can’t put new wine, in an old wine skin!…. DId you know you are referred to as an old wine skin?

    Here is another….. ” If words still hurt you, are you yet not carnal? ” Can words turn over a rock, or change the color of your hair? Then why do you let words hurt you?”

    Scriptural? Yes! chapter and verse? I don’t think you will find it worded so, but it is the truth?

    And another ….” If you know the right thing to do, then I dont need to tell you!” Scriptural? Of course! But chapter and verse you won’t find.

    When Paul gave his opinion in 1 Cor.7: 12 and 25 was he speaking from what he heard, or from what he knew of the Lords mind on the matter? Paul says of himself and his relationship with the Lord…..”as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.”
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    “No. Paul did NOT say that “by having the Spirit of God, one is enabled to know the mind of God”, if by that you mean that every Christian has direct, unmediated access to the mind of God.

    You need to ask yourself who the “we” in 1 Corinthians 2:16 is:

    a. Is it “we” as in “We Believers”? YES!
    b. Is it “we” as in “We Corinthians”? THOSE TOO!
    c. Is it “we” as in “We who preached the gospel to you”?YES! All Who Received the Spirit!
    d. Is it “we” as in “We (Paul, Apollos, Peter) from chapter 1″?”THEM TOO!
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    Oh Lord! Help this man!
    1Cor 2:
    4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
    5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
    6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are { perfect/mature] yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
    7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
    8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
    9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
    10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
    11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
    12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; { HAVE YOU N OT RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF GOD? ] that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
    13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing [[[[[spiritual things with spiritual.]]]]]
    14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
    16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

    Read it again and again sir, maybe it will get into that old wine skin!!!!

    Bye for now!

  4. BarElohim,

    Ah. Now we’re getting somewhere. Let’s see what you said:

    1. “Christ did speak that to me, and it is found in scripture, where wine is revelation truth”

    So Christ talks to you PROPOSITIONALLY?

    Christ actually says (audibly or otherwise) propositional statements to you?

    2. “You can’t put new wine, in an old wine skin!…. DId you know you are referred to as an old wine skin?”

    Please explain. I know what Matthew 9:14-17 is talking about, but I don’t understand what you’re talking about.

    Are you saying that I’m a Pharisee? I can assure you that I’m not Jewish.

    Are you saying that I’m attempting to stuff the new message of the kingdom into my old Jewish religious system?

    How is your statement related to the actual meaning of Matthew 9:14-17?

    3. “And another …. ‘If you know the right thing to do, then I dont need to tell you!’ Scriptural? Of course! But chapter and verse you won’t find.”

    Lawrence, if a passage is not IN the scripture (meaning it actually has a reference of chapter and verse), then it is NOT a scriptural reference.

    It can be true (i.e. water is wet), but it’s NOT scripture.

    You seem to utilize words very loosely, and only in as much as they can suit your needs.

    Scripture is very precisely defined by the words in the Bible and nothing else.

    Any revelation you receive from God, even if it is real, is NOT scripture. It only become scripture once you write it down and add it to scripture; when you inscripturate it.

    You can play word games with the word “scripture”, but you’re inescapably incorrect.

    4. “When Paul gave his opinion in 1 Cor.7: 12 and 25 was he speaking from what he heard, or from what he knew of the Lords mind on the matter?”

    Neither.

    In the preceding verses of 1 Corinthians 7:12 and 25, Paul was directly applying the teaching of Christ on those issues (see 7:10). Christ spoke on many things and, on those things which Christ gave direct instruction (like divorce), Paul simply was repeating what Christ said and applying it to the situation.

    In the areas where Paul couldn’t simply re-state the Lord’s teaching on the matter, he spoke with apostolic authority and gave new revelation on the matter.

    5. “You need to ask yourself who the “we” in 1 Corinthians 2:16 is:

    a. Is it “we” as in “We Believers”? YES!
    b. Is it “we” as in “We Corinthians”? THOSE TOO!
    c. Is it “we” as in “We who preached the gospel to you”?YES! All Who Received the Spirit!
    d. Is it “we” as in “We (Paul, Apollos, Peter) from chapter 1″?”THEM TOO!”

    Can you give me any exegetical reason whatsoever for choosing option “a” (which includes options b through d). Can you walk through the text of chapter 2 (or chapters 1 and 2) and SHOW me that the “we” is an unrestricted “we” involving every believer?

    I can give you serious exegetical reasons to think that Paul is, most certainly, NOT saying in 1 Corinthians 2:16 a “we” that includes all believers. I can give you strong argument, based on the words of the text of 1 Corinthians, that Paul is actually talking about “those who preached to you”, and that restricted group is the “we”.

    So if I’m wrong, you need to teach me from the scripture. Show me from the scripture, and don’t simply quote it. Walk through it. Examine it in detail. Show me.

    6. “Read it again and again sir, maybe it will get into that old wine skin!!!!”

    Nope.

    Amazingly, those of us who have belief systems (i.e. ‘wine skins’) that are based on the text of scripture only get reinforced when we read and study the scripture.

    Lawrence, you’re not going to even come close to changing my mind on any issue because you don’t take the bible seriously at all.

    ***Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:10-11***

    “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”

    Have you ever searched the scripture “intently and with the greatest care”?

    If you have, I’ve never seen it.

    All I’ve ever seen is you simply quoting it, claiming a meaning that appears as “obvious” to you (and has nothing to do with the actual words of scripture understood in their historical and grammatical context), and then rebuking me as unspiritual when I don’t agree with your take on whatever passage.

    ***Paul made arguments built upon the precise understandings of grammar:***

    “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.” – Galatians 1:16

    ***As did Christ:***

    “While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, ‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?’
    ‘The son of David,’ they replied.

    He said to them, ‘How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him ‘Lord’? For he says,
    ‘The Lord said to my Lord:
    ‘Sit at my right hand
    until I put your enemies
    under your feet.’ If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?’ No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions.” – Matthew 22:41-46

    Christ and those who knew him best taught that the meaning of the scripture is intimately connected to the words of scripture.

    Christ and those that knew him best didn’t operate as if every meaning of every passage was the surface reading.

    Do you demonstrate a regard for the scriptures and an understanding of it’s depth that reflects Christ and his apostles?

    Do you find the meaning of the scripture in the words of the scripture, as understood in their historical and grammatical context?

    It sure appears that you don’t.

    You neither handle the Bible like Christ nor the ones who knew him best.

  5. Sir, To Know the AUTHOR of the scriptures, is to KNOW the scriptures! And has He ever spoken to me in an audible voice? YES! As He did after Jesus baptisim by John…. Paul on the damascus road. etc, etc, etc..

    Sir, I am again reminded of how difficult it is to speak to you on such matters, and won’t make the same mistake again.

    Yes lyndon, you can have the last word, it suits you!

  6. Pingback: Thoughts and Ramblings from the past, present and future… « Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely…

  7. It makes me sad that you can be so well educated, yet so intent that God can’t speak to His believers. Why would you want to live in a world where this is true or profess a religion in which your God is mostly mute ?
    I prefer to trust that the Holy Spirit can come to me in that still small voice and give me guidance, love, rebuke, and answers. No, He doesn’t always choose to answer, but many times He does.
    You’ve studied lots of commentaries, so you should surely be able to see how mankinds interpretations of scripture have changed and grown through the years. What one highly educated man staked his life on as “truth” in 1890, another highly educated man “disproved” in 1950, and another highly educated man revised in 2000. We learn and we grow. Yes – I agree we don’t want to follow evil or wrong teachings, but I don’t think telling people that they can recieve guidance from the Lord qualifies.

  8. Steve, I fear you severely misunderstand me.

    1. God speaks constantly to his believers.

    2. God is anything but mute.

    3. I’ve heard his voice everyday for decades.

    4. Where does God promise that the Holy Spirit would speak in a still small audible voice to me? I hear that idea lots, but I’ve never met anyone who can show me where that promise is in the Bible.

    5. Steve, you said “You’ve studied lots of commentaries, so you should surely be able to see how mankind’s interpretations of scripture have changed and grown through the years.”

    That’s true, bud. People have constantly misunderstood the scriptures. But does that mean that the scriptures DO NOT have an actual meaning that a believer can actually understand? Does that mean that Brad Jersak’s understanding of scripture, which has nothing to do with the actual words of the scripture, is somehow valid?

    6. You also said “What one highly educated man staked his life on as “truth” in 1890, another highly educated man “disproved” in 1950, and another highly educated man revised in 2000.”

    That’s categorically untrue when it comes to biblical exegesis. I can show you where I stand in 2,000 years of historic biblical exegesis. I can find believers with whom I am in a common camp throughout all church history. Educated men come and go, but men of God who utilize proper hermeneutics seem to end up always headed in the same direction when it comes to understanding the Bible.

    I’m not some rank-and-file German higher critic whose spine bends and yaws with the waves of the academy. None of the men of God I respect, or upon whose shoulders I sit, are either.

    7. You said “Yes – I agree we don’t want to follow evil or wrong teachings, but I don’t think telling people that they can receive guidance from the Lord qualifies.”

    Well, Brad Jersak does not teach that. He teaches that every single person who is a believer should be an Old Testament Prophet. He teaches that in the further context of other unbiblical doctrine. He twists scripture so horribly that it brings shame on his professors from Bible College and Seminary (though knowing some of them, they may be proud).

    I also teach that people can receive guidance from the Lord. That IS true. I wholeheartedly believe that.

    The problem comes in explaining what that means.

    I would stand with historic Christianity and say that God speaks his word through his prophets, and that those prophets are not around today as they were not around for 90% of all history. The word of God that came through his prophets has been inscripturated (written down) through the process of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and that living and active word both gives me guidance and direct, verbal instruction from God on any and every problem, issue and need that I have.

  9. Just because you hear God/Spirit speak does not make you a prophet or heretic. I don’t declare “thus saith the Lord” or announce what I’ve heard or attempt to “write scripture”

    You say you’ve heard His voice constantly – that’s all I’m saying, and for the most part that’s what Brad is helping people to do.

    The Bible provides numerous examples of God speaking to people. Why would we be given these examples if not as a means of learning how God deals with His children. I don’t think He’d say “here’s how I’ve always done it, but from now on I won’t do it that way anymore”
    what verse do you interpret as saying “God will no longer speak to His people” ?

  10. 1. You said “Just because you hear God/Spirit speak does not make you a prophet or heretic.”

    Agreed.

    Let’s clarify – When I say I “hear God’s voice”, I really mean I’m reading the Bible, or hearing it read to me.

    When Brad Jersak says he “hears God’s voice”, he may mean that or any number of other things including audible voices, internal impressions on the imagination/heart/conscience, personal compulsion, simple conversations with people, the events of life, etc.

    SO, when I’m talking about the voice of God, I’m talking about his direct, verbal and propositional word from his prophets and apostles, which is the ONLY way his word was delivered. That means hearing verbal, audible speaking either while awake or in a vision, or having verbal, propositional messages delivered directly to you audibly or through a dream or a vision.

    When that verbal, propositional message was inscripturated (written down) by the Holy Spirit and the human authors (who were either prophets or apostles), it remained to be God’s word, in every true sense of the term.

    2. You said “I don’t declare ‘thus saith the Lord’ or announce what I’ve heard or attempt to ‘write scripture.'”

    If you’re talking about God delivering propositional content to you (i.e. “do this” or “go here” or “tell so-and-so this” or “this is going to happen”) and you DO NOT declare “thus saith the Lord”, you’re either sinning or not actually hearing God’s audible, propositional voice.

    3. I hear his voice constantly. That means I’m constantly reading or studying the scriptures. Brad is, in no uncertain terms, NOT instructing people to do.

    4. You said “The Bible provides numerous examples of God speaking to people. Why would we be given these examples if not as a means of learning how God deals with His children.”

    Well, I’d suggest to you that we’re told the divine source of scripture in order to establish the divine nature and authority of the content of scripture. Sure God spoke to people, but his word always came through a small group of people (usually 1 or 2 prophets, or the 12 apostles) to a large group of people (Israel, the other nations, or the church).

    5. You said “I don’t think He’d say ‘here’s how I’ve always done it, but from now on I won’t do it that way anymore’ what verse do you interpret as saying ‘God will no longer speak to His people’ ?”

    Hang on. I don’t accept the question for the reason that it’s founded on an assumption that is not true.

    You’re assuming that it’s normal for God to be speaking frequently through prophets or apostles.

    Steve, I’d challenge you to look at all of recorded history and ask yourself: throughout how much of the last 6,000+ years was there an active prophet/apostle in the world, delivering God’s oracles?

    Was Adam a prophet? Genesis says nothing to suggest that. If Adam didn’t talk with God after the garden, you have a 1,000+ year gap from Adam until Noah where there is no recorded prophet or revelation from God. The scriptures don’t even say that Adam prophesied things that we don’t have recorded…

    Then we have 450+ years from the flood to Abram, and we’re not told if Noah was a prophet after the flood; there’s no recorded revelation. Even so, we’d have 120 years of total silence from Noah’s death to Abram’s call.

    Then, we have 342 years from Abram’s call to Jacob’s death, where we have a handful of revelations from God. We’re given little reason to think that God talked continually and frequently with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob simply because it was a common thing for them to seem startled when they DID hear directly and audible from God (i.e. hear him in a vision or see the angel of the Lord)

    Then, we have 400+ years of total silence while Israel was in captivity.

    I can go on and on throughout the entire Old Testament, but I’ve already made my point.

    God’s propositional revelation came through his prophets, and though prophets were relatively rare in the Old Testament, most prophets only received a handful of recorded prophecies in their lives.

    This makes a strong argument that the kind of constant, continual, daily, propositional communication from God that Brad Jersak is talking about has NEVER been a normative thing in history.

    Actually hearing God’s audible, speaking voice is a very rare thing in history. God doesn’t normally speak to people directly and audibly, and Jersak’s biblical argument that God does is severely lacking.

  11. One more try at this and I’m done.
    You make it hard to respond when I’m not allowed to use the prophets or disciples as examples of how to interact with God/Christ/Holy Spirit (I kinda thought that’s part of what the Bible was all about – my bad).

    Miracles are not limited to disciples or prophets.
    1 Cor 12:4-11, 28; Gal 3:5; Acts 6:8; 8:6-7.

    Therefore if the Holy Spirit wants to miraculously speak to me or others – He can.

    We ALL have access to God – not just prophets or disciples. Heb 9:3; 7:26-27; 10:19-22; 9:24; 1 Peter 2:9.

    God spoke to Ananias who was not a disciple. Acts 9:10-16.

    The Holy Spirit is our counselor ( John 14:16, 26) who teaches us and bears witness to us (Rom 8:16). All these things seem to imply some form of communication. Some of that may be through scripture – but doesn’t have to be.

    The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts at will (1 Cor 12:11), including “word of knowledge” and “word of wisdom” (1 Cor 12:8). I think those two gifts in particular would be hard to fathom without a little bit of direct communication to the brain or conciousness (or at least via a dream or vision).
    (Unless you think those gifts have also been cancelled).

    David talks of “waiting on the Lord” or hearing from God in several verses – some of which could be waiting on an event and some of which specifically seem to refer to waiting on an answer (words) from God/Spirit. Ps 5:3; 38:15; 130:5-6; 85:8; 95:7.

    We have access to God through the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 2:18

    The Holy Spirit convicts us (words or feelings within our heads most of the time – be honest with yourself here). John 16:8-11; Acts 7:51.

    In Acts 2:4, all 120 people were given words to speak via the Holy Spirit – not just the 12 or 72 (luke 10), but all 120. But you probably believe that the Holy Spirit only did things like this in the NT, and not now.

    Christ says (John 6:45) “everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” I doubt that they all “heard” by reading the Bible.

    Lastly (or second to last) I just had to add these even thought it involves disciples and therefore doesn’t count according to you:
    John 16:13 (NIV)
    13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

    Mark 13:11 (NIV)
    11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

    So dig in and tear all this up for me.

    Lastly, I offer you a challenge.
    Sit quietly. Cleanse yourself – receive forgiveness for anything that needs it.
    And then simply ask God/Holy Spirit/Christ:
    “Is there anything you’d like to say to me today?”

    I firmly believe that He’ll answer you. You may decide to blow it off as “just my imagination”, but that’s your choice.

    I’m done. I won’t try any further to convince you of anything. I wish you all the best in your studies. Blessings ! Steve B.

    • Steve, I’m sorry that I frustrate you. I’ll try to be as clear as I can with this.

      We have a foundational conflict in hermeneutics (the science and art of biblical interpretation) and exegesis (extrapolating meaning from the text of scripture).

      I’m not being tongue and cheek, and I’m not trying to trivialize the nature of scripture. I take you seriously and I imagine that you’re honestly trying to obey the scripture, as am I.

      I’m guessing that this will confuse you a little, but if you’re patient with me, I’ll try to walk through this conflict and clarify it for you:

      1. You must certainly that the bible wasn’t originally written to you or me, personally. Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Paul, etc. spoke to specific people for specific reasons, but there’s no passage of scripture that’s directed to Steve B or Lyndon Unger.

      All that I’m saying is that the prophets who were speaking and writing to Israel were not consciously speaking and writing to the church in the same way and at the same time. We don’t see any passage in the OT explicitly written “to the church at Ephesus”. We’d have to definitely agree on that one point.

      Yet, many people function as if this were not the case. How many people read Jeremiah 29:11 and think something along the line of “God is speaking this to me” and don’t even think much about the original audience at all?

      The truth of the matter is that the prophet Jeremiah didn’t know who I was, and wasn’t consciously writing to me, a 21st century Canadian, in the 29th chapter of the book of his prophecies.

      2. That is not saying that the Bible isn’t for me or you; for our benefit and written with us in mind. Please don’t run ahead of where I’m at with this. This is only saying that the scriptures were not directly penned to us by name, but were directly penned to other people by name.

      Let’s examine one specific text then and I’ll walk through my exegetical method:

      You quoted Mark 13:11 – “11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

      I imagine that you would take this passage as some sort of promise that the Holy Spirit will give you the right words to say at the time when you need them…or something close to that. Am I correct?

  12. No. I know that word was for the disciples, but i also know that every scripture has application – not just a very narrow interpretation. If we were to rule out the application of any scripture because it was written to a specific person at a specific point in history – that leaves nothing.

    • No. No! Steve, we agree on that!

      You said “I know that word was for the disciples” and I agree totally!

      You also said “i also know that every scripture has application – not just a very narrow interpretation” and I agree totally.

      You also said “If we were to rule out the application of any scripture because it was written to a specific person at a specific point in history – that leaves nothing.”

      I agree totally again!

      We’re much more on the same page than I bet you realize!

      So if we both agree that all scripture has one meaning, but multiple (almost innumerous) applications, then the next question comes up…and this is the million dollar one:

      If Mark 13:11 is the written record of a promise to the disciples of Christ, what is the universal truth that we can extract from that passage, even though we’re not one of the disciples?

  13. I’m currently taking classes in seminary and am familiar with various methods of interpretation, so you needn’t walk me through it. I do wish you’d look at the other scriptures I mentioned instead of just taking the last two (which I knew you’d disagree with since they were spoken to or about the disciples specifically).

    Looking at the other scriptures I listed:
    1. Do you agree or disagree that the Holy Spirit can make itself clearly understood to believers if it so desires ?

    2. Do you agree that the Holy Spirit was given to us to teach, bear witness to us, give us spiritual gifts, etc. ?

    3. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a helper/teacher or one who walks alongside/beside in John 14:16. And through this Holy Spirit we have access to God. God can communicate with us when/if He desires and many times He uses the Holy Spirit to do so.

    4. Almost everyone I know who has become a Christian has used these words when relating their conversion experience: “I felt”
    They “felt” convicted of their sins. They “felt” God calling them to ask for forgiveness. They “felt” like they were supposed to walk down the aisle and become a Christian or member of the church. Most pastors “felt” a calling.

    Can you agree with those statements ? Is that not your experience (if not personally, then with most of those you’ve talked with about those things) ?

    5. I submit to you that those “feelings” that people responded to when becoming a Christian or accepting the call to preach, were in fact communication or words imparted to them by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that no one comes to the Father unless God has enabled them to or told them to / pull them to it.

    6. If we can’t use words of scripture that were written or spoken by someone else to someone else regarding a specific situation thousands of years ago – for application to our own lives – then the Bible is nothing more than literature. Because very very little of it seems to be written with an intended audience of me or you in mind.

    Now I do understand that I’m no longer under the Old Testament covenants – and so I don’t apply those covenant laws and rules to me or my family. But I still glean useful things and attributes of God from those scriptures.

    • Well, I thought we might have a dichotomy of vocabulary. Apparently, since you’re in seminary, you understand historico-grammatico hermeneutics and know theologically where I’m coming from? I doubt it very much, but okay…

      Here’s my response to your points:

      1. The Holy Spirit is not an “it”, so you may want to refrain from utilizing neuter pronouns when refering to the Holy Spirit.

      None the less, the Holy Spirit is fully capable of self-revelation to believers.

      2. The Holy Spirit was given to the church to do the things he was given to do, yes.

      3. Jesus did not call the Holy Spirit those things in John 14:16. Jesus says that he will send “ἄλλον παράκλητον”, which means “another counselor”; another person who functions just like Jesus does. (For a great exegetical examination of the meaning of “παράκλητος” in John’s gospel, check out: Scipione, George, “The wonderful counselor, the other counselor, and Christian counseling”, Westminster Theological Journal, 36 no 3 Spr 1974, p 361-389.)

      God can communicate with us if and when he desires, and he often does so mediated through the Holy Spirit.

      4. Most people who become Christians feel many things. Facts and feelings go hand-in-hand, but they’re not synonymous. Still, I get where you’re going. We have similar (non-interpreted) experiences.

      5. “I submit to you that those “feelings” that people responded to when becoming a Christian or accepting the call to preach, were in fact communication or words imparted to them by the Holy Spirit.”

      You submit that feelings are words?

      Uh, no. Feelings are not words.

      Let me be more clear: This is the precise point where you’re inconsistently applying hermeneutics.

      You’re confusing “guidance” with “speech”. The Holy Spirit providentially guides through the scriptures and the conscience; we both experience those things in the examples you gave. When someone feels convicted of sin, they are definitely receiving communication, but not propositional communication. They are emotionally reacting to the propositional communication that they’ve received via the scriptures (however those scriptures are delivered: visually or audibly).

      Contemporarily, the Holy Spirit only speaks propositionally through the scripture. This is the real point of our contention, but this then comes down to different interpretations of scripture (not applications), hence I was originally attempting to walk through a consistent hermeneutical method.

      And you also said:

      “Jesus said that no one comes to the Father unless God has enabled them to or told them to / pull them to it.”

      What?

      Now you’re just wretchedly twisting scripture.

      How does John 6:44 have anything to do with feelings being propositional communication from the Holy Spirit? Somehow you recognize that Mark 13:11 has a singular meaning with multiple applications…but when it comes to John 6:44 you don’t act like it.

      6. “If we can’t use words of scripture that were written or spoken by someone else to someone else regarding a specific situation thousands of years ago – for application to our own lives – then the Bible is nothing more than literature. Because very very little of it seems to be written with an intended audience of me or you in mind.”

      Who said anything about not being able to apply the Old Testament to our lives?

      I don’t believe that for a second. I seek to apply the entire Old Testament to my life.

      You also said “Now I do understand that I’m no longer under the Old Testament covenants – and so I don’t apply those covenant laws and rules to me or my family. But I still glean useful things and attributes of God from those scriptures.”

      I suspect that you jumped the gun with the announcement of “I’m currently taking classes in seminary…so you needn’t walk me through it.”

      I say that because from what you wrote about not being under the Old Covenants, it seems that you recognize that you don’t need to offer a goat without blemish for unintentional sin (Leviticus 4:27-28), and you learn attributes of God like that he is a “compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6).

      But does the Old Testament only offer “useful things and attributes of God”?

      I would say that the Old Testament offers a whole lot more than that.

      The book of Genesis is “is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

      The book of Exodus is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

      The book of Numbers is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15)

      The book of Deuteronomy is “perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7), giving wisdom to the simple (Ps. 19:7), giving joy to the heart and light to the eyes (Ps. 19:8), enduring forever and altogether righteous (Ps. 19:9), more precious that gold and sweeter than honey from the comb (Ps. 19:10).

      And so on…

      So I ask you?

      How do you apply Leviticus 19:19, which says “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material”, to your life today?

      How do you apply Deuteronomy 22:8, which says “When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof”, to your life today?

      How do you apply the second chapter of Ezra to your life today?

  14. I’m suitably impressed w/ your vocab & scriptural knowledge. I was just hoping to introduce you to the living & speaking God who inspired that Bible you know so well.

    He still speaks – He hasn’t gone suddenly mute upon the writing of the last word of the last book in the Bible.

    Did you try asking Him what He’d like to say to you today?
    I’d be interested to hear what happened.

    • Steve, stop dodging the issue and hiding from the real questions.

      You were “just hoping to introduce you to the living & speaking God who inspired that Bible you know so well”?

      So I’m unregenerate now?

      Boy oh boy…when you get pushed into a theological corner, you definitely get your dukes up and aim for the chin. When in doubt, assume the “I’m more spiritual than you” position and hold the line like a Spartan. That sure looks like you’re taking a page from the Mormon playbook of doctrinal assurance; “When you sense you’re in a doctrinal snare from which you do not see clear and obvious escape, re-affirm your testimony both loudly and clearly.” I do not think you’re a Mormon, but what you’re doing is a standard tactic for religious people who are theologically cornered and getting scared.

      I’m not attacking you; I’m attacking your ideas. You don’t need to fear me; your ideas need to fear my questions.

      Your response to all my questions is to ignore them and tell me to ‘just try it and see what happens’? Goodness me man! You’re in seminary! Are you actually scared to rationally engage God’s word on a certain level? Are you afraid that if you think too hard about the scriptures or Christianity, something will give or fall apart?

      God’s not a mute, and I don’t ever suggest that. God’s inscripturated word is living and active (Heb. 4:12) and fully able to address every issue I face (2 Tim. 3:16-17). I read Ezra 2 last night with my wife and was tremendously blessed. That passage is astonishing.

      I want to ask you again:

      How do you apply Leviticus 19:19, which says “Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material”, to your life today?

      How do you apply Deuteronomy 22:8, which says “When you build a new house, make a parapet around your roof so that you may not bring the guilt of bloodshed on your house if someone falls from the roof”, to your life today?

      How do you apply the second chapter of Ezra to your life today?

      I’d suggest to you that the reason you seek to hear God speaking today outside of the scripture is because you don’t hear him speaking when you read much of what he says in the scripture.

      Here’s a harder question.

      If the entire Old Testament is “able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15), how does Leviticus 19:19 bring you towards Christ? How does Leviticus 19:19 prepare the ground for Jesus?

      Don’t change the subject Steve.

  15. There are likely thousands of issues or verses in the Bible which I have not decided “how to address”, and I don’t think rushing into a decision to satisfy or humor you is a wise choice.
    I asked you something – twice now – and you seem to be avoiding that. I’ll wait on your answer before going any further with this.

    • Okay, maybe you’re busy or not around. Maybe you’re just waiting for me to answer your question, which I believe is:

      “Did you try asking Him what He’d like to say to you today?”

      Okay.

      That’s what I do what I study the scriptures. I ask the Lord to open help my mind to understand and my heart to believe and obey what he teaches me that day in the scriptures.

      God speaks propositionally through his inscripturated word, and only through his inscripturated word. I believe that because his inscripturated word gives me little reason to think that there are prophets running around in our post-apostolic era.

  16. Pingback: B.C. Mennonite Church Allowing Contemplative Spirituality to be Taught « Menno-lite

    • I do sit quietly when I study the scriptures.

      I don’t have music on or anything…

      …wait!

      You’re NOT suggesting that I should actually ignore the teaching of God’s inscripturated word and “just try it”, are you? No…that cannot possibly be what you’re suggesting…is it?

    • What? You wouldn’t DARE suggest that God is utterly unlimited, are you?

      You wouldn’t dare suggest that God would act in a way contrary to either his own nature or his own revealed will, would you?

      It sounds like you’re trying to ignore what God reveals about himself in order to make him conform to some ideas that you have…

  17. And when you sit quietly do you hear any thoughts or words?
    Where in scripture does it prohibit listening for God to speak to you?

    • Steve, I’ve read Brad’s book. I know where you’re going.

      I hear plenty of thoughts and words, yes.

      The scripture doesn’t explicitly prohibit listening for God’s voice. Your question begs the question in assuming that one can hear propositional communication from God and not be a prophet.

      The question is, and will always be, whether or not I am a prophet.

      The second question is, and will always be, whether or not Jersak makes a biblical case for me to assume that I am, or can be, a prophet.

  18. I’m not suggesting that God do or not do anything. i’m suggesting that you are refusing to listen and might therefore miss out on something He has for you.
    I don’t see any verse that says God will no longer talk to His people. You seem to have inserted that between the lines somewhere.

    • Steve, you’re begging and begging and begging questions with assumption after assumption.

      Let me be clear:

      ***God speaks to me only through his inscripturated word; the Bible.***

      This whole blog post was a critical interaction with Jersak’s exegetical argument for whether or not the Bible teaches that I should expect to function as a prophet as part of normal Christian experience.

      You’re suggesting that you agree with Jersak, or at least have similar ideas.

      Therefore, YOU need to give me a biblical case for thinking that I receive propositional communication from God.

      Go ahead. Argue your case.

      Stop trying to side-track me with “just try it and see what happens”.

      I’m not going to “just try it”, because if you’re wrong, you’re asking me to verbally converse with demons. You need to assure me that this is not the case.

      We have a whole other subject here, namely the cessation of prophecy, to deal with. That’s a seperate series of blog posts that I’ll do, one day.

  19. I submit that hearing from God does not require you to be a prophet, and does not require public announcement of what you hear – unless you’re told to of course.
    And hearing from Him IS common for believers.

    • You can submit all you want Steve…I reject your submissions as “wishful thinking”. Only a biblical case will establish any sort of doctrine or practice for Christians.

      Can you give me a biblical example of a man who heard propositional revelation from God and was not a prophet, or functioning prophetically?

      Can you give me a biblical precedent that hearing audible or propositional communication from God, outside of the bible itself, should be normative for believers?

  20. Hi. Brad Jersak has spoken at Lion of Judah and at The Forge in Victoria, BC. To me it seems that he has been largely influenced by Eastern Orthodox teachings. Youtube search his name combined with orthodox and it will pull up his associations with a monastery in Dewdney, BC. Another source for viewing his doctrinal errors is clarionjournal.typepad.com

  21. I don’t recall Brad ever using the word prophet in relation to listening prayer. I know I never asked you to “be” a prophet or function as one. I never claimed to be one. Those are your words.
    If hearing from God makes you a prophet, then there are thousands upon thousands of them – every one who heard Christ teach…

    How is it that scripture speaks to you? What’s that process? Specifically what goes on in your head or h

  22. Silly phone!
    What goes on in your head or heart while you’re reading or studying?
    Your sermon on cessation of prophecy doesn’t apply to this. I agree that there will be no more prophets until end times (rev 11).
    By the way – define “propositional communication from God” please.

    • 1. Well, he uses the word “prophet” in the introduction, and in the first several chapters. Beyond that, he speaks of the concept continually in the book through how he describes what he’s talking about doing.

      2. Steve, you said “If hearing from God makes you a prophet, then there are thousands upon thousands of them – every one who heard Christ teach…”, and I call foul. You’re totally twisting concepts and playing with words to score a cheap point.

      Do you honestly think that the Pharisees who passively “heard Jesus speak” were similar to what Brad Jersak thinks he’s doing and teaches others to do?

      3. When I read the scripture, I ask the Lord to guide me into understanding of his word so that I would be able to grow in obedience to it and to him. I take the circles of context (historical, literary, covenantal, etc.) and do my best to pour over the text of scripture, attempting to understand what it most likely meant to the original author and audience, which is a singular meaning. I ask what the text is saying, and I attempt to follow any logical argument or take notice of any prescription or direct commands. I work at understanding what the author was writing to his audience for, and labor to understand those principles or commands. In understanding the original meaning and principles/commands, I strive to apply the scripture to my life in practical obedience and I pray for guidance to do so; that the Spirit would bring sin to light in my heart and give me the will and courage to kill sin in my life, replacing sinful behaviors with righteous behaviors and replacing wrong beliefs with right ones.

      I don’t simply flip open the bible to a random passage, start reading, and take whatever text as what God wants to “tell me”.

      4. What sermon on cessation of prophecy? If you agree with me that there will be no more prophets until Rev. 11 (where did I say that in THIS article?), then you cannot be a prophet.

      5. “Propositional communication” is simply the communication of clear and definite propositions. It’s claiming that God is communicating definite statements as opposed to guiding through providence or directing the conscience. The difference is the difference between:

      Hearing –

      a. “Lyndon, this is the Lord speaking. Go to Wal-Mart, buy some MC Hammer pants, and go to Steve’s house!”

      and feeling –

      b. “I don’t understand why, but I feel compelled to buy some MC Hammer pants…I wonder what Steve is doing? I think I’ll head over and show him my MC Hammer pants!”

      Anyone who claims that (a) happens to them in any audible, unconscious or visually hallucinatory way is explicitly claiming to function as, and therefore be, a prophet of God.

      Anyone who claims that (b) happens to them in their conscience or “heart”, is experiencing the guidance of the Lord that is normative for Christians.

      If (a) happens and you don’t do it, you’re inescapably sinning.

      If (b) happens and you don’t do it, you’re not inescapably sinning.

  23. In your #3 above, you’ve got about 10 “I”s and very few references to the Holy Spirit. Sounds to me like you are doing most of whatever it is you do.

    #4 – I never said I was a prophet. You keep saying I am. You’ve got a strange definition for prophet.

    #5 – you think it’s a sin to ignore God’s voice, but not a sin to ignore His guidance ? That’s kindof wacked.

    I give up. Have a good life.

    • 1. You said “What goes on in your head or heart while you’re reading or studying?”, so I answered with 1st person pronouns. I’m confused why that’s not the form of answer you were looking for with that sort of question…

      2. I’ve got a biblical definition of a prophet. We’re talking past each other because we’re using different definitions and neither one of us is budging. So I’ll open the floor to you:

      Can you establish a biblical definition of the word “prophet” that draws from individual texts of scripture?

      3. Guidance of conscience isn’t as clear as propositional communication, hence I said:

      “If (a) happens and you don’t do it, you’re inescapably sinning.

      If (b) happens and you don’t do it, you’re not inescapably sinning.”

      If you feel that you should go do something and you don’t, you’re not necessarily sinning. I feel that I should eat the burrito in front of me, but instead I’m responding to you while it gets cold. I’m not absolutely certain that the Lord wants me to eat the burrito, since he didn’t explicitly tell me to, but since he provided a free burrito for me and I love burritos, I think it’s highly likely that he gave it to me for the purpose of rejoicing in his providence and eating. If I don’t eat it, I don’t have to repent.

      There’s a subtle difference there. I hope that helps articulate the idea a little more.

  24. Pingback: Story about “The Silence” by Contemplative Writer is published in the MB Herald « Menno-lite

  25. Lyndon,
    You defend your position well. Although I wish to believe in the cessation of prophecy, I still sit albeit uncomfortably on the fence wondering whether it is the case. That said, I wonder now if the question in hand is rhetorically being thrust back into my forethought and made to stand in the witness box. Ok, so I am coming to a conclusion Scripturally speaking our friend Brad is out to lunch. Although I wish for God to give me cotton candy as I pass by His stand, or a pat on the back (with an “atta boy William!”), I am starting to see again how important hermeneutics was when I first became a Christian and how much more important it is in our age of decaying practical christian living.

    I suppose the one good thing this whole Listening Prayer controversy has done is propose I, William, best not rely on the whimsical nature of our post-modern culture and begin digging deeper into God’s Holy Word.

    Oh and I forgive you for attending Briercrest. I’m sure if purgatory existed, it’s around your campus somewhere 😉 haha

    • WG,

      Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad I could bless you in some way and possibly push an important issue in your direction.

      I hear you and fully agree that it’s an epic leap from being open-but-cautious to being actually convinced at the cessation of prophecy for believers (though unbelievers will experience the 2 final prophets in Rev. 11).

      I’ll give you a little hand to sort out the issue though in giving you some of the strongest arguments I’ve had to struggle through:

      1. If you hold to prophecy, you either hold to “all prophets are prophets”, meaning there is no distinction between NT and OT prophets, or you hold to the “OT office of prophet vs. NT gift of prophesy” that Wayne Grudem, DA Carson and others push.

      That one is likely the hardest question, since there’s some highly respected men of God that tow that line (even John Neufeld at Willingdon believes that).

      The hammer that smashes that argument boils down to authority.

      The question that must be answered is:

      “Is God communicating propositionally through this person?”

      If the answer is a “yes” in any sense, it has to be authoritative…meaning that disobedience is sin and it must be fulfilled with 100% accuracy. To suggest that God is even able to speak without absolute and total authority is to suggest that God can speak outside his own character; it’s to suggest that God can speak like someone other than himself (non-authoritatively or inaccurately).

      That’s a theological paradox from which none return.

      If the answer is a “no” in any sense, it isn’t prophecy. That doesn’t mean that God isn’t leading or directing the person, but it’s simply not prophecy.

      The difference that most people have to overcome, like our friend Steve B in this thread, is one of misguided definition. People often use the words “God told me” or “God said” far to loosely and broadly.

      What most people think is God “speaking” is actually God “guiding”. I don’t have a problem with guidance at all. That’s easily and frequently prescribed in scripture.

      2. The second real difficult problem is simply establishing the difference between OT and NT prophecy. One needs to somehow show that there’s a categorical distinction between the prophets of the OT and the prophets/”gift of prophesy” in 1 Corinthians 12.

      In order to do this, most people only pull out the example of Agabus in Acts 21:11 as the main NT example of “failed” prophecy. I’ve often read and heard “Agabus said that the JEWS would bind Paul, but Acts 21:33 says that the Roman commander is the one who bound him with chains, not a belt.”

      My response to that is “read Acts 21:31-32”. Apparently the mob was trying to kill him, and they were attempting to beat him to death. The Agabus example of failed prophecy is utterly absurd in that if assumes that a mob that was trying to beat a man to death didn’t have the common sense to bind his hands. It’s an argument from silence and is evidence of never actually seeing a real live mob in action. Mobs don’t follow the honor system; I’ve never seen a large group of people attempt to beat someone and leave their hands free to defend themselves for the sake of fairness.

      The first time I heard that objection I laughed out loud at how silly it sounded to me. Sinners fight dirty. We’re Canadian; we see evidence of that everytime we watch hockey.

      If the Agabus objection doesn’t stand, then I don’t have much, if any, reason to think that the word “prophet” or “prophesy” has any different meaning in the NT than it does in the OT. A Prophet is the same in either testament. They open their mouths, but God is the one speaking.

      Those two points leave me asking “where’s a prophet?”

      If we hold up the standards of Deut. 13:1-5 & 18:14-22 because there is no difference between NT and OT prophecy, I doubt we’d have a whole lot of potential prophets in our churches…and the ones who already claim to be would disappear rather quickly.

      – As for forgiving me for attending Briercrest, thanks! It was still a positively formative time for me. I learned a lot and grew through what I encountered and struggled through there. I’m grateful for my time at the Masters Seminary too. That was a blessing and gave me a set of tools I never could have acquired anywhere in Canada.

  26. I’m sure it’s just a typo, but you do look a bit silly when you EVALUATE a man’s book under a title where the key word is spelled incorrectly. There was also another instance – again, probably a typo – which left the meaning of your thought in doubt.

  27. Thank you for doing this in depth analysis of Brad’s book. A ladies Bible study group that I attended used his book as a study guide about 6 years ago. At first I thought what he taught was wonderful, but after a time I discovered some strange things that happened while using this practice. If you would like to read more of my personal story here is a link to my blog post about it.
    http://shininginthedarkness.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/my-journey-out-of-darkness/
    There are so many things that are unbiblical about his teachings in this book, but I think the worst for me was the fact that he seemed to be so enamored by the Catholic Mystics, and even shared a story of Astral Travel in the book, and did not tell his readers that this was something to avoid. He is a nice man, but very deceived.

    • Hey there, I’m glad that I could help in any way!

      I’ve read a little of your blog story and it sounds fairly familiar to many I’ve had contact with. I know that there’s a whole load of other wacky ideas in his teaching, but as a pastor I’m most concerned with critically evaluating what he is passing off as biblical teaching by critically interacting with his bible exegesis.

      I’ve met and talked with him several times, and he definitely is a very nice man.

      The nicest men I’ve ever met have often been the most dastardly too.

    • I have had impressions on my spirit in answer to questions I ask Jesus. I always ask Jesus when something in the news , ideas, practices, etc trouble me. Sometimes it can be a long time before I get an answer, sometimes quickly but I can honestly say that the Holy Spirit does His job of convicting of sin, REMINDING of what Jesus taught, guiding into truth. Although I have had thoughts impressed on my mind, it has a different quality than my own thoughts and ALWAYS aligns with scripture. In fact, it often IS a scripture that applies to my question. I spend much time in the Word and that is always the best check. We are told to test the spirits. Anything we “hear” must be tested. One thing I have noticed about meditation in the Bible that is it is always associated with mulling over, dwelling on scripture. Nowhere does it ever tell us to empty our minds. We are told that the heart is deceitful. We are told that that the Word is a double edged sword, even to the separation of soul and spirit. Testing the spirits with the Word of God helps us differentiate which thoughts are are from God and which from our own desires. There are also times when reading scripture that a particular passage is “quickened” to my spirit. I also take that as a personal word of the Holy Spirit to me.

      • No, I am not saying I am a prophet. I am saying the Holy Spirit does what Jesus said He would do. Remind you of what Jesus said, point to Jesus, convict of sin. Always test everything against Scripture. Has your heart never been quickened in a way that particularly brought out a part of the scripture you were reading directly to what you needed at the time?
        By the way, I have not read Brad Jersak myself so I am just responding in general to the discussion here.
        I also want to say the if we use Jesus and the NT writers use of Old Testament scripture as a guide to how we ourselves interpret scripture, there is some evidence that scripture was used in more than a historical, contextual way. There is an intended meaning for the original audience, there is a pattern meaning for the way God works ( for example, Matthew’s use of the coming out of Egypt reference to Jesus life, which is not used according to its original context at all), there is at times an allegorical interpretation of an also historical event such as Paul’s use of Hagar’s and Sarah’s offspring as an allegory of the flesh versus the spirit and there is Jesus statement to the disciples on the road to Emmaus that ALL scripture speaks of Him. Do you include these ways of interpreting when you say there is a single intended meaning?

      • Another question. I am really curious as to how YOU apply the verse about mixing two types of cloth? I have actually wondered about that verse, being so close in proximity to the verses about homosexual practice. Is it just as important? Is it positioned there randomly? Is anything in Scripture positioned randomly? Was it meant to differentiate the Israelites from pagan dress in a “set apart” kind of way? Would it apply to dilemmas such as gene mixing( GMOs), attempts to mix species through interbreeding (ligers)? I am pretty sure there is something we are to take away from that instruction, even if it was literal only for that group of people.

      • Okay, I need to clarify something else. I just went to the blog mentioned above by My Family’s Journey out of Darkness. In it she/he says that Brad Jersak condones/recommends astral travel among other things. I am not on the side of that sort of thing at all, which I believe to be occult. Nor centering prayer, or using a Biblical word like Jesus or peace repetitively, or the practice of yoga, kundalini or otherwise, which I believe aligns one with deceiving spirits of Hinduism. Also, people who claim to audibly hear God like Neal Walsch in Conversations with God ( who says we should play with our sexuality) or MaryAnne Williamson (who say we have misunderstood the message of Jesus), etc. These things are blatantly in contradiction to the revealed truth in the Bible and automatically false and deceiving spirits. Still, I do believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit as we directly bring all of our concerns to Jesus, asking for wisdom, and being truthful about ourselves, as Jesus ( ask, seek, knock)and James after him ( ask for wisdom and the father will give generously) say we can do. This has produced the fruit the Bible says we should have ( more forgiveness, compassion, gentleness, trust and praise of God in hard times, perseverance). The Spirit confirms with us that we are His, He brings the appropriate scripture to mind at the right time, he sends providential teaching or encouragement. It is very personal but always Biblical.

  28. Hello Trevor,

    My wife and I are greatly appreciative of your diligent work in discerning “the issues” facing christians today. Please provide me with your e-mail so we could chat further.

    Thx

    Robert Klay
    MB attendee

  29. Hi Lyndon,

    I’ve read through the comments, and am trying to learn exactly how the Holy Spirit guides. I’ve gathered a bit from what you have already posted… but if I could make a request for an article to be posted some time – that would be the topic. What is the difference between mystical and scriptural guidance/speaking of the Holy Spirit. Or if you could just point me to some resources, I’d be grateful.

    • Well Anna, I’d love to do a series of posts on the guiding of the spirit. That’s actually a larger topic than it sounds though, so here’s something for you in the meantime. As a VERY general summary, the spirit speaks/guides through two ways:

      1. Revelation.

      2. Providence.

      What that means is this:

      1. The Spirit “speaks” through the Revelation of God. In this era of history, this exclusively means the word of God; the Bible. The Bible is where God tells us propositional truths about ourselves, our world, and himself. The scripture tells us about sin and salvation, and delivers the message of the gospel to us. As believers, we want to read, study, memorize and internalize the word of God, ever growing in thinking God’s thoughts after him. We read, study and memorize scripture with the goal of changing our thinking from sinful to righteous. From right thoughts flow right actions, and when those right thoughts and actions increase, we “grow” into resembling Christ more.

      In a nutshell, the Bible is how the Spirit “speaks”.

      2. The Spirit “guides” through Providence, which basically means his regular orchestration of all things. This includes his saving grace in our lives, his illuminating work in helping us understand the scriptures, his directing of our conscience, and his orchestration of the people and events of the world in which we live. Most of the time, people simply confuse “providence” with “revelation” and say “God told me (blank)” when they really mean “God directed my conscience towards (blank)” or “I really felt that I should (blank)”.

      It might seem picky for me to separate revelation and providence that way, but it’s important for two reasons:

      a. I’m quite convinced those are biblical categories for understanding these issues. The Bible clearly separates God’s revelation from his providential directing of the heart, the workplace or the nations.

      b. When people say “God told me…” and they really mean “I felt that I had to…”, often God gets blamed for our failures when he doesn’t “come through” on things that we wrongfully think he’s promised or told us. I’ve seen this too many times to count; people chalking their desires up to God and then blaming him for the consequences. This one issue has destroyed many of my charismatic friends who blame God for their lack of discernment or foolish decisions (I’ve had the “God TOLD me to marry her/him and look at what happened! Why would God DO that to me?” question thrown at me probably a dozen times alone).

      Now that I’ve said all that, I’m sure that you have around 500 questions. I get that, and I want to encourage you that there are solid, biblical answers for all those questions. The road I’m on with these issues has been around a 20 year journey, so don’t expect to sort this all out in a few weeks. We can take one question at a time, or I can simply one day write an article on the revelation and providence of God. I’m stretched for time these days like mad, but I’ll do what I can for you.

      If you’re ever in Vancouver, I would love to connect and explain things in person. That’s usually the easiest and quickest way to sort through these things.

  30. Thank you for taking the time to put that together for me. I do have a question, and it’s not entirely related… but sort of.

    I’ve read a lot lately about the different eras in history and how the Holy Spirit was different or manifested differently in the Bible times than He does now.

    I have a friend that has been saying that when Jesus was on earth, he did everything through the power of the Holy Spirit, such a miracles, healings, knowing someones past (the woman at the well). She says, if the Holy Spirit does that for Jesus, than by the power of the Holy Spirit we should be able to do the same things.

    Can you give me some insight? When you have time that is 🙂

    • Well, the short answer would be “if the Holy Spirit does that for Jesus, than by the power of the Holy Spirit we should be able to do the same things” might be true if two things can be established:

      1. You and Jesus have the same purpose.

      2. You and Jesus have the same need to validate your ministries with miracles.

      I’d suggest that your friend is WAY off in assuming that “since Jesus did, so can I”.

      I’m not Jesus. I don’t have his mission (I’m not establishing the foundation of the church, dying for sins, judging unbelieving Israel, etc.). I don’t have any promise to think that I’ll manifest divine miracles and power like Jesus did. I don’t have the Spirit providing the manifestations in my life like Jesus did because I don’t have the purpose that Jesus had.

      The Spirit didn’t simply do signs and wonders in Jesus life because it was cool or because it stimulated faith in those who doubted. The Spirit was confirming that Jesus was a prophet of God whose message was true, that Jesus was the promised messiah, that the divine economy was about to change (with the coming of the promised new covenant), that judgment was coming upon Israel, etc.

      If you look at all of Biblical history, signs and wonders (i.e. miraculous manifestations of the Spirit of God) are historically VERY rare. Adam to Noah is over a thousand years with nothing. Noah to Moses is 500+ years with almost nothing short of a few visions. Moses is 40+ years of miracles, then hundreds of years of nothing. The time of the kings and prophets is 500 years (about) with 95% of the miraculous occuring within the lifetimes of Elijah and Elisha.

      Jesus’ flurry of healings and miracles were totally rare in all of history; that’s why he stood out so much. If you read Mark 2 & 3 you see crowds following him like crazy because he literally wiped out disease in the area. In John 9-12, you see people unable to deny that the things that Jesus did never had been done before. I’d say that’s significant.

      Another point is that if your friend is onto something, where are the miracles and signs these days? Where have we seen healings like that recorded in the last 1,900 years? Just on the healing questions alone, Jesus and the apostles healed people:

      1. Publically.
      2. Instantaneously.
      3. With clear and obviously diagnosed physiological problems (i.e. paralysis or blindness)
      4. Completely with absolutely no remission.
      5. Without ANY doubt (the debates were on what the healings meant and whether or not the healings should have been done on the Sabbath. Nobody EVER doubted that they happened since they were utterly unquestionable).

      Nobody, and I mean nobody, does healings like that these days and history testifies loudly that nobody has done healings like that since the time of the apostles. You may want to check out the ministry of a man named Justin Peters. He is a fellow with cerebral palsy who is a genius and exposes healing frauds. He does meticulous homework, has been going for over a decade, and hasn’t found a single authentic faith healer yet who heals like Jesus and the apostles did. He has some resources on his website that are very valuable. Check out justinpeters.org and buy his “a call for discernment” stuff.

      I’m not saying that God doesn’t miraculously heal, but I am saying that it doesn’t happen today in the same way that it did with Jesus and the apostles (i.e. we pray and God heals. With Jesus and the apostles, they never prayed; they were simply given divine power to heal whoever they desired…and they didn’t always use that power to heal. Read Acts 13:6-12).

      • Dear mennoknight,

        If we are the body of Christ, are we not by extension involved in the continuation of His mission? Not of atonement, of course, but contrasting by exemplifying God’s kingdom life and taking it to the ends of the world? What did Jesus mean when He said “you shall do greater works than these? ” Did He just mean that we would reach more people or does He include the miraculous doings He did?
        How do you explain a life like that of Yun, the Heavenly Man missionary of China? He received many visions/dreams ( that all came true) and direct impressions of the Word , taken out of their historical context but apparently meant by the HS to directly encourage him at various times. He suffered much torture during imprisonments for the sake of Jesus/gospel and MANY have come to the Lord because of His radical obedience. Miraculous healings and sustenance experiences also, all while suffering for Christ.
        Why does Corinthians say we should desire the gift of prophecy most of all?

        Why does Revelation say the testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy? What does that mean?

        There can never be new revelation that contradicts the word of God already given to us. But I am having trouble deciding that there is never guidance through direct impressions on the spirit, dreams, visions,etc. And I am not talking about going to Walmart.Looking for that kind of guidance seems like fortune telling although Jesus may have a task for you there on a particular day, of course.

      • Pressing,

        1. If we are the body of Christ, we do what he tells us to do and don’t operate on deductions from somewhat ambiguous ideas or theological principles.

        Did Christ tell us to “exemplify(ing) God’s kingdom life and taking it to the ends of the world” or to go into the world to preach the gospel and make disciples?

        2.

        a. Who is Jesus speaking to in John 14? Who is the “you” in 14:12?

        It’s the same people he’s been talking to since 13 – his disciples.

        b. What are the “works” in 14:12?

        They’re miraculous works, which Jesus also comments on in 14:8-11.

        c. What does the “greater” mean?

        The apostles didn’t raise more people from the dead than Jesus.
        The apostles didn’t heal more people than Jesus.
        The apostles didn’t perform more miracles (numerically speaking).

        It seems inescapable from the context that “greater” refers to effect and not quantity or quality. At Pentecost, the miracles were “greater” in the manner that far more people believed the message that they heard where as, though Christ exceeded the Apostles in both quality and quantity of miracles, Jesus went to the cross with absolutely nobody believing his message.

        This fits the context of the immediate passage most obviously, since 14:8-14 is a passage where Philip doubts Jesus and Jesus rebukes his unbelief.

        3. I don’t know enough about Brother Yun to say anything intelligent about him.

        Interesting how he’s a fellow from China. Apparently nobody in North America has ever even met the Holy Spirit…

        4. 1 Corinthians 14:1 is explained in 14:2. Prophecy is better than tongues.

        Both have ceased.

        5. Revelation 19:10, like all biblical passages, doesn’t happen in a vacuum where you can just grab the word “prophecy” and run off to wherever you wish.

        John receives the revelation of the marriage supper of the lamb in 19:9, and then in 19:10 he attempts to worship the angel. The angel tells him not to because he’s a “fellow-slave of you and your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus” and worship should be directed to God, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.

        The angel shares the testimony of Jesus with John, and that testimony is the spirit of prophecy. I’d suggest that the “spirit of prophecy” is a phrase used synonymously with the Holy Spirit since the angel is refusing worship for delivering the prophecy to John and is instead telling him to worship God, the source of all the revelation that is moving John’s heart to worship.

        Both the angel and John share the testimony of Christ, and that testimony is synonymous with the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit’s defining work is the revelation of Christ.

        Glad I could answer some questions.

  31. Dear Mennoknight,

    I appreciate the time you have taken to respond to my comments and questions. I also know these comments have gone beyond your purpose of evaluating Brad Jersaks’ teaching. I may completely agree with you in your evaluation. So I appreciate your patience even more.

    1. Of course, we are to preach the gospel. and live the gospel and make disciples. I didn’t mean to be nebulous. We are carrying Christ’s light, carrying and preaching His salvation message. My point just was that we are continuing kingdom work, being obedient to what he tells us, as you said. Sometimes God may have miracles, sometimes just words and obedient actions, I would think.

    2.
    In response to who is Jesus talking to in John 14:12, it is “he who believes in me” This passage goes on all the way to John 17, where Jesus prays to the Father, 17:20 I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their word.” He prays for unity, sanctification and for the glory given to Jesus to be also given to them, that the world may know. Chapter 14 includes the promise of the Comforter.Chapter 15 the vine /fruit passage.Surely these wonderful
    chapters were not only for people alive at that time!
    we may not be cast out of the synagogue ( specific to those at that time) but we may be cast out in other ways. Who knows, we may even be cast out of churches if we stop compromising with the politically correct doctrines being taught in so many churches and start once again allowing the word sin and repentance to be mentioned.

    1 Corinthians 13 does say prophecy and tongues will be done away, but also knowledge will be done away. It also says faith, giving to the poor and allowing yourself to be persecuted (burned)are nothing without love.

    When we get to heaven, even faith and hope are not necessary but love remains. Isn’t that the context of this chapter.? “when we shall see face to face”?

    In chapter 12, apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles healing, helps administrations and tongues are all given to the “church”, not just to the apostles. Chapter 14, immediately after, says desire earnestly spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

    Now, I really don’t know if prophecy in the NT church was only to speak “God’s heart” for that person….certainly the OT prophets spoke God’s heart to Israel. Sometimes they urged repentance, sometimes they encouraged, they warned of judgment if idolatry continued. They did not tell the “future” except once in a while and usually for the nation as a whole. If certain people have a gift for speaking the right word to a person or church that brings them back to the heart of God, maybe that person is a prophet. Even in the epistles and Acts, there are not many examples and when Paul is warned about being beaten, he still goes because he knows God wants him to go anyways
    For me, I have a hard time being sure whether there are or are not prophecies. I come from a staunch dispensationalist background.

    3.
    In response to your comment on Yun, read his story in The Heavenly Man. It is quite possible that God, who gives as He wills, gives “greater” manifestations to those bearing witness under persecution than he does to those not suffering such.
    Even in his story, these things are not everyday happenings but key points in his life where specific encouragements and warnings were needed. So I do believe his story. For example, he was given a vision/dream that alerted him to not give in to the government sponsored “church”, that it was a harlot. This helped him withstand the temptation of going the easy way which would have preserved him from beatings, torture and jail the next day when a way out was offered to him.

    If I have a specific verse imprinted in my mind after I have gone to God with a specific question, I have the definite sense that is the Holy Spirit’s response. It is propositional, as you say, because it involves words, but it is also scripture. Maybe this is what you call guidance. Not sure.

    Thanks for listening.

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  33. Dear author,
    I am surprised that in spite of your apparently thorough read of my book, you have chosen to bypass the basic principles of Christian brotherhood in what has greatly exceeded a review and become accusation. I would want to assure your readers that significant charges you’ve made in your articles about me are untrue, that you neither verified them with me directly, nor ever approached me with your concerns. Your readers should be aware that you don’t know me and are not an expert on what I teach. I would appreciate direct contact through freshwind@shaw.ca so that we can proceed with Jesus’ prescription in Matt. 18. In the mean time, I would ask that you trust my word in saying that you have mistakenly borne false witness in your articles and I would humbly ask that you remove my name from your site.

    • Mr. Jersak,

      You have written public discourse that is open to public interaction. If you have written an updated book that changes or recants your claimed biblical support for listening prayer, I’ll gladly buy that book and update my interaction of your public teaching. If you have changed or recanted any positions, I’m also willing to be open and honest about your personal theological developments.

      This is a public forum, to which you’re more than welcome to come and defend your own writing or exegesis. If I have misunderstood something, or if you are being misrepresented, feel free to provide whatever explanation or correction is necessary.

      You’re right to inform my readers that I do not know you, but that fact is irrelevant to my engagement of your published work.

      You’re right to inform my readers that I have not verified the contents of your book (or the Clarion article that has disappeared), but that fact is irrelevant to my engagement of your published work.

      You’re right to inform my readers that I am not an expert on what you teach. I don’t pretend to evaluate your personal ministry, any of your public speaking, or anything else beyond 2 pieces of writing that you’ve offered to the public. I can take what you’ve published and offered in the public sphere and publically evaluate it against the standard of the scripture.

      You’re quite confused to instruct me to contact you at your e-mail address so we can proceed with church discipline as prescribed in Matthew 18. Whose elders would oversee the discipline process; yours or mine? Both? Am I part of your church? Are you part of mine? If it went through all 3 stages, would I be disciplined in front of your church? Would you be disciplined in front of mine? Would either of us get disciplined out of the other’s church? How does one get church disciplined out of a church that they don’t attend? I’m quite confused how you think we would actually perform church discipline.

      Beyond that, this is not an issue of a brother sinning against you…at least I don’t consider it an issue of you sinning against me. Feel free to inform me if the opposite is the case (and offer some sort of explanation). This is more of a situation in line with Acts 18:27-28, Galatians 2:14, 2 Timothy 4:14-15 or Titus 1:9, a situation where there’s public teaching/espousal of unbiblical doctrine that is engaged/refuted publically and openly. Public engagement and refutation are appropriate to this situation.

      If I have (mistakenly?) borne false witness, feel free to point it out to me and explain where I’ve misrepresented your arguments or exegesis. I’m not a perfect scholar or person, and I am fully willing to be corrected by the authority on your writing; you.

      • Wow. The person of whom you are speaking negatively about is inviting you to communicate with him, and this is your response? you have lost all respect from me. Jersak is a brother in Christ, no matter where you both attend, and you have attempted to rip apart his teaching. The least you could do is show kindness and not this lawyer-like argumentative babble.

      • Thanks for your thoughts Chad.

        I think you misunderstood what was being said.

        It doesn’t matter where we attend church…except if there’s a call for church discipline. Jersak said “I would appreciate direct contact through freshwind@shaw.ca so that we can proceed with Jesus’ prescription in Matt. 18.”

        Matt. 18:15-20 deals with church discpline.

        Mr. Jersak wants me to be “biblical” and do the Matt. 18 procedure, which I have already suggested is something that does not apply in this situation and simply cannot be done.

        Let’s just pretend that I decide that Mr. Jersak is teaching false doctrine and I then come with 2 elders from my church and rebuke him, but he doesn’t respond because he basically thinks we’re all wrong. How does my church leadership obey Matt. 18:17 if Mr. Jersak doesn’t even live in my town, let alone attend our church?

        As an elder of my church, I’m supposed to “give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). I’ve tried to do this and also follow the general precedent of passages like Acts 18:27-28 and Gal. 2:14 in responding to public false teaching with public engagement/response.

        How is engaging his teaching unkind or unloving?

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  35. Wow, now I know this is personal…
    You just can’t let it go, lol!
    You have copied your critic from 2008 blogspot over to wordpress. You have been stewing over this for a long time. I hope you find peace soon!
    Below is my original comment from your blogspot of 2008.

    It sounds more like you have a personal problem with Brad than you do with his book! And using sin scriptures to say that Brad should repent for his writing…? I am glad that you took a biblical approach to this review however, it is a shame that your amazon review does not. It only leaves me with a feeling of contempt and would turn me off from purchasing his book. Which feels like that is what you succeeded in doing. I would like to see you replace the amazon review with the one from 2008 so that readers would have a chance to choose for them selves whether or not this book is for them. The way it sits now, if I read your amazon review I would just avoid Brad all together. Doesn’t seem fair to me… I’m just saying!

    I have included below, the comment from your 2008 blog, where you give your readers a chance to decide for themselves what to think of Brad in hopes that you will change your Amazon review to the one you wrote below.
    Blessings to you “Armchair Theologian”.

    Thursday, november 20, 2008

    Brad Jersak’s Argument for Listening Prayer…
    The biblical argument for listening prayer from the book “Can You Hear Me”

    (This post was originally put up on Facebook and has been re-posted here for a curious individual)

    Up front, I must anticipate and answer the “why do you attack Brad Jersak” questions that are inevitable. If a person sees a loved one/brother doing something unwise, dangerous or outright sinful, there is a biblical imperative to attempt to come alongside them in love and attempt to call them to alertness to their situation, as well as lovingly call them to repentance.

    Luke 17:3 instructs: “So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”

    Galatians 6:1-2 states: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

    Paul wrote to Corinth in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10, regarding his aggressive 1st letter and said: “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

    2 Timothy 2:25-26 speaks of the man of God and says: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

    Jude 20-23 says: “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

    In as the Bible does instruct me to “encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9), it also gives me direction for the character of that teaching and refutation. Part of that is in having a gentle and respectful spirit, which I desire to model. That being said, I still have serious problems with the ideas and teaching of the book “Can You Hear Me” and desire to call to attention what seems to be unbiblical teaching that has been insufficiently addressed (to the best of my knowledge)

    Understanding Listening Prayer
    Can You Hear Me is broken up into three sections. The first section goes through the “what” and “why” questions, attempting to help the reader know what “listening prayer” is and to give a biblical basis and argumentation for the reality and normative nature of listening prayer. The second and third sections answer the “how” and “when” questions, explaining how listening prayer works practically and how/when to use it in various situations. So let us examine the argument of the book and see what is being said.

    Defining “Listening Prayer”
    Brad Jersak introduces the phrase “listening prayer” on the sixteenth page of Can You Hear Me, but takes his time defining exactly what listening prayer is (and his definition is not necessarily reflective of his practice). Walking through the introduction, Jersak comments on how he studied the Bible intently and became proud of his seminary degrees and personal piety but had never heard God’s voice (page 10). He says “I had accumulated Bible facts but ended up bankrupt because I didn’t know the Living Word, Jesus” (10).

    He then explains how a man named Patrick confronted him on his “stronghold of spiritual pride” by quoting and applying 2 Timothy 3:5 (akin to calling Brad a false teacher), Matthew 22:29 (somewhat akin…maybe… to calling him a Pharisee) and John 5:36-40 (again akin…somewhat…to calling him a Pharisee). Patrick allegorically applied those 3 scriptures to Brad and by ripping them outside of their historical/grammatical context, used them to tell him that the “extra something” in the Christian life that Brad was seeking was to “hear God’s voice” (i.e. embrace charismatic experience and become a prophet).

    He continues in the introduction to record how he “recognized none of the early Christian experience or ministry in my own life”, how the Lord shattered his “rationalistic” master of divinity degree and how he prayed that God would show Jersak his glory (10).

    In commenting on his credentials, Jersak states that his education will not “authorize me as a spokesman for God’s heart”.[1] Speaking of his book, he writes that “it offers an alternative that appeals to those mystical cravings yet demystifies the process” (10) and that it is written to pastors and leaders to prepare them to “train their congregations to hear God without fear of producing prophetic flakes” (12).

    In the first chapter, Jersak writes that “in listening prayer, we meet none other than Jesus Christ, the voice of the living God” (16). [Meeting Jesus sounds good, but that statement is not a definition in itself.] He talks about the frustration of how some people “go around claiming ‘God told me’” (wrongly claiming or utilizing prophetic revelation) and then contrasts that with “Jesus Christ’s approach to hearing God”, which is apparently given in John 10:2-15 (17).

    Skipping ahead, Jersak comments that Jesus promised Christians the reception of propositional revelation beyond the canonical scriptures (21), that Acts 2 brought a flood of revelation (21), that prophecies, visions and dreams are all versions of God’s voice (21) and that when Jesus poured out the Spirit in the book of Acts, “…he began to pour our the Spirit-the Spirit of revelation in particular-on every believer” (22). It seems clear that Jersak sees “listening prayer” as essentially “functioning prophetically” and Jersak see this promise of prophetic function (the reception of new revelation) to be for all believers. This claim seems to be a large one, though not impossible. Jersak indeed has a large goal in mind if he is to give adequate biblical proof for his position, so let us examine his biblical defense…

    The Biblical Case for Listening Prayer
    Jersak’s key text is John 10:1-18, and he reads John 10:2-15 as applying directly to Christians. He extrapolates several promises from the passage: Christ has a voice, he does speak and his sheep do hear his voice (18). Given that he defines God’s voice as “prophecies, visions, and dreams” (21) among other things, he apparently takes the passage to mean that Christ speaks propositional revelation and his sheep hear his voice prophetically. He comments on John 10:2-15 saying, “Note that Jesus did not say ‘My prophets hear my voice.’…According to Jesus, his voice is not reserved for the spiritually elite, the priest, or the guru” (18).

    ***Just to be clear, Jersak takes John 10:2-15 as “Jesus Christ’s approach to hearing God” and given his definition of “God’s voice”, the passage of John 10:1-15 becomes Christ’s prescription for functioning prophetically (17).

    Thinking to the time before he discovered listening prayer, Jersak then asks why he previously did not hear God’s voice. Jersak answers himself with Elihu’s words from Job 33:13-18, learning that God does speak (regardless of personal doubts), he speaks all the time and he speaks in many ways (20). He goes on to say that “Elihu is telling us that God’s radio station is always on. He’s broadcasting loud and clear, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The trouble is, we are not dialing in” (20).

    ***So Jersak takes Job 33:13-18 to mean that God is constantly delivering propositional prophetic revelation to mankind and people simply do not know how to receive it.

    Not only is God “broadcasting” his thoughts, but he wants to share what he has to say with people. He comments that Psalm 139:17-18 informs him that God is constantly thinking innumerable thoughts about Christians (individually) and John 16:12-15 explains that “he (God) is willing-no, longing- to share those thoughts with you” (20). Commenting on John 16:12-15 Jersak writes,

    “Jesus told his disciples that even after we consider everything he told them, both that which is recorded in the gospels and all that was not, he still had much more to say. But he withheld it, because they could not handle it yet…The Holy Spirit would come and continue sharing that which Jesus had left unsaid. He would guide them into all truth (John 16:13). If you wand to personalize this message, what Jesus is really saying is, there is so much more he wants to share with you. Were you to memorize every word of the Scriptures, the Lord would still not be satisfied. There is still more. And this ‘more’ is what the Holy Spirit is sent to deliver.” (20-21)

    So what does the Holy Spirit share with us? Jersak writes,

    “His (Holy Spirit) task is to share ‘whatever he hears.’ What does the Spirit hear? And whom does he hear? The Spirit hears the Father and Son. He eavesdrops on their conversations-on the innumerable thoughts they exchange with one another. Remember, a myriad of those thoughts are about you and for you. The Spirit overhears them and then comes over to say “Do you know what they’re saying? I want to tell you.” (21)

    Jersak comments that “in the Old Testament era, the voice of God seemed rare, sporadic, and exclusive” but when Jesus poured out the Spirit in the New Testament, the pouring out of the Spirit was “generous, continuous, and all-inclusive” (22). Jersak states that “According to Paul, our God is no speechless idol. He is a God whose Spirit speaks to and through his people (1 Corinthians 12:2-4)” (26).

    But how do Christians have assurance that they have guaranteed access to this constant divine revelation? Jersak finds another answer in the Old Testament. He also quotes Jeremiah 33:3 and observes,

    “As we call out to God, let us rehearse this straightforward promise. God does not say ‘Call to me and the devil will answer and deceive you.’ Nor does he say ‘Call to me and I might answer you when I feel like it.’ Nor does he say ‘Call to me and I will answer you if…’ Rather, he promises us (upon the life of his Son), ‘I [the Lord and no other] Will [most certainly] answer [respond to, converse with] you’ [not just the prophets or the priests, but you my children]”. (26)

    Addressing Skepticism to Listening Prayer
    Now Brad Jersak isn’t a fool; he knows that what he’s talking about may sound frightening to some of his readers. In efforts to explain to his readers that they already are experiencing what he is talking about (and thereby should be quick to embrace his teaching), Jersak comments on several ways that God “speaks” to people that they do not recognize. He comments that God already “speaks” to people through salvation (27), scripture (28), preaching (30), worship (31), conviction of sin (32), burden of conscience to pray for individual (33) and prompting of conscience to encourage individuals (34). Jersak notes how “normal” circumstances and convictions are, in actuality, God speaking (35). He rebukes his readers in missing God’s common methods of speaking, saying how it is wrong to think that “… God will only speak in grandiosity…” (35). Apparently, God speaks more frequently through seemingly meaningless events and situations in daily life.

    Jersak also addresses the problem of extra biblical revelation when he writes “God’s voice is heard primarily through the Scriptures” (37), but when one reads the Scriptures, one is not necessarily hearing God speaking. Jersak asks his readers “…did you know that you could carefully study and faithfully memorize the Scriptures all your life and still never once hear the voice of God?” (38). He evidences this statement up by quoting John 5:37-40, paralleling Cessationists with Pharisees, saying “The doctrine of cessationism taught that once the canon of Scripture was complete, God had delivered his final word; when the last word of the book of Revelation was written, God ceased to speak. Modern-day prophets were said to have crossed the line of orthodoxy” (39). So what changed his mind?

    Jersak records that “The turning point came for me when I encountered a genuine, modern-day prophet for the first time” (39). The prophet showed him familiar image and that extremely coincidental experience was taken as a verification of the person’s authentic prophetic function (In fact, Jersak abandoned his version of “cessationism” by seeing a familiar image of a burning ice cube…there’s no mention of any sort of biblical examination at all, either of his experience or his new doctrinal change). After that experience, Jersak explains how he “returned to the Scriptures with new ears to hear the truth concerning God’s voice” and learned, from the Scriptures, that “God’s voice may be heard via at least three broad avenues: messengers, circumstances, and direct messages to our hearts” (40).

    So what does this all mean?

    It seems rather difficult to misunderstand what Jersak is suggesting. Let’s quickly jump back through what he said his problem was and what changed his mind:

    – He studied the Bible but didn’t really experience charismatic experiences in his life (which he thought, based on his reading of the book of Acts and his rebuke from Patrick, that he should have experienced)
    – He was rebuked by a person who misapplied scripture to his life and told him that the thing he sinfully longed for (he admits that he hated prophets who appeared more spiritual than him on page 9) was the thing he should be chasing.
    – He met a “real” prophet and was convinced by a striking experience (which also suggests that the Bible wasn’t enough to convince him).

    He seems to clearly expect that though not every Christian does function prophetically (receive propositional revelation from the Holy Spirit via either audibly or visually), but they should. The possibility for every Christian to receive extra-biblical revelation is both promised in the Scripture and should be part of the normative Christian experience. Is Jersak’s position biblical? Is he faithful to the teaching of Scripture? An examination of his supporting texts and a look at his hermeneutical practices will show whether his position on “listening prayer” stands or falls. But, time is fleeting and this note has taken me far too long to get out (I’ve been unbelievably busy). I’ll simply throw down his biblical support, open up discussion, and then systematically address it some future post.

    There are essentially four texts of scripture that Jersak takes as prophetic promises regarding ‘hearing” the voice of God; John 10:1-15, Job 33:13-18, John 16:12-15 and Jeremiah 33:3.[2] The verses are used to form the formula of listening prayer:

    1. God speaks propositional communication to Christians (John 10:1-15).
    2. God speaks propositional communication regardless of its perception (Job 33:13-18).
    3. This propositional communication is extra-biblical revelation that the Holy Spirit will make known to Christians (John 16:12-15).
    4. The Biblically prescribed method for accessing this revelation is by request (Jeremiah 33:3).

    Now this leaves one to examine the texts and see if Jersak seems to be properly handling the various scriptures in their own respective contexts, properly applying them for the formulation of the answer which he presents. Does Brad’s argument seem to clearly flow from the passages of scripture that he puts together? Do the passages seem topically related? Do they seem to be talking about prophecy, or something else altogether?

    More so, what does Brad’s ‘conversion’ experience to non-cessationism seem like? What do you think of his description of himself in his bible school days? Is the Bible as unclear on the issue as he claims? Is the crux of the question of cessationism/non-cessationism simply that the Cessationists simply have not met a real prophet where as the non-Cessationists have? Does God ‘speak’ equally through salvation, scripture, preaching, worship, conviction of sin, burden of conscience to pray for individual and prompting of conscience to encourage individuals?

    Talk amongst yourselves.

    Until Next Time,

    The Armchair Theologian (Lyndon Unger)

    • So, If it’s clearly personal because I edited and re-posted something, can I make the same inference from your re-posting of your own comments? Do you have some personal axe to grind against me Kenneth?

      By your own standard, you clearly do.

      I’m enjoying the irony there…

      Anyway, as with all events in history, things that are said on a blog have a historical context. As the context of my experience changed, so did my evaluation of the book and level of refutation. As people grow and change over time, so have I. I’ve realized the foolish arrogance of giving a “objective” presentation and a “choose for yourself” evaluation of something that involves false doctrine. Titus 1:9-11 removes that possibility from my list of options, and if I believe that the scripture is the word of God, I dare not impugn the authority or truth of God’s word by soft peddling and being “open” about issues/ideas that the scriptures close.

      Regarding my tone, maybe my tone sounds like I have a personal problem with Brad. I’ll entertain that. I don’t know him, and I haven’t blogged much about this issue, but maybe I have some issue of jealousy or personal hatred that I simply don’t recognize in my own heart.

      Then again, maybe “personal problem” is the only category you have to stick me in because you don’t see it as a question of truth and error. Clearly Jersak believes that the Bible teaches what he calls “listening prayer”. I suggest that he’s clearly incorrect because he twists the scripture to make his case.

      Maybe you think that my tone is one of personal opinion is because you don’t believe that questions of truth are actually answerable on the basis of careful exegesis of scripture.

      I’m not saying that you DO think that, but maybe your tone suggests you do.

      You may want to re-familiarize yourself with rule #7 on the “Rules of Engagement” page.

      If Brad is teaching false doctrine (i.e. listening prayer), and it’s the argument of this article that he clearly is, then he needs to repent. If you think that my judgment is too harsh there, feel free to engage my exegetical arguments and show me where I’m mistaken.

      I’m not interested in what you think is fair. I’m interested in what God says is truth.

  36. Thanks for this. I’m teaching on prayer tomorrow night at church and am using John Piper’s teaching on what prayer is as a presupposition for teaching what it means to pray with faith. And today I’m listening to Greg Koukl’s STR broadcast from Sunday where he talked about Listening Prayer in the second hour. I should say he talked AGAINST it. I was marginally aware that this was a private sentiment held by many Christians, but I was not aware that this had become an organized practice. A quick search landed me here and I’ll mention it with my presups tomorrow night in the event that anyone has been taken with this deception.

    Having studied the occult some, this reminds me of some practices used to facilitate demonic possession: things like “clear your mind” and “write down any impressions.” It’s far better to fill your mind with scripture and keep a journal of prayer concerns that serves as evidence of God’s working and a reminder of things that need continual praying for. A prayer journal isn’t a biblical mandate. I just know people who find keeping one helpful to keep on track with godly prayer.

    Thanks again for the info and sound handling of scripture.

  37. Hello Mennoknight,
    First off, are you a mennonite by heritage or practicing? Just curious.

    Second, you are very well taught and have your scriptures down pat, I too listened to STR’s podcast on the listening prayer and decided to do more research regarding it, landing me here. Although I think your message is clear, well thought out and Biblically based but it is the way that your message comes across that seems very aggressive ad devoid of love.

    I would like to have seen you have an email conversation with Jersak and then post that conversation, with his permission of course. Instead you send a very legalistic response that is in effect a slap in his face (I am not defending his book, action or his post, it was very legalistic as well).

    If my words betray me then I am sorry, I am not trying to accuse you of being wrong in your actions. Your responses to most of the posters is feels to me very hostile and unforgiving no matter how correct it is. Even as I am writing this post I am fearful as to how you will “correct me”.

    Anyway those are my two cents.

    God Bless.

    • Thanks for your comments Wally.

      I’m Mennonite by blood and confession.

      You’re fearful as to how I will correct you? What needs correcting?

      You’ve shared your opinion. You think I’m devoid of love. Okay. That’s your opinion and you’re certainly entitled to it. Help me understand here…

      Some people think that when I write, I’m “being loving” and some people think I’m anything but “being loving”. Not everyone applauds and not everyone is offended. Not “being loving” an easy accusation to throw out at someone, but it is a hard thing to actually address and improve if you’re simply doing what a person dislikes out of their own opinion.

      What is the objective standard of “being loving”?

      How can I know when I’m “being loving”?

      Can you give me some sort of biblical understanding of how I can know when I blog that I’m “being loving”?

      Honestly, if I’m supposed to improve at something, I’ve got to know what improvement actually looks like; I’ve got to have some sort of goal. Please help me out.

  38. An excellent review Lyndon, thank you. Jersak’s book showed up in our church library. I was dismayed by its content, and wrote a review to give to the elders. It was met with a less than enthusiastic, “Well maybe it does kind of cross the line” response. It’s sad to think that young believers go to their church library, only to find thoroughly umbilical teaching like this.

  39. As to the charge of being unloving, I would suggest a perusal of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, where those who are teaching false doctrine are dealt with very harshly. Was it out of love? Absolutely. It was Paul’s love for the blood bought church that compelled him, and I suspect that your response was borne of the same.

  40. Pingback: Authentic Fire Review Part 8 – Review of Chapter 9 | Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely…

  41. Hi, a young lady (30-ish) in our small church group has asked that we study Can You Hear Me and I, an old lady (68) but Christian of only 29 years got the book to review to make sure it was doctrinally sound and acceptable in our church as a study. I have had the book for s few months and can’t bring myself to read it, maybe just laziness or some aversion for some other reason. Maybe it’s the way she described it as “God speaking to us all the time” and we just have to be “listening” or just her personal variety of “spirituality” (btw, she left our church but continues to attend our group). Not interested in using my valuable time to read it, I went searching on line for some good reviews of it. There seems to be little. So here I am, I stumbled onto your blog, I don’t know you from a “hill of beans” so I have no idea if you know what you are talking about–if you are “solid” on the Bible. I read your entire review of the book and was baffled by “historical grammatical hermeneutics” and looked that up. OK, we’re good here. You said some things I just am not smart or astute or educated enough to understand. You referred to prophecy, prophesying, modern prophecy as a seeming bad thing–I am not clear on this. But I kept reading your conversation with the two people Lawrence and Steve in 2010 (so long ago) and came to a much better understanding of where you were coming from and what you are saying. I think this book might boil down to “contemplative prayer” and have to do with the “emergent church” two terms I cannot get a handle on but I know are “bad”. I have to find a kind way to tell her this book is not Good News but bad news. I may send your article to our pastor and ask him to comment on it (he trusts the discernment of our group on these matters and defers to us for our choice of study materials) thus copping out, saying he doesn’t want us to use the book. All that just to say thanks for reading the book and doing your thorough discerning review.

    • Thanks so much Barb!

      I apologize if there was a little too much lingo or difficult language in the review; it was originally written for an academic setting.

      In a nutshell, Brad Jersak says that anyone can get direct and propositional revelation from God:

      “Direct” means there’s no middleman; you’re the one receiving divine revelation.

      “Propositional” means it’s specific revelation; it’s not God “guiding” you, or God orchestrating events in your life, or some sort of impression in your mind. It’s God speaking in clear sentences, like I am now. It’s God speaking to you like you speak to someone on the phone.

      In the bible, there ARE people who get direct and propositional revelation. They’re called “prophets”.

      You’re free to go and claim to be a prophet, but the Bible is clear that prophets speak God’s word with divine accuracy, divine orthodoxy, and divine authority…and those who wrongfully claim to be prophets deserve to die (and have the worst spot of Hell reserved just for them).

      These days, there’s a rather gigantic movement of people who claim that there’s some sort of ‘second level’ prophet; one who gets divine revelation in their mind but then only report what God told them; the ideas are from God but the words are their own…and almost every time some stuff gets lost between the frontal lobe and the lips.

      That’s an excuse for people claiming that “God told me” and then having their word from the Lord be untrue, inaccurate, or even heretical.

      The general excuse is something along the lines of:

      “Well, God DID speak to me but my flesh got in the way”

      That whole idea is utterly unfounded in Scripture; my flesh doesn’t have the power to get in the way of God if he’s decided that I’m going to speak for him. I dare suggest the story of Balak and Balaam in Numbers 22-24 shows, rather overtly, that God never gets overpowered by anyone, and no amount of “flesh” is enough to out-muscle his desire to get his word out.

      So, in the book “Can You Hear Me”, Brad Jersak makes up a nonsense version of prophecy and then basically tries to get his readers to embrace his sub-biblical version of prophecy.

      I don’t buy it for a second, and the Bible doesn’t either.

  42. Hey Lyndon, I’m a long time reader but haven’t commented before, but here goes…I’ve just returned from an evening out with my husband for a friend’s birthday get together. One of the guests there began to talk to a group of us woman about how she had longed for God to talk to her, and how she felt she was lacking something in her relationship with God because she couldn’t ‘hear’ Him, like so many others apparently could. Anyway, she read a book, can’t quite recall the author now but I recognized the title at the time, and hey presto, she now writes down copious messages that she believes come directly from God himself (rather like the automatic writing seen in occultic and new age circles). It was all very depressing, especially as the lady next to her was nodding earnestly as though this was all good, historically orthodox, standard Christian stuff – aargh! Anyway, after listening to this for quite some time, and after sending up some urgent silent prayers, I tried to gently steer this woman toward examining this practice in light of scripture. This did not seem to go down well. Unfortunately, I had to make a hasty exit to pick up one of our kids so I had to be fairly brief and pointed in what I said, but it was pretty apparent that pointing to the bible as the authority in all areas of Christian life and practice was not what she wanted to hear. I will be praying that all those who witnessed this conversation, including the woman herself, will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and will begin to immerse themselves in the truth of God’s eternal word.
    I just find all this esoteric nonsense so deeply depressing and discouraging; in our part of the world, it seems that there’s barely a church I know of that doesn’t go along with this clap-trap. Anyway, thanks for the informative blog, I’ve learned heaps from your articles, and hope that your hiatus won’t last indefinitely.

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