21Since they had been without food for a long time, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not have set sail from Crete and incurred this injury and loss. 22Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. 26But we must run aground on some island.”
An angel of the Lord appears to Paul and gives him a prediction and encouragement. Some people desperately want a direct revelation from God. We all dream and people are prone to see their dreams as God speaking to them. There is no end to the numbers of people who believe God is giving them a special message that others need to listen to. In some ways this is no more than a real hunger for significance. People long for importance. This is an incredibly sad thing and calls for great compassion and sympathy, even while we are involved in disagreeing and correcting. “God DOES speak to me”, is the cry, and to question that is to many people, to question God Himself. The ways in which people erroneously deduce that God has special messages for them are many and varied. But after all that, can we say that God never speaks to anyone like this anymore? How do we determine their truth? Several points:
1) It is right to ask “How do you know this is from God?” There are far too many people who falsely believe that they are God’s mouthpiece for special revelations, to leave people unquestioned, even those who may be legitimate.
2) God will not give these messages to people living in disobedience to, ignorance of, avoidance of … the Word of God. Isaiah 8:20
3) No one should ever have a higher regard for special revelations than they do for the Word of God. To get excited about the “word” and not the Word – is wicked. I Timothy 3:16-17
4) No one should see that these special revelations are necessary for their Christian living or worse, for the living of others that they believe God has given them a message for. The Bible is a sufficient guide for believers in everything. I Timothy 3:16-17
5) A message that conflicts in the slightest manner from the Word of God is not from God. Period. Read all of Psalm 119
6) The Scriptures are a more sure word from God than any revelation, vision, dream or message – II Peter 1:16-21
7) The fulfilment of a message so that it proves a prophecy was true is not proof that it came from God. See II Thess.2:9, 10.
It should never be understood that such revelations as Paul had in Acts 27 are the norm. Such things are recorded, partly because they were so exceptional, even in the day in which they were uttered. The Bible is not “full” of miracles and visions, as is sometimes believed.
9) The Bible’s emphasis is on the fruit of the Spirit more than the gifts and miracles of the Spirit, and so should ours be. Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 4:1-3.
10) Such revelations are to be used in conjunction within the ministries of a local church
under the authority of the recognized leaders of that church. There is nothing in the NT that recognizes Christians in a church doing whatever they please. If a church believes that these revelations are possible, there must be some mechanism that allows for them to be utilized in the proper manner. I Corinthians 14
11)All gifts are meant for the benefit of the local church. See I Corinthians 12:7.
Today, read your Bible. There simply is no better way to hear from God.