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 Are the stories true?

While looking up some information regarding the persecuted church I came across some information regarding last fall`s Strange Fire Conference.

A number of questions were posed to John MacArthur and company. One question caught my eye. The question was is Jesus appearing to Moslems in dreams and visions resulting in their conversions.

The official position of Grace to You is they do not accept these reports as valid. They only recognise the preaching of the word as that which brings salvation. This would be keeping to their position of cessationism.

I have always accepted the reports of Jesus appearing to Moslens as authentic. Tom Doyle in his book Dreams and Visions has documented stories of Moslem conversions based on his own experience of working as a missionary in the Middle East.

So is MacArthur right? Are the reports of Moslems coming to Christ via dreams and visions to be dismissed? Are the Moslems only converted through verses by verse exposition of scripture? Does God still speak through dreams and visions today?

Thoughts anybody?

Posted by Blaine Scogin

 2014/6/26 16:20
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 Re: Are the stories true?


from: http://www.christianity.com/blogs/tim-challies/john-macarthur-answers-his-critics-pt-2.html



Tim: We often hear today that many believers from a Muslim background—especially those from closed countries who do not have easy access to God’s Word—are claiming they had a vision of Christ and that in this vision he directed them to a place or person where they could hear the gospel. This proclamation of the gospel led to their conversion. Do you believe these stories? Do you consider such visions a valid means that God may work in our world today?

John MacArthur: There are several points that could be made in answer to this question. Let me begin with just a general comment about how to interpret experience. It is important to remember that, as Christians, we ought to develop our theology from Scripture and then interpret experience accordingly. Danger comes when believers get that backwards—allowing experience to define their theology, and then reinterpreting the Bible to make it fit.

With regard to these kinds of stories, I am always somewhat skeptical about third- and fourth-hand accounts of supposedly supernatural happenings. It’s not that I doubt the power of God to do whatever He wants. Obviously, He can (Psalm 115:3). But I question whether the story itself is an accurate record of what actually took place. Sometimes well-meaning people misinterpret what really happened. Sometimes second-hand stories are unintentionally exaggerated. And sometimes, sadly, people purposefully manufacture tall tales.

For example, there are unbelievers in false religions all over the world who claim to have received divine revelations or to have witnessed miracles. I don’t believe any of those things, because they are reported by people who do not truly know God.

Regarding the visions in question, it is important to recognize that those who have investigated such claims have found the evidence to be sorely lacking. For example, this article directly addresses the issue.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled to hear that Muslims are coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is remarkable, and I rejoice in that reality! Moreover, I would gladly affirm that their regeneration truly is a miracle (just as it is for every sinner), even if I would deny the notion that any previous dreams, impressions, or experiences were revelatory or miraculous.

I suppose that brings us to the crux of the matter. Do I believe that people in the Muslim world are actually seeing Jesus Christ? No, I do not. Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 15:8 that he was “the last of all” to see the risen Christ. So, I believe that precludes anyone outside of those listed in 1 Corinthians 15 of being able to claim legitimate visions of the resurrected Savior. (The apostle John, of course, was one of those included in 1 Corinthians 15. Accordingly, I don’t believe the book of Revelation sets a precedent for believers to expect genuine visions of Jesus to occur throughout church history.)

Furthermore, it is important to note that these individuals are still unbelievers when they reportedly have these experiences. Consequently, these experiences (whatever they are reported to be) cannot constitute examples of the charismatic gifts having continued, since spiritual gifts are only given to believers (1 Cor. 12:7)—and these people do not come to saving faith until later.

Finally, the New Testament clearly states that the way in which the gospel is spread in this age is through preaching. As Paul explains in Romans 10:14–15, unbelievers will not hear the gospel unless missionaries go to them proclaiming the good news of salvation:

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”

To claim that the gospel is now being spread through supernatural visions and revelatory dreams (rather than gospel preaching) goes contrary to Paul’s words in those verses.

By the way, that is why we live-stream our church services every Sunday in Arabic (through gracechurch.org) so that those sermons are available to Arab-speakers all around the world. We believe that faith comes from hearing the proclamation of the good news. In our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission, we can’t assume that supposed visions are legitimate, when the means that God has ordained is the proclamation is the gospel.

Now, can God providentially work in such a way as to use people’s thoughts and impressions to draw them to faith in Jesus Christ? Yes, I believe that’s possible. As I noted earlier, God can do whatever He wants. But that work is neither revelatory nor miraculous. Phil Johnson gave a helpful explanation of this point in his breakout session at the Strange Fire Conference. He said this: ​

How do we understand that inner sense, especially when God seems to use it to prompt us to pray, or witness, or duck and run at precisely the right moment? Because let’s be honest: that kind of thing does happen to most of us from time to time.

Here’s the point: I do believe that God might providentially use a spontaneous thought in my head to accomplish something wonderful. But that’s what it is, and no more. It’s a remarkable providence, not a prophecy [nor a revelatory vision]. As I have been saying, God ultimately controls and uses everything providentially… . The fact that He uses an idea in my mind to achieve some good purpose doesn’t make the idea itself inspired.

So where does that leave me? Well, I praise God that, in His perfect providence, He is drawing Muslims to saving faith in Jesus Christ. At times, the circumstances in which these individuals hear the gospel and are converted may sound extraordinary to us. Certainly, the miracle of regeneration is always extraordinary! But for reasons that come from the study of Scripture, I do not believe anyone today is genuinely experiencing supernatural visions or revelatory dreams.

Those interested in thinking more about this topic should check out Fred Butler’s helpful blog post on this topic.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2014/6/26 16:28Profile
Lordoitagain
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Joined: 2008/5/23
Posts: 600
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 Re: Are the stories true?

Saul heard a sermon from Stephen and flat rejected it. Later, Jesus appeared to him personally and he got saved.

Why would Jesus stop coming and preaching personally to people that they might be converted today?

THANK GOD for the Muslims who are being converted by Jesus himself appearing to them in dreams and visions!

Also ... what would be the purpose of the future scene that John saw?

Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Rev 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.


I have come to believe that the it may be that the church is not going to get it's job done (reaching every language group with the gospel) fast enough, so God is going to send that angel to finish our work.


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Michael Strickland

 2014/6/26 16:37Profile
yuehan
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Joined: 2011/6/15
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 Re: Are the stories true?

Hi Blaine,

You might be interested in Bilquis Sheikh's story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilquis_Sheikh

Her biography is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Dared-Call-Him-Father-Miraculous/dp/0800793242

 2014/6/26 16:51Profile
Heydave
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Joined: 2008/4/12
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 Re:

Reading what Greg posted, it seems that John MacArthur did not understand the question. He certainly did not answer the point, which was that these dreams and visions led those who had them to a place and persons where they would hear the gospel and as a result of hearing get saved.

MacArthur just missed that point and went on his usual rant against anything Miraculous or supernatural. I guess when you are locked into one way of seeing things you can't even hear what is being said clearly.

"In the last days young men will see visions and old men dream dreams." I'm about in that last catagory now! :)


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Dave

 2014/6/26 17:16Profile
ginnyrose
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 Re:

QUOTE:
______________________________________________________________

"In the last days young men will see visions and old men dream dreams." I'm about in that last catagory now! :)
______________________________________________________________

This is my understanding as well. There are visions and dreams that come from the Father to people who would benefit. There are also dreams that come from the devil who work to draw further people away from the LORD, deceiving them. The challenge to the Believer is to discern which is which. Off the top of my head I would say if this vision is producing a regeneration in the life of the individual it must be from God. If it is one that reinforces a lifestyle of unrepentance we know its source.

My understanding is that God is not limited in how He will draw people to Himself. I think once we get to heaven and if we could learn how the Holy Spirit drew people to the LORD we will find our understanding grossly ignorant.

I am also aware there are people who will 'manufacture' stories of Jesus' appearing supernaturally to them in order to gain a following. We are called to discern and at the least to not allow the reports of the supernatural to impact our discernment.

This is the way I see it.


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Sandra Miller

 2014/6/26 17:48Profile
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Posts: 168


 Re: yuehan

Her story is beautiful- as it is JESUS all the way through.
As I was reading I was nodding my head as everything in me bore witness, "Yes, that's my God! I know Him that way too!"

 2014/6/26 18:00Profile
Oracio
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 Re:

brothers and sisters, in the rest of that article John MacArthur is asked how he feels about solid Bible teachers who believe in the continuation of the miraculous gifts, such as John Piper and Wayne Grudem. He makes it very clear that he has high respect for them and would heartily join them in standing for the truth of the gospel and combating error. He only wishes more of the solid continuationist believers or teachers would be more vocal about the serious errors within the charismatic movement. I know one good example of that which I see sometimes is in the case of brother J. Lee Grady who writes for Charisma magazine.

Whether we agree with John MacArthur's cessationistic view or not, may we not see him as a false teacher or heretic and treat him as such. May we praise God that throughout the years this man of God has faithfully proclaimed the true gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of much criticism and opposition from the media.


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Oracio

 2014/6/26 18:06Profile









 Re:

Brethren there is no denying that John MacArthur and others are respected Bible teachers. I have profited much listening to him and Steve Lawson. Steve Lawson was once my pastor here in Little Rock AR.

Whereas these men are superb in their exposition and teaching of scripture. Do they understand anything about missions or Islam or the persecuted church? Indeed have these men ever been to the Middle East or talked to Moslem Background Believers who were converted out of Islam by a dream or vision.

It is pretty grievous when men the caliber of John MacArthur dismiss these reports because they do not line up with his theological system.

My thoughts.

Blaine



 2014/6/26 19:32
HeartSong
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Joined: 2006/9/13
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 Re:

Can anyone testify to the fact that those that had visions and dreams had never heard the gospel preached at any place or any time - either knowingly, or unknowingly?

 2014/6/26 20:44Profile





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