Your Christian friend says, “God told me….” She proceeds to tell you how God told her that she shouldn’t worry about thus and so, or that she should or should not get involved in such and such an activity for whatever reason. Perhaps you’ve prefaced your own remarks this way.
Saying “God told me” or a variation of that claim is a potentially harmful use of God’s name. You may think you are trying to give glory to God for his provisions, but there are other, better ways to praise God that are more beneficial. I have several reasons for avoiding this phrase:
First, this habit is perilously close to taking God’s name in vain. When I was growing up, I thought taking God’s name in vain was confined to using his name, or the name of Jesus Christ, as an expression of anger or surprise. But now, I’m convinced it pertains to more than profanity. It definitely applies to any situation where you misrepresent God. For a good post on this topic, please see: Mark Driscoll Warns Against 4 Ways to Take God’s Name in Vain.
Second, when you say God told me, you take away your listener’s ability to contradict you without contradicting either you or God. That’s convenient for you, but it cuts you off from godly advice and counsel from fellow Christians.Third, you better not be wrong because then you’ve exposed God’s name to dishonor. Backing out by making excuses like, “I thought he told me,” doesn’t help. Just don’t say it in the first place. Think on the following verse:
“Every word of God proves true;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
Lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.”
Fourth, and this is the main point, God speaks through the Word. His Word is complete, according to Jude and Peter (II Peter 1). His Word is living and active. See Hebrews 4:12. We have been warned not to add to it or take away from it. This has been done on a grand scale by Joseph Smith and others, misleading many who would otherwise know the truth. See Galatians 1:6-8. Even on a small scale, claiming additional words from God is something we should avoid.
God’s Provision for BelieversFifth, Christ sent us the Holy Spirit to give us guidance. The Spirit aids our prayers. See Romans 8:26-27. He illuminates the Scriptures for us and prompts us to awareness. See Ephesians 1:15-23. We need no other Counselor. We don’t need new “words from God” from those who claim to be apostles, prophets, or priests. People who speak outside the Scriptures by impressing their own teachings on us, are subject to judgment, and I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes when their work is put to the test. See I Corinthians 3: 10-15.
Sadly, we hamper God’s work by stumbling about, lacking the confidence that God can and will act through us, according to his will, through our present circumstances. We hope and think that God must have some special mission for us to fulfill, possibly in a foreign mission field, when all along, our special mission is where we are, today, right where we are. We should exert our greatest influence for the cause of Christ every day, wherever we are. Often, we sit with hands folded in the middle of wheat field ripe for harvest, waiting for “a word from God.”
Please don’t read this to mean that God hasn’t sent us to all the world. I’m trying to make the point that many of us, myself included, are idle when there’s work to be done on our front doorsteps. We need to be faithful in little things if we aspire to be given larger responsibilities. Matthew 25:21
Dear brothers and sisters, hopefully the Word is in your hands and in your hearts. You already have “a Word from God,” the invaluable good news of Christ, so speak it without fear.
Note two things about this phrase:
1) We receive information about salvation through the words given by the Holy Spirit, not some mysterious means like dreams, feelings, stirrings, or promptings. We are told specifically, “He who has an ear, let him hear….” This correlates to Paul’s statement: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
2) God’s Word wasn’t given to an angel or to a spiritual leader at the top of a towering church hierarchy; God’s Word was and is for the churches. The open letters of the New Testament were written for the good of all believers for all time.
‘God Told Me’… Really? by R.T. Kendall
Why Do We Say, ‘God Told Me’? by Nancy Guthrie
Why I Called Out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer by Rick Henderson