In response to this: http://apprising.org/2012/05/25/ten-minutes-with-john-macarthur/

I agree with JM that the concept of having a “conversation with God”, as per the “contemplative”, “emergent”, “mystical”, “spiritual formation” movement understanding is definitely pagan.

I disagree with JM that the reason it is wrong is that God no longer speaks except by reading the Bible. (So, JM gets an invite to preach in New York, and then he searches thru the Bible to find a Scripture which will tell him whether it is God speaking to him to go to New York, or not. It’s silly. Scripture does NOT teach that.)

The reason having “a conversation with God” is wrong is that it approaches God the wrong way and treats Him as if He were an idol. Such an approach to God reeks of fallen man’s arrogance. The proponents of this actually think, in their delusional state, that they are controlling God. They ask Him a question, and they give Him a few minutes to answer, on cue. Very thoughtful of them, eh. Very considerate of them to give God an opportunity to speak on cue. It’s your time to talk, God. I’m listening! C’mon, talk! I don’t have much time, talk! It’s your turn now.

That’s only fair, isn’t it? You’ve done your talking to God, and now you can give Him a little time to speak. Very nice. God will be happy He’s been given a few minutes to speak. A nice little imaginary friend who will speak to you when you ask him to, and then put him back in the box till you need him to speak again.

They treat God as if HE is the one in the hot-seat, and HE is obliged to answer right on cue, and preferably before the little prayer time is over and the world beckons. It would be very convenient if He would comply and engage in conversation with us when WE require Him to speak.

Of course, such language betrays that such people have NEVER KNOWN the God of the Bible. It is the language of idolatry – a god which you can control, a god who will cooperate with you, and allow you to call the shots.

But the true indwelling Holy Spirit continually speaks to the obedient, faithful disciple of Jesus, teaching us all things. Yes, He is the One who writes the Scriptures in our hearts and brings everything Jesus said to our remembrance – of whom His sheep know His voice, and He leads them. That’s Bible. JM is far less Biblical than he thinks he is.

The condition is that we truly yield to Jesus as LORD, denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him.


  1. ian vincent Says:

    This technique is also used in some charismatic meetings: I’ve heard leaders say, Now lift up your hands and ask God to speak to you now. Then the hands go up and God is given a few moments when He is supposed to speak, on cue, on demand.

    Then, they are coached by the leader, Whatever thoughts came into your head at that moment, that was God speaking to you.… something like that.

    Then, it develops into a technique or formula to hear God’s voice.

    But the person who hears the voice of the LORD in daily life, leading them thru this life, teaching them His Word and His ways, will know that such a concept is false.

    See also:




  2. ian vincent Says:

    Let me just clarify the issue my brief article addresses:

    It’s not that God cannot or does not speak to people today, as He wills.

    The issue is whether man can get God to engage in a conversation, and demand that He talk on cue, like calling Him up on the phone, and having a casual conversation with Him.

    That’s the issue John MacArthur is addressing.

    But JMs rebuttal is also flawed bcos he limits “the voice of God” to understanding Scripture alone.

    What seems to trip people up here is the term “the voice of God”, and people assume you mean an audible voice.

    If we call it “God communicating to man” it may be easier to understand.

    The Holy Spirit communicates to our spirit and mind the things of God – to understand the Word of God, to know the will of God, to comfort and encourage us, to rebuke and correct us, to lead us.

    If you know anything concerning God then HOW did you know it? If you understand anything in the Bible, how do you know it? By the Holy Spirit communicating it to you, and THAT is the voice of God.

    THAT is what our LORD Jesus meant when He said that His sheep know His voice.

    Furthermore, what complicates the issue is that people like JM equate “hearing the voice of God” with extra-Biblical revelation / adding to the Bible, and that is a faulty assumption. Of course extra-Biblical revelation is false, but that is not the issue.

    The issue is that no one can understand the Scriptures EXCEPT by revelation of the Holy Spirit.

    And, how can one be guided in all the things of life, except the Holy Spirit guide them? And if the the Holy Spirit is not guiding them. then who is? They, themselves? That would make them self-willed, which is rebellion.

    How could anyone pray in the Holy Spirit unless the Holy Spirit guides them?

    How could any gift of the Spirit be expressed if not for the leading of the Holy Spirit?

    Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    (1Cor 2:12-14)

    If you are going to find the will of God and do it, in all things of this life, then is it that God solely leads and guides people by giving them Scriptures?

    Like, you’re considering whether you should marry a girl called Grace, and then you flip open the Bible and see “grace to you“.. ?

    The Bible will show you and instruct you as to why, or why not, Grace may or may not be suitable for you, but there’s many Graces out there. There may be several women you meet, of whom, according to the instruction of Scripture, would make excellent wives. How will you know, out of the suitable ones, the one God has chosen?

    We would be BELITTLING God to believe that He cannot reveal His specific will to us in all matters, except by giving us a verse from the Bible. It dishonors God. What a pathetic God that would be.

    Even when He witnesses His peace to us concerning some matter, or removes His peace, that is His voice to us, that is Him communicating.

  3. ian vincent Says:

    Lets try and distill this down to the real issue: It is:

    Is God a God who speaks on demand, or does He speak when HE wills? Does man have power over God to cause Him to speak?


    He speaks when He wills.

    You can ask Him anything, anytime, but you have no right to be disappointed if He does not answer right away, or answers in a way you were not expecting. You shouldn’t even be disappointed if He deems the question not worthy of an answer.

    The occultic, idolatrous thing about the “contemplative prayer” movement is that they assume that intimacy with God means that He is at your beck and call : that it is YOU who is in control of the “conversation” and He must respond when and how you require Him to.

    And more than this, it redefines what is fellowship with God. It redefines it by putting the initiative for fellowship with God squarely on MAN, when it is, in truth, the reverse: It is God who takes the initiative : and that is called GRACE.

    This is not just in the “emergent church” but all thru charismania and evangelicalism.

    It signifies man trying to Deify himself, trying to make himself on equal terms with God.

  4. ian vincent Says:

    All TRUTH is settled and established forever in the inspired Scriptures.

    However, in God’s dealings with His redeemed, there are two aspects:

    1) To establish the Truth – to know what is true. The Bible is the last word on what is Truth and what is error.

    2) To apply the Truth in our lives, once we know what it is – to know how to do His will in all the facets of life – How, when, why, where and when etc. This is the wisdom of God.

    Here’s an example, take the subject of EVANGELISM:

    a) The Bible establishes the Truth that it is God’s will that Christians go out into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.

    b) The Bible does not tell us, when, where and how etc.

    So yes, we are guided by the Truth of God’s word in this, and we are also guided by the specific guidance of the Holy Spirit. The specific guidance of the Spirit will never contradict the truth of Scripture.

    The same goes for the functioning of the Church, and all things. Bible knowledge, knowing the Truth, is not a substitute for, and does not replace, the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    Therefore, if a man only knows what is the Truth, but does not receive wisdom and guidance from God as to how He wants that truth applied and lived out, then he is missing out on the most part of the Kingdom of God.

    E.g. A man could be a theological expert on all the Bible teaches concerning the Holy Spirit, and yet, still not obey the Holy Spirit’s leading – still not walk in that truth, if he has been led to believe that the Holy Spirit no longer guides God’s people, as He did in the first century.

    I appreciate John MacArthur and i pray for him.

  5. ian vincent Says:

    THEREFORE……………… the pertinent point of this issue, and the scary thing, is that the Emergent people who have “conversations with God” are NOT having a conversation with the God of the Bible at all. The voice which replies to them is another spirit, and not the Spirit of God.

    This kind of pseudo-spiritual, new-age technique was hugely popularized in the book “The Shack”.

  6. ian vincent Says:

    Talking with a friend today on this subject of “conversations with God” and he asked why is it wrong to expect an answer from God if you ask Him a question. I said, naturally, if we ask in faith we most definitely are expecting Him to answer concerning whatever we have asked Him : that is a given. The issue here is not that God doesn’t answer in His time, the issue is about contriving a conversation with God, as if He has casual conversations with people about whatever things they might want to discuss with Him.

    The issue is also that God continually speaks by the WITNESS of the Holy Spirit, witnessing to the truth of the Word, and echoing this witness in our conscience and spirit, and guiding us with His peace as we commit our way to Him……. BUT the “conversation with God” concept seems to assume that you are NOT having a continuing witness of the Spirit in your Spirit, it makes it out like God needs you to initiative a conversation, and dictate the terms of the discussion, before He will talk to you, and that is wrong.

    I think that the person who seeks to have a “conversation with God”, is, by the witness of their own conscience, showing that they do not hear the voice of God guiding them continually – This is unknown in their experience. Therefore, a “conversation with God” seems like a good idea – something they might like to try out, seeing as though they don’t usually hear His voice.

    And the reason why people in the Emergent movement, who promote such stuff, don’t hear the voice of God is bcos they have made themselves His enemies, by calling evil, good, and good, evil. They mock the Scriptures, so how could they hear the Author of the Scriptures?

  7. Mark Says:

    I agree on all points. God reveals things in His own time. His will regarding our lives [where we live, how we serve, who we give to, whom we marry, and so forth] is clearly revealed to us. These truths in our lives are scripture dependent [they n-e-v-e-r contradict scriptural truths], but they cannot be found in scripture; they are only made known to us by the Holy Spirit.

    Honestly, it would be scandalous [and slanderous] to tell someone that God wants a personal relationship with them and then tell them that the Holy Spirit won’t speak to them both through scripture and based upon scriptural truths [but giving practical direction].

    The essential thing we need is t-r-u-s-t; if we truly know and understand Who He is, this is easy to do. We don’t even need to understand at a natural level why He is instructing us to do something. We just trust and obey.

    This is walking in the Spirit–where our focus is upon the Person of Jesus Christ–and not our own perceptions and imaginations [which count as nothing in this world].

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: