By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
Although I have not completely read Sarah Young’s very popular book called “Jesus Calling,” I have read enough of it to post this warning about it. Let me give one reason why we need to be warned about this book: The author puts words in the mouth of Jesus, a very harmful thing to do. This is done in each day’s reading, in which Young wrote down what she claims are messages from the Lord. In other words, we are to read the daily readings as messages directly from Jesus Christ to her and to the readers. Not only are the daily readings presented as messages from Jesus. In the introduction to her book, the author clearly (but falsely) claims she got these messages from Jesus by being silent in prayer, with pen in hand, to write down what Jesus said to her. This statement alone makes it clear that she believes the daily readings to be messages she received directly from Jesus. But the fact is, all the messages we need from Jesus Christ are contained in the Bible, period.
Sarah Young’s claims remind me of the apostle Paul’s warning to the Christians in Thessalonica. In the first 3 verses of the second chapter of his second letter to the Thessalonian Christians, Paul wrote these important words: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means……” The subject about which Paul warned is different from the one we are considering. But we can learn a very important principle from Paul’s statements that applies to books such as “Jesus Calling.” Here is the principle to be learned: just as those first century Christians were in danger of being misled by others who claimed to have received messages from the apostles of Jesus, and maybe even from the Lord himself, we in our day can be misled by those who, maybe sincerely but falsely, claim to have received messages from Jesus.
The way to avoid such deception is to keep in mind the historic position of Christian orthodoxy, which is that everything that God wants us to know about moral, doctrinal, and spiritual matters is confined to the pages of the Bible. God the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit speak to us exclusively through the pages of the Bible. Historic, Christian orthodoxy takes very seriously the statement of the apostle Paul, found in Second Timothy 3:16, that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Sarah Young does not claim that her so-called messages from Jesus are equal to the Bible, but if they really are messages from him how can they not be equal to it?
Many contemporary Christians have warned about the book, “Jesus Calling.” Here are links to two of these warnings: http://www.lighthousetrails.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LTP&Product_Code=AJC&Category_Code=WS http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/jesus-calling.
Here’s the conclusion of the last link’s post:
Jesus Calling is, in its own way, a very dangerous book. Though the theology is largely sound enough, my great concern is that it teaches that hearing words directly from Jesus and then sharing these words with others is the normal Christian experience. In fact, it elevates this experience over all others. And this is a dangerous precedent to set. I see no reason that I would ever recommend this book.
Gary E. Gilley has written a book that, though it is not specifically about Sarah Young’s book, applies to it because it has to do with the fact that the Lord speaks to us exclusively through the Bible. The following description of his book is taken from Gary E. Gilley’s website: http://www.svchapel.org/. Here’s the title and description of the book:
Is That You Lord?: Hearing the Voice of the Lord, a Biblical Perspective
The quest to “discover the will of God”, discern the mysterious promptings of the Spirit and open the floodgates of divine communication are all hot topics in popular Christian culture, and cause much unnecessary anguish and confusion. But what does the Bible say? Dr. Gary E. Gilley shows us, in clear and precise language, what God’s Word teaches on this important subject.
Author: Gary Gilley
It is quite interesting that the famous Baptist preacher, C. H. Spurgeon, also put words in the Lord’s mouth. For an example, read his devotional from January 16:
This morning let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help thee.” “It is but a small thing for me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with my blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside my glory and became a man for thee; I gave up my life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. ‘Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. Help thee?’ Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of my all-sufficiency. I will help thee.'”
It would have been much better for Spurgeon to have introduced his words with a statement such as this: “It is as though the Lord says to us…………………………”