An overview of dreams, visions, and special revelations today.
...and God said.... Pat Robertson: God Told Me Who The Next President Will Be (VIDEO)
In your dreams!
Are we in a time of the greatest of religious deceptions the world has ever seen? This world-wind of deception will sweep away all who have given in to lesser deceptions. Apostasy begets apostasy. Art Sadlier, Sound the Trumpet, January 2012.
Deuteronomy1: "1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God..." From this we ascertain that an attempt to turn another from the one true God has dire consequences.
Hebrews 1: "1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high..." (When the work is finished, one sits down. No further work is needed to accomplish salvation.)
"An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign..." Matthew 12:39
"But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8
John 20:29, "blessed [are] they that have not seen, and [yet] have believed."
Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]"
"Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 1:13
Ecclesiastes 1:9 "...there is no new thing under the sun."
Increasingly, dreams and visions are captivating our imagination. Always dreams have fascinated us. Despite years of study, they are almost as elusive as ever, without consensus in the scientific community as to their physiology, their purpose, and their meaning. With today's renewed passion for mysticism, in 'spiritual' circles especially, this fascination is worth another look.
Domhoff, G. W. (2001), A new neurocognitive theory of dreams. Dreaming, 11, 13-33, states "dream content in general is continuous with waking conceptions and emotional preoccupations...The output...for dreaming is guided by a "continuity principle" linked to current personal concerns on the one hand and a "repetition principle" rooted in past emotional preoccupations on the other." A New Neurocognitive Theory of Dreams
Let it suffice to say, that dreams are influenced by what we have experienced, thought about, been preoccupied with, emotions, how much of what and how late we ate before we went to bed, illness (dreaming there is a big black dog on your chest, and you cannot move it, and you are labouring for breath, when in reality you are having an attack of nocturnal angina), and the general or specific stresses of the day. Chemicals, various medications, are also famous for influencing how and what we dream. Factors such as illness, toxins, chemicals of various kinds, sleep deprivation, and occult practices can result in hallucinations, which might be mistaken for 'visions from God.'
Dreams, verbal revelations (hearing voices) and visions (in a waking state) have been and continue to be of intense interest to various religions/ cultures, as in Shamanism, Pentecostalism, Islam, Catholicism, and so forth.
The best known dreams and visions of Old Testament times were for prophetic revelation, Numbers 12:6 "If there be a prophet among you, [I] the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, [and] will speak unto him in a dream." Many today believe that dreams and visions are still being used of the Lord today. Is this biblical? For in the multitude of dreams and many words [there are] also [divers] vanities: but fear thou God, Ecclesiastes 5:7. Apparently we are not to get carried away with dreams. (Unger's Bible Dictionary offers a short but useful explanation, under dreams.)
The purpose of this discussion is to look at dreams and visions as experienced today, how/if they line up with Scripture, as interest in dreams and visions escalates in these late hours of these last days of time as we know it. Failure to be discerning in this area may leave us the hapless victims of any number of dyspeptic delusions, spurious ecstatic experiences, or demonic directives given in a 'vision.'
This topic is considered controversial, one which even solid Bible teachers seem reluctant to touch. That is no excuse for the ordinary Christian to not 'study to shew thyself approved.' Since we do not understand precisely how or when all the prophecies of Scripture that are yet to be fulfilled, will be fulfilled, we cannot speak with 100% certainty, unless the Lord has declared something to be so. Since it is becoming so critical an issue, we must at least arm ourselves with basic facts that we do have available to us. What prompted this writing at this time, was Jim Cantelon of the television program, Crossroads, 100 Huntley offering up as reliable, the Heaven is for Real book, about a child who goes to/has a vision of heaven, that, plus the fact that this book or books like it come up in conversation in Christian circles rather frequently. This drives home the fascination with dreams and visions; the belief that God told me is becoming main stream even amongst 'evangelicals.'
In Bible times, when a vision or a dream was given, the lessons or prophecies therein had to line up with the character of God and the written Word. Such revelations from God either were fulfilled to the letter, or are still to be fulfilled, we can expect, just as precisely as those that already have come to fruition. Dreamers are not quite so fussy today, as attested to by even a perfunctory look at the fantastic claims of modern televangelists.
A look at dreams and visions over the past centuries of even just a few of the most famous, will help us to discern if post New Testament visions line up with God's Word:
The emperor Constantine: Around the year 312 AD, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS... in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies... calling together the workers in gold and precious stones, he sat in the midst of them, and described to them the figure of the sign he had seen, bidding them represent it in gold and precious stone... The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine Thus he was 'converted' to Christianity, eventually mandated Christianity, and incorporated it with the old paganism. From such foundations came what we now know as Catholicism, a works based religion which even in its most basic principles, is diametrically opposed to sound Bible doctrine. (One important element of Catholicism is the fact that Mary is seen as Co-redeemer. Why this is mentioned, will become clear further into this study.)
The prophet Mohammed: Even as a child he was given to visions. His most significant 'revelation' that would change the course of history, happened in a cave around 610 AD while meditating. The 'angel Gabriel' reportedly came to him and commanded him In the name of thy Lord the Creator, who created mankind from a clot of blood, recite! He was very afraid, thinking he was possessed of an evil spirit. Interestingly, a monk convinced his wife that Mohammed was not crazy. Eventually these recitations he received were written down as the Quran, and Islam was born. Even a cursory glance will tell us that the god of Islam is not the God of the Bible, for Allah has no son. (Studying Islam, you will note there is also a Mary connection.) Understanding the Islamic Explosion, Bernard Palmer, Horizon House, 1980. Allah is not God, nor is Isa, Jesus. Allah, proper name for the moon god, long preceded Mohammed's vision. ( Is Allah the Name of God? )
Joseph Smith: I asked the personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right, and was told, none, and was directed to start his own, the only 'true' church. An angel 'Moroni eventually directed him to two golden plates that supposedly contained the true revelations of God, which he then translated with the help of two magical stones. This was the basis for the Book of Mormon, 1830. Although Mormonism is also called 'the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormonism has no Biblical basis. A quick look causes us to discern this works religion as the delusion from whence it flows: it teaches God was once a man who by his own efforts became God, and that good Mormons too will become gods. "Lucifer, the son of the morning, is our elder brother and the brother of Jesus Christ" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 163-164). So the two older brothers are Jesus and the devil. Does the LDS Church have a Different Jesus? Today in an online Mormon website Gospel Principles, we find, types of revelation, such as visions, dreams, and visitations by angels. Through such channels, the Lord has restored His gospel in the latter days and revealed truths concerning such doctrines as premortal existence, the redemption of the dead, and the three kingdoms of glory. However, most revelations to leaders and members of the Church come through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost
This completely contradicts Scripture, which is clear there is no new revelation for us today. (Most curiously, the original Book of Mormon affirms Mary as the Mother of God. This is Catholic doctrine, and will likely be of interest as Marion apparitions increase in frequency in the future.)
Ellen White: While Seventh Day Adventists claim that their source of authority is the Bible, much of their belief system is based on the over 2000 unbiblical visions of Ellen White. They teach that salvation is by grace plus works, that the blood atonement of Christ is not sufficient for our salvation, and that there is no hell, among other false teachings. A Quick Introduction to Seventh-day Adventism
Sun Myung Moon: ...when Moon was 15, he said that he had a vision of Jesus while praying atop a small mountain. He said that Jesus asked him to complete the unfinished task of establishing God's kingdom on Earth and bring peace to the world. Moon has claimed, and it is generally believed by Unification Church members, that he is the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ and is fulfilling Jesus' unfinished mission. Obviously he is one of many false prophets, who, despite his bizarre (and ecumenical) teachings, deludes many. Sun Myung Moon
A common element to the above, and endless others like them, was that they came by their revelation by way of visions or dreams that they considered to be of the divine. Tragically, each hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God.
Let's take a look at a sampling of current dreams and visions which are being touted, as from God.
Beginning with Heaven is For Real : this is the account/ story, of a little boy's trip to heaven while anaesthetized for surgery. My first search into this, took me to a local paper, to find that this boy's father was involved in an ecumenical meeting. (Caution, ecumenical instantly indicates, discernment not being exercised.) Some of what the lad reports to have seen/experienced is quite startling, like hugging his unborn little sister (whom he didn't know he had) in heaven. This seems to have been what convinced the parents that their son's story was valid. "We had wanted to believe that our unborn child had gone to heaven. Even though the Bible is largely silent on this point, we had accepted it on faith. But now, we had an eyewitness: a daughter we had never met was waiting eagerly for us in eternity" (p. 97). For the sake of those readers not online, a summary of highlights of a critique by T.A. McMahon follows. Otherwise, please read his excellent article at the link. Is "Heaven Is for Real" for Real?: An Exercise In Discernment We need to remember these guidelines for discernment: (quoting extensively from McMahon's critique, in addition to some of my own thoughts)
-all of Heaven is For Real is extra biblical (he saw things not consistent with nor mentioned in Scripture, like Jesus having a rainbow coloured horse, everyone had wingsMcMahon points out that angels that appeared to man are not described as having wings, and people who are in heaven are not yet in their physical bodies, hence no need for wings)If it rings true to the Word of God, then it must be true. Well, yes and no. Yes, it must be true to Scripture. What is presented certainly cannot be at odds with what the Bible teaches about Heaven; nevertheless, just because it conforms to Scripture doesn't prove that the person's declaration or experience of being in Heaven actually took place.
-even if some of the descriptions might sound plausible,
-accuracy is not the only criteria for biblical discernment
-we know that the dreams/visions/revelations in the Old and New Testament are true, for we know God's Word to be true. "Thy word is true from the beginning...," and Jesus said, "Thy word is truth" (Psalm 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. John:17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.). That is the ultimate verification that the experiences of those men of God indeed took place as they described. Furthermore, since the canon of Scripture was closed in the first century A.D., no one since that time can have his vision of-or his alleged visit to--Heaven validated in the same way.
-In the account of the rich man in torment, and Lazarus, the rich man was told, when he pleaded for someone to warn his brothers, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" Luke 16:19-31
-The Bible is God's precise, absolute, and eternal communication to mankind (Luke 21:33; Hebrews 4:12). It did not come by nor was it left up to the will or imagination of man (2 Peter 1:20). Paul writes, "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). No further revelation is needed.
-not how it works, but what is being communicated is what is important. Was it the anaesthetic that caused the 'trip' to heaven? No one knows. In the case of little Colton, he later identified the Jesus in a painting by Akiane, a young new ager who also as a child claimed to have seen Jesus, and whose Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible, as the Jesus, Colton saw when he went to heaven. Yet Akiane's Jesus invites people 'to participate in the divinity', sounding very much like Genesis 3:5, 'ye shall be as gods.' (In fact, universalism is often the message that comes through. Remember Deut.1:5, to turn you away from the LORD your God is the goal if it isn't of the Lord.)
-we are not to be carried away by every wind of doctrine, Ephesians 4:14
- Let us therefore take to heart Paul's warning: "I have laid the foundation [of the gospel], and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 1 Corinthians 3:10
-In addition to McMahon's comments, we are forbidden to add or take away from God's Word. There are severe warnings against doing so. If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book...Revelation 22:18. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. Revelation 22:18-20
David Cloud also cautions of the dangers of Heaven is For Real, Heaven is For Real: A Dangerous Book for an Apostate Age the headings of which I will give for the sake of those without online access:
- First, the book is contrary to the testimony of Scripture that the apostles were the last to see the resurrected Christ. This was one of the evidences of apostleship (Acts 1:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:7)...Please keep these principles for discernment From David Cloud and T.A. McMahon in mind while we look at further visions/dreams.
- Second, the book is contrary to Paul's statement that when he had visited heaven he heard things that he was not allowed to repeat (2 Cor. 12:4). Obviously, then, a person cannot visit heaven and describe whatever he sees and hears there...
-Third, the book Heaven Is for Real is contrary (to) God's emphasis on the priority and sufficiency of faith and Scripture...
- Fourth, the book Heaven Is for Real is contrary to the Bible's plain teachings...(example) that the Holy Spirit is blue and sits in a chair near the throne of God (p. 102), and for our Catholic friends the book is happy to report that Mary stands in heaven beside Jesus (p. 152). (It is noteworthy how often Mary shows up in visions, my comment.)
In another book review, of Have Heart: Bridging the Gulf Between Heaven and Earth, T.A. McMahon adds a few more helps to discernment. Have Heart: Another Exercise in Discernment The authors, the Bergers write, after losing their son in an accident, "From the beginning of our pain, we asked the Lord for only His truth. We didn't want to be comforted by a lie or counterfeit sympathies. We wanted God and His truth... Despite their apparent sincere desire, before long in the book they move away from Scripture to experience. They begin to communicate with their son in dreams. "He [God] used a dream in my life to further unfold the greatness of Heaven, to reinforce the supernatural preservation of my son..." (p. 71). Sarah declared to her son that she needed "to be involved with your life even now...and I want to be involved in what you are doing" (p. 82). She then pleads with God to allow that to take place. Supposedly, God answered Sarah through the dream of an unbeliever, a Muslim friend of the family. Others supplied details of Josiah's "job" in heaven through their own dreams.
McMahon draws our attention to Deuteronomy 18:10-12 against divination, familiar spirits, necromancers (contacting the dead) which the Bergers also quote but forget. To quote from McMahon's review, Furthermore, Jesus chided Thomas for not believing that He had resurrected from the dead without physical proof, adding, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Experiences never trump faith that is based upon the Word of God. Peter had an incredible experience on the Mount of Transfiguration when he saw Jesus glorified and in the presence of Moses and Elijah. Yet Peter declares that even better than that, we have "a more sure word of prophecy" and exhorts believers to "take heed" to the written Word (2 Pt 1:19).
We are reminded, Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works... 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
Quoting again from the review, "I (Berger) was begging God for a sign, a sign...out of the ordinary...that my Josiah was all right...I was asking God to give me something I could behold with my physical eyes" (p. 118). Scripture, however, warns that "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign" (Mt 12:39). Again we see that the individuals involved are seriously seeking (what?), thinking it is the Lord that is answering. Instead they are meddling with the doctrines of demons.
If you google search Muslim dreams and visions, you may be startled at the number of people 'coming to Christ' after 'seeing Jesus.' As the sky grew lighter, suddenly over the horizon, people could see a large white light moving south to north. It was surely not a comet or meteor, because it seemed too large, too close and it was moving at a speed that was easy to follow. Was this some kind of UFO apparrition, or an aircraft with searchlight? Nobody could remember seeing anything like it in his or her lifetime. By daybreak, the light in the sky was the talking point of every conversation in the marketplace, the offices and schools...
A Malian evangelist began to hear from neighbours who had seen the light that it held another puzzle. More than one eyewitness confirmed that in the light they had clearly discerned the features of a human face. But whose face?
One eyewitness had just watched the Campus Crusade (my comment, who report the Muslim dreams and visions as authentic, and whose founder signed the 1994 Evangelicals and Catholics Together document) film, 'Jesus '. For him, the face had the same features - the kind, compassionate expression; the beard; and the countenance of the person in the film. It was, without a doubt, he said, the face of Jesus in that mysterious, inexplicable light streaking across the Muslim nation of Mali. The Jesus Visions (link no longer active) from a report sent to the 700 Club. It is to be noted that reports of Muslim dreams and visions conversions to Christ are most frequently reported, but by no means exclusively, by Charismatics and mission groups/churches that are on the slippery slope of going emergent (back to the teaching of ancient Catholic mysticism, which is not at all unlike Hinduism, and other universalist religions). The Bible forbids the making of images of God, so that it is also not wise to make movies where Jesus is portrayed. One of the obvious dangers of doing so is illustrated above, in that the actor's face is now mistaken for Jesus.
In another account, He took me to the Catholic church in Antakya and there I met Fr. Francisco and a nun by the name of Barbara... after a short prayer and saw a second dream. This time it was Jesus as I saw him in the Jesus film years ago and I had trashed his video. He was hanging on the cross, the nails were in his hands and feet, yet he was smiling at me and talking to me. Though he was dying he seemed so beautiful. (In reality, his visage was so marred more than any man, Isaiah 52:14). This individual claims to have come to a personal relationship with Christ, and one hopes it is so. Clear evidence of Biblical conversion is hard to come by in these reports. Many continue to refer to God as 'Allah' and Jesus as "Isa", neither of which is the Biblical God. Is Allah the Name of God?
There is much confusion in the reports of conversions that have resulted from dreams and visions. Often there are priests involved. Often there are obvious contradictions to Scripture beyond the suspect element of the dreams/visions in the first place. In one case, a woman is taken by the hand by 'Jesus' and led to a church, where 'Jesus' says, that is where he lives. Obviously such a report can be immediately dismissed as bogus, since Jesus does not dwell in places made by human hands. Other reports are compelling, so compelling, that it is likely the reason some Bible teachers are reluctant to touch the subject.
Avant mission issue 3, written by Shanna DePaolo, reports The people of the Dust Valley are in tune with their dream life and they believe that God speaks to them through dreams. Less than one percent of the Central Asian population is Christian; of that slim percentage, team leader Miles believes a spiritual dream factors into nearly every believer's testimony The team has experienced God using dreams in the lives of Central Asians whom they know personally, and they are [therefore] praying expectantly for more. So now, Avant, which used to be Gospel Missionary Union, an apparently sound Christian mission, have their missionaries praying for dreams!
What are we to make of this? Gary Gilley (while I cannot agree with the Calvinism in the church website) in addressing this, hits the nail on the head. But if some of these visions are leading to conversions, how can we even suspect them as not being from God? Satan certainly would not give a dream that would ultimately result in conversion would he? Possibly. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 describes just such a scenario in which a false prophet or dreamer's sign comes true. What were the Israelites to think of this? The Lord tells them to ignore his words for he is testing them to see if they will follow Him or the dreamer. While the current situation may be somewhat different, I believe that Satan is more than willing to give a little ground if in doing so he will win a bigger battle. In this case he might be willing to concede the salvation of a few Muslims if he can convince the evangelical world that God is communicating today apart from the Revelation of Scripture. Once this door is opened he will be able to bring about greater deceptions than if evangelicals embrace sola scriptura. (emphasis mine) Inside the Insider Movement and More The point Gilley makes cannot be overemphasized.
Dave Hunt has addressed the issue, here: Jesus Appears to Muslims with similar skepticism, as has David Cloud, here: IS GOD GIVING DREAMS AND VISIONS TODAY? .
In DOES GOD SPEAK TO MEN TODAY IN DREAMS AND VISIONS? Cooper P. Abrams III, says, no. More on this follows.
Pentecostals/Charismatics, who lean heavily on experience, feelings, and emotions, all of which change and are unreliable (versus, depending entirely on what the Bible teaches) and thus are targets for deception from extra-biblical revelations, base their teaching largely on the Old Testament book of Joel 2:28-31, (see end note) And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem." Further, they go to Acts 2:16-21,
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath... and claim it is for today. They seem not to notice that the rest of the passage (and related, outlining the horrendous events of the Tribulation period) do not fit for today (although we are probably seeing shadows of things to come): ...blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
The problem lies in good part in their failure to note God's plan for the ages. We live now in what we call the church age, or 'age of grace' from the Cross to the Rapture; after that follows the next part of God's plan, the Tribulation, then the 1000 year Millennium where God fulfills the remainder of His promises to Israel. The book of Joel does not speak to the church. It speaks to Israel; the time spoken of in the Joel passage is the Tribulation (that seven year period where the Lord once again deals with Israel but also with unbelieving Gentiles, after the removal in the Rapture of the Church, 1 Thessalonians 4) and early Millennium (Isaiah 11, the thousand year literal reign of Christ on earth, after Israel's restoration).
Many Pentecostals/Charismatics fail to discern to whom a portion of Scripture speaks, and in doing so, lose the distinctives between the Church and Israel. When this happens, nothing but confusion can follow, because the bird's eye view of God's plan for the ages is lost. Then anything can apply to anyone, which it does not. So despite all the talk of Jesus, a shadow is cast on the whole movement, for God is not the author of confusion. Because of their affinity for supernatural experiences, this group falls prey to union with other beliefs (Pentecostals and Charismatics have been at the forefront of uniting with Catholicism), since all false religions have a common father. (Actually, all religions can be said to be false, as being born again involves a relationship with Christ; when you are saved, you 'lose your religion' rightly said Dr. McGee.) Miracles appeal to many who may have no actual desire for God's truth. 'Another Jesus' can quickly manifest where truth is not foremost.
These groups teach that the miraculous sign gifts like tongues (which in fact were real languages understood by those hearing them in their own language) are for today. In the recent past, respected Bible teachers too numerous to mention, men like Harry Ironside, Theodore Epp, Bruce Dunn, Vernon McGee, Lehman Strauss, Dave Breese, John Walwoord, and still a goodly number, though getting fewer, of current respected teachers like David Cloud, Fred Hartman (The Use and Abuse of Spiritual Gifts, 2005), Ken Hanna, in keeping with what the Bible teaches, have demonstrated clearly the errors of such teaching.
The book of Acts is a historical more than doctrinal book, recording the move from law to grace, from the Old Testament to the New, recording the beginnings of the Church, centering around the Apostles, as the title indicates, (the Acts of the Apostles). The Apostles were men used of God to help lay the foundation of the Church, and were given power to do miracles, by way of authentication (Mark 16:14-20). Once the Church was established, these 'sign gifts' ceased. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 states clearly whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect (referring to the completion of the written Word) is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." Once the written Word was written down in its entirety, no new genuine revelation from God has been nor will be added.
At Pentecost the Holy Spirit did come to indwell believers, (but not 'all flesh'), similar to what is recorded in Joel, but while it was like that, it is not all that, but will be fulfilled in future, when Israel is restored. (See Ken Hanna's study in Joel at Winnipeg Prophecy Conference, audio.) Only believers will enter the Millennium, so that the Spirit can at that time be 'poured out upon all flesh.' For a clear presentation on this, please see Abrams > DOES GOD SPEAK TO MEN TODAY IN DREAMS AND VISIONS? .
Catholicism has a long history from its inception of mysticism, dreams, visions and special revelations. I've left this to the last, for it is in this area that the unifying factors seem to come into play. Note the oft appearance of 'Jesus' and 'Mary' in dreams and visions amongst other than Catholics. The book, Queen of Rome, Queen of Islam Queen of All, (Tetlow, Meyers, and Oakland) documents worldwide appearances of apparitions. These have been happening in Muslim and Catholic countries, and in countries not remotely considered either Catholic or Muslim, and often associated with assorted miracles, 'signs in the sun, 'healings, and subsequent conversions to Catholicism. People who have experienced these visions often go into a trance, and find the experience to be 'ecstatic.'
The 'female' apparition looks different depending on where she appears, and is referred to as, our Mother, our Lady, Lady of Fatima, and other names. Of particular interest is the name the apparition used at Amsterdam, the Lady of all Nations. (That sounds a lot like 'the lady of kingdoms' of Isaiah 47, connecting her to ancient Babylon, called THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS, Revelation 17. Babylon the city is spoken of as a grossly immoral city of immense wealth, but Babylon refers also to a demonic religious system, Rev. 17-18.) In the Amsterdam message, she claimed to be co-redeemer with Christ.
The real Mary of the Bible made no claim of being a redeemer, but declared her own need of the Saviour, Luke 1:47. The dead do not return to us today. The Mary of these visions is not the Mary of the Bible.
Who is she then, this vision in the sky that multitudes flock to see? She is no lady; she is an imposter, a demon. Jeremiah chapters 7 and 44 identify this demonic entity that Israel had begun to incorporate into their religious practices. The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead [their] dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger, Jer.7:18
The message of the Marion visions is that 'she is the mother of all, all are her children, and all must go back to the Catholic church.' This is 'lying signs and wonders, which must surely escalate, whereof the Bible warns us in these last days. Truly she hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God. Another Mary, Another Jesus
The apostate church of the last days is called a 'harlot' or a 'whore,' Revelation 17-18. It is rapidly forming before our eyes, at breath-taking speed, a mix of all the religions of the world coming together, unity AT ALL COST without truth. This defiled religious monstrosity can be traced back historically to the days of the mother/child cult worship of Nimrod, Genesis 10:8-9, Genesis 11:3-9, (see Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons.) Mysticism, revived 'spirituality,' earth worship (read Romans 1), endless dangerous practices such as yoga and the use of mind altering drugs have the world in readiness for the final deception.
Not surprisingly, Rome in an 18 page document ( Note on financial reform from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace ) called recently for a world public Authority and globalization in three areas, politics, finance (a world central bank), and spirituality. This sounds most remarkably like the Tribulation period Antichrist-led ([Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 2 Thess.2:9), one world trilogy, (and for that matter, like Rick Warren's three-legged stool) that the Bible foretells in Revelation 13, in Daniel 9, and elsewhere.
In Catholicism, 'Jesus' can be summoned by a priest to appear by 'transubstantiation,' where the wafer, or 'host' (a biscuit) and wine are transformed supposedly into the literal body and blood of Jesus. This 'Eucharistic Christ' is offered again and again, when the Bible states clearly that Christ died once for all. The Bible also shows us that not Mary nor any other party or priest is needed as an intermediary, For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, I Timothy 2:5. Rome is very actively promoting the Eucharist as a tool for drawing people into Catholicism. People sometimes actually claim that 'Jesus' appears to them during 'Eucharistic Adoration.' Recently I was told of a Eucharistic miracle that occurred in the Highgate chapel where two ladies who didn't know each other saw Jesus appear from the host and waved at them. One of the ladies thought she must be imagining things until the other lady started to cry out that she could see Jesus. (from Apostles of Perpetual Adoration:Mary's Mission ) Born again Christians (the only true Christians that there are, according to Scripture) should not ever call communion, 'Eucharist' for that (Eucharist) is another gospel with a different and demonic 'Jesus.'
Roger Oakland teaches well on the topic of 'Jesus' visions in the book Another Jesus. ...if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:23-27. Roger points out that 'secret chambers' may, from the Greek root of the word, refer to the monstrance (usually sunburst shape, the ornate holder for the 'host') which is used by the priest to transport the wafer. If that is the case, the demonic 'Jesus' impersonator may well utilize this as a place from whence to materialize to poor deceived followers of another gospel that is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Note also that when Jesus comes (unlike at His coming for Christians in the Rapture, which the world will not see) when He comes at the end of the Tribulation Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him,Revelation 1:7. This should remove doubt as to the real Jesus.
That Matthew 24 passage is primarily a Tribulation period passage. If we are seeing these things beginning to happen already, and all else (the technical know-how to mark and monitor every man according to Revelation 13, the politics of globalism, the middle east line-up of nations to war against Israel, natural disasters, fear, earthquakes increasing in frequency and intensity, and so forth) how close are we to the return of Christ? First is the Rapture, so for Christians, this is not a time to despair, but to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.
In summary, what then are we to think if someone tells us he became a Christian through a dream, a vision, 'Jesus' appeared to him, he saw Mary, or some other amazing revelation came to him? If anyone says, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth. Maybe some poor soul has seen a vision to go find a Bible at such and such a place. Perhaps he even becomes a genuine believer. Remember the point made earlier, that Satan may not mind a few people coming to Christ if he can delude the masses into believing that there are more than one way to God, quite apart from Scripture. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, 1 Timothy 4:1.
Perhaps some earnest evangelical young person disenchanted with his dead home church (with its 'another' Bible versiona perversion of God's Word), becomes intrigued via the emergent church, to experiment with 'ancient future' mysticism, and has an EXPERIENCE that sets him on fire for CHRIST (fire seems to be popular in the world of miracles)! Ask, which Christ? The chances are almost zero that it will be the Biblical Jesus; no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
Say, your church or youth group has begun to combine for 'fellowship' with other churches in the area. Say, some of these churches practice infant baptism, or are Catholic or Charismatic, and you are of Mennonite or Baptist origin, and not quite into it, but...maybe it won't matter, they are good people...or maybe Beth Moore or some other lovely lady whose work is just a bit mystical, you cannot quite put your finger on it, is being beamed into your Bible study. Say your pastor is attending a Calvinist conference and there may be a quiet shift in the teaching...or Rick Warren's materials have found their way into your fellowship, or the music has a different feel to it, everyone is playing it, it's even accepted by the world ... this is the slippery slide into ECUMENISM. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death..., Proverbs 14 and 16. True Christian unity cannot be contrived. Unity within the body of Christ happens TO the believer when he is born again. If we yoke together with those who do not hold to true Bible doctrine, we place ourselves at great risk of deception. Deception was the thing that the Lord warned most about for the time just prior to His Second Coming. The Lord asks, Luke 18:8, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Given the consuming preoccupation with communication devices, the insane love of sports to the exclusion of almost all else, shopping, running to and fro, information overload, a constant barrage of entertainment, most of it produced to turn you away from the LORD your God (for we wrestle not against flesh and blood) -- couple this with the great lack of sound Bible teaching churches, and we find ourselves in the midst of a famine for the Word of God.
While this little paper (kept as brief as still to make sense) is merely an introduction to the topic of dreams and visions, and more a pointing to better equipped sources (whom I hopefully have not misquoted) than this poor author, hopefully it serves at least as a resource should you be confronted with a book someone hands you, and that book is based on a vision like someone's trip to heaven.
This is helpful: DOES GOD SPEAK TO MEN TODAY IN DREAMS AND VISIONS? Cooper Abrams III summarizes (for the sake of those not online), there are several things that are common with people who have visions. First, they have been thinking about the subject of the vision prior to its occurrence or something triggers the dream. Second, it often happens in relationship to sleep. The person wakes up and has the vision. Third, the vision generally confirms to them what they had been already considering. (My comment, this lines up with the secular dream 'experts' at the beginning of the article.) Fourth, the vision generally does not bring them closer to the Lord, but directs them away from the Bible and/or sound doctrine. Fifth, without exception the person who has the vision was in doctrinal error and/or attending a church that was doctrinally unsound. In conclusion two things are clear. First, there is no biblical support for believers having dreams and visions from God in this dispensation. God tell us in the Bible He speaks to us through His word. Second, dreams and visions generally have a detrimental and confusing effect in the person's life. Their vision sets a precedent and they remain unsound doctrinally in some areas. (I add, that I have seen this in people's lives and agree that this is the case.)
We can say with confidence: maybe this person thinks he saw Jesus. He did not. The Bible says, NO, God does not now reveal Himself in dreams and visions. Since John wrote from the Isle of Patmos, the last book to complete the Bible, God has not been seen of any man. God speaks to us now from the Bible. If we want to know about Him, we must study His book. Any experience that anyone may have, is of no authority. God's Word alone is our source of authority, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works," 2 Timothy 3:16.
If some persuasive preacher named Billy Grahamstates, he no longer believes that Jesus is the only way Billy Graham Says Jesus Christ is not the Only Way when God tells us that no man comes to Him but by Jesus, if the wildly popular Rick Warren partners with unbelievers, converses with 'Jesus' and promotes contemplative prayer ('centering prayer' and also known by other names, popular in 'emergent churches) that can alter your state of consciousness and leave you open to demon possession, if he promotes three well known persona with huge television audiences, persona with occult involvement, Globalization and contemplative prayer
if someone tells you, God told me...I had a dream...I saw in a vision..., if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed, Galatians 1:8.
...the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. Revelation 12:12, while it is a Tribulation passage, tells us we have a deadly adversary. As this Church age draws to a close, we can expect more intense spiritual battles, more deception, more demonic activity, more lying revelations, dreams, and visions that will convince many that the Bible is not our sole authority. Increasing emergent church influences such as whole congregations doing 'the silence', meditating together (with the potential for being inhabited by demons), and churches exchanging pastors with denominations with very shaky foundations for example, Love Winnipeg 2011 Participating Churches (link no longer available) (most Christians no longer used to Biblical separation will see no wrong in this), indicate there is wholesale departing from the faith once delivered to the saints. For the most part, this world with its mother earth mentality is ready to receive the antichrist and his false prophet. Even more frightening, is that the majority of so called Christians are woefully ignorant of what is about to come upon this world. Let's pray for discernment, protection from delusion, 'study to show ourselves approved' so that we may be a light to the lost. ...children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober. Let us not be set adrift by some dream, but 1 Thessalonians 2:21, Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." END
Notes, Resources, Recommended Reading
Regarding the 'Day of the Lord', J. V. McGee in his Thru the Bible volume 3, p678 states, Joel, identifies this period...the Day of the Lord... (it) begins after the Rapture of the church with the Great Tribulation and continues through the second coming of Christ to establish His kingdom and the judgment as to who will enter the kingdom. Then Christ will reign for one thousand years; there will be a brief period of rebellion when Satan is let loose, then the final judgment at the Great White Throne, and eternity will begin. (Note, the Great White Throne judgment is for the unbelievers of all agesbelievers are judged for reward at the Bema or Judgment Seat of Christ after the Rapture, not for salvation-which is sealed when one is born again, Unger's Bible Dictionary.) To my knowledge all the 'cessationist' teachers (teach that sign gifts ceased once the Bible was complete) mentioned previously, teach the Day of the Lord similarly. This is helpful in understanding when miracles are to be expected and when not. In our day, before the Rapture, visions of 'Mary' (demonic) and 'Jesus' (demonic) are already being attested to, but the fulfillment of Joel is not now. God can and does do miracles today, but He needs no middle man. By way of example, God may heal in answer to prayer, however it may not be His will to heal, for we often only seek Him when there is trouble. He may have a special purpose for an illness in the life of an individual, or for the people around him. ...blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Authorized, King James Bible, 1611
Another Jesus? Roger Oakland, Understand the Times, 2004 (Roger's books are of extreme importance for our time.)
Faith Undone, Roger Oakland, Understand the Times,
Queen of All, the Marion apparitions' plan to unite all religions under the Roman Catholic Church, Jim Tetlow, Roger Oakland, Brad Myers, Eternal Productions, 2006
17 Reasons Why I Left the Tongues Movement, Alfred Pohl, A. H. Pohl, 1982 (printed by Way of Life Lit.)
The Gospel According to Joseph Smith, what Mormons Believe, Roger Oakland, Understand the Times, 2002
The Gospel According to Rome, Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God, James G McCarthy, Harvest House, 1995
The Islamic Invasion, Robert Moray, Harvest House, 1992
The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements, the History and the Error, David W. Cloud, Way of Life Literature, 2006
Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson, 1982
What They Believe, Harold J. Berry, Back to the Bible, 1987
Deception in the Church , Noel Chartier, January 2012