Conclusion of “Surprised by the Voice of God

This post wraps up the discussion on Jack Deere’s “Surprised by the Voice of God.” To look at what is true, normal and real, this post summarizes what has been discussed and asks, “how can we know we are listening to the Holy Spirit?”


The issue in all of this is not that we judge each other about the experience. While the experiences may be real, it doesn’t mean that they are true. The description of it may be true, it might be truly what someone thinks happened, but it doesn’t mean that the content of the experience is actually true. An experience can be either: real and true, real and untrue, unreal and true, or unreal and untrue. Just like parables were not real, they were still true and true does not always mean that it is real. The problem at the root of the issue is simply how can we know if it is true? The only way to know is to measure it against a standard of truth. The standard of truth is that it comes from God and it has God as its source. While it is not proper to judge others experiences, we should examine the truthfulness of it. The question is how would we know if it is true? Deere suggests that we trust the voices inside of us that he calls the “spirit.” He is asking us to accept something that doesn’t carry the authority of Scripture. He is asking us to trust something that is inside of us and may not even be from God. Deere is suggesting that we walk by signs and wonders instead of by faith. From an evangelical Christian perspective, a fundamental problem with getting revelation from experience instead of Scripture is that it “makes rather selective use of the Bible and even contradicts many biblical texts.”[1] This experiential model of revelation “deprives Scripture of revelational value and considers it the framework for a ‘language-event,’ an internal encounter in which one experiences authentic being.”[2] Another issue arises with receiving revelation from God only through experience. The characteristic defect is not that its emphasis is on experience, but rather its excessively narrow concept of experience.[3]

While this writer agrees that we need to be humble, willing and obedient, we must also come to God seeking His will and plan for our lives and be “willing to live by faith and trust His ways that are far greater than ours” (Isaiah 55:8, NIV). God is meant to be feared. He is worthy of awe and who are we to demand anything of Him. God has provided us a trustworthy collection of inspired God-breathed books that come with His divine authority equipping His servant for obedience. His Word is filled with historical stories that are unique and are profitable for us because they teach us about and how to follow Him.


de Bras, Guido. “The Belgic Confession.” Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics. Internet. Available from, accessed 20 April 2014.

Dulles, Avery. Models of Revelation. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1992.

Deere, Jack. Surprised by the Voice of God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Henry, Carl F.. “The Authority and Inspiration of Scripture.” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank Gaebelein, vol. 1, 2-35. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

Mayhue, Richard. “Alarmed by the Voice of Jack Deere,” in The Masters Seminary Journal. Fall 1997, 151-161.

McQuilkin, J. Robertson. Understanding and Applying the Bible. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986, 240. Quoted in Roy Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, 285. Colorado Springs: David Cook 1991.

Pinnock, Clark H.. Biblical Revelation – the Foundation of Christian Theology. Chicago: Moody Press, 1971.

Piper, John. “Thoughts on the Sufficiency of Scripture.” Desiring God. Internet. Available from, accessed 20 April 2014.

“The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” in Inerrancy, ed. Norman Geisler, 493-502. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980.

Warfield, Benjamin B.. “Inspiration 1-7.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Internet. Available from 4618/Inspiration-1-7.htm, accessed 13 April 2014.

Warfield, Benjamin B.. “Inspiration 8-18.” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Internet. Available from 4618/Inspiration-8-18.htm, accessed 13 April 2014.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. “True Words.” in But is it All True?: The Bible and the Question of Truth, ed. Alan Padgett and Patrick Keifert, 35-43. Cambridge, UK: WM. B. Eerdmans 2006.

Zuck, Roy. Basic Bible Interpretation. Colorado Springs: David Cook 1991.

[1] Avery Dulles, Models of Revelation, (Maryknoll: Orbis Books 1992), 78.

[2] Henry, 24.

[3] Dulles, 81.


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