There is another matter to ponder in this debate: many people want God to talk like a lover, a physical lover, personally, privately, with whispers. I wish I did not have to write that last sentence. Of course, Jesus is the lover of our souls. Of course, Jesus loves us with an everlasting love. Of course, God’s love for us will never cease. But Jesus talks to both men and women in the same fashion. Re-read that last sentence. This is obvious because both men and women have the same 66 books of the Bible. If, however, you think that revelation still comes fast and furiously, you must have a reason. My hunch is that many ladies want a lover-Jesus to “talk to them.”
How do I know that there are many who hanker for this? Answer: Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. If you like this book, you have major problems. If you are a man and like this book, you might be beyond help. Almost.
Sarah has tapped into a yearning and a longing, but she is tragically and biblically mistaken. The problem is that modern evangelicals have such little discernment—they have purchased enough copies of this book to fill the Mariana Trench.
When you sell more books than Stephen King, you have met a felt need. You have scratched an itch. The book’s Amazon page boldly asserts:
Jesus Calling is a devotional filled with uniquely inspired treasures from heaven for every day of the year. After many years of writing in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever she believed He was saying to her. It was awkward at first, but gradually her journaling changed from monologue to dialogue. She knew her writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but journaling helped her grow closer to God. Others were blessed as she shared her writings, until people all over the world were using her messages.1
The publisher’s “Product Description” tells me everything I need to know about Sarah’s mysticism:
After many years of writing her own words in her prayer journal, missionary Sarah Young decided to be more attentive to the Savior’s voice and begin listening for what He was saying. So with pen in hand, she embarked on a journey that forever changed her—and many others around the world. In these powerful pages are the words and Scriptures Jesus lovingly laid on her heart. Words of reassurance, comfort, and hope. Words that have made her increasingly aware of His presence and allowed her to enjoy His peace.
Call me a crusty cessationist, but I do not like it when people say they hear from God outside of His Word, but I pretty much go apoplectic when people say they speak for God. What blasphemy. What treachery. What nonsense.
When people are not satisfied with God’s Word (and, by the way, there is a whole lot of Bible to study), nothing will satisfy them. It will not take long before their “Sarah’s version of Jesus” breeds a spirit of malcontent. Listen to Sarah’s own words and see if you spot the lack of contentment (it is not difficult):
I began to wonder if I, too, could receive messages during my times of communing with God. I had been writing in prayer journals for years, but that was one-way communication: I did all the talking. I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying. (emphasis added)2
Mark it: Jesus never talked to Sarah. Ever. God’s Word is sufficient and enough. One entry from Sarah’s Jesus should be enough for you to run and find one of my grandmother’s homemade remedies for gurgly stomachs:
January 8: Softly I announce my Presence. Shimmering hues of radiance tap gently at your consciousness, seeking entrance. Though I have all Power in heaven and on earth, I am infinitely tender with you. The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you. Let your weakness be a door to My Presence. Whenever you feel inadequate, remember that I am your ever-present Help. Hope in Me, and you will be protected from depression and self-pity. Hope is like a golden cord connecting you to heaven. The more you cling to this cord, the more I bear the weight of your burdens; thus, you are lightened. Heaviness is not of My kingdom. Cling to hope, and My rays of Light will reach you through the darkness. Psalm 46:1; Romans 12:12; Romans 15:13.3
If what Sarah said is biblical, which it is not, then there is no reason for God to say it again. If what Sarah said is unbiblical, which it is, then it is not from God.
Though I do not always recommend Jonathan Edwards, he has some great advice that Sarah Young’s followers need to heed. Edwards writes, “As long as a person has a notion that he is guided by immediate direction from heaven, it makes him incorrigible and impregnable in all his misconduct.”4
Dear Christian, you do not need secret nor sinister messages from anyone. Instead, regularly sit under the preached Word every Lord’s Day and rejoice in what is revealed. In addition, rejoice in the fact that you have a personal Bible to read and learn about Jesus, the Risen Lord and Savior.
©Mike Abendroth. All Rights Reserved.
1. Accessed from Amazon.
2. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004, 2011, 2012), xiii.
3 Ibid., 9.
4. Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1 (London: William Ball, 1839), 404.
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