I was reading a post over on How to Be Superwoman about Personal Revelation, and I skimmed over an article she linked to that one of her readers had sent to her. The article was basically arguing that there is no such thing as personal revelation (or “personal words from God” – his words) because we can’t always be 100% accurate 100% of the time, and a prophet has to be 100% accurate 100% of the time.
I think the author of the article made a really good point. I don’t mean to say I agree that there is no personal revelation – of course I believe there is – however, I still think he brought up some valid concerns about personal revelation.
People who believe in personal revelation (especially us Mormons, since we rely so heavily on it) can be very susceptible to become false prophets to ourselves.
How do we avoid become false prophets to ourselves? Here is the (edited) comment I wrote on Amy’s blog. It is mostly my testimony of personal revelation, and maybe some of the scriptures or points I brought up will help us understand and discern between true personal revelation from God, and what we think is from God, but is not.
The Bible tells us to ask God "Ask, and ye shall receive... knock and it shall be opened unto you." (Luke 11:9, Matt 7:7) "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him." (James 1:5) I can tell you right now, I lack wisdom on just about every topic in my life. Especially as a mother. I have no clue what I'm doing - so I ask God, and He helps me. I am so grateful for that knowledge that God will answer my prayers.
I have asked, and I have received answers to many questions - including whether or not the Bible is true, whether or not the Book of Mormon is true, and most importantly, if Christ is my Savior. He is.
Paul said, "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." So if we have a testimony of Jesus, we have the spirit of prophecy (when we are testifying of Christ).
I would also add that I do not believe I (or anyone) will ever receive revelation from God that will be contrary to His word in scripture and from His prophets. (i.e., the person receiving "revelation" that he should not marry - that isn't from God, IMO). The scriptures make a really good measuring stick for what is revelation from God, and what is not. The Book of Mormon says, "all things which are good cometh of God...(see James 1:17 & 1 John 4:1-6) that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve Him, is inspired of God... for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God." Moroni 7:12-13,16
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt 7:15-20)
I think that the author of the article makes a good point that people can become false prophets to themselves, and quite possibly to others. I see it all the time both in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and out of the Church. You have to be very cautious with personal revelation. It is very easy to become a false prophet if you aren't careful. But I think the author throws the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. If we don't have any revelation, how are we to know anything? How do you know the Bible is true? How do you know Christ is your Savior? If you know these things, how did you come to a knowledge of them? Or are you simply just hoping they are true?
Or did you get that knowledge from God? (knowledge from God = revelation)
I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I know that the fullness of that gospel is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that God loves me and that He speaks to me.
Maybe God doesn't speak to me in a burning bush, but He does speak to me through a burning in my heart. And I am grateful for it.
How do you recognize when personal revelation is from God? How do you avoid becoming a false prophet to yourself? Have you ever had what you thought was a prompting from God, only to realize, upon further inspection, that it was indeed not from God?