Bible Study · My Life · Prayer · Relationship with Christ

Christian Mysticism | Are We Putting God In A Box?

Still small voice? Let the Spirit fill you. God speaks to us through a sunset. God is speaking outside of scripture. – Have you heard any of these?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been explaining what I mean by Christian Mysticism in great detail because it’s a very broad topic.

Should We Use Our Emotions As Truth? | What Is Emotionalism?
Contemplative Prayer/Spirituality | What You Need To Know About That “Still, Small Voice”
The Still Small Voice | Problems With People Speaking As “Jesus”

I will be making brief references to the topics I’ve previously covered, so if you are not as familiar with the topics, please view the posts.

Christian Mysticism is trying to seek the Lord through mystic ways.

In Contemplative Prayer, it’s detaching from your thoughts or as some view as “emptying your mind.” The roots come from Eastern religions. The goal is to become vulnerable so “something” can fill you and you receive revelation or new knowledge. The hope for Christians is that they get filled with the Spirit, Who ministers to them. But in the state of detachment, they are incapable of making proper judgment and using discernment. You know, the precise tools the Holy Spirit gives us. Therefore, individuals cannot follow the command to test the spirits because they cannot discern. The only thing used to discern these experiences is emotion, which is subjective (can vary) and not objective (solid) truth.

In fact, emotions are the rulers of Christian Mysticism. We look to symbols that seem to be from God and we use our emotions to affirm them. Subjectivity is king. Different things can have different meanings for people.

I once got into a disagreement because someone was against how I interpreted a dream. I looked at symbols differently than they did. All of this was subjective. It was not objective truth, yet it was treated as if it was objective truth. There is nothing Biblical about this. Please see: Why I Took Down My Dream Posts & Series | Recant to learn more.

When we think we are hearing the Lord in silence, the still small voice, we tend to use our own thoughts and believe, or desire to believe, that God is communicating with us through our thoughts. I did this quite often. But the truth is there are no Biblical scriptures that imply God speaks to us in our mind.

Which is another problem. A recent comment I received shared a concern that I was dangerously putting God in a box because I’m encouraging people to only seek Him in scripture. Maybe this is a concern you share as well.

Today’s post will cover the argument of “do we put God in a box, if we seek Him only in scripture,” as this argument tends to hover over the topic of Christian Mysticism, and activities connected to it.

I do want to say, I appreciate the care people have regarding they do not want God to be limited in any way 🙂 . I do not want God to be limited, either.

As you’ll see, I deeply held to the same mindset of God working outside of scripture for many years.

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Are We Limiting God, If We Only Seek Him In Scripture?

A very common teaching regarding how we are to be open to receiving messages from God outside of scripture, relates to silencing our mind and “listening for the still small voice.” I explain the problems of the teaching in this post: The Still Small Voice | Problems With People Speaking As “Jesus” In the post, I do cover books like Jesus Calling, and I share a troubling magazine article that tries to speak as Jesus and leads the reader into contemplative prayer, in order to “feel” the “Spirit.”

Many share the idea we need to “allow” God to move in our life. We need to “allow” the Spirit to speak to us. We need to be “ready to receive” Him in prayer. Now, there are a couple of issues with thinking we need to “allow” God to do what He wants.

Please, show me scripture that says we need to allow God to do anything that He desires? When did He need our authority on something He wanted to do?

Scripture seems to point out that God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants, whether or not people want Him to. Jonah ran away from God, didn’t stop God from creating a storm and having Jonah get ate by a great fish. Saul | Paul was persecuting Christians, and God blinded him, revealing the truth of Who the Savior was. Job’s complaining of not understanding the Lord didn’t stop God from putting Job in his place. These men were not “in-tune,” as Rick Warren says with God, yet God ministered to them nonetheless.

I do not believe the Lord is ever limited by what we choose to do or not do. In fact, I believe it is the other way around. When we choose not to seek God, so be it. We are the ones choosing to limit ourselves regarding spiritual growth and drawing closer to Him. Not God.

God can still work with close-minded people, should He choose to. He does not often, but He isn’t limited.

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Problems of Vague Instructions Regarding How To Seek God Outside of Scripture

There are no scriptures that prove God will interact with us the way many Christians proclaim, unless scripture gets twisted. Many say we need to seek God and look for Him in our lives. Now the Bible does show us how to recognize the Creator, but seeking God in our life from scripture is not what they are implying. Scripture’s context often gets twisted and meaning is inserted into a text.

In fact, just a night ago, I stopped listening to a devotional covering the topic of “waiting on God.” It wasn’t until day 3 that “waiting on God” was finally explained. (Paraphrase) Before praying, give God respect by giving Him silence. Let the Holy Spirit come over you. – This is exactly what contemplative prayer is. Psalm 46:10 was twisted regarding what it means to “be still.”

Everyone who has already put their faith in Jesus Christ has already received the Holy Spirit, He didn’t go anywhere. But vague teachings like these are common. It suddenly seems like the Holy Spirit is gone from our lives and we need to somehow get Him back.

Listening to God, looking for God, seeing God at work in my life and “experiencing God” used to look like this:

  • Look for signs God is interacting in your life
  • Look for special symbols that only God would use to show you it’s Him
  • Listen to Him in nature, He’s speaking
  • Ask God questions and listen to what He responds to in your mind
  • Desire to receive dreams from God
  • Try to interpret said dreams & use scripture to support the dream (this often meant I twisted scripture and used it out of context).
  • Open yourself up to Him (notice, this tends to not have a HOW-TO answer, how do we open ourselves up, what does that even mean?)

A coffee pot is not God speaking to me. But a coffee pot does speak of the Creator. Just like a sunset speaks of the Creator, but God is not audibly speaking. He has spoken (past-tense) through His creation and His creation proclaims the glory of God. Of course, creation isn’t really speaking because it’s not audible. God isn’t speaking through a picture the clouds make – this is an interpretative and subjective meaning.

We need to be careful about claiming things we believe the Lord is saying… when He isn’t.

Notice how the examples given mostly did not focus on scripture? Well, the backdrop of believing we can experience God outside of scripture is to use scripture to verify those experiences. A common phrase you’ll hear is “the scripture needs to agree with my experience.”

The truth is most people are not using scripture properly, but abusing scripture to get affirmation of their experience.

“If private revelations agree with Scriptures, they are needless; and if they disagree, they are false.” – John Owen

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Why I Stopped Seeking God Outside of Scripture

What I am not saying is that we never see the hand of God in our life. Scripture tells us how we can see God at work. Refinement and conviction will hurt, but will lead to spiritual growth. We are not to worry about tomorrow because God knows our needs. We are to look at this world with eyes set on eternity. Scripture tells us what we need to focus on. Scripture is enough. Scripture does not tell us to seek God outside of the Bible the way many leaders proclaim and sell books on.

When I sought God outside of scripture:

  • I had a fair amount of dreams
  • I saw a lot of symbols and connections
  • I had a number of relationships with people who held these same thoughts
  • I had powerful moments I believed were “with God”
  • Fellowship often consisted of discussing signs, symbols, dreams, fluffy light talks on scripture, and emotions. Unless it was end-times related…but that’s another story of something I misunderstood

Here is what I did not have:

  • I was not growing in the Bible and understanding context
  • I was fretting over my purpose
  • I was so concerned about figuring out my calling
  • The vague teachings of seeking God and experiencing God weren’t enough, even though I tried so desperately to “feel God” and “experience Him.”
  • I didn’t have sisters in Christ meet me on a personal level – I’ll explain what I mean by that

When I realized all I needed to do was to seek God in His word and trust that His word is enough, sufficient, living and breathing, here is what happened:

1) I no longer worry about my purpose and calling. I know my purpose is in Christ, and Ephesians 2:10 says I was created for good works.

2) Every teaching I’ve listened to from the teachers who have called out contemplative prayer, the still small voice, etc, have grounded their teachings in the word of God, not emotions. Their teachings are very clear. The context of scripture is understood so much better. I no longer feel the need to force life application into every text of scripture. The Bible was written for me, but it is largely not about me, and that’s ok. I am not David. I am not fighting giants. I am not Esther. I am not Mary or Jonah.

3) A number of relationships I had previously fell away. As soon as my theology started changing, I was questioned a lot, which is understandable. The problem was… we couldn’t disagree very well. When I recanted from dreams, I realized how much some of my relationships were mostly focused on the dreams more than Christ. The ladies in my life became more silent, sadly. I still cherish them.

During this time, and even a little before, God gave me 2 special sisters, who the Lord used to teach me how iron sharpens iron. They challenged my thoughts on the still small voice, and I challenged them. We can disagree, sometimes harshly, and our goal is still Christ. I have full assurance I can say whatever I need to, and my sisters won’t walk away from me, even if it’s uncomfortable. I feel listened to, even when we disagree. My sisters have confidence I am here to stay, too. I never had any friendships, let alone a sisterhood, like this before. Our focus is Jesus and understanding His word.

My life is a testimony that His word is sufficient.

When I didn’t think God’s word was all I needed, I was lonely, felt insufficient, I tested situations/spirits by emotions, I was confused and frustrated, I was upset a lot of the time because I didn’t feel “connected” to God.

When I stopped believing I needed to seek God outside of His word –

  • I felt more connected to Him because of the assurance I have in the promises given by the scriptures.
  • I found sisters who grounded me with His word and not experiences.
  • I realized how little I understood the Gospel and how badly I was treating His word.
  • I realized I was under many false teachers who want me to feel good, see myself in the Bible, and be ignorant about everything else.

Any teacher who encourages ignorance is not loving her neighbor.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

The Bible Is Not A Box. It Is The Living & Breathing Word of God!

God’s word, not emotional experiences and subjective silence, is exactly enough.

The Bible is not like any other book. The Bible does not place God in a box or limit Him because these are His living and breathing words. They are alive. He is speaking now and His truth reigns. If we want to hear Him, all we have to do is open the Bible, and we will see He is ROARING! He is not silent. And yes, creation testifies of a Creator, but it is scripture that increases our faith and helps us understand, which brings us to our knees. (Romans 10:17)

It is the message of the Gospel that opens our eyes and ears, and every scripture about eyes that see and ears that hear is all about understanding scripture properly. It isn’t about understanding God outside of scripture, but rather, understanding God from HIS word He has already blessed us with to understand Him. 

(ESV) Hebrews 1:01-02, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

  • All who put their faith in Jesus Christ will be forgiven and will receive the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 2:16, 3:14
  • The Holy Spirit does not depart those of faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit directs us and controls us. (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:09, John 14:16)
  • We walk in the way of the Spirit. (Romans 7:06)
  • We are transformed by the renewing of the mind, this happens through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 12:02, Ephesians 4:22-24
  • How does He renew our minds? The Holy Spirit always points to scripture because He points out sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. He points back to Christ and the teachings of Christ. (John 16:08, 14:26)
  • We love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the only way to know how to properly love God is to follow His commands, which are given to us in scripture. Loving the Lord with all of our mind, as the mind is renewed by the Spirit and transformed through His truth found in scripture. This affects us spiritually, and affects the fruit produced in our life. God’s word explains to us where righteousness is found (in Jesus) and what righteousness looks like. These answers do not come outside of scripture, but from scripture.(Mark 12:30, Romans 3:22, Philippians 1:09-11
  • We know what the will of God is through understanding scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16
  • Wisdom of the Lord is received through fearing Him and studying His word to know Him.

When we study and know scripture – this naturally affects our decisions. We know what being obedient to God is through His word. No questions. No fear. We can trust the Lord’s word is enough because:

(ESV) 2 Timothy 3:16-17- “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

(ESV) Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Word of God :

  • is Breathed out by God
  • is Living
  • is Active
  • is Profitable for teaching
  • is Profitable for reproof
  • Corrects
  • Trains in righteousness
  • Completes a person of God
  • Equips a person of God for every good work
  • is Sharper than a two edged sword
  • Divides the soul and spirit
  • Divides the joints and marrow
  • Discerns thoughts and intentions of the heart

ALL OF THAT HAPPENS FROM THE WORD OF GOD! NOT EXPERIENCES OUTSIDE OF IT! (Forgive my caps here. I am proclaiming the power of God and His words.)

The Bible is not a box. No box is living and breathing and sharper than a two-edged sword. Please respect the power of God’s word and stop thinking you need more than that for your life to be changed and to be connected to God.

Please stop treating the Bible as if it’s like any other book.

Scripture To Memorize/Meditate On – (ESV) Romans 5:08, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

*To learn more about what Jesus did on the cross and why His atonement sacrifice is so needed please see: Why Did A Loving God Kill His Son? (Does God Hate?) 
*If you do not know the Gospel, do not turn away. If you think you know the Gospel, check out these questions and see how prepared you are for the day someone might ask you why you believe: The Gospel Challenge (30 Question Quiz) – Are You Ready To Defend Your Faith?

Community Prayer – Community Prayer – November ’21

Christian Topics/Series Covered
Believer Handbook
Personal Blog: Peeking Beneath
Blog For Christian Women: UnAshamed Christian Housewife
Godly Men & Women I Recommend: Link To List
Resources For False Teaching: Recommended Websites For False Teachers/Teaching 
Video Playlist: Christian Questions, Topics, False Teachers, Insights 
Video Playlist: New Christian Believer 
Video Playlist: Understanding False Teachings
Video Playlist: Sermons To Grow From

Luke 11_39-40, _...so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy–full of greed and wickedness. Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside_

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