Written by Evi Idoghor
My cousin called me Saturday evening, she was in a funk—“God has never spoken to me,” she cried out. “You know how people have dreams or say they heard the voice of God, that has never happened to me.” In an attempt to calm her down I said—“open your Bible and read it, that is God speaking to you. Don’t be carried away by those who are quick to utter the phrase—God spoke to me…most of the time, they are usually wrong.” Then she breathed a huge sigh of relief, “I should have called you earlier, now I feel better.”
There is a recent craze that surrounds one’s ability to hear the audible voice of God’s. While this isn’t anything new, and I don’t hold beliefs that suggest it can never happen, however, the recent surge has given birth to a plethora of lies, that if one isn’t careful, can cause them to fall prey to the tactics of the enemy.
One night during the lockdown, the movie—Come Sunday (On Netflix) was suggested for me to watch, as I was disinterested in what was playing at the time. It had a brilliant actor playing the starring role (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the story was based on actual events. So I was like—alright cool, let’s go there!
As the story unfolded, it followed the life of a mega-church pastor, who had his church situated in Oklahoma. The church boasted of about 6000 members in attendance for their weekly meetings (according to the movie), and everyone pulled on the pastor from different directions—it seemed that he couldn’t catch a break.
He was burdened with the great commission, which is a mandate Christ gave—go out to every part of the earth and preach the gospel to all men. So whatever opportunity he was presented with; whether he was on a plane ride heading somewhere or found himself in a restaurant, enjoying a warm meal with his family, he used that as an opportunity to talk to people about God, which is an admirable thing. But his family suffered for it because he barely had any time to spend with them.
As I got lost in his journey, I kept on saying to my cousin—you see, this is the reason why I can’t marry a pastor (the list of people I cannot marry is long), the responsibility of a pastor and being a pastor’s wife is enormous. If I get to marry one, I am just going to be like former first lady, Melania Trump. The energy she often exuded compared to her counterpart, Michelle Obama, was—y’all don’t stress me about this first lady stuff, focus on your leader, no be me create America.
So one day, this man of God while watching television, caught a glimpse of some people in Rwanda who suffered the damaging effects from the genocide. He was then bothered with the assumption that those who died never heard of Christ, and as such, were going to end up in hell. (If you are not a Christian, the Bible teaches that anyone who does not receive Christ would spend eternity in hell, just to put things in perspective.)
Based on that fact stated in scripture, his spirit was troubled enormously. Then after much deliberation, he uttered the million-dollar phrase—“God spoke to me.”
You know when you hear this from someone, you have to be careful about what they say, and evaluate their words against scripture as the Bible instructs— to see if what the person is saying is true. This pastor revealed that during his moment of intense sadness and bereavement, God said to him, that all those people in Rwanda affected by the genocide were not going to perish (eternally), but spend eternity with Him in heaven.
He then used passages of scripture to support his claim, one being— Jesus died for everyone, which is true. But the conclusion he drew from this fact, was problematic—if Jesus died for everyone, then everyone was going to make it to heaven one day, and in fact, hell is non-existent.
As he shared his new findings with his congregation, most people surged from their seats and immediately exited the building; they couldn’t believe the heretical statement their beloved pastor shared. This eventually led him to lose his church, and as such, he ventured off to a completely different path from what he normally preached, which is the doctrine of Christian Universalism. Christian Universalism simply means that “all sinful and alienated human souls, because of divine love and mercy, will ultimately be reconciled with God.” (Wikipedia)
I will be honest with you guys, I was upset and at the same time, devastated. I kept wondering—if you were beginning to question your faith, why didn’t you take some time off and figure out what was going on? But the reality of things is that he is not the first to veer off under the guise of—God spoke to me. Many who have used this phrase have done so erroneously.
As it pertains to the genocide which took place in Rwanda, the pastor only assumed that the people of Rwanda were not believers. If they were not, we will never know if God revealed Himself to them before they died. However, the overarching issue I had with his revelation was that he then concluded that hell was non-existent. There was one point in the movie when he was talking to his pianist who happened to be gay and said, “Just because there is no hell, does not mean I condone sin.”
Weighing the pastor’s devastating claims, I pondered, if everyone is “good” then why did Jesus Christ have to die? Why do we have to share the gospel? Why is there a set of guidelines in the Bible on how we should live our lives? We might as well do what we want; everyone is going to end up in heaven anyway.
Contrary to the false doctrine the pastor unfortunately turned to, there are many passages in scripture that support the fact that hell indeed exists (Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 18:9, Matthew 10:28). Although not created for humans, unfortunately, if people reject Christ, the result is hell.
In conclusion, God will never say anything to you and me that doesn’t correlate with His word. It is that simple. People often fall prey to the enemy’s antics after he has worked on them for a while. He starts by getting you to begin to question some things, and then eventually he hits you with the hard one that causes you to abandon everything you once knew and chart a different path.
Paul in Galatians 5:7-9 while addressing the people of Galatia said—“You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
This scripture sums it all up for the story of the Pastor; he began his race well, and then got deceived along the way by the enemy—the sad part is that he still wallows in this deception. As much as it is a fantastic thing to hear the voice of God, let us not give precedence to what we hear, over the written word.
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