Private Revelation And Scripture Revelation

We must not confuse private revelation with Scripture revelation. The former concerns only MORALLY NEUTRAL events in one’s life and does not involve authority for universal faith; while the latter concerns truth necessary for universal faith and all such truth revelation is complete in scripture. Nobody can say that he or she receives new truth revelation such as the radical grace teaching of the hyper grace false gospel.

How could I explain that an inner prompting telling me to stop suddenly in the middle of the road and I avoided collision; or to be told not to go into a particular city and avoided being persecuted when nothing was amiss all along ? How could I explain the odds of being shown the vision of 911 terror attack 3 days before which I shared with all colleagues, and it happened exactly what I saw, and the continual odds of the same message for 2008 and 2015 ? I encountered so many such testimonies and I comprehend the significance of all such odds cumulatively for I was trained as an engineer. Such revelation do not nullify, subtract or add to the immutable truth of scripture. Our daily relationship with our Lord should be dynamic. It is our moral decisions that should be directed by His commands in His Word which is immutable.

In Acts 11:27-30, the prophet Agabus shared of an impending global famine which later happened. And the church in Antioch brought relief to the church in Jerusalem through Paul and Barnabas. Such private revelation was God’s mercy for the church to tide over the impending famine at that time. Why did God choose to reveal such private revelation to Agabus only and not the elders and apostles in the Jerusalem ? It is God’s sovereign will to choose to whoever He would like to reveal such an impending event which was morally neutral. We should not box the Lord into what He could or could not do. Such private revelation would not undermine the authority of the Scripture, would it ? Such private revelation would not agree or disagree with Scripture because of the fact that the famine was a morally neutral event and not about Scripture truth.

The Scripture makes it clear that we should not despise such prophecy but to test it. One way as proposed by Dr John MacArthur is to use the law of probability to test. The slimmer the odds the better it is. If I am to predict an earthquake happening in Japan, the chance of getting it right is more than half ! Such a warning with such high probability serve no purpose for the church because such earthquakes are frequent and the Japanese people already know the drills. But if the probability of the prophecy is so terribly slim and its purpose is to warn the church to avert economic hardship such as famine, I see no reason why the Lord cannot warn His people to prepare.

JI Packer explained it well in his book, The JI Packer Classic Collections, ( and also John Stott did not discount such possibility calling such private revelation as prophecy in the lesser or secondary sense unlike the Scripture Revelation which is prophecy in the primary sense. Of course there can be abuse by false teachers to mesmerize their followers which is quite rampant today. So we need to pray for wisdom to test and discern such kind of prophecy in the lesser sense. Take the prediction of a global famine or a global economic collapse. If we prepare and it does not happen, we are none the poorer. But if we do not prepare and it does happen, how badly will we be affected ? Does the person making such prophecy in the lesser sense has an ulterior motive of gain or fame ? Is the prophecy very vague or very precise when tested by the law of probability ? Does such a prophecy, out of the grace and mercy of our Lord, help the church, universal or local, to prepare to avert such disaster ?

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