I have been a part of a Pentecostal tradition all my life, and am happy to still be a part of that same tradition. One of the issues that arise among Pentecostals concerns the spectacular: revelations from God to certain individuals through dreams, visions, etc. In fact, there are waves in the Pentecostal tradition that put an abundance of weight on those forms of communication from God to the point of almost ignoring what we might call the “still small voice” of God.
I have a theory, and I have expressed it a handful of times to friends and others who are burdened with the fact that Christ has not shown up in their bedroom to tell them what to do. In short, because we have such abundant access to Scripture and the wisdom of the saints, we are responsible for hearing God through His Word and through a personal relationship with Christ. The spectacular events tend to come to those who are relatively immature in the faith.
I was reading Dallas Willard’s book Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God this morning and fell upon the same idea. In his words:
It would not be too much to say, however, that where these phenomena were the main, as opposed to occasional means of interaction, it indicates a less developed spiritual life both in the individual and in the church group. I am not trying to be judgmental here; I am merely trying to be helpful in pointing out the kind of life with God into which we should expect to grow-a life in which one hears from God amid and within frequent times of conversational prayer. (pg. 111)
He quotes E. Stanley Jones as saying:
He [Jesus] got his guidance through prayer as you and I do. That is, He got His guidance when in control of His faculties, and not when out of control as in dreams. (pg. 111)
Willard’s biblical occasion for these comments is fascinating. In Numbers 12, Miriam and Aaron are complaining that Moses has taken an Ethiopian for a wife, and their grievance amounts to, “but God speaks to us in spectacular ways-how can Moses be so wrong!” God’s reply:
And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD.
All this to say that God wants us to live in an active and breathing relationship with Him so we are able to discern the voice of God even when it is still and small-and that represents a deepened and developed relationship representative of Christ’s relationship with the Father.