In the last two weeks, I have addressed Sarah Young’s testimony of her own conversion and her experience of God’s presence, as she describes it in the introduction to her book, Jesus Calling, and I have tried to trace some of the influences which have contributed to her understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. Today, I would like to touch on another influence which inspired her to begin seeking not only God’s presence but messages directly from God, a 1932 devotional book edited by A.J. Russell titled God Calling. Young writes, “…I began reading God Calling, a devotional book written by two anonymous “listeners.” These women practiced waiting quietly in God’s Presence, pencils and paper in hand, recording the messages they received from Him.”
Each message in God Calling was written in the first person, so that God is the speaker. Young says that the book “became a treasure to me. It dovetailed remarkably well with my longing to live in Jesus’ Presence.” As she read it, she began to wonder if she, too, could receive such messages. Although she had kept a prayer journal for a number of years, Young considered that to be an unsatisfying one-way form of communication, and she longed to hear God speak to her in response. Young says, “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. Increasingly, I wanted to hear what God had to say to me personally on a given day. I decided to listen to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I believed He was saying.”
How does Young view these “messages” she is receiving? On one hand, Young downplays the authority of these divine revelations, saying, “I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture,” while on the other hand she continues to call them “personal messages from God.” If these messages are sent directly from God to Mrs. Young, what makes them less authoritative than any other words which God has spoken previously? If, in fact, God has spoken, can we afford to set even one word aside as non-essential? Of course, Young must try to put her words in a separate class from authoritative Scripture, because she knows that they would be rejected by true Christians, and rightly so, if she claimed to have received a new New Testament of the Bible. She, herself, would be placed in the same category as Joseph Smith, Ellen White, and any number of false teachers who have claimed to receive some new, authoritative revelation from God and led multitudes astray with their counterfeit gospels. Instead, Young claims that her messages are from God, yet somehow he does not actually expect anyone to take him too seriously on these particular points.
In contrast to Young’s view is the God-breathed testimony of Agur the son of Jakeh from Proverbs 30:5-6, “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.” While Young protests that she is no prophet, her book of “personal messages from God” puts her at risk of violating this Scriptural warning.