Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. If you are new to our program, for many weeks now we have been discussing doctrines of the Christian faith that have been critically altered from what the Bible teaches about them. And we’vee talked about faith and how it’s been distorted to mean some kind of force or power that brings about whatever faith is applied to, and we’ve gone over what the Bible has to say about self and self-love and self-esteem versus what the world teaches as well as many within Christianity. And we’ve covered what the Bible says about counseling versus what we are being told by secular and so-called Christian psychologists. And, if you would like to hear what we have had to say about any of those subjects, a little later in the program Gary will tell you how you can get a copy of those programs.
Now, Dave, our topic for today’s program is, “Seeing is believing” and that’s been a popular teaching in the church, especially among those who have a pension for coming up with formulas or methodologies for healing or bringing about prosperity. The approach used by such people involves conjuring images in the mind through what’s called “creative imagery” or “visualization,” and there has been a resurgence of these techniques in the last few years as a way to draw closer to God and it’s promoted by those who believe that mysticism provides the best approach for a holy and blessed Christian life.
Now, Dave, before we get into evaluating what’s going on today related to those methodologies, let’s consider some scriptures that seem to address the subject of drawing near to God. Let’s begin with Hebrews:11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” How do you understand that verse?
Dave: Well, Tom, I would put that together with the verse that says, “We walk by faith, not by sight,” and you alluded to techniques—one of them of course, as you said, conjuring up mental images. That’s an attempt to walk by sight, not by faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So, if you see it, scripture says, why do you hope for it? You don’t hoped for something you see. So, faith and hope have to do with something that you don’t see, it’s not physical.
Now, we could understand that in a number of ways: Number one: we don’t see it now; it’s something future. But Paul says, “We look not at the things that are seen, but the things that are not seen, for the things that are seen are temporal, the things that are not seen are eternal…”that’s 2 Corinthians 4. So, what we’re really looking for—you know, Hebrew 11 talks about Abraham. If he had wanted he could have come back to this world, but it says he looked for a city whose builder and maker is God. I think that’s the New Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from God. So, two ways you would understand this verse: I’m believing that something that God has promised for the future is really going to come to pass. Number two: I’m believing that things that I don’t see—I mean, you could apply that in many ways: I don’t see energy, I don’t see space, we don’t know what any of these things are—but I haven’t seen the Lord, I haven’t been to heaven. We will see that, in fact, with different kind of eyes, because these are not physical things.
So, I am trusting in something that is both future and it is not material, and I’m believing in that. Now, faith gives substance to this. I don’t conjure something up—it wouldn’t help me to try…you know, I’ve talked to people, for example Tom, who say, well I try to visualize myself in the presence of God when I pray. Well, wait a minute! How can you visualize yourself in the presence of the One of whom it says: “He dwells in a light that no man can approach unto, who no man has seen nor can see?” Now, you are going against the Bible. If you’re trying to visualize something, you’re going exactly against what the Bible says. You can’t see God: “No man has seen God at any time; He dwells in a light you can’t approach unto.” Now how are you going to visualize yourself in the presence of God? But we have this false idea that if I can just, somehow, instead of letting faith give the substance to it, we’re going to give substance to it with our imagination. And if you give substance to it with your imagination, you are going astray.
Tom: Dave, it’s just as problematic to say, “Well, okay, then I’m going to visualize myself in the presence of Jesus.” How do you visualize Jesus? I mean, what does Jesus look like? Nobody knows. So, it’s coming out of a person’s imagination—what he thinks or she thinks, not the reality of Christ himself.
Dave: Tom, I remember when I received a phone call, years ago, from one of the leading women workshop or seminar leaders in Southern California. She said, “I’ve gotten in touch with some people that are involved in Silva Mind Control.” (That’s what it was called in those days—it’s Silva Method now. And she said, “I don’t know anything about it. How do I deal with them?”
And I said, “Well, you understand, first of all, the whole idea is based upon visualization and you visualize a laboratory in your mind…” I went into some details: “and then when the big day comes and you visualize this elevator coming down, opening up, and two entities walk out, male and female, this is the animus and anima of Carl Jung. And it’s through visualizing that you can heal people at a distance—you have never seen them, you can diagnosis them, and so forth, and it really works.”
And she interrupted me and said, “Well now, wait a minute! I’m teaching a seminar this weekend, and a hundred women or so will be there. I’m going to lead them back into the past for the purpose of inner healing, and I’m going to have them visualize Jesus, you know, in some traumatic experience coming alongside of them and healing them of this and delivering them from it. Now, what could be wrong with that?”
I said, “You can’t visualize Jesus, He doesn’t look like what you thought He looked like. Most of these people are going to visualize Jesus as they think He looked when He walked the dusty roads of Galilee, but that’s not how He looks now. Furthermore, you could have been there…you could have heard Him…” I remember Richard Foster, for example, in his book, Celebration in Discipline, he said if you really want to understand what the Bible is saying, visualize yourself—you want to understand the Sermon on the Mount, visualize yourself being right there, activate all of your five senses, hear the waves lapping on the shore, smell the fishnets hung up to dry, feel the rough texture of your robe, and so forth, look at Jesus clearly and get a clear picture of Jesus.” He said, “It would be more than an exercise of the imagination. Jesus will really come to you!”
Well, Jesus is not going to come to me. I can’t call Him from the right hand of the Father on high to come and have a private conversation with me. Furthermore, I could have been there that day, seen Jesus with my eyes, heard Him with my ears and missed everything, the true meaning of everything that He said, which most of the people did.
Tom: Dave, John:20:29, you know the verse, Jesus said to Thomas, “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen yet have believed.” So, this sounds to be antithetical to what you have been describing.
Dave: Well, Tom, they try to get the blessing by seeing Him instead of not seeing Him. That’s going directly against Scripture. Now, there must be a reason why “blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.” Why would Jesus say that? Because He is not appearing to people. He appeared to His disciples, as far as we know in the gospel of John, three times. We get to the end of the gospel when He appeared to them by the lake, and they didn’t recognize Him at first. It says, “This is now the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples.” He didn’t appear any time they wanted Him, and He didn’t come because they conjured up some image of Him. So, Jesus is not appearing, and I would be very suspicious of people like Benny Hinn, for example—I mean, he had angels appearing for a whole year in his room! Apparently they were fascinated with what a wonderful man he was.
Tom: But what about Oral Roberts? Didn’t he have a 900-foot Jesus?
Dave: Oh my goodness! A seven-hour conversation with a 900-foot Jesus. Told him to do something that didn’t come to pass—in fact, the opposite. But Jesus says, “Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” Now apparently, He was not going to be appearing. Well, then you are going to try to get Him to appear, then you are going to lose the blessing that comes from believing in the one whom you have not seen.
We see Him with the eyes of faith, because Hebrews 2 says, “Now we see Jesus made a little lower than the angels.” Now, Tom, do you remember, I think the first book that was written—and I think about 10 books have been written to critique Seduction of Christianity—and the first one, I forget the group that it was written by, but one of the things they went after us for was being down on visualization. They said “Well, when you say ‘apple,’ you see an apple; when you say ‘car’ or ‘cow,’ you see a car or a cow. We think in pictures.”
Spiritual Counterfeit’s Project, their magazine, said the same thing. I tried to discuss it with Tom Brook and he got a little bit upset with me. “Well,” he said, “you think in pictures—you don’t think in words.”
Wait a minute! The Bible is written in words; it’s not written in pictures. It’s all about words. Jesus is called THE WORD, the Living Word of God. And I said, “When I say ‘we don’t think in pictures but we think in words,’ what do you see? When I ask you ‘what do you see?’ what do you see? When I say ‘truth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘perfection,’ ‘holiness,’ what do you see?” No, in fact, we do not think in pictures, and attempting to think in pictures, you are going backwards; you are robbing man of the ability to conceive conceptual ideas and express them in words, and you are robbing man of morals and ethics and so forth.
Tom: But Dave, that has to be qualified, I think, a little more. I come out of visual communications; I come out of screen writing, and in order to write a scene, I like to be able to see it in my own mind. I’ve got a background in industrial design, which is related to architecture—certainly somebody who is into interior design or whatever, somebody who is into arts, aesthetics, and so on—what do you say to that?
Dave: If you’re an artist, you’re an engineer, architect, whatever, inventor—of course you try to see things in your mind.
Tom: Right. You write fiction novels, you have written a couple of them—how about that?
Dave: And I try to make it as visual as I can. Now, I do a lousy job of it, but I would say, Solzenitzen would be one of the guys I would study to learn how to write, you know. His book The First Circle, or whatever, Wow! what descriptiveness! Look at the Bible—the Bible is not written that way, because that is not how truth is communicated in the Word of God. It doesn’t come through physical things. So, what does it say: “A sower went forth to sow.” It doesn’t tell you whether it’s a man or a woman, how old he is—I mean, you’re writing a novel, you’d give a description of this man and the look in his eyes, and so forth. “He went forth to sow; he sowed some seed, and some of it fell by the wayside and some of it fell on good ground, some among thorns…” but it’s not telling you what time of day he sowed—is it cloudy, is it windy, are there mountains nearby? There are no such descriptions in the Bible. It is written in the most skeletal language. Even the parables that Jesus gave are not given in a form that would help you to visualize them. So, when these people say “We want to visualize—put yourself in the scene and visualize it,” No, there is no way to do that and it is counterproductive. You are going against faith.
Tom: Dave, is the reason for that because…and we have said this on the program over and over again, God’s Word is objective truth. The more you add to it, whether it be impressions or observations, descriptive elements—the more it becomes subjective. In other words, it seems to be deviating away from objective truth to something that’s more impressionistic and subjective.
Dave: Well, Tom, yes, that’s true, and the problem is the subjective impressionistic ideas, as you know, come from our imagination.
Dave: Our imagination is not inspired of God. It comes from our own deceitful heart. This is what we are imposing upon God’s Word—this is not what God’s Word is teaching us by faith. So, if you went to Jeremiah:13:10, God refers to Israel as “This wicked people, who refuse to heed my words and follow the imagination of their own heart.” So, if you went to Jeremiah 44, for example—the people asked Jeremiah, “Go to God”—you know, these are the people who are left in the land; they hadn’t been captured and taken off to Babylon, and they don’t know what to do. Are they going to flee to Egypt, or what are they going to do? And they tell him, “Go and see what God has to say.”
Well, we don’t read that Jeremiah, you know, went into his alpha levels or put a hand over his third eye or he began to visualize God so he could hear from Him. No, it’s like, Jesus didn’t come when doubting Thomas visualized Him. He appeared in his own time and way to doubting Thomas. And it says—I think it’s verse 7 (I can’t remember the verses) but Jeremiah 44, around there, it says: “After ten days the Word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah, saying”—and more than 50 times Ezekiel says: “The Word of the Lord came unto me, saying” If God speaks to somebody, I’m not going to argue with them, okay, if it really is God. But if they have some technique for visualizing or conjuring up God or Jesus, they have been led astray, and if a Jesus appears to them, I guarantee you it is not the Jesus of the Bible, it is not the Jesus who is at the Father’s right hand in heaven, it’s a demon impersonating Jesus, and this is the sad situation, Tom. So many people in the secular world have been led astray.
And furthermore, you know, Tom, one of the techniques for doctors today, and we could name a few of them that teach it. One of the techniques is “Visualize your inner self, your inner guide,” and they diagnose in this way, and people seem to be benefiting from this. They are picking up a spirit guide, which they acknowledge, which is a demon! This is sad that this is coming to the church.
Tom: Well, Dave, it’s sad—you know Dr. Bernie Segal—remember we wrote about him in The New Spirituality, but sadly, Rick Warren quotes him in The Purpose Driven Life. Dr Bernie Segal, who had a spirit guide, and that was the process of supposedly healing cancer.
Dave: And interestingly, Tom, what happens is—and we could quote a few Christians who testify to this. Suddenly, this Jesus that they have been trying to conjure up, he begins to take on a life of his own. He starts to move and speak things they didn’t expect him to, and Bernie Segal, you remember, he says, wow, he thought maybe Jesus would appear to him, or some great spiritual leader. Suddenly, he gets a young man in a surgeon’s garb and he was not expecting this at all, so something happened. There was a communication from the spirit world, some entity in the spirit world came in to him, really, and began to do with him what he didn’t expect would be done, and then he begins to follow this entity, which is a demon.
Tom: And, Dave, we’ve had letters from people who have had experiences like that. These entities will not go away, you know, once they were led into this. It’s really, I mean, it’s serious, folks.
Dave, I want to quote you from Beyond Seduction—folks, again, if you have just joined us, we’ve been doing a series, quite a number of programs and the content of which we’ve drawn from Dave’s out-of-print book called Beyond Seduction, and hopefully, sometime in the future we will be able to bring it back into print, but there are so many terrific things in the book, Dave—different subjects that you’ve addressed. I want to quote from chapter 10, and you write: “It is not easy for God to reveal Himself to man and communicate His will to him. Jesus said to His critics: ‘He that is of God heareth God’s words; ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God” and that’s John:8:47. People want to get closer to God. We see today, you know, the whole contemplative movement, the whole emerging church and so on, there’s a sense of “We’ve just got to get nearer to God,” and Dave, I think they are going the wrong way.
Dave: Well, Tom, you don’t want to get nearer to God. If you really see Him—I mean, yes, we do, but on the other hand it’s frightening. He spoke with an audible voice to the children of Israel from Mount Sinai. They didn't want to go near! They said to Moses, “You go up and talk to Him, then you come back and tell us.” That’s the way most people are in churches today: let the pastor be a man of God, let him study and then come Sunday morning and we’ll gather around, give us a three-point sermon, not too long, you know, because we have got some TV shows and so forth.
Tom: Or tee time…
Dave: Right. Most people who say they want to know God and want to draw near to God, they don’t really want to draw near to the true God, because the true God is—He’s going to correct us. We’ll fall at His feet as dead, as John did in Revelation chapter 1. Read the experience of those who came into the presence of God. I think it was a preincarnate appearance of Christ, the Captain of the Lord’s host, appears to Joshua—“Take your shoes off of your feet,” and Joshua falls on his face. God speaks to Joshua: “Get on your face,” you know, because when you come into the presence of the Holy God, wow!
But that’s not the one they are trying to get in touch with. What they want is some entity, really, like the genie in the bottle, when you rub the lamp, or whatever, here it comes and says, “At your service, what would you like this time?”
So most people want to get in control of their own lives; they don’t want to turn it over to God. God makes a promise that we can offer to anyone anywhere, anytime. He says, “You will seek for Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” So, if you really want to know the true God, how do you search for Him? You don’t visualize, you don’t try to conjure Him up. First of all, how would you do that? He will reveal Himself to you when you really, with all your heart, want to know Him, and He’s not going to reveal Himself in a visual picture. He’s not going to draw you into some physical place. Heaven is not a physical place. If you went to Hebrews 2, it says, “But now we see Jesus, made a little lower than the angels.” Do we see Jesus? If I say, “Oh, can’t you see what I am trying to say? We’re not talking about visually seeing anything”— that’s a basic problem, Tom.
So, if I really have a heart I want to know the true God and I want Him to be able to have His way in my life. I want Him to lead me and use me to His glory. Then, that has to be a heart attitude, not a casual thing—“Well, if God would just talk to me, you know, in an audible voice, then I would believe in Him.” There has to be a passion after God, a desire to be a man or a woman of God. He will reveal Himself, but not through some technique. You will never, in the Bible, find a technique for getting to know God.
Tom: Really, it’s an experience with God—thinking about Job when he said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of my ear, but now my eye seeth thee.” He wasn’t talking about anything physical there.
Dave: No, no visual imagery. It was a seeing of the heart and understanding, a bowing and wonder and worship as the true God revealed Himself to him.