Does God Still Speak in Dreams and Visions?

I heard a preacher state dogmatically, that God no longer speaks to people in dreams. The following day, a radio preacher said the same thing. I understand why these men, whom I highly respect, made that claim, but have to question the accuracy of their dogmatic contention.

It has become fashionable for people to claim that they receive special revelations from God. They often share their vision or dream with others, sometimes openly in a church service. Such visions and dreams have led many astray and caused confusion in the church, but we must be careful not to toss the baby out with the bath water.

Obviously, any dream or vision of man must be viewed with reservation, especially when that person claims to have received it from God. When he or she declares the dream or vision to be a word of God for the church, we can safely reject it as false teaching. Adding to or subtracting from God's Word is strictly forbidden in scriptures. Even if they only share their dream and say that it is just for themselves, we should treat it with suspicion. If it is just for them, then why do they share it?

Having said this, I would be very cautious about claiming that God no longer speaks to people in dreams. God spoke to people in visions and dreams in Old Testament times and also in the New Testament. The common claim of many pastors and Bible teachers is that such revelation ceased with the canonization of scripture. It would seem strange to me that God would make such a major decision based on what men have done without any prior indication of his intention in his Word.

First and foremost, I can find nothing in the Bible that supports the postulation that God is never involved in communication through a dream or vision. In his Pentecost sermon, Acts 2:17, Peter says, And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. It certainly doesn't seem that Peter is just speaking about the time in which he lived. This was the birthday of the church and Peter's sermon ushered in a new era which we call the church age. Peter believed he was living in the last days, but two millenniums later, the church is still living in the last days.

Secondly, I am personally familiar with people who, under unusual circumstances, have had a dream or vision which they believe was from God. They didn't always share their experience with me in detail nor did they claim that what God showed them was for anyone other than themselves, but I have no reason to doubt that their experience was real and authentic. Missionaries in remote areas of the world often tell of such instances.

I classify this kind of experience in the same category as Saul's conversion on the Damascus Road. God created man with a free will (in His image) and he does not violate it. He may hinder him from carrying out evil plans or force him to do things that he would not normally do (Ex. Bileam) but he never forces or pressures a person into his kingdom. Saul's situation was unique in that he was seeking God and truth with his whole heart, but others were leading him astray and suppressing the truth. God had to resort to unusual methods in order to show him that he was seeking in the wrong places.

Dreams and visions are rare but God is not limited in how he communicates with people. I know of instances in which unbelievers refused to hear the gospel or rejected it because it conflicted with what they had been taught all their lives. They were raised as Roman Catholics or Muslims and had been taught that even listening to the testimonies of those of other faiths was evil and their teachings were to be rejected. These individuals later accepted Christ as Lord and shared that God spoke to them in a dream confirming what they had heard.

My third argument is based on personal experience. There have been multiple times that I awoke in the night from a dream. Sometimes I got out of bed and wrote down my thoughts. Other times I just went back to sleep. What I wrote on paper was occasionally unintelligible the next morning, but on many occasions, my notes became the impulse for a sermon or Bible study that was a blessing to me and others. Sometimes the Lord lays a person on my heart in a dream. I awake and recognize it as a prompt from God to pray for or speak to that person. Such experiences are not limited to persons, but also situations or matters that God brings to my attention by way of a dream. I suppose proponents of the "no more dreams or visions" gospel also have such, but they are unwilling to say that these are from God.

Just because some criminal prints counterfeit money, is not reason enough to reject all currency. The devil's work is not confined to dreams and visions. Some false teachings originate in dreams and visions, but many more come from books or sermons of false prophets. In tempting Adam and Eve and in the temptations of Jesus, Satan actually quoted God's Word! 

God has never declared that he will not communicate through dreams and visions, but he warns us to prove all things and to test the spirits (Romans 12:2; I Thessalonians 5:21; I John 4:1).

Ralph Harvey, April, 2014