Just over 16 years ago, I was a confirmed cessationist. I grew up in an evangelical Anglican church, and things like prophecy, tongues, signs and wonders just weren’t a part of my experience of the Christian faith. Then, at a youth holiday run by Crusaders on the Isle of Wight, I was filled with the Holy Spirit for the first time. Suddenly, I felt that God was no longer remote and distant, but right there with me, filling me. Tongues were no longer weird, miracles were to be expected from the hand of our almighty loving Father, and I accepted the idea that God now spoke today apart from, though never in contradiction to, the Bible.
However, to start with, it was much more the case that I was comfortable with the idea of other people doing these things. It was a little while before the thought of doing them myself became something I could do myself. I desperately wanted to get going, especially with prophecy, but I just didn’t know how to. Then I read Surprised By The Voice Of God by Jack Deere.
As a recovering cessationist, with some lingering questions from the way I used to see things, I found this book incredibly helpful because Jack Deere had made the exact same journey himself. Formerly a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, he found himself questioning his former cessationism and re-evaluating what he believed about prophecy and the voice of God speaking outside the Bible. This book is the result of that study, as well as the fruit of putting into practice what he learned.
A good chunk of the book is spent reviewing the voice of God as talked about in Scripture and throughout church history, coming to the conclusion that the Bible itself indicates that we should expect to hear the voice of God outside of itself. A particularly good chapter is “Confessions of a Bible Deist”, exposing the mindset of those who believe that God spoke in the Bible and the rest is up to us. These chapters of the book did a lot to resolve the lingering doubts and concerns I may have had about whether it was biblical to expect to hear God today.
The remainder of the book is chock-full of helpful practical guidance and advice about how to start learning the language of the Holy Spirit and launch out into ministering prophetically to one another. Firmly picking up the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, Deere shows that this ministry isn’t the reserve of a select few, but the birthright of all believers to exercise. He tackles various issues of how to avoid abuses of prophetic ministry, as well as reasons why you may not be experiencing God speaking to you.
Throughout the whole book, Deere emphasises the necessity of keeping close to God in prayer, fellowship and the Word. As such, I believe this is the perfect introductory book for anyone looking to learn how to hear God and start moving in the prophetic. Since reading this book, I have taken a lot of the principles I learned herein to lead seminars and home group meetings about getting going with prophecy, and have often found that people have started prophesying for the first time as a result.
Get it, read it, stick close to the Lord, and get activated to share the word of the Lord!