Does God Still Speak to Us through Dreams?

There are many examples in Scripture, primarily in the Old Testament, where God has spoken to individuals through dreams. Obvious examples are Joseph (Genesis 37-44) and Daniel (Daniel 2, 7). In the New Testament we see another Joseph (Matthew 1:20-25), and Pontius Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19).  

In modern time, we hear many stories of Jesus appearing to people, especially Muslims, in dreams, telling them of His love for them, and directing them to someone who can share the gospel with them.

So, since we know God can, and God has spoken through dreams, should we be confident that any dream we have is from God?

Well, no. Remember that in Old Testament times, and even to some extent in Gospel times, people did not have access to written Scripture. God’s revelation to them was not complete. But today, God speaks to us through His Son Jesus, and through the Bible which records for us what Jesus said and did, and anything else God wants us to know (Hebrews 1:1-2).

In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 the apostle Paul explains, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Now that we have the message of God written down in the Bible, we no longer need to receive revelation from God by means of dreams and visions.

Just a quick word about the dreams and visions Muslims are reporting where Jesus appears to them. Notice that there are no reports of any Muslim actually coming into a personal relationship with Jesus simply as a result of the dream. Rather, they are being directed very pointedly to a particular location where they meet a particular person who then tells them about Jesus.[1] This fulfillment acts as the interpretation, if you will, of the dream. 

Further, as John MacArthur explains in his Essential Christian Doctrine, when dreams are mentioned in the Bible, “In each case, the dream or vision provided the human recipient with special knowledge of God’s character and will.”[2]

But if you have been having dreams and you wonder if they are from God, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. An article entitled “Are Dreams and Visions Messages from God?,” suggests three caveats.[3] First, no dream from God will contradict any teaching in God’s Word, the Bible. Second, dreams from God may come in a time of crisis to lend encouragement or direction. Third, godly dreams glorify God and encourage gospel proclamation. 

Remember that Satan is a deceiver, and he will use any means possible, including dreams, to try to turn you away from following God. In our discipleship course, “Follow Me: Experiencing the Joy of Walking with Jesus,”[4] Dr. Ankerberg and Sunder Krishnan discuss several ways you can test to see what God’s will is for your life. The same tests can be applied to determine if your dream is from God. 

First, the Bible. As we mentioned above, a godly dream or vision will not contradict the Bible in any way. While you may not find a particular verse that says, in essence, “this is the way, walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21), you should not find anything that forbids what your dream suggests you should do.

Next, wise counsel. Talk to trusted advisors, such as a pastor or a Christian friend. Tell them what your dream was, and ask for their advice.

Third, prayer. Pray about it. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the answer you seek. Be sure you give time for Him to speak to you, or to direct you to a verse or to a person who can help you determine if this is from God.

And finally, circumstances. Are there things in your life that make it clear to you that whatever this “dream” is telling you is wrong for you? Maybe, like Gideon (see Judges 6:36-40), you might want to “put out the fleece,” and ask God to reveal to you whether this dream is from Him. However, be sure you aren’t using the fleece test to avoid doing what you know God wants you to do (based on, e.g., the Bible, wise counsel, and prayer)!

One last thing. Don’t seek out dreams. As Ecclesiastes 5:7 warns, “Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God” (cf. Jeremiah 29:8). Instead, spend time in God’s Word. Become so familiar with it that you hear God speak to you through it. Fall in love with the Jesus who is the theme of the Bible. Occupy yourself with telling the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Dream of the day when you will live in heaven with Him for all eternity!  

  1. See Tom Doyle’s book Dreams and Visions: Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? for examples.
  2. John MacArthur, Essential Christian Doctrine: A Handbook on Biblical Truth (Crossway. Kindle Edition.
  3. https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/article/are-dreams-and-visions-messages-from-god-africa-study-bible/
  4. See at jashow.org/courses/. You can enroll in the course absolutely free!

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