Does God speak to Christians through visions and dreams today?

By Ron Jones, D.D. ©Titus Institute

To understand what God says in the Bible is the answer to the question, "Does God speak to Christians through visions and dreams today? " it is helpful to first read the article on our website entitled

  • How Does God Speak To His People Daily?

    This articles covers what the Bible says about God speaking audibly to Christians today. In that article, we found out that when Adam and Eve fell into sin, God cast them out of the garden (Gen.3). The casting out of the garden was God's judgment for sin. Previously they had been able to be in God's presence where God manifested himself in the garden in some physical way (Gen.3:8) and they were able to see him and speak with him and hear his voice.

    God's judgment was that they could no longer experience this fellowship with him on earth on a daily basis. The ability to be able to hear God speak to a human being on a daily basis and fellowship with God was forfeited at the fall and will not be enjoyed again until heaven.

    Human beings would now have to live by faith in His Word.

    God speaks to us through his Word the way a father who has gone to a distant country and is physically absent speaks to his children in a letter he sends to them from that country. However, unlike the human father, our heavenly father has sent his Spirit into our hearts to instruct us in truth, to convict us of sin, and to encourage and comfort us and give us hope through the reading of his Word.

    Paul makes this clear in Romans 15:4 when he writes, "For whatever things were written in former times were written for our instruction, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."

    In John 14:7, Jesus declared that the Holy Spirit whom he called the "Spirit of Truth" would dwell within us. The Holy Spirit uses the truth to instruct us, convict us, and encourage and comfort us.

    We are to live by faith in what God says in his Word because this is God's communication to us. We need to trust and obey his word and thus follow him.

    What about God communicating to us through visions and dreams?

    The Bible indicates the following:

    As we saw in the article mentioned above, when God has spoken throughout the Old Testament it is always to someone who has an important role in his plan of redemption. The subject of God's speaking is never fellowshipping with that person and sharing the personal life and circumstance of that person as he did with Adam and Eve. It is never to help his child make decisions in his everyday life. It is always with a purpose that involves the mission and ministry of that person in God's plan of redemption.

    1. God gave his revelation through visions and dreams to prophets in the OT and the apostles and prophets in the NT.

    In Numbers 12:6, the Lord says, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream."

    In Hosea 12:10, the Lord said, "I have spoken by the prophets; it was I who gave numerous visions, and through the prophets gave parables."

    1.1 Throughout the Old Testament, God communicates to his prophets in visions and dreams.

    To Abram in a vision - Genesis 15:1

    To Israel/Jacob in a vision - Genesis 46:2

    To Jacob in a dream - Genesis 28:10, Genesis 28:12, Genesis 31:1-3, Genesis 31:10, Genesis 31:11

    To Joseph in a dream - Genesis 37:5-10, Genesis 42:9

    To Balaam in a vision - Numbers 24:2-4, Numbers 24:16

    To Samuel in a vision- 1 Samuel 3, especially v15

    To David in a vision - Psalm 89:19-21

    To Nathan in a vision - 2 Samuel 7:17

    To Solomon in a dream - 1 Kings 3:5, 15

    To Isaiah in visions Isaiah 1:1, 2 Chronicles 32:32

    To Jeremiah in a vision - Jeremiah 38:21

    To Ezekiel in a vision - Ezekiel 10:1-22

    To Daniel in a vision and dream - Daniel 7:1, Daniel 10:2-9

    These are just some instances of the OT prophets that received visions form the Lord.

    1.2 Throughout the New Testament, God communicates to his apostles and prophets in visions and dreams.

    To Paul in a vision - Acts 9:12, Acts 16:9-10, Acts 18:9

    To Peter in a vision - Acts 10:10-16

    To John in a vision - Revelation 1:1-2

    To Ananias the prophet in a vision - Acts 9:10, Acts 10:3

    2. God also occasionally gave visions and dreams to certain believers who were not prophets or apostles but were important in his redemptive plan for the world. These were given at key times to reveal to them what God was doing and what God needed them to do to accomplish his redemptive plan.

    To Laban in a dream - Genesis 31:24

    To Zechariah in a vision - Luke 1:8-11

    To Mary in a vision - Luke 1:26-56

    To Joseph in a dream - Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:12-13, 19, 22

    To shepherds in a vision - Luke 2:8-9

    To the women at the tomb in a vision - Luke 24:23

    3. God occasionally gave dreams to unbelievers who were interacting with prophets and apostles to prevent them from blocking the prophets and apostles from accomplishing God's plan or to assist the prophets and apostles in accomplishing that plan.

    To Abimilech, the king - Genesis 20:3-6

    God wanted to keep Abimelech from having sexual relations with Sarah because she was Abrahamís wife and was to be the mother of Isaac.

    To the Egyptian cupbearer and baker in dreams - Genesis 40

    God gave those dreams to the cupbearer and baker to cause them to seek an interpreter of those dreams which was Joseph. Joseph's correct interpretation of those dreams would cause the cupbearer to remember Joseph when Pharaoh had his dreams.

    To the Egyptian Pharaoh in dreams - Genesis 41

    God gave those dreams to Pharaoh to cause him to seek an interpreter which was Joseph. Joseph's correct interpretation of those dreams caused Pharaoh to exalt Joseph to the second highest position in Egypt. This allowed Joseph to bring his father Isaac and his family to Egypt to save them from death from famine and to raise up his descendants in Egypt as predicted by God to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16. These descendants would be brought out of Egypt by God through Moses so God could establish the nation of Israel.

    To a Midianite in a dream - Judges 7:1-16

    God gave the Midianite a dream about their defeat at the hands of Gideon to encourage Gideon to trust God to defeat the Midianites with an army whose numbers were decreased by God.

    To Nebuchadnezzar in a dream - Daniel 2

    Like Pharaoh, God gave the king a dream so he would seek out an interpreter who was Daniel and after Daniel interpreted the dream correctly exalt him to a high position in his kingdom. This allowed Daniel to fulfill God's plan for him.

    To Nebuchadnezzar in a dream Ė Daniel 4

    God gave the king a second dream so that Daniel could interpret it and tell the king as Godís prophet that God was going to punish the king for his pride.

    To Belshazzar in a vision - Daniel 5

    God gave a vision to Nebuchadnezzar's son, Belshazzar, after he took over the kingdom so that Daniel could interpret it and tell the king as God's prophet that God was going to punish for his pride.

    To the wife of Pilate in a dream - Matthew 27:19

    God gave Pilateís wife a dream to tell Pilate not to harm Jesus, but he rejected it and crucified him.

    To Cornelius in a vision - Acts 10:1-8

    God gave a dream to Cornelius, a centurion, who had embraced the true God, but had not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. The angel directed him to find Peter who would share the gospel with him. This was very significant because God had selected Cornelius to be the first gentile believer to come to Christ without having been circumcised. This along with Peter's vision from God was demonstrate to the early church that gentiles could be saved by faith in Christ without circumcision and the Law.

    4. God will give visions and dreams to his people in the last days just before or at Jesus' return.

    4.1 Joel speaks of visions and dreams being given to believers in the last days just before Jesus returns.

    Joel 2:28

    "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions."

    4.2 Peter speaks of Joel's prediction in Joel 2:28 being fulfilled by the Holy Spirit through the 120 Jewish-Christians in the upper room.Joel predicted that in the last days the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon Israel and her sons and daughters would prophesy and experience visions and dreams by the Spirit.

    In Acts 2:4 Luke records that all of those in the upper room received a tongue of fire and spoke in tongues by the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:11, Luke records that people were saying that they were hearing these people speaking the praise of God (prophesying) in their own native languages (this is speaking in tongues).

    In Acts 2:16 Peter applies what was happening to the Jewish men and women in the upper room (including the apostles) who prophesied through speaking in tongues. It may also apply to the apostles and prophets of the NT who were prophesying and experiencing visions and dreams by the Holy Spirit.

    This was a partial fulfillment of the prophecy. The full prophecy of Joel will be fulfilled in the future just before or at the return of Christ.

    5. God condemns those who falsely claim to have visions and dreams from him who lead his people astray.

    Deuteronomy 13:1-3 "If a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, and if he speaks, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, and let us serve them. You shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul."

    Jude 1:8 "Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme angelic majesties."

    Conclusion:

    Before the fall of man, we see God fellowshipping with Adam and Eve. After their fall, in the OT and NT we see God giving visions and dreams to specific individuals for very specific reasons that have to do with his redemptive plan for the world. What we do not see is God giving visions and dreams to believers or even to prophets and apostles concerning their everyday decision-making to guide them. We do not see Christians seeking God's will for their personal lives and God communicating his answer in visions and dreams. There is no Biblical justification for this practice today.

    God has clearly given his moral will in the Scriptures which all Christians should follow. In the decisions concerning non-moral areas of our lives, please read my article entitled

  • How Do I Know God's Will?"