Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is Mark Virkler Right About Our Dreams Being God's Voice?

On his web site, Communion With God, in an article entitled "Principles of Christian Dream Interpretation," under a heading of "More Thoughts on Dreams" Mark Virkler claims,
"Dreams are reliable messengers. They reveal the condition of one's heart (Dan. 2:30), as well as the voice of God within one's heart (Acts 2:17)"
And he claims
There are no warnings in the Bible to beware of your own dreams, with the possible exception of Ecclesiastes 5:3,7, which is probably best understood as a reference to "daydreams" since all other references in the Bible to "dreams" are positive.
 But are dreams reliable?  Are they assuredly God's voice to you?  Is there only one warning and that about "daydreams"?  What does the Bible say?  Truth is, there are many direct warnings, at least 11, about dreams!

1. God gave stringent warning about the danger of dreams in Deuteronomy 13:1-3,
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 

Clearly a dreamer can mislead people according to vv. 1-2 above.  The type of dreamer in view above is grouped with prophets--so this can't be talking about mere daydreams, but rather dreams which claim to be prophetic or from God.  In this case, God actually allowed certain “dreamers of dreams” to perform actual signs and wonders, yet teach things contrary to Scripture, just to test us to see whether His people would cling to God or follow a false prophet.

2.  Deuteronomy 13:4-5.    God pronounces His judgment on the above dreamer of dreams:

“You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God…”

Again, we see a dreamer of dreams can indeed go against God, and against His commandments.  And God judged that false dreamer just like a false prophet.

3.  Jeremiah 23:25 also warns about false prophets, deceived by their own hearts, claiming to speak for God based on their dreams:

“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!’ 26 How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,”

These false prophets based their false message on dreams they had.

Notice that these false prophets seem to have believed they were speaking for God, but were victims of “deception of their own heart.”  Contrary to Virkler's statement above that dreams are "reliable messengers" and "reveal the condition of one's heart" these dreamers were said by God to be "deceived" by "their own heart."  

4.  Jeremiah 23:27 continues that dreams can be the very means of making “my people forget My name,"
“who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal?

These dreams were the very instrument used ("by their dreams") to draw people away from God!   

Despite this, Mark Virkler boldly claims on his Web site, as cited above,
There are no warnings in the Bible to beware of your own dreams, with the possible exception of Ecclesiastes 5:3,7, which is probably best understood as a reference to "daydreams."
Clearly Virkler is wrong on this point, and misleading, to say God never warns us about dreams in the Bible.  As we have shown, Ecc. 5:3-7 is in no way the only passage warning about one's dreams, or the danger of being misled by one's dreams.  And there are many more passages in the Bible repeating this warning.

And do we need to point out the obvious, that "your own dreams" are "someone else's" from their perspective?  How can your own dreams be trustworthy when they are at the same time "some else's" from any other person's point of view?

5.  Jeremiah 23:28.  Continuing on, God, speaking through Jeremiah, the contrasts one's dreams to His word:

The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream,
but let him who has My word speak My word in truth.

God contrasts one's "dream" versus "My word" which is "truth."  The dream is simply a dream.   But God's word is called truth.  This verse instructs that Scripture is superior to dreams and therefore the standard of “truth” by which we can test our impressions, dreams, notions and experience. Yet another warning about our dreams! They must be tested by God's word.

This passage does hint at some practical advise with our dreams.  Our dreams are just that, dreams.  God says, OK, you can share your dream, but it must be tested by My truth in My word.  Who has not had the experience at least once in their life of a dream that, upon fully waking, eventually led us to a positive course of action or choice?  Indeed, that's why we love the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and can relate to it. But our dreams are no substitute for God's word according to this passage.

6.  Jeremiah 23:29-32.  God continues His warning and judgment on these dreamers in Jeremiah 23:

Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock? 30 Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who steal My words from each other. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the LORD, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the LORD.

Clearly some dreams in the prophetic sense are false (v. 32).  But God's word, by contrast, shatters them like a rock.  Dreams can lead people "astray," and apparently often did in Bible times.  It is evident from the above passage we may have dreams God did not send.  Dreams are not reliable messengers, as Virkler claims.  Quite the contrary in this passage, they can be the basis for false prophecy.

The hammer of God’s word smashes dreams which do not correspond to it, or which lead us to do things contrary to God’s ways or His truth.  As John wrote, we must “test the spirits” by the written word of God.

7.  Jeremiah 27:9.  Again God warns against dreams in Jeremiah,

“But as for you, do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers or your sorcerers who speak to you, saying, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon.’”

In this passage God had said that the Jews would indeed be taken into captivity by the Babylonians.  But the false dreamers contradicted this and opposed Jeremiah's message.  God warns the people against their dreams.  Yet another warning about dreams in the Bible.

8.  And again in Jeremiah 29:8 God warns us about listening to dreams of prophets,

“For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream.”

Again we are warned that dreams may be a means of "deception" regarding God.

In light of all these warning about potential and actual deception via dreams, how can Virkler give our routine night dreams such high standing?  Indeed, he paints a picture which makes one’s common dreams completely trustworthy symbolic revelations from God, despite the obvious and repeated warnings of Scripture.

9.   Zechariah 10:2 also gives stern warnings against false dreams,

“For the teraphim speak iniquity, And the diviners see lying visions And tell false dreams; They comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep, They are afflicted, because there is no shepherd.”

The affect of these false dreams is to cause God’s people to stray and give them false comfort.  How much that sounds like popular culture today.

10.  Jude 1:8.  The New Testament repeats the warning about accepting all dreams as from God Jude, says,

 “Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties” (v. 8)

Again dreaming here is the means by which introduce defiling acts and reject authority.  Did Jude mean literal night dreams/visions or was this a metaphor for an unsanctified imagination?  Either way, dreams are not held as trustworthy revelations from God.  They must be tested by the Word.

11.   And Paul in Colossians 2:18-19 gives a very to-the-point warning about dreams,

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions* he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head…”

 *Virkler himself equates "visions" with "dreams" (on the Web he notes Job 33:15, where,  indeed the terms are synonymous).

One wonders if Virkler has done a basic concordance search for the term, dream(s).    Even a quick search reveals the serious warnings above about "dreamers" and "dreams."  To make sweeping statements as he does that, "dreams are reliable messengers," or "there are no warnings in the Bible to be aware of your own dreams," and especially his statement above, " since all other references [besides Ecc. 5:3, 7] in the Bible to "dreams" are positive" is patently false as we have just shown.

It does no good for Virkler to claim, as he does, that the Bible only warns us against "others" dreams and not "ours."   From anyone else's perspective my dreams are "others" dreams. 

Bizzare Assertions.   Mark Virkler’s extremism on dreams leads him to make ludicrous assertions such as on his Web site where he states, as an example, that if we have a dream involving our sexual intercourse with someone whose spiritual gift is hospitality, then it is God’s way of saying we need to exercise hospitality more in our lives.  One can easily think of other more likely interpretations or causes of such a dream!  And why is Virkler so unaware of the morally twisted nature of this teaching?  Is that God’s best way of telling you need to be more hospitable?  What god is Virkler talking about?  If you need multiple gifts, will you have multiple sexual dream partners, or will you stay “faithful” to your one gift?  Virkler has such faith in night dreams that he excuses the obvious wrong, and even makes it into God's "reliable message" to you!

Paul says that false teachers often appeal to dreams or visions they have seen to come up with all sorts of teachings that run contrary to sound teaching.  Again, it seems they actually believe their dreams and visions are genuine but are deceived by their inflated fleshly minds.  Our potential for self-deception is huge according to the warnings we have seen in these verses. 

We see many historical example of this with the formation of the cults.  Ellen G White claimed that in a dream she saw the 4th commandment elevated above the others and asked God, who was in her dream, why?  God supposedly told her it was because His people were ignoring the Saturday Sabbath and she needed to be the one to start setting everyone straight.  Apparently she never read Colossians 2:16 where Paul says

“let no one be your judge in regard to food, drink, or a Sabbath day…(v. 18) taking their stand on visions they have seen, inflated by their fleshly mind..”

She started the Seventh Day Adventists, which does all of these things!  Don’t eat this, don’t drink that, observe a literal Saturday Sabbath or you are living in sin—and she based it all on a dream she had one night!

Clearly our dreams are no more authoritative than our waking thoughts and plans. Both must be tested by God’s word.  But dreams are even more doubtful when we are told to try to interpret them symbolically as messages from God.

One final illogical teaching of Mark Virkler on dreams is the idea that “my dreams” are trustworthy but the Bible only warns about “others” dreams as being false.  This makes no sense whatever.  My dreams are “others” dreams from the perspective of others!

But biblically, this claim is also false.  Jeremiah 23:25 made that clear,

“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, ‘I had a dream, I had a dream!”

Being in the first person makes no difference.  God calls them false prophets even though it was their own dream they refer to, and not someone elses.


  1. thak you so much. first I was very much impressed by his teaching. because I am a left brain thinker and even now struggling to hear God. but when I was reading his book, I shocked when he said sexual dreams from god. I think he has been decieved by satan. why dont you send this analysis to virkler and condemn him. so that you can protect the people of god from these kind of deceptions. I cant do this, because I am weak in scripture as well as english. pls send this to virkler and also send this to his followers. God bless you.

  2. What is strange is that Mark's brother, Henry, wrote an excellent book years ago on principles of biblical interpretation that is a standard textbook in many Bible colleges and seminaries.


  4. To elevate something or some idea above or even on the same level as God's Word is already a big mistake. I noticed that reading God's Word is not part of the four steps. But just a next step for verification. The temptation here is to find verses that is compatible suitable to your vision. I believe it's the other way around... Word of God is always first above all else.

  5. I just ran across this website. A youtube commentator was recommending Mark Wirkler's book to learn how to hear from Jesus, and have dreams and visions. But then when this commentator began to describe his experiences with visualizations of Jesus which sounded a bit New Age to me. I believe it's called "guided visualization". I was a bit alarmed to learn this author believes sexual dreams point to God. I disagree. And the Bible does command us to judge other people's teachings. The Bible does not instruct us to hear from God by having sexual dreams! The Bible is God talking to us and communicating with us! His Holy Spirit will convict us of sin, guide us and help us to lead Holy lives.

  6. my wife has gotten right inyo mark virkler 4 keys to hearing gods has almost destroyed me financially{ she racked up 25 ooo $ in visa saying jesus would pay it off..., emotionally in our marriage{almost divorced},,, and caused serious rifts in a church she attends... ive read the book and can be a strong informed voice against it... as i tell others to stay away from it and him.. te i coulkd tell you stories ,,sad stories of the sad deception my wife is practising i accidentally read her prayer "journalling"