Many Muslims have claimed over the years that they saw Jesus in their dreams and got saved. But preacher and theologian John Piper says he is highly suspicious of such stories as they seek to contradict the biblical paradigm of how salvation comes.
At a Q&A session during a recent seminar, “Let the Nations Be Glad!” by the Desiring God ministry, Piper was asked what he thought of Jesus coming to Muslims in dreams. Is that real? Or more importantly, is that real conversion?
“Jesus coming to them in their head, preaching the Gospel to them that they have never heard of before, and believing and being saved… that I am suspicious of… big time,” said Piper, the pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minn.
Such claims, Piper said, reflects the way people pray. “I have heard people pray, ‘Oh God, give me dreams, oh God, give me dreams,’ because they have heard stories that somebody had a dream.”
Let’s be careful when we think dreams, he warned, “that we don’t think replacing the biblical paradigm of how people get saved.” People get saved by hearing the Gospel preached, he said.
“The Gospel needs to be heard,” he stressed. “How shall they believe unless they hear and how shall they hear without a preacher and how shall they preach unless they be sent. That’s a pretty significant argument in Romans 10… It says, how shall they preach unless they be sent? It doesn’t say, oh they can preach in a dream when they are not even there.”
Therefore, Piper said, he was “very suspicious” of those stories where a person “claims to hear the whole Gospel for the first time in their head during a dream and they got saved without any connection with the church.”
However, Piper said he believed in “Cornelius type dreams,” as recorded in Acts 10:1–48. Cornelius, a centurion, had a dream where an angel of God told him to send for Peter who had very important information for him and his family.
Cornelius wasn’t saved without hearing the message from Peter, Piper underlined. He wasn’t saved until he heard the message and believed in it which happened after the dream.
Piper also said he didn’t believe there was a special need for missions to pay too much attention to “territorial spirits,” as some do. He said some missionaries go for prayer walks before evangelizing a country. They walk around praying against the territorial spirits over that country, “get victory, and have [archangel] Michael coming to defeat the territorial spirits… all because of a verse in Daniel.”
“Yeah, there are probably demons that are more or less assigned to places,” Piper agreed. But there’s a “tiny little place in the Bible that talks that way.” There is no need to start to make a program or build missions around that, he suggested.
Apostle Paul asked people to pray that a word would be given to him that he could preach boldly as he ought to, Piper said. He did not pray for protection from the territorial spirits over Corinth.