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How should a Christian respond to people who claim, "I saw Jesus"?

Have you ever heard someone say they saw Jesus? Maybe in a dream or a "vision" or while they were on a mountaintop, praying for God to give them a sign? Did they actually see Jesus? Are they lying? Or are they straight up deluded? How should we respond to those who claim to have seen Jesus?

Is Jesus on earth today?

The Bible is clear that Jesus is not physically on earth today. At the end of His earthly ministry, the events of His death, burial, and resurrection were witnessed by hundreds of people. Jesus was taken up into Heaven (Acts 1:9-11) and has been seated at the right hand of the Father ever since.

Before that time, Jesus made it clear to His disciples that He would not be on earth anymore. Jesus knew He would leave this world and return to the Father. While praying with them, He said, “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11).

Jesus didn't leave us alone though; He gave us the Holy Spirit to indwell believers and help them (John 16:7-15). Jesus will not be seen on earth again until His Second Coming (Revelation 1:7). The Bible tells us nothing about Jesus returning physically or spiritually on earth before the appointed time. Since Jesus is now seated beside the Father in Heaven, we need to be skeptical about anyone who claims they have seen Him today.

Visions of Jesus in the Bible

In the New Testament, we find accounts of multiple men who had the honor of seeing true visions of Jesus. The apostles John, Paul, and Stephen all had divine visions of Jesus after His Ascension. We know that their visions of Jesus were true because they are recorded in the Bible.

Stephen saw Jesus standing beside the Father before he was stoned to death (Acts 7:55-56). The Apostle John records his vision of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-16. On the road to Damascus, Paul saw "a light from heaven," and the light convicted him of unjust persecution. When Paul questioned this light, the reply was, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." This vision literally blinded Paul for three days and was the reason He accepted Christ. (See Acts 9:1-19.)

Can Christians receive divine revelation today?

One who claims to have seen Jesus usually claims they've received divine revelation from the Lord. Nothing in the Bible that says anyone will receive divine revelations during this time, especially since the apostolic age is over.

Any "addition" to the canon of Scripture is to be disregarded. The Bible is complete, inerrant, and closed to new revelation (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Revelation 22:18 tells us that anyone adds or takes away from the Bible will be condemned.

Practice healthy skepticism and spiritual discernment if you encounter someone who says they've had a vision of Jesus. IF they did see Jesus—and that is a big if—then everything that in their vision must be in alignment with the Bible. A true divine vision will never contradict the Bible.

False Visions: How Cults are Born

Throughout history, many have claimed to have seen Jesus, but you know what a lot of them have in common? These "vision" recipients ran off and started a cult, claiming that their "new" interpretation of the Bible was the "right" one. Not kidding!

Joseph Smith claimed he saw two "personages," whom he identified as Jesus and God the Father, and that they told him to start a new church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormonism).

Then there’s Ellen White, a former member of the failed Millerites cult. She claimed to have a vision that "confirmed" her personal belief that the Sabbath was for all believers, then founded the Seventh Day Adventists, a cult spinoff of the flopped cult!

Do you see an ongoing trend? This doesn't look good for modern-day folks who claim to have seen Jesus in person. Seems they weren't really seeing Jesus.

Seeing Jesus: God's Choice

Reports have come forth among former Muslims claiming they saw Jesus in their dreams. By seeing Jesus in their dreams, they were convinced to reject Islam and accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Now, THIS is amazing!

These types of claims are happening in areas of the world where access to the Bible and the gospel message are extremely difficult. Could it be that God is, in fact, working in these restricted areas to reach Muslims and others who may never have heard about Jesus otherwise? It is certainly possible!

Still, this is an extremely unique situation. We should always use discernment when people claim they see Jesus or have visions of Him, but we also must remember that nothing is too hard for the Lord (Isaiah 59:1).

The Bible is the Final Word

Whenever someone claims, “I saw Jesus” or "Jesus appeared in a vision and told me X," we ought to weigh what they say against Scripture. Does their vision contradict the Bible? Does this "Jesus" promote the idea that they will receive great wealth and possessions if they follow him? Does the vision encourage or validate sin? If so, then this “Jesus” is not Jesus at all.

Any vision or message that opposes the Bible must be seen as a falsehood and rejected. Jesus would never say anything that would contradict the Bible or promote sin.

When the apostle Peter spoke of his personal encounter with Jesus’ glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, he did not emphasize his personal experience. Rather, he made sure to give great emphasis to how his encounter confirmed the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:16-18). The truth of the Bible should always come first, visions/dreams should stand behind the inerrant Word of God, and any personal experiences ought to only confirm the Bible—not add additional ideas.

The Bible is one of the best ways we can learn about God today. We don’t have to see Jesus in a vision in order to believe in Him or accept Him. We live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). God requires us to have faith in His gift of grace alone. We are among the blessed who have not seen Jesus and yet still believe.

"Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" —John 20:29

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TL;DR

Nothing in the Bible tells us Jesus will visit people today in visions or dreams, so we must be skeptical and discerning when someone claims to have seen Him. Jesus told His disciples that He was leaving this world and was returning to the Father (John 17:11). Since the Bible is complete, there is no reason for additional revelations (Revelation 22:18). Many have claimed to have seen Jesus, but if the “Jesus” in a vision or dream says anything that contradicts the Bible, encourages sin, or promises financial gain as payment, that message must be rejected. Jesus would never contradict His Word nor encourage a sinful life.

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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