Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is one of the most popular and best-selling books of the past decade. It also happens to be one of the most dangerous and detrimental books, especially for people who desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ. The real Jesus warned his followers about false christs and false prophets who would arise and attempt to lead people astray. (Matthew 24:24) We must heed his warning and hold fast to his word.
There are two serious problems with Jesus Calling. One, the Jesus who spoke to Sarah Young is not the same Jesus who revealed himself and entrusted his teachings to the apostles by the Holy Spirit. The Jesus of Jesus Calling is a different Jesus with a different nature and a different message. He is a figment of Sarah Young’s imagination, which explains why he speaks with the voice, sentiment, and point of view of a deeply religious middle-aged woman. Two, the premise of Jesus Calling undermines the necessity, authority, and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures. Man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God, not the moods of Sarah Young.
We feel compelled to raise awareness of the dangers posed by Jesus Calling for the same reasons that Paul raised awareness of the dangers of phony jesuses and fake good news among the churches he loved and served:
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:2-4 ESV)
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-10 ESV)
And we raise awareness of the dangers for the same reasons that Peter and John raised awareness of the dangers of fake teachings in their writings.
John warned about fake spirits posing as faithful prophets:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world…We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6 ESV)
Peter warned about fake plastic words and cleverly devised myths:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 1:16-2:3 ESV)
(If you skipped over reading those scriptures, you might be contributing to the problem not the solution.)
Notably, unlike Sarah Young, Peter and John actually heard the voice of God from heaven and the voice of Jesus on earth and they still urged their hearers and readers to pay close attention to the more certain word of the Scriptures, not the uncertain word of cleverly devised myths like Jesus Calling.
The bottom line is this: If you really and truly want to hear the voice of Jesus calling you, counseling you, comforting you, challenging you, or commending you, put away Jesus Calling and pick up The Gospels in the Holy Scriptures. There you will hear the words of the real Jesus Christ which the Holy Spirit intended for you to hear, trust, and obey.
We stand in the company of others who raise awareness of the spiritual dangers of Jesus Calling. Here are some reviews of the substance of Jesus Calling. These resources will help equip your heart and mind with the truth. Feel free to share all this with your family and friends.
Bonus: Jesus Always
Finally, for more on the necessity, authority, and sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures see the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms :
Westminster Confession of Faith
1.6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men (2 Tim 3:15-17; Gal 1:8-9; 2 Thess 2:2). Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word (John 6:45; 1 Cor 2:9-10, 12; Eph 1:18†; 2 Cor 4:6†): and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed (1 Cor 11:13-14; 14:26, 40).
1.10. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture (Matt 22:29, 31; Eph 2:20; Acts 28:25; 1 John 4:1-6†).
Westminster Larger Catechism
- Q. 3. What is the word of God?
- A. The holy scriptures of the Old and New Testament are the word of God (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:19-21; 3:2, 15-16†; Matt 19:4-5†; with Gen 2:24†), the only rule of faith and obedience (Deut 4:2†; Eph 2:20; Rev 22:18-19; Isa 8:20; Luke 16:29, 31; Gal 1:8-9; 2 Tim 3:15-17).
- Q. 4. How doth it appear that the scriptures are the word of God?
- A. The scriptures manifest themselves to be the word of God, by their majesty (Isa 66:1†; Hos 8:12; Amos 9:2-4†; 1 Cor 2:6-7, 13; Ps 77†; 119:18, 129) and purity (Ps 12:6; 119:140); by the consent of all the parts (Luke 24:27†; Acts 10:43; 26:22), and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God (Rom 3:19, 27; 16:25-27†; 2 Cor 3:6-11†); by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation (Acts 18:28; Heb 4:12; Jas 1:18; Ps 19:7-9; Rom 15:4; Acts 20:32): but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God (John 16:13-14; 1 John 2:20, 27; John 20:31).
- Q. 5. What do the scriptures principally teach?
- A. The scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God (Gen 1:1†; Exod 34:5-7†; Ps 48:1†; John 20:31†; 2 Tim 3:15†), and what duty God requires of man (Deut 10:12-13†; Ps 119:105†; 2 Tim 1:13; 3:15-17†; Acts 16:30-31†).
Westminster Shorter Catechism
- Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
- A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God (Ps 86:9†; Isa 60:21†; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 6:20†; 10:31; Rev 4:11†), and to enjoy him forever (Ps 16:5-11†; 73:24–28; 144:15†; Isa 12:2†; Luke 2:10†; Phil 4:4†; Rev 21:3-4†).
- Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
- A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Matt 19:4-5†; Gen 2:24†; Luke 24:27, 44†; 1 Cor 2:13†; 14:37†; Eph 2:20; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21†; 3:2, 15–16†), is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him (Deut 4:2†; Ps 19:7-11†; Isa 8:20†; John 15:11†; 20:30–31†; Acts 17:11†; 2 Tim 3:15-17†; 1 John 1:3-4).
- Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
- A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God (Gen 1:1†; John 5:39†; 20:31†; Rom 10:17†; 2 Tim 3:14†), and what duty God requires of man (Deut 10:12-13†; Josh 1:8†; Ps 119:105†; Mic 6:8†; 2 Tim 1:13; 3:16).