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Continuationists in the Comment Thread

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 | Comments (179)

Throughout our series on the Prosperity Gospel, a number of people have steered the comments toward the cessationism vs. continuationism debate. I asked Phil Johnson (GTY's Executive Director) about the issue—here's what he said...

If you believe any of the miraculous spiritual gifts were operative in the apostolic era only, and that some or all of those gifts gradually ceased before the end of the first century, you are a cessationist.

If you believe all the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament have continued unabated, unchanged, and unaltered since the initial outpouring of tongues at Pentecost, you are a continuationist.

It's pretty hard to find a real continuationist. Absolute non-cessationists exist only at the bizarre fringe of the charismatic movement. They are the sort of people who like to declare one another "apostles," claim (and inevitably abuse) all the apostolic prerogatives, sometimes invent fanciful stories about people raised from the dead, and twist and corrupt virtually every category of doctrine related to the gospel, the atonement, or Christian discipleship and self-denial.

But evangelical charismatics (especially the Reformed variety) do not really believe there are apostles today who have the same authority as the Apostles in the early church. Some may use the term apostle, but they invariably insist that the apostleship they recognize today is a lesser kind of apostleship than the office and gift that belonged to the apostles in the first century.

Now, think through the implications of that position: By arguing for a lesser kind of apostleship, they are actually conceding that the authentic, original New Testament gift of apostleship (Ephesians 4:11) has ceased. They have in effect embraced a kind of cessationism themselves.

Note: There is no more or less biblical warrant for this view than for any other kind of cessationism.

Nonetheless, every true evangelical holds to some form of cessationism. We all believe that the canon of Scripture is closed, right? We do not believe we should be seeking to add new inspired material to the New Testament canon. We hold to the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3)—delivered in the person of Christ, and through the teaching of His apostles, and inscripturated in the New Testament. We believe Scripture as we have it is complete. And those who do not believe that are not really evangelicals. They are cultists and false teachers, who would add to the Word of God.

But notice this: if you acknowledge that the canon is closed and the gift of apostleship has ceased, you have already conceded the heart of the cessationist argument.

That's not all, though. Most leading "Reformed charismatics" go even further than that. They freely admit that all the charismatic gifts in operation today are of a lesser quality than the gifts we read about in the New Testament.

For example, in Wayne Grudem's book The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Wheaton: Crossway, 1988)—probably the single most important and influential work written to defend modern prophecy—Grudem writes that "no responsible charismatic holds" the view that prophecy today is infallible and inerrant revelation from God (p. 111). He says charismatics are arguing for a "lesser kind of prophecy" (112), which is not on the same level as the inspired prophecies of the Old Testament prophets or the New Testament apostles—and which may even be (and very often is) fallible.

Grudem writes,

there is almost uniform testimony from all sections of the charismatic movement that [today's] prophecy is impure, and will contain elements which are not to be obeyed or trusted.

Jack Deere, former Dallas Seminary prof-turned charismatic advocate, likewise admits in his book Surprised by the Power of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), that he has not seen anyone today performing miracles or possessing gifts of the same quality as the signs and wonders of the apostolic era. In fact, Deere argues vehemently throughout his book that modern charismatics do not even claim to have apostolic-quality gifts and miracle-working abilities. One of Deere's main lines of defense against critics of the charismatic movement is his insistence that modern charismatic gifts are actually lesser gifts than those available in the apostolic era, and therefore, he suggests, they should not be held to apostolic standards.

Again, consider the implications of that claim: Deere and Grudem have, in effect, conceded the entire cessationist argument. They have admitted that they are themselves cessationists of sorts. They believe that the true apostolic gifts and miracles have ceased, and they are admitting that what they are claiming today is not the same as the charismata described in the New Testament.

In other words, modern charismatics have already adopted a cessationist position. When pressed on the issue, all honest charismatics are forced to admit that the "gifts" they receive today are of lesser quality than those of the apostolic era.

Contemporary tongues-speakers do not speak in understandable or translatable dialects, the way the apostles and their followers did at Pentecost. Charismatics who minister on the foreign mission-field are not typically able to preach the gospel miraculously in the tongues of their hearers. Charismatic missionaries have to go to language school like everyone else.

If all sides already acknowledge that there are no modern workers of signs and wonders who can really duplicate apostolic power, then we have no actual argument about the principle of cessationism, and therefore all the frantic demands for biblical and exegetical support for cessationism are superfluous. The real gist of our disagreement boils down only to a question of degree.

In a very helpful book, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), Thomas Edgar writes,

The charismatic movement gained credence and initial acceptance by claiming their gifts were the same as those in Acts. For most people this is why they are credible today. Yet now one of their primary defenses is the claim that [the gifts] are not the same [as those in the New Testament.] Faced with the facts, they have had to revoke the very foundation of their original reason for existence. (p. 32)

As for biblical arguments, in Scripture itself, there is ample evidence that miracles were extraordinary, rare events, usually associated in some significant way with people who spoke inspired and infallible utterances. It is obvious from the biblical narrative that miracles were declining in frequency even before the apostolic era drew to a close. Scripture says the miracles were apostolic signs (2 Corinthians 12:12), and therefore by definition they pertained specifically and uniquely to the apostolic era.


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#1  Posted by Rick White  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 2:44 AM

Thank you Phil Johnson for clearing up so many points.I guess my question for the continuationist is if the gifts of the Spirit today are of a lesser form and are not Apostolic or infallible why bother with them?They are untrustworthy and cannot be supported by scripture.I can't find anywhere in scripture where the miraculous gifts will continue only of a lesser nature.Has the Holy Spirit lost some of His power?Of course I believe that is absurd.

#2  Posted by Jeffrey Waddell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 5:42 AM

This is so stupid that it should not even be discussed. If we Christians spent as much time winning people to Christ as we do trying to force our unimportant opinions down other peoples throats, we might closer to changing our society. JOhn MacArthur says he does not argue for argument sake, then what would you call this. Does this waste of time do anything to further the kingdom. All it is is another " I know more than you" fight that Satan loves. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for even wasting time on all this.

#3  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 5:53 AM

Among the ranks of professing charismatics there are factons - divisions if you will, claiming various forms of authenticity. Some profess the gifts never stopped, they continued in a "remnant" type of existence of the gifts working in a almost extinct but yet still alive existence among very few true Christians. This remnant revealed itself -according t the adherents- during these "latter days" in the fulfillment of their "latter day Spirit outpouring" prophecys. The more common modern day gifts professor claims the gifts stopped but were reinstituted during this "latter day Spirit outpouring" They see the Spirit revealing Himself in some "day of Pentecost" type of power move by God. The emphasis is on the experiene of the indwelling Spirit manifesting Himself outwardly. The Spirit must be felt, and seen, and heard. I'm sure there has been someone - somewhere who claims He has tasted and even smelled God's Spirit, because once you open the door to the experiencial- you can't close it very easily. If you try then you are accused of "limiting God" -or "Quenching the Spirit".

What are the dangers here? There are so many!! I saw a documentary on cults where they retraced the Branch Dividians and their leader David Korish. Why was he able to gain followers? Because his audience was already preprogramed to a belief in modern day prophets. I'm sure the Jonestown victims were of simular beliefs. Once the door to modern day revelation is opened, who is watching it? Or is it even fair to watch it at all? If God is moving in new revelation, who are we to stop, or limit, or question God?

As one who was raised in this kind of religious background, I've seen many of these abuses firsthand. I've seen people hit on the head with the Bible by some -so called - preacher. I've seen a preacher literaly standing on his Bible because God told him to. I've seen marches around the church in some kind of attempt to unify the crowd so as to provoke some kind of spiritual manisfestation from God. A friend of mine attended a church where the pastor laid down in front of the exit door saying that if the people stepping over him as they left hadn't given all God had instructed them to, then God would strike them dead as they left. I attended a church once where they had a recorder taping messages so someone could type out the tongue interpretations for the next meeting. In the office I was shown a file cabinet full of these papers- they revered these papers as much as scripture. If God is making new revelation what's wrong with all of these things??

Is it any wonder then to see the Benny Hinns, or the Copelands, or the Oral Roberts, or the Capps, or the -----WHOEVER FITS-- of the world gaining ear?? They offer spirituality without true repentence! Heaven now! There's no emphasis on Bible study. No humility. The focus is inward not outward.

But, there is no clear voice within the movement toward the narrow straight path of true right standing before God. Even though they allow many "strange gods" among themselves, they are downright offended by the truth. People like myself who God has called out from among them are quickly pushed out. Although I must say, when God revealed Himself to me, leaving was almost automatic. And I'm thankful for that. God knew I could't stay in that kind of environment and grow. The religious house I had built had to come down. That was painful!! Christ cost me my church, many friends, and even alienated me from many in my own family- but having Christ is worth it all!! I learned early on what the cost was to follow Christ- EVERYTHING!!! The prosperity preachers don't teach that. Where is the deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow Me in the message- God wants you rich??

God help us. Is there anything God has given man that we didn't corrupt? He gave us His Word and we twisted it. He gave us His Son and we worshiped an antichrist. He gave us His Spirit and we manipulate it to our own gain. When I was dead in sin- all these made perfect sence!! Filthy rags!

I see real danger in even cracking the door to new revelation- it's a deadly sin!!!

#4  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 6:03 AM

Thank you for the clarification, I believe a lot of people could benefit from it. Sometimes it's really confusing for a person new to the faith, or someone who's been a long time in the charismatic movement without any biblical knowledge, where the gifts are more enfazied than the learning of the scriptures.

In Christ,

E.

#5  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 6:11 AM

Jeffery, the realiance here is the clarity of scripture. This is beyond opinion. This isn't arguement for arguements sake at all! Maybe this is something you've never encountered. Maybe you've never seen people as trapped in a sinful state such as this. Doped by Satan into believing a lie. If that's true, then what drives you to spread the Gospel? If we can't see the sin others are trapped in: then the best we can say is --"Come!, be like me!" Is that the Gospel you preach?

#6  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 6:12 AM

This is so stupid that it should not even be discussed. If we Christians spent as much time winning people to Christ as we do trying to force our unimportant opinions down other peoples throats, we might closer to changing our society.

Jeffrey, it most certainly isn't a stupid discussion as you suggest. The issue of charismatic gifts has been a major factor for division with in American churches for nearly a century now. I personally know of congregations who either split when a group of people decided they had the spiritual gifts and the opposition by the pastor and deacons was "Satan opposing us," or the whole church fell into bizarre and unbiblical teachings because the leadership allowed those folks to take over with their charimatic beliefs.

I know two Christians as of this writing who suffer much emotional turmoil because they "haven't spoken in tongues" or "haven't received the second baptism" or they were spiritually abused in some sense due to charismatic teaching. They are struggling to become sanctified in their understanding of what is true spirituality because they have been saturated heavily in charismatic error of the sort John MacArthur has been pointing out this past month. How we respond to this issue has significant ramifications for the Church of Jesus Christ.

So to dismiss this topic out of hand as if it is a subject that falls into the category of arguing over "foolish" things, like whether or not Saul is in heaven or not, is an unwise position to take in the first place.

Fred

#7  Posted by Bobby Bugg  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 6:14 AM

Phil would they also say since their signs and wonders and prophecies are of a lesser degree, that the Bibilical reward for false prophecies will be less.

#8  Posted by David Rodgers  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 6:37 AM

is it necessarily 'either', 'or'? "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick." (James 5:14-15) Faith is one of the 'gifts', one that was not in operation in the Lord's own home town: "And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:57-58) There may be another reason why some gifts have 'ceased'. as far as 'titles', I agree there are no more Apostles in the true Biblical rendering, and that the Canon of Scripture is 'closed'. does it have to come down to the baby or the bath water, or the baby and the bath water?

#9  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 7:08 AM

David cites Matthew:

Faith is one of the 'gifts', one that was not in operation in the Lord's own home town: "And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."

Just as long as you understand that the faith was not some "force" empowering Jesus to work miracles. As if "faith" is a mystical energy that the lack of it (unbelief) hampered Christ's ability to perform healings. Many folks erroneously think this is what Matthew is saying: The people had unbelief and so Jesus had no energy/power to work miracles. The point of Matthew's commentary is to take note of how the people in Christ's hometown did not accept his claims of who he was. They did not believe he was who he said he was. Hence, nobody bothered to go out and see him or seek to be healed. That is the "unbelief" being describe here.

Fred

#10  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 7:34 AM

Job said that though God would slay him, he would still serve Him. That's faith. David prayed for the healing of his an Bathsheba's illigitamate baby, yet he didn't allow the infants death to deter his belief. That's faith. The three Hebrew young men told the King- even if we go into this fire and die we'll not bow to you. That's faith. Nothing wrong with praying for someones illness as long as we know the results are God's will. Not my supposed faith. Faith hasn't changed since Cain and Able offered to God. None of the examples of faith listed in Heb. 11 were from the New Testament were they? The miracles of Christ and His apostels weren't because they could conjer up some level of belief above everyone else. They were a sign, right? A sign that Christ was God. And a sign that the apostels were Christ's messengers to the new-born church. The foundation and Cornerstone if you will. Praying for people in sickness is an act of love. If God heals them it should build our faith- if He chooses not to- that shouldn't harm our faith either

#11  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 9:00 AM

What brought me out of any association with this movement at all was when I investigated the meaning of the word sign in the Greek. It is not the sign as in a speed limit sign but rather sign as in sign on the dotted line, i.e. signature. Mark 16:17,18 shows it as God's signature on those who represent Him. Mark 13 verses 4,22,23 in particular demonstrate that in the days prior to His second coming His signature is on those false teachers and false christs who, if possible, would lead the elect astray. He has warned us in advance

#12  Posted by Chris Stanley  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 10:34 AM

RE: Jeffrey Waddell

Sounds like you know more about this than everybody else? But if you fail to see the importance of whether or not special revelation and other Apostolic gifts are extant and authoratative today then I think your zealous condemnation of those who do find it important is zeal without knowledge (implying it is stupid implies only stupid people will engage it).

If prophecy is still extant, and I tell you God told me to tell you that you are to give all your money to GTY....or to me; how are you to distinguish whether or not to obey this prophecy? How could something that the Apostle Paul told us to be discriminating in consideration of be reduced by you to an unimportant opinion; especially when scripture speaks to it? This is important and your condescending tone is arrogant and most ungracious.

#13  Posted by Bill Ziegler  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 11:29 AM

Elmer Gantry and Sister Sharon were raised from the dead and they developed a television station in Orange County, Ca. They birthed a comb-over king who slays thousands of fools all while they play "How Great Thou Art".

And they don't even need the stinking church. You know the building, the bricks and mortar!

Normal 0

Who's that lookin' like an angel of light? Who's that dressed in a gown of white? Who's that saying everything's all right? Who's that grinning in the dead of night?

Why is the Devil Red? by Lost Dogs

Kudos to the GTY family for standing up to the con men and women getting rich in God's name.

It's almost like the words of Deep Throat from Watergate telling Woodward (1) "Forget the myths the media created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand." (2) "No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just...follow the money."

#14  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 11:35 AM

# 2 Jeffrey,

Hi. I am not going to comment on the issue at hand since I see several people are already doing on. However, I just wanted to briefly comment on this part of your statement: "... we might closer to changing our society".

We are not called to change our society, or our culture. We are called to witness to lost people. This society (as in any society/culture in any country) will only get worse and worse, not better. That's clear. As much as it pains us, as Christians, to see that happening, that's what's going to happen.

As Christians, "we do no attempt to change culture externally, we preach the Gospel and it changes men internally." (JM - The Christian's Responsability in a pagan society, part 2, code 56-24)

In Christ,

E.

#15  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 12:22 PM

Jeffrey: "You ought to be ashamed of yourself for even wasting time on all this."

I'm not ashamed, because I don't believe it's a waste of time; I think it's an important biblical issue. The spiritual abuses and embarrassing corruptions of New Testament doctrine we have been dealing with on this blog for the past month are ultimately rooted in the belief that the ability to do miracles is freely available to all Christians, but that today's "miracle-gifts" are actually toned-down versions of the apostolic charismata, and therefore should not be held up to any kind of critical and biblical scrutiny. That entails the willful abandonment of discernment, which is a violation of what the NT demands of believers.

Your comment likewise seemed to be calling for the abandonment of critical analysis and biblical discernment. Is that what you meant?

However, I gather you don't really think all of this is an utter waste of time, because you took the time to comment. I hope you'll comment again, because I'm curious about what you believe (and why) about the gifts of healing and prophecy.

#16  Posted by Russell Taylor  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 12:23 PM

Jeffrey, one of the express purposes for pastors to equip the saints is so that they will no longer be "tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine." Ephesians 4:14 ESV. Anyone with an inkling of sense about the health of the church at large, must surely be aware that there is a great deal of confusion about this issue. Any pastor who does not deal thoroughly and clearly with this issue to his flock, is negligent and contributing to the kind of disunity in the flock that Paul is instructing them to avoid in this chapter. Furthermore, it is a myth that we have to choose between addressing doctrinal issues and reaching our societies with the gospel. It is an utterly false dichotomy. We are clearly called to do both and one does not exclude the other. John MacArthur's ministry has taught and defended sound doctrine for decades, while at the same time leading countless people to Christ, including me.

#17  Posted by Ernest Cisneros  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 12:25 PM

Thank You Phil Johnson,

And AMEN! to Ed Rudd

and Bill Ziegler is right "follow the money"

But more than that We need to follow The Word and "Interpret the Word with The Word"

As someone has said, somewhere.......... Amen?

#18  Posted by Michael Buresh  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 12:43 PM

Excellent post John.

#19  Posted by Larry Gary  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 1:14 PM

Chris,

I do think some elements of prophecy still exists, maybe not as we see it in the old testament. Acts 2:17- And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. This is also seen in Joel 2:28. When I was five years old I was told I was called to preach (I was not even at church). God confirmed this with me when I was 26 and told me I was called to preach and also I was going to pastor a church.

Not only did I become a preacher, but I am a pastor of a church also. All I have ever tried to do once I gave my life to Christ was to follow His lead and His lead has taken me to doing the things I was prophesied to and even to a pastoral position. Just based on the scripture and my own experience I have to believe some form of prophecy exists. Not in the sense of Isaiah and Jeremiah, but a lesser one.

Any thoughts?

LG

A

#20  Posted by Terry Rayburn  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 1:21 PM

Ed is correct in his concern about new revelation.

The most ancient of heresies is the one from the Garden, "Has God said?"

He has given us His Word, and the Charismatic Movement is a Trojan Horse being used to bring extra-biblical "revelation" into the Church.

Whether so-called tongues or so-called prophesy, whether so-called Apostles or so-called Prophets, it's all about making something OTHER than the closed-canon Word of God seem like normal and everyday "revelation".

Even "Reformed Charismatics" are continually conradicting themselves when they say that "prophecy" or "tongues" is not "authoritative", yet are guided by and guide others by such things.

If it's not inerrant and trustworthy, it's not the Word of God. To say it's only a "lesser" Word of God is yet another contradiction.

#21  Posted by Douglas Mollett  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 1:28 PM

im thankful for this article that has been written in response to the cessassionist vs, continuationist debate that was going on just a while back. i stated in an earlier comment several days back that i have been studying acts 2 and also 1 cor 14. whenever i hear preaching concerning pentecost i almost 100% of the time hear the passages about the spirit entering the room and tongues of fire resting on those in the room, but i NEVER hear preaching about the jews who was speaking in every dialect that men who were there could understand(acts 2:5-13). as i have contemplated this, i wonder if this is what Paul meant when he went on and on in 1 cor 14 that it is better to speak 5 words easy to understand, then 10,000 words no one can understand(1 cor 14:6-19,22-25). quite frankly, when i hear tongue speaking, all i hear is a lot of gibberish, does that make me any less of a christian? it bothers me when i hear preaching that i must be baptized by the HOLY SPIRIT which automatically equates speaking in tongues, and i have even heard it argued that if im not speaking in tongues, there is no evidence im saved. this amazes me, because Romans 10:9-10 declares ''if you confess with your mouth the LORD JESUS, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved,for with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.'' again im thankful for this article, and i admit im beginning to lean toward cessassionism now. God bless you all

#22  Posted by Russell Taylor  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 1:46 PM

Larry,

It's good that your life and this "prophecy" have worked out to correlate. However, biblical prophecy was authoritative and binding. Even the prophecy of Agabus (acts 11:28) was acted on as directive. Timothy was set apart with a prophecy (1 Timothy 4:14). I would never direct my life around any "word of prophecy" or treat it as authoritative. According to your testimony, you followed the Lord into the ministry in coincidence with this prophecy, not because of it. That's not prophecy. I do not believe that such prophecy occurs and I do not understand the value of so called prophecies that are only confirmed as beneficial after the fact. If I were to argue for the continuationist position, then I would have to argue that to disobey prophecy is disobedience to God in order to be consistent.

#23  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 2:03 PM

Larry,

Was the person who said that when you were a child "prophecying over you" or did they make a comment based on your personality? When people observe us a say things like "you're really gifted to do such and such," that isn't prophecy, it's good observation. Even if that person claimed they were prophesying, that doesn't make it prophecy; it just means they interpreted their observation as prophecy.

Now if they made that statement completely out of the blue and you were, say, mute... then you might have a case. However prophecy isn't some vague statement about the future like "you're going to get married someday." Biblical prophecy is specific. Your quotation of Joel 2:28 is case in point. That prophecy is very specific saying that everyone will prophesy; sons, daughters, young men, old men, male and female slaves. I don't believe that has happened, and if it has then someone has sure kept a lid on it. For further explanation on that passage see this sermon: http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/1705_Peters-Sermon--Explaining-Pentecost. But suffice it to say that Amos 2:28 is not a valid reason to suppose that prophecy is active today.

#24  Posted by Douglas Mollett  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 2:14 PM

id like to further add also that in 1 cor 14 and i say this in a way that i hope doesnt offend anyone, that it says that there are ways to conduct speaking in tongues(if one assumes that continuationism is true), such as if one did speak in a tongue, there must be at least 2 and at the most 3 who are present who are able to interpret what was just said, if there isnt, then you should keep it to yourself (1 cor 14:26-29). there are also other guidelines, but my time is limited at the moment, so my point is that if there are those who insist tongues are relevant for today, then at least they should conduct themselves in an orderly manner. i get annoyed personally when i hear endless tongue speaking, yet noone is able to interpret what is being said, which is why i said earlier all i hear is gibberish. God bless you all.

#25  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 2:26 PM

Comment deleted by user.
#26  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 2:27 PM

I should apoligize. It would seem I posted a response to an earlier post into the thread about preaching greed.

When it comes to labeling people cessationist or continualist, that seems to be dodging the real issue. Nearly every cessationist believes some gifts continue

***As for biblical arguments, in Scripture itself, there is ample evidence that miracles were extraordinary, rare events, usually associated in some significant way with people who spoke inspired and infallible utterances.***

God was apparently working miracles among the Galatians in Paul's absence, because Paul wrote of miracles being worked by faith rather than the law. Stephen worked miracles before his trial. Yet the utterances he preached at that time are not recorded. Why aren't they in the Bible if they are inspired and infallible and all such sayings are recorded in scripture?

Philip worked miracles and we have very little of what he spoke in scripture, certainly not his own sermon.

Paul also wrote of working of miracles as a gift of the Spirit in I Corinthians chapter 12. The end of the chapter lists various types of ministers and ranks 'workers of miracles' below apostles and prophets, indicatig that there were miracle workers who were not apostles and prophets. Wouldn't you consider the ones speaking inspired and infallible utterances to be apostles and prophets? But here we see the working of miracles as operating separately from those two roles.

What I see in the Bible is a pattern of evangelistic ministers doing miracles as they preached the Gospel, using miracles as an 'object lesson' in their preaching and teaching at times. Christ did this, and so did Peter. The I do not see any statement of scripture that the working of miracles is specifically connected to books being included in the canon and verifying the books. I do see miracles verifying the preached word, especially when it is first introduced to a city or people.

Jesus said that he that believes in Him will do the works that He did. Jesus preached with signs and wonders. The servant should seek to be as His master. If a preacher of the gospel does not do signs and wonders, He should seek to do so to be more like Christ. The Bible tells us to desire spiritual gifts, not make excuses for why they aren't present. When the wonders were missing in Israel's history, Israel mourned their loss.

#27  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 2:28 PM

***It is obvious from the biblical narrative that miracles were declining in frequency even before the apostolic era drew to a close.****

This is eisegeting one's opinion into the text. This is certainly not something we see in the text. And especially if you look at 'supernatural' spiritual activity in scritpure, it does not gradually fade out. In fact, the Bible ends up with an explosion of it, with a vision, angels, and a prophecy about coming prophets who will do miracles (the two witnesses.) Since the Bible points to future miracles, it makes no sense to argue that miracles have ceased.

Just where is there a verse about miracles and prophecy ceasing and then unceasing?

Paul left a co-worker sick at Miletus late in his ministrY. But early in his ministry, he had some kind of infirmity, most likely an eye problem. Galatians was probably a very early work. Paul did plenty of miracles after he wrote this book. He was working miracles on his journey. Yet even early on, he did not always instantly heal himself. If Paul didn't go around healing at will like someone off a sci fi TV show, early on, then why would the fact that someone he knew was sick later on indicate that spiritual gifts had ceased.

There are plenty of portions of time in Acts for which we have no record of the supernatural occuring. If we were to chart it out, there would be hills and valleys, with a big spike for example when Paul was in Ephesus and did extraordinary miracles.

#28  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 2:28 PM

** Scripture says the miracles were apostolic signs (2 Corinthians 12:12), and therefore by definition they pertained specifically and uniquely to the apostolic era.***

The signs of an apostle accompanied Paul. But other believers did miracles as well, as we see in II Corinthians. The Bible teaches that Christ ascended and gave the gift of apostles to men. There were 12 before He ascended (11 remaining.) I do believe some church planters have an apostolic gift. I see this as a separate issue from the canon.

If there are no more miracles, then what are believers supposed to do about demons? Let's say a missionary your church sponsored comes across a demonized person. If your teaching about miracles having ceased with the apostles is true, he shouldn't try to cast the demon out. Christ indicated that casting out demons is a miracle.

Mark 9 38"Teacher," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us." 39"Do not stop him," Jesus said. "No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, (NIV)

#29  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 2:47 PM

Link, I think there is a slight misunderstanding. Most cessationists do not say that miracles in general have ceased, but specifically the miraculous signs and wonders that we read about in the NT.

Miracles do happen all the time and God is not limited in his intervening in human events. Cessationism simply says that the sign gifts are not normative for today.

#30  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 3:12 PM

Gabriel,

Thank you for the comment.

I am not talking about a baby being born, or the beauty of the sunset when I talk about a 'miracle.' I am using it in the sense it is used in the New Testament. Christ puts casting out demons in the miracle/sign category along with various other supernatural acts.

Do cessationists have a single verse of scripture to point to that says that miracles will/have ceased? I can't think of any.

#31  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 3:14 PM

It has been years since I read anything from Jack Deere. If I remember correctly, Deere believed that some of the believers who had the gifts listed in I Corinthians 12 may have had less impressive manifestations of gifts BEFORE the end of the first century, and that such things can also be seen today.

#32  Posted by Corey Fleig  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 3:34 PM

There is some great discussion here, and I thank God for that! I have a friend in Alberta, Canada, whose mother has struggled with debilitating arthritis for years. She begged her son to take her to see Benny Hinn for a healing. I told my friend - you *know* that's not going to happen. My heart breaks for her, but you know she will not receive any such healing, because Benny Hinn is a fraud!

This is precisely why discussion of this nature is so critical. Will my friend's mother ever come to a true Biblical understanding of suffering? Will he be able to effectively minister to his mother? Will their prayers be the kind that God responds to because they are according to His will? All these details depend in large measure on how we teach and preach the Gospel accurately. I pray that these kind of issues, if need be, are talked about until we're blue in the face, until we can get it right.

#33  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 3:40 PM

I'm not referring to babies being born or sunsets. I'm referring to events that have no natural explanation. Again, not like those we read about in the NT like resurrections and healings of men born blind. Just today I was listening to a missionary who is a surgeon in Africa who had several stories of miracles that happened in his clinic. Not the "stand up and be healed" type miracles, but the prayers of faith for those who were all but dead and overnight God spared their life and brought them back to health.

I think we've all heard of people full of cancer who all of a sudden were cancer free. Again, these are not the healing miracles of the NT where an apostle commands a lame man to walk. These are events where God intervenes and for all intents and purposes we consider them miracles because we cannot account for them.

#34  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 3:45 PM

Corey Fleig,

When I was in my early 20's, I went to a Benny Hinn crusade. They walked down this little elderly lady with an oxygen tank in my section. Hours before Hinn arrived, ushers and other people around, gathered around her, laid hands on her and prayed. I was about half a section up. She took off the oxygen and raised her hands. People clapped. People clapped when people ran around on the floored. I couldn't see if they were getting out of wheelchairs. Maybe people assumed and clapped. I wanted to check this out. So I went down there and talked to the lady. She looked like she was around 90 years old.

Benny Hinn asks 'what did you feel go through you?' Those kind of questions always irritated me. What if they are sitting under the heating vent? They will feel heat. I asked the lady a bunch of questions about her state before and after prayer. She said she couldn't go long without her oxygen tank before or she'd be panting. She showed me a letter from her doctor stating they couldn't do a heart transplant because of her severe emphazema. I asked her if she wanted to try to climb some stairs. I took her by the hand and walked her up and down the stairs.

Even if Benny Hinn has said some pretty bizaar stuff, I wouldn't say no one ever got healed in his meetings.

And there is probably someone in Canada who is theologically sound who can pray the prayer of faith for your friend's mother. If your kids, friends, relatives, or even yourself were in great pain, would you want people to pray for them, or for you, to have increased pain so you could learn the values of suffering? Or would you want them to pray for healing?

#35  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 4:02 PM

Casting out demons is also done through human agency. So is a lot of healing ministry.

#36  Posted by Kenneth Hubbard  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 4:07 PM

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#37  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 4:15 PM

Link,

And there is probably someone in Canada who is theologically sound who can pray the prayer of faith for your friend's mother.

By praying the "prayer of faith," is that a guarantee of healing, or just a prayer? There has already been discussion in a previous post that praying for healing is legitimate, but that is not the same as having the gift of healing.

#38  Posted by Kenneth Hubbard  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 4:16 PM

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#39  Posted by Kenneth Hubbard  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 4:18 PM

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#40  Posted by Kenneth Hubbard  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 4:20 PM

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#41  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 4:43 PM

Gabriel Powell,

Jesus prayed a prayer of faith before raising Lazarus from the dead. Does that make His raising Lazarus from the dead any less of a miracle? When God answers a prayer to perform His will He uses human agency. If you command a part of the body to be healed in Jesus name or pray for it to happen, and it happens, is the effect any different either on the person healed or observers? Some people do both.

The fact is, there is not one bit of Biblical evidence that either the gift of healing or miracles have ceased. I haven't seen anyone even try to show a scripture that indicates that they will cease. Phil's post above is an illustration of the dangers of basing doctrine on 'theology' rather than scripture. Redefining terms based on dialog with Reformed Continualists has no effect on what is plainly written in the Bible.

#42  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 5:08 PM

It is more than a stretch to say that Jesus prayed the prayer of faith. He raised Lazarus from the dead by his own power--the same power that he used to raise himself from the dead.

The argument on the cessation of the sign gifts, as I understand it, rests largely on their purpose as sign gifts, namely, as verification that the apostles were speaking a word from God.

Further, the common definition of the gifts is often different than the original meaning of the gifts. For example, today the expression of the gift of tongues is virtually always some so-called angelic language or in other words a non-human language. But tongues in Scripture was always a known language.

The NT examples of healing were not for a sore knee, a headache, or arthritis. NT healing predominantly included healing men born blind, lame men, lepers, etc. Why aren't those things happening today? Are they? That is the argument of this article; continuationists often argue for a lesser expression of the gifts which already conceeds the core of the debate.

#43  Posted by Larry Gary  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 5:11 PM

Russell, Gabriel

I was five years old. I walked into my headstart class and my teacher was looking at me and she said to me you are going to be a preacher. I just looked at her. She said tell your grandmother to start dressing you up in a shirt and tie. I told my grandmother what she said and her reply was something to the effect of whatever. Almost two years later after I left headstart, I saw this lady again and she asked me did I remember what she had said. I told her yes. Now at this point I am almost seven years and have not ever wore a tie (LOL). In 1993 at the age of 22 I gave my life to Christ and four years later in the midst of going through questioning God about me, God brought the statement the lady told me back to my memory. He confirmed what she had told me because I have always felt that God could tell me about me. At that time of His confirmation God also spoke to my heart about me being a pastor.

Now my teacher never told me that, she just said a preacher. Now I don't know what she could have gotten just by observing me from her own thoughts, I just believed God showed her me and she told me what he put in her heart about me. I did not direct my life around that prophecy, it just came to past. Trust me I did nothing to assist it. God confirmed it to me in Jan 98, I became a pastor in Aug 2008. I did not direct my life around this, a five year old can't make too many decisions, good ones anyway, but it happened.

I do understand good observation, as a career soldier we are taught that, but I don't think I can observe someone as a five year old and tell them that they will be a preacher and it come to past unless God is involved with it. Now I just don't think that this can be written off as observation. I used Acts 2:17 just to show that God said prophesying would happen in the last days. Is it happening? As I said earlier not in the sense of the Old Testament prophets, but to a milder degree. Now I an not debating whether things have ceased or they continues, but I am just speaking from my own experience.

You will know a prophet by when what he or she says come true

#44  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 5:13 PM

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#45  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 5:16 PM

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#46  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 5:19 PM

For the record, the notion that cessationists believe God stopped working when the last apostle died and that no miracle will ever occur again until the Rapture is a total misconception. It's also totally false to suggest that believing the apostolic gifts have ceased is tantamount to saying God can't heal, or that we shouldn't pray for healing.

A person doesn't have to believe all the 1st-century charismata are still operative in order to pray for a miracle. On the other hand, no one should imagine that if God isn't working through miraculous means He is not working at all.

One of the serious shortcomings of the typical charismatic mindset is a failure to see that God is always at work though Providence even when He is not manifesting His power through miracles. A providential answer to prayer is no less an answer to prayer than fire falling from heaven. It is a simple fact of history that God does not ordinarliy work in miraculous ways, and the biblical record of reflects that. Miracles are by definition extraordinary events, always rare--except for three or four notable periods in biblical history. That doesn't mean God has changed or become inactive when He is not doing miracles.

A second major shortcoming of the charismatic mindset is a tendency to redefine and downgrade what we mean by the word miracle. It's not a "miracle" when Benny Hinn waves his coat at people onstage and they fall down. It’s also not a “miracle” if your sprained ankle heals in 2 days after the doctor told you it would take 3 weeks. That’s a remarkable providence, and if it comes after you have prayed for healing, I’ll thank God with you for answered prayer. But let’s not cheapen the significance of true miracles by pretending miracles are commonplace and proclaiming that every remarkable providence is “miraculous.”

Let’s be blunt honest here: if verifiable apostolic-quality miracles were occurring at even one-tenth the rate claimed by charismatic hucksters and sleazy televangelists, there would be no serious debate among believers about cessationism. There’s a reason why we don't hear such fantastic stories about instant healings and dead people literally coming to life from the type of charismatics who retain a modicum of doctrinal integrity. They aren’t gullible enough to think (or dishonest enough to pretend) that the rank shamanism of Benny Hinn and his ilk is an authentic manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s power.

Nevertheless, even the best and sanest charismatics seem to have this pathological need to manufacture claims about “miracles” when they ought to be simply acknowledging the wisdom and goodness of divine providence, and thanking God that He answers His people’s prayers even in the normal course of events.

"Miracle" is not a word Bible-believers should cheapen, toss around lightly, or apply to unverifiable claims.

See: http://bit.ly/bMPaaI for a comment and link to posts where I have developed these ideas further.

#47  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 5:21 PM

Link,

If miracles are happening in the frequency you claim they are because people pray a prayer of faith, let's go down to the children's cancer ward here in LA and heal those kids. Let's then go over to the burn ward at USC medical center and heal all those children. And when we are finished there, we can pray over all those people with spinal cord injuries at Cedar-Sinai.

#48  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 6:02 PM

Phil: Point well taken. I appreciate the distinction between "miracle" and "providence as an answer to prayer."

#49  Posted by Larry Gary  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 7:31 PM

Gabriel,

In responding to your statement

"Your quotation of Joel 2:28 is case in point. That prophecy is very specific saying that everyone will prophesy; sons, daughters, young men, old men, male and female slaves. I don't believe that has happened, and if it has then someone has sure kept a lid on it".

In Acts 2:16-21 this is beginning of the fulfilment of Joel 2:28-32. Peter did not see the Spirit coming upon all people, but he did see Him coming upon the 120 who were there. This was the beginning, but not complete fulfilment. We should understand just as Peter did that the last days had already begun, with the birth of Christ. (Heb. 1:2, 1 Pet 1:20)

I do believe this prophecy by Joel is happening during our time now because the last days has already begun. So I feel it is safe to say that because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, prophecy is happening as well as dreams and visions.

Thoughts?

LG

#50  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 7:47 PM

Larry, how would you understand the fact that the prophecy states, "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh" (emphasis mine)?

#51  Posted by Simon Caneparo  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 7:49 PM

I have a third theory, which I would call "Distributionist" :)

I believe that 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 not only has an instructional purpose but it is also prophetical:Today's disciples don't have diminished powers in respect to the church of the early ages, what changes is the distribution of the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:28-31): The faithful followers of Christ nowadays must abound in the gifts of discernment, knowledge, teaching, helps, administration. When needed somebody may sporadically be imparted the other gifts but never for displaying cartoon-like superpowers in order to attract attention (and/or money) onto themselves.Interestingly enough, there are very few of the so-called Charismatics who seek the greatest gift, which is Love ( 1 Cor 13:1,13 et al.). Sadly it happens also to us to, we should ask more and more of it from our Father.

#52  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 7:50 PM

#47--For the record, (John 5) Jesus strolled into the pool at Bethesda, filled with a multitude of sick, blind, lame and withered people, and healed all???? No. He found one man and healed him.

Also for the record, not all WOF pastors are "on the take". Most are caring people who want the best for their flock. Even if you disagree with their theology, please realize that not all of them are slimy "used car salesmen" out to steal your Grandma's last dime.

#53  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 7:53 PM

#51--- You said "Interestingly enough, there are very few of the so-called Charismatics who seek the greatest gift, which is Love ( 1 Cor 13:1,13 et al.)."

That is an unfortunate thing to say...can you back that up?????

#54  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 8:07 PM

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#55  Posted by Terry Rayburn  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 8:17 PM

Phil,

If "even the best and sanest" charismatics teach a watered down view of apostolic gifts with accompanying non-authoritative non-inerrant revelatory utterances...

...how can one justify the invitation of even "Reformed" charismatics (e.g., CJ Mahaney) to speak at conferences where the authoritative inerrant sufficient Word of God is honored?

#56  Posted by Larry Gary  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 8:25 PM

Gabriel,

The promised outpouring of God's Spirit will be on all ages and classes of people. Accompanying the outpouring of the Spirit will be full salvation, or deliverance, for all who puts their trust in the Lord as their Redeemer. Joel prophesied that God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh and 1 Cor. 12:7-11 says "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."

1 Cor. 12:29-30, "Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?"

In essence God has poured out His Spirit, but the manifestation of His Spirit is as He wills.

Thoughts?

LG

#57  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 8:36 PM

Re. #52

I'll agree the there some who want the best for their flock, but most have had experience with are so theologoly bankrupt that they can't even make a coherant argument as to what the fundimentals of the are. They really do teach that the words we say somehow create.

Speak faith into your problem! I don't care how sick you are, say you're well! Bring you wallet under your subjection. Tell the devil to leave you alone!!

They also believe they can loose their salvation. They believe God saved them, but it's their job to stay saved. Most of them regulary hold services bases on experience not true faith filled , God centered worship. I could go on but I think you get the point.

As I said - some are really caring people, but they fit more into the crowd in Matt 7 than into the gathering in the upper room. Remember, we can be sincerly wrong, and teach a wrong message with all the honesty that we can muster up. But, we would still be wrong!!

#58  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 8:54 PM

Larry,

When Scripture uses the term "all flesh" there has to be significant reason to limit it as your interpretation attempts to do. Amos is clearly limiting it to all mankind (ie. "all flesh" does not include animals). You're attempting to limit it only to believers during this present age. I would encourage you to see John MacArthur's sermon on Acts 2 where Peter quotes this passage. I think John makes a good argument for it being fulfilled in the Millenial kingdom.

#59  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 9:25 PM

Ed, thank you so much for well articulated and biblically sound arguments. I assume that the crowd in Matt 7 were those who say to our Master "Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?" Our Master never denied their claims, but He denied ever knowing them! You must be born again! You must have a new nature, a new heart, yes indeed, a heart of flesh implanted by the Spirit of the Living God. His laws must be written your hearts and upon your minds. You must walk in His statutes to observe them and all and only by ond through His grace. You dare not trust in signs, wonders, or any outward or inward experiences or manifestations.

#60  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 10:24 PM

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#61  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 10:26 PM

Phil wrote, "It's also totally false to suggest that believing the apostolic gifts have ceased is tantamount to saying God can't heal, or that we shouldn't pray for healing."

The problem with this mindset is that the Bible doesn't divide gifts into apostolic and nonapostolic. Apostle is one of the gifts. Beyond that, it doesn't make the distinction. shouldn't we get our doctrine from scripture?

***"A person doesn't have to believe all the 1st-century charismata are still operative in order to pray for a miracle. On the other hand, no one should imagine that if God isn't working through miraculous means He is not working at all."

The Bible teaches that the Spirit gives what you call 'the first century charismatic. And nowhere does the Bible teach that the 1st century charismata have ceased. That is why we hear complicated time period arguments to try to explain them away. We should just believe what the Bible says about the gifts. If you get in the habit of making excuses for why God doesn't do the types of things the Bible says He does in regard to gifts, it sure is easy to get into the habit of making excuses for why God won't answer your prayers.

The Bible commands believers to desire spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. It says despise not prophesyings and gives instructions for how to speak in tongues in church. Psalms, revelations, tongues, and interpretations are to be allowed. The Bible specifically forbids the forbidding of speaking in tongues. These are COMMANDS of scripture. Cessationism is built on elaborate arguments and human reasoning, and leads people to disobey these actual commands of scripture.

***"One of the serious shortcomings of the typical charismatic mindset is a failure to see that God is always at work though Providence even when He is not manifesting His power through miracles. A providential answer to prayer is no less an answer to prayer than fire falling from heaven."

***"It is a simple fact of history that God does not ordinarliy work in miraculous ways, and the biblical record of reflects that. Miracles are by definition extraordinary events, always rare--except for three or four notable periods in biblical history. That doesn't mean God has changed or become inactive when He is not doing miracles."

The problem with this view is that we are still in that last time period where God does a lot of miracles-- the last days. And Paul gives some hint of the timetable he has in mind for how long the gifts will continue that he will discuss in I Corinthians when he writes in 1:7

7: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

***"A second major shortcoming of the charismatic mindset is a tendency to redefine and downgrade what we mean by the word miracle. It's not a "miracle" when Benny Hinn waves his coat at people onstage and they fall down."

I've never heard a Pentecostal or Charismatic call that a miracle, and I've spent plenty of time around it. I suppose if one accepts it as genuine, one could say it is 'working of power' or some kind of sign. I hear 'miracle' used a lot to refer to babies being born and all kinds of things, not just by Charismatics. Most people aren't theologians, and I know it can be irritating to theologians and preachers to hear words thrown around in the vernacular in ways that don't align with scripture. A Greek expert I know seems to be a bit irritated to hear 'worship' used for singing instead of the act of prostration.

***"It’s also not a “miracle” if your sprained ankle heals in 2 days after the doctor told you it would take 3 weeks. That’s a remarkable providence, and if it comes after you have prayed for healing, I’ll thank God with you for answered prayer. But let’s not cheapen the significance of true miracles by pretending miracles are commonplace and proclaiming that every remarkable providence is “miraculous.”

I don't find the word 'Providence' in the Bible. Reformed types seem to like the word. I have heard Pentecostals and Charismatics use the phrase 'answered prayer' for things that God did. And I think many would be more inclined to say 'got healed' for the ankle situation than 'miracle.' I don't like to hear 'miracle' thrown around loosely, but its one of those words that gets used a lot in the vernacular, like 'prophecy.' And I hear plenty of cessationists use 'prophecy' when they should be using words like 'preaching."

In your posts here, you said you can pray and believe God for a 'miracle.' I wonder how you are using the term yourself.

***"Let’s be blunt honest here: if verifiable apostolic-quality miracles were occurring at even one-tenth the rate claimed by charismatic hucksters and sleazy televangelists, there would be no serious debate among believers about cessationism. There’s a reason why we don't hear such fantastic stories about instant healings and dead people literally coming to life from the type of charismatics who retain a modicum of doctrinal integrity."

Sure there would. Be honest here. If someone you don't know tells you he or she saw someone raised from the dead or saw cancers fall off at the laying on of hands of a Charismatic or Pentecostal evangelist who commanded healing in the name of Jesus, would you believe the account? Cessationism predispositions people not to believe in the genuine accounts of healing. If I hear an account like that, I don't automatically consider the person to be a huckster. He could be, but claiming to do a miracle doesn't make one a huckster because the Bible teaches that God does miracles. My wife had a few experiences like that with healing/miraculous things happening when she prayed for a guy who got hit by a bus and for a blind kid in an orphanage. It happened before I met her, but I have no reason to doubt her because I know her character. And I've seen other gifts in operation and have never heard her embellish about such things.

#62  Posted by Barry Koh  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 10:48 PM

Gabriel,

Hello again. I thought we already done with discussing cessationism and continualism. But anyway it's a good article. The distinction between reformed cessationists and reformed continualist ( as in Wayne Grudem) is slight. One believes to some extent the continuation of gifts but the other says it has completely ceased but both believe God is sovereign and still heals and do miracles, though not normative. The cessationist still believes in the prayer of faith as in James 5, and people do and can be healed according to His sovereign willl but they attribute that to prayer and not a healing gift. Therefore whether a person believes that the gifts continues or not is only his theological position but both can pray the prayer of faith and God can use both, the cessationists and continualists. That's the common thread.

But the WOF charismatics are a different bag. It's just not over an issue of continuation of the gifts, but their theology of faith and teachings make it a different gospel altogether. Reformed Continualists should not refer themselves as charismatics as it now means the dominant WOF. Reformed continualist teachings as in John Piper are in other ways similar to the main reformed church but world's apart from WOF charismatics. Why some of them would want to asssociate themselves with WOF is beyond me, unless they have now embraced 'health and wealth' and 'name it and claim it' teachings. It's all a mixed lot out there and unless you are very clear of each other teachings, you will be confused and even be deceived. Stay away from WOF.

#63  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 10:50 PM

Phil wrote,

****"

Now, think through the implications of that position: By arguing for a lesser kind of apostleship, they are actually conceding that the authentic, original New Testament gift of apostleship (Ephesians 4:11) has ceased. They have in effect embraced a kind of cessationism themselves.

Note: There is no more or less biblical warrant for this view than for any other kind of cessationism."

Looking back over the original post, I found this statement rather interesting. It would seem to be an admission of a lack of biblical warrant for Phil's version of cessationism. If there is nothing in the Bible that would lead one to hold to a hard-core version of cessationism, why believe in it?

The problem with believing that miracles through human agency stopp with the apostles, or that prophecy of the future stopped with the apostles, and the other similar nuances of cessationism is the lack of Biblical teaching for the belief. Where do the apostles teach such a concept in the scriptures.

It is extra-Biblical doctrine. I don't believe in adding what we generally refer to as 'doctrine' to the scriptures. The faith was once for all delivered to the saints. The Gospel has been delivered. I do believe God can reveal things to people, about the past, present, or future through the gift of prophecy, just as we see in many examples in the Bible.

There are some extreme Charismatics I suppose who believe in extra-biblical doctrine. But, you know what, at least it is rational for them to believe in extra-biblical doctrine because they believe in extra-Biblical revelation to base their views on. Mormons claim extra-Biblical revelation that is far from the doctrine revealed in the Bible. But at least they can claim it was based on something, revelations from angels, buried golden plates, democratically elected prophet proclamations.

The problem with these cessationist views is that they are extra-biblical doctrine but they aren't based on anything. If cessationism isn't 'Biblically warranted' why base doctrine on a lot of complicated theological arguments that run contrary to the teachings and commands of the apostles about spiritual gifts in the New Testament?

#64  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 11:00 PM

Link Hudson: "If someone you don't know tells you he or she saw someone raised from the dead or saw cancers fall off at the laying on of hands of a Charismatic or Pentecostal evangelist who commanded healing in the name of Jesus, would you believe the account?"

Of course not. Are you seriously prepared to equate that kind of blind gullibility with "faith"? Scripture warns us about lying signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9), tells us to beware false prophets (Matthew 7:15), commands us to test all things (1 Thess. 5:21), and forbids us to believe every spirit (1 John 4:1). If there aren't multiple credible witnesses, I'm not about to take the word of "someone [I] don't know" who makes fantastic claims like that.

You're arguing for a simplistic kind of deliberate gullibility that is more sinful and more deadly than rank skepticism. You're proving the point I've made repeatedly about how charismatic doctrine fosters naive credulity and thereby undermines authentic faith and godly wisdom. I don't think that point is lost on most of our readers, Link.

#65  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 11:05 PM

Link, I'm curious to what degree you have studied cessationism outside this blog post to come to the conclusion that it is based on extra-biblical doctrine, "complicated timelines" and "complicated theological arguments."

I briefly stated that a large part of the argument rests on the purpose of the sign gifts during the NT. Admittedly I didn't expound on that but even if I did it wouldn't complicated or extra-biblical. Perhaps you have read some arguments that are indeed complicated, but that would be relative anyway. If you aren't aware of biblical arguments, then I would encourage you to search this website for John MacArthur's teaching on the subject. There is plenty of material as he has preached on all the relevant passages.

It would seem to be an admission of a lack of biblical warrant for Phil's version of cessationism.

You misunderstood the statement. What Phil was saying is that the biblical arguments for both positions amount to the same conclusions, not that there aren't any biblical arguments.

#66  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 11:10 PM

Gabriel,

I had the John MacArthur/Phil Johnson types of arguments in mind, for example the book Charismatic Chaos. I am also familiar with some of the Benjamin Warfield type arguments related to apostles haying hands on people, but Paul kind of throws a monkey wrench in that whole line of reasoning.

The Charismatic Chaos type of arguments are based on examing alleged historical patterns in Old Testament times and making assumptions about the ages of grace based on the way things happened in the Old Testament. It is ironic to me for people to argue against the functioning of the charismata in an age of charis.

#67  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 11:17 PM

If that is all you have been exposed to as far as John's material, then you really need to read (or listen) to his sermons on the relevant passages. Those were preached during the running exposition of the books in which fall and he deals with the texts in context.

#68  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010at 11:19 PM

***"Of course not. Are you seriously prepared to equate that kind of blind gullibility with "faith"?"

No, that was not my point at all. The impression I get from certain cessationists is that if someone claims to have raised the dead, seen an obvious miracle, he is written off as a cook or a charlatan. The Bible says to 'prove all things.' Dismissing the testimony of a witness out of hand is not proving all things. Rejecting any prophecy about the future, and considering it to automatically be false is disobeying 'despise not prophesyings. How can you be a hard core cessationist and not despise prophesyings? This is a case of theological error that leads to disobedience.

***"Scripture warns us about lying signs and wonders (2 Thess. 2:9), tells us to beware false prophets (Matthew 7:15), commands us to test all things (1 Thess. 5:21), and forbids us to believe every spirit (1 John 4:1). If there aren't multiple credible witnesses, I'm not about to take the word of "someone [I] don't know" who makes fantastic claims like that."***

You may not believe and accept it, but will you reject it out of hand? That is my point. Cessationism causes one to be inclined to reject such things without testing them. ***"You're arguing for a simplistic kind of deliberate gullibility that is more sinful and more deadly than rank skepticism. You're proving the point I've made repeatedly about how charismatic doctrine fosters naive credulity and thereby undermines authentic faith and godly wisdom. I don't think that point is lost on most of our readers, Link."***

And you are putting words in my mouth and attributing arguments to me that I did not make. Careful readers can see that as well.

"I am not a strawman. I am a human being!"

#69  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:07 AM

Link, the apostolic sign gifts were God's signature (mark) to verify the new covenant message. That message is complete! The signs of today are God's signature (mark) to verify to the elect of God that these individuals are deceivers who mislead if possible, even the elect. The accounts of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 reveal Christ's answer to the disciples' question "...what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?" God gives people over to lies because they do not receive a love of the truth so as to be saved. God is Holy, Holy, Holy and neither He nor His word is to be trifled with! He is also merciful to those who see their great need for mercy and obey His gospel as revealed in His signed, sealed, and delivered to the saints, word

#70  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 5:07 AM

I am still waiting for Link to take up my challenge: Let's go to a group of paraplegics with severe spinal cord injuries and pray over them. If miraculous gifts on the level Jesus performed can happen with regularity today, I believe it is our Christian duty to heal these people.

Fred

#71  Posted by Russell Taylor  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 6:07 AM

I agree with Fred. I am a practical cessationist, meaning that regardless of someone's doctrinal position, it is obvious that sign gifts have ceased. The continuationists have a clear advantage in this debate. All they have to do is miracles, signs and wonders the way the apostles did. These apostolic gifts do not function today. Sure God heals and does miracles. That is irrelevant to the issue. The fact is, there is no apostolic ministries of genuine healing and miracles. All continuationists have to do is preach to unknown languages without an interpreter, go down to the hospital and heal just one person on command. (I mean a get out of your bed and go home well right now kind of healing). Go down to the morgue and resurrect just one person. Settling the argument right now for everyone is easy for the continuationist. Just do it.

#72  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 6:17 AM

I really appreciate the dialogue and insight into this issue. I do not understand how anyone could really believe a person can have the gift of healing today. That would be so easily demonstrated that it coud not be denied. The reason people are skeptical regarding stories of healing has absolutely nothing to do with the teachins of cessationism. There are not 2 people in my church who have ever even heard the term before. People are skeptical because actual verifiable cases of raising the dead and such undeniably miraculous occurrences just seem to be virtually non-existent. People are cured of cancer and other ailments everyday, many in a fashion that is unexplainable. This often happens without any connection to Christianity, prayer, or religion of any sort. It is unexplainable, but it is NOT uncommon. By virtue of that it is not a miracle of the sort seen in the New Testament. If Benny Hinn and the like could heal people as they claim there would be undeniable, crystal clear evidence that is unrefutable. The problem is, many of the types of healings that supposedly occur are of the sort I just described and not necessarily miraculous in the New Testament sense. Also for every person who was supposedly healed, there are 100 more who weren't. For the sake of argument, just say miracles is a legitimate gift. Name one person who clearly, undeniably, has this gift and can demonstrate it the way the Apostles did in the New Testament. As far as prophecy is concerned. Prophecy is not predicting the future. Prophecy is declaring what God has said. In the Scripture sometimes what God said related to the future. But the canon of Scripture is closed. Speaking what God has said today involves declaring His written word. It is beyond dangerous to accept any message as from God that cannot be verified by the written word. We cannot add to or take away from God's written word. With the closing of the canon, even if the gift of prophecy did not cease, the nature of the gift certainly did.

#73  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 7:23 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#74  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 7:27 AM

well stated paul #72

#75  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 7:32 AM

Chuck,

I was just thinking the same thing about your comment, #73.

#76  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 7:45 AM

Go to them brother if you are not already. Hold their hands, pray for them believing, invest in the kingdom of heaven by investing in them. You have rightly identified those that God says in His word we are to minister to. Matthew 25:31-46. Familiar passage, yes? Go to them brother or continue going to them if you are already and I will do the same where I live.

(Fred) Chuck, as much as I appreciate your encouragement, you're not dealing with my challenge. The Charismatic says emphatically that the gift of healing is still active and present in the Church today. This is Link's specific claim. If this is the case, there should be many individuals who have the gift of healing. Like Russell stated in #71, all the charismatics need to do is heal someone with severe physical deformities or injuries. Or raise a young mother from the dead who recently died from cancer and who left a grieving husband and 3 little children behind who desperately need her. If those gifted people exist, they should be able to perform these things and silence all cessationist criticisms once and for all.

#77  Posted by Larry Gary  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 7:53 AM

Gabriel,

Refering back to your post "When Scripture uses the term "all flesh" there has to be significant reason to limit it as your interpretation attempts to do. Amos is clearly limiting it to all mankind (ie. "all flesh" does not include animals). You're attempting to limit it only to believers during this present age. I would encourage you to see John MacArthur's sermon on Acts 2 where Peter quotes this passage. I think John makes a good argument for it being fulfilled in the Millenial kingdom".

I don't believe that the pouring out of God's Spirit is just for todays believers, I believe that the pouring out of God's Spirit began in Acts 2 in a prefulfilment sense. Jesus did promise to send His Spirit or another Comforter to us after He left. John ,as I read it, is saying that this pouring out or the fulness of His pouring out, would take place during the milennal reign of Christ.

John makes a great argument to show that this would happen during the reign of Christ, but he also noted that well let me just quote it here:

"So what does Peter say? Saying this, what you see is the beginning of the end. The beginning of the last days. Now you're not seeing the full fulfillment of it, but you're seeing what Dr. Feinberg coined the prefillment. In other words, a preliminary fulfillment. I'll show you what I mean. Verse 17, "It shall come to pass in the last days saith God, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh." Has that happened? He's poured out His Spirit, right, on all flesh? Wrong".

"That's kingdom. All flesh in the kingdom, why? Because when the kingdom begins the only people who will be in the kingdom at the start will be believers. And so all of them will receive the Spirit. But at this time, He has poured out His Spirit. We've begun to see what it will be like in the kingdom. Because the last days began with Jesus Christ, in a prefillment sense".

In our spirit right now the Spirit of God rest or is joined with our spirit. (1 Cor. 6:17)

continuing quoting John..

"And I'll take you a step further to help you grab this, because it's important. Everything that's going to happen in the kingdom has already begun to happen in a kind of a prefillment sense already in our lives. We live in a kind of a mystery form of that kingdom but the full millennial earthly kingdom is yet to come".

John states that "Everything that's going to happen in the kingdom has already begun to happen in a kind of a prefillment sense already in our lives". If that is the case isn't safe to say that some prophecy would take place, dreams and visions too? In a prefillment sense.

Now in this form that we live in, a mystery form of the kingdom, we experience some of the things that are going to be fully in the kingdom. For example, during the kingdom, the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh, but during the mystery kingdom, the Spirit's poured out on us, right? Titus 3, "That He has poured out His Spirit abundantly upon us all." In the kingdom there is perfect peace. Is there perfect peace in the world now? No, but there is my heart.

The above statement further solidifies that the Spirit of God has been poured out on us and we are experiencing some manifestions (perfect peace) of the Spirit of God.

In the kingdom, Jesus Christ reigns. Does He reign in the world now? No, but He reigns in my life. In the kingdom, Christ is the judge of all things. He is the one that brings all things to light. In my life He is just the same by His Spirit convicting me and revealing things to me. To see everything that is going to take place in the kingdom in a pre-sense is now living within me in the form of the Spirit.

And again. How can we have perfect peace, Christ reigning in our life, conviction, revelation or "everything that is going to take place in the kingdom in a pre-sense is now living within me in the form of the Spirit", and not have prophecy, dreams and visions in a "pre-sense"?

So what Peter is simply saying is that. He's saying friends, you've seen the beginning of the last days. And what is going to come to a full fruition in the great kingdom has already begun to be seen at Pentecost. Do you see how he is explaining to them what happened at Pentecost? And tying it right in with the prophecy of the Old Testament and with their own God, and showing them that it is the last days? And so Peter bounces right off that living illustration with great power".

So this takes us back to my first post about being prophisied to about being a preacher and it coming to past. If we are in the last days and "everything that's going to happen in the kingdom has already begun to happen in a kind of a prefillment sense already in our lives", shouldn't we believe prophecy, dreams and vision in a prefillment sense is taking place today?

Thoughts? By the way I am grateful that you respond to my posts, because you seem really busy repling to many other posts. I think this dialogue, when done with an open mind is really good and facilitates some degree of learning.

LG

#78  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:07 AM

Paul,

It is so awesome to know He is enough. I am in Christ and thus lacking nothing! Do I need guidance? From Him I have His word. Do I need to speak to Him? I speak freely and He understands the language I speak. Do I need a representative before God? He is there at the Father's right hand. Do I need evidence of the Holy Spirit? I love His word. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me and he who loves Me will be loved by the Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

The list of my needs is endless. His provision for my need is limitless in Jesus Christ.

Chuck

#79  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:12 AM

Fred,

In regard to #76, I agree that those with miraculous gifts, such as healing, should be able to demonstrate them and silence critics. But you will not be held responsible before God for either proving or disproving their position. You will, however, be held responsible for what you did with the truth that you possessed. The goal in this discussion is not to be proven right. The goal is to know the truth so that we can practice it. If you are confident you know the truth, practice it. If someone else refuses to accept the truth, you cannot control that.

#80  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:16 AM

Chuck,

Amen! And His divine power has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of HIm who called us by His own glory and goodness.

#81  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:23 AM

Fred #76,

Didn't intend to deal with your challenge for I am not challenging your premise. I would agree with you in general concerning the issue being discussed. My encouragement to you was based on the concern you expressed about the many who are suffering that may be near you.

If the miraculous gift of healings is not functioning as it did in the time of the apostles, then what is the biblical call to us as believers concerning those who are suffering? Matthew 25:31-46 is sound instruction I believe, as is James 5:13-18.

Chuck

#82  Posted by Dave Collins  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:23 AM

Is it fair to believe that Tongues in the Biblical sense (Dialekto) can be used solely by the Holy spirit alone? that is, we do not initiate anything or create a language separate from our native language?

example: A pastor is speaking in english to a crowd of africans that have received no proper training in the english language, through the pastors speaking the Holy spirit translates the sermon from english to african and the ones that are His receive salvation by the gospel being preached?

I have encountered many people that believe in the garbage teaching of tongues and even after I have showed them that the word TONGUES is DIALECT or languages, they continued in their practice of non-sense garble because of the ritualism of it. I find it sad and I can see the gates are very wide to destruction.

Thank you Father for men of the truth and let none of us get carried away by winds of doctrine that are a clear abomination to your ears. amen

#83  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:29 AM

Link Hudson:

As I noted in the post itself, no credible charismatic leader claims to know of verifiable cases where people in our generation have been raised from the dead. No healer is able to command the spinal columns of total parapelegics to be miraculously regenerated. People born blind aren't receiving their sight at the hands of faith healers. Sensible charismatics like Grudem, as well as many not-so-sensible ones like Jack Deere, admit this and acknowledge that the "miracles" associated with today's charismatic gifts are nothing like the miracles done by the apostles.

No, I'm not inclined to accept the anecdotal testimony of someone whom I don't know and whose best argument is the account of an octagenarian woman who came to a Benny Hinn meeting with oxygen and claimed to be "healed" of emphysema. Unless you came with some authentic evidence that can be legitimately examined and would pass biblical muster (and especially if you're telling a tale that would lend credence to a character like Benny Hinn), then yes, I would dismiss out of hand all hypothetical claims from you about people raised from the dead. You simply haven't shown yourself to be a credible witness, and you haven't demonstrated a shred of concern for biblical discenment.

In fact, the suggestion that authentic "faith" requires Christians to listen to such tales with credulity is disobedient to what Scripture requires of us, and it is as hostile to legitimate faith as the fulminations of any rank skeptic.

#84  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:34 AM

Chuck,

You will be encouraged to know that our church, Grace Community Church, does have a ministry to the local hospitals where people go and spend time with the patients, pray, and minister to them in various ways. Your point is valid and it is a vital ministry of the church.

#85  Posted by Travis Allen  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:37 AM

Link (and those of like mind):

The undiscerning mentality you advocate leaves Christians vulnerable to hucksters, heretics, and snake oil salemen. You and your ilk have ripped a hole in the fabric of evangelicalism, and the charlatans and heretics are tickled pink. Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton, et al. have driven their trucks through the wide door in your discernment and are unloading their wares on every broadcast.

Think I'm being too dramatic? Prove me wrong. How do you test the spirits? What is your standard for exposing the outlandish claims of TV charlatans? Even the world can see the true character of these men (Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Tilton)and you want naïveté to be our default?

"Continuationists in the Comment Thread" clearly demonstrates the shift that has taken place in the more biblically-sensitive sectors of charismatic evangelicalism. The stock in trade of early charismatics was to claim a modern Pentecost, that their signs and wonders were exactly the same as those in the apostolic age.

It's undeniable; there is no evidence for the claims of twentieth-century charismaticsbabbling gibberish can never pass for speaking and being understood in languages one has previously never studied (Acts 2:4-11); healing-crusade antics are worlds away from the instantly regenerative/creative miracles of healing performed by Jesus and the apostles (John 9; Acts 3:1-9; and unfalsifiable, personalized prophecies (no different than roadside fortune-tellers) are blasphemously different from the infallible Word of God, spoken through men (2 Pet. 1:20-21), upon which foundation the church is built (Eph. 2:20).

Today's charismatics who remain committed to Scripture have shifted their position to accommodate the lack of evidencethey've become inconsistent cessationists. In charismatic circles, tongues was once the public test of true conversion, or at least of a second blessing; now it's a private prayer language. Healing was once the dramatic, public authentication of a ministry; now it's providential answers to prayer. Prophecy was once the very word of God for today's church; now it's fallible, imperfect, and often mistaken.

So, what kind of charismatic are you, Link? The old-style charismatic, or the new cessationist variety? Why should people follow your lead to embrace a no-discernment position?

#86  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 8:55 AM

Larry,

I'm glad you took the time to bring in those quotes from John. I think it is very helpful to the discussion. It also demonstrated that I didn't communicate well the position I take as a cessationist (John always says things better than I ever could).

Essentially what John explained there is that the pouring of the Spirit has occured in this age (Pentecost until today) on believers only. What John was not advocating was the fulfillment in any way of resulting visions and dreams that stem from that filling. He says:

Prophecy will be completely fulfilled at the beginning of the millennium as Christ comes and the great judgment at the end of the tribulation and then He sets up His kingdom and then the visions and dreams and prophesying and all of that's going to take place, and all of the wonders in the heavens and in the earth.

So yes, John explains that the filling of the Spirit is initially fulfilled, but not the visions, dreams, and prophecy.

Regarding your experience, I wonder what you would have thought if what the lady told you did not come to pass. I realize it is hypothetical, but I think the point is valid. If it did not come to pass would have considered her a false prophet, or a mistaken lady with good intentions? In order to maintain your position, you should have to explicity call her a false prophet. Would you agree with that?

#87  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 9:00 AM

Gabriel,

Not at all surprised.

Praise God for your local church.

Chuck

#88  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 9:27 AM

Chuck in #81,

You're still missing the broader point. I most certainly minister to people suffering. Ministering to those in need is not on the table, though. The issue here, however, is not whether or not we are ministring to those in physical or spiritual need, but rather verifying the claim of those who insist the gifts of healing that were evident during the period of Christ and the apostles are still present with Christians today. They should be able to demonstrate their reality in an instant, but such is not the case.

#89  Posted by Richard Brackett  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 10:00 AM

Jeffrey Waddell said "If we Christians spent as much time winning people to Christ as we do trying to force our unimportant opinions down other peoples throats, we might (get) closer to changing our society."

You seemed to be angry hope you work that out but my question is where did you get the idea that any of us can win anyone to Christ? We come to Christ because we have been chosen not because you convinced anyone of anything. Teach Gods word in al humility and let him do the changing.

#90  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 10:07 AM

Fred #88,

I have been known to miss the broader point from time to time that's for sure, so your comment about me missing it in this case is not startling to me.

To the broader point, the point to which I understand you totally, again, I agree with you.

Now being correct, which you are, I encourage you to go, if you are not already, to the burn center and the cancer center that you mentioned earlier and minister to them.

Chuck

#91  Posted by Orlando Delgado  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 10:07 AM

To All,

After reading Link’s arguments, it is clear to me that his theology is rooted to Pentecostal Hermeneutics. As I read his comments is like if I were reading the works of Roger Stronstad, “The Biblical Precedent for Historical Precedent,” “Pentecostal Experience and Hermeneutics,” and “The Hermeneutics of Lucan Historiography.” If this is so, there cannot be any hermeneutic argument, therefore the discussion is endless. From early church, it seems that the Gospel of Luke has been treated as such, as a Gospel. Stronstad changed the way (app. 1900 years) Luke-Acts have been studied by scholars. At face value, the book of Acts is a narrative of the birth of the church and how it transitioned from Judaism to Christianity bringing in the repented believing gentiles (in a nut shell). For some mysterious way, and Stronstad explains it very eloquently, he and the Pentecostal see that Luke intentionally wanted to transmit doctrine or theology to us in the 20-21 Centuries from the book of Acts. Stronstad argues that the Gospel of Luke should be interpreted as narrative instead as it has always been, a Gospel.

The argument between Link and the rest of us in reality takes us no-where because we are not starting from the same premise. The Pentecostal believe is that the Baptism in the spirit is an experiential particular moment. The point I am trying to make is that Stronstad is very prominent in the Pentecostal movement and changed the way traditional hermeneutics used to be. Pentecostal Bible interpretation is solid on the work of Luke, and conveniently picks and chooses verses to prove their point. Stronstad is a very intelligent man, but for me a recently converted (5yrs) it is hard to accept the “gift of tongues”. Pretty much that is what Pentecostals-Charismatic’s want to be accepted as. The bigger issue to prove for Pentecostals is what happened in the intern period when tongues were not spoken for appx 1800 years, and what is the intent of it. Is it mere experience? All we know is that back in early 1900 a few kids were together and beagan speaking in tongues now the gift is back.

Link if you are still there please I would like you to listen to J Mac on a sermon he gave some time ago by the title “Speaking in Tongues.”

http://www.gty.org/Resources/Sermons/90-61

I believe you may want to listen to it. God bless you and I do believe your heart for Christ is as strong as mine, we just disagree fundamentally.

#92  Posted by Douglas Mollett  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 10:20 AM

I'm not what you might call a skilled debater, I'm just a student of the word of God who takes what the scripture says at face value, and in my own experience, faith healing (at least in my life), just doesn't work. I have been suffering from an ailment called Tinnitus which for the uninformed is never-ending ringing of the ears, and for a solid 25 years i prayed and have been prayed over numerous times, with no healing taking place. Tinnitus isn't a debilitating ailment, its just a minor inconvienience, but the point I'm trying to make, is that the Apostle Paul himself asked 3 times for the LORD to remove his thorn from his flesh, and the LORD said "my grace is sufficient for you, for MY strength is made perfect in weakness"(2 cor 12:7-10). If Paul himself had to deal with infirmities, i say that it isn't always a good thing for one to be healed. The bottom line is, since the fall of man(ADAM) sickness and decay has been going on because we are in a lost and dying world, and GOD is soverign and HE will have mercy on whom HE will have mercy, and will have compassion on whomever He will have compassion (romans 9:15). It's more important that the spiritual health of a person is healed, rather than the physical. this life is temporary, and the apostle Paul said that for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (phillipians 1:19-23). So i declare to the benny hinns and the like, "take up your cross, and humbly follow after me'' follow Jesus, not greed.

#93  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 10:27 AM

Orlando, thanks for commenting! Would you mind explaining, as simply as possible, the difference between interpreting Luke as a Gospel as opposed to a narrative?

#94  Posted by Chris Stanley  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 10:43 AM

RE: Post #19; LG

I think all that is elemental of unfulfilled prophecy exists today. I disagree with Dr. Grudem, however, that illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian should be implied as prophecy as it is something promised to all Christians through the ordinary working of the Spirit; which is ordinary only in the spiritual sense; not the laws of nature. The charismata of the Apostolic age, we are told, was for a sign to the gentiles. Since we hold scripture in high regard it is seen as sufficient in the guidance for all things pertaining to life and Godliness. The Holy Spirit makes His will known to us by bearing witness with our spirit; thus a sensing of a calling to ministry is probably a sign that one is called to ministry; yet we must believe that God has placed the Church in a position to aid in the recognition of those called. For your one story of having someone recognize in you the personableness or qualities commensurate with pastoral inclinations, I have numerous stories of people I know having someone pray over them in like manner that has ended with them making a hash out of it. If I gave you two negative instances where this happened to people just as sincere as you would that prove contrary to your experience? Probably not.

Since Christians are allied with propositional objective truth we must rest in the fact that all of it has been provided in the Bible. God has given some as preachers, some as teachers, etc; more than likely He has seen fit to communicate to the individuals themselves rather than telling Sister so and so to go tell them. The Charismata claimed today seem to present themselves antithetically to the pattern of the Bible. Jesus asked "Which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or take up your mat and walk?" It is easier to say your sins are forgiven for who really knows but God? Today it is much easier to say "I speak in tongues" for who can really discern? It is much more difficult to say "I have the gift of healing"; which is just as viable, and more esteemed, gift than tongues. But what is the pattern today? All claim tongues while the cancer wards at Children's hospitals stay full.

With respect to miracles, terms need defining. I am with Charles Hodge in defining a miracle as that which operates above or by the suspension of ordinary means. God does perform these Apostolic gifts today. But it is God Who heals and God Who saves. I will trust in the sufficiency of the Bible for guidance. Can you really tell where "prophetic" messages come today from the mouths of men when Satan is disguised as an angel of light? How many people have we heard of who claim the Holy Spirit gave them peace about divorcing their spouse; something opposed to clearly taught scriptural doctrine?

This is more than just about prophecy; especially when folks like Dr. Grudem want to to make all Christians prophets by identifying the common work of the Holy Spirit with the extraordinary gift of Apostolic era prophecy. When someone claims to have a word from God, that makes it God's Word, and we need to start a 67th book. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us we have all we need and the desire for more shows a dissatisfaction with what God has provided. The evidence demonstrated today is a dubious self oriented "gift" that does not serve the function of the early Church in "signs and wonders" for the purpose of confirming the message of the Gospel. That there is so much doubt over the veracity of these antics that are supposed to evidence the Christian message shows either a failure on God's part to accurately use them as representation or else a misdirected desire of the individual to want corporeal evidence of an incorporeal state of salvation. I will opt for the fallibility of man and conclude if God wanted to use something for evidence it would go without doubt.

Hope this helps in understanding. Miracles do happen. The spiritual realm is infinitley busy; but God has left us His Word and His spirit as His chosen means of communicating and we should be satisfied with that. Blessings, Chris

#95  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 11:02 AM

Douglas Grogg wrote

***" Link, the apostolic sign gifts were God's signature (mark) to verify the new covenant message. That message is complete!"

Jude said the Gospel had already been delivered to the saints in his time. Does that make the revelation that John recieved at Patmos false? Does that mean that the miracles of the two witnesses would be false? Of course not.

The Bible does not teach that signs and wonders bear witness to a book. The Bible does not teach that signs and wonders would no longer be needed after the message of the Gospel had been communicated fully.

Does telling a group of unbelievers about the signs that happened in the Bible have the same effects as doing a miracle? If it does, why didn't the apostles leave us this example? Why didn't Paul just tell the Ephesians about the signs and wonders the apostles did way down in Jerusalem many years earlier, and argue that this verified his message?

Why didn't Peter and John just tell about the miracles of Jesus, and say that verified their message? Why did Peter bother to tell the beggar at the gate beatiful to walk? Why didn't Jesus talk about the miracles that Moses as verification of His ministry?

The signs and wonders accompanied the preaching of the word, even if the message had been proclaimed before elsewhere. When Philip went to Samaria, God granted that signs and wonders be done, even though the Gospel had already been preached in Jerusalem with signs and wonders.

***"The signs of today are God's signature (mark) to verify to the elect of God that these individuals are deceivers who mislead if possible, even the elect. The accounts of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 reveal Christ's answer to the disciples' question "...what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age?""

This is a lazy and spiritually dangerous way of interpreting scripture. Jesus said that you will know false prophets by their fruits. He did not say that you will know false prophets because they prohesy after John died. He also said He would send forth prophets, wise men, and scribes.

Jesus warned of false prophets, but the Bible also talks about true prophets in the church. The Bible teaches that the Spirit gives gifts like the working of miracles, gifts of healing, and various other gifts.

What if we applied your teaching to false teachers? The Bible warns of false teachers in the last days. So does that mean if someone is a teacher in the last days, he is false? This is the same kind of reasoning you are applying to signs and wonders. The problem with this argument is that the Bible talks about true teachers. It talks about genuine signs and wonders as well.

#96  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 11:27 AM

Link (comment #95), When one uses a literal, historical, cultural, grammatical hermeneutic to interpret Scripture, false teachers can be discerned from true teachers. Point being that you can demonstrate the legitimacy of a true teacher. But you simply cannot demonstrate the legitimacy of the gift of healing. You can prove that healing occurs. But you cannot produce a single individual who has the ability to miraculously heal people in the way the Apostles did. You can talk in circles all you want to, but it changes nothing. Even if, as you claim, cessationism cannot be proven biblically, you still cannot prove the legitimacy of miraculous gifts. If you could, the whole world would know it by now. It is clear we are going to disagree regarding what the Scripture teaches. So just provide irrefutable evidence of your claim and lets end this discussion. The absence of clear evidence for miraculous gifts is, in and of itself, evidence for cessationism.

#97  Posted by Mark A Smith  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 11:44 AM

For sake of clarity, can a person provide Biblical proof that Paul/Peter/John etc healed WHENEVER they wanted to. Also, provide proof that Jesus used miracles to prove who He was. In fact, when asked to prove through a miracle, He balked (cf Matt 12:38-39).

#98  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 11:58 AM

Mark,

It is absolutely clear that the miracles performed by Jesus in the Gospel of John were intended as proof of who He was. For instance, John 14:10, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." Clearly the miracles were intended as "evidence " of who he was. Also, John 20:30-31, "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." The miracles of Jesus are written for the purpose of demonstrating that Jesus is the Christ. In the Scripture reference you gave (Matt. 12) Jesus does point them to a sign, the miracle of His resurrection. Jesus was not interested in proving Himself to skeptics and people with superficial faith. Go read John 6.

#99  Posted by Larry Gary  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 11:59 AM

Gabriel,

Thanks for your response. If it had not come true would I have considered her a false prophet? Well let me say this. I don’t know if she considered herself a prophet, I don’t know if she ever prophesied to anyone else, but based on what the Word tells me how we will know a prophet, I would say that she would have been a false one.

We will know a prophet by what they said coming true.

I gather that John is saying that the vision, dreams and prophecy is not taking place and will not take place until the millennium reign of Christ. This takes me back to one of my earlier posting I posted “1 Cor. 12:7-11 says “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." 1 Cor. 12:29-30, "Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?"

Now this is Paul speaking to the church at Corinth. This chapter starts off by Paul telling the regular church folk of Corinth that he does not want them to be ignorant or uninformed about spiritual gifts. Then Paul goes into the types or varieties of gifts v.v 4-11 and then tells them that all these gifts are from the same Spirit- the Spirit of God. Why would Paul tell the regular church folk about spiritual gifts and that they are given to some if these spiritual gifts were not active in the church?

Then starting at V27 Paul tells them that: 27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Now the church began in Acts and Paul states that in the church God has appointed first apostles, second prophets, teachers miracles, gifts of healing, helps etc etc. Was these gifts just for the day that the church began? Was the church government just for that day? Well Paul more than likely was not talking about that day the church begin seeing that he was not even part of the original 12.

So were the gifts just for the church at Corinth? Beginning at V12 he includes the Body of Christ in his discussion. Now do we just forget this or assume that this was just for back then? The world will try and say that much stuff in the Bible was for back then. How can we just close the door on what Paul, inspired by the Spirit of God, spoke?

Now I am sure as a cessationist you may heard these arguments before. Personally I have never heard it put to terms continualist and cessationist, please excuse me for my ignorance. But for me to say that it is not happening or has totally ceased would seem to me as limiting God.

My personal feelings is that because many who claim to be in the Body of Christ has presented a pervert version of the word, spiritual gifts, and the focus of much of their ministry is on themselves and the power they (supposedly) have, it is hard for us to believe it when we hear of such manifestations of the Spirit. Now there are clear-cut pulpit pimps who use the supposed spiritual gifts to financially rape the people of God and they are wrong, but it is hard for me to just close the door and say that the gifts has ceased because of those who error.

There are people who truly love the Lord and is surrendered enough to allow the Holy Spirit to use them freely as He wishes.

Thoughts?

LG

#100  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 12:23 PM

Mark,

In reference to proof of the disciples ability to perfom miracles, I am not aware of any Scripture that specifically states they could heal at will. But that changes nothing. Their miracles were still of a frequency and nature that is absolutely unparalleled today. It was such that people were laid in the streets just in hopes Peter's shadow might fall on them (Acts 5:15). That demonstrates the confidence people had in their ability. Nothing even remotely close to that exists today.

#101  Posted by Russell Taylor  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 12:40 PM

All,

The debate will rage on, but the fact is these gifts don't. The absence of these gifts is the clearest argument. Can someone name one person who exercises these gifts in their ministry. Just one. Just one legitimate person.

#102  Posted by Phillip Johnson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 1:10 PM

Mark Smith: "For sake of clarity, can a person provide Biblical proof that Paul/Peter/John etc healed WHENEVER they wanted to."

Acts 5:15-16: "They even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed."

When when the apostles commanded a paralytic to rise and walk, it happened. The apostles didn't claim to be able to raise the dead or heal the sick but then fail in the attempt. Surely a "gift" of healing (1 Corinthians 12:9, 28, 30) presupposes something more than just the ability to say a prayer on behalf of the sick, doesn't it?

Compare also Jesus' own healing ministry: "He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill" (Matthew 8:16; cf. 4:24)

Mark Smith: "Also, provide proof that Jesus used miracles to prove who He was. In fact, when asked to prove through a miracle, He balked (cf Matt 12:38-39)."

"For the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me" (John 5:36; cf. John 10:25, 37-38). If you have a Bible with cross-references, check them. Many verses in the gospels say similar things.

#103  Posted by Larry Gary  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 1:28 PM

Russell,

Do you believe that God heals and can heal today? I don't focus on the person because God is the One who does the healing. The fact is God has to use someone in the earth to get things done. But to the degree that you are asking, I don't know of anyone in the present age who has healed one by their shadow, nor by a piece of cloth, (someone onTV is selling a green cloth though) but from my own experience I have to stand by prophecy as being functioning in some capacity. Again it is not the individual; it is the Spirit of God.

Let me ask this question. The Bibles tells us that those who abide in Christ will walk as He walked. Is this just limited to suffering persecutions, and living a holy life? Does miracles, casting out demons and other things fall into walking like Christ?

I think what I am trying to say is the possibility exists, but it takes a level of surrender to the Holy Spirit that many of us do not possess at this time in our walk with Christ. I must say I have really liked this discussion and many of you on this site is not too abrasive.

God Bless you all. Gabriel I am waiting on your response to post 99.

LG

#104  Posted by Chuck Tuthill  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 1:36 PM

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#105  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 2:05 PM

Larry, unfortunately I will not be answering your question because I have not studied the text enough to be able to respond in good conscience, and I certainly don't have the time right now. I'll lean on John MacArthur's teaching at this point. Of all the well-known preachers of our day that are both cessationist and non-cessationist, John is the only one that I know of that has taught through every relevant text (ie. the entire NT except Mark) in their historical and biblical context. And if you know anything about John, he doesn't preach a sermon until he has studied it to the hilt. So at this point I'll admit that I haven't studied that text enough to answer your question and I'll just defer to John's teaching.

#106  Posted by Russell Taylor  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 3:03 PM

I absolutely believe that God heals today, but that's irrelevant to the debate. The debate is on the gifts of healing and miracles by individuals, not on what God can or cannot do. The gift of prophecy still functions in its normal biblical capacity as preachers around the world will attest, including MacArthur. That's different than direct revelation. If one wants to hold that direct revelation occurs, then they should also be willing to discipline false prophets as well. The point of the post is that continuationist only go part way, which has been profoundly proven through this thread by those on both sides. I don't go part way. Either the gifts exist in full or they don't. It's obvious that they don't. The gift of preaching is the gift of prophecy, but it has only involved direct revelation in extraordinary times throughout the Bible. This age is not one of those times. See Charismatic Chaos, by John MacArthur for fuller treatment.

#107  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 3:26 PM

Phil Johnson wrote:

***"No, I'm not inclined to accept the anecdotal testimony of someone whom I don't know and whose best argument is the account of an octagenarian woman who came to a Benny Hinn meeting with oxygen and claimed to be "healed" of emphysema. Unless you came with some authentic evidence that can be legitimately examined and would pass biblical muster (and especially if you're telling a tale that would lend credence to a character like Benny Hinn), then yes, I would dismiss out of hand all hypothetical claims from you about people raised from the dead."***

I would like to exhort you to obey the commands of Christ to love your neighbor and to do to others as you would have them do to you. This is the second time you have attributed to me positions I do not subscribe to. Here, you paint me as a Benny Hinn supporter. My oxygen tank post was in response to someone who was saying that no one would get healed at a Benny Hinn crusade. I stated that Benny Hinn taught some bizaar things. (Check it yourself.) This woman I spoke with (Patricia Waite if I recall correctly) had been prayed for by ushers and people around her. Not Benny Hinn. Yes, God can heal at a Benn Hinn crusade. If I state that, that doesn't mean I am endosring Benny Hinn's ministry.

I haven't personally witnessed a resurrection from the dead. My wife may have. (She prayed for and ministered to a man who had been hit by a bus who did not appear to be breathing before I met her in the name of Jesus near Slipi Jaya in Jakarta Indonesia in front of a bunch of presumably Mulsim people. He started breathing after she did that.)

I met a pastor from Papua who claimed to have been dead and the Lord raised him up. I didn't see it myself, and I had just met him. I wouldn't go on TV and tell a story that God had raised this man from the dead. But I am certainly open to the idea. It may be true. Why is this my stance? Because God raising people from the dead is consistent with the way He works in scripture. It is abundantly clear that God has done such things in the past, and there is no reason for me to try to limit God in my theology.

***" You simply haven't shown yourself to be a credible witness, and you haven't demonstrated a shred of concern for biblical discenment."

On the contrary, on this topic, I have shown much more concern for Biblical discernment than you have. Your teaching can easily lead people to despise prophesyings. You also attribute ideas to me that I do not have, painting me as an undiscerning, Benny Hinn supporting person who thinks that faith means you accept any account you hear. Maybe when you see someone who believes in the gifts, you automatically assume that person is the stereotype of the big-haired prosperity gospel loud TV Charismatic. That's not me.

What I am saying is that the Bible teaches these gifts are real. It gives us commands to desire spiritual gives, covet to prophesy, despise not prophesyings, prove all things, and test the spirits. The Charismatic who believes every prophecy without discernment disobeys 'prove all things' and 'test the spirits.' But so does the cessationist who rejects any prophecy about the future, vision, or other type of revelatory experience out of hand without applying any BIBLICAL tests.

***"In fact, the suggestion that authentic "faith" requires Christians to listen to such tales with credulity is disobedient to what Scripture requires of us, and it is as hostile to legitimate faith as the fulminations of any rank skeptic."

Again, I have not argued that if you have faith, you will believe every report. But if you really believe what the Bible teaches about signs, wonders, and spiritual gifts (without dismissing parts of the scriptures based on man-made theories) then you will be open to listen to people's accounts of their experiences with the Lord. 'Prove all things' does not mean to refuse to believe anything. You have to consider something to be able to prove it.

****"As I noted in the post itself, no credible charismatic leader claims to know of verifiable cases where people in our generation have been raised from the dead."

And you know them all? What is a credible charismatic leader in your opinion? Is it someone with a big TV or radio ministry who happens to hold to Reformed theology? This is circular reasoning. You are predisposed not to believe in accounts of resurrection from the dead. You assume any leader who is credible would not know of a verifiable case?

As far as verifiable is concerned, I suppose the Biblical standard would be two or three witnesses. I have not witnessed a resurrection from the dead. I have only seen evidence of a handful of healings probably. I have heard of some accounts of this happening on missions fields, usually, like a missionary in Papua, or the account I told you about earlier.

***"Let’s be blunt honest here: if verifiable apostolic-quality miracles were occurring at even one-tenth the rate claimed by charismatic hucksters and sleazy televangelists, there would be no serious debate among believers about cessationism."

I am not going to disagree with your assertion that there are people claiming miracles that don't occur or where there is no good evidence to back it up. But I do find your comment here rather telling. If cessationism were truly a Biblical doctrine, then believers should reject miracles if they did see them, unlike what you say above.

The fact remains that you do not have a real scriptural argument that miracles, including resurrections of the dead have ceased. Most Charismatics and Pentecostals in the US at least have not seen a resurrection from the dead. I find it surprising sometimes to find out that some Pentecostals have never heard prophecies that told details about their personal life, what they were thinking, and other types of things you read about prophecy and spiritual gifts in scriptures etc. I've witnessed people prophesying things they could not know naturally a number of times.

The question is what do you do if you look around and you do not see anyone doing miracles like the OT prophets or NT apostles and other believers? What do you do with the disparity. Many Pentecostals and Charismatics just choose to believe that God can do such things and pray for them to occur.

Cessationists try to find a theological argument for the idea that their experience is the way things are supposed to be. You guys (at GTY) argue based on how miracles were allegedly clustered around certain time periods before the Lord poured out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost. But you are pitting these arguments against the commands of scripture, 'Despise not prophesyings' 'Forbid not to speak with tongues' and plain teaching of scripture that the Spirit gives gifts like the working of miracles to the church. Cessationism can lead to disobedience to the word of God when it comes to these commands. how can you believe that these commands don't apply, and then obey them when confronted with a genuine manifestation of the Spirit that contradicts the cessationist viewpoint. That is the dangerous thing about it.

The Lord put the early church in an uncomfortable situation. There were prophets speaking true messages from God. There were people doing genuine miracles. But then there were false prophets, false teachers, and a warning about lying signs and wonders. Somehow, the early church had to discern what was true and false. The apostles wrote them letters teaching them to test spirits by what they confessed. Do they confess that Jesus is Lord? That he came in the flesh? Paul wrote about the gift of discernment of Spirits. The early church also had scripture (the Old Testaments and whatever apostolic letters an individual church had.)

What an uncomfortable situation, to have to actually seek God to discern what was true or false, to study diligently? Well, that is the same situation God still has the church in today. Cessationism is confortable, but also spiritually lazy. It feels comfortable because it keeps you from having to discern what is from God. Any new revelation or miracle, or whatever doesn't fit into the paradigm of your brand of cessationism gets tossed into the 'reject' box. Instead of Biblically discerning truth from error, just label these things error. But the cessationist 'test' of what is true or false (the time period the manifestation occurs in) is not a Biblical test. And it can lead to disobedience to God's word.

#108  Posted by Larry Gary  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 3:31 PM

Gabriel,

That is fine no harm meant by me asking for your response. I ventured onto this site about a month ago and I must say I have been throughly bless through John MacArthur's teachings. As old as some of the messages are they resonate today! I have enjoyed blogging with you as well as others today. God bless.

///// break//////

Chuck,

You pose some very good questions. Can I tell you what surrrender looks like? Probably not. I feel that the more we lose our life (surrender) to Christ, He then takes over our life, so it is not Larry who longers live, though I may live in the flesh, but Christ lives in me. I feel that this is what surrender is. Paul put it plainly and John said when Jesus is allowed to live His life through us(abide, make His home), we walk as He did because it will be Jesus doing the walking, but through our body. Then those things that He did we shall do also (in essensce He will do them through us).

I don't think specifically the apostolic gifts is not the result of total surrender, the will of God being done in and through your life is the result of total surrender. Now how the Holy Spirit chooses to manifest is according to His will. If He chooses to do the miraculous so be it. Again it is not us, we are just surrendered vessels.

I am going to ponder on your additional questions.

LG

#109  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 3:32 PM

Gabriel,

I've read some writings from John MacArthur that I do appreciate, but I would encourage you to steer clear from his teachings in spiritual gifts. He really has a blind spot. I heard one of his recording someone posted on YouTube, where he reinterpreted I Corinthians 14 to say that the Corinthians were utterying pagan mysteries with their spirits to 'a god.' If you look at the context, Paul continues on in this very passage to say, "I would that ye all spake with tongues.' It is clear that the type of tongues he had in mind was the 'mysteries with his spirit' type of tongue, the one under discussion. Verse 28 even allows speaking in tongues without interpretation if not in the context of the church meeting. Something about this smells almost like liberal commentary on the subject.

He also asserted that the Corinthians were cursing Christ in tongues. This is an extremely weird position to hold to. If that is what Paul were talking about in I Corinthians 12, how would the Corinthians know what he meant, since they couldn't understand what was spoken in tongues? If someone were cursing Christ, it doesn't make sense from the context that it was done in tongues. Tongues is one of the gifts listed the furthest away from the statement that no one speaking by the Holy Ghost curses Christ. It makes more sense to take the verse as presenting two extremes, cursing Christ as not speaking by the Spirit, and saying Jesus is Lord as being from the Spirit-- to teach a simple lesson rather than to eisegete that the Corinthian Christians were doing this.

#110  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 3:48 PM

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#111  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:05 PM

Do Charismatics see tongues as a sign of salvation?

Travis Allen wrote,

"In charismatic circles, tongues was once the public test of true conversion, or at least of a second blessing; now it's a private prayer language."

I'm sure if you looked hard enough you could find someone who believed just about anything, but from my experience with the Charismatic movement and from what I've read, speaking in tongues has never been held as the test of true conversion in the Charismatic Movement.

Among Pentecostals, around 1918 or so, Oneness Pentecostalism emerged. This became various independant Oneness or Apostolic groups and the United Pentecostal Church. Many of these groups do think someone is not saved unless he speaks in tongues. The last I checked, this was 5% of Pentecostalism. Many of these groups also tend to emphaize 'clothes line' Holiness rules that used to be more common among Trinitarian Pentecostals. In the US, the term 'Apostolic' as a church name is nearly always Oneness. It was used by Trinitarian Pentecostals before the Oneness groups emerged. I do not think Apostolic has a Oneness connotation in South Africa, where the term is used for Pentecostals.

I have never read anything about the idea that tongues was seen as a sign of salvation in the Charismatic movement that swept through the 'mainline' denominations in the '60's and '70's or in denominations or groups that considered themselves 'Charismatic.' Maybe someone can find an exception of a Charismatic group that believes this, but it would certainly be the exception and not the rule.

Most Pentecostal denominations are evangelical in their view of salvation and see tongues as a sign of baptism with the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation. Seeing baptism with the Holy Spirit as subsequent to salvation is based on the case of the Samaritans in Acts 8 and the Ephesians in Acts 19 (on whom the Holy Spirit descended after they believed and were baptized, and then Paul laid hands on them.)

I do not believe in the 'Classical Pentecostal' point of view because I do not believe in what is called 'the initial evidence doctrine' about tongues.

#112  Posted by Orlando Delgado  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:07 PM

To #93 Posted by Gabriel Powell | Wednesday, January 27, 2010 10:27 AM

Orlando, thanks for commenting! Would you mind explaining, as simply as possible, the difference between interpreting Luke as a Gospel as opposed to a narrative?

Gabriel please do forgive me for the delay, the system I was using was down ‘till now. Also forgive me for my lack of clarity, must warn you I am not an expert, just passionate for the Word so I can proclaim it.

For the most part in reformed hermeneutics there are some general rules for interpreting the Scripture. First is the Original Interpretation which can equal to face value, the writer writes without double or hidden meaning. Second rule is Application, there can be more than one application and can be guided to another writer. The third one is Genre. In Genre there are passages in the Bible that could be interpreted as legal, narrative, polemic, poetry, wisdom, gospel, logical discourse, or prophetic literature.

Here comes your question. The difference between Gospel and Narrative is the drawing of theology or normative didactic doctrine. As it is clear the Gospel according to Luke is just that a Gospel, full of didactical events about the works, and sayings of Jesus we can draw normative. This can take place as to getting direct commandments from Jesus, all the way to observance of events. (“Obey my Commandments to Baptize in the name of…”) (My example is weak but I am running out of time) Narrative is just that, telling what happened without getting into the didactics such as those found in the Gospels.

As I was saying, Stronstad changed the way how the books Luke-Acts were traditionally studied for centuries. In the Pentecostal movement the Gospel of Luke is not seen as a Gospel Gene but Narrative, where by having both books a narrative now the interpreter can use those two books as normative, didactic in nature because of the precedent. Pentecostals called this Pragmatic hermeneutics, and they are very aware that the only book of the Bible they seem to draw theology is from the book of Acts. Without it, there is no Pentecostalism, nor Charismatic.

There are about six general rules and briefly attempted to cover three.

This topic is very difficult, but thanks and glory to God that is bringing people of the same belief as Link so they know and be exposed to the Truth. Again thanks to God for having J Mac as the means to get the word out in these last days!

#113  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:32 PM

Link asks:

What is a credible charismatic leader in your opinion? Is it someone with a big TV or radio ministry who happens to hold to Reformed theology? This is circular reasoning. You are predisposed not to believe in accounts of resurrection from the dead. You assume any leader who is credible would not know of a verifiable case?

(Fred) A credible "charismatic" leader who has the gift of prophesy or healing is someone who can tell the future with 100 percent accuracy and it comes to pass and everyone knows it is true. A credible "charismatic" leader is one who claims to have the gift of healing, and then has the ability to pray a prayer that causes a man with a spinal cord injury, who is bound to a motorized wheel chair with atrophied legs, to be restored to perfect health with out the need for rehab, as if he had never been injured before. That is someone who is a credible charismatic teacher. Can you introduce one to us, Link?

#114  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:34 PM

I have a question for everyone here to answer honestly if you care to. If you saw someone you considered godly perform an apostolic-calibre miracle, would you believe that God still does miracles through human agency.

Bear with me with my extremely hypothetical, yet somewhat entertaining example. I assume most people here like John MacArthur. Let's suppose you saw John MacArthur raise someone from the dead in Jesus' name or command a new limb to grow back on a parapalegic in Jesus' name, and it happened. Would you believe God did miracles through human agency? Would your position on cessationism change?

#115  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:46 PM

Whether you believe the gifts stopped and began again in some second awakening, or believe they never stopped just lessened to some new level where we see them at work today, you can't believe the kinds of the abusive things happening inside of these churches are acceptable. So where do you draw the line? Where does proper gift usage end and out of order gift usage begin. Where is your line?

If you say- "Well, I believe I can pray for the sick and they will recover" Fine. And if they do your faith will be built up, I assure you. But, if they don't- what does that do to your faith? If they do get better will that give God glory? Of course! Can you accept it that God will be glorified if they don't get better? Do you believe that they got better because you said the prayer? Which way do you think your faith will be affected worse, if you pray for them and they die, or if you don't pray for them and they get better?

Don't get me wrong- nothing wrong with praying for the sick. In fact, I encourage it! But, Biblicly grounded Christians aren't moved by the results beyond acknowledging the results are God's will. Becoming involved much more than that allows our emotions to run amuck. No. I'm not some robot, but when we enter a spiritual realm we must enter with God. The battle with principalities and powers involve guarding our hearts, or our minds, as well as our feelings. We can't get that turned around. We can't let our feeling run us, especially when it comes to spiritual things.

Feelings based desicions are at the root of charismania. I know we all want Sister So-in-So to get better, but, if she dies after everyone has laid hands on her, filled her pockets with little green healing cloths, dumped enough oil on her to wax the church floor and even dumped that bottle of miracle water on her head she got from Revent' Jenkins, how do we explain our great faith now??

This is why I have so much trouble with the charismatics, their theological lines are blurred, their is no set rules as to what's acceptable and what isn't. The Biblical basis for their actions are sometimes taken out of context and other times purly subjective interpretation to begin with. It therefore becomes relative and subjective. This is dangerous and completely unnecessary. Whats wrong with finding out what the Bible says and doing it, instead of doing something and then justifying it with some argumenitive scripture? This becomes protracted wrangling as the Bible describes it.

#116  Posted by Simon Caneparo  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:52 PM

Before knowing the True Gospel and being born again, I have been healed from a muscle strain by a chinese guy who was able to translate (move with the power of his mind) people.That strain was diagnosed by an orthopedic, the prognosis was for me to rest 6 weeks but the same moment this man told me to go, I have been able to walk without any pain and the injury was gone.This is a true testimony which to demonstrates we can see signs but it's up to us to discern (through the Holy Spirit of course) whether they come from God or from Satan.I am sure that a faithful minister/ministry can see supernatural signs but they shouldn't be the focus and primary purpose of their existence.

#117  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:53 PM

Link, You mistakenly assume cessationists do not believe miracles can occur. That is not the case for most of us. Most would probably not deny that God might do that in response to a prayer or laying on of hands of a person. That is not the issue. The issue is, do people possess the "gift" of miraculous healing, whereby they could perform miraculous healings to some degree of regularity. The term "gift" presupposes more than just an ability that manifests itself a time or two. It is the "gift" of miracles that I believe to have ceased, not miracles in general. There is a huge difference. If there were such a person in the world that had a gift of healing equal to that of the Apostles, the whole world would know. No, if John MacArthur was instrumental in God healing someone I would not change my doctrinal position, partly because he would be the first to say that he does not have the gift of healing. Also, one instance of healing does not prove someone has a gift of healing, any more than a person hitting a homerun proves he is a naturally gifted homerun hitter.

#118  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 4:57 PM

Link, I'll answer your hypothetical. If a healing as miraculous as you described happened, then I would be in awe of God's work in that persons life. I would not thereby assume that John had the gift of healing (which he must have been hiding all this time).

Most of your arguments are irrelevant to the issue of the gifts. As Paul Young had to remind you no one is attempting to limit what God can do in isolated situations. We are debating whether the apostolic gifts are in existence today in the same way that they were in the 1st century.

#119  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 5:07 PM

Paul Young,

I know you speak for your own variety of cessationism, but I suspect there are as many varieties as there are cessationists, and for some, a resurrection from teh dead doesn't fit with their understanding of how thing work.

Do you believe the apostles could always heal at will? I don't see that in the Bible. At times they 'healed them all.' That doesn't mean they did every time, or that they could simply heal at will. In Acts 4, the apostles prayed for God to stretch out His hand to do signs and wonders. They had done miracles before. Why did they pray for more if they could simply exercise gifts according to their own will. I also notice that Peter knelt down and prayed before raising Tabitha/Dorcas from the dead. Why pray if it were all under his control?

And if Paul's ability to heal happened purely at will, why would he have not wanted to heal Timothy? If the thorn were his eye illness or some other illness, why didn't he just heal it instead of praying? Paul had eye problems, apparently, early on when he wrote Galatians, probably before the events of Acts 15. Yet he referred to an infirmity he had becasue of which he came to the Galatians, and said they would have given him their own eyes.

#120  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 5:17 PM

When the Apostals healed someone did they set up a tent, bring in a band, string up lights, put on their best new white suit, hire a bunch of people catchers, set up tables for selling miracle water, holy oil and healing cloths, and put up a sign saying, "Miracles tonight at 7:00--Everyone welcome!"

The more important question here Link, is what would you do? And be careful here, because how will you know the difference between a genuine God sent miracle and a miracle performed by the false prophetif you were there to see it?

#121  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 5:53 PM

Ed Rudd,

If John MacArthur did a miracle like that, I might pass out on the floor. Nothing supernatural, mind you, just from amazement. :)

If someone does miracles, you look at their fruit and their teaching. An easy thing to look at is to see what the person says about Christ and the basic doctrines of the faith.

As far as tent revivals go, 'miracle water' is not a regular thing, and neither is 'holy oil.' Anointing with oil is widely accepted (and Biblical.) Most of the miracle water stuff I have heard of is from people like Popoff. Popoff and Tilton are the types that a lot of Pentecostals and non WOF Charismatics would reject or view with suspicion. ('Charismatic' is a broad term like evangelical, so it is hard to generalize.) I have seen people lay hands on a handkercheif to take it to someone who is sick. This is based on Paul doing the same thing, probably not with handkerchiefs, but with some kind of cloth.

You can probably find people on TV selling all of these things. But as far as I know I have never been to or heard of a crusade where anointing oil or healing cloths are sold. I did see some of the genuine Biblical anointing oil for sell in a Christian bookstore with a little ad promoting it as the kind of oil used in the Old Testament and omitting the verse that said that this type of oil was forbidden for use except by the priests. But that wasn't in a healing crusade.

As far as the apostles setting up tents, bringing in a band, stringing up lights, wearing modern western suits and things like that, I don't see that in the Bible. I don't see Philip the evangelist doing that either. I have always thought it was weird to have hymns in evangelistic crusades if those crusades are truly for the lost. Evangelism and church services have gotten mixed up in evangelicalism, with church meetings functioning like crusades and the traditional trappings of church in the crusades.

Be that as it may, I am not opposed to using a tent or a stadium with electric lights and holding a formal meeting for praying for the sick and evangelism.

I could also point to a number of modern church practices which have no basis in the Bible. Take, for example, the practice of having a 'senior pastor' instead of elders appointed from within the congregation, or the idea of having one sermon instead of having the believers in the congregation take turns singing, teaching, sharing revelations, speaking in tongues and interpreting in an edifying manner. There are a number of areas in which churches need to return to apostolic practice.

#122  Posted by Paul Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 5:56 PM

Link,

I never said the Apostles could heal at will. But their gift was exercised to such an extent that people expected to be healed (Acts 5:15). If it only happened a time or two then that is not a gift. Whether it is at will or not is beside the point. No one in our day has demonstrated an ability anywhere even remotely close to that described in Acts. If I am mistaken, simply name one person. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

#123  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 9:14 PM

Link, You said that if someone does a miracle we should look at their fruit and see what they teach. Let me tell you Brother, what you ask here is inviting subjectivity into the equasion. If the miracle has already been performed how will you objectively make any evaluation as to the miracle works fruit. You already SEE the fruit. The miracle. And people follow that kind of fruit. Believe me an Angel of light or a wolf in sheeps clothing will fool the very elect if God doesn't intervine.

Besides you miss the point of why Jesus performed miracles in the first place. To prove He was God. Not to end suffering in all of Isriael. Jesus was very selective in His miracles. Sometimes when in crowds of sick people He only chose one to heal. He even went as far as to say that one of the miracles was to a man needing healed 38 years and he got it that day. There was purpose to Christ's healing.

Now let's look closer at a miracle event. Who got glory from miracles performed by Christ. Christ - right and deservedly so! John 6 says the people tried to force Christ to be King. Force Him?? Why? Because Jesus to them offered the perfect welfare state in their eyes. These people had been fed from a handful of loaves and fish. He had performed miracles among them. Yet they didn't see Him as God - they saw Him as their meal- ticket. Man if He can feed us and heal us and if we can get Him to do something about this pesky Roman problem then He must be our King!!

But Jesus escaped them. That night He walked across the lake- insidently ,haven't seen any of these miracles workers do that lately- anyway , Jesus walked across the lake till He caught the boat with the Apostels and eventually got to the other side. Next day the folks who he had the previous day fed, came calling. How did you get over here Jesus- what was His responce? You didn't come here to hear me. (He knows that because He was God) You came here for breakfast!!

Read the account in John 6. They tried everything they could to get Him to do another trick. But He refused. And when they saw they couldn't get what they wanted- what happened- they left never to follow him again!! Why? Simple, even if you could heal somebody, how does that produce converts? It just produces people who want to see another trick! Do it again! Do it again!! And again!! UMMM, sounds like another service I was in.

Jesus Christ was God, yet miracles that even He performed accomplished very little toward building up the Kingdom of God. Look at what the Deciples said after the crowd left and Jesus turned to them an asked," Are you guys leaving too?" What did Peter say. "No because You have the Words of Life!" He didn't say No. because you can perform miracles did He? Jesus has the Words of life. Jesus in the eyes of the people was a nobody, from a nobody family, from a nobody town in a nobody part of Isriael. His message got out because He chose to work mighty works among the people and them give thm Words of life.

The net result today would be no different even if somebody raised someone from the dead!! With one great exception-- and that is in the area of humility. Jesus was God. Initally, He got the attention of the crowd by the miracle, so did the Apostels. If He could have only kept His mouth shut about all that spiritual rebirth stuff, He could have been their King, but that is what enterance into His Kingdom demands. Jesus would get the crowds attention then He would get to the point.

So would the Apostels, right? But, when the Apostels did some miracle, they sometimes had to tell the people," Hey, Get up from there, I'm not God!!" Jesus didn't do that did He? He accepted their praise as being Who He was when He got it, didn't He? He is Worthy of all that praise. The Apostels weren't--, so they shut it down as quickly as they saw it. Why? Commisioned by God for a particular work at a particular time involving a particular purpose. But, this undeserved focus on the miracle works is a real problem -- unless of course-- YOU ARE GOD!!

Name somebody in the ranks of Charismania who can twart off that kind of attention getting hystreia? Can you?? Or does all the preachers you run with just exude humility!! I doubt it!! Pride is a monster!! If you performed a miracle you would have a real problem keeping that monster from rearing it's ugly head!! Could you stave off such a pride elavating occurance as being lifted up for performing a miracle??

Before you answer, I remind you, you are talking to someone here that has about seen it all. I lived it- I loved it- I believed in it!! I haven't seen one person that it doesn't effect negitively eventually. Pride is a killer!! God gave Paul a thorn to keep him humble. God knew He had too because people like the limelight. I know preachers who imitate Swaggart! I've seen them come into church in suits Benny would have been proud of! How did they get like that. Because they have become imitators of men not of God. The attention of a miracle focus on the miracle worker- not on God.! Oh, they'll say it's for an because of God, but lets be honest here-----

Is the God of the faith healing, miracle working, name it and claim it, prosperity preaching crowd, the God of the Bible? If it was , then where's the humility??

I'm not trying to run you off, Link. I want you to take an honest look at your position. I pray God would open your eyes to this truth. We can be wrong! Sincerly wrong!!

#124  Posted by Janet Young  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 9:18 PM

Ed Rudd,

thank you so much for sharing your story, i grew up in a very charismatic church too. And i just became a true Christian this past summer, and had to leave my old church...and the shock went deep into my family. because my brother and i actually both left and became much more theologically conservative, the resulting attempts of reasoning in conversation with my parents about true discipleship sent my mother into a full-blown depression that she has been in for months. when you say that you had to give up your church, family, and friends, i know how you feel. you are an encouragement to me :) it is all so worth it to truly know and live for Him!

#125  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Wednesday, January 27, 2010at 10:24 PM

Ed Rudd, once again, thank you for your comments. The Jesus of the bible came to save His people (the elect) from their sins. Biblical evangelism always focuses in sin, righteousness and judgment to come. Jesus said "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men". How did Peter fish for men? How did Steven fish for men? How did Paul fish for men? They spoke to their evil and adulterous generation the same as Christ did His! What happened to them? They followed their Master's example! He refused to be their welfare king, that is "another Jesus"! He refused to deliver His people from Rome or Washington D.C. that is "another Jesus"! No! He saves His people from their sins" Oh, what a glorious Master He is!

#126  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Thursday, January 28, 2010at 4:42 AM

Thank you for your kind comments. Janet I DO know what your are going thru. Lean on God. That"s the best advice I can give anyone in a situation like ours. I can remember one day finding myself standing outside the bathroom door that my wife had just slammed in my face and coming to the realization that I love God more than that woman on the other side. I burst into tears - not because of things she had said, but because I found myself right there in the Bible where the people who hate you are of your own house. But, I didn't hate anybody and especially her! In fact - realizing I loved- I mean really heart felt loved God more than I did her and the rest of my unlistening family, somehow made me love them all even more. It was a love not bound by shear sentiment- no it was God loving them thru me!! Does that make sence?

Don't get me wrong- I no doubt was a mess. God had just resently turned my whole belief structure upsie down. My whole decission making processes had been brought into question and all those wrong things I had told people over all those years came crashing down from every direction. I was still coming to grips with the deception I had lived for so long and the truth of the God of the Bible. --What He, in that book, had to say about me. One day I'd be bouncing off the wall with excitement- the next I'd be having to contend with people who didn't know who I was anymore- and they didn't mind telling me so! God was spanking me and I loved it!!

But, leaning on God has made all the difference. Finally understanding the Bible even just what little I do, has given me a Rock to stand on. No more lingering questions about Biblical issues. Knowing what I believe and why I believe it. Coming to terms with the fact that we will never know it all, but the important things- the issues pertaining to gaining life in Christ and growing in Christ finally make so much sence. I don't see people still wrapped up in that belief structure as wrong as much as I see them as decieved. There is a big difference!!

Well, I could go on and on, but I better just shut up. Anywhay - lean on God, He started a work in you- He will be faithful to finish it.

#127  Posted by Vincent Williams  |  Thursday, January 28, 2010at 9:01 AM

I’m sure all this back and forth serves a purpose but it can sure give a new believer or for that matter a seasoned believer a headache. I would ask everyone to remember why Jesus came in the first place; it wasn’t to sit here and get wrapped around the axle about whether we should or should not speak in tongues, seek prophesies, ask for miracles etc. They were all just tools God used for His purpose and His time. Let’s really remember Jesus teaching at the Sermon on the Mount and The Beatitudes what truly unprecedented teaching that was for that time and our time today. We are not of this world anymore but we need to operate in it and Jesus laid down some heavy teaching at the foot of that mountain. It wasn’t a bunch of rules to follow God was trying to tell us something very important that we should all examine our hearts and how we conduct our lives day to day so that when the time came we would enter into His Kingdom. Are His words truly making a difference in our lives and are we growing closer in our relationship with our Savior or are we just becoming book smart and making arguments to prove a point. I’m truly thankful for men like John MacArthur, Ray Stedman, David Jeremiah and if that tags me as a modern day evangelical c essationist semi dispinsationist and whatever other title you want to add in there so be it I could care less about titles. I’m a true believer, I’ve received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, God has given me His infallible breathed word and I want to walk the narrow path with Him! Be Blessed, Vince

#128  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Thursday, January 28, 2010at 10:11 AM

Vince, please don't trivialize the seriousness of these issues! These are satanic counterfeits that damn souls. Study the last three of the beatitudes. How did Jesus speak to the Pharisees? (see Matt.13-36) This was an act of mercy on Christ's part. How did Steven speak to his countrymen? This was an act of love on Steven's part. Everywhere Paul went what happened? Why? Often times it requires a holy violence to snatch a soul out of the flames! We can bring a curse on ourselves and others by making something "lighter than" what it really is (look up Strongs #7043 -qalal- in your Hebrew dictionary).

#129  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Thursday, January 28, 2010at 10:16 AM

So many comments since I left and so little time...

Ed Rudd wrote the following:

"Besides you miss the point of why Jesus performed miracles in the first place. To prove He was God."

Can you actually show me where the Bible teaches that Christ did miracles to prove He was God? I can see where He did a miracle to prove that He could forgive sin, that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath day, and to show that God had sent Him.

One of the other posted argued that Christ did miracles because He is God. Notice, though, that Christ emptied Himself before He came to earth. He didn't create icecream for Himself as a child. The 'beginning of miracles' in His ministry on earth occured after the Holy Spirit descended on Him. Christ indicated in Matthew 12 that He case out devils by the Spirit of God. The Lord later sent the Spirit, who would take of what is His and give it to His disciples. If we read on, we see gifts of the Spirit are given to the body of Christ.

When Peter performed the miracle of healing the lame man at the gate beautiful, he used it as part of his teaching about faith in the name of Jesus and that there is no other name under heaven wherein men may be saved.

Ed Rudd wrote,

***"Is the God of the faith healing, miracle working, name it and claim it, prosperity preaching crowd, the God of the Bible? If it was , then where's the humility?"

Well, God is the God of the Gentiles also, and I am not about to say that none of the WOF people worship God. I've met some that aren't as extreme as others. It does seem like some of the big names have a presumptuous attitude toward God and seem to be in a competition with each other to teach the most outlandish 'rhema' they can.

But false teachings in the WOF movement or the larger Charismatic movement, movements which believe in spiritual gifts, do not make the spiritual gifts of the apostles fake. They don't make the spiritual gifts of the early church fake. And they don't make all spiritual gifts today fake. Jesus told us about true prophets, but warned there would be false prophets. The Bible tells us about the gift of the Spirit of working of miracles, but warns of lying signs and wonders. If you were the Devil (pardon my question) would you send a spectacular false prophet or false miracle worker to infiltrate a hard-line cessationist church or a Charismatic church where no one was judging and proving what they saw? I suppose he also tries to encourage cessationists teachers to not believe certain teachings about spiritual gifts are effective today and to use false prophets or deceived Charismatic brethren to stir up dissension with the cessationists as well.

The real issue is what the Bible says. The Bible teaches that the Spirit gives these gifts to the members of the body of Christ. Some people take 'gift' to refer to an individual occurance of healing, miracles. Others take it to refer to something that individual has on a long-term basis. Be that as it may, these gifts are real according to the Bible. One can try to fill up pages with theological reasoning to the contrary, but the text of scripture is still there.

#130  Posted by Russell Taylor  |  Thursday, January 28, 2010at 10:23 AM

Vincent, I appreciate your comments. However, I don't think in depth doctrinal discussion or even disagreement is a cause for concern. We haven't forgotten the sermon on the mount or stopped rejoicing that we are all saved and love Jesus. The purpose of the thread is to dialog about a specific issue that is immediately relevant to many people. Many people are confused and frustrated over this issue and throwing out the issue and confirming our common love for Jesus, will not address the issues that many people are facing with in their churches and personal lives. As new and experienced believers it is vital that we learn to walk in the Spirit and to minister our spiritual gifts to the body of Christ. As believers the greater part of the application of our spiritual gifts is manifested in the church among other believers, so determining our position on these gifts is urgent as we seek to serve the body. If cessationaist are right, then believers can serve in their churches without concerning themselves that these gifts are not functioning. If cessationists are wrong, then there should be great concern that there churches are not operating in the full power of the Spirit's gifting. If continuationists are right, then they should be concerned that these gifts are not functioning in their own churches on the same level that they were in the apostolic period. This is far from a theological debate. This is a church health examination. Either churches can be healthy while missing what some see as vital gifts for the church or churches not manifesting these gifts are unhealthy in the area of spiritual giftedness. I believe that my church is a healthy church and am not concerned that the apostolic sign gifts are not functioning. If I were convinced that these gifts should be functioning today, then I would consequently become concerned about why my church is not manifesting them. It seems double talk to me for us to affirm the spiritual vitality of both kinds of churches, when one or the other is obviously either manifesting or liking these gifts altogether. Thank you for your graciousness.

#131  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Thursday, January 28, 2010at 12:04 PM

John 14:10-11 Do you not believe that I am in the Father , and the Father in Me? The words tha I speak to you I do not speak on my authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. (NKJV)

The Believers Bible Commentary says this on page 1546 conserning this verse

"The disciples should believe that He was one with the Father because of His own testimony to that fact. But, if not, then they should cedrtainly believe because of the works He performed."

John 1: 48-50 (para) "How do you know me?" "

I saw you when you were standing under that fig tree."

v 49b..."Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (NKJV)

Nathanael's doubts were banished with just a little exibition of Jesus' supernatural knowledge. A seemingly little miracle- a huge result to Nathanael.

John 10: 37-38 "If I do not do the works of the Father, do not believe Me. but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him." (NKJV)

Jesus didn't expect to be believed simply on the merits of what He said. Those who consider who Jesus is, should take into consideration the miracle performed and the One performing the miracle.

The afore mentioned commentary say this about this verse "Miracles, in themselves, are not a proof of deity. We read in the Bible of evil beings having the power at times to perform miracles. But, the miracles of the Lord were the works of the Father. They proved Him to be the Messiah in a twofold way. First, they were miracles which the Old Testament would be performed by the Messiah. Second, they were miracles of mercy and compassion, works that benefited mankind and which would not be performed by an evil person." (pg 1529)

And now one of my favorites, John 20: 30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (NKJV)

Did you get that---John couldn't write all the things he had seen while walking with Christ, but he did write in his Gospel enough for anybody to see through the signs, what signs? The evidence of what Christ said and the works He performed - that Jesus was God! The Son of God incarnate- Immanuel- God with us----and and that through believing we may have life in His name. Wow, I love that verse

I could go on - this is just what I found quickly in one gospel- I'll assure you there are more. This is not some obscure Bible teaching- understanding who Jesus is and that He is who He says He is and that He is God is piviotal to understanding the truth found in the Gospel. Facts like these aen't hidden when they are so important. In fact, I really wonder why you would even ask a question like this in the first place. But, again I shouldn't say that. I was in charaismania and they don't see such teachings as important. I was taught just like you. The things required to defend my beliefs- not the things required for true faith in God.

I know that sounds like a slam to you - and maybe it is. Remember that verse that goes something like this---" The kingdom of God suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." (para) It's a good thing to be jared awake. To be shaken by God thru His word.

As far as your second comment , a quick responce. Again, you miss the point. These faith healers worship some other Jesus. A God of their own creation. A God void of justice, and righteousness and holy wrath. Thay have created a God of love, and mercy and the abundant life. They never bring up sin in a true Biblical sence. When repentence is mentioned, it's comes with effort or works. They worship a Jesus that in essence is a genie in a lamp. "Say the right words" "Perform some religious act" "Name it and claim it" ---whatever... and the Genie will do what you tell Him to. Some attempt to force God's hand to get what they want by throwing the Bible itself back at God. "Look here God, You said....______________( you fill in the blank).!!!!" This is not the God of the Bible. That was my point. They are revening Wolves in sheeps clothing sparing not the flock!- the description fits.

#132  Posted by John Kelsie  |  Thursday, January 28, 2010at 9:23 PM

To Link:

You wrote: "Can you actually show me where the Bible teaches that Christ did miracles to prove He was God? I can see where He did a miracle to prove that He could forgive sin, that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath day, and to show that God had sent Him."

Let's look closely at Luke 5:20-24: 20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”

Well, here the Scribes and Pharisee's, whom knew the Book, questioned Jesus' ability to forgive sins based on the fact that they knew only God could forgive sins:

Psalm 32:5 5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.Selah. (NASB95)

Isaiah 43:25 25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins. (NASB95)

They know these scriptures and in their minds, they're questioning Jesus' deity. So Jesus does this:

22 But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts? 23 “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 “But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,”—He said to the paralytic—“I say to you, get up, and pick up your stretcher and go home.”

#133  Posted by Link Hudson  |  Friday, January 29, 2010at 3:09 AM

Ed Rudd wrote,

****John 14:10-11 Do you not believe that I am in the Father , and the Father in Me? The words tha I speak to you I do not speak on my authority, but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. (NKJV)

The Believers Bible Commentary says this on page 1546 conserning this verse

"The disciples should believe that He was one with the Father because of His own testimony tothat fact. But, if not, then they should cedrtainly believe because of the works He performed."****

I suppose this is a good verse to raise for the question I asked regarding an example of Christ doing a miracle to show that He is God. But I was looking for something a little more exact. This verse talks about Christ being in the Father and the Father in Him. Christ said to His disciples, "If ye abide in Me, and My word abide in you...". He wasn't saying that the disciples were Him or that they were His word.

I had recently begun studying a few passages where Christ or the apostles did a miracle and used it to argue for a specific truth, so when you brought up the topic, I wanted to know what you had in mind.

>>>>John 1: 48-50 (para) "How do you know me?" "

I saw you when you were standing under that fig tree."

v 49b..."Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (NKJV)

Nathanael's doubts were banished with just a little exibition of Jesus' supernatural knowledge. A seemingly little miracle- a huge result to Nathanael.<<<<

I was thinking of instances where Christ verbally taught a message connected to the miracle, but this is a good example. Here, though, Nathaniel said Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel. He did not say "You are God" which is a bit different. If we are talking about people's reactions to Jesus miracles, Thomas said "My Lord and my God" after he witnessed that Christ had resurrected.

****John 10: 37-38 "If I do not do the works of the Father, do not believe Me. but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him." (NKJV)****

Great verse, and related to what I was talking about, but not exactly what I was looking for. This talks about Christ being IN the Father.

***Jesus didn't expect to be believed simply on the merits of what He said. Those who consider who Jesus is, should take into consideration the miracle performed and the One performing the miracle.***

Based on your comments, I think you have misinterpreted my question. I was looking for something a bit more specific. I agree that Christ's miracles pointed toward His identity as the Son of God and the Messiah. I wanted to know your reference to a miracle He performed to show His deity. I know you could argue for deity off of references to Christ as the Son of God. The Pharisees of John 8 saw it that way.

****And now one of my favorites, John 20: 30-31 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (NKJV)*****

[Consider an application to the issue of cessationism. Since we know from the Bible that there were miracles not recorded in the Bible, it makes little sense to argue that since Biblically recorded miracles occurred at time periods x,y, and z, and there are certain characteristics these time periods have in common, and arguing that these characteristics do not hold true today. (As I recall, that is the gist of one of the main arguments of Charismatic Chaos.) Since the Bible acknowledges extra-biblical miracles occurred, we cannot assume that miracles are recorded in the Bible, which makes the whole analysis suspect. Plus, it relies on treating this last days time period which Peter shows us is characterized by the outpouring of the Spirit the same way as the Old Testament.]

****Did you get that---John couldn't write all the things he had seen while walking with Christ, but he did write in his Gospel enough for anybody to see through the signs, what signs? The evidence of what Christ said and the works He performed - that Jesus was God! The Son of God incarnate- Immanuel- God with us----and and that through believing we may have life in His name. Wow, I love that verse****

I agree. It is a great verse. It does say, 'The Christ, the son of God" not "God".

****I could go on - this is just what I found quickly in one gospel- I'll assure you there are more. This is not some obscure Bible teaching- understanding who Jesus is and that He is who He says He is and that He is God is piviotal to understanding the truth found in the Gospel. Facts like these aen't hidden when they are so important. In fact, I really wonder why you would even ask a question like this in the first place. But, again I shouldn't say that. I was in charaismania and they don't see such teachings as important. I was taught just like you. The things required to defend my beliefs- not the things required for true faith in God.

I know that sounds like a slam to you - and maybe it is.***

I asked the question because I wanted a bit more specific answer. I am familiar with the scriptures you posted. I get the impression that a lot of people on this board assume people who believe in the gifts don't know the Bible. (Ironically, Barna did a study a few years back that showed that Charismatics tend to know the Bible better than other evangelicals. I did not examine the data. I read the headline.) I was more interested in the issue of whether Christ did His miracles out of His deity or because God 'gave not the Spirit by measure unto Him.' We know the casting out of demons was done by through the Spirit. And it is also significant that the same Spirit that did miracles through Christ, the same Spirit of Him who raised up Christ from the dead dwells in believers. Not only does that truth apply to the miraculous, but also how we live our lives not being dominated by sin.

I am sorry if you spent time in a church where such doctrines were not considered unimportant and that you did not have true faith in God. If that was your experience, though, don't generalize it to everyone who actually believes that those passages about spiritual gifts and the Spirit giving them to the saints are true and apply today. There is a lot of variety among Charismatics, kind of like the word 'evangelical.' If you are Calvinist suppose I could condemn you based on something some obscure Calvinist group did. And to hear some people talk, you'd think you should all go to jail for burning Servetus at the stake. And you know Calvinists accused those girls of being witches in Salem, based, at least partly, on spectral evidence.

I moved every few years growing up, but I spent several years in a Pentecostal denomination where we did learn doctrine. Tongues spoken out in church were expected to be interpreted. I was in a program where we memorized books of the New Testament. And I didn't have to sit through long irritating sermons from angry-sounding preachers about how God wanted me to be rich.

I believe in spiritual gifts because the Bible teaches them. I've experienced a few of them. There are a lot of things in the Bible in regard to spiritual gifts I haven't witnessed. But I believe them because the word of God talks about them. If I don't see God doing them, I try not to come up with a theory as to why God will not do them, and teach my theory as if it were doctrine, trying to limit God from doing such things.

>>>As far as your second comment , a quick responce. Again, you miss the point. These faith healers worship some other Jesus. A God of their own creation. A God void of justice, and righteousness and holy wrath. Thay have created a God of love, and mercy and the abundant life. They never bring up sin in a true Biblical sence. When repentence is mentioned, it's comes with effort or works. They worship a Jesus that in essence is a genie in a lamp. "Say the right words" "Perform some religious act" "Name it and claim it" ---whatever... and the Genie will do what you tell Him to. Some attempt to force God's hand to get what they want by throwing the Bible itself back at God. "Look here God, You said....______________( you fill in the blank).!!!!" This is not the God of the Bible. That was my point. They are revening Wolves in sheeps clothing sparing not the flock!- the description fits.<<<

Maybe you are talking from your own experience. The doctrines of practices you describe do not apply to all 'faith healers.' Let us take Jesus for example. He is our example of faith. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He laid hands on sick people, commanded sick people to be healed, raised the dead. He would say things like 'according to your FAITH be it unto you.' The apostles healed by faith. Peter pointed out that fact that the man healed by the gate beautiful was healed because of faith that comes through Jesus. Paul was preaching one time and saw a man who had the faith to be healed. The lame man walked and Paul and Barnabas had to persuade the people that they were not gods. Do your words apply to these 'faith healers.'

Your comments don't apply to everyone who ministers healing following these apostolic examples nowadays either. The name it and claim it, etc. stuff you describe is very much word of faith. I wouldn't be surprised if the church you went to was WOF or very much effected by it. Honestly, I could see how it would be very rough to spend time in the really extreme WOF environment.

There is nothing wrong with reminding God of His promises. I'm thinking of a psalm where the psalmist reminds God of the covenant. Moses 'negotiated' with God not to destroy the people, reminding Him of how He had taken the people out of Egypt and what would the Egyptians think if He destroyed them in the desert. This isn't wrong if it is done in a respectful manner.

Yelling at God and trying to boss Him around in an arrogant manner is one of the stupidest ideas anyone has ever come up with. Lots of people who believe that healing still operates in a Biblical manner, who lay hands on the sick, are repulsed by this sort of thing. I suppose I had more experience growing up with Pentecostalism, and there was a lot of opposition to the 'name it and claim it' mentality, and I've heard preachers preach against 'the prosperity Gospel.' I've heard plenty of preaching against sin, not just 'mistakes'.

I've spent a lot of my adult life overseas, and I've seen 'Charismatics' in the country I was in, but their culture and some of their practices are a bit different. So maybe I'm not the best expert on US Charismatics. It seems to me a lot of Us Charismatic and Pentecostal worship services are virtually identical to some non-evangelical groups except perhaps for the choice of hymns and a few minor style issues. In some of these churches, there is rarely a tongue and interpretation or prophecy, and in some you won't see it at all, or at least not in a larger gathering.