Monday, June 22, 2015

10,000 Reasons Bless the Lord

Spiritual Gifts are for Today

The Cessationalist claim that tongues, prophecy, healing and many other gifts are not for today. Here is part of their thinking:

The nature of the New Testament miraculous gifts. If the Spirit was still moving as he was in the first century, then you would expect that the gifts would be of the same type. Consider the speaking of tongues. At Pentecost, the languages spoken were already existing, understandable languages. The New Testament gift was speaking in a known language and dialect, not an ecstatic language like you see people speaking in today.

I’m still looking for a citation on this one (all the others too!) Some may point to 1 Corinthians 13:10 and say that the “perfect has come” in the form of the complete cannon of scripture and that “tongues will cease.” All spiritual gifts are partial. The perfect comes with the full revelation of the church under the personal and direct control of Jesus Christ. This was the belief of all the Apostolic and early church fathers that I can find who commented on that particular scripture, but they haven’t been to a John MacArthur seminar. If the canonization of the Bible was the perfect, then why does it contain irrelevant portions? So if portions of the Bible are irrelevant than the Bible is not perfect.

Scripturally speaking you cannot show that spiritual gifts have ceased to operate. If you take that tact then what other scriptures are no longer applicable for today? James 5:13-18 must be blotted out because healing, faith and miracles are not for today. 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 14 need to be ignored. Then we have to amend 1 Peter 2:24 to remove the healing out of the atonement. We even need to discount some of the words of Jesus himself because he didn't really mean we could have power, perform miracles and ask for the impossible because the Cessationist have argued his words are not for us for the past 1,900 years. What other words did Christ speak that we should ignore?

Here is one that confuses me. 

The New Testament governed the miraculous gifts. Whenever the New Testament gifts of tongues were to be practiced, there were specific rules that were to be followed. There was to be order and structure, as well as an interpreter. Paul also lays down rules for prophets and prophecy. Tragically most charismatic practice today clearly disregards these commands.

Abuses of the gifts do not invalidate the gifts. That was the purpose of 1 Corinthians to provide correction and context for their use in the church. Paul didn't shut them down but provided guidelines. Are tongues and prophecy for today?  Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:39 (NASB95). Argue with St. Paul.

This is my favorite argument.

The sufficiency of Scripture. The Spirit speaks only in and through the inspired Word. He doesn't call and direct his people through subjective messages and modern day bestsellers. His word is external to us and objective.

The cannon is closed, yes. No other writing or word is on par with the Bible. All must be judged by the scriptures.  All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB95). If it contradicts the word of God it is to be discounted. Does not matter if it is a best seller, a sermon, prophecy, tongues & interpretation or a Cessationist article all must not contradict what the word of God plainly says.

To say that the word of God is external and objective raises the question as how we can read the word and come up with different meanings. I read it and see that all members of the body of Christ are given a gift by the Holy Spirit. A Cessationalist reads the same passage and says no we are not. But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching. Romans 10:8 (NASB95). Does not sound entirely external.

The Comforter has come and stayed. He bought power with Him. The Holy Spirit teaches us, gives us words to say, is our advantage and is with us forever. I can find in no way that the Spirit was for the 12 Apostles only. Scripture in no way implies that His ministry was for a limited time only. He remains with us forever and inspires us revelation and wisdom all the time. Jesus said he would go away but then return. The Holy Spirit of promise continues to be with us just as He was with the first century church.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Spiritual Gifts are for Today

Spiritual Gifts are for Today

This is a refutation of the article “7 Biblical Arguments for Cessationism,” the first point for a discontinuation of spiritual gifts was that miracles were only for certain periods in the Bible and  states for his first argument that miracles don’t happen anymore.

The unique role of miracles. There were only 3 primary periods in which God worked miracles through unique men. The first was with Moses; the second was during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha; the third was with Christ and his apostles. The primary purpose of miracles has always been to establish the credibility of one who speaks the word of God—not just any teacher, but those who had been given direct words by God.”

The writer invokes the fuzzy phrase “primary periods.” Yes these men’s ministries were distinguished by miracles, but to try to confine to certain periods does not take into account the full counsel of the scriptures concerning workers of miracles. The miraculous was done by God through many others: Noah, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Samuel, the prophet who spoke to Jeroboam, Isaiah, Jonah, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. I would agree with the author that God gave miraculous signs to validate the message or to show His favor, but to claim there were only three periods is inaccurate.

God does make provision for the miraculous to operate as part of the body of Christ.
But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues…And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:7, 10, 28 (NASB95)

It would appear that each of us has a spiritual gift and some can even effect miracles. There is not a qualifier that states that miracles were only for the apostles or that these were soon to vanish away.

Church history is rife with anecdotal incidents of miracles. It would be wrong to paint with a big brush and say that none of these happened. This is what Calvin and Luther both did when they broke from the Catholic Church.

The next biblical proof that the author cited for the cessation of the gifts of the Spirit was that the gift of apostle was a temporary gift.

The end of the gift of apostleship. In two places in the New Testament Paul refers to the apostles as one of the gifts Christ gave his church (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4). Although not all spiritual gifts are offices, all offices are gifts to the church. One of the gifts Christ gave his church was the apostles, but they were a temporary gift.

Although I am not a big fan of the modern apostolic movement I do believe that the office of apostle is a gift that continues. The main argument against apostles is that since they are part of the foundation of the church, they are no longer needed since the church has been established. I would counter that the church has not been established throughout the whole world. There is still a need for God appointed leaders to follow the Apostle Paul’s model and establish churches throughout every tribe, tongue and nation.

The author uses a narrow definition of apostle to add weight to his argument.  “No one meets the qualifications anymore, which included being an eye-witness of the life of Christ and his resurrection. You also had to be personally appointed by Christ and be able to work miracles.”

According to scriptures there were other apostles. Matthias who was chosen to replace Judas (Acts 1:26) Paul, Barnabas (Acts 13:2), Silas (1 Thes 2:7) and James the half brother of Jesus (Gal 1:19). More than just the twelve were considered to be apostles. Paul claims that there were false apostles in operation (2 Cor 11:13) and if that gift were limited to only the twelve it would have been ludicrous to claim to be an apostle in the first century. God even praises the church at Ephesus for testing men who claimed to be apostles (Rev 2:2). And if I might add that the Didache, written in the late first century or early second century, contains instructions for receiving prophets and apostles. So there is an early church tradition that there were more than just the original twelve.

Are miracles still available? Of course. God does the miraculous through men as He wills. Are apostles all gone? Not until this Gospel is preached unto the whole world. We need spiritual gifts to do the work God has called us to do.

 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 1 Corinthians 12:4–6 (NASB95)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Gifts of the Spirit are Available Today

I came across an article some years ago stating that the gifts of the Holy Spirit had ceased to operate for around 1,900 years. You can imagine my surprise. So I formulated my response mentally and filed it away for future use. Well lo and behold I have come across this phenomenon again and it’s called Cessationism. This time I’ll put my thoughts down for your enrichment or perhaps your aggravation.

I was intrigued by the title of the article, “7 Biblical Arguments for Cessationism.”  I expected a frenzy of scriptures and proof texting but sadly there was none. I will summarize their points and offer my counter to their arguments based on the principle of the witness of 2 or 3 scriptures. This should take a couple of days. Today I will issue my primary answer to these arguments and it will be based on Acts 2:17-21; 38-39.

Peter on the day of Pentecost started his sermon with, “And it shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy.  And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. ‘The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:17–21 (NASB95)

This scripture speaks of a timeline by the use of “last days” and “in those days”. The day of Pentecost was the beginning of the last days and the end of days is the day the Lord shall come. Several prophetic signs are mentioned, “And I will grant wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. ‘The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood”.  We have yet to experience the latter signs which mark the end of the age. Which places us in that period marked by “I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind” and”everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” It is bad exegesis to separate a scripture when interpreting it. So the outpouring is connected to salvation in the name of Jesus.

The point is further driven home by Peter’s closing statement;  “…Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:38–39 (NASB95)

Repent, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit are the steps given by Peter. If the principle of Apostolic Authority is indeed a fact, then this statement is without error. Peter adds the qualifier, “as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” If the Lord is still calling, then the promise is still available. You cannot separate all the verses where Christians are “called” and say that these are available promises for us today and the “call” issued on Pentecost is not available.

This is my primary answer to the Cessationism question. I believe that every promise made in the New Testament is available to us today. Healing, Spiritual Gifts, Fruits of the Spirit and the promise of the Comforter and all that He provides for us.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Change of Clothes Colossians 3:12-17 at Ed the Pastor

A Change of Clothes Colossians 3:12-17 at Ed the Pastor

If this is the only sermon you listen to this year, you need to go to church more often, Getting ready for the Church and what we have to put on to be be the Church.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Battle of the Ages Colossians 3:1-11 at Ed the Pastor

Battle of the Ages Colossians 3:1-11 at Ed the Pastor

Living an "exchanged life" is a matter of making the decision to allow the Holy Spirit to make necessary changes to enter the Kingdom age and putting to death the old age deeds.