In Defense of Spiritual Gifts
Posted on September 27th, 2013
Then Moses said to him, “Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!”
1 Corinthians 14:5
I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
First of all, Moses wanted all of God’s people to be prophets. Paul wanted all of God’s people to be prophets. Why? This principal in the both the old and new testaments. Why would these Godly leaders want something that is deemed childish by many in the church? In this discussion, we will take a quick inventory of spiritual gifts from 1 Cor 13, but first, one quick thing from Paul:
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” – 1 Cor 2:4
Words of knowledge are facts that we cannot know. My wife Autumn was once sensitive to the Lord speaking to her that someone she was talking to had an abortion. This was a word of knowledge. When Autumn brought this up, the girl was blown away. No one knew about what had been done except for her and her doctor. She saw a demonstration of the reality of God. Without Autumn’s sensitivity, she might have never had the evidence she needed to really believe and be saved. She could have ended up in hell. Autumn could have easily blown the Lord off, and told Him that she doesn’t believe that He wants to speak to people directly anymore, but instead she followed in the footsteps of the countless saints in the old and new testaments of the bible who directly heard from the Lord God.
Words of Wisdom are God’s powerful direction of what to do in a certain situation, see Solomon and the two women fighting over a baby in 1 King 3.
Supernatural faith stands on it’s own. James tells us that we can pray like Elijah prayed to stop rain for 3 years and 6 months. Who would not want an extra helping of faith? That is not foolishness nor childishness, and I am worried about those who would call supernatural faith a childish thing that must be put away.
Gifts of healing were a huge part of Jesus’s ministry. He performed healings that had never been seen. See John 9. Once again James 5:14 tells us to pray for the sick. Saying that a supernatural gift from the Spirit of God for healing people is a childish thing that we no longer need is foolish.
Working of miracles gets people’s attention. Jesus multiplied fish and bread, he turned water into wine. These things are absolutely impossible. Once again, a demonstration of the Spirit so that people’s faith may rest on the power of God and not the wisdom of man.
1 Cor 14:24-25
But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Why would a person fall on his face and worship God and report that God is truly among your church? What would cause the secrets of his heart to be revealed? Well, whatever is under discussion must have got his attention. It must have been something that no one could have known in the natural. Would you go to a church where an event like this is allowed to happen? Would you allow the Lord to use you like that? Is it more important to follow the traditions of men or to have someone fall on his face and worship God?
As someone who operates in discernment of spirits, I can tell you that the lack of it is a horrible, toxic, risk. I rarely notice something strong on someone, but when I do, there really is something going on. Sometimes I can sense a strong spirit of peace on someone, and sometimes it is not so nice. I have known a pastor who once noticed a evil spirit on someone and told it to leave her and the spirit turned and said to him “how did you know me?” Discernments of spirits can save people from lots of danger. I have noticed funk on people in positions of leadership and teaching in even in ministries, and the discernment can help prevent bad things from happening.
At last we come to tongues, which I believe is a huge missing factor in the modern church. Paul wished that all the Corinthians spoke in tongues. He said “I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all”. 1 cor 14:18. Why did Paul appreciate tongues? “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” verse 4. Verse 2 says that no one understands tongues, but a man’s spirit speaks to God. Excercising the gift of tongues is exercising your spirit. Paul was constantly in ministry, and he needed constant edification. I believe we do too.
1 cor 14:14-17 “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified. ”
I could go on and on. Paul prayed in the spirit in tongues, he sang in the spirit in tongues, he gave thanks in the spirit in tongues! “You indeed gave thanks well” – giving thanks in the spirit in tongues was actually giving thanks well. When was the last time you heard a sermon about that? I believe tongues is for refreshing and powerful prayer, and I try to pray in tongues as much as possible, and I can testify that it does indeed refresh me and that it is from the Lord.
Interpretation of tongues functions so that others may understand the mysteries that are being spoken, and it results in edifying the church. 1 cor 14:5 “I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.”
Who knows where the cessation doctrine came from. There were several references to spiritual gifts in the early church up until around the year 400. One of the early church fathers, I think it was Tertullian, actually said in letter in an argument with a pagan that christianity was true because the christians had spiritual gifts. Cessation follows in the steps of the Sadduccees, who said there was “no resurrection– and no angel or spirit.” Acts 23:8. It turns christianity into a comfortable mental exercise. You can try to hide from the reality of a spiritual kingdom of devils that the Lord might want to confront and fight back with spiritual weapons. There was probably some funky spirit that got upset when Autumn had the courage to quote what the Lord had given her in a word of knowledge to her friend. The devils must hate it when christians actually have a clear communication channel with the Lord. Is this really what people call a childish thing and at the same time preach a personal relationship with Jesus? How many quality relationships do you have with people that you don’t communicate with?
Read the bible! People all throughout its pages are hearing words from the Lord.
I believe that a lot has to do with allowing God to move. Telling God that he cannot give prophecy and that He cannot give tongues will not encourage him to pour out his Spirit.
“Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”
“Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief.”
I do not want to be one of those unbelievig people, but I am worried that I am surrounded by them.
What should we do, then?
And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”
And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?”
So they said, “Into John’s baptism.”
Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
You have the Spirit of God if you are saved. However, you might not have experienced the baptism of the Spirit. Jesus Christ is the one who baptises in the Spirit, John said so in John 1:33 ” I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.'” I urge every christian to hear John the baptist!!! The baptism of the Spirit is deepening of relationship with the Lord. I believe that sometimes the christian has to seek the Lord for it. Seeking the Lord is always good.
Prophecy can be abused. There are those who prophecy falsely. I think half of the reason people become cessationists is that they have run into some really weird things with people claiming it came from God. “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” – Isaiah 8:20. We have to follow 1 Thess 5:19-22 “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” We have to “PROVE ALL THINGS”! This is in direct context to prophecy! Giving up on the whole thing quenches the Spirit. Once again, I believe this is why some churches almost never see any manifestation of spiritual gifts. The attitude that says “The apostles needed spiritual gifts, but we don’t” is a horribly foolish approach to take to the kingdom of God and the warfare that we will encounter.
I have not even warned about blaspheming the Spirit. What if the Holy Spirit moves on someone, and a christian is convinced that God doesn’t do things like that, what if the christian thinks it comes from an unclean spirit. I do __NOT__ want to be responsible for that, ever! Are you going to risk it yourself? Are you going to risk this on those who listen to your doctrine? Do you want to answer to God for that on Judgement Day? What if you’re wrong?
Have some grace, have some patience and seek the Lord!
Creation vs. Evolution
Posted on January 18th, 2013
Almost all of my life I had believed in evolution without questioning it. At this point I have run across many things that would have seriously made me question it, if I would have known about them earlier. So, in a way, this is something that I would have written to myself.
First of all, did you know that they have found “flexible connective tissue and branching blood vessels, as well as intact cells (that have the appearance of red blood cells) and osteocytes (bone cells) in the femur (thigh bone) of a “68-million-year-old” T. rex uncovered in Montana.” inside of Tyrannosaurus Rex bones?
It was published in the secular journal “Science”.
Are you aware that there are fossils that pass through multiple “geologic” layers of rock? Also, some of them are trees that are found upside-down.
There have been fossils found of creatures giving birth. Fossils are usually caused by rapid burial.
The eruption of Mt. St. Helens created a miniature grand canyon, at 1/40th the scale of the Grand Canyon:
In regards to astronomy, I believe this is the field where most people have no clue that any of the facts could support young earth creation. Mostly, this is due to the issue of starlight. If light can travel no faster than the speed of light, and we are seeing light from objects that are millions of light-years away, how can those objects be only 6,000 years old?
There is more than one creationist theory to explain this occurence, but one of the most popular involves the theory of relativity, which says that gravity affects time. Basically, if the earth is near the center of the universe, and the universe was stretched out rapidly, then an observer at the edge of the universe would experience millions of years of time, while an observer on earth would only experience a very short amount of time.
Here is short summary of one of the creationist solutions:
Also, you probably haven’t heard about it, but the Big Bang has it’s own light time-travel problem:
The human / ape fossil record actually contradicts evolution. Some of the oldest fossils are anatomically modern humans. However, they aren’t listed as such, because that would contradict evolution.
Probably the two biggest issues in regards to geology are radiometric dating methods, and the flood of Noah.
To start off with radiometric dating, here is an example of a volanic rock flow from 50 years ago yielding radiometric dates of millions of years:
There was a fossil piece of wood dated at 33,000 yrs old inside of sandstone dated 225 million years old:
Radiometric dating is thrown away if a fossil that is “too recent” is found in it. Here is an example of rock radiometrically dated at 2.6 million years until a fossil that was supposedly too recent was found. Therefore they just ignored the date and knocked 800,000 years off of the radiometric reading:
Genetic mutations destroy information, they do not add it:
Antibiotic resistance to bacteria is already present before the antibiotic is encountered, and usually corresponds to the mutated destruction of a useful part of the bacteria. The already resistant bacteria flourish when they encounter the antibiotic, but this is not evolution. In fact it is the loss of information, it is the opposite of evolution.
The rules of hebrew grammar make it impossible to interpret the “day”s in genesis one as anything but 24-hour days, so says the hebrew scholars of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Toronto, and London:
The day of Genesis 2 does not contradict the days of Genesis 1:
Many more links about the book of Genesis:
Behemoth in the book of Job is a dinosaur:
I could go on and on and on. In every area of science, information that could be interpreted as supporting a recent creation is basically ignored, and sometimes completely unscientific theories are proposed, just to avoid having to think about a young earth.
This situation is described in Romans 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
God’s power is shown by creation. However, men “hold the truth in unrighteousness”. The greek for the word “hold” in this verse means to “hold down”. Men suppress the truth about what God has showed to them about Him and about creation.
In summary, I believe that there is at least as much evidence for a universe and earth that is about 6000 years old, as there is for billions of years of time and evolution. As a christian, if the odds are even close to 50-50, why would you choose a belief that directly contradicts the word of God, and undermines the foundation of pretty much every single christian doctrine?
“Thy word is true from the beginning” – Psalm 119:160
Both of these organizations publish materials from Ph.D.s in hard sciences who believe in young earth creation.
The Bible is trustworthy.
Posted on January 18th, 2013
I have previously made an argument for the Received Text of the bible. Now I would like to write a few thoughts about how I believe we should view the bible.
( Before going into any scripture references, I want to state that I believe that the final authority of the word of God for a specific passage is always to be found in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words of the bible. The authority of a translation of the bible is as strong as it is a true and valid translation of the words of God. )
WHO IS THE AUTHOR?
First off, Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine,
for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.
The phrase “is given by inspiration of God” is one word in the original Greek language. It means “God-breathed.” I always imagine God breathing out and the breath itself turns into the bible.
If we accept 2 Timothy 3:16 as true, then we know that all scripture is from God.
In Proverbs 30:5-6, it is written:
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
If we accept these two verses, we now know that all scripture is from God, and the purity extends to every single word. The acceptance of these verses, and maybe a couple of other ones is enough to defend the authenticity of the rest of the bible.
PRESERVATION OF SCRIPTURE
However, now the objection that we have lost some of the bible could appear. One might say “It started out perfect, but that perfection is not available to me!”
In Luke 16:17, Jesus says:
“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one tittle of the law to fail”
The greek word that is translated “tittle” in the KJV means “little horn”. It refers to either a single letter, or possibly a small part of a single letter. As far as to what “the law” can include, I want to point out here that in John 10:34, Jesus says:
“Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, ‘I said “Ye are gods ?”‘”
Here Jesus is quoting Psalm 82 and refering to it as a thing that is “written in your law.”
It is written in Isaiah 40:8
“The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
Jesus says in Matthew 24:35
“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
Like Father, like Son. Jesus makes the same promise for his words as was made in Isaiah 40:31. The word of our God will stand forever. Jesus’s words will never pass away. Also, Jesus states in John 10:35b that “the scripture cannot be broken.” I love this statement. If someone really believes these words, then they believe that God has preserved his written word.
WHAT IS THE RELEVANCE?
I also want to write a couple of brief words about how God expects us to view the bible.
When Jesus was tempted by the devil, in Matthew 4:4 we find:
“But he answered and said, It is written,
‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.'”
God states that we need every single word in the bible. We cannot pick and choose the parts we like and do not like. All of it is necessary for life.
When Jesus was walking on the road to Emmaus, he grew frustrated with those took too long to put their faith in the scripture.
“Then he said unto them,
O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken”
Jesus called them fools!
In Psalm 119:160a it is written that “Thy word is true from the beginning.”
I do not want to talk about creation and evolution in this particular writing. I hope to write about those subjects soon. I think that it is enough for now for me to say that the bible claims that it “is true from the beginning.” The bible does not start to become true after the book of Genesis. Genesis is as true as the book of Matthew.
In Isaiah it says:
“…but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”
God has regard for those who tremble at his word. Who trembles at what a man writes? Who quakes in fear at something that can be explained away as the work of an editor? If you believe the word of God, then it should sometimes give you a reason to have a little godly fear and trembling. If this never happens to you, you may want to pause and pray a little about how much faith you are placing in God’s word.
In Mark 8:38, Jesus says:
“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words
in this adulterous and sinful generation;
of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed,
when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Jesus will be ashamed of those who are ashamed of his words. This is very clear.
In summary, I would like to say that God is the author of every word in the bible. The bible contains no mistakes, and it speaks with authority on every subject that it mentions. These are lofty claims indeed. My God is powerful enough to pull this off, and I believe that He has.
“Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD;
and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”
Posted on January 18th, 2013
Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. Jesus Christ is Lord. This is summary of what I have learned about the different versions of the bible.
Texts of the bible:
The old testament of the bible was written in the languages of Hebrew and Aramaic. The new testament of the bible was written in Greek. We have copies of the bible in these original languages. These copies can be divided into groups based on differences they contain in certain verses.
On the whole, there are two groups of old testament documents. The differences between the two seem to be fairly minor, and pale in comparison to the differences between the groups of new testament documents.
The most useful division that I have run across for new testament documents is to break them down into three groups: the “Majority” text, the “Minority” text, and the “Received” text.
The “Majority” text, so named by Hodges and Farstad (1982) and Pierpont and Robinson (1991), is an oddly named group, because it contains of less than a majority of the total documents. It seems to be some sort of a hybrid between the other two groups, with some of the more controversial readings avoided. It looks like a somewhat arbitrary collection, and I am not sure how much adoption this particular group possessed in antiquity.
I will focus more “Minority” and “Received” texts, because I think that they are much more relevant.
The “Minority” text is just that. It is a very small amount of the total documents in antiquity. Up to around the turn of the 1900s, and maybe until about the middle of the 1900s, it was not in common usage. It represents a radical departure from the earlier Received text, and it probably took the passing of at least a couple of generations after significant attention was paid to it, before it became widely adopted.
It did, however, become widely adopted. So widely adopted that almost every single bible available in the English language is now based on. I don’t think that I will be overstepping my bounds to estimate that is it taught in the majority of seminaries, bible colleges, and other institutions of Christian higher learning. Almost every commentary, every devotional, and every sermon you will run across will be using it. So, for that reason, if nothing else, I feel led to talk about it.
The two most important documents for the Minority text are the “Vatican” manuscript and the “Sinai” manuscript. The former is usually called Vaticanus and the latter Sinaiticus. They are both dated to around 350 A.D. Lets take a small look at each.
The Vatican manuscript was found the library of the Vatican.
The Sinai manuscript was found in the monastery of St. Catherine. It has been edited several times. It contains a note from a scribe after the book of Esther that it was based on manuscripts from Origin ( See: http://www.trinitarianbiblesociety.org/site/articles/sinaiticus.pdf ).
I will now spend a brief period of time talking about the Received Text. The Received text is the main bible text used during the reformation.
The history of the Received Text has an interesting relationship with a group of people in the mountains of Italy and Switzerland known as the Waldensens. They helped with the translations of the bible during the Reformation and they claim their bible documents were preserved from the changes that their ancestors saw others making to the bible.
What is the importance? Why does it even matter if our bibles are translated from the Minority text or the Received text?
I have often run across statements that the differences between the two groups do not affect anything doctrinally important. The whole thing becomes a lot more interesting when we start to compare some of the differences.
The minority text does not contain the longer ending of Mark. I have read attempts to try and justify Mark not including the encounters of Jesus when he has risen from the dead.
The minority text does not have the comment from Jesus that certain devils only come out by prayer AND “fasting”.
The minority text omits certain references to the blood of Jesus.
On the other hand the Received text contains the verse “God was manifested in the flesh.” 1 Timothy 3:16
It also contains “For there are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7
I would make a bet that you have already seen several commentaries ridiculing that last verse. The popular statement is that it did not exist until somewhere around the 1400s.
At this point I would like to mention a couple of things that have made a big difference for me in this discussion. The early church father Irenaeus, who wrote in 177 A.D. in his work “Against Heresies”, quoted the longer ending of mark. In fact he wrote that “Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: ‘So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God; ‘, which is a direct quote of Mark 16:19. This is the second to the last verse of the long ending of mark, thus it takes for granted that the verses between 9 and 18 are also present.
It is also interesting to note that both the Vatican and the Sinai manuscripts end the book of Mark with the words “and they were afraid.” I am not kidding. Does this sound like the way that the Lord wants to finish the gospel of Mark?
As I view it, the church is presented with about 3 options. First, Irenaeus didn’t actually write those words, and we have a corrupt copy of his writings. Second, Irenaeus was deceived, and he was quoting something not written by God when he quoted the longer ending mark. Third, Irenaeus was quoting the actual words written by Mark when quoted the longer ending. ( A fourth possibility is that Irenaeus forged the words himself. )
How do these options stack up? In regards to the second, Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, and Polycarp was a disciple of John the apostle. If Irenaeus was quoting a corrupt document as being authentic, then I believe that we ourselves, as being over 1700 years further from the original greek written by Mark, in general probably have a less chance of getting things right than he does. I think that either the first or the third option carries more weight.
If we contemplate the third, it leaves us in the position that the Vatican and Sinai manuscripts are both bad examples of the original text of the bible. It also tells us that, in this instance, the Received text contains the true reading.
It is my experience that there seems to be a lot riding on the acceptance of the Minority text. Without it, the deity of Christ is spelled out more clearly than many want to see. Without it, the trinity becomes a very solid doctrine. Without it, fasting becomes considerably more important to ministry. The longer ending of Mark mentions several things that will “follow” “those who believe on” Jesus. Not those who are apostles, not elders, not clergy, but simply those who believe on Jesus. These things include casting out devils in the name of Jesus, laying hands on the sick and seeing them recover, and speaking in new languages. Without the longer ending of Mark, no one has to deal with these things.
Now I want to mention another little known fact. Cyprian of Carthage, a bishop in North Africa around 250 A.D. says in his work “De catholicae ecclesiae unitate” that: “The Lord said, ‘I and the Father are one’, and likewise it written of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit ‘And these three are one.’
Once again, we can doubt we possess Cyprian’s words. We can believe he forged the bible verses, or was using a copy of bible corrupted by someone else. The last option is to contemplate that Cyprian, a full 100 years before the Vatican and Sinai manuscripts ever existed, was quoting the words written by God himself about the trinity.
What difference does this verse make? How many believers have struggled with what to think about Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit? How many cults have sprung into existence because Christians could not adequately prove that Jesus was very God of very God. How many Jewish people could be reached by the truth that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit together are Jehovah, who is one. How many bible verses suddenly make sense with this perspective? How many truths about our Lord are revealed?
At the very least, I am totally surprised by the overall reaction of Christian scholarship to these issues. There does not seem to be any critical evaluation of what is popularly taught in academic circles. There does not seem to be any sort of discussion of these issues. In fact, I find more ridicule than honest reason in most of the sources I have read, and yes, I have seen the same thing on both sides of this issue.
A relatively small amount of research will uncover objections to the minority text simply based on quotations of early church fathers. How can Irenaeus and Cyprian quote verses before the 350 A.D. that supposedly did not exist until afterwards? Why is it that “these three are one” is paraded around as if it was invented in the 1400s when it is possibly quoted before the Vatican and Sinai manuscripts were written? Why are these issues hidden from the church? Who has decided that the average Christian should not even examine evidence like this?
I urge everyone who reads this to pray about these issues. If the changes between the Minority Text and the Received Text do not change any doctrine, then why do people feel so strongly about this issue? If the changes between the two texts do have an influence on what you believe, then I believe that you should at least spend some amount of time to ask the Lord what He wants you know about these issues.
The only two major translations of the bible in English that follow the received text are the old King James Version (KJV) and the New King James Version (NKJV) bibles.
The NJKV, however, usually contains footnotes explaining changes that the minority text makes. These footnotes are usually slanted in such a way to try to undermine the readings in the Received Text of the NKJV. So if you want to believe the received text in a modern bible, ignore the footnotes. God probably didn’t write them.