15 May 2008

Know how to think, and the what takes care of itself

by Dan Phillips

I began What I think about "the Florida revival" with this admission:
I don't know anything about it specifically. Not one thing. Haven't read an article, haven't listened to an anecdote, haven't heard a podcast or sermon or phone-in commenter. I think a friend said something in an email... but I've forgotten it.
Then I claimed that I was proceeding this way for a specific reason, and challenged my readers to figure out what that reason might be. Most who tried at least got pretty near to fingering it, but left enough unsaid that I decided to devote a post to an explanation. Whereupon commenter Trogdor promptly wrote this:
There are objective standards in God's word by which we must test whether a 'movement' or 'revival' is truly a work of God. These standards are to be applied across all boundaries, denominations, etc. By remaining ignorant of specific Florida happenings, you were hoping to show that your application of these standards is not based on anything specific about that movement, but are universal - you'd be asking the same questions if the reports were coming from Phil or Frank. The genesis of these questions was not from any reports of wrongdoing; it's in the unchangeable standard of God's word.
This answer is alarmingly accurate. So much so, that I paused a moment to make sure "Trogdor" wasn't my sock-puppet. But I knew he couldn't be. I could never have been that concise.

So let's just trace the path of a Christian's growth, from pre- to maturity, and then locate this on that map:
  1. We start out wrong about everything important. We have an innate sense of God, but we suppress and pervert it (Romans 1:1-32). We're dead and blind (Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19). In this condition, even if we hear the Word of God, nothing savingly significant happens (Matthew 13:4-7, 18-22).
  2. God sovereignly gives us life (Ephesians 2:5), causes His word to be life to us (1 Peter 1:23-25), enables us to see what we had been unable to see (2 Corinthians 4:3-6), and saves us by grace through faith as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-10).
  3. Thus awakened and made alive, we respond to God's word in faith (Romans 10:17), yoke ourselves to Christ in repentant faith (Matthew 11:28-30; Acts 11:18; 17:31), in witness to which we are baptized (Acts 2:38) and committed to a lifelong process of learning His word (Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:31-32).
  4. Our goal then becomes to grow to maturity in and unto Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16; 2 Peter 3:18).
  5. Specifically, what this maturity looks like involves (among other things) a grounded stability in God's revealed truth that is resistant to the gusty winds of fad and fashion (Ephesians 4:13-14), and a well-practiced adeptness in the Word of God that enables us to assess, discern, and judge right from wrong, good from evil, and truth from falsehood (Hebrews 4:12; 5:14).
On conversion, the new believer lays down as a basic premise the Lordship of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3b). This is the controlling consideration for all that follows (Colossians 2:6-7). Insofar as he is true to his birthright and call as a Christian, he begins building a framework of truth, and continues building all his life (Proverbs 1:2-6). His goal is to be able to test all things, internal and external, in the light of God's Word (Psalm 119:9, 11; Hebrews 4:12).

His hero isn't Indiana Jones, so his motto isn't "I don't know, I'm making this up as I go." His hero is Jesus Christ, whose life was a symphony of pursuit of His Father's will (John 4:34).

And so he doesn't drop his Bible and dance the Headless Chicken Jig every time —
  • someone tells a hair-raising barn-burner of a story; or
  • some World-Class Scholar (or mega-church pastor) writes a Newest, Greatest, Everything-Must-Change book; or
  • popular opinion turns against a truth he's convinced of from Scripture; or
  • everyone who's anyone is embracing a teaching he's not convinced of from Scripture; or
  • the secular media's fitful fascination lights briefly on some new religious entertainment.
The disciple's goal is not conformity to the fickle fads of the world, secular or religious. Rather, it is (to coin a word) transformity, into the likeness of the mind, will, and character of God (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

And so that, in a word, is why I thought it worth telling you how I will think about "the Florida revival."

Which, on second thought, would have been a better title.

Dan Phillips's signature

53 comments:

Daryl said...

Dan,

That hase got to be the best, most concise thing I've ever read on Christian growth.
I believe I'll keep it for future reference.

By the way, your previous post COULD have been titled "How I will think about the Florida revival" or it could have been called "How a Christian ought to think about everything".

Thanks for this,

God is good.

Nik Papageorgiou said...

Excellent post! Thank you, Dan, for that dissection of how the Christian's new mind operates.

It's so great to know that we don't have to spend every waking hour trying to discern every new "Christian" fad on its own merit.

Focus on the Word, and the puzzles will come together.

John said...

Wow, Dan, great post. I love the description of Christian progression.

You mentioned the Lordship of Christ, and I know that has been discussed ad nauseum. But without the change that leads to Christ being Lord, there has been no conversion, and there has been no revival. It's so plain in the New Testament. Paul's conversion was evident when He said, "who are you, Lord?"

Without the Biblical marks of revival you are left to wonder, "what is it"? Emotion? A work of Satan? A sham?

By the way, can we call it revival unless we know that the ones affected have previously been alive?

JackW said...

I knew I nailed it with the first post ... not that I'm prideful or anything ... oops.

rick said...

Well done!

Frank Turk said...

I'd like to meet the guy who would own the Florida Revival as legitimately-charismatic and Christian.

For the record, the guy who I work with who went to the revival didn't have anything substantive to say about it. "Powerful move of God" was all he could come up with, but when I asked him about the teaching that was going on there -- I read it on-line -- he said that I shouldn't "quench the spirit".

So all the charismatic types out there: do you guy own Todd Bentley, or is Dan using this as an example a red herring?

DJP said...

There's only two choices?

/c:

Kim said...

Great post!

And I LOVE the word "transformity." I wish I had called my blog that.

It oughta be in the dictionary.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

Yes, Kim, transformity is good, but I still think you were onto something when you considered naming your blog "The Purpose Driven Dissident." That still cracks me up. :)

Stephen Garrett said...

Dan,

You said - "Thus awakened and made alive, we respond to God's word in faith."

I think that seems to be upholding the false notion of being born again before faith or pre-faith regeneration view. Are you saying a man is "alive" when he has no faith?

God bless

Stephen

DJP said...

No, actually, it's affirming the Biblical notion that a man is spiritually born "not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). Saving faith is a result of regeneration (1 John 5:1) as light is the result of flicking the right switch.

Or are you saying a dead, blind, totally unable God-hater can find it in himself to exercise repentant, saving faith?

Lee Shelton IV said...

Dan,

Great post, as usual.

Frank,

I think you just gave TeamPyro a new tagline: "Quenching the spirit since 2006."

Dave .... said...

TRANSFORMITY! This is (IS!) the goal of our instruction (1 Tim. 1:5 - in a trustworthy translation). When you unpack this, you HAVE to make up words. Nicely done, Dan. Your "progression" will be stolen.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dan,

You said:

"No, actually, it's affirming the Biblical notion that a man is spiritually born "not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). Saving faith is a result of regeneration (1 John 5:1) as light is the result of flicking the right switch."

Yes, we are born "OF" God but it is "THROUGH" the preaching of the word and "THROUGH FAITH." "We are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." Gal. 3: 26.

And what do you do with other passages that put faith and repentance before life? ("repent and live" Eze. 18: 32)

Also, life is a result of "throwing on the switch," so to speak, but can the light be said to be "on" when no light is shining? If you mean faith is the result of divine begetting in the sense that life is also the result, then we have no problem.

You said:

"Or are you saying a dead, blind, totally unable God-hater can find it in himself to exercise repentant, saving faith?"

Who added the thought "can find it in himself"? If faith is put before birth, regeneration, conversion, justification, does this automatically mean that it is of the man himself?

Do you believe that conviction of sin goes before or follows after the new birth?

If you say it goes before the new birth, then how do you answer your own question?

Can God not work effectually on souls before regeneration as well as during and after it?

Faith is part of the life that men are begotten unto. (I John 5: 4)

There is no strict chronological order as it relates to faith (repentance) and salvation (or birth or regeneration). Do you say there is?

God bless

Stephen

Frank Turk said...

well. And I thought today was gonna be a "fruit of the spirit" day and not a "Ordo salutis salad" day.

Good hunting, Dano.

Jim Crigler said...

Re: I could never have been that concise.

LOL. To put it concisely. Which I just ruined. Again.

DJP said...

It's always an Open Mike for you, Frank. Have at it! In any language!

(c:

Even So... said...

Good stuff DJP...indeed, the question we should ask isn't actually, "Is it real?" but "Is it right?"

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Great Post!!

And Great Title for the Post!

I got my hearty laugh in the day with your quip:

"And so he doesn't drop his Bible and dance the Headless Chicken Jig every time ... "

Hilarious visual! I love it!

donsands said...

"Can God not work effectually on souls before regeneration as well as during and after it?" -steve

Amen He can, and He does. The Shepherd of our souls seeks us, and calls us by name. He died for each and every one of His lost sheep, and He will bring them all home, for He loved us before the foundations of the world.

There are those that are not the Good Shepherd's sheep, and therefore they do not believe.

This was another marvelous post.

"We have an innate sense of God, but we suppress and pervert it"

The truth is within, but we push it down, and trample on it, we will not come into the light, but stay in the dark with our disdain for the truth.

Those who love the truth, they come into the light.

ReformedMommy said...

That's going up on the fridge too.

Note to self - make appt. to buy bigger fridge, possibly SubZero...

DJP said...

LOL

(DJP thinks he's spotted another Food Network watcher)

Mesa Mike said...

A couple of articles that are apropos:
here and here.

But Trogdor did put it much more concisely.

ReformedMommy said...

The Food Network? Sponsor of such po-mo, throw-in-whatever-manufactured-boxed-you-want-and-call-it-cooking heretics as Rachael Ray and that semi-home made lady?! May it never be. America's Test Kitchen, on the other hand, stands as a bulwark of cooking and baking orthodoxy.

But that Alton Brown guy is pretty good too.

wheat and chaff said...

Dan and Frank:
I am a reformed charismatic and the answer to your question is: no way! This guy Todd does not represent biblical Christianity by a long shot. This is just for show, is not glorifying to Christ, unbiblical, not of the Spirit, does not produce holiness, glorifies the flesh, and IMHO, quenches and grieves the Holy Spirit.

I really appreciate this post.

By the Sword and in the power of the Swordsman.
William

DJP said...

RefMommy: Alton Brown rocks. And is (reportedly) a Christian.

DJP said...

PS -- but he doesn't know from artichokes. Not how to eat them properly. I guess that's a California thing.

Mesa Mike said...

> But Trogdor did put it much more
> concisely.

I mean, Trogdor put it with much more conciseity.

Frank Turk said...

Wheat and Chaff:

seriously now -- how do you know?

dac said...

America's Test Kitchen, on the other hand, stands as a bulwark of cooking and baking orthodoxy.

And every cook every where said AMEN

Jugulum said...

Frank,

Yeah, that is the important question--how to discern?

The question is made easier for cessationists, of course. But then, it's not any harder for a charismatic than it would have been for a first-century Christian who didn't have a known apostle or prophet handy.

MooMa said...

Yes! I was so glad to see how #3 was written: "Thus awakened and made alive, we respond to God's word in faith!"
Not the popular way you see it ordered nowadays.
When we were dead in our sins, it was not possible to have faith because we could not see--We were dead. Look at the cemetery, full of dead men. Can they see anything? No! They are dead! As were we, in a spiritual sense.
Before we can see our need for a Savior, we must be awakened spiritually. The dead don't even know they are dead.
The whole post was great! Thank you!

johnMark said...

Wow, I was changing channels over the weekend (No, really...I was) and I came across this guy. It was...weird. He was in some ballpark and it was as if he was trying to pump people up, but not in the Arsenio Hall way. More of a Monty Hall sorta way.

Even my wife rolled her eyes.

Mark

MadTownGuy said...

@ Cent: Charisma Magazine is taking him seriously, even after backpedaling a bit, which see here - though considering that J. Lee Grady is a member of the International Coalition of Apostles he'll probably suggest that Bentley's excesses can be reined in if he'll only bring himself under the apostolic covering.

Read the comments. So, so sad.

Polycarp said...

Arriving at this post late today, but love the new word Dan! Quick, someone call Webster and let's make this word official--Transformity is an excellent word!

Solameanie said...

I read something today that surprised me quite a bit, and I'm a bit embarrassed to have missed it as it happened in 2002, I think. I usually stay current on events within American Christendom.

Anyway, several leaders from a cross section of Pentecostal and charismatic fellowships -- and get this -- including Oneness/Jesus Only Pentecostals -- got together for a unity summit of sorts. The reason this disturbs me is that the general superintendent of the Assemblies of God was represented at this thing. Until now, you had to say this much for the A/G even if you disagree with their stance on sign gifts -- they have historically rejected Latter Rain/Copeland/Hagin theology, and they have also historically branded Oneness Pentecostalism as heretical.

Judging from this article I read, it appears that is changing. I think we can look on things to get even worse within charismatic circles if even these restraints are being relaxed.

ezekiel said...

Stephen,

Do you mind if I take a crack at this?

“There is no strict chronological order as it relates to faith (repentance) and salvation (or birth or regeneration). Do you say there is?”

Yes, I think so. The way I read it, He gives us the faith first (regeneration) and salvation (birth) second.

Let’s start with John 3:5

3 5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Now when we track the references, we find among others, Ez 36:25-27

36 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.


Titus 3:4-7

3 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Ephesians 2:4-10

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So to me, one’s justification (regeneration) is first and repentance and sanctification or cleansing as in baptism is second. (salvation) The sanctification symbolized by baptism (washing of water with the word)

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Put another way, the Spirit of God had been moving for many years in the life of Noah BEFORE he and his family was delivered through water.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

I have always heard a preacher say when performing a baptism, something to the affect of “this symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Christ”. But the more I read and study it (baptism) it seems more in line with sanctification or washing of the word, purification than it does the former. Immersion in the WORD, the living water (John 4:10)

MadTownGuy said...

Solameanie, the inclusion of Oneness Pentecostals in the big tent goes farther back than 2002. C. Peter Wagner has been promoting a "lighter doctrinal load" for some time now. And Charisma's blog included an entry that was entitled "What About The 'Other' Pentecostals?" to which Cal Beisner responded, I think, quite ably - but his response was deleted and the post was put back up after several months of absence.

Wagner's Third Wave is pervasive in more than just the Assemblies of God (who have some excellent position papers against the excesses in those movements, which statements are roundly ignored by local A/G congregations). Sovereign Grace Ministries, in an addendum to their Statement of Faith, says "So, while the Sovereign Grace team has not shifted from its
view of the work of the Spirit, it has decided to welcome those who
hold a “third wave” view of the Spirit’s work—as long as certain
fundamental values about the work of the Spirit are held in common.
It is these common values that the modified statement
expresses and emphasizes."

Read more about Wagner and the Third Wave here.

There was a recent attempt to bring the New Apostolic Reformation or something like it into our local church, but the elders wisely put a stop to it (and it was so ratified, but just barely, by the congregation). My guess is that we haven't yet seen the end of it. Ugh.

MadTownGuy said...

Getting back to the main point of Dan’s post, about knowing how to think, it seems the movers and shakers in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have been the poster children about how not to think.

Four serious defects in thinking have accompanied the movements pretty much from the outset, to wit:
- Radical subjectivism: following leadings wherever they lead, even if away from Scripture
- Spiritual elitism and authoritarianism: based on who has the most bombastic “experience”
- Overemphasis on the power of the spoken word: the basis of the ‘positive confession’ movement
- Unity at all costs: even at the expense of the essentials of the faith

These errors have resulted in all manner of misbehavior and abuse which is why you have folks like Paul Cain, Bob Jones (the Kansas City guy, not the one after whom the university is named - that’s another story for another day), Earl Paulk, Carlton Pearson, and, of course, Todd Bentley, promoting the sort of nonsense that started Dan on this conversation.

What I find most alarming is that the emergents, the seeker-sensitive and Third Wavers all seem to be headed toward the same conclusion - that we need to establish some sort of earthly kingdom in preparation for handing it over to Christ when (or if) He arrives. They call this “Kingdom building,” but the title of C. Peter Wagner’s latest book “Dominion!” is probably a more accurate label.

Ugh.

Red & Black Redneck said...

Excellent, excellent post.

By the way, Alton Brown is a graduate of the University of Georgia, so he MUST be a Christian.

Solameanie said...

The "apostolic" stuff really ought to bug more people than it does. I think it's assumed by many that it's only a charismatic or Pentecostal movement, but I think any fellowship can fall into it. It's one thing that if by "apostle" you mean messenger. It's quite another to equate a modern day "apostle" with the original 12 plus Paul.

Connie said...

So appreciate how you (and fellow-Pyros) always point us back to THE essential foundation of Scripture--no matter what the issue or event!

DJP said...

MadTownGuy

I wanted to thank you for your comments. I'm still sort of mulling them. Very thoughtful, and good points.

I'd add to your characterizations these three:

1. Belief that experience is self-validating. This is denied formally, but practiced nonetheless.

2. Reluctance to reject anything done in the name of the Holy Spirit, no matter how absurdly un-Biblical.

3. Indifference to the majors as long as the minors are exciting.

wheat and chaff said...

Frank:
"seriously... how do you know?"

As a reformed Christian I am bound to the authority and veracity of Scripture. All experiences must be measured by the Word of God.

As a charismatic, I do see biblically the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit. But I do not subscribe to the excesses and abuses that many who label themselves as Pentecostlas or Charismatics have endorsed.

Example: Todd B. and this current "revival."

William

Solameanie said...

Dan,

I like your third point a lot. In fact, I'm tempted to say that's one of the main viruses at the moment.

LeeC said...

Sorry for the rabbit trail, but this is one I have to put some clarification on.

Wheat and Chaff wrote:

"As a charismatic, I do see biblically the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit."

I would hazard to say that most cessationists feel they do also. One of the things that really irks me is how charismatics seem to regularly dismiss the awesome work of the Holy Spirit if it is not sensational enough.

He makes dead men live every day, what more do you want?

ReformedMommy said...

Leec - Yeah, that's great, but what I really need is for my neck pain to go away. Oh, and my SubZero fridge.

And Wikipedia says that AB is a Christian and attends a Baptist church in Atlanta. So that double seals it in a Ziploc bag....

Brian Roden said...

I'm fourth-gen A/G (great-grandfather John Scott was an A/G pastor here in Arkansas, around Dardanelle/Russellville; grandfather McDonald was a deacon and Sunday School teacher for over 40 years in Dardanelle; and my dad has served multiple terms on the board of the A/G church we call home). So I guess I'm what you would call a "classical" Pentecostal.

I first heard of this Lakeland event through an e-mail newsletter. When I read that Bentley said that the same "angel" that accompanied William Branham's meetings was with him, I Google'd Branham. First-off, he denied the Trinity, so that made everything about him suspect. But Branham also would wait for the angel to show himself to Branham in the meeting before starting to "heal" people.

Just a couple of weeks before this came out, I had rented and watched the DVD of Frank Peretti's novel "The Visitation." I saw very disturbing parallels between Florida and the story in the movie. I know Peretti's a fiction writer, not a theologian, but it was a strong picture of the deception that can occur.

I'm watching this thing closely. I'm not worried about my home church getting caught up in it. They're not given to a lot of "manifestations", more to tongues as a personal prayer tool, whereby one edifies himself in the Spirit. There is the occasional public utterance and interpretation, or word of prophecy, but it's always decent and in order, and doesn't sidetrack the preaching of the Word. We don't have people running helter-skelter around the sanctuary.

I am more concerned about my Latino brethren (my wife is from Mexico, and we attend both English and Spanish congregations), who are culturally more given to emotional display. So many of them are new believers, or originally from more "new Charismatic" churches in their home countries, that they may be more apt to get caught up in the "signs and wonders".

One key thing we Pentecostal/Charismatics have to keep in mind is that Jesus said "these signs shall follow them that believe," not "them that believe shall follow after signs."

Daniel said...

Is it too late to chime in on my love of the word "transformity"?

Stefan said...

Dan:

What a great description of the progress of a believer. I love you guys!

By His grace and for His glory.

DJP said...

Stephen: the Scriptures I cited indicate that saving faith follows and is a result of regeneration. I'm not sure what further question you're asking.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dan,

Faith is also said to precede regeneration and conversion in scripture. It is not always given in the order you say.

To say that faith follows salvation and is therefore because salvation causes faith is to argue post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Faith is a part of the regenerated life, so to say that one is regenerated in order to have faith is like saying one is regenerated in order to be regenerated.

Yes, God does the begetting or siring, but we do the "coming forth." A man is not "begotten" unless he believes, and unless he is alive.

If we agree that faith is an integral part of regeneration, then we are one.

God bless

Stephen

Mike Riccardi said...

A man is not "begotten" unless he...is alive.

Riiiiiiiight....

So I guess we were all self-existent from eternity, then.

When I was begotten by my natural parents, I'm pretty sure I wasn't alive until after I was begotten.