20 August 2008

Not more, nor less

by Frank Turk

Since last week I promised that I was going to approach Dr. Piper's sermon series on the gifts more particularly, I want to do that from a different place than having said that Dr. Piper and C.J. Mahaney need to clap on the apologetic 6-shooters and become the new sheriff in those there Charismatic parts.

I want to start with something I said in the meta a while ago which, I think, people need to keep in mind as we approach the question of how the Holy Spirit works in the church.

My opinion is that a "cautious" continualist and a "cautious" cessationist have way more in common that they have in contention. They agree that prayer is efficacious; they agree that God is the giver of all good things; they agree that the Christian has a privilege to ask God for his needs; they agree that we should rejoice when God supplies those needs.

The problem is when someone claims more than that, or less than that. I would say that those who fall outside of those affirmations put themselves in spiritual danger -- a topic about which I am sure I have more I should write down.






38 comments:

dac said...

Common sense applied to this issue? - that's not going to drive up you number of comments in the meta.

Rick Frueh said...

I agree with your assessment. But aside from suggesting much commonality, there still remains the issue of how we interpret Scripture which has implications other than just the gifts of the Spirit.

Stefan said...

"My opinion is that a 'cautious' continualist and a 'cautious' cessationist have way more in common that they have in contention."

Bingo.

Stefan said...

If someone claims that the Holy Spirit is working in "interesting" ways (I don't know how else to put it), there are 2 questions:

1. Does it conform with Scripture—and not just one verse, but the whole counsel of God?

2. Does it glorify God and exalt Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour?

If the answer is "Yes" to both questions, then we should praise the Holy Spirit for the work that He does.

Strong Tower said...

"how the Holy Spirit works in the church."

Makes you wonder, just what is control?

1 Cor 12:4, 11.

Responses are limited, you must ask the right question. This is the right question.

M.W.C. Barker said...

Another important question: What was the purpose of the more extraordinary gifts in the New Testament?

NB: "Extraordinary" as contrasted with those ordinary gifts which Christians in all times and all places have been given.

Jugulum said...

"They agree that prayer is efficacious; they agree that God is the giver of all good things; they agree that the Christian has a privilege to ask God for his needs; they agree that we should rejoice when God supplies those needs."

I would add one point of agreement to that core list: They agree that we must actively exercise discernment, applying Biblical regulation to claimed manifestations of the Spirit.

blackreformingkid said...

Having grown up in a continuationist home, I have major problems with Charismatics who place no premium on God's Word.

That said, I am willing to engage in discussion with those who hold to the hyper-continuationist slant.

lumieregrl said...

I grew up in around the Word of Faith crowd and am personally a "cautious" continualist. My problem with the aggressively Charismatic bunch is they act very presumptuous and take for granted that these things are "theirs to take". The Bible tells us to ask God for whatever we need--not go mow down a bunch of devils to get it. But that would be too easy, huh?

northWord said...

A ""cautious" continualist and a "cautious" cessationist"

I like that. Show me the way of the cautious continualist and the cautious cessationist and I may be able show you a more centered way, even a more excellent way.

In Acts 14:9 Paul takes a cautionary stance before acting: "This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed," - that verse stopped me for awhile as I contemplated its relevance to "gifts" of healing and how it is viewed today, for good or bad.
Paul makes for a mighty fine sherriff :)

My overall take on Piper's view is that he is cautious all around. I don't think he claims any more than God actually "provides" or has provided.

I'm interested in this only because of recent issues that have arisen in the church we've been attending, no need to get detailed, but I needed to study these things for myself just to be sure, and show myself approved. I am opened up to whatever the Spirit decides to do, not worrying so much about the details. Bring it on I say, or not, either way is fine by me because God is faithful and just and directs all our paths.

donsands said...

It must please our Lord when the cautious tongue-praying brothers, and the non-tongue-praying brothers, and sisters serve Him in the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace.

It can be awkward at times, when a good friend asks if she can pray in tongues for me though.

Micah said...

"It must please our Lord when the cautious tongue-praying brothers, and the non-tongue-praying brothers.."

Tongue-praying brothers? Is that like divination-engaging sisters?

donsands said...

"Tongue-praying brothers? Is that like divination-engaging sisters?"

Nope.

It's like CJ Mahaney.

Rob Hughes said...

As a cessationist one of the things I am accused of is that I am putting God in a box. God never changes so how can He not be doing today what He did back in the early church?? Well, I agree that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, but there is a reason why He does things. I also want to point out that the Bible says that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. That is definitive and quite clear. We are to busy ourselves with the preaching of the gospel and with teaching the Word to the flock so that they grow in holiness. Even when God was using Paul to do amazing supernatural things it was still his one desire to preach and teach the Word. The miraculous served to simply authenticate the message. Revelation was still being given, the Bible was still being written, and we see a pattern in Scripture whereby He authenticates the giving of new revelation with signs and wonders. The canon of Scripture is now closed. The Book has been written. It is wholly sufficient for our lives and the gospel is the power of God to save. I do not understand why we need to trust God for the sign-gifts today knowing these things. Sign-gifts today can be seen to be counterfeit in two ways.

1) They are not even the same as they were in the New Testament. i.e. compare the gift of tongues today with the gift of tongues as we see in the New Testament.
2) They operate outside of the purpose for which they were intended.

It is my belief that the counterfeit sign-gifts being espoused today detract people from preaching the gospel and from studying the Word.

Solameanie said...

Madtownguy recently gave me a link to this statement from the Assemblies of God, which I assume is directed at the Todd Bentley "revival." Rev. Wood's comments might provide some additional fodder for this discussion.

Barbara said...

You're referring to the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, right? Not the ones actively involved in ministry to the body of Christ today such as teaching, etc? I am a cautious cessationist, I think - I think that we're all equipped for ministry according to where and how we are to serve. I think that in the remote overseas missions fields there may be more charismatic gifts including tongues and miraculous healings since there would conceivably be a need for that in order to fulfill the mission (Great Commission?) given; while here in the States that would be less likely to apply. I've heard some stories, as I'm sure you have as well, regarding some rather miraculous things happening in the same areas where the Church is mercilessly persecuted. Muslims coming to Christian missionaries reporting dreams/visions of Christ and seeking salvation even in the face of certain persecution for converting, things like that. I don't know how true they are, but it is conceivable. Christ will use whatever means He sees fit to use to bring us to Himself. I think as we begin to see more persecution here and as the true believers have to go underground to worship (and I do believe that day is coming even to the USA), that we may see more. But as in everything, I believe the Spirit equips us to qualify us for every good work according to His purpose and according to what is needed to carry that out - no more, no less.

I think if we lose sight of the purpose of the gifts of the Spirit, then we run into trouble with the abuse and expectation (and counterfeiting) of them.

Rob Hughes said...

Hi Barbara. I believe very much in the gifts of the Spirit (teaching, preaching, etc, but there are gifts that are permanent, in the sense that they are for today just like they were in the early church, and then there are gifts that were given for a specific time. They were temporary and served the purpose of authenticating new revelation. I am referring to the miraculous sign-gifts like tongues and healing, etc. God can still heal today mind you, it's simply that in the early church there were those who had the gift to heal whoever, which is why they were always healed immediately (yet another difference found in faith healers today). Today we have God's Word. Both creation & conscience appeal to man's rational and show that God exists.

I agree that there are many stories, etc, that we hear today. But we are left questioning the reliability of them and also we are conscious of the fact that they are inconsistent with the pattern of how God operates in Scripture concerning the miraculous.

jim said...

hey Frank, I have never posted here before but I have been guided by the Holy Spirit to tell you of something you may already know and that is the way of the master website. I would like for you to critique it if you already know about Ray Comfort's ministry and if you do not then go there and check it out. I also will put you on to another website that is good and maybe even better than that.

http://www.wayofthemaster.com/
http://areturntochristianity.blogspot.com/

I won Elliot's contest and will be receiving 2 copies of the book, The Way of the Master.

Talk to you later, Jim Cooke

jim said...

hey Frank, I have never posted here before but I have been guided by the Holy Spirit to tell you of something you may already know and that is the way of the master website. I would like for you to critique it if you already know about Ray Comfort's ministry and if you do not then go there and check it out. I also will put you on to another website that is good and maybe even better than that.

http://www.wayofthemaster.com/
http://areturntochristianity.blogspot.com/

I won Elliot's contest and will be receiving 2 copies of the book, The Way of the Master.

Talk to you later, Jim Cooke

Barbara said...

I agree with you, Rob, for the most part, and I don't see where the more charismatic gifts are needed to authenticate the message here and in most civilized countries and places where translators are available or the language is known by someone. But in the bush of Africa or the middle of the Amazon, remote places with remote languages, I could see it so that the Gospel can be spread.

Again, I think it's according to what is needed according to His purpose (and not ours). As for the charismatic gifts, I'm not talking about showmanship because that's so very obviously man-centered ("look at me, I'm healing you, look at me, I'm falling down, Look at me, I'm talking in tongues and it isn't edifying you because you don't know what I'm saying"), I'm talking about spreading the Gospel to all nations in a God-glorifying way and simply that He will provide the means to do that whether we here in the States with our sorely limited and spoiled view of things agree with those means or not.

I mean, let's face it. We have the luxury of sitting around and debating theology while we decide what to have for lunch. Many people out there are being imprisoned, starved, raped, tortured, and put to death for the practical application of simply, faithfully, loving and serving God and who may never have heard the word "theology" nor heard of Calvin nor Luther nor any "isms" at all. I believe God will edify, educate, and encourage those people and the ones who minister to them using whatever means He sees fit.

northWord said...

Amen, Barbara.

"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hbr 13:20-21

It seems that after the point of conversion God has things well under control in all areas (well, He did before too)- and whether or not "experiential" manifestations occur should be a moot point in our thinking, because really, we should just be about the business of "preaching of the gospel and with teaching the Word to the flock so that they grow in holiness." as Rob Hughes said.

Why "seek a sign" when we are clearly exhorted to live and abide by faith. We are too easily duped by the enemy, who can and does produce (seemingly) all kinds of signs and wonders including tongues. Seems we would better err on the side of cessation, with a dash of "not one of us has a clue as to the great mysteries of God".

ya think?

candyinsierras said...

Frank said: The problem is when someone claims more than that, or less than that. I would say that those who fall outside of those affirmations put themselves in spiritual danger -- a topic about which I am sure I have more I should write down.

This is a continuation of your post on the fall of Todd Bentley. In light of your comment about spiritual danger, I saw a YouTube about Peter Wagner and other "apostles" "annointing" Todd Bentley and "prophesying" over him about how great his ministry was going to be. In the mean time, half of them knew he had an affair two years ago. Even now, as they know he is having an affair, they speak of him stepping down for a "season". How ridiculous can these men get? What I hope is that this whole debacle with Bentley will open up more eyes to the deception that is perpetrated in some of these movements and "ministries". Many people moved away or became more conservative in their charismatic views when the Toronto Blessing happened, so perhaps some good will come from the exposing of Bentley.

donsands said...

"Even now, as they know he is having an affair, they speak of him stepping down for a "season". How ridiculous can these men get?"

That's better than Paula White and her husband who divorced so she could go serve the lord in greater ways.
Seems that "sin is just a cliche".

Frank Turk said...

Jim --

Way of the Master is a friendly ministry to TeamPyro. We love Todd Friel, we love the growing pain, and we love Pastor Ray.

If you want a doctoral thesis on the ups and downs of WOTM practice and application, here's the nickle tour:

-- They are exactly right: the Law points us to our need for God. There is no Gospel without the fact of mankind and each man's sinfulness.

-- They are exactly right: the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-- My only critique of WOTM is that is is front-loaded evangelism. That is to say, the big down-side of any kind of confrontational evangelism is that it fails to see evangelism as the front door of discipleship and often fails to plug people into a local church. If a local church uses WOTM to preach to the lost and connect them to real discipleship (which is teaching, fellowship, prayer, and on as in Acts 2), Amen. If they are just trying to get someone to pray a prayer (as they say), I think they have missed the entire Christian life.

WOTM: love it. What to see it as the front end of a local church and not the world's smallest Billy Graham crusade.

Fair enough?

Frank Turk said...

Note to Friel:

Phil may be the smart one around here, but I'm the good-looking one. I have the face for radio.

DJP said...

So, with looks and brains spoken for, that leaves me with....

Strong Tower said...

A sword...

A reputation for having killed Larry...

Red hai, nice blue blog?

candyinsierras said...

Dan: Looks. Brains. Ummmm...Mouth?

As in wordly witticisms and crustacean chewifications (lately).

John said...

Candy:

I too saw that video of the usual "apostles" and "prophets" commissioning Todd Bentley ("your favor will increase, your power will increase"). There was Peter Wagner talking about his special gift of discernment. Couldn't he see

I've often wondered how much of what we see in different strains of evangelicalism can be traced back to Wagner and Fuller Seminary. Wagner is a big proponent of building the kingdom of God on earth. I see that carried out in the Vineyard-type signs and wonders movement. We know the excesses there.

However, I believe that Rob Bell also attended Fuller and it seems that this build the kingdom thing permeates a lot of what I see him teaching.

Rob Hughes said...

Hey Barbara, I'm on your side in pretty much all you've said. Some great points! Thanks for sharing that. I do, however, hold to a cessationist view, not because I want to restrict God or put Him in a box, rather I simply see in Scripture evidence that shows us how God works, etc. If you click on this link,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessationism

I can tell you that I am happy to take the position of a Classical (or "Weak") cessationist, although I admit that terms such as these are not found in Scripture and they can be somewhat taxing on the brain!! They do, however, allow us to describe our positions.

Rob Hughes said...

Hey Frank,

I appreciate very much your critique on WOTM. I've been using their stuff for years now and if you look at my blog that is made abundantly clear!! However, there are one or two things I have had concerns about and I think you summed it up quite nicely.

If a local church uses WOTM to preach to the lost and connect them to real discipleship (which is teaching, fellowship, prayer, and on as in Acts 2), Amen.

I second that. That really is how it should be done.

Barbara said...

Yeah, Rob, I looked up the term "Cessationism" when I first ran into it and I have found myself in the "weak cessationalist" category as well.

So. Now that's cleared up. :)

candyinsierras said...

John. I know that many people, like Peter Wagner, believe Dominion theology, where all things will come under the authority of the Church, at which time Christ will return. He believes that the "apostles" will be the authorities over cities and governments. Of course, now there are a million self-proclaimed "apostles" running around thinking they are all that and more. I wish people would open up their eyes to the ineffectiveness of Peter Wagner's ministry and influence, and I am hoping that Todd Bentley's failure is another nail in the coffin of that whole movement.

John said...

I hope so too, Candy, I hope so, too.

However, I think that a strain of dominionism has seeped into a lot of so-called evangelicalism and this "kingdom now" thinking is driving a lot of things like P.E.A.C.E, emergents, etc., etc.

MadTownGuy said...

I have a couple of observations. Well, really three.

I wish Frank had not had to close down comments on the previous blog on Todd Bentley as I had a dandy comment. I did manage to post it on the Seventh Sola blog (thanks Solameanie) but I think it would have clarified some of the issues on Frank's topic.

Some charismatic observers are declaring that the International Coalition of Apostles is falling apart. I think the reports of its death are greatly exaggerated, though some serious strains have become evident. Even if the wheels fall off, the ICA juggernaut will still manage to crush a whole lot of good folks before it stops - if it does.

The Herescope blog has documented numerous connections between Wagner and guys like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and Brian McLaren. Fuller Seminary seems to be the common connection (besides Wagner) and the song they all seem to be singing is the one about building the Kingdom here on earth. When I see what they are about, I wonder which king they mean.

Strong Tower said...

mtg, shhhh, don't tell anyone but the Kingdom Growth language is a big thing in the SBC....shhhh, keep it quiet.

icanseehimthere said...

This issue "cessation / continuation" is a tremendous struggle for me. I attend and I am a member of an AOG church in southern Arkansas. I grew up in this church and truly love and admire the people. Most of my family attend this church. I am a husband and father of two (15 and 11). God has been so gracious to me through the love and care of this local church. At the same time I have become convinced of the reformed view of scripture, but am still learning and I see TREMENDOUS issues with arminianism and current practices across the charismatic movement.

Until now, I've been heavily involved in teaching Sunday School and Wednesday nite pre-teen classes, but have voluntarily withdrawn myself because I don't hold to the same views as my local church.

I feel like I'm letting my church, my family and my God down. I haven't been able to bring myself to leave this church because I see the love of God in them. They are truly my brothers and sisters in Christ and if I leave...what is that saying? How could Satan use my leaving to harm those in the church? My wife is willing to go where I go, but she does not hold to the same views as I do concerning reformed theology and the current giftings of the Holy Spirit. I guess I am asking for advice in the form of a post on this blog.

There is no easy answer. There is no "yes" or "no" decision for me. Either way there will be potential harm for my family, my church and myself...

I do love and have benefited from the teachings of John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, and this blog. Please pray for me, my family and my church. If you have any advice, I am listening...

Marno said...

"It can be awkward at times, when a good friend asks if she can pray in tongues for me though."

Hm. How does your friend know she's praying in tongues for you, since the prayer's mind does not know what the Spirit is supposedly saying through their mouth?

In any case, I think I would say, "Thank you, but I would prefer you pray for me with your heart and mind." They might get offended (I hope not), but it might also open a door of opportunity to talk about gifts in the church today...