06 May 2010

Is this the central issue in Christian thought, life and ministry? — 2

by Dan Phillips

2 Timothy 3:14-16
In this post, I will use Paul's words to Timothy as my springboard:
But you — you remain in the things you learned and became convinced of, because you know from whom you learned, and because from infancy you knew the sacred letters, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and beneficial for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, for training in righteousness, in order that the man of God might be equipped, for every good work fully-equipped. (2 Timothy 3:14-16)
It is as if Paul deliberately words himself in a way calculated to drive restless and discontented folks nuts. They'll want to get as far away from these words as fast as they can. But let's linger.

The backdrop of this is Paul's word to Timothy in light of the difficult days that he will face (3:1-9). It seems certain to the apostle that Timothy will not have Paul personally present, to lead and guide him (4:6-9). He'll be on his own, and the church will be under the care of such as he.

So what would Timothy have to guide him?
  1. Timothy would have the teaching Paul gave him, and the life which underscored that teaching (3:10-13).
  2. Timothy would have the grounding in Scripture that his believing grandmother and mother had given him from infancy (3:14-17)
And that, Paul insists, would be sufficient.

Now, break it down with me.

Timothy had learned the Old Testament since he was an infant. Paul speaks of the hiera grammata, which are literally as I render them: sacred letters. This may well allude to the fact that Timothy's Jewish mother taught him to read, not from "The Further Adventures of Dick and Jane," but from the Old Testament. Lenski envisions it:
Little Timothy learned his ABC’s from the Bible, learned to read from the Bible, and thus from earliest childhood spelled out “sacred letters.” As he spelled out this and that word, mother and grandmother told the story. Soon he could read a little, ask questions, hear more. A lovely picture indeed! I like it better than our method of today which supplies secular matter for the primers and holds back the sacred letters until later years (R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians, to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon, 839 [Columbus, O.: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937]).
The Old Testament continues to have the power (ta dunamena) to produce the wisdom of saving faith in Jesus Christ. From it, Timothy would learn the vital categories of the Creator/creature distinction, the attributes and works of God, man's creation and fall, and blood redemption. He would learn of the coming Messiah, so that when Jesus came he could see in Jesus the fulfillment of all the longings, aspirations, and predictions of the Torah. OT Scripture would prepare him for the knowledge and service of Christ.

The Paul shifts gears and speaks, not of the sacred writings of Timothy's childhood, but of all Scripture. Here the apostle uses the term he'd employed earlier in 1 Timothy 5:18 to denote both Deuteronomy 25:4 and Luke 10:7. Later, Peter will apply the same word to Paul's writing as on a par with the Old Testament (2 Peter 3:16-17). What Paul is about to say applies to Scripture as Scripture, thus proleptically taking in the whole of the NT.

He says that all Scripture is God-breathed, it is theopneustos. John Frame rightly says that
... Scripture is “breathed out by God,” which is the correct translation of a word sometimes translated “inspired.” The word means not that God breathed something into the Bible but that God breathed it out, or, in other words, that he spoke it. The written Word is God’s personal speech. It is nothing less than the divine voice. (John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology, 63 [Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006])
Because Scripture is God-breathed, it is the very word of God. More than that, it is the words of God. You can quote Scripture appropriately and say that you are quoting God. In fact, none has yet even come close to demonstrating Biblical authority for attaching "God said" or "The Lord said" or "The Lord told me" to anything other than Scripture, unless he is claiming direct and inerrant prophetic revelation.

Because Scripture is God-breathed, it is also profitable. It is inherently profitable by its very nature, of course. But the apostle details four ways in which Scripture is profitable:
  1. Teaching (didaskalian). This is the impartation of information meant to inform and control both what we think, and how we think. Scripture lays both the premise and the template for thought. It lays out the lines for us to color in.
  2. Reproof (elegmon). Flowing naturally from the first is specific information showing where we are in the wrong in how we think and behave. It shows where we have crossed the line, exposes our sin as sin — heinous, indefensible, and always with God as the primary injured party.
  3. Restoration (epanorthōsin). This noun means to make something straight and right again. God breaks us with the reproof of His Word; then with His Word, He restores us, sets us straight, heals us and puts our feet on His path. It means... reformation! (Da da daaaaa!)
  4. Training in righteousness (paideian tēn en dikaiosunē[i]). The Word provides divine pedagogy, giving sole authoritative and comprehensive instruction in God-centered living. It is, itself, an entire course of study in that life which serves, pleases, honors and glorifies God.

Given the all-embracing nature of these four benefits combined, a thoughtful reader is forced to ask: what does that that leave out?

The net effect (and design) of all this is as the apostle himself says: "that the man of God might be equipped, for every good work fully-equipped." There is a play on words that, rather to my bafflement, most English versions (including CSB, ESV, NAS, NIV, TNIV, NKJ) do not even try to bring out. Equipped renders the adjective artios, and fully-equipped translates the participle exērtismenos, which is etymologically related to artios.

Paul is saying that the Word of God, including the Old Testament retrospectively and the New Testament prospectively, represents the very words of God, and thus tells us everything we need to understand in order to know and serve God.

Red light
Impatient and discontented Scripture-denigrators, infected with Eve's bug of never finding God's provision quite adequate, will be eager to change the subject, or to look for (or invent) a loophole. I predict that this meta, like the last, will be subjected to attempts to shoot it off in a dozen different directions.

But we mustn't hurry on too hastily. Stop. Wait. Slow down. Think! Learn something!

The apostle is about to die, and he knows it. This possibility looms over all the Pastorals, most especially in 2 Timothy. Paul has loved the church, served the church, suffered for the church, and bled for the church. "No, for the Gospel," one will say. Right; but specifically the Gospel which united Jews and Gentiles in Christ — that is what got him arrested (cf. Acts 22:21-22; Ephesians 3:1; 2 Timothy 2:10).

So, thus loving the church, and thus seeing clearly the gut-wrenchingly dangerous times ahead — to what does Paul turn his apprentices' attention? What will guide them, steady them, equip them for the future? To what should the church cling, to keep it on God's path?

Does Paul speak of listening for the Spirit's voice within? Does Paul urge Timothy or Titus to seek, expect, or even be open to a word from God for themselves? Does he assure them that the Spirit will communicate to them directly what they must say and do? Does he set them to expect experiences, feelings, urgings, movings, burdens, whisperings, still small voices, big loud voices, or any such thing?

No. Not once. Not remotely. Quite the opposite.

Paul gives them his authoritative apostolic instruction, and points them to Scripture. They must stay with that, stick to that, think in terms of that, believe that, guard that, proclaim that (cf. also (2 Timothy 1:13; 2:2. 7, 15; 4:1-2). It will fully equip them.

That, I shall try to argue still more fully in the next posts, is the Biblical position.

Any other view, even if held by Christians, is a view that is defective, deficient, dangerous, and damaging.

The real question to us is: does that matter? To vast hordes of professed evangelicals, whatever their formal answer, the de facto answer very clearly is "No."

Which is the point and focus of this series.


Dan Phillips's signature


Nash Equilibrium said...

Thanks Dan. All good and true and a message that needs to be repeated over and over again. If this message you are expositing were broadly embraced and understood, so-called "preachers" would not end up saying (e.g.) how God told him that a Caribbean island-nation made a deal with the Devil once upon a time resulting in destructive earthquakes, and other absurdities that result in God being mocked. Keep it up.

Christopher said...

At one site people were making fun of this thing called the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey, but I interjected and said that THIS is what happens when we decide we do not need Biblical warrant for anything we do in churches.

The HGHP did not just materialize out of thin air, we gave birth to it over a period of time by saying, "Well, we can do this in the church...we can do that in the church", without Biblical precedent to do so. It all comes back to a view of Scripture that you are talking about here. My question, and feel free to tell me this is off topic, how far "away" do we go from the Book? Some way say that I am wrong for not being a Psalms only person, and others would say that church buildings are not found in Scripture. Suggestions?

donsands said...

That was a full meal. Thanks.

It's funny, but the Word is so abundant to the Western Church, and many shun it. In nations where the Bible is scarce, the Church treasures the Word, and it is precious to them.

And it's a wonderful blessing to look back over history, and see how God slowly but surely has made His Holy Writ available in such an abundance, and all the commentaries, and all the sermons, and now blogs, and on and on.

God surely does like to pour out His wonderful blessings. I am so thankful to Him for His great kindness and generosity to us.

Tom said...

So Dan,

How does this apply to counseling situations? Should Christians seek psychotheraphy to deal with a traumatic past or damaged souls, or is Scripture alone enough?

What does Scripture say to the believer aboout bi-polar schizophrenia? Does it discuss the entwined nature of physiology and soul in issues like depression?


Steven said...

Good stuff Dan. I think that there is a tangential argument to your point. If Paul had anticipated Timothy to receive extra-Biblical revelation, would not the early church have ascribed the same authority to Timothy's writings and would not God have preserved those writings as he did the writings of the Apostles?

bp said...

In fact, none has yet even come close to demonstrating Biblical authority for attaching "God said" or "The Lord said" or "The Lord told me" to anything other than Scripture, unless he is claiming direct and inerrant prophetic revelation.

Dan, can you answer me plainly then...If I state that in this trial of mine 10 yrs ago, I "know" that the Lord spoke to me, personally, are you saying that I am claiming direct and inerrant prophetic revelation? What if I say that "I'm almost possitive" that He spoke to me? Does that get me off the hook?

Please be patient with me, I'm having a hard time connecting the dots between hearing the voice of God in an extreme trial and claiming to be a prophet.

Mark Patton said...

Fantastic exposition.

I am not DJP (as my following two cents of drivel will eloquently prove), but may I take a stab? I hope this doesn't seem as if I am "inserting myself" into your personal question to DJP.

The Bible is given specifically and only to guide us to salvation and then to help us live our Christian life godly. I don't need an "extra" word from God to know the way of salvation or to live life godly because the Bible is sufficient on these matters. Now, the question is do I need an "extra" word from God to fix my plumbing, or solve algebra equations, or pick the color of my car or change jobs. No, I simply make wisdom decisions, so I shouldn't use "bibly" language like "God told me or showed me" when the Bible never says he would do this.
How does this apply to counseling situations? Get all the facts. If it is a Christian who has a problem the Bible deals with specifically, apply His Word. If not, proceed wisely. In your illustration, it sounds like they would need to visit a doctor. Do you need an "extra" word from God to go to a doctor?

Unknown said...

Though some may read this as an oversimplification; the text does say that the "writings" are God-breathed and that they equip one entirely for every good work. We either believe and practice "biblical" counseling or not. And we offer the counselee the expectant hope of transformation by the renewing of the mind-aided by God's spirit or we offer them no real hope of lasting change at all. Yes, even those with a severe clinical diagnosis. If the shepherds/pastors are questioning the efficacy of truth, where does that leave the sheep?
Is part of the problem that we shepherds are too busy to engage in the painstaking WORK of prayer and months/years of disciple making that some of the weakest sheep require?? Just a thought.

DJP said...

Tom, you're leaping from the topic of the first two posts to a projected future post.

In this one, I provide data, and ask you to think. These may be helpful:

Do you see what you think you need in Scripture?

If it is not there, what could that suggest?

What are the options?

Lynda O said...

Great post, Dan.

The biblical role of the Holy Spirit is that He (the H.S.) will guide us into all truth (John 16:13). All truth is found in the Bible, everything God has revealed to us, so if people would only read and study the Bible, they would really know the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives -- instead of the emotional, feeling stuff not coming from God's word. But people by nature seem to want that "experience" that appeals to pagan worship, wandering everywhere like sheep instead of coming to the one thing that truly is 100% sufficient.

Jim Pemberton said...

Good post, Dan. And the same Spirit who connected the spoken words of God through the human writers to produce the written scriptures would not refute this by any gift he gives to teachers and pastors. In fact, this passage is a protection for sound teaching against false teaching - even false prophets. Just look at verse 13.

But it doesn't mean that we can't recognize particular acts of God. Otherwise should we not follow Paul's pattern of attributing deliverance from persecution to God in verse 11 even as we recognize that a desire for Christ presupposes persecution from verse 12? Can only Paul have recognized that God delivered him? I say that we can know from biblical principles that God's sovereignty implicates him in the events surrounding us that might look to testify of his glory in whatever situation he gives us. Call that talk "bibley" but it's like Prego - it's in there.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Any other view, even if held by Christians, is a view that is defective, deficient, dangerous, and damaging."

Here are some other "D" words:

Deranged Democrat.

mikeb said...

Dan, let me get this straight...

Are you saying that God spoke in times past through the prophets, and in these last days through his Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things; that these things were recorded by the apostles into God-breathed scripture?

Do you seriously believe such a thing and agree with this view, held by the orthodox Christian faith for the first 1900 years of Christianity?

Hasn't Darwin proven to us that Adam and Eve didn't really exit, so much so that this is unquestioningly taught in the public schools of "Christian nations"? After all, how can Scripture be sufficient if 6 days doesn't really mean 6 days?

Are you also saying we cannot speak in tongues today like the apostles or part the Red Sea as Moses did?

Deb said...

Amen Dan! Great series.

Janice said...

Dan, this one has me close to tears! What a beautiful article!

I love God’s Word. It is a Word like no other word. It’s alive, it penetrates, it exposes, it stings, it heals, it uplifts, it comforts, it reveals. It is what the Holy Spirit within me constantly refers to. I have read it, tried it, and proved it to be true so many times, over and over. Every word of it, even the greetings in Paul’s letters, is so full of nourishing food! And even when you think you’ve figured out a passage, then go back and read it again months later, God gives you an even deeper knowledge letting you know that there is no bottom or top to Him. He is everlastingly, thrillingly satisfying!

Why would I ever, EVER, put this Word aside to listen to little voices, seek little signs, and respond to little nudges that are probably nothing more than acid indigestion? And even if I was hearing voices, how could I ever be so arrogant as to believe that I could rightly interpret those voices? As if I know God’s Word better than He does? How would I even know the voice is coming from God? How do I know it’s not some demon speaking to me? Don’t I need His written Word to confirm it? Surely I wouldn’t rely the feelings in my sinful, desperately wicked heart?!

Since the garden, Satan has never ceased to try to downgrade, if not totally eliminate, God’s Word. Seems he has succeeded with some evangelicals. Satan says: “Why read the stale Bible when you can possibly get a ‘fresh’ word from a talking toad somewhere?” Ridiculous! No wonder Christianity is the laughingstock of religion these days. This extra-Biblical nonsense makes God look like a capricious, erratic, nutcase of a deity.

Dan, you are a true brother! Thank you so much for this!

John said...

Some good questions, brother. First, if anyone is looking for a set of comprehensive rules to do ministry by, they will be sorely disappointed. The law of Christ is to Love God unconditionally, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Nothing in there about church buildings. Also, as Paul points out, simply following rules doesn't get you anywhere in the Christian life - it is a new creation. This is about heart change, not building, music, or outfit change.

That being said, we are commanded to sing "psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs". Singing psalms are great, but if that is all one is doing, then this liturgical directive is being ignored. And there are certainly church buildings in the Bible, they were called synogoges, and Jesus and Paul both made great use of them.

Hope this helps!

gapid said...

DJP wrote: "Does [Paul] assure [Christians] that the Spirit will communicate to them directly? ... No."

John 16:13: "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

Psalm 143:8: "Show me the way I should go."

John 10:27: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

Revelations 2: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Habakkuk 2:1: "I will look to see what he will say to me."

Isaiah 55:2-3: "Listen carefully to Me ... Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live."

Luke 9:35: "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Anonymous said...


John 16:13: "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

Spoken to the disciples about their ministry which includes writing Scripture. This was not said to the general population.

Psalm 143:8: "Show me the way I should go."

Nothing here about speaking. The Bible shows us well enough. See Psalm 119.

John 10:27: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

Context, context, context. Jesus was upbraiding the Pharisees about why they don't believe. The discussion was about who would be saved, not who would hear a still small voice.

Revelations 2: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

And then John proceeded to write down what the Spirit was saying to the churches.

Habakkuk 2:1: "I will look to see what he will say to me."

Habakkuk, OT prophet. You and I, NT average Joe. Also, very next verse essentially says "Then God spoke and I wrote". So it's exactly the same situation as the previous quote from Revelation.

Isaiah 55:2-3: "Listen carefully to Me ... Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live."

Ditto to last two. Also poetry...

Luke 9:35: "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Spoken to actual people who could actually shake Jesus hand and say "Hi, I'm Isaac. And you are...?"
You can't do that, I can't do that.
The apostles did...and wrote it down.

Chris H said...

I hate when Daryl beats me to the punch...

Lynda O said...


Amen and well said. It is so true, why do people want to waste time with fluff when the word of God has so much depth and so many wonderful treasures.

Anonymous said...

Chris H,

Low hanging fruit...low hanging fruit.

Anonymous said...

II Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

God’s Holy Word is the instruction manual for life. In it we find doctrine (what IS right), reproof (what is wrong), correction (how to DO right), and instruction (how to STAY right.) If we don’t look in God’s Word, and learn how to S.W.I.M. (See What It Means), then we run the risk that we might S.I.N.K. (Step In Not Knowing). Spend time reading your Bible each and every day. God’s promise is that it is “profitable.”

Halcyon said...


Even where the Scriptures don't deal in specifics, it still gives us a general framework to work from.

So, the Bible really doesn't specifically address anything about "the entwined nature of physiology and soul in issues like depression," but it does have a lot to say about grief, sorrow, and trusting God in the midst of both (the Psalms are a good example).

You can apply this specific/general rule to any scenario. For example: the Bible does not specifically address cloning or embryonic stem-cell research, but it does have a lot to say about sex, birth, and the nature and value of human life.

Just some food for thought. DJP will hit a home-run in his next post, I'm sure.

bp said...

Puzzled as to why you didn't answer my question, Dan. Sorry if I'm missing something, I'm truly just trying to understand what you're saying clearly.

kateg said...

I notice gapid said "DJP wrote..." That stuck out to me as odd, something gapid wrote purposefully, because most people would, "DJP said ..." The latter is everyday speech.

People make a mistake, giving too much away, by agreeing that "hear," "say," "speak" only apply only to audible sounds. I "hear" what God "says" when He "speaks," in scripture, when the Spirit enables me to "listen."

People must have a pretty high view of their "natural" understanding of scripture if they do not acknowledge these verses as pertaining to the Spirit's primary work.

Stefan Ewing said...
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Stefan Ewing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan Ewing said...

Hey, Dan! Your linking of Paul's quotation from Luke and Peter's citation of Paul to the rest of the Scriptures is exactly what I wrote in a comment yesterday! (And in the context of 2 Timothy 3:16-17.)

To make absolutely clear anything that I wrote elsewhere in the last couple of days, I fully affirm the sole sufficiency of Scripture.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but there is not likely to be any cessationist who would deny that it is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit to move howsoever He will in the hearts of men to illuminate and bring to mind His revealed Word, and bring us back to His revealed word.

...And all of the Spirit's revealed Word is all about the Father's redemption of sinners through the broken body and shed blood of His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

gapid said...

John 10:27 - "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."

Daryl said: "Context, context, context."

The context is that Jesus described his flock to non-believers, giving very specific attributes about his believers. Included in this set of features is the fact that his believers hear his voice. Do you suppose Jesus meant only the believers of his time who physically heard his physical voice?

The Holy Spirit is very much well and alive and has been known to have interacted directly with believers in scripture.

1 Corinthians 2:13 - "This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. "

Acts 8:29 - The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."

Acts 16:6 - "Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia."

John 15:26 - "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me."

What is the Holy Spirit doing today? How do we know the Holy Spirit is or is not speaking to anyone? If someone were to say, "God spoke to me in a dream" or "I was moved by the Holy Spirit", are they delusional, lying, or truly spiritually attuned? Where is the scripture that says God is through speaking with believers?

1 Corinthians 2:11 - "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

I don't really have an opinion on the matter other than to remain skeptical when someone claims that God refuses to speak or that God has spoken.

Stefan Ewing said...


You and I don't know for certain whether the words we "heard" (audibly or inaudibly) or discerned originated in the Holy Spirit or not.

Did they strengthen us and lead us to (or back to?) Christ? Evidently, yes; but in my case, since the words were not accompanied by such manifestations as mortal dread within myself, blinding light, fire, or the appearance of biblically fearsome (not pop-culture dainty!) angels, I have no justification to claim that it was God or even assert a reasonable certainty that it was God.

And we certainly can't place our faith in such things, but only in the God-breathed words of Scripture, as they are illuminated by the Holy Spirit in our Spirit-regenerated hearts.

Does God work in amazing ways? Yes. Does He ordain and orchestrate all things according to His providence and His sovereign will? Yes. Can we see the hand of God at work in our lives? Well, if we can't, we need to understand the doctrine of God's providence better.

But that's all a far cry from saying that we received direct verbal communication from God apart from the thousands of words that He has given us already, in Scripture.

Stefan Ewing said...


Off-topic, but I love the picture of that precocious little rascal holding the Torah scroll!

Reminds me, ironically, of one of my Korean-and-not-Jewish-at-all nephews.

mike said...

if you truly have no horse in this race, why are you unwilling to stop and actually consider what Dan has posted?
don't type for a few minutes, just really think about it, check what he has written against the whole of scripture, not a list of pieces.
or continue as is...

bp said...

Thanks Stefan. But I'm still a bit confused. If I were to summarize your comment, I'd say that you are implying that it "is possible" that God spoke to me, but that I have no right to say that He did. But isn't Dan saying that God emphatically does not speak to people outside of His Word? And that if I say that He has, I am claiming to be a modern-day prophet?

Bryan Wayne said...

A friend and I are going over this and trying to figure something out. Hopefully you can help. I'm sorry if you've answered this in the comments. If so, we are missing it.

We agree that the Bible is 100% completely sufficient to instruct Christians in what we NEED to know.

You said:

"Does he set them to expect experiences, feelings, urgings, movings, burdens, whisperings, still small voices, big loud voices, or any such thing?

No. Not once. Not remotely. Quite the opposite."

We are trying to figure out the "urgings, movings, & burdens". If the interpretation of this topic is exactly as you say it is, how would a pastor feel "called" into ministry?

thanks for your help.

mike said...

what exactly is called to the minstry"?

i was recently called to a short term mission to mexico, it came by email. some people i know and like were doing a thing and needed an additional hand.

from earlier experience with these people i know that they love God, and try to glorify His name and serve others in what they do.

all this fits wonderfully within what i know about the things we know from scripture, so i aggreed.

not nearly as cool a story as "God told me to go to Mexico and help do a thing for some people", but...

I did a thing, it was in obedience to the word of God, ... I just had a flashback to the origional Blues Brothers movie... I was on a mission from God...

Stefan Ewing said...


What I mean is that I don't categorically put it outside the realm of possibility (not that my opinion counts for anything at all)—since God can do howsoever He pleases at any time—but it seems that our default position should be to say that it's not God, unless it is absolutely, incontrovertibly Him, which would probably rule out 99.9999% of everything that modern-day believers attribute to Him.

Here's an analogy: the presumption of innocence until being proven guilty. To protect innocent citizens from false accusation or abuse by the state, our legal system is built on the principle that a suspect is innocent of the crimes he is charged with, until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law—usually before a jury of fellow citizens with no prior opinions on the matter one way or the other, based upon ceturies-old standards established for weighing the evidence, testimony of the witnesses, and with testimony being sworn as true upon the Bible, which brings the Third and Ninth Commandments to bear upon the case, if the witness has any kind of belief in truth of Scripture.

If that's the standard we apply to determining the truth a court of law, how much more should we apply an even more rigorous standard to determining the truth when someone says God spoke to them?


And I still affirm that God can and does sovereignly govern all our affairs, and can intervene in history and human lives in any way He chooses, and that the Holy Spirit does work in the hearts of believers in all kinds of mysterious ways, and can even reach people through dreams and visions, if He so wills.

But ALL of it should lead us back to the Words that He has definitely (not possibly) given us in Scripture, and all of it should lead us back to the Cross of Christ.

Stefan Ewing said...


When it comes to God's Word, all those rules for weighing testimony, a preponderance of witnesses, considering case law (i.e., how the testimony squares with the rest of God's revealed word), etc., etc., etc. are there in Scripture—as well as (notably) the repeated emphasis on eyewitness testimony regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ, found throughout the Gospels, Acts, and 1 Corinthians 15.

Anonymous said...

I would say that a call to the ministry would be a call to the ministry.

That is, you have an interest and an ability and your church recognizes that and calls on you to preach.

I think we are called by the church. And if no church calls, then all you have is an ability and an interest.

Bryan Wayne said...

what I mean by being "called" into the ministry.

How does a man know he should become a pastor?
How does a person know he should be a missionary?
How does a person know he should be some sort of teacher in the church?

Does that clarify what I mean?

Something you might need to know about me is, I was raised in charismatic churches. I've heard the "God told me" stuff all my life from men in the pulpits. Most of the damage done by that has been weeded out of my life but there still remains a few things that come up every now and again where it's just not clear for me. This in particular.

If the Holy Spirit, or God, is not prompting me to work with this Evangelism Ministry, or not prompting me to give to this ministry, or prompting me to be a Sunday School teacher ... How am I supposed to know that I should or should not be doing that?

(To be clear, I may have been raised in the charismatic circles but I am far from considering that my roots.)

I'm not trying to start an argument or be disagreeable, I'm just trying to understand what Dan is saying.

Stefan Ewing said...


I'd say that one should discern what his (or her!) spiritual gifts are (see especially Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4): whether it's a gift of teaching, giving, service, administration, and so on (and *ahem,* certain other gifts on which there is less consensus).

That then gets applied to whether there is a need for someone with such and such a gift in one's church (not that all the gifts are not needed, but if there's a hundred teachers and no one discerns that they have the gift of service or helps, then there's a problem).

And if, for example, it's a gift of teaching, then there's the question of how pursuing this gift squares with raising a family to honour and obey God, whether it is better to stay or leave one's church, whether there are Christ-exalting seminaries or pastoral colleges that are affordable and have open spots, and so on.

Or if the gift is teaching (for example) and those things don't work out, then it could be that the Holy Spirit has gifted the person to teach in another setting, like discipleship classes or home Bible studies.

And in all of this, if the person is doing all this in prayer and diligence and applying to the precepts of Scripture, then God will work out according to His providence and His will, exactly what it is that He has ordained for that person to do, without that person necessarily needing to know ahead of time what God's intention is.

Anonymous said...


I wonder how this verse might relate.

"...and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Like marriage, I'd start with "Is this something I want to do?"

And proceed to "Do I have the ability?"

Then "Is there a need?"

And finally, and most importantly "Does my church think I should?"

Those are pretty much all measurable and identifiable, and fall within the Scripture injunctions for seeking wise counsel, examining oneself and submitting to the eldership of the church.

Kurt said...

Called into ministry?

The cessationist point of view IMHO:

It is ok to assign a deep conviction that you should go into ministry to God's providence.

It is not ok (and this line is ignored by many) to deem that feeling authoritative binding communication from God, nor is it assurance you will be successful. The scriptural qualifications for elders are a far better predictor of your likelihood of success than anything subjective.

The few who talk in large public ministries about their "calling" might seem to validate the second (false) point of view.

But consider the many who failed after obeying such a "calling" go unheard and unlamented, train-wrecks as Dan once called them.

bp said...

Stefan, I get it. I'm wondering though, if in the process of bending over backwards to steer clear of any suggestion that you are self-proclaiming to be prophet,(for good reason considering the charismatic movement today) that you may possibly be "not giving honor where honor is due".

You said in the last thread that at one point in your life "certain words came to you" but that they may or may not have been from God. Yet, they sustained you for 2 yrs and led to your salvation.

Does it honor, the Lord to suggest that this might have come from your own subconscious? Is it honoring to the Lord, (if I truly believe that He showed up in such a personal way and spoke to my spirit and ministered to me in that very difficult trial) if I say to my children that, "well, it could have been God that said and did this, but I can't be sure, it may have been my subconscious?"

Yet, and I may be wrong, it seems to me that Dan is not saying that we need to be careful to not state emphatically that God said this or that, but that God emphatically does not say this or that to His people today.

bp said...

...except through His Word.

Stefan Ewing said...


I have a deep conviction that there have been certain things in my life that have been totally "of God."

(On the other hand, I can also recall certain things in my life that at the time I thought were "of God," and turned out to be nothing of the kind.)

I have a deep conviction that God will act wherever and whenever He chooses, however He chooses, with whomever He chooses.

I have a deep conviction that the Holy Spirit works intimately in the heart of believers to lead them to Christ, give them new life, illuminate Scripture, convict them of sin, and equip them for whatever service He so desires.

So as I look back on my life, I can see the pattern of God at work in my life—and you can in your life, too, and you can praise Him for what He has done to lead you to the point you are at now in your walk with Christ, and you can glorify Him in your testimony.

But hearing or discerning words (whether prompted by the Holy Spirit or not) and attributing them directly to God are two different things.

And I'm NOT saying that you should question the assurance of your salvation, based on the question of whether or not this or that event was authentic. Whatever happened that led you to Christ, God used it (whether it was from Him or not) to bring you to salvation.

And now, your assurance lies in the righteousness, atoneming sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).

I hope this makes sense.

Chris said...

Most excellent post today, Dan!
What you've written here about the absolute sufficiency of scripture in all matters of life, death, and everything in-between is not only unpopular sentiment among contemporary evangelicals, but it is a downright declaration of war against the unabashed pragmatism and rationalism that takes center stage in far too many so-called "Christian" churches.

It is really a climate of "everything but (scripture)" or "anything but (scripture)" among evangelicals today. After all, regarding deep-seated questions about origins and the vast universe, they consult evolutionary scientists in order to find "common ground" and "logical" answers; for societal ills great and small, they trust politicians at every level; for internal problems with their very souls and with those whom they love, they look to the gurus of psychological heresy instead of the author of their souls; in a financial crisis, they deem Wall Street as being far more "relevant" than their old (dusty) bibles; for church growth, they rely upon their marketing folks and "Forty Days of Purpose" junk instead of timeless scripture that reminds them God alone brings an increase; for a host of other issues in life, pagan academics line-up gladly to replace scripture with their hollow words.


Stefan Ewing said...


Here are some sermon excerpts from Spurgeon, "the Prince of Preachers," that touch on this (from Phil Johnson's old blog):

Spurgeon on private prophecies and new revelation

He was a cessationist, but that means that he didn't rule out that God can work in some pretty mysterious ways in our lives.

Note how he relates some of the things he himself had seen firsthand (especially the first story): we can say, "Oh, clearly that was the Holy Spirit at work," but he himself was careful to relate "just the facts, ma'am" (including the fruit: a sinner's salvation) without getting into the question of divine agency.

Note also his many cautions against following "impressions" (as he called them), while still acknowledging that "impressions" can happen.

gapid said...
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donsands said...

"How does a man know he should become a pastor?
How does a person know he should be a missionary?
How does a person know he should be some sort of teacher in the church?"

Once you are a child of God, you will know.

I was called to drive a beer truck for couple years more when I got saved. I then was called to be a roofer for 6 months, and then called to be an aluminum gutter & spout installer. I did that for 11 years, and the owner of the company gave me a truck and gutter machine so I could go my next calling to have my own gutter company. I went from one truck and one gutter machine up to f trucks and four machines. The Lord blessed us all very much with work. He gracious gave.

2 years ago my company hit deep hard times. The reckless lending on houses devastated our business.

We have managed to stay in business, but only by the skin of our teeth.

"The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

That has been my calling up to now. I also have been an elder in an EFCA church, which I left. Or actually it split up with great anger, and even hatred involved. man, that was ugly.
But I was called to that as well.

With our heavenly Father's sovereign hand upon us, His adopted children, and if we understand just what that means, then we can rest in the truth of His Word, and trust he is directing all our steps-- Proverbs 3:5-6.

That's my encouragement for us.

ps We do have to be in His Word, abide in it that is; all of it. And that's not a grievous thing, but a precious honor, and awesome joy!

Stefan Ewing said...


If it's any reassurance, I don't have all my ministry ducks in a row, either.

One of my natural (and/or spiritual) gifts is teaching, and the one disicpleship class I've led was fruitful—but circumstances in my life have been such that learning seems to be a more important task for me right now than teaching.

I've found the most fulfilment and joy so far in communion service and prayer ministry.

SandMan said...

To that, I ask: Does Paul speak of not listening for the Spirit's voice within? Does Paul urge Timothy or Titus to avoid, deny, or reject a word from God for themselves? Does he assure them that the Spirit will never communicate to them directly what they must say and do? Does he set them to never expect experiences, feelings, urgings, movings, burdens, whisperings, still small voices, big loud voices, or any such thing?

He also doesn't tell Timothy NOT to expect God to speak to him from a non-burning bush, but (so far) no one is claiming that one today... uh-oh, no please tell me that I didn't just lob that idea up for grabs.

Anyway, Paul has this one shot to tell Timothy what he needs to know, and where he needs to turn in Paul's absence and he picks: The Scriptures. If it were something else wouldn't he have said that? Does he have to say everything it isn't?

SandMan said...

Also, I was greatly encouraged by the post, Dan. Thank you.

Seth said...

Let me throw in something kind of new see if it relates to this topic. Does the fact that as that as believers we become "new creation in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17) or in other words we have been regenerated. This would lead to every part of us being regenerated- including our conscious, which we know exists because the Bible tells us that some have had their seared (1 Timothy 4:1-3), ironically by listening to "deceiving spirits and false teachers". We also have a spirit, Romans 8:16 "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Some kind of internal portion which will live on after death and which is also regenerated. So we are then suppose to read and study the Scripture to learn more about God- His ways, His law, His Son. To grow in wisdom and knowledge.

Then comes a time of decision or crisis and we have armed ourselves, as Paul has instructed in Ephesians 6, with the armor of God. Once again ironically every piece has to do with the Scripture. We go to make the decision and a little voice says do this or that. It's at this point all the studying and reading is suppose to pay off. We have been more like Christ and therefor make a decision which does ultimately come from God, but through His Word to our conscious and spirit.

Don't think non-believers don't hear a little voice telling them to do something. Painters, writers, scientist get that all the time- they usually attribute it to intuition or inspiration from who knows where, but its their unregenerated conscious. I would add that serial killers and and terrorist also hear these voices but there isn't a category of "really unregenerate".

So ultimately as Christians the decisions we "feel led to" or "God told me" come through the work of the Holy Spirit. Not through direct dialogue of "Hey go do this" but through the work of the Spirit on our mind, conscious and spirit through the Scripture.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Excellent, Dan, just excellent.

I am sending this article to some weird Christian friends I know (the kind the late Michael Spencer, aka the Internet Monk, referred to in his article, "Signs.") Just to say, "See, not only did Mike tell you so, that God only speaks through Scripture, but so does Dan Phillips from Teampyro."

That ought to give it some punch. :) Awesome article!!!

Misty, you so inspire me, sister. You are on fire for the Lord. I love it!!!

Cathy M. said...

I can't tell you how helpful I found this article. It seems we are constantly defending the sufficiency of scripture. I'll be saving this one as a reference. Thanks

gapid said...

SandMan wrote:He also doesn't tell Timothy NOT to expect God to speak to him from a non-burning bush, but (so far) nobody is claiming that one today... uh-oh, no please tell me that I didn't just lob that idea up for grabs.

Anyway, Paul has this one shot to tell Timothy what he needs to know, and where he needs to turn in Paul's absence and he picks: The Scriptures. If it were something else wouldn't he have said that? Does he have to say everything it isn't?

Nobody knows. It is futile to argue about what is absent in the scriptures; cases can be made for and against just about anything by saying "it isn't in the Bible, therefore ..." Who can claim to understand how God works? What is stopping God from doing whatever he pleases and communicating to whomever he wants however he wants to? Did God make a pact with man that states "I shall not communicate from henceforth, especially by using any more burning bushes... those tree-huggers never let me hear the last of it"? The last time I checked, God was omnipotent. For man to say, "Well, clearly, God will no longer speak to us - and anyone who claims God has spoken to them is obviously a farce" is a little naive. Nobody can know the thoughts of God or the work of God (1 Corinthians 2:11, Ecclesiastes 11:5).

bp said...

Thanks Stefan. Excellent link to Spurgeon stories and quotes. I think the following gives me perspective (I added the brackets for emphasis):

I do not doubt the old story of the Quaker who was disturbed at night and could not sleep and was led to go to a person's house miles away and knock at the door just at the time when the inhabitant was about to commit suicide—just in time to prevent the act.

I have been the subject of such impressions, myself, and have seen very singular results. [But to live by impressions] is oftentimes to live the life of a fool and even to fall into downright rebellion against the revealed Word of God. Not your impressions, but that which is in this Bible must always guide you.

He does not doubt that the Lord does impress certain things upon His people (or however you want to say it), and he, in-fact, says that he has had these impressions himself. Yet he emphasizes the error of living by such things.

I believe what happened to me was real and it was from God. But I don't seek these things. I don't live by them. I live by the inerrant, sufficient, inspired Word of God.

bp said...

Still hope that Dan answers my original question though. From what I've read he seems to believe that God does not ever speak/impress things upon His people apart from Scripture.

mikeb said...

Why do charismatics here, prove their case that Scripture is not sufficient by quoting Scripture itself?

If Scripture is not fully sufficient for faith and practice, then why is it sufficient to argue continued revelation outside of Scripture?

gapid said...

@mikeb - if you're referring to me, i am not a "charismatic".

that said, nowhere in the scriptures do we have an example of God saying "I will/will not speak again."

the onus is on those who claim God will or will not speak again to provide the zinger end-all verse that says, "Dear John, I will/will not speak to you. Sincerely, God." good luck to those people - they won't find it without arguing ex nihilo. ("It's not in the Bible, so therefore...")

God is omnipotent and by definition is perfectly capable of speaking even though the scriptures are 100% sufficient. why would he speak if the scriptures are 100% sufficient? who knows? maybe he's interested, curious, humored, or mad at someone and wishes to send them a text message. or a vision. or a dream. or a burning bush. or an angel. or a prophet. or a still, small voice. who can possibly know the ways of God besides the spirit of God?

similarly, why would God not speak if the scriptures are 100% sufficient? do you suggest because it is unnecessary? how can we even pretend to know why God would or would not choose to speak?

Anonymous said...

My dearest Dan,


"When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church." I Cor. 14:26

Oh, the church was still in formation at the time, you say? The Corinthian church perished, and if the Apostle had a specific need in mind I think we'd have some corroborating evidence for that. We don't. We instead have corroborating evidence for spiritual gifts, especially prophecy.

Yes yes, I know; we don't NEED them. I don't think it's accurate to say they add to revelation; I feel that's a distortion.

Besides, what do the two witnesses do in Revelation, long after the close of the canon?

Just some thoughts ;) not to be shrugged off lightly, I would hope.

mikeb said...


Hebrews 1 makes it clear that in these last days, God has spoken through His Son. IF you have a clear theology of God's Providence and His revelation, then you would clearly understand there is no new revelation to be added to Scripture. The canon is closed, and those who have new "revelation" are apostasizing.

gapid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gapid said...


Hebrews 1:1-2 states that "in these last days God has spoken by his son."

"in these last days God has" are not to be conveniently translated to "from henceforth, the only way God will".

mike said...

the onus is always on a claimant, not as you state.
if i say Gapid's great grandfather promised to make my house payment, is it on you to prove that he did not?
of course God can do whatever e wills to do in whatever way He wills to do it. However, He is not a habitual mindchanging human.
He spoke to us clearly through the prophets, and through Christ imself, and through His words in scripture. none of those contradicted any previous deliveries. now after 1600 years or so, we are bllissful with the statement "God could easily make us all into imortal flying winged creatures, and change the scriptures to match, and alter all memories so that we are not confused, and He never said that He won't?"
turns out, when we look at things, usually we find that od has spoken, God has porvided for salvation, God has commanded...
we are not happy with what we have been given, so we look for a shortcut or easier way, what is the real motivation?

Strong Tower said...

"from henceforth, the only way God will"

When Jesus said that all the Scriptures testify of him, he ended once for all any speculation about people speaking beyond his Word. When the apostle Paul said do not go beyond what is written he was saying nothing more than Peter and John, Solomon, Moses, and Jesus. And, anyone wanting to follow after that pattern can read their words which are able to make one wise. It is right, then, when Solomon says that there is nothing new under the sun. Same revelation made more clear and fully revealed in Christ, finally, but nothing outside of him has ever been revealed.

The revelation of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy. Go beyond him and you are listening to deceiving spirits. Paul said that what you have received is no more than anyone else has and that in reference to Jesus not being divided. Picking and choosing loose ends of Scripture and pulling them out of context will unravel the whole fabric.

Does God speak today? Yes, he is there and he is not silent. Does he say anything new? No. Privately, no. The Scripture says so. The message is not secret, nor secretly revealed, it is proclaimed from the roof-tops, but only those who have ears to hear hear it and they will follow only One voice. Indeed it is revealed by the Spirit... but only through the Word, and never, even in the case of prophets, any other way.

The simple truth is that Peter agreed that what Paul said was Scripture. The simple fact is that Paul said the Scripture is sufficient for all training. Anyone saying that it isn't, isn't arguing against a Pyro author, he is arguing against the Author whose Spirit carried men of old along, who spoke as oracles of God and did not privately do so. And since Paul says that Scripture thoroughly equips we can unequivocably conclude that another revelation can only be inferior.

Every word is subject to the school of propets. So why would anyone seek extra-biblical revelation except that he doesn't believe the Word of God?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Mike and Strong Tower.

Hebrews 1 essentially says that God used to speak in all different kinds of ways through His prophets, BUT now He was spoken through His Son.


In every day life, if someone said "In the past we have used many different contractors for many different jobs, but since the recession we do houses with Bob the Builder." would anyone think that they didn't mean "and we don't do those other kinds of jobs with those other contractors anymore."?

Of course they would mean that. So why doesn't Hebrews 1 mean "and now I don't speak in those ways anymore."?

I think the onus is on those who say He still speaks in "divers ways", to prove it...from Scripture.

DJP said...

Daryl, I wonder how many are noticing the sad irony: the whole point of this series (as I mean to make even more obvious in the future) is: is Scripture sufficient? — and we've not lacked for folks wanting to say they're evangelical, perhaps even Reformed, who adamantly insist "No, it is not sufficient."

Plus, note those happy to reason (or experience) their way to their religious opinions without even one verse of in-context Scriptural backup.

gapid said...

you're basing a doctrine on the silence of scripture. you're saying "God EXPLICITLY OPTED NOT to say that, therefore it must not be the case." that's just plain silly.

look, i've never believed anyone when they claimed to have been spoken to by God. it's not because I don't believe that God does not speak (or speak anything "new"), it's because I have absolutely no way whatsoever to verify their claim. the Bible is sufficient and all I need to hear for salvation is in the word. but i will not by any stretch say that God will not speak now or in the future, because nobody understands God's ways. Who are you to say "God will never speak again" when there is absolutely no proof to back that up outside of saying "it's not in the Bible, so it must be true"?

DJP said...

You are absolutely flat, dead wrong, and clearly missing the point of the series. I wish you'd just sit it out until it's done, then start at the start, read to the end, and think. It would be less embarrassing for you in the long-run.

gapid said...


Hebrews 1:1-2 basically says this: "In the past, God used many ways to contact us. Recently, God has used his son."

It says nothing more, nothing less.

It does NOT say, "From now on, God will only speak through his son." It does NOT say, "From now on, you can expect more speaking." It simply says, "Recently, God has used his son."

Clearly, God used more than just his Son to contact Christians approximately at the time when Hebrews was written. We have several instances of the Holy Spirit directly communicating.

DJP said...

gapid - (Hebrews 1:1) simply says, "Recently, God has used his son."

Wow, is that a gross and telling misread. This is what your position drives you to.

Everyone, take note.

gapid said...

djp wrote:"You are absolutely flat, dead wrong, and clearly missing the point of the series."

i've read your series from start to finish, having an open mind and no opinion on the matter other than being skeptical on both sides of the issue.

The point of the series is that the scripture is sufficient. You are correct in saying that. If you just stop there, you'd be right on.

But when you say, "Clearly, since the scripture is sufficient and because it's not in the Bible, God does not speak any more", you are rewriting the scriptures. Nobody understands the ways of God. Nobody understands the spirit of God. If God so chooses to speak, is he forbidden from speaking? Did he make a pact with man saying "that's it, no more speaking, see you in the afterlife...."? Where is the verse that guarantees God's silence? Where is the verse that forbids anyone from having a vision from God? Where is the verse that says God will never send an angel to contact someone? Where is the verse that says God will never use a burning bush again?

gapid said...

djp wrote: Wow, is that a gross and telling misread. This is what your position drives you to.

I read Hebrews as saying "God spoke many ways in the past. In these days, God spoke to us through Jesus." How is that a misread?!?

Brian Smith said...

Thanks for a stimulating article Dan. Here is a question to ponder. Before delivering a message at a national conference a speaker introduced his sermon these words. "I Obviously meditate long and hard as to what the Lord would have me to draw to your attention. Where I landed, and I am trusting the Lord on this, is... (names the text)."

Is this an appropriate thing to say? It seems as if the speaker is not claiming the content of the sermon is from God, but the leading to preach that particular text was. How is a leading from God to preach a certain text different than a leading to change jobs, witness to a friend, marry a certain girl, etc?

Anonymous said...


What you're missing is that Hebrews 1 has a big BUT in the middle of it.

It doesn't say "In the past God spoke in different ways to the prophets, and now to mix it up a little, He'll speak through His Son as well."

It says "In the past God spoke in different ways through the prophets BUT NOW He has spoken through His Son."

That but is significant methinks.

And then stand it all up against Paul's letter to Timothy, and his claim therein that Scripture is sufficient...and the case for God speaking outside of Scripture gets pretty shaky.

gapid said...

you're right, Daryl - I had implied the "but". I by no means suggested that "now to mix it up" or "in addition to" was somehow thrown in there. many translations omit the "but", such as the KJV, the NAS, the amplified bible, the new living translation, the new KJV, and on and on.

Christopher said...

Is "GOD still speaking" the same thing as being guided of the Spirit to do something? By "guided" I mean, for example, a pastor doing a series on Malachi, but in the middle of the series, he feels (and I realize I said "feels) he should do a short excursion onto another passage. Was this GOD speaking to him? And if it was not GOD speaking to him, was it simply his desire to not do Malachi for, let's say, two Sundays?

DJP said...

Is there any direct Biblical warrant for calling his deciding to do A "God speaking to him"?

William Dicks said...

Thanks for the great post Dan!

I actually used this very passage during one of our home morning devotions at breakfast to drive the stake into the ground saying: "All Scripture is sufficient for all we need in faith and practice."

It was really good to share this passage with my family.

mike said...

OK, i think maybe i understand.
Paul told the jailer about the work of Christ, he went home and believed, and all his family with him.
so, since the Bible never once says that was an isolated incident, so...
all my kids get a free pass with me.

that is a huge load off my shoulders.

gapid said...


Jesus told us to go out to all the world and teach his ways. Sorry, you're on the hook.

bp said...

Thanks for the interaction, Dan. :o/

1 Cor. 13:8
"Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away."

vs. 9-10
"For (or "because") we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away."

Isn't Paul stating clearly here that prophecies and tongues will pass away when the "perfect" comes? And doesn't this pretty plainly refer to Jesus' return?

vs. 11
"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways."

vs. 12
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

When's "then"? Again, isn't it clearly when Jesus returns and when we see Him face to face? 1 John 3:2 says:

"Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is."

Janice said...


Through Isaiah, God said: “I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass.” (Isaiah 45:3)

Can we know all there is to know about God? Certainly not; we are frail, finite humans who cannot possibly grasp all there is to know about the infinite, eternal, transcendent God. But God has revealed what He wants us to know about Him through His Word (and He does want us to know Him, as much as we can). The Bible is therefore not simply a collection of random stories thrown together, but the revelation of God’s nature and character. From it we know that our God is a God who decreed things before the foundation of the earth, who carefully detailed types and shadows in the Old Testament which were later revealed in the New Testament, who foretold His actions (the coming of the Messiah for instance) and then brought them to pass (like the Isaiah quote above).

God can and does do anything He wants, as you stated. To suggest, however, that what God wants to do is to be erratic, capricious, confusing, and secretive (revealing little messages to people here and there that aren’t ever written down for all to know) is to completely disregard God’s own meticulous revelation about Himself in the Scriptures. You may think that to say God can whisper in someone’s ear in Ohio that He wants them to wear a red shirt today and not a blue shirt is being open-minded, but it is actually very insulting and dishonoring to Him.

Janice said...

The Isaiah quote is actually 48:3 (sorry).

Carlo Provencio said...

Did John MacArthur start Grace To You strictly using wisdom he got from reading the Bible, or did the Holy Spirit also lead him. Or, was it both?
Does God predestine specific ministries? Does God communicate anything to us as far as details of our specific ministry. Does the Holy Spirit help us to make decisions today?

Carlo Provencio said...

please go easy on me! Im no theologian or pastor!

Janice said...

Hi Carlo,

I'm no theologian either, but I like your questions. I believe everything you stated is true and none of those things requires special, extra-Biblical revelation. I do believe the Holy Spirit guides us, but He does it through the revealed Word of God. He would never guide us to do anything outside of Scripture. These aren't new revelations then, but applications from God's Word that the Spirit brings forth in our lives.

gapid said...


Thanks for your insight.. it really made me think.

Do you truly believe that by acknowledging God's omnipotence and, by definition, his ability to do whatever he wants however he wants to whomever he wants whenever he wants to is dishonoring God? Omnipotence: unlimited authority or influence. UNLIMITED.

Revelation 19:6 - "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!"

I am not ashamed of the Almighty God who can call down thunder, who can move mountains, who can, dare I say, SPEAK to someone!

The Bible's silence on a matter is not proof! The simple fact is this: WE DO NOT KNOW. Nobody knows God's thoughts. Nobody knows how God works.

Janice said...

"Nobody knows how God works."

If that's the case, the entire Bible is not only insufficient, but completely useless since it's point is to reveal to us how God works. Very encouraging.

Sorry, gapid, I just can't go there with you.

Aaron said...


I absolutely love this series. It exposes that this is a serious problem with the Christian community at large.

I really don't get people. We obviously believe God has a hand in everything. But we simply cannot claim that a "feeling" is revelation from God. For example, If ice cream is my favorite food but one night I have a feeling for cake and pass over the ice cream only to find out the next day that everyone who had the ice cream got food poisoning, I'd thank God. I would not, however, on that night, claim that God "led" me to eat cake instead of ice cream.

For most of us, we look to feelings for God's leading while ignoring passages in Scripture advising us to plan, seek wise counsel, etc.

gapid said...


Look - it's in the Bible plain as day. Nobody understands the work of God. Ecclesiastes 11:5. Nobody knows God's thoughts. 1 Corinthians 2:11

Or am I taking these out of context? Should these verses say "Nobody except Misty understands the work of God" and "nobody but Misty and the spirit of God knows the thoughts of God"?

Jim Pemberton said...

The Bible is sufficient for all we need to know in general. We have the Holy Spirit to inform us in particular - never controverting the revelation of the Bible, but guiding us in it (which could include miraculous ways as we have seen).

However, while the Bible tells us everything we need to know, it doesn't tell us everything lest we trust the information rather than trusting God. therefore, our goal should never be to be the popular source of goddish advice beyond what the Bible says as so many false prophets are. If we pursue prophesy (I Cor 14:1), then it is the type that is the revealing of what is already known to us through the scriptures - not the goofy "Gawd told mee-ah to build a hunnerd foot Jeesus-ah" stuff, or any type of prophesy where we would insist that we have to do exactly as God has revealed to us outside of scripture.

Janice said...

gapid, my comment from 5:19pm was too snippy and rude. My apologies.

As to your comments, yes, I do believe you are taking those verses out of context. You're using them as proof texts to show that God still speaks secretly to people all the time, but those Scriptures don't say or even imply that. No one living at the time those Scriptures were written down would have read them and said, "Okay, nobody knows God's thoughts. That must mean God is going to speak to me any day now! Awesome!"

God speaking to people is not just a casual daily experience. He has spoken only to a handful of people (who regularly fell on their face like dead men, they were so shocked....much different from the mundane way people often describe God telling them what cereal to buy). God also commanded that His words be written down. Can God speak to anybody? Of course He can, He can do anything - the question is not CAN He, but DOES He? I think the Bible shows us He doesn't.

gapid said...

Misty, I am not claiming that God speaks to people today!!!!!!

Wow! Where did you get that from?

The verses I quoted do not support any claim as such! The verses I quoted simply state that nobody knows God's thoughts or the works of God.

I am claiming that NOBODY KNOWS if God does or does not speak today. The Bible is SILENT. Silence is not proof of ANYTHING.

Janice said...

gapid, do you not see the danger in that stance?

The Bible is also silent on whether we should stick sharpened tooth picks into senior citizens. Does that mean God might be okay with that? Since there's no specific Scripture stating it's wrong?

Surely you would agree that the Scriptures speak against that implicitly as they also shows us implicitly that God doesn't speak to people routinely anytime, anywhere.

DJP said...

I don't know, gapid, you need some sort of verb slap to wake you up. You're all over the place, making no coherent sense or line of argument.

Worse, your comments amount to "Yes! I'm exactly the sort of person these posts are about! What the Bible actually is and says and does is just not enough for me! I'm much more interested in what it say can't happen!"

So, here's your wakeup call. I am making an editorial decision about you. I'm not going to allow you to keep folks spinning around your circles.

Your next comment will do one of two things:

1. Prove conclusively that God cannot speak to us today by the patterns of lollipop colors we walk by in the grocery store.


2. Re-read the series thus far, and reconsider your position, and state what you have realized and how you have changed it.

But the gapid-go-round stops here.

gapid said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gapid said...

@DJP -

Prove conclusively that God cannot speak to us today by the patterns of lollipop colors we walk by in the grocery store.

Nobody can prove such a thing.

My position is this: the scriptures do not say that God is speaking today. The scriptures do not say that God is not speaking today. To suggest either is not scriptural.

DJP said...

Then you're done. You said you can't prove the first, but still give no clue you've even tried to interact with the material in the posts beyond saying to yourself "Say! it sounds like this guy's saying God can't speak today! Well, here's what I say when someone says that: ...."

Please stop distracting, stay tuned for the rest of the series, read what you haven't, think it over. Might do you good. That's my hope and aim, anyway. But no more childish lollipop-talk.

jsmitchell said...

DJP - "...read to the end, and think. It would be less embarrassing for you in the long-run."

Dan, is it really necessary to season your responses (no matter how correct) with such dripping condescension?

DJP - "...without even one verse of in-context Scriptural backup."

It's not that Scriptural backups haven't been provided. It's that you don't agree with the conclusions being reached by those Scriptures. Yet you don't rebut specifically; you just claim that no valid (to you) Scriptures have been presented.

That's fine, since it's not probably not fair to expect a defense of each piece when all may well be clear when the series is concluded.

I'm content to "sit it out" with Gapid and read the full series before asking any more questions my questions from the first post went largely unanswered). If, however, I or others still have questions at the end of the series, a gentler tone in response would be greatly appreciated.

DJP said...

Yes, at this point the tone I used was appropriate.

I don't have to rebut each verse myself if others have done so adequately, do I? Otherwise, goodness, sounds like a post-modern: "Yes, John 14:6 says exclusivity to you, but it doesn't say that to me." Not one verse has yet countered the points I've made thus far, and most aren't even remotely on-topic.

And if someone thinks that such a verse has even been attempted, then he doesn't even get what the series is about.

Beyond that, if there's a way to convince someone of something he's simply unwilling to be convinced of regardless of evidence, I've not yet found it.

bp said...

a gentler tone in response would be greatly appreciated.

..or any tone in response for that matter.

DJP said...

BP, you've seen Rule 1 in the side bar, right?

BP, I write posts, then don't really expect to be expected to re-write them in the comment threads.

I would like you to read the post, and I would like you to work it through. I think the answer's already there. You don't? Stay tuned. Or ask your pastor if my pace isn't suiting you.

Anonymous said...

Dan, you're being pretty harsh. This is a rare lapse for you... why such strong feelings here?

The Kurios walks among his lampstands, not subject to anyone else's approval. Got any answers to my post, while we're at it?

Mike Riccardi said...

That's hysterical, Charlie. I thought that Dan was being pretty patient.

As I've sat back and read the posts (really appreciating them) and the threads, I think a few things are worth highlighting. (But who the heck am I, right? So read at your own risk.)

1. Quoting Scripture about how the Spirit "guided" people or "spoke" to people in the Apostolic age proves absolutely nothing about whether He does so today. The cessationist position is that special revelation ceased after that age. Nobody disagrees that Jesus spoke directly to Peter in Acts 10. But that has absolutely zero warrant on whether or not such a thing happens today.

2. It is true that the argumentation for the position contrary to what Dan's presenting in his post is mainly an argument from one's own interpretation of a personal experience.

3. We need to be careful in defining what we mean when we say, "I felt led to..." or "The Spirit was leading me to..." Someone quoted Spurgeon talking about receiving strong impressions about certain things, and then going to do them. But he seemed to be pretty careful about not saying what the origin of those impressions were. The reality is, they can be entirely from us. If I have a strong impression that I should do X, that may just be my own strong impression.

3. Some people seem to think that they can divorce the concept of (a) continuing revelation from the (b) closing of the canon, and/or the (c) sufficiency of that canon. That's just plain ridiculous. If the canon is closed, and what's in the canon is sufficient, there's no more special revelation. If there is more special revelation, that demonstrates that what's already revealed isn't sufficient.

4. By extension, those who are looking for a verse where God says, "I'm done speaking," need only to look to the passages that extol the sufficiency of the revealed Word of God: both in Christ the Living Word, and now in the Bible the written Word. When God says, "I have spoken decisively in such a way that you have everything you need for your whole life, such that if you use what I've already given you you'll be totally adequate for everything," that's God saying, "I'm done with direct, special revelation. I've already done so perfectly."

5. I know gapid's being editorialized, but it really bugs me when people use 1Cor 2 to say that we can't know things, when Paul's explicit point is to show that by the illuminating work of the Spirit we can know things. Not only is the phrase, "so that we may know" used in the passage, but verse 16 is the clincher. We have the mind of Christ by virtue of our union with Him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Paul's whole point in bringing up the "No eye has seen" passage from the OT is to say, "But now because of Christ we have seen." So, leave that argument at home next time.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying Dan's posts, and look forward to the rest of the series.

gapid said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
zostay said...

I admit to having led @gapid here after posting the link to my Facebook wall. I expected to up have a discussion like this there with him. You folks tend to be so much more coherent than me, so I recommended he try discussing his position here. I think, though, the medium here might have contributed to some confusion at points.

Anyway, e is a former roommate and a dear friend of mine from a time in my life when I was still a toddler in my new birth.

However, we disagree on some things, such as this.

Since he's now been banished from the remainder of this meta, I don't think it's fair to editorialize him further, so I think it would be most civil (and more in spirit of the rules anyway) if folks make fresh comments about what DJP wrote and leave my friend's commennts alone. I think folks have already said all that really can or should be said anyway.

allen said...

My two drachmas worth:
I see 2 perspectives at play:
1) A gloriously high of view of God-breathed scripture-Ps. 19:7-11, 2Tim.3:16,17
2) A high view of self -my feelings, impressions , nudgings, etc. and my ability to interpret and untangle them. This view is the bane of 21st century christendom and has spawned an anything-goes- 3-ring circus "church".

bp said...

you've seen Rule 1 in the side bar, right?

I did read it now, Dan. Thanks.

Couple of things:

1. Mike, you said that Spurgeon seemed to be pretty careful about not saying what the origins of his "impressions" were.

Ok, but if you read the whole article, you can't deny he is suggesting they were from God. Isn't the whole point of Dan's article that God emphatically does not give His people these impressions? And wouldn't this make Spurgeon not a cessationist?

Please answer this, because I've brought this up more than once before. It seems (on the one hand) that several "cessationists" here have implied, (like Spurgeon) that we need to be careful about attributing these feelings/impressions to God, but in so saying this, do not deny that they could be from God. Yet Dan, on the other hand, seems to be saying that they do not happen. period.

2. Can someone comment on my post at 2:04, in which I give Scripture that seems contradict the cessationist's view. Thanks.

Jim Pemberton said...

"Can someone comment on my post at 2:04, in which I give Scripture that seems contradict the cessationist's view."

I Cor. 13 says nothing clear about knowledge and the sort of prophecy that Paul talks about in the next chapter except that such things will pass away. This is to point out the love of God that we are required to have toward each other (which we are definitely not good at). The point of this passage has nothing to do with illuminating us about the manner of God's imparting knowledge toward us. This is because the nature of our relationship with him is eternal. We want knowledge which is temporal. God wants us to have Truth (love, holiness, LIFE, etc.) which is eternal. The Bible gives us knowledge about Truth. The Holy Spirit gives us Truth. The biggest problem here is that we too easily conflate the two and it pollutes our discourse with confusion and loss of love.

The Bible contains all the knowledge we need; and do we know the whole thing well enough to seek for knowledge elsewhere? No. But it is sufficient to inform us of the same Truth that the Holy Spirit makes us alive in and even a small part of is is enough to incline our minds to Truth if we lack the whole thing. This regards our justification and sanctification. For ministerial challenges, we may see the movement of God in amazing ways and the Bible doesn't discount these in the least. But the Bible does inform us to stick with the knowledge it contains lest we fail to trust the Truth and trust bad information instead.

bp said...

Jim, the passage may be emphasizing the love we're required to have for each other, but it still says that "prophecies", "tongues" and "knowledge" will pass away when "the perfect one" comes. Tell me, if this is not referring to the type of prophecy Paul is talking about in the next chapter, what type is it?

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the type of prophecy Paul is talking about in the next chapter I'm sure it didn't include embracing false prophets which seems to be all we see today.


Mike Riccardi said...

Ok, but if you read the whole article, you can't deny he is suggesting they were from God.


I keep on writing something and then erasing it. I'm having trouble phrasing what I want to say in a way that I think would both answer your question and be a benefit to you.

Suffice it to say that I don't think there's anything that happens throughout history that isn't "from God" in the ultimate sense. I think that God has decreed the end from the beginning, and will bring all His purpose to pass. And so I think Spurgeon, a confessed cessationist, would say in that sense that those "impressions" were "from God," because he believed that God ordains whatever comes to pass, and so is intimately involved in all things. Ultimately, all things are from Him, through Him, and to Him.

My suspicion is that the confusion comes from confusing the ultimate with the proximate, the decreed will with the revealed will, revelation with providence. But I can't seem to explain that further in what I think is a clear, beneficial way.

Seth said...

I noticed you added the word "one" after perfect in your last reference to 1Corinthians 13:10
This is from your own post-
vs. 9-10
"For (or "because") we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away."
These versus are ones which a cessationist will use to show the cannon is closed and these particular gifts have ceased. The perfect (not the perfect one) is the complete and perfect Word of God. Ones it was finished or came to fulfillment those gifts ceased.

My question is how to do you respond to the versus from 2 Timothy 3:14-16 which Dan used in his post to show that scripture is all we need? So no extra help is needed- no tongues, no new knowledge, no new prophecy and no new special revelation.

I don’t think you ever addressed your take on these versus. I also think this was gapid’s problem. He never addressed the versus. His argument was similar to the coffee house discussion of can God make a rock so big even he can’t lift it. Dan never refuted God’s omnipotence. But is God a liar? No he said right in 2 Timothy that scripture was all we needed so if this is true then why would he speak directly to anyone?

Mike Riccardi said...

...can God make a rock so big even he can’t lift it...

Funny, I thought the same thing. And it can be applied to the question of whether anyone gets saved who's never heard of the name of Christ. We say no, God can't save them outside of the knowledge of Christ. But by that, we don't mean "God is incapable of saving them." We mean, "God has decisively said that no one will get saved outside of Christ." So He won't violate His Word.

Same with continuing revelation. He's said the already-given revelation is sufficient. So He wont' be giving any more. That's not a blight on His omnipotence. It's just believing what He's said.

mikeb said...

If God is still speaking to Hi s people through anything other than the Scriptures, then why aren't new books being canonized regularly?

The Jews even understood the Spirit of God had left the nation of Israel during the intertestamental period. Therefore nothing during that time was canonized as Scripture.

It appears many continuationists (i.e. charismatics and pentecostals), have not clearly defined God's revelation to man, God's Providence, and the work of the Holy Spirit. They tend to lump the last two under the first, making everything revelatory.

Again, if everything is revelation, then why not add a new book to Scripture?

You see where adding new revelation leads right, followed to its logical conclusion? It leads to Joseph Smith's Mormonism. Even Joseph Smith had to admit that some of his "revelations" might be of man or even of the devil. (Comp Hist 1:165)

I know, I know. Just because God speaks directly to you, that you claim it doesn't mean you're a prophet. But in that case, I ask you keep your "revelations" to yourself. Then no one will have to worry about it :)

Also, church history is not on the side of the charismatic (=continuationist). Isn't it amazing that we made it almost 2000 years, and even through the Reformation, without new prophecy from God. Yet all the sudden prophecy has made a comeback in the last 100 years? Now what could be the reason for that?

DJP said...

See that tree Seth Benge's barking up? That's the right tree. See the guy standing next to him, also barking? That's me.

MikeB, that's because there are no Christian continuationists. There are, however, Christians who "Clinton down" the actual gifts, so they can pretend they have them. They call themselves "continuationists." But they aren't.

Stefan Ewing said...

I'm tired and spent, so thanks to everyone for interacting with BP.

I've had some things happen in my life that simply don't make sense from a rational, naturalistic point of view; things which led me to the Cross of Christ.

But I don't see any contradiction between that and affirming that special revelation has ceased, and that the 66 books of Holy Scripture are all sufficient.

Are there minor differences between individual cessationists? Maybe, but that's not the point. It would be like arguing that dispensationalism isn't valid because some believe in a pretrib rapture, while others believe in a midtrib or posttrib rapture.

bp said...

I noticed you added the word "one" after perfect in your last reference to 1Corinthians 13:10

Sorry Seth, I didn't mean to do that. I don't think I did it in my original post.

However, you said, "the perfect is the complete and perfect Word of God." I don't think that holds up. Look at the passage again starting in vs 8:

"Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away."

Then it says why:

for we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

Now look at how verse 12 begins the exact same way as vs. 9, giving reason why they will pass away:

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

It says that "then" we will see "face to face" and that we "shall know fully even as we are fully known." How can this be anything other than seeing the Lord face to face as in 1 John 3:2? Seth, how do you interpret, "but then face to face"?

bp said...

My question is how to do you respond to the versus from 2 Timothy 3:14-16 which Dan used in his post to show that scripture is all we need?

I affirm these Scriptures. It IS all we need. I don't see how God showing up in my trial and impressing upon me/speaking to me comforting words and even direction at times..how this in any way whatsoever means that the Bible is not sufficient for all that I need. I didn't NEED this comfort. But He chose to give it anyway.

bp said...

In regards to Spurgeon. I said that the linked article was evidence that Spurgeon did suggest (if not outrightly) that these impressions he had were from God. I contrasted this with Dan's article which seems to state that God does not speak to or impress anything upon anyone today.

You answered by saying that God is sovereign and therefore behind everything that happens and that's what Spurgeon probably meant. But he gave an example of a man awakening in the middle of the night to go knock on a man's house while he was in the midst of committing suicide, and he said he "did not doubt that story." Didn't doubt what? How could he possibly mean that he didn't doubt that God ordained this but at the same time denied that God impressed it upon this man to wake up and go?

Mike Riccardi said...

Also, during this time, I (as only one of two times in my whole Christian life) felt/sensed the Lord actually saying some specific things to me over the course of 2 days. Are you saying you think this cannot be so and that I imagined it? Thanks.

I wanted to go over your original account of the experience in question again.

I would say that a 2.5-month period of insomnia plus anxiety and the flu is not the best time to be thinking you heard from God.

I actually had a similar "experience" some years ago. I was extremely sick (I forget what was wrong), and was just physically miserable for days, and probably a little delusional from being over-tired. I prayed and said to God that I needed to be spared from this, etc. And I was really crying out to Him in my heart.

Almost immediately, I sensed that He was speaking to me (inaudibly), and that He told me to write down everything that He "said." I did. I even told my pastor about it, who just reminded me to test everything against Scripture. Looking back on what he said I think he was a bit incredulous, and rightly so.

I look back on that now and recognize that God didn't speak to me. I was literally sick and tired, and my mind and emotions were overworking. I look at what I wrote down, and it's all reasonable stuff, mostly paraphrases of Bible verses speaking of God's faithfulness to His people, His being there, being a Comforter, etc. I'm not saying the Spirit didn't call those verses to mind. But the only sense in which God spoke directly to me was through His Word.

I don't have a problem saying that He brought Bible verses to my mind. But that's not prophecy or revelation, that's just providence and the ministry of the Holy Spirit to point to the already-revealed Living Word, doing just what Christ said He would do.

So, while it's impossible for me or anyone else to say, "You imagined that experience you're talking about," I would say that whatever it was it wasn't new revelation, and it wasn't God speaking directly to you outside of His Word. He's declared that He'll do neither.

bp said...

I was sick that one day. And shortly after I started sleeping regularly again, I documented everything that happened to me. I remembered almost every detail. Some of the things that happened over a 2-day period are not so easily explained away as dullusion, Mike.

But let me ask you this then: Maybe you read my account of that morning when I cried out to the Lord, in my anxiety, that I couldn't take it anymore. And shortly thereafter my 4 yr old daughter leaving her play to come running into mommy's room to deliver a little book to me (in bed) that she had found tucked into the pocket of my out-of-sight Bible, and of the daily verse being Phil 4:6, with a story of a person who was extremely anxious.

Do you believe that it's possible that the Lord led/impressed/moved my daughter to do this?

bp said...

p.s. You said above that "it's impossible for you or anyone else to say that I imagined this experience" and then you said, "It wasn't God speaking directly to you outside of His Word.

There's the rub. It's contradictory to me. On the one hand, you can state as fact that it wasn't God speaking to me and on the other that it's impossible for you to tell me I imagined it. And it's not just you. I've seen this back and forth throughout this whole thread.

Seth said...

Before I respond to your reading of 1 Corinthians 13, I want to say I like the style (if not all of the context) of your post. You took the verse looked at it logically and broke it down. But I have to say once again look at the size of this post compared to the size of your response to Dan’s post. Your answer comes down to an argument over the word “need” and a large jump in logic. It verges on the can God make a rock so large he can’t lift it argument. I understand, it’s your experience and it meant something to you so you’re guarding the possibility of it being a mystical experience of God.

BTW, if you take Spurgeon to say he was a continuationist then Spurgeon was wrong on this point, it happens.

Stefan Ewing said...


Maybe there's some disconnect going on here.

Mike wrote, "it wasn't God speaking directly to you outside of His Word."

So let's just take your story at face value and say for argument's sake that it was the Holy Spirit working on your heart that brought those words to mind.

If they were pointing you to His written word and not contradicting anything that has already been plainly revealed in Scripture, then God wasn't going outside of His Word.

And in the case of the story with your daughter, many believers can recount similar "coincidences," and I can to. And again, assuming for argument's sake that that incident happened through the work of the Holy Spirit, He was bringing your attention to God's revealed Word, which means that if it was God, He wasn't going outside of His Word.

There are a thousand and one stories like this that fall entirely within God's providential care for us, but don't constitute new revelation, and don't require you to make a case for the ongoing prophetic gifts.

For example, a lost woman was going throug a crisis, and found or bought a Bible (I don't recall which). She didn't know where to start reading, so started reading from John 1. The following Sunday, she went to our church for the first time, and on that very Sunday, the pastor was starting a preaching series on the book of John, starting with chapter 1.

Was this the work of God? Probably. In a strictly Calvinistic sense, this couldn't be written off as a mere coincidence, because there are no coincidences in life.

Can we say with 100% certainty it was God? No, but we can say that it was probably His doing, because that's how He works: through His providential care for us in every aspect of our lives.

And you can affirm all that without having to argue that the apostolic gifts are present today: it's apples and oranges.

Seth said...

Now to your 1 Corinthians point. I don’t think you can necessarily take the passage to mean it refers to Christ’s return.

As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

Ok from this passage we can see prophesy will pass away and tongues will cease and the gift of knowledge will pass away. I assume it means the gift of knowledge otherwise it is implying there will be time when people won’t know anything, this makes no sense and there are references to the gift of knowledge other place in the NT (1 Cor 12:8).

11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

I would say look back at 1 Cor 3, especially verse 2. Paul calls the Corinthians infants in Christ. Then he spends from 3-12 giving them lessons in how to live. Really basic stuff- sexual immorality, food offered to idols, marriage and then in 12 address the spiritual gifts. We can see by this there must have been some strife among the congregation because Paul says there all kinds of gifts but the church needs different people to do different things. He then transitions- “And I will show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Cor 12:31. Then of course comes the Love passage, which anyone who has ever been to a wedding knows, though it really applies to our interaction with everyone.

Then there is the passage you are staking everything one-
12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

I don’t believe this verse is so definite about referring to the eventual return of Christ. I understand the face to face would make one imagine a human. But the reference is more about knowing things, as the second sentences is a restatement of the first. So the Corinthians, and all NT churches, didn’t see the whole picture they were like children and had only milk, they saw in a mirror dimly. Once the cannon was closed and we had the whole of scripture we then were able to see the whole of Christ’s work, to know fully, to see him face to face.

For an even stronger cessationist argument see Ephesians 2:19-21

19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

The apostles and prophets (see Ephesians 3:5 for why these are NT prophets) were the foundation of the church. So if the Apostles and Prophets were the foundation why would there still be prophets?

bp said...

Stefan, I'm not sure that it IS apples and oranges because of some of the things that were said in the post and in the comments.

Seth, I'm not convinced. Paul is saying, (at the time he was writing) that he, personally, knew in part, but that "then" he would know fully. There were no New Testament manuscripts until after 100 AD. Paul died way before then. And I have a hard time with the thought that "I know in full."

And the "but then face to face" is definately a sticking point. Too many verses that speak about seeing His face in heaven.

bp said...

Seth, I didn't take a long time in response to Dan's 2 Tim 3:14 verse because I don't think that it contradicts anything I said. This whole idea that if God impresses something upon me, even if it is unrelated to Scripture (which during my trial, I believe He did) then that means that the Scriptures are insufficient doesn't make sense to me.

Strong Tower said...

So, bp, Paul is teaching Timothy to follow teaching which may lead him astray because it was not fully understood, delivered completely, and therefore is incomplete such that further need of revelation is necessary to make the word worthy of the label efficacious? Instead, we must trust private interpretation, by feelings and personal experimentalism? IOW Paul is lying when he says that the word of God is capable of making disciples and they fully equipped? That the people at Ephesus could never come to maturity, to the fullness of the knowledge of the Son of God? But instead, they would always be tossed around by every whim of doctrine and cunning craftiness of the canival barking flesh sellers? He is saying that everyone receives something different?


"There were no New Testament manuscripts until after 100 AD."

Really, the internal evidence is that there was, Ephesians 3:4; Colossians 4:16. Peter considered all that Paul taught to have been enscripturated: 2 Peter 3:16.

That Paul speaks of knowing only in part is not because he does not have the whole of revelation and understands fully all that has been delivered as far as any one could, being the 1 Cor 2 mature teacher, that he was. It only means that what has been made known in word is not yet made manifest. See prophecy remains prophecy, such as that word concerning the messiah, and does not lack any truth, even though it has not yet come to pass. But, once it has mature, like any good wine in its time, the perfect vintage goes no further than that which had always been the substance of it. We know in part simply means that the open display of what it means has not been made manifest. The connecton is with the resurrection and the final state, no doubt. However, that does not mean that all that has been revealed is not all that is necessary for training in righteousness. Unless of course you are looking to the word for something other than righteousness. And that is the point of the post. Looking beyond what is written is to undermine Christ, to divide him, as Paul is pointing out in the context of the letter you quote, and will produce nothing other than evil envies and strife. But love doesn't demonstrate that kind of childishnesss. Love alone, perfection that it is, remains. Not that it is any different than that which was spoken about in prophecy and knowledge, but that it is, when fully matured, it is understood not as prophetic, but as incarnate. The imperfection will be done away with and all wood, hay, and stuble also. So Paul teaches the Corinthians do not go beyond what is written. And he teaches Timothy not to bow before the idols of special revelation, myths that they are, old wives tales. And Peter warns that those who do do so to their own destruction, but to that end they were destined.

bp said...

Those are a lot of words to put in my mouth, Strong Tower.

No, I don't think that when Paul speaks of "knowing only in part" that he is teaching Timothy all those things you said. I think Paul is referring to the contrasting difference between the imperfect knowledge that he had (and that we have now) with the fullness of knowlege we will have when we see God face to face and we will be like Him.

Paul says in the text that he knows in part, but "then" he would know fully. I don't know what you mean when you interpret it to "only mean that what has been made known in word is not yet made manifest."

I brought this up because Seth was making the argument that the "then" in "then I will know fully," referred to the closing of the Canon. The completion of the New Testament. But the fact that Paul puts himself in the group of "we" who know in part, seems to me to contradict that argument.

Christian Ray FLores said...

Very true. As a pastor this is refreshing to hear.

Christian Ray Flores

Strong Tower said...

bp- you also said that the texts were not written. Could it possibly be that you don't understand what you are concluding you do? If you were wrong about that, could it be that you are wrong in your interpretation of what Paul is meaning. It seems to me you take things in isolation and by the obscure the meaning. Of course Paul would include himself among those who have not yet seen, the consummation has not yet happened. That doesn't exclude knowing all that could and can be known at that time or this. You see, don't you, that when Christ appears we will know in a way different that we know now, don't you. Or is nuance in language a vaporous idea with no substance?

bp said...

Strong Tower, I don't think you understand my argument. You and I agree that Paul was saying that he would "know fully" when Christ returned. I am not disputing that. I am disputing Seth's argument that when Paul said that we would "know fully" he meant that we would know fully when the Canon was complete.. at the New Testament's completion. Maybe you didn't read all the comments.

Mike Riccardi said...

Do you believe that it's possible that the Lord led/impressed/moved my daughter to do this?

I guess it just depends on what you mean by those things. I think that God providentially ordained that your daughter find that booklet, and bring it to you. But I don't think she had any idea she was doing that. I think she was being a 4 year-old who loved her mom. I do think God was directly involved, of course. But there's a difference between that and "He spoke to me." And it's also different than then prescribing that one wait for such promptings in regards to other things. (I'm not saying you're advocating that.)

Regarding the supposed contradiction, I just mean that I wasn't in your head. I couldn't definitively say that you imagined anything. That'd be presumptuous of me, don't you think? But I can point to Scripture, which I know is objectively true, and present the principles it teaches. The fact is: when God speaks, that's infallible revelation. The fact also is: such revelation ceased before the end of the 1st century.

You haven't given the details of the 'speaking to you' incident, just the thing with your daughter, which I believe you can praise and thank God for in His provision. I'm not sure if you think it'd be helpful to deal with that particular example, though, but I suppose if it's private I understand if you don't want to share it.

Strong Tower said...

I read all the comments I think, including the canon comments. I don't think that either your approach or the other is what is meant at all.

You have to answer for why you thought the NT writings were not complete before the second century when every indication is that they were. Even the internal evidence proves you wrong. That didn't slow you down. But beyond that, you have to account for why Paul was teaching in the way he was. What is his point if as you claim he didn't understand what he was talking about? The canonical question is absurd as the revelational aspect remains regardless whether the word is enscripturated or not or whether we agree or not. The strength of what Paul is teaching is that he is appealing to the fact that it had been. And not only that, the New was fully expressed in the old as the epistles and Christ himself testifies. It was those OT Scriptures that Paul is making appeal to, not the new. So, if they are what are sufficient, and more than that, they are efficient to produce what they promise, what more is needed? It is clear and any one can see, that this world continues as it has from the beginning. While we know unequivocably that it is all going to change we do not know that final state experimentally. What you are basing your view on is that because Paul says he doesn't know that final state experimentally, he doesn't know all that can be known about it. But think. Can we not teach any subject because we have not yet experienced it? That is ludicrous. The prophecies were subject to the school of prophets precisely because they could be known. If they could not have been, they could not be ajudicated. They couldn't be tested. That doesn't invalidate the fact that when the prophecies are manifest they are known in a differnt manner than when they are given. The point is, you are associating a verse that has nothing whatsoever to do with special revelation. The verses you are quoting have to do with the purpose, not the exhaustiveness of the revelation.

greglong said...


1. The "perfect" is contrasted with the "partial". So "perfect" speaks of completeness, as opposed to incomplete revelation like prophecies, tongues, and knowledge.

2. When you look in a mirror, whose face do you see?

Aaron said...

Mike Riccardi:

I think your explanation was very clear. I'm not sure you can offer any better explanation.

Obviously, as Christians we believe God's hand is in all things and as such, we thank him for any fortuitous event. That's a far cry from claiming God's direct revelation or leading.

bp said...

The fact is: when God speaks, that's infallible revelation.

Mike, here’s where I get tripped up. Do you mean “infallible revelation” as something that needs to be added to the Sciptures and shared with the world?

I hesitate to share my experiences, for the reactions I'll get, but I’ll share two of the more minor ones. These experiences mostly happened over a 2-3 day period when we were camping. I dreaded going on the trip for the fact that my anxiety was so acute, I was exhausted, and the thought of all the work and activity that this would take with a husband, 5 kids and 2 dogs was not thrillin me in the least.

1st experience: I was lying in the camper. It was supper time. Usually when we went camping, I took over keeping the camper clean, keeping the kids occupied, helping with the preparations with dinner and clean-up. Well this time I was soooooo physically exhausted, and on top of the anxiety that I had about not sleeping was the anxiety I felt because I knew my husband was stressed about having so do so much. I remember lying in bed in the camper, and I could hardly get up my body was so spent. But the desire to avoid adding to the stress my husband felt superseded my exhaustion and so I started to get up to go out and save the day. But I clearly sensed God telling me to stay put. I clearly sensed Him wanting me to rest and not try to intervene and fix everything.

2nd experience: I was in the camper by myself, and my mind was agonizing over what was happening to me. I felt like I was letting my husband and kids down because I was so exhausted and filled with anxiety (plus I felt like I’d never sleep again and probably end up in the crazy house). As I said before, I often, over these 2 days, sensed God telling me to “trust Him” and to “look to Him.” There was a definite battle going on inside of me between trust and despair. At one point, I clearly sensed God asking me if I wanted to continue. I remember thinking about that for maybe a minute or two. And then I internally answered “yes”. Looking back after the fact, I wondered at the odd question. I thought, “What kind of choice to go on did I even have? I didn’t have any choice.” But I believe that God wanted me to consciously choose to go through this for the good that it would produce instead of running away in despair. (yes, I'm a Calvinist).

Ok, let er rip.

bp said...

Strong Tower, when did the NT Cannon close?

bp said...


1. I don’t have an argument with that. The question is, “when does this ‘completeness’ or 'fully knowing' that Paul is talking about happen?

2. My own. What are you saying?

Anonymous said...


The canon closed when John wrote the last verse of Revelation and put down his pen.

Your experience sounds exactly like the kind of tired stuff that Mike Riccardi was talking about. The kind of think that happens to everyone at one time or another.
Nothing revelatory, just a tired soul trying to manage.

Also, infallible revelation doesn't necessarily mean "add this to the canon for everyone" but it does mean "on par with Scripture, ignore this and you may as well be ignoring the whole NT."
See, when God speaks, its infallible, perfect and absolutely binding.
Think of it this way. Say you're perfect. In every way. (your husband's opinion doesn't count here...) And the only thing you ever do wrong is to ignore that still small voice one time.
If the voice is God and you ignore it, you're headed to hell. Just like ignoring what the bible itself teaches will send you to hell.

That's the definition of God speaking...or would be if we took God seriously.

But the Bible never ever tells us to listen for that voice. Why not?

But it does tell us to attend to every word written down for us "the faith once delivered" if you will.

bp said...

The canon closed when John wrote the last verse of Revelation and put down his pen.

Yes, I was simply trying to show Strong Tower that the point I was making to Seth was that when Paul says about himself, "Now I know in part, then I shall know fully," he couldn't have meant "then" to mean: When the cannon is closed. He must have meant when Jesus returns, which means (according to the text) that this is also when prophecies, tongues and knowledge will cease.

bp said...

Btw Daryl, if those were the only two things that happened to me, I might be able to just chalk it up to a tired soul trying to manage.

F Whittenburg said...

Interesting post. Dan. Boths sides make good arguments. Maybe this will help.

DJP wrote:Does Paul speak of listening for the Spirit's voice within? Does Paul urge Timothy or Titus to seek, expect, or even be open to a word from God for themselves? Does he assure them that the Spirit will communicate to them directly what they must say and do? Does he set them to expect experiences, feelings, urgings, movings, burdens, whisperings, still small voices, big loud voices, or any such thing?

In the instance you quoted Paul didn't, but Paul had before experienced direct communication and direction from the Holy Ghost:

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the HOLY Ghost said, Seperate me and Barnabus ans saul for the work whereunto I have called (direct ministry calling?)them.(Acts 31:2 KJV)

The precedent for this event was explained a few chapters earlier:

The former treatise have I made, O Theophiles, of all that Jesus began to do and teach, UNTIL the day in which he was taken up, after that he THROUGH the HOLY GHOST had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:(Acts 1:2 KJV).

In this instance (key), Jesus gave his apostles commandments thru the Holy Ghost, NOT the Torah. Which I think I see the point of your post is that since we do have those Holy Ghost inspired communications recorded in scripture, there is no need to seek them elsewhere. And all these arguments on both sides of this debate are still contained in the Scripture, which would also make your point.

As for everday direct and specific decsions that are not addressed by scriptures, I think the Scripture is clear: (Did I just make Dan's point with that statement?)

And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:24-26 KJV).

Pray and roll the dice!

Sorry for the drive by, Dan. The cats said "Hi" ... translated "meow".

F Whittenburg

Aaron said...


That's a rather novel interpretation of 1 Cor 13:12. I really don't know of any legitimate commentator who believes that 1 Cor 13:12 refers to Christ's return. Both 13:11and 13:12 are metaphors that Paul is using to illustrate the difference between the Christian's present understanding and expression of spiritual things and the perfect understanding and expression he will have in heaven. Paul is basically telling the Corinthians that they must not boast of their gifts because the gifts are nothing compared to what is in store for Christians in heaven. Furthermore, love is permanent, in contrast to prophecies and tongues, which will cease to exist as they cease to be needed (i.e. when the office of apostle is no longer needed...which is just another way of saying when the canon is complete).

Seth said...

I think your argument against my interpretation boils down the fact that Paul wasn't around when the NT was finished, so his use of "then I will"? If this is the case it still wouldn't refer to Christ's return, since just as Paul died before the NT was finished he also died before Christ's return (obvious statement). So how could it mean that.

bp said...

vs. 9-10
"For (or "because") we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away."

Paul doesn't state that "when the perfect comes" that he will be here to see it. It says when this happens, the partial (referring to prophecies/tongues/knowledge will pass away).

vs. 12
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

He's what he's saying he'll be around for. He's comparing "knowing in full" with seeing the Lord face to face, which he obviously has.

Answer this: How does it make sense for Paul to say that he knows in part, but will then know fully if he's referring to the closing of the canon?

bp said...

That's a rather novel interpretation of 1 Cor 13:12. I really don't know of any legitimate commentator who believes that

I mean that vs. 10 refers to his coming ("when the perfect comes"). And I agree that vs. 12 is speaking of the full knowledge that we'll have in heaven when we see Him face to face. Btw, my Reformations Study Bible and my ESV study Bible agree with this interpreation.

I don't know how you can say that, "then I will know fully" is referring to when we see Him in heaven and then say that the gifts pass away when the canon is closed. That completely goes against the text.

boyd said...

This lesson will be very disturbing to those who suffer from apostle envy.

Strong Tower said...

When that which is perfect is come “When the goal has been reached, then the helps in the race will be done away.” He retains, however, the form of expression that he had already made use of, when he contrasts perfection with what is in part “Perfection,” says he, “when it will arrive, will put an end to everything that aids imperfection.” But when will that perfection come? It begins, indeed, at death, for then we put off, along with the body, many infirmities; but it will not be completely manifested until the day of judgment, as we shall hear presently. Hence we infer, that the whole of this discussion is ignorantly applied to the time that is intermediate.

Strong Tower said...

The canon isn't the point. Whatever the perfection means, either death or the consummation, it is not outside the beginning of this chapter and indeed the whole of the book. That focus is on maturity. The eschaton is not to be related, Calvin says to the intermediate. The future state, is not yet, but it will be, but perfected love does not wait until then, neither does the maturity that Paul instructed Timothy in and command be the standard at Ephesus.

There are several dynamics working, there is the immaturity of the Corinthian believers who, even though they had been gifted, were acting as if they had not. And, they were contradicting one another, "of Paul, of Apollos. Paul claims to have perfect knowledge, what he doesn't have is the experiential reality of the consummative promise. What he has said about maturity is that all the "sign" gifts are temporary, given only until the perfect comes. Once he became a man he put away childish things. That is why I said the verse has little to do with a focus upon the consummation, it rather speaks to the on going fellowship of believers. The consummative state is not to be sought in this life, but perfection that remains is.

Strong Tower said...

One can argue the closing of the canon, what they cannot argue is that the perfect revealtion has not come. Paul teaches about what Jude is concluding. The faith, that is the entire corpus of the body of knowledge of the Lord, Christ and him crucified, has been delivered. Following on the heels of the gifts chapter, Paul is concluding that they are baby toys. They are given for the establishing of the saints in the truth. Once that is established they are no longer needed. What is that corpus of the faith? Paul is clear that it is found in the OT Scriptures. 1 Corinthians is not the normative. It is a church in transition as is clear in the openning chapters. They have not matured. Yet, Paul is instructing them that he and the apostles delivered the faith and expects that it be implemented. In Timothy and Ephesus, Paul is instructing what should be the normative at the completion of his work. And, that completion is the establishing of the church, a mission specifically given to him to perfect. The example of the finality of the perfection is demonstrative that whenever a finality is achieved, as Calvin is pointing to, the perfect has come. True enough, the manifestation of what is taught in that perfected knowledge has not yet been revealed. That is only logical, the Lord has not yet returned. But no new revelation of what will be revealed will be forth coming. So, even before Paul teaches on the gifts he lays down the ground rules of what all the gifts are given to do and that is to establish what has already been written, 1 Cor 4. Some were saying there was more. Paul said there wasn't. He emphasizes, that where these gifts now exist for an immature church, when the perfect comes, they will no longer matter. And that is the point. Having established earlier that there is no more to come, Paul tells them not to go beyond what is written thereby subjecting all, even further apostolic writings, to what already had been perfected.

Strong Tower said...

The future canonization of the Scripture is not even at question, he is already concluding that all that is necessary for the church to know, for all things concerning life and godlines, is already theirs.

The church was established upon a single foundation, this rock, a foundation that is immovable, one that is defined as that of the apostles and prophets. It is not established upon any truth outside of what they taught. Learn from us not to go beyond what is written.

Paul is leaving, so all those whose job it was to bring the church to maturity. Having established Timothy, he instructs him to do no more, no less, than Paul had done,. Teach the truth, be ready, rebuke, correct, forbid, avoid. Paul was not leaving the work unperfected, and he was telling them that when he left it would be completed so that when that day comes they could stand. Even though the Lord's parousia has not happened, even though we do not yet behold him face to face, the teaching of Scripture is not going to change.

No one here believes that God doesn't providentially move all things along according to his Spirit. What is challenged is if God is giving special revelational truth. The need, Paul concluded is over. Once the church was established; 2 Timothy 4:7. Does he speak, no one thinks other wise, but his voice is found within the Scripture, not outside it and it always testifies to itself, not to individuals privately, but to all to profit all.

Now, whatever is from prophecy, or gifts of knowledge, or what ever signifying gift, does not matter seeing that the perfect, that is the church has come and Paul has concluded that Timothy had actually known the faith since he was a youth and that was founded upon the OT. What matters is love. Even at the time of Corinthians, the baby gifts were to be put away for the maturity of submission to what had once and for all been deliver to the saints. The point of it all is that those things were for children, but we are not to remain that way. Indeed, he has given pastors and teachers to whom we are now to submit ourselves to for instruction, not some unsubtantive private interpretation.

Strong Tower said...

Sorry about the length.

Coffee kicked in.

bp said...

Strong Tower, unfortuntately about 90% of what you wrote went 20 feet over my head. You sound very learned, and I know I have a lot to learn. However, I did pull a few things out of it.

It seems that we are in agreement that "when the perfect comes" is probably referring to the 2nd coming of Christ. And it seems we are in agreement that it is not referring to the closing of the canon, as Seth suggested.

If that's true, then help me understand what I'm not getting about the following text:

(paraphrasing) 1 Cor 13:8 says that, unlike love, the gifts are going to pass away. Then vs. 9-10 says why: "For" now we know in part, but then (when the perfect comes), the partial will pass away.

The second part of vs. 12 uses the exact same language as vs 9, "For" now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Both are mentions of seeing Christ. And they are given as "reasons" (hence the "for") that the gifts will pass away, which means they will pass away definately when Christ returns, and for anyone who dies before that, when they see Him face to face. Now please show me (very simply) how this is innacurate, and how you think this should be interpreted (just verses 8-12).

And btw, I'm not saying that Paul didn't know all that he could know in his time. I am not suggesting that Paul said he knows in part because there is futher prophetic revelation to be had. I think you might be totally confusing what I'm saying.

Seth said...

Strong Tower does have slightly different take on what the meaning of the “perfect” in the verse then I do. But your referencing it as Christ and the “then” as his return is without base. Think of the phrase “the perfect”, you added the word “one” in your previous post because the phrase in referring to a person doesn’t make any sense without that extra word. My take on the verse as referring to the whole of Scripture is bases on other verses in Scripture, like 2 Timothy 3:14-16 (see how this pesky verse keeps coming back), tell us that the things Paul mentions- Prophecies, tongues and the gift of knowledge are gone and the cannon is the now what we base our faith on (also see Romans 10:17). I understand Strong Tower’s take on it as the church and can just as easily expect it, because it also jives with other Scripture (Ephesians 5- the Church is Christ’s body).

What Strong Tower says about the purpose of Corinthians is similar to what I was trying to point out. This isn’t a book about Christ’s return, it’s about becoming a mature Christian. In fact in the next chapter he goes on some more about being more concerned about orderly worship. He then in chapter 16 touches on Christ’s return in a few short sentences and even then without even mentioning the topic of chapter 13.

bp said...

Thanks Seth, that gives me a better understanding. Strong Tower's comments just seemed to be all over the place and it was hard for me to decipher.

I can see your view (and I think his), but I'm not convinced of it by 1 Cor 13 and the other passages you mentioned. But even if I was, I don't see how the experiences I had could be considered prophetic revelation.

greglong said...


When Paul says he will see "face to face", what is it he will see? Himself. When the "perfect" (complete) comes, he will see himself clearly, unlike the dim reflection of prophecies, tongues, and revelation.

James 1:22-25
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

So this passage is not talking about seeing Christ face to face, but rather seeing ourselves clearly in the perfect revelation of Scripture rather than in the incomplete revelation of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge.

(This is one interpretation of this passage that points to cessationism. Another possible interpretation is to see a connection with Numbers 12:6-8 which contrasts clear, face to face revelation with the unclear revelation of prophecy/dreams/visions (and tongues). The Scripture is God's complete and clear revelation which makes prophecies, tongues, and knowledge unnecessary.)

Anonymous said...


Exegetical basis for cessasionism, please?

Yeah, didn't think so.

1Co. 13 is ridiculous to anyone who's seen it in context, and any other is a strong imposition of meaning.

I'm glad you're happy with your Bible here in the developed world, but not everyone has that luxury.

And if you call yourself a Calvinist, you don't believe in a stingy God. Perhaps stingy parents and institutions have given us the wrong idea, but God does not. (Oh, and the two witnesses of Revelation are still long after the close of the canon.)

I don't want to sink to disparaging comments, but I can't help but notice that scripturally-groundless traditions (like pre-trib rapture) are more prevalent than we would like.

If we are to be mortifying sin in ourselves, let that include false teaching.

(I know that sounds a little dogmatic, but you're not going to believe me based on persuasion anyway. Ask God.)

Anonymous said...

Dan, others,

Thanks for your kind attention to this point.

May I turn you to the following incident from the 1530's?


The plague being now considerably abated, he determined to pay a visit to the town of Montrose. . .he received a letter directed to him from his intimate friend the laird of Kinnear, acquainting him that he had taken a sudden sickness, and requested him to come to him with all diligence. Upon this he immediately set out on his journey, attended by some honest friends in Montrose, who, out of affection, would accompany him part of the way. They had not traveled above a quarter of a mile, when all of a sudden he stopped, saying to the company, “I am forbidden by God to go this journey. Will some of you be pleased to ride to yonder place (point with his finger to a little hill), and see what you find, for I apprehend there is a plot against my life; “ whereupon he returned to the town, and they, who went forward to the place, found about sixty horsemen ready to intercept him. By this the whole plot came to light; they found that the letter had been forged; and upon their telling Mr. Wishart what they had seen, he replied, “I know that I shall end my life by the hands of that wicked man (meaning the Cardinal), but it will not be after this manner.” (The Scots Worthies," by John Howie, of Lochgoin. Edingburgh and London: Oliphant, Anderson, & Ferrier, 1870, page 22)

The comment has been made that there are no true continuationists. That's preposterous. Maybe there are none in your ivory tower, Dan, but there are a few here in my "cave of the earth."

It's quite inconsistent to argue the restriction of charistmatic gifts to the apostolic, "church-establishing" age and then deny their legitimacy based on church-establishing perceptions.

Anonymous said...

Forgot an explanation sorry~!

The above incident from the 16th century... was that legitimate?

If it was not a spiritual gift or God's revelation, then what was it? And how can you justify two standards?

Mike Riccardi said...


Exegetical basis for cessasionism, please?

Yeah, didn't think so

Charlie, are you sure you meant that for me? I have no idea where you're coming from.

And, no matter who you're talking to, take the attitude down a few notches.

greglong said...

Umm, Charlie, did you just read my explanation of 1 Cor. 13? Would you care to address the point I made?

Nolan said...


A rebuttal to your view. What do you think? These are not my words. They are from professor Charles Powell of Dallas Theological seminary. I do agree with his statements.

The canon view was very popular among noncharismatics until the mid-1960's. The basic argument for this view is a logical inference that those who have the Scriptures do not know partially or prophesy partially. This is tied to Ephesians 2:20 as part of the foundation laying of the church. With this revelation, the three gifts discussed here would then no longer be needed. Appeal is also made to James 1:23-25 on the basis of lexical imagery.
The same imagery of "mirror," "face," and "perfect" occur in both passages. In James the written Word of God, the Scriptures, are compared to a "mirror" wherein one may behold his "face." Moreover, the Scriptures are referred to as the "perfect law of liberty." It is suggested that the imagery is used in the same way. The point, then, that Paul was making to the Corinthians is that because only a part of the NT had been given, they saw "dimly." However when the "perfect" (i.e., the completed Scriptures) comes they would see their reflection clearly, "face to face."
While the imagery is interesting, the view and the comparison fails on several counts: (a) James was written before 1 Corinthians and the perfect law is most likely referring to the OT Scriptures. If the law (Scriptures) is per-fect in James why is it partial and still to come in 1 Corinthians. This view is also too specific and anachronistic in referring to Paul and the Corinthians having an understanding that there would be a canon. At least it is unrealistic to see Paul as knowing whether or not the Scriptures were complete. It also implies that Scriptures are only sufficient at a certain point in time, i.e., at completion. This contradicts both the view of James 1; Psalm 19; and 2 Tim 3:16. (b) In James 1 the individual is looking at his face in the mirror and then looks at the Scriptures. The perfect law is con-trasted to the mirror, not identified with it. In 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 the individual is looking at God in the mirror, therefore, he only sees Him dimly. It may be that the Scriptures can be identified with the mirror in 1 Corinthians 13, but not with the "perfect." The contrast is between the mirror and the "perfect." When the "perfect" comes we shall see God "face to face." Despite the fact that we have a sufficient revelation in the Scriptures, we do not know fully, as the myriad of interpretations of this passage demonstrate, certainly not as we are fully known by God.

Strong Tower said...

"Despite the fact that we have a sufficient revelation in the Scriptures, we do not know fully, as the myriad of interpretations of this passage demonstrate, certainly not as we are fully known by God."

That is only true if it is assumed that everyone is wrong. How arrogant is it that one person assumes to know all others knowledge, and all things so well, as to declare as absolute truth that there is no absolute truths concerning a particular truth claim in Scripture, i.e., the perfect? It is only assumed by those who wish to be justified in their errors that all are in error. By that standard there is nothing that can be claimed as perfectly true, not even the bare Gospel can be depended upon as correct and there goes the faith. Statements like "the faith once and for all delivered to the saints" become meaningless. In fact truth claims like: Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:10, would be meaningless. Now, taking the fact that Jude wrote that the faith was delivered and his writing was included in the canon, the conclusion is that he believe his writing to be canonical. But he says that what he was writing was already delivered. It is perfect. And once a believer gets that, he ceases looking for Jesus plus. For He is our faith, and the Scripture testifies of him. Looking for anything else is to deny that faith once and for all delivered. The most one can say when they don't know is not that everyone else does not know either, but humbly admit that they just don't get it.

When the truth is established, making the means of establishing it superfluous, as Paul admonishes in the chapter, we put away such stupidity such as vain arguements that cannot render the truth, because the perfect has come when the truth is arrived at. It is as if we see God face to face. But some children never grow up and continue to play games with words no matter what is taught simply because they refuse to submit to what is written.

Perhaps what you meant is that we don't agree, fully. But that is the point of the epistle. There was much immaturity posing as maturity and each was seeking his own interpretation. It is not mature love that disagrees and the only basis of agreement, Paul already said, was what was written. So if you do no know what is written, Paul also simply says, shut up. More than that, he instructs Timothy to command others to keep their mouths shut and stop teaching for doctrines the myths, wives tales and whatever else are mere traditions of men.

Henry said...

Ok, there are so many different points I would like to address here but time does not permit so I will pick the central one that I think DJP is getting at.

It seems to me that you are trying to argue that 2Tim3:16 precludes any kind of 'supernatural' divine guidance in the believers life. To do this a certain narrow sense of meaning is required from the text.

I think most people here do not get your argument because it does not seem to be very obvious that the text is meant in the narrow sense you take.

The key question is: In what sense are we 'fully-equipped' by Scripture for 'every good work'?

Are you saying that we don't need the working of the Holy Spirit to enable us to perform good works? - because we are already 'fully-equipped' by Scripture?

Or that we don't need to pray for grace to be kind to people because Scripture has already 'fully-equipped' us to perform acts of kindness?

Or that we don't need the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to sanctify us because Scripture has already 'fully-equipped' us for this?

Obviously not.

'If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the flesh' Rom 8:13

But if not, then why can the Spirit not aid us in other good works, such as enabling us to encourage a fellow believer with a prophecy, rare though this may be?

On the basis of Scripture's own testimony we need the working of the Spirit in our hearts. Ergo, Scripture is not 'adequate' in the overly narrow sense you imply. The sufficiency of Scripture does not preclude the working of the Holy Spirit, rather it warrants it.

A much more reasonable understanding of 2Tim3:16 is that Scripture 'fully equips' us for 'every good work' in the sense of providing sufficient and authoritative moral and doctrinal guidelines which are to inform all of our good works and give boundaries to them. But this does not preclude the workings of the Holy Spirit where He so chooses, rather the working of the Spirit is crucial if we are to perform any genuine good work.

This interpretation has the obvious advantage of explaining why we should still pray for grace to be kind aswell as explaining tricky texts that don't sit too well with the cessationist such as 1Cor14:1, 1Cor12:4-11 which seem to be unjustly discarded - in spite of the plain meaning of 1Cor13:8-12 that has to be wriggled out of in order to maintain cessationism.

Henry said...

Also, in these discussions I think it is helpful to distinguish between 2 questions:

1) Does Scripture teach that certain workings of the Holy Spirit have ceased (prophecy etc..)?

2) How much of what goes on in much of the Charismatic scene is a genuine manifestation of these workings?

'No' and 'a little' would be my two answers.

Henry said...

Charles Spurgeon had some good advice:

Some, I know, fall into a very vicious habit, which habit they excuse themselves—namely, that of ordering their footsteps according to impressions.

Every now and then I meet with people whom I think to be rather weak in the head, who will journey from place to place and will perform follies by the gross under the belief that they are doing the will of God because some silly whim of their diseased brains is imagined to be an inspiration from above. There are occasionally impressions of the Holy Spirit which guide men where no other guidance could have answered the end.

I have been the subject of such impressions, myself, and have seen very singular results. But to live by impressions is oftentimes to live the life of a fool and even to fall into downright rebellion against the revealed Word of God. Not your impressions, but that which is in this Bible must always guide you. "To the Law and to the Testimony."

DJP said...

Halo, I don't think there's any evidence or reason for accusing everyone else of not getting the posts. Just you, and one or two others. And you continue not to get them.

I think this one's played out enough.