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Unread 04-13-2004, 03:30 PM   #1
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Need assistance from cessationists.

I want to stress the fact this is addressed to cessationists. I don't want this to be a debate over what scripture says about spitiual gifts. I just have a lot of thoughts and would like them answered by Cessationists because they seem to be the only ones even willing to question something rather than just accepting it as from God. I'm sorry that I seem incapable of forming specific questions, but hopefully in expressing my state of being someone could shed light upon my confused state.

Where I'm coming from:
As many of you know, I was raised charismatic pentecostal and have since then reformed. My place of greatest and constant wavering has been with cessationism. I have come to understand the cessationist position fairly well, but I suppose I have seen too much, heard too much, and been used of too much, so I am convicted by my own witness and practice to believe a theory of mine called dynamic cessationism.

This is basically that while the church is built and mature here, it is not in other places. So where maturity reigns miraculous supernatural assistance fades because it is not needed as such, but for ministers of the gospel all hinderances to the gospel (illness/disabilities, language barriers, etc) God will overcome and miraculously so if needed. I do completely reject the notion of new prophesy as the cannon is closed, however this is to be distinguished from discernment.

It is something I have experience both in ministering to others and having it ministered unto me. The best I can describe it is as a function where I feel exactly what the other person is feeling, and as I would discern my own feelings I therein discern theirs and then in already existing knowledge of scripture and wisdom I give them encouragement/correction.

From what I have found as I have gained the ability to talk and counsel people in love so they share with me openly this had faded. But now and then it has shown up again in situations where I didn't have opportunity to stay and talk with a person or meet with them at a later time. It seems where functioning in a more natural, mature way is not possible, God takes over by supernatural means.

Now there is the most confusing issue of the modern "tongues". As everyone knwos there has been much debate over it, I have been able to do it for as long as I can remember, however due to the following concerns I have refrained from it, though having the occasional desire arise within me to practice it.

Things against these modern "tongues":
-Scriptural examples as earthly languages, support for "heavenly languages" being incredibly weak.

-History of these charismatic practices common in pagan religions (note: the presentation of that site is not good but the info is solid)

-Church history lacks them until recently ("recent" as relative to history), the origins often being through experience with the aforementioned pagan practices.

-Often manifestations break out into choas, lack of self-control and heresies.

Things that end up confusing me:
-My father as well as several others received it with no prior knowledge or experience of it. A previous youth pastor of mine claimed he received it while a young man in the navy, it came with interpretation that it was unto his edification, he had to look up what that word meant cause he had never heard it before. He later found a pentecostal fellowship.

-I have been able to do it from a very young age, like 3 or something. According to my parents I never bore witness to it before then, and it was definitely not just childish babbling. Also I became a much more peacable child afterwards.

-Though having been accompanied with many bad things, it has also been accompanied with many good things such as healing and the aforementioned discernment.

-The notion of restoration of many thigns that were lost in the rule of the roman catholic church since the time of the reformation. If so many others things were restored, this could possibly be one of them.

Analytical thoughts:
-Presence of evil within a practice does not make the entirety of the practice evil. Many things created for good have been perverted, especially when practiced in excess and without focus on the gospel.

-Being used for good does not automatically qualify something as a spiritual gift. God has miraculously redeemed many things of man. If these things are being practiced unto God in faith, obviously God may well use it for His purposes, though they not be expressedly commanded functions of ministry according to His word.

-It would seem by Matthew 7:22 and some OT examples that unsaved men may still be used for miraculous purposes, and so the practice of these things among pagans and heretics does not necessarily disqualify them as spiritual.

-There is the possibility these are demonic practices as they have been so prevalent in many forms of idolatrous and pagan practices.

-There is the possibility they are of God, and from the ignorance of God's expressed purpose and proper constraint of practice unto obedience they are used to deceive and lead astray. As has occurred with many things of God, even His most holy word.

-There is the possibility it is just an ability which man carries, not spiritual in any sense but confused as such, and therein used in worship and service, either unto God or unto idols/demons.

-There is the possibility that it, while not being a spiritual gifting for the specific use of the ministry, may yet be spiritual practice man posseses which may be used unto God or unto idols/demons.

-There is the possibility that there is both a tongues that is of God and a counterfeit tongues that is of demons and the discernment between the two can in some ways be difficult, but in other ways be known by their fruits. With this possibility that which is righteous and holy is probably of greater rarity than that which is evil, as such is typical of righteousness and holiness.

Scripture that seems kind of odd, makes me go "hmm":

1 Corinthians 14
1Co 14:15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
1Co 14:16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say "Amen" to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
1Co 14:17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.
1Co 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
1Co 14:19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Concern I have about PCA:
I am endevoring to become a worship pastor for a PCA church. There is no other church even remotely close to my beliefs, and aside from an ignorance of detailed eschatology (I only vaguely know but from what I do have strong leanings to agree with them) this is the only area in which I have variance of belief.

I would not be a teaching pastor, but would function primarily in leading worship of music and acting as a pastor in counseling and discipleship, perhaps also in taking groups on some short-term evangelism and/or missions projects. With my variance of dynamic cessationism I am unsure if a PCA church would accept me for such a position, does anyone know how these things work out?

Conclusion: All this is very confusing, I see nothing of it as essential and so my position is not staunch but merely open to many possibilities towards it.


Last edited by Danomir; 04-13-2004 at 03:44 PM.
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Unread 04-13-2004, 04:25 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danomir
From what I have found as I have gained the ability to talk and counsel people in love so they share with me openly this had faded. But now and then it has shown up again in situations where I didn't have opportunity to stay and talk with a person or meet with them at a later time. It seems where functioning in a more natural, mature way is not possible, God takes over by supernatural means.
There's a difference between the work of God generally and the operation of the gifts we claim have ceased. These gifts accompanied the Apostolic ministry of foundation-laying. Hence, we clearly expect the revelatory word-gifts to have ceased, and the gifts of healing (but not particular, miraculous healings) and miracle-working seem to be two more likely candidates.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danomir
-My father as well as several others received it with no prior knowledge or experience of it. A previous youth pastor of mine claimed he received it while a young man in the navy, it came with interpretation that it was unto his edification, he had to look up what that word meant cause he had never heard it before. He later found a pentecostal fellowship.

-I have been able to do it from a very young age, like 3 or something. According to my parents I never bore witness to it before then, and it was definitely not just childish babbling. Also I became a much more peacable child afterwards.
Scientists tell us that most every human is capable of speaking in an unintelligible language.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danomir
-The notion of restoration of many thigns that were lost in the rule of the roman catholic church since the time of the reformation. If so many others things were restored, this could possibly be one of them.
This sounds unlikely, because its origins were in not-so-orthodox groups. You'd think that God would be granting the gift to those in faithful groups who were returning to His ways, rather than groups who were undoing much of the good of the Reformation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danomir
-There is the possibility that there is both a tongues that is of God and a counterfeit tongues that is of demons and the discernment between the two can in some ways be difficult, but in other ways be known by their fruits. With this possibility that which is righteous and holy is probably of greater rarity than that which is evil, as such is typical of righteousness and holiness.
This possibility should be rejected unless we can find Scriptural warrant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danomir
Scripture that seems kind of odd, makes me go "hmm":

1 Corinthians 14
1Co 14:15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
1Co 14:16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say "Amen" to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
1Co 14:17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.
1Co 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
1Co 14:19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
A plausible suggestion is that "my spirit" refers to the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit has been given to him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danomir
I would not be a teaching pastor, but would function primarily in leading worship of music and acting as a pastor in counseling and discipleship, perhaps also in taking groups on some short-term evangelism and/or missions projects. With my variance of dynamic cessationism I am unsure if a PCA church would accept me for such a position, does anyone know how these things work out?
Seems doubtful that you could be ordained with that kind of a major exception to the WCF.

Ch. I. Of the Holy Scripture
I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his church; and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing: which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
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Unread 04-13-2004, 04:43 PM   #3
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And thats the thing, as far as I can tell I agree completely with that portion of the WCF, as I said before I see nothing of revelatory prophesies. However I have seen and can testify as to how we have the truth and complete prophesy of the scriptures and in speaking them we are in a sense prophesying, and likewise of this discernment we can speak them directly unto a persons need. Then, in ministering of the gospel to places where it has never previously gone forth, if there are things standing in the way of the message going forth, it has been known of God to take care of those obstacles. If it's by healing of a persons body, working past language barriers, moving a mountain, whatever else, then so it shall be if the Lord wants His message to go forth in that place. It may not be used in the sense of a gifting whereupon a person may practice it at will, but I am convinced that God works in such cases as it becomes the need of the situation (read: dynamically).

As I was getting at before as far as I can tell I do understand the arguments for cessationism. But the arguments seem to have nothing to do with and certainly do not seem to disqualify the possibility of the things I am led to believe are possible. And that is why I am looking for some assistance here, because I don't see how cessationism is directly opposed to my notions. And certainly I don't see how "I don't know" ought to disqualify me as a pastor in the PCA, though I understand such decisions are up to those who would consider me. Obviously this is a matter of life calling and of great investment of time and money for education and training before even being considered, so I would like to deal with it now long before it even comes up.

Every reformed writing on cessationism I have seen seems entirely focused in arguing against the revelatory gifts and they do so to protect the scriptures. On that I have to agreewith them entirely, but I do not go so far as many others in cessationist denominations seem to when it comes to the limitations of how the Spirit functions in other, non-revelatory ways. That is what makes me so confused, and what makes it difficult to explain to others and/or ask them about without confusing them.
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Unread 04-13-2004, 06:16 PM   #4
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Even cessationists expect some prophets to return

Hello Danomir.

Point of agreement: the canon is closed.
Point of interest: most often when you read about healing in the New Testament, the qualifier “all” is used to describe how many were healed. Why is that not true today?

However, more to the point, even cessationists will agree that prophets (prophecy) will be seen at least once more when the 2 prophets return with miraculous power and miracles at the end of the age. Then they will be killed, then they will rise again.

Keep studying the Scriptures and keep us updated on your conclusions.
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Unread 04-13-2004, 06:23 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swordfish7
However, more to the point, even cessationists will agree that prophets (prophecy) will be seen at least once more when the 2 prophets return with miraculous power and miracles at the end of the age. Then they will be killed, then they will rise again.
Would you be up to discussing your interpretation of this scripture in a thread dedicated to that topic?

(D.M.: My apologies for breaking your request and posting.)
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Unread 04-13-2004, 07:07 PM   #6
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Just being honest in my responsive thoughts...

Quote:
Scientists tell us that most every human is capable of speaking in an unintelligible language.
Scientists also tell us that most every human is capable of reading the holy scriptures, praying unto God and singing songs of praise to Him. The fact of something being common to all man does not disqualify it as a means of worship and ministry that He has set within us. And of course if anything is going to occur, that occurrence will be tangible and evidenced because that is the definition of an occurrence. Also I am pretty sure I have seen the scientific documentation of which you speak, and I'm pretty sure they mentioned that it is something we can do once it has been enabled. Like there is a switch to flip first and they don't know what flips it. That is curious to me, esspecially in light of the testimony of several friends and my own father, whom received it while in ignorance of what it was, but in correlation with seeking the Lord.

Also I think I need to clarify on Corinthians since I was in a hurry and didnt explain much before. My issue with 1 Cor 14:18-19 that that Paul says he thanks God that he spoke in tongues more than any of them, but in church he would much rather speak five words of instruction than ten thousand in a tongue. Such is to lead one to think his frequent speaking of tongues was not within the church, because he would so much more greatly desire to instruct. And perhaps he is thus speaking of different natured tongue than the revelatory giftings which were a mystery without interpretation.

This is further questioned when seeing the nature of the tongue is to give thanks, the revelatory gifting of tongues was unto the correction and building up of the church, and the meaning was unknown until interpretation was offered. But in this sense a person is demonstrated as speaking on a tongue to give thanks, if such is the case than the purpose of the tongue is known. And inasmuch distinguished as of different a nature than the other, in which it would make more sense with what Paul says in verses 15, 18 and 19.

Quote:
Point of interest: most often when you read about healing in the New Testament, the qualifier “all” is used to describe how many were healed. Why is that not true today?
There are several instances where Jesus or a man of God would come across a person and heal them so as to preach the gospel to them. Also, you make an assumption when you say it doesn't happen today. My dad went on some missions to some crusades with my uncle in law's father's ministry (he is from South Africa) in Nigeria. Hundreds and hundreds of people came from hundreds of miles away to come and seek the Lord. And so many people were healed and gave testimony to it they couldn't count them all.

All they were doing is preaching the gospel to a people eager to be saved but without knowledge as to how, and then teaching them how to pray and ask God for healing, and then signing praises to God, as they did this it all just happened. Now if you want to latch on to the little word "all" and build a perspective from it thats ok, but if you think about how one would record those events in Nigeria you start using the same language as is used in many biblical accounts.

The dynamic cessationism theory is somewhat vital to reasoning this out. Yeah, that kind of stuff doesn't happen here in the states very often, but it does continue to happen in missions to places where the church is not firmly established. My theory is that if these outpourings of blessing and healing and other miracles were to establish the church and afterwards when they reached maturity they ceased. Perhaps they may still occur where the church is not firmly established and mature yet.

Does that mean theoretically if an entire group of churches, for whatever reason, with all their maturity in knowledge of the scriptures, available resources and structure where to move from america to a place void of the gospel, that these things may not take place because the maturity is already there? Perhaps. That is why it's a theory yet, and ultimately my answer to the topic of cessationism is "I don't know, but I know of much".
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Unread 04-14-2004, 07:32 AM   #7
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Seems doubtful that you could be ordained with that kind of a major exception to the WCF.
True, but it should be noted that the PCA does allow for some exceptions. For example, my New Testament theology professor had to argue for two hours about why he thought that drama should be allowed in a worship service before he was allowed to join the denomination.

Just thought I'd point that out, since he mentioned it last class

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Unread 04-16-2004, 10:12 AM   #8
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Your Theory is Interesting...and this from a Mostly Cessationist

Dear Danomir,

I appreciate your observations regarding the missionary experience. As you may have noticed, I am a 99% cessationist. I reserve the right to believe that God can (and does) perform miracles, even healings, at any time He pleases, including casting out demons, though the overwhelming empirical data seems to indicate He has chosen to discontinue such sign gifts. This would be the difference I see between the New Testament and today, gifts of healing such as Peter employed were predictable and repeatable, therefore, “all” were healed, even those who were not seeking healing. Today, we must invent reasons to explain why people who desire healing are not healed by those who name themselves healers.

Your theory of maturity and miracles is intriguing. Does your theory also imply that if God grants miracles in an immature area it will not/did not occur “on demand” but unpredictably and perhaps in temporary timeframes?

Thanks for clarifying.
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Unread 04-16-2004, 03:45 PM   #9
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I'd agree with the notion that it seems to be that these things aren't handed out as predictable and repeatable gifts as they were in the NT. It would seem that there is nobody gifted as a "healer", that they could freely heal as a preacher would freely preach. But I guess it's time to really get into my theory and explaning it, so grab a snickers, it's gonna be awhile...

My concept is not only the sense of immaturity, but that of God's desired advancement of the gospel. It is very key to my concept in answering that question of "what about those who desire these things and are not granted them?". But there are two sides to it. You see, God works through men of faith. We must seek to receive a miracle or do a miracle by faith, but what is faith? is faith merely believing? Well lets look a little into the nature of things...

Hebrews 11
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

A good question is how can we be assured of something? Can we be assured in something God refuses to let happen? Can we be assured in fairy tales? And then what is conviction? is conviction what we would like to believe, or is it our internal understanding of what is ultimately true?

Hebrews 11
2 For by it the men of old gained approval.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

This to me (and the rest of the chapter) seems to draw a picture that faith is believing in what is already true. It is believing and acting in what God has established in truth and by His plans of what to do here on earth. Noah had faith in building the ark, but did his belief that it would flood make it flood? No, it was God's plan, and Noah was assured and convicted of the established fact of that plan. In this regard, I would even go so far as to say no one can truly believe, truly have faith in anything unless it is the plan of God.

Romans 1
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

Men know the truth, but the surpress it in their minds. To this end I believe man can say they believe any which thing, but they can not be fully assured and have faith in that unless it is from God. And there is even an extent to which if it were possible to be fully convinced of something not of God, then in such a state we would be innocent rather than transgressors. But we'll not get into that...

John 16
8 "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;
9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me;
10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me;
11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

This is the nature of conviction, the nature of faith. God has these ultimate truth and ultimate plans, and when we have faith and believe in those plans things happen. Not because we have faith, but because it is God's plan, yet God has chosen to effect that plan through faithful men. So these things are true and we can have confidence in them...

1 John 5
14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

But when I say He will work miracles if it is His will for His full message of the gospel to go forth in an area, and some miracles are required for that, isn't it always His will? As He has commanded us to go and preach the gospel to all the world, so isn't it already His will, so these miracles should be predictable and even always happen? Well this is a bit tricky...

John 6
63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
64 "But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.
65 And He was saying, "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father."
66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
67 So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?"
68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.
69 "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God."
70 Jesus answered them, "Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?"

Jesus had a crowd of five thousand before Him, and He spoke the truth. He did so fully within the will of God but in the end it seems only His 12 were left, and as He says even one of them was a devil, not truly believing it would seem (lets not get into that debate). The point of the idea was that the miracle of belief was left up to the Father. Christ was taking the message and then the Father was granting the ability to come to Christ in response to it.

I think in a similar way, miracles can happen to grant people the ability to hear the gospel if maybe an illness or something else was getting in the way. In every way God can and probably does use many miracles to bring people to Him. But does that mean He will always do as such because we are in His will preaching the gospel to all people? No. It's not predictable whom God will grant these miracles in the same way that it was not predictable (except to Jesus cause He was/is God) who would believe Jesus when He spoke to the five thousand.

But now am I saying two different things? One moment I'm saying it depends on maturity, so that we might be able to put together a predictable pattern for miracles to show up. But then the next moment I'm saying it's a complete mystery and in the hands of God where He would want the gospel message to go forth and be received by miraculous means? Not quite, and I'll try to explain.

Ultimately, by any means, God uses miracles to bring us to Him. For a sinner to come to repentance, that is a complete miracle and granted by God. However, the means changes, and I think a lot of times that means changes in terms of maturity. But what is maturity? I think it can best be described as love.

1 Corinthians 12
27 Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.

So here are all these amazing, miraculous giftings. They go forth with authority, they are visible and audible, and they were to rightly be desired by the church. But what does he say at the end there? There is yet a more excellent way, and as we all know that way is love. Does that mean love excludes miracles? By no means, but there is something we can learn from this.

In my own example of whatever this discernment was. I never thought of it as prophesy, it never came in words and it never came with a message, I just felt the persons heart. The way I tend to look at it among Christians was that we are one body, and I could feel how one part of my fellow body was hurting, so I would hurt with it/them and tend to them.

In terms of it applying to non-Christians, I wonder about the terminology of John 16 and "conviction" and how far this conviction of sin and righteousness can go, likewise the terminology of 1 Cor 2 in sharing the mind of Christ and appraising all things, and another part with that and in Romans 8 talking about having the Spirit and Him helping up in our weakness with groanings, etc. But I'm running a tangent, back to what I was getting at...

At the time all I knew how to do was pray. I didn't have hardly any scriptural knowledge, hardly any practical wisdom, I just knew to trust in God and I knew how to pray for people. Since that time I have grown to understand scripture better, I have grown in love, and I can talk to people in a loving way so that through love they open up and share their hurts without the need of that discernment.

Did God stop doing miracles? No, but the miracles were no longer supernatural, they function within nature, but in the spiritual miracle and maturity of love. Now every now and then I'll have a circumstance where I don't have an opportunity to function by those means. Really all I have to give is a prayer perhaps and I won't ever see them again, in such cases the discernment has come back. So I see these trends in cultures and missions.

1 Corinthians 13
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Now there has been a lot of debate on this and I don't want to get into that. But I will bring out one point, the way I see things and I might be wrong. Out of faith hope and love, the greatest is love, why? Well when all is said and done and everything is perfected, what was by faith will have been revealed, and what was hoped for will have come and been fulfilled. So what is left is love, and that is the rule by which all things will be run. But in fuctioning by love, we are automatically getting a glimpse of what is to come, we are functioning in maturity we don't even understand yet.

On this earth however, there is still immaturity. So as we walk by a love which is mature and will stand forever, sometimes in our immaturity love is expressed in immature means, and so these supernatural miracles occur. In the NT times there was a lot of prophesy, but now that it is complete in the scriptures it has ended, but I think some people still need to receive things by other miracles.

They are an immature people, they don't have the understanding of Christ's church. Some things they do understand though are miracles, something they need in their poverty and oporession is miracles. Ultimately the message and God's love goes forth, but it goes forth in a way which draws them to maturity. He works through this understanding now, and soon draws them unto maturity in love. And it's all according to His mysterious plan.

John 14
10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.
11 "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.
12 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

A lot of people take this to mean that people would do greater supernatural miracles, but I'd argue thats not the case. He said either believe His words or believe by the miracles, then He starts tallking about greater works. He is making a correlation between belief and the miracles being referenced to. Not only that, but He says if you believe, you will do these greater works. So if we're talking about supernatural works, why isn't everyone doing them?

The thing is I don't think He is talking about supernatural works, because He says we will do them why? Because He goes to the Father. And what happens then? He sends the Holy Spirit. Now the work of the Holy Spirit is greater than these supernatural miracles becuase you can heal a man's body and his soul may still go to hell. The witnesses of a supernatural miracle may be those around it, but the witnesses of a miracle by the Spirit in a man's heart is everyone he meets for the rest of his life.

And yet while this is the maturity we are granted and called to in the Spirit and in our faith, you see how here Christ first talks physical miracles and signs before He gets to the reality of the spiritual condition of every man. I think even today God often follows this pattern. Where immaturity, spiritual ignorance and the poverty/opression that would keep peoples minds locked onto their needs is present, I think God often breaks through all of those with supernatural miracles and signs to turn their minds to the maturity of awareness of the spiritual realm and living by it's maturity which is obedient love.

Now keeping all of this in mind, I again wonder what the PCA would think of this. Would they be greatly opposed to it? Would they not care? Would they only care if I was staunch about it not in the "I'm not sure" position that I'm in right now? The thing is I do believe these things happen, but I don't exactly believe they are giftings as they were in the early Christian church.
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Unread 04-17-2004, 10:01 PM   #10
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This sounds unlikely, because its origins were in not-so-orthodox groups. You'd think that God would be granting the gift to those in faithful groups who were returning to His ways, rather than groups who were undoing much of the good of the Reformation.
Point of interest: Were those great scholarly men who were advancing the reformation and doing much good open to the possibility of these things that they would seek them in faith? Or could it have been discovered by these others groups due to the experiential attitude they had which led to their folly in other aspects of the faith?

In fact, I've noticed often when people start speaking in this way, they have the implied notion that tongues just flips on automatically and you can't cotnrol it. This is clearly not true when you look at the nature of tongues and how Paul says to wait your turn. If you can wait your turn, obviously it is something you are in control of. And even in this sense, if a person was gifted to do it, what if they never even tried to do it?

Many people seem to think it's always going to follow the Acts 2 model. God's Spirit pours out and stuff starts happening automatically. Well that my have happened then, but obviously such wasn't the case in Corinth. They had to desire gifts, pray for them, and actually with all control over themselves attempt to practice it.

Nothing just flew out of their mouths, so if this was a misconception some reformers had (and possibly still have) I'm not surprised they never do it. And if they did, what would they do? Deny it as I have almost done? Or leave their chruch and go pentecostal like a few other people I have known?

Last edited by Danomir; 04-17-2004 at 10:22 PM.
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Unread 04-17-2004, 10:43 PM   #11
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Another Q: Wasn't cessationism originally taught by the RCC, and the Reformers got it from them? Under the rule of the RCC if it was a teaching they had I wouldn't doubt they labeled anyone to practice tongues as under demonic influence, which would stifle the practice of it rather quick. But if cessationsim was the starting belief for the Reformers I would wonder what would ever drive them to view tongues under different pretenses and seek it/give it a try.
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