04 January 2006

Prophecy revisited

PyroManiacSeveral weeks ago, I began a series of posts critiquing the contemporary conceit that leads people to think God routinely gives them private revelation—either through subjective impulses, or by whispering inaudibly into their brains, or by otherwise employing their emotions as a barometer to reveal His will.

I had planned to make several points, among which were these:

  1. Absolutely no one is receiving consistently reliable, demonstrably authentic messages from God today—including the best-known and most outspoken people who regularly make the claim that "God told me" this or that.
  2. There is really no substantive difference (other than scale) between the spectacularly failed prophecies of questionable televangelists like Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn, and the misguided presumption of the non-charismatic Southern Baptist who thinks God routinely communicates to him via specific messages about virtually every daily decision in life, and who thinks he is obliged to order his life according to those impulses.
  3. That sort of presumption has been the cause of constant embarrassment, error, and unsanctified behavior throughout the annals of church history. George Whitefield was susceptible to it, and Jonathan Edwards admonished him about it. Cotton Mather had a series of disastrous disappointments that were all rooted in the notion that God was giving him private guarantees that his prayers would be answered.
  4. Private "revelation" invariably tends to usurp the authority and the proper role of Scripture, even when it turns out to be demonstrably false.
  5. Nothing in Scripture ever commands us to seek such revelation, especially on a routine basis. On the other hand, we are constantly exhorted to seek guidance daily from the Scriptures; to devote ourselves to rightly dividing the inscripturated Word; and to make biblical wisdom and discernment the main source of guidance in all our decision-making.
  6. Thinking you can discern the will of God by your own feelings is not only perilous; it is positively, carnally sinful.

I'm still willing to discuss those points, most of which transcend the normal differences between charismatics and cessationists. Note that none of these points necessarily presupposes cessationism.

But it seems we must talk about cessationism first, or else the noise level in the comments threads will drown out the real point anyway. When I began to post on this subject a few weeks ago, my comment-threads were spammed with demands that we either drop the subject altogether, or else deal with the cessationism issue first. I tried several times to pursue the subject without getting into a fight over cessationism, but the critics stuck their fingers in their ears and kept trying to pick that fight.

So cessationism it is. And we'll start that subject either tomorrow or the next day.

But fair warning: Someday, I do want to get back to the real issue I started trying to talk about. There are a lot of people out there who have been influenced by Gothard, Blackaby, and other non-charismatic subjectivists who teach people to think that God routinely guides them by their feelings, so much that if they don't think they are hearing private messages from God all the time, they are not really "experiencing" God.

And I eventually want to make the point I set out to make in the first place: That ordering your life by your feelings is the polar opposite of the biblical concept of discernment.

Anyway, I leave you today with an extra quotation from Spurgeon on the subject. He said:

Spurgeon
We often meet with a fanciful religion in which people trust to impulses, to dreams, to noises, and mystic things which they imagine they have seen. Fiddle-faddle all of it, and yet they are quite wrapt up in it.

I pray that you may cast out this chaffy stuff, there is no food for the spirit in it. The life of my soul lies not in what I think, or what I fancy, or what I imagine, or what I enjoy of fine feeling, but only in that which faith apprehends to be the Word of God.

C. H. Spurgeon


From "A Luther Sermon at the Tabernacle," delivered (on Martin Luther's 400th birthday) Sunday Morning, November 11, 1883.

By the way, this is post number 200 in the PyroManiac archive. That's a lot of words since the bloglaunch on June 1. Thanks to all who have given me encouragement and good advice.

Thanks also to my beloved friend, Frank Turk, who awarded me one of his coveted wooden nickles yesterday. A wooden nickle from the legendary Centuri0n is high praise indeed. Thank you.

Phil's signature

113 comments:

Gavin said...

I agree with you Phil.

I agree with your six points.

Cessationism is the correct view. (Too much reading/listening to John MacArthur and Dr Peter Masters for me to hold any other view).

The charismatic movement with its speaking in tongues and prophecy is a load of bunk.

I know people at church who rely on impulses and feelings for God’s guidance , thinking that God told them “This or that” etc.. I have found them to be quite unhappy people. (Sadly they are also earnest Christians).

Question – How/when was “George Whitefield was susceptible to it”?

Here is another Spurgeon quote on the subject.

“But there are two faults of the Church which appear to me periodically to manifest themselves. The one is when men ascribe wrong things to the Holy Ghost, and maketh him the author of human novelties and delusions. In seasons when the minds of good men were anxiously alive to spiritual operations, certain weak-headed or designing persons have grown fanatical, and being bewildered by their own confused feelings, and puffed up by their fleshly mind, have forsaken the true light which is in the Word, to follow after the will-o’-the-wisps of their own fancies, the ignis-fatuui of their own brains. Such vain-glorious fools aspiring to be leaders, masters of sects, will boldly tell to men of itching ears that fresh doctrines have been specially revealed to them. They prate much of what they call the inner light (which is often an inner darkness), which dim candle they exalt above the light of the word of God, and tell you that marvellous things have been taught to them in dreams and visions. Ah! this is a high and crying crime.
What, will you lay at the door of the Holy Ghost a deed which God hath solemnly cursed?” (Sermon 465 – MTP).

Rusty said...

Phil,

This *points to himself* Reformed Baptist is thankful for the discussion. You r0x0rz =)

see ya in #pros

--The Rusted One

Randy said...

As one who was raised in a Pentecostal church (and have been trying to deal with the whole cessationist thing), I look forward to your comments.

TheBlueRaja said...

"I'll probably pick up the topic [of the continuity of the moral Law] soon after Christmas."

What happned to your posts on the Mosaic Law? You got detoured into an ex lex discussion and never came back to it. I was interested to hear how you might handle the various criticisms and comments from your previous posts.

lycaphim said...

Let the fires of the great charismatic/cessationist blog debate rekindle once again! =)

Libbie said...

Phil,

Your six points are compelling, and I am really looking foward to when you return to deal with them, because the topic of biblical personal guidance is a much under examined/wrong-headed area, and I know I'd benefit from a clear sighted view of it.

In the meantime, I am truly relieved that you have chosen to deal with cessationism. I've read a lot from the charismatic POV recently that I knew I didn't agree with, but couldn't say exactly why, and you have a helpful knack of articulating what I am very fuzzy about.

blueraja - surely there's only so many hours in the day??

Carla said...

I look forward to your treatment on this subject. Having spent 4 years in the AoG church starting in the mid 90's, I came out of that (thankfully) questioning SO much of what was going on. Now, as I keep hearing the phrase "Charismatic Calvinist", I'm just left with shaking my head - it certainly appears that this is an oxymoron.

This should be interesting indeed.

SDG... Carla
Fellow Wooden Nickel Recipient - because Frank is a nut :o)

Chris HH said...

Subjective exegesis is just as perilous don't you think?

Today if you read his word do not harden your hearts?

Kim said...

I'll look forward to reading this, but can I beg your indulgence to speak slowly? Sometimes, after I leave here, my brain really hurts from the straining.

When my dauhter was 8 years old, a neighbour boy (from a Christian family) told her that unles she heard God audibly speaking to her in the night, she could not possibly be a Christian. She believed him for a while.

DJP said...

As the yoot say reverently, Phil, "Word."

You make a crucial distinction. This, itself, is not a cessationist/non- issue. I've known of countless convinced cessationists -- who would rightly rain down fire on claims to modern-day prophetic revelation -- who nonetheless labor hard unofficially to crack open the Canon, to accommodate their peeps and mutterings, holy hunches and nudges, semi-hemi-demi-revelation, dribbling down ostensibly from Heaven.

While the so-called "continuationalists" necessarily leave the Canon open for low-grade, decaffeinated revelation, inconsistent cessationists too often do the same. You name some major offenders but, as you know, the better name could be "Legion," for they are indeed many.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Phil, it’s good to see you back with the gifts issue (I just recently posted part one of my view of Total Cessation over at the Moor). I am particularly interested in your understanding of partial cessation. With the exception of tongues, I can find no biblical evidence that suggest some gifts will cease and others will not. It appears to be a package deal.

Phil Johnson said...

Raja:

Never fear. I still intend to get back to that subject, too. But the vast hordes who were curious to hear how I might answer my critics on this topic greatly outnumbered the handful of folk interested in the debate about the continuity of moral law. And since I currently have multiple threads hanging, I thought it best to get back to the older stuff first.

Derick said...

Amen! Every day it seems I am inundated by the Spirit-Filled Mafia telling me about the latest "God-Thing" that occurred in his or her life! I sometimes wonder if I am I the only person left who is open-minded enough to be a Believer (as opposed to a modern atheist worshipper of the scientific method) but still skeptical enough to not just accept every notion that pops in my head or breeze that blows across my face as a message from the Lord! I REALLY look forward to what follows!

Bryan L. Fordham said...

I agree with you, for the most part. But I have some questions, most of which you'd probably get to anyway. They mostly deal with definitions.

I agree that we should be careful to not confuse happy feelings with God talking to us. But at the same time, I find it hard to accept that God does not speak to his people today. I'm not talking about giving new scripture, or something on that level.

Some are gonna say "He speaks through his word." Fair enough. If I'm praying for God's guidance on whether to keep a current job or move and accept a new one, which scripture would you point me to? Is there any use at all in praying if God will not reveal it to me? That would kinda seem like a non-calvinist praying for God to change the heart of the lost so they would be saved 8)

I'm not saying this is what you mean. I do not see the distinction, and would like to know if you are saying there's no distinction, or if I'm just missing it.

centuri0n said...

You got a virtual wooden nickel, and I got "beloved friend". I think I got better than I gave.
__________

Yeah, it's funny that Scripture says explicitly that the way we work out our sanctification is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship, and further not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

See: I think that if God intended to rule to church -- or even to merely guide the church -- with Prophecy (big "P", with Elijahs and Micahs) until He comes again, He wouldn't have made such a big deal about the Scripture we already have.

This is going to be a knock-down, drag-out, and you know that's my forte. As long as nobody tries to give Santa the angry-eyebrows, this ought to be interesting.

Steve Sensenig said...

I'm kinda with Bryan L. Fordham on this one. I'm trying to figure out just how a cessationist determines anything to be God's will in their life or not.

I'm not for an open canon (someone commented that we non-cessationists necessarily leave the canon open), but I do wonder how God speaks through Scripture in the cessationist's mind.

Here's to clearly defined terms and sufficient argumentation to help me respect your view, even if I differ! :)

(And cent, I'll do my best to leave Santa out of it, although I think you may be saying that God led you to believe in Santa....hehe [all joking intended])

steve :)

suzi said...

I am so glad you came back to this and posted these comments. It was a much needed exclamation point on that topic!

Suzi

Shane said...

I'll be commenting on this in my blog, http://thehighplaces.com. Thank you for spurring me to thought on this.

Bryan L. Fordham said...

centuri0n (who's cool cuz he has a 0 in his name) said:
See: I think that if God intended to rule to church -- or even to merely guide the church -- with Prophecy (big "P", with Elijahs and Micahs) until He comes again, He wouldn't have made such a big deal about the Scripture we already have.

That's either a strawman or incomplete. I'll assume you don't think everyone who believes God directs us thinks he does so with an Elijah, and were just talking about the "big P prophecies."

Steve brought up one of my thoughts on this when he talked about a calling in your life. Now, I've seen way too many people walk down in aisle and say they're going to be a preacher or a missionary, and then fall right out, to believe that a lot of that is not raw emotion that fades. I am, by nature and (a little) training, a skeptic. I've seen a lot of emotional impulses lead people astray, usually because what they're pursuing goes against scripture in some way.

That said, the presence of false prophets did not prove they all were false, and the emotional impulses of some (even most) does not mean God does not move in a certain way.

...by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Going back to my example about changing jobs: what would I be testing? Assuming no moral questions -- I'm not going to work at a porn company, or moving my family into a dangerous area -- what do I use to make a decision? Is there nothing beyond the purely practical, physical considerations?

Once again: I'm not entirely disagreeing here. I do want to know if Phil would make a distinction here, or if he lumps it all together.

Ray said...

I don't know why I am commenting, I PROMISED myself that I would stay on the sidelines.... However, I did want to comment on one thing:

Steve said: "I'm trying to figure out just how a cessationist determines anything to be God's will in their life or not..."

While I am not a cessationist (I should rephrase that to say that I wait for this discussion with bated breath), The truth is that we have the Scriptures which do provide God's revealed will, so I think it is a red herrng to say that a cessationist has no idea as to God's Will in their life.

It also sets up the proverbial 'hierarchy' of "I have the Spirit, and you don't, sorry you second-class Christian". Now, I do not believe that anyone on this comment section has said, or meant that, but I have heard it stated too many times for my liking.

And the Spirit IS active in some form or fashion: We pray for ILLUMINATION of the Scriptures, which comes by the Holy Spirit. I think that this is the dividing line in some ways: Yes, we all believe in illumination; but some believe in REVELATION, which is dramatically different...

Like George Bailey from It's A Wonderful Life; I have to go now, I have said too much already....

Jabbok said...

I'm glad you're keeping this discussion alive. It needs to be discussed a little more and revisited frequently. Thanks...

TheBlueRaja said...

Phil,

That's cool. Go get 'em.

TheBlueRaja said...

I never heard of what you thought about my sermons on this subject - outside of the homiletical train wreck, what'd you think?

Frank Martens said...

So here's a question...

Can God direct various sermons, letters, e-mails and discussions to get a persons attention in directing them where to go?

Say for example I'm struggling with whether or not I should wait to make a particular decision or not. And then I start hearing various sermons about waiting on God or for God to act.

Could that be a valid communication from Him to wait? Because it is Biblical to wait on God or not, depending on what's going on, right?

Just some thoughts.

Cheers
-Frank

SJ Camp said...

Phil:

Really good post on this man. You and Frank nailed it. The Apostle Peter says it this way, "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." -2 Peter 1:16ff

Thank you brother,
Campi
Psalm 19:7-9

donsands said...

Seems there's three possibilities. #1. I hear something and it's me. #2. I hear something and it's God.
#3. I hear something and it's the devil.
By hearing, I mean what I'm thinking at the time, and think it's hearing.
Serious stuff here to dicuss. Life and death really. Carlton Pearson heard God tell him there is no hell after death. And that this life is hell. Now he is convinced and is preaching the same with passion; and compassion some would say.
It's sad really. And there are millions who follow Mr. Pearson's way in hearing what they think is the Lord, but in reality it's either #1, or #3.
Good discussion so far. I believe the Lord is speaking to us.
"My sheep will hear my voice."

Ruth said...

Phil, I only half agree with what you have said. I have written a fairly long response here: http://rootleweb.blogspot.com/2006/01/voice-of-god.html
and I hope you will consider it.

Steve Sensenig said...

ray wrote: I think it is a red herrng [sic] to say that a cessationist has no idea as to God's Will in their life.

I'm sorry. I did not mean to state it in a way that came across as a red herring. And you misrepresented my statement by changing it to a statement that a cessationist "has no idea as to God's will in their life". That is not at all what I said. I was sincere in stating that I am trying to understand what parameters are used in determining God's will.

Let me try to flesh my statements out a bit more and see if you still think the concept is invalid.

First of all, I fully affirm the place of the written Word of God in the life of the Christian. I believe that anything that is spoken, whether or not under the umbrella of "prophecy", should be tested against the written Word of God. So make no mistake about my orthodoxy on that point.

However, having said that, there is always this issue about things that are not spelled out in Scripture. For example, someone already mentioned the scenario of considering a new job. In what way does one seek God's will in the written word of God for that? Or is it assumed that, apart from something that would violate Scripture, there is simply a free choice being made to the believer?

I guess another part of this would be to ask for a definition of "illumination" with regard to the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. What does that term mean to a cessationist?

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would convict us of sin. Is that only accomplished through the written Word?

These are sincere questions, and I'm not presuming the conclusion on either side here. Sure, I come to it, like everyone else, with a certain grid, but I am trying to take the discussion seriously and engage the topic.

Again, I am not trying to introduce herrings of any color into this discussion, so I hope maybe these comments have clarified my questions some.

steve :)

Ray said...

Steve -- Thanks for the explanation.... Appreciate it...

My mistake on reading too much into it... I am wont to do that at times...

Steven C said...

Phil,
I can't believe after all these years of feeling isolated because I didn't see eye to eye with pentecoastal or charismatics (which is predominate in my small town life) that I have found so many here blogging who have had similar by what I can interpret, experiences and who are hungry to have a clear understanding of gifts. Please keep on for this much hungry soul who believe's in God dispite of my feelings.

Stephen Dunning said...

It seems to me, judging by the comments I have read, that two issues need addressing:

1) The sufficiency of scripture - are the Scriptures able to thoroughly equip us for every good work? If so (and I believe they are), we do not need further revelation (whether prophecies or leadings). I suspect one reason people seek something more than Scripture is that it is easier to wait for a 'word' to come to them than to diligently search the Scriptures.

2) The issue of guidance and knowing God's will. The example was given whether someone should change their job - how do they know God's will? As well as applying the Word of God, we should remember the issue of Christian freedom and personal preference - the widow can marry whoever she wants to, providing they are in the faith.

Ephraim said...

Something to consider:

Yeshua said that no man comes to the Father except through Him, and that no man comes to Him (Yeshua) unless the Spirit draw him.

Based on that truth I am going to assume that most, if not all, who come to this corner of blogdom have been "drawn" by the Holy Spirit to the Messiah and have received eternal life from the Father through faith in Him.

What then is this work of the Spirit? This "drawing"? If each of us were to examine the many influences, situations, words, feelings and so on that were employed to bring us to Messiah Yeshua, what conclusion could we come to?

Probably that during the time of being "drawn" there was a mixture of explainable and unexplainable things which "led" us to His cross in repentance. But ultimately we would have to acknowledge that it was a work of His Spirit. All of it. Grace and mercy communicated to us in way we could understand and respond to.

Since the testimony of Yeshua is the spirit of prophecy, we can conclude that those who came, came through a word of prophecy. Written, spoken or both.

Yes, there are many who walk in the flesh and yet claim to have direct, personal revelation from on high. There are probably just as many who walk in the flesh and claim NOT to receive anything from above. So what?

As Sha'ul argued, if we ourselves are found to be sinners does that make the Word of Elohim of no effect? Of course not!

So what then? does the poor behaviour of some make the reality of being "led" by His Spirit untrue? Of course not!

We would have nothing if we had not received it from heaven. How did we receive it? By reading His book? And what do those who have no relationship with Him and His Spirit, and therefore no revelation, see when they read His book? You know the answer.

Good topic.

Shalom

donsands said...

I was thinking of how our Lord knew without exception what His Father had asked Him to do, and yet during His passion He asked, "If there's any other way Father!"
Our Savior was in the midst of suffering, which none of us could ever understand, and I would never compare my slight affliction, nor all the affliction that has ever been, to our Lord's, God forbid. But I must say there have been times, and still are when I cry out with abandon and confusion, because my human heart and soul is under so much turmoil.
I say all this to say we are very complex in all our make up, and sometimes there's simply no way to nail things down, though we may be a theologian like Luther, and a preacher like Whitefield, and a man of faith like George Mueller.

I really don't know where I'm going with this, but was simply sharing some things buzzing around in my pea brain.

Listening and learning by His grace.

Forgiven Sinner said...

Let's get things fired up for the New Year. We are having all kinds of fires here in Texas so we might as well get the Internet burning also....
I was born and raised in an Assembly of God Church where we had all the dancing,demon possesions,speaking in tongues and then getting the interpretation from someone......it never freaked me out or bothered me like it did any of my friends I took to Church for their one time visit......especially the Catholic friends I had,,,,never failed that something wild would happen and I'm sure they were in confession the following day asking for forgiveness for going to what they called "the Devils House"...I lost friends after Church visits because they thought I was some kind of Hannibal Lector whacko!!!

Anyway, after taking a 14 year break from Church I was led to a Seeker Friendly Baptist Church that my daughter was going to with her Aunt and Uncle. Then I became a Seeker friendly Baptist (I say that due to the fact that when I started going, the Warrenism movement had just started and we became a host home)......forgive me!!!!.Then I started reading for myself and searching and listening to MacArthur, Piper, and Sproul and now wonder how I could have been so blind.

Anyway, my point is until you hear the "TRUTH", the bad stuff seems ok.

Bryan L. Fordham said...

Stephen Dunning wrote
As well as applying the Word of God, we should remember the issue of Christian freedom and personal preference - the widow can marry whoever she wants to, providing they are in the faith.

I don't take that to mean, though, that God has no opinion on the matter.

It seems odd for folks on one hand to point out that we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices (Rom 12:1) and then to seem to imply that we just make up our minds as best we can.

wordsmith said...

Steve said:

"However, having said that, there is always this issue about things that are not spelled out in Scripture. For example, someone already mentioned the scenario of considering a new job. In what way does one seek God's will in the written word of God for that? Or is it assumed that, apart from something that would violate Scripture, there is simply a free choice being made to the believer?"

Of course there is no Scripture that will give concrete guidance in a specific situation such as seeking a job, finding a mate, deciding which college to attend, etc. There are, however, general guidelines as to what is sinful and what isn't - otherwise, it is a matter of Christian liberty; neither option A nor option B is a sin.

"But, this doesn't really help me decide which job to take," one may protest. You're right; it doesn't. And that is where prayer and our God-given faculties of reasoning come into play, as well as (last but not least) God's sovereignty. We use our little gray cells to weigh the pros and cons of any given situation, we pray about it, and then we leave the matter in the hands of Almighty God, trusting Him that the decision we've made is according to His will. If it isn't, things won't shake out the way we expect. He is more than capable of directing our paths according to His will, whether "hidden" or not. He is not under obligation to dictate to us all the nitty-gritty details of our lives. It's a huge relief to remind myself that I can trust God to direct my life according to His pleasure, and to know that the burden of making all the "right" choices does not lie on my shoulders. It all boils down to faith in God - do I rely on Him to order my life, or not? Do I really trust God's sovereignty?

Frankly, when people start talking about trying to find out what job to take or what mate to choose and then turn around and ask (or demand!) a specific answer from God, whether in prayer or from the local church member who "operates in the word of wisdom," it reminds me a lot of someone who visits a psychic to find out the same info. It's just that the former has been given a veneer of Christianity. We have no business asking for specifics where God hasn't promised any.

puritanicoal said...

Phil, you are right that we are not commanded in Scripture to pursue "hearing" God's voice. Calvin wrote that only through meditation, contemplation, prayer, praise and daily obedience could we begin to ascend to a consecrated state.

On another level - and I don't mean this as a defense as much as I do an observation - some people say "God told me _____" meaning that while they were studying Scripture, or listening to the exposition of Scripture an answer to an issue was revealed to them. They colloquially, and carelessly, say that they "heard from God." In one sense, that is true, in that they derived their "answer" from the Word. We are to apply what we learn from Scripture to our lives in daily obedience, and the Holy Spirit works in us the ability to discern such "answers." But, it is not literally "hearing" from God. It seems to be more semantics than theology for some. But, isn't that how Satan often begins his attack--with slightly inaccurate words?

Cameron Cloud said...

Phil,
I find it interesting that you referred to Blackaby as one of those who "teach people to think that God routinely guides them by their feelings,".

I've never gotten that at all from his writings. In fact, if memory serves, he makes a point of warning against basing decisions on feelings.

Not an apologist for the guy, but have always had the impression (no pun intended) that he was reasonably balanced in his approach to the "God's will" issue.

Is there some specific writing or quote that causes you to include him?

Alana Asby Roberts said...

I went to a Baptist Fundamentalist, non-charasmatic college that taught that truly Spirit-filled people will always know God's will within them and that to disobey the "promptings" of God's Spirit within was to disobey just as it would be to transgress the Ten Commands. At the same time, persons who wished to function in leadership must be able to aver their own Spirit-filled state.

The best argument against these ideas was simply to watch these people for a while. Experience invariably debunks these kind of claims except for those people determined to believe them.

One morning the President's wife was conducting Women's Chapel and asked a certain girl from one of the dorms to give a testimony about "what happened last night". A long story ensued, in which God awakened two girls simultaneously at three in the morning, they were "convicted" that he wanted them to go to the house across the road, they awakened the rest of the dorm, and all the girls left the dorm (which was against the rules at that time of night) and went across to the house.

The story concluded with the confusing discovery that no one had been home.

"But we know God had something for us and we had to obey him. We just trust that it's in his hands, whatever it was."

Ugh.

And then there were the times when out of guilt I obeyed impulses myself - always to disastrous consequences. This is an easy one as far as I'm concerned because it's not theoretical. I repeat, it's possible to argue this competently from scriptures, but experience verifies that IT SIMPLY ISNT HAPPENING, even in those places most open to it.

centuri0n said...

| centuri0n (who's cool cuz he has a 0
| in his name) ...

That's not even the biggest reason I'm cool, but it is actually on the list. Notice that some people cannot be bothered to be called "Steve C@mp" or "Phil Johns0n". Clearly, they are not "truly re4med".

| ...said:
| See: I think that if God intended to
| rule to church -- or even to merely
| guide the church -- with Prophecy
| (big "P", with Elijahs and Micahs)
| until He comes again, He wouldn't
| have made such a big deal about the
| Scripture we already have.
|
| That's either a strawman or
| incomplete. I'll assume you don't
| think everyone who believes God
| directs us thinks he does so with an
| Elijah, and were just talking about the
| "big P prophecies."

Well, brother, you fell for it: I'd like to see the definition of "little 'p'" prophecies. One of the things we don't see in Scripture is God leading people around somewhat-carelessly. We see, really, is 4 models of God leading:

(1) in Christ. The Father and the Son are One, and in that, all that the Son does is what the Father is willing. It's the model of submission in the Godhead which gets worked out in the incarnation of Christ. Since none of us are actually Christ, we can't use that as a role-model.

(2) In the "fathers" of our faith – Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses. In these cases, God personally appears to theses men and tells them exactly what to do. Sometimes He says, "this will be a sign," but mostly He says, "Thus saith the Lord." I break these off from the Prophets because God was leading these men personally for a specific reason, but this kind of revelation is very similar to prophecy – except that in many cases (cf. the Ark, the plagues on Egypt) God was talking about specific work for specific people to do in His name and not about general promises or general premises of the faith life. I suggest to you that this model is not applicable to each of us because none of us have the kind of role in the history of the faith that these men did.

(3) In the Prophets. This is "big 'P'" Prophecy, and in the end it turns out that this is also the basis for having Scripture at all -- because it is on-par with Scripture, it is of the same substance as Scripture. This is certainly "thus saith the Lord", and it is the foundation of God's interaction with all people, from every tribe tongue and nation, as it were. The Prophets received something that was not for private interpretation and were tasked with delivering that message to Israel directly and, indirectly, to all mankind in the form of Scripture. Now, here's the rub: if the gifts have not ended, then this kind of revelation is still active in the world, and therefore this kind of revelation requires that there be men (and perhaps women, like Deborah) to deliver that message. If that is so, then they have the highest human calling, on-par with the Apostles, and they are not only capable of, but are specifically tasked with, speaking for God. And they are to be tested by the standard God has set up. And they are to be rejected completely – that is, cast out or stoned – if they claim to speak for God but speak falsely. There is only big "P" prophecy in the Scripture – there is no musing and no hypothesizing.

(4) In the Scripture. Not to turn this into a young-Earth debate, but let's say for the sake of argument that all of Earth's history is represented in the Bible – meaning we have about 6,000 years of history to view at-a-glance. In that time, God spent very little time participating in revelation types 1-3, right? All-told, you might be able to make the case that maybe 600 years were spent "giving" Scripture, and the other 90% of all time was spent ... doing what? I suggest to you that the rest of the time ought to have been spent trying to abide by what Scripture teaches. God may be sovereign, but He's not a tyrant: He doesn't spend all day keeping you between the ditches of His will by direct intervention. He's not some eternally-gabby kvetcher trying to get you to listen to Him. He said what he has to say, and because He said it, maybe you should pay more attention to it than, say, to Drudge's headlines. In that, if you spent that kind of time conforming your mind to what He has already said perfectly, it might turn out that you would do the kinds of things which glorify Him.

See: Scripture is the normative revelation man receives. It's the thing God has already raised up above even His own name. It's the thing by which the Pharisees ought to have recognized Christ. You don't need an Elijah, or a Micah, or even a Balaam: you have the complete revelation of God already. It is enough.

If your complaint is that it doesn't have a day-planner in it that tells you what shoes to wear today, I think you have missed the point entirely.

| Steve brought up one of my thoughts
| on this when he talked about a calling
| in your life. Now, I've seen way too
| many people walk down in aisle and
| say they're going to be a preacher or a
| missionary, and then fall right out, to
| believe that a lot of that is not raw
| emotion that fades. I am, by nature
| and (a little) training, a skeptic. I've
| seen a lot of emotional impulses lead
| people astray, usually because what
| they're pursuing goes against scripture
| in some way.

Indeed. I think that underscores my point, above. I am mercifully not adding a specific example here to keep things on-track.

| That said, the presence of false
| prophets did not prove they all were
| false, and the emotional impulses of
| some (even most) does not mean God
| does not move in a certain way.

Here's the challenge: produce one not-false prophet alive today. Let's concede that the existence of Oral Roberts does not exclude the existence of a modern-day Ezekiel. Indicate to us his web site, zip code, or other method of contact.

| Going back to my example about
| changing jobs: what would I be
| testing? Assuming no moral questions
| -- I'm not going to work at a porn
| company, or moving my family into a
| dangerous area -- what do I use to
| make a decision? Is there nothing
| beyond the purely practical, physical
| considerations?

I think changing jobs is a serious thing, not a little thing. And in that, I think the Bible tells us a lot about what kinds of jobs we ought to take up – not just "in the ministry" but in the culture where we then have a testimony to make.

I suggest to you that you use the principles demonstrated and taught by the Bible to guide you in your work life. That may not tell you, "Go ask your boss for a raise" or "time to upgrade the resume", but it will tell you what kind of boss or employee to be. In that, luck and providence favor the prepared.

| Once again: I'm not entirely
| disagreeing here. I do want to know if
| Phil would make a distinction here, or
| if he lumps it all together.

I dunno what Phil will say. I said what I'm gonna say.

Bryan L. Fordham said...

centuri0n gives me a lot to respond to. Here goes

That's not even the biggest reason I'm cool, but it is actually on the list.

Perhaps I'll be 8ry4n F0rdh4m from now on.

Well, brother, you fell for it: I'd like to see the definition of "little 'p'" prophecies. One of the things we don't see in Scripture is God leading people around somewhat-carelessly.

Carelessness on my part. What I mean is someone like an Elijah, considered a prophet of God, someone able to say "Thus saith the Lord." You and I can do that, as long as we're reading scripture. What I am referring to is God speaking to people, not being a prophet. I also don't believe that the priesthood of all believers means we're all pastors.

God may be sovereign, but He's not a tyrant: He doesn't spend all day keeping you between the ditches of His will by direct intervention. He's not some eternally-gabby kvetcher trying to get you to listen to Him. He said what he has to say, and because He said it, maybe you should pay more attention to it than, say, to Drudge's headlines. In that, if you spent that kind of time conforming your mind to what He has already said perfectly, it might turn out that you would do the kinds of things which glorify Him.

I agree. I think there is a distinction between God constantly trying to be heard and a child of his asking.

If your complaint is that it doesn't have a day-planner in it that tells you what shoes to wear today, I think you have missed the point entirely.

Not my complaint.

Indeed. I think that underscores my point, above. I am mercifully not adding a specific example here to keep things on-track.

As I've said before, I'm not disagreeing 100% here. Heck, I'm not certain I disagree at all at this point.

Here's the challenge: produce one not-false prophet alive today. Let's concede that the existence of Oral Roberts does not exclude the existence of a modern-day Ezekiel. Indicate to us his web site, zip code, or other method of contact.

1. I'm not talking about a modern day Ezekiel.
2. This is a false challenge anyway. Your knowledge of such a person, and my ability to produce one, have no bearing on the reality of it.

I don't believe we will see someone like ezekiel, someone able to add to scripture, or speak with that authority. But that challenge is still invalid.

[on changing jobs]
I suggest to you that you use the principles demonstrated and taught by the Bible to guide you in your work life. That may not tell you, "Go ask your boss for a raise" or "time to upgrade the resume", but it will tell you what kind of boss or employee to be. In that, luck and providence favor the prepared.

Example from my life. I was pastor of a small church until recently, for about 3.5 years. The last 18 months of that were a real struggle, and I considered resigning a number of times. I didn't resign for 2 main reasons: I did not want to abandon my responsibilities -- If God wanted me to plow through where I was, I would do so. Second, even though I wanted to, I did not feel this was God's will. I can give a number of reasons I felt that, but a large part of it was just that -- a feeling.

After I preached there for what turned out to be the last time, I was informed they were voting that wednesday on whether to keep my as pastor. I pretty much made up my mind to just resign. I talked with a pastor friend, who advised me to stick it out, which seemed wise to me and I did so. No feeling involved, it just made a lot of sense.

So I stayed for that last year and a half in large part because of a conviction. And I stayed for that vote because of the advice of a godly friend. This is the type of thing I'm talking about: Not waking up one morning and saying "I feel God wants me to replace all vowels in my name with numbers, and start a b1bl3 study for [insert random group]." I'm talking of the strong conviction, that does not run counter to scripture, that I'm in the right place even when it hurts. I do not feel that qualifies me as a big P prophet.

And if hereby declare that if I ever speak a "thus saith the Lord" apart from reading it in scripture, I will pay for your ticket to south georgia where you may then slap me silly.

I dunno what Phil will say. I said what I'm gonna say.

And I appreciate it.

puritanicoal said...

CenturiOn-

Great p0st.

"Here's the challenge: produce one not-false prophet alive today. Let's concede that the existence of Oral Roberts does not exclude the existence of a modern-day Ezekiel. Indicate to us his web site, zip code, or other method of contact."

Even if y0u could conclusively prove that there is not a single living not-false prophet, on a purely logical level, this argument fails. The "challenge" proves nothing. During the 300+ year intertestamentary period, not a single prophet was prophesying, blogging or otherwise, pontificating. Then, along comes John the Baptist. So, the absence of prophets during that 300+ years did not signify the end of prophecy anymore than a drought signifies the end of future precipitation.

I do NOT mean this as an argument against cessationism. Just noting that y0ur argument on this particular point is logically flawed.

LeeC said...

Steve,
My boss is "Mildly Charismatic" and once heatedly accused me of "bibliolatry" a compliment in my book. He then asked me that if Scriptures are sufficient for every decision in life do they tell me if I should walk out the front door of our office right then?

My response was that yes they do.
They tell me:
1. that as his employee should conform to my agreement as such and only leave when off the clock, and other issues of honesty and good stewardship.

2. That I should never allow myself to sin against him or God by having a sinfully angry attitude and storming out.

3. And both of the above topics are covered under keeping a god wittness of what Christ has done in my life as a renewed man.

I can think of no instance in life that one canot apply Scripture to in decision making.

One of the best books on the topic I have found is also one of the smallest.

"Found: Gods Will" by John MacArthur while small s in my opinion one of his best, and most helpfull of publications.

Ellen said...

Can God direct various sermons, letters, e-mails and discussions to get a persons attention in directing them where to go?

If God cannot speak in a "still small voice" to you, how can He speak in a "still small voice" to anybody else, in order to direct them to write sermons, letter, e-mails and discussions?

If He cannot get your attention, how can He get anybody else's?

We use our little gray cells to weigh the pros and cons of any given situation, we pray about it, and then we leave the matter in the hands of Almighty God, trusting Him that the decision we've made is according to His will.

So we really don't have a clue whether or not the decision we've made is according to His will, because He won't tell us.

I don't know how I really believe about "cessationism" - I do know that the "prophetic gifts" - the way it is practiced by Pentacostals today - is not practiced Biblically. If prophecy is active today, it shouldn't be expected as normative - it never was.

But I have experienced what could be described as the "still small voice" so clearly that I confronted a friend. I told her that I didn't know what she was about to do, but if she did it, she would lose her parents, her daughter and she'd leave her church. The next day, she married a man in prison for criminal sexual misconduct. Everything I had predicted came to pass.

Two other times in my life I've experienced that same feeling - these two other times worked together - and both times were validated.

If God doesn't "talk" to us, we're expected to live our lives serving a God that we only have a one-way personal relationship with.

centuri0n said...

The challenge to produce a modern prophet says this: ... so you're advocating what?

See: let's assume that there is a logical problem with saying, "if you can't produce one, there aren't any." If you can't produce someone receiving prophecy, why are you concerned that someone might be receivng prophecy?

You and I agree on the evidence: the question is whether we agree on the cause of the evidence. I think that Scripture is closed, Christ is Risen, and we are waiting for His return inside the promises God has already made. If you do not believe in one of those, please let us know why and what we are missing out on.

CuriousSaint said...

I think the point here is that too many people place the emphasis on an emotional response to any given situation rather than what the clear Word has to say about it. Clearly it's not fair to cast a blanket statement like this over all feelings associated with God's actions in your life. I don't doubt for a minute that one can have a truly ecstatic moment when it is realized that God has directly done something in your life...but on the other hand...don't base your "God's acting in my life" meter on how good or bad you feel. I guarantee that you will not always feel great about how God is working in your life at any given moment. I hope that made some sort of sense...I'm just dumping my thoughts out as they come.

bethy31 said...

What about instances where God leads you to a specific passage of Scripture? I know that isn't prophecy but it is a leading..what category does that fall under?

BugBlaster said...

If Ray can't stay out, then neither can I. I don't think I disagree with a thing that gangsta-man Centuri0n has said, especially this:

"...Christ is Risen, and we are waiting for His return inside the promises God has already made. If you do not believe in one of those, please let us know why and what we are missing out on."

Two people that didn't stay inside the promises are Muhammad and Joseph Smith. They both came up with a few extras that we were missing out on. Yes they are extreme examples, but that's where the road ultimately leads.

homunculus said...

Phil,

puritanicoal said...

Beloved Centuri0n -

As I made very clear, I wasn't making a statement on my position regarding cessationism. I agree "that Scripture is closed, Christ is Risen, and we are waiting for His return inside the promises God has already made." Amen.

I was simply pointing out a problem with y0ur challenge, which was in the form of a syllogism, i.e.-

The existence of continuing prophecy requires a present living prophet.

There are no present living prophets.

Therefore, there is no continuing prophecy.

The major premise was disproven after the intertestamentary period, with the advent of John the Baptist. I don't think it is a sound argument to state that since there are no living prophets, prophecy has ceased.

Just to be clear, the failure of that syllogism does NOT prove the converse, i.e., that there must be a continuation of prophetic powers.

That was my only point. Sorry to have ruffled y0ur aura.

BugBlaster said...

Bethy and others, God absolutely leads me to certain scriptures. It's just that I'm in no position to know when that is actually occurring, or for what purpose. As soon as I try to know it, I have overlaid my feelings (maybe I want God to have led me to a particular scripture that I'm interpreting in a particular way).

I have then also taken God's possible specific leading and unjustifiably frozen it in time. I may be "led" one way today, but God may rock my world tomorrow (in a pleasant or unpleasant way) with something totally unforeseen that changes everything.

What God absolutely commands me to do through the scripture is hide his word in my heart that I might not sin against him. In other words, if I know scripture, I will know how God will want me to act, and how not to miss the mark in whatever situation I find myself. I won't need the sanctified omen of being "led" to a certain scripture.

Hope I'm making sense, I'm not so sure...

homunculus said...

Phil,

Great topic!

Loved the comments of the forgiven sinner!!!!

I think many who profess Christ today operate in a mental vacummn Biblically. I once had a church member come to me in a true quandry.. he needed to buy a van for his family and was waiting for an inner urging to reveal to him wether it was the Chevy, Dodge, or the Ford.

LeeC said...

Ellen,
He does tell us clearly in His Word. Unfortunately most of us won't take the time to see it in it's context. His Word is living and Active and sharper than any two edged sword. That doesn't sound like its some dead piece of text.

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Heb 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Joh 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Joh 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


2Ti 3:13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
2Ti 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.



"Luk 16:27 And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house--
Luk 16:28 for I have five brothers--so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.'
Luk 16:29 But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.'
Luk 16:30 And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.'
Luk 16:31 He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"

LeeC said...

Im making no coment os the idea of being led to Scripture, just relating a story my pastor told me.

A lady one day told her pastor that she was going in for a biopsy and was terrified of dying. The pastor talke to her about Romans 8:28 Phil 4:6-8 and other comforting pasages about Gods goodness and soveriegnty, but to no avail, she was terrified.

The next day she came into his office and told him not to worry about her anymore because she is at peace with the situation.

The pastor rather suprised but delighted at how the Lord brought such a change asked her what happened.
Her response:

Well I prayed and prayed fr God to give me a sign hat everything would be OK then I just asked the Lord to comfort e with His Word and opened my Bible. Do you know what I saw?

"You surely will not die"


*insert grim chuckle here*

Of course the context is:

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
Gen 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
Gen 3:3 but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
Gen 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
Gen 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Gen 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

1 L Loyd said...

I'm sure I'll find your look at cessationism interesting, but I eagerly await your blogs on your six points. As I grew into my fourties, I intuitively come to agree with you, but have not been able to show my daughter.

Ellen said...

Ellen,
He does tell us clearly in His Word. Unfortunately most of us won't take the time to see it in it's context. His Word is living and Active and sharper than any two edged sword. That doesn't sound like its some dead piece of text.


I didn't say it was "dead", now did I?

This is the problem - you seem to think it must be one way or the other. I think that God must still be able to speak to our hearts through in a way (NOT EXCLUDING SCRIPTURE) that includes Scripture, but also includes other communication techniques.

Do you believe that God gave us Scripture and now He sits up in heaven, silent and mute?

LeeC said...

No, you said "If God doesn't "talk" to us, we're expected to live our lives serving a God that we only have a one-way personal relationship with. "

He does speak, right now, sufficiently, through His Word. He is not mute, his Word is ACTIVE, and LIVING.

He in His omnipotence was able to put everything we need to know Him personally in His Word.

His Word says that, and I believe He is capable of doing that. He speaks to me daily in His Word with real relevant and pertinant revelation.

Ellen said...

Even if God did have a "still small voice", would you listen?

LeeC said...

Ellen,
Honestly please dont think I'm just trying to be argumetative I honestly believe many Christians are cheating themselves of thier birthright that is in His Word.

I could much more easily say "If God said the Bible was sufficient would you rely upon it?"

Knowing people is a finicky incomplete thing at best. Knowing God though can be different. Hewants you to KNOW Him. What did the Bereans do with Paul?

We are flawed beings that even when regenerate are prone to self deception. Just loo at Paul i Roms seven and his agony. I know I decieve myelf, the only thing I can be certain of is God and His Word.

Joseph Smith BELIEVED what he saw. Now he is different in that he was not saved, but how many of us are decievedto much smaller degrees trusting in our own judgment?

Be honest.
We are weak,but His Word is perfect, lacking nothing.

Psa 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
Psa 19:8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psa 19:9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
Psa 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Psa 19:11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Psa 19:12 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Psa 19:13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Psa 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.


Your Brother in Christ,
Lee

Forgiven Sinner said...

Puritanicoal said
"The existence of continuing prophecy requires a present living prophet.
There are no present living prophets.
Therefore, there is no continuing prophecy."

I somewhat agree with the first two sentences because what where the Prophets prophecying!!!
The coming of a Savior....CORRECT??

Well folks, we all know the story here...He came,died, and RESSURECTED......

So therefore isnt the only real prophecy left what we read between Genesis 1 and Revelation 22:21...

Not the false prophets like Benny Hinn, Peter Poppof and so forth.

All I try to remember every single day is that GOD is in COMPLETE CONTROL of my life and everything that happens is HIS WILL.

Ellen said...

Here's another false dichotomy.

You can believe that Scripture is perfect and still believe that God has a "still small voice"

I believe that Scripture is perfect, just as the Psalm you quoted says.

I refer you to:
http://phillipjohnson.blogspot.com/2005/11/spurgeon-on-private-prophecies-and-new.html

This is the "small p" I'm talking about.

JohnTheReformedBaptist said...

Has anyone other than me been scammed by Steve Camp's Web page?

Anyway, me brother is way into this at his A of G mega-church...tough nuts to crack.

bethy31 said...

Also, where do visions and appearances come in? For instance, the risen Christ appearing to those in modern times..I don't think that's considered (correct me if I'm wrong) prophecy but it is a direct communication. For instance, those in closed countries who have not heard the gospel but have been saved through a supernatural appearance of the risen Christ. (I know you'll bring up Mohammed and Joseph Smith but I'm talking about those who are following mainline Christian beliefs because of a supernatural salvation experience).

I honestly want to know where to draw the line..what exactly a cessationist says has 'passed away' and what has not. I also want to know the Biblical evidence and exegesis for each point. I know this may not be the point of this blog post but it seems to be something that is coming up over and over again. You can also point me to books and that would be sufficient (i.e. no need to lay out all your points here).

Thank you!

Ephraim said...

Well,

Luk 2:25 And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
Luk 2:26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Luk 2:27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law,
Luk 2:28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Luk 2:29 "Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word;
Luk 2:30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Luk 2:31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
Luk 2:32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel."

and right between the testaments. Imagine that.

LeeC said...

"Here's another false dichotomy.

You can believe that Scripture is perfect and still believe that God has a "still small voice"

I believe that Scripture is perfect, just as the Psalm you quoted says."

The question is not "is it perfect" so much as "Is it sufficient?"

Again, I have yet to ever see a need to depart from it, or need something more in regards to every day life.

Ellen said...

I described prophecy (referring to "small p") as "not normative".

I totally agree with you that every day life does not warrant "small p" prophecy.

I have had three instances in my life that I believe had that "still small voice" working. I've described one of them.

(shrugs)

Adam Cummings said...

66 comments... wow... I look forward to checking out what you say as well, Phil. Hey, howacome you didn't go pig-hunting with Rick H (or maybe you did)?

Of course, I think it's obvious that Phil Johson is going to come out a continuationist (that's a, um, you know, bad joke). : )

Kristie said...

A downgraded (hope you don't mind that word being the keeper of the Spurgeon Archive) version of the "God told me..." is "God is leading me...." I think you have to be careful and humble in decision-making to qualify it and say "It seems like God is leading us....because of such and such..." There is a balance of giving God the glory but also in not going so far by justifying a decision by declaring you got a special impression from God. I wonder about people who make the assertion that God is leading them when they have not sought outside counsel, or when they are choosing the path of least resistance.

Saying things like "God told me" is a kind of power-play. How can you argue with their counsel if God told them otherwise in a special conversation or impression? The person is basically saying to you, "Don't even try to argue me out of this. My decision is not open to discussion"

Sometimes a college student we work with will say "God opened the door (read: lead me) for this great internship so I can't go on the mission trip this summer."

It would be more honest to say, "Taking the internship this summer is a safer option, because in the long run I want to focus on my career and eventually have enough money raise my family in a safe neighborhood. And frankly I am scared to raise support and go with you on the short-term mission trip to a predominantly Muslim country. The internship is a good excuse for me not to go."

How often do we do that even as a cessasionist?

wordsmith said...

Ellen said:

"So we really don't have a clue whether or not the decision we've made is according to His will, because He won't tell us."

When it's a matter of Christian liberty, we don't need 100% certainty - God doesn't have to consult us or let us know what His plans are. Who said that Christians are guaranteed infallible knowledge of what God's will is regarding matters of liberty?

As for the "still, small voice" - I don't recall Scripture promising that God would use that to guide us. I do recall Kenneth Hagin, et al, saying stuff along those lines, though.

Dan Edelen said...

There's an entirely different perspective on this question over at Cerulean Sanctum.

I hope some will read that post and take a different path in 2006.

Ellen said...

When it's a matter of Christian liberty, we don't need 100% certainty

I'm not sure if you mean 100% of the time, or 100% certainty some of the time.

I didn't say 100% of the time.

I did say that I have 100% certainty of God's leading some of the time.

puritanicoal said...

Dan,

Good post/link. I couldn't agree more. When the likes of Piper and MacArthur can't agree on an issue, and it is non-essential, it's time to move on.

bethy31 said...

Kristie..
I totally agree with your first two points..and am even guilty (when reading my own blog and my own journals) of saying, "God told me" and in those instances - however trivial, I felt that is what He was 'leading' me to do. However, it is more accurate to say, "Based on this I think this is where God is leading"..it is semantics but very true..and maybe part of our battle with 'Christianese'..or Christian lingo.

However, in the second part of your post, it concerns me that you're deciding someone's motives based on what you deem to be the 'safer choice'. I believe God knows our hearts and knows our faith and there will be times when He leads some to one place and some to another..that does not make one more daring and faithful then the other. I've been on missions and I've been here in 'safe' places at home and have been stretched, challenged and grown more in what should be the 'safe' places.

I know this is not the point of the thread but it just seems like it would be a guilt trip for students to hear that type of reasoning of their decisions.

Libbie said...

puritanicoal,

I don't follow - are you saying that if the big guys have an issue they disagree on, no-one else should touch it?
Maybe there are lots of fence-sitters who don't know what they particularly believe about this issue, and would welcome some well thought through pointers.
And just because something is non-essential, doesn't mean it is unimportant.
Could it be that, instead of sharpening keyboards, ready for a fight, some people might actually be anticipating Phil's words being helpful to them?

Chuck said...

I, for one, hope to find this discussion helpful. Also, one thing that has been assumed for much of this is the idea that we will have infallibe knowledge of what to order at White Castle (bacon cheeseburger or chicken rings?). There is no Scriptural precedent for this line of thinking that I can think of. For some reason, my mind keeps going back to John Flavel's little book "The Mystery of Providence," where he lays out the differences between God's providence in sustaining the world and His providence especially revealed in the lives of believers. The last chapter is all about keeping a journal, so that in the future you can be reminded how God sovereignly directed time and space to provide in times of need. Not really relevant to the whole post, but I've been thinking about it a lot in light of the "how can I know what decision is God's will" discussion. It seems that the best thing to do is to ask for wisdom, weigh the options, and remember how God has guarded in the past and will do so in the future, in accordance with His covenant promises.

donsands said...

I used to be caught-up in hearing God speak to me. I can remember thinking God spoke and said, "Go to the ocean to your brother's this weekend." I told my wife, and she said, We're going to her mother's. What an arguement we had. She left and went to her mom's. I stayed home and opened my Bible, and was Scimmimg through and read Husbands love your wife as I love her. That did it. I went over my mother-in-law's and apologized to my wife, and tried to make things right. I learned from the Lord that day.
The Lord has continued to help me see the truth His way, and not mine. I thank Him for being so gracious to this weak and feeble fool. He is so kind to His children, especially when we are weak.
1 John 5:13

SJ Camp said...

I am now as cool as Frank...

The "prophet" still exists today; he is the one who faithfully proclaims and rightly divides already revealed truth--God's Word and the gospel of sola fide.

We also shouldn't discount prayer for each other in this discussion. I am fairly confident that few would disagree here that the Lord can and does bring people to mind for us to pray for. That isn't a matter of gifting, nor should it be dismissed as being a mystical thing. But, it is the work of the Spirit of God in the practical outworking of our daily life in Christ as we function together in the covenant community of saints with each other. (cp, Luke 18:1; Eph. 6:18-21; Phil. 4:6-8).

However, it is easier to cool down a fanatic then warm up a corpse. Have any of you been to or ministered in churches that refer to themselves, "Charismatic Calvinists?" The blend is tremendous.

C@mpi,
2 Cor. 3:5

Steve Sensenig said...

If I understand what Steve "C@mp" is saying, there seems to be a need for both sides to find what it is we agree on, rather than just polarizing the views.

(At least I really hope I'm not misunderstanding and therefore misrepresenting what was said. If I am, please correct me, Steve.)

That's what I would really like to see, and what would be very helpful in this discussion.

steve :) (the "other, not-so-famous musical" steve!!)

donsands said...

I love to hear C. J. Mahaney preach/teach. And there is a Reformed/Charismatic Church near me, and their pastor has preached at our church, Stillmeadow E-Free in Baltimore. He had that unction which John Owen spoke of. And I think Jesus People USA are in the same camp. I love to read Cornerstone Mag. And I love the Ressurection Band.
Been to Pastor James Boice's church a few years age. What an incredible sermon he preached! I still remember it. On the other end of the spectrum though.

SJ Camp said...

I appreciate the posts by Steve and Donsands.

Yes, there needs to be balance. C.J. whom you have mentioned is not a cessationist, but believes thoroughly in the doctrines of grace and is orthodox of his handling of God's Word. We surely wouldn't call him heterodoxical because of his noncessationist beliefs...

There needs to be balance in this discussion.

Phil, could you interview for your blog (or I could as well) a man like C.J. and have him biblically lay out his beliefs? Wayne Grudem might be another consideration.

This is a needed and good discussion to have. I hope that 1 Corinthians 13 guides our words on this matter. After all, the great chapter on love was written precisely for this reason... The Apostle Paul under the superintending work of the Holy Spirit has placed this chapter between two chapters dealing with spiritual gifts and the problems associated with them in the Corinthian church.

C@mpi

Jeremy Weaver said...

My dear C@mponius,
You're right on, man. I consider myself a non-charismatic, non-cessationist, and would like to see what each side , particularly the Grudem, Mahaney, Piper side actually teaches. The cessationists have been very outspoken in their beliefs, but the only arguments that I have heard from other non-cessationists is for the continuance of the gifts. There has not really been a push to define the gifts of knowledge, or faith, for instance.

I would like to see what these gifts are, what they look like, and some other distinctives from the reformed charismatic side.

SJ Camp said...

The issue here should be simple: this matter should be argued from the text of God's Word, not from personal experience, preferences or predilections.

So far, there hasn't been a clear biblical dialogue on this issue expressed yet. If we believe in sola scriptura, that should be our primary concern shouldn't it?

Let the exegesis begin...
Steve

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

Wow! Excellent post Phil. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

Steve Sensenig said...

Steve Camp wrote: The issue here should be simple: this matter should be argued from the text of God's Word, not from personal experience, preferences or predilections.

AMEN!!! That's exactly what I am hoping for here. And for the cessationists, bear in mind (and I mean this kindly) that not experiencing something and using that as a form of argument from silence is still basing it on experience.

I was born, raised, and schooled completely cessationist, then ended up for a while in the opposite end of the spectrum in a Pentecostal church. That caused me to ask a lot of questions about what I believed, and my only hope for sanity was to go to the Scriptures. In searching the Scriptures, I was able to find a certain amount of balance between the two, and also to realize that some things aren't going to be completely nailed down in this finite mind that we have! :)

But definitely allowing the experiences to drive me to Scripture seemed to be the safest way to deal with the subject for me.

steve :)

Carla said...

C@mpi (who is now as cool as Frank):

you asked "Phil, could you interview for your blog (or I could as well) a man like C.J. and have him biblically lay out his beliefs? Wayne Grudem might be another consideration."

Tim Challies recently interviewed Grudem on the topic of cessationism v. continuationism.

The interview was a 2 part series following his interview with Sam Waldron on the same topic.

SDG...
C@rl@ (who will never be as cool as Frank)

Ray said...

Actually Tim Challies did interview Wayne Grudem -- here and here.

I believe that Wayne Grudem has done some excellent work, and I own several of his books, most noatbly his Systematic Theology which is very good. However, I felt his arguments in the interview were very weak (>and I am not a cessationist), very subjective and not very substantive.

On the other hand -- I thought the comments directed towards Dr. Grudem were uncalled for.

Sam Waldron -- arguing the other side of the coin -- was interviewed here and here. I found Waldron's position, while I disagree with some of it, to be much more cogent as he presented it.

I just want to say that at this point, I agree with Libbie -- I am one of those awaiting a civilized, and lively (no, they are not mutually exclusive)debate as I am wrestling with this issue myself.

donsands said...

One of my big questions is what is the gift of interpretation. Paul lays out some guidelines, but it's a mystery to me how this fits with Acts 2:8.
Also much of the experience I have seen in many Charismatic/Pentecostal churches actually contradicts Scripture, and these so-called gifts of the Spirit, I would think surely, can be viewed with the Holy Bible, in order to help us determine who may, or may not be a bonafide authority on this portion of Scripture, with the Word alone being our final approval of any teaching.

candyinsierras said...

In the midst of the continuing debate on cessationism/continuationism, and sometimes snarly comments about "so called continuationists" and vice versa, I am so thankful for men like the following who are banding together in order that the gospel be proclaimed. Some of these guys are cessationists and some are continuationists.

It was discovered that John Piper has prostrate cancer. In the midst of this news and his gracious letter to his church about grace,(which can be read on Justin Taylor's blog), it brings a different perspective on how we seem to focus on contentious issues. There are weightier matters at hand. My understanding is that we should be searching for what glorifies God. Certainly debate is ok to sharpen our understanding of the gospel, but at the same time...are we arrogant in our comments? Is our motivation to honor Christ? Do we want recognition? Do we want to spur others on to a closer walk with the Lord? Do we want to exercise the fruits of the Spirit?

Back to the conference. I copied the following from the conference website. The conference is called Together for the Gospel. A Conference for Pastors and Preachers
hosted by Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C.J. Mahaney, Albert Mohler
with special guests John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul

Dear friends and partners in the gospel:

As co-laborers for Christ, you have our respect and appreciation for all that you do in proclaiming the glorious gospel. It is the most important task of your pastoral ministry, yet we well understand how other, seemingly urgent activities can obscure it. In our friendship, we never cease reminding each other of the primacy of the gospel. Although there may be secondary points of church practice on which we differ, we enthusiastically celebrate the centrality of the cross of Christ—keeping the main thing the main thing. And that's what the watching world should always notice about us.

For this reason, we’d like to invite you to join us for three days of interaction among four friends and three of our preaching heroes: John MacArthur, John Piper, and R.C. Sproul. Not only will we all benefit from the fine preaching of each speaker at this event, after each session we will host a panel discussion about that topic.

Our prayer is that through this event we will be able to extend to many other partners in the gospel the encouragement, exhortation, and edification we have enjoyed as preachers and brothers in the Lord.

We look forward to seeing you in Louisville.

Celebrating the priceless legacy of the gospel with you,

Mark Dever
Ligon Duncan
C.J. Mahaney
Albert Mohler

donsands said...

Thanks for sharing about John Piper. I will be praying God would heal and strengthen him.

I know at times I can become proud and self-righteous when I debate Scripture. Surely there's enough pride to go around in both camps [Non-Reformed & Reformed], but our Father chastens His beloved children doesn't He. Heb. 12: 5-13.
I know He does me. Our Lord has a way of breaking us and restoing us, so that we are being conformed into the image of His most holy and perfect Son! This I know, that I am going to cop a bad attitude at times, and my Father is going to discipline me, and I will "yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness" by His grace and power.

In His mighty grip. John 10:29

DFH said...

gavin asked about Whitefield.

Briefly, George Whitefield was convinced that he'd got divine assurance that his new born son was destined to become a great evangelist. The child died in infancy. That such a shining light of the Evangelical Awakening could be susceptible to this must surely be a lesson to all of us.

Best regards

David Haslam
My home page

DFH said...

Phil,

What do you make of William Farel's imprecations of divine wrath whereby he persuaded Calvin to remain in Geneva?

Best regards,

David Haslam

Terry Rayburn said...

Steve Camp wrote:

"The issue here should be simple:
[snip,snip]....Let the exegesis begin..."

As we exegete this passage from Camp, we first note the phrase "should be". This implies that the issue is, in fact, NOT simple.

The question then becomes two-fold:

1. Is the issue, in fact, simple, or is Camp's implication (that it is not simple) true?...and
2. Does Camp mean 'should' in a moral imperative sense, or in the sense that, prima facie, the issue is not a complicated one?

Taking tongue back out of cheek, the truth is that the issue is so un-simple that it has been virtually unresolvable for 2000 years.

The irony is, that the issue takes not only sola scriptura biblical exegesis, but spiritual discernment.

Truth is, the exegesis has been done repeatedly, ad nauseum, by both sides (which doesn't mean I don't applaude giving it another go...hope springs eternal in the human breast...I would love to see a roster of those whose minds are changed when the dust clears).

Two parting questions:

Q1. Has anyone CLEARLY shown cessation exegetically, such that any open-minded Bible-believer would see it anywhere near as clearly as say, the diety of Christ, or the Virgin Birth?
A. Of course not, which is why I'm not a cessationist.

Q2. Could anyone of spiritual discernment see the typical modern Charismatic "tongue-speaking", "prophesying" silliness as anything approaching the Biblical norm?
A. Not in my opinion, but then I have the gift of discernment, he said, placing tongue back into cheek.

Carpe Christum,
Terry

SJ Camp said...

Terry:

I meant that the "should be" - "should be, but it isn't."

1. In matters of prophecy (Phil's emphasis here) there is not much doubt considering the preeminence that 2 Peter 1:16ff gives to revealed truth even over apostolic eyewitness account of supernatural events.

2. Jude 3, "contend for the the once for all delivered to the saints faith." Greek hapax means a one time delivering never to be repeated. THE faith, the entirety of Christian doctrine and beliefs has no repetition through history. It has been delivered! If God is still speaking in giving additional revelation today as He was during apostolic times, then we all need to rip the back covers from our Bibles and continue to write.

The canon is closed.

2a. However, can the Lord use the N.T. gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:1-2) in the proclamation of already revealed truth? Yes. Any man of God who steps behind the sacred desk on Sunday morning and "gives the sense of it" to the people is fulfilling that role, function and office.

3. When I was on staff at Grace with Dr. MacArthur, did a summer series on this very topic. The response was tremendous. The issues I tried to address in that series became one of emphasis: i.e. not whether the gift of languages (tongues) existed today, but what was the nature of the gift itself. And then we compared the practice of those speaking in tongues today with the nature of the genuine biblical gift.

The results were amazing. More charismatics were coming up afterwards and emailing me saying that they, in light of biblical truth, couldn't honestly say that they were practicing the biblical gift of tongues. Isn't that exciting?

So, though this issue is not "simple" - the "should be" can be when examined in light of biblical truth.

One thing to whet the taste-buds - many conservative evangelicals and charismatics have this in common on the issue of tongues - they both want tongue (singular) to mean unintelligible speech so that one can say it is the practice of pagan worship that was going on in Corinth at that time; and the other wants to say it is private prayer language that only God can understand... BOTH are wrong.

Until next time,
SJ C@mp
1 Cor. 13

Terry Rayburn said...

Steve,

Good comments. Particularly your commment:

"The issues I tried to address in that series became one of emphasis: i.e. not whether the gift of languages (tongues) existed today, but what was the nature of the gift itself. And then we compared the practice of those speaking in tongues today with the nature of the genuine biblical gift."

Charismatics can be slippery, though, and will insist that there are different kinds of tongues, in order to argue for their non-biblical version of tongues.

Also their views of "prophecy" tend toward one of three things:

1. Outright new revelation, such as "the Lord told me to tell you..."
2. "Pretend prophecy" such as speaking as God, like, "Thus saith the Lord...my children, and you are my children, look unto Me, for I am your sword and shield, blah, blah, blah."
3. So-called Prophets, who claim that they lay hands on people and pray for them, and then that person receives 'a word from the Lord'.

I got into the Charismatic movement as a fairly new Christian in 1981-82, thinking that they were in "revival". But I soon realized that it was a pseudo-revival, fed by unbiblical "gifts". More on that subject here.

And often those jumping up and down in the front row soon moved to the middle rows, then to the back rows, and often out of the church altogether, disillusioned.

Sadly, Christians often seek an outward experience to fill their spiritual emptiness.

But, true personal revival is from within. Intimate communion with Jesus is how we are truly "filled with the Spirit", resulting in the fruit of the Spirit.

Blessings,
Terry

jane said...

I can understand saying that God never speaks to us anything that contradicts his Word, but I can't understand saying that he *only* speaks to us through the Bible. The printing press, education, literacy...these things weren't always available to everyone. I realize that priests and scholars were able to relate texts to their congregations, but it wasn't as if every person had the luxury of reading the Bible themselves (in fact, few did, which is what was so great about Gutenberg's invention and about the Reformation), let alone owning it. And in some areas of the world, it's still that way today.

And what about people, who for whatever reason, don't have an intellectual bent? Blue collar types who are Christians but don't know a lick of theology, yet they pray and read their Bible faithfully. Are they somehow inferior? With all the weight that's placed on "impeccable" doctrine in so many corners of the blogosphere, I get the impression that if you're not "bookish", you can't be a person of the book (the Bible), which is a totally unbiblical judgment.

I agree with Ellen about the still, small voice. And I agree with Blackaby about God revealing himself in many ways (he cites the Bible, prayer, circumstances and the church). He also reveals himself through his creation.

I agree that his greatest revelation (since Jesus coming to earth) is his written word, but he is not confined by it (hope that won't be labeled blasphemous). Is it possible for the Bible and theology itself to become idolatrous?

I also think there is reason for the command to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We seemed to be zeroing in on the mind, but we are more than our thoughts. I'm wary of those who advocate "feeling God" but at the same time, we were created with emotions, so God had a purpose for them. And sometimes he does let us experience his presence in our emotions. Think of witnessing a birth--is God not in that moment? Is he not filling us with joy at the new life before us? And the Bible often speaks of weeping and mourning. Everything is for God's glory, and in that sense, he DOES speak to us in unexpected ways. As we meditate on his word and pray, he gives us insights. And the Holy Spirit helps us discern what is his guidance. At least that's how it's been for me all my life. And I'm not even charismatic!

Steve Sensenig said...

Marla said: Is it possible for the Bible and theology itself to become idolatrous?

While I am not pointing the finger at anyone in this particular discussion with this statement (so don't anyone get defensive, please), I would say that I think the answer to this is "yes". Sounds like a great topic to talk about sometime on a blog somewhere...

steve :)

candyinsierras said...

Great post Marla. I agree.

donsands said...

"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy Truth: for Thou hast magnified [exhaulted] Thy Word above all Thy name!" Psalm 138: 2

I do not think God's Word can become an idol. I love His Word, and I love Him. I worship our Lord alone. And His Word is exhaulted above His name!

That's my heart on the matter.

Steve Sensenig said...

donsands (well, the Psalmist, actually!) wrote: "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy Truth: for Thou hast magnified [exhaulted] Thy Word above all Thy name!" Psalm 138: 2

I appreciate the point you're trying to make here, so I'm not trying to pick a fight. But it is interesting to note a couple of things:

1. Not all translations agree on the phrasing of that. I'm not a Hebrew scholar, nor the son of a Hebrew scholar, so I would have to do some research elsewhere to find out which translation best captures this verse. However, suffice it to say that I would not feel comfortable brushing off the question with this one verse.

2. The religious leaders of Jesus' day held the Scriptures in very high esteem, but missed the fact that they pointed to Jesus. In that sense, I think it's possible to say that their theology and their Scriptures were functioning as idols to them, in that they put them above God Himself (although, to be fair, they were blind to this fact).

Whether or not one can be truly accused of "bibliolatry" may very well be up for debate. But theology, which really amounts to our best attempts to express the truth of Scripture, can easily become an idol for people.

If I can say this gently (and believe me, I'm trying!) take note in most theological conversations how often certain names are mentioned, certain creeds are mentioned, certain theological "catch phrases" are mentioned vs. the number of times Scripture is actually exegeted. I'm not accusing anyone outright of "theologolatry" (hehe...my poorly-coined word), but I think it warrants a frequent caution flag.

To be fair, many approach theology from the standpoint of "why re-invent the wheel?" and I can respect that to a certain extent. But if we refer to our systematic theology and its statements either more frequently than or even as authoritatively as the Word of God itself, I think we run a risk, even if only slight in some situations.

That is why I think Steve Camp was right on when he requested that we approach this topic of prophecy from the standpoint of exegeting biblical texts.

I still am firmly convinced that there is a middle ground between die-hard cessationists and fringe lunatic charismatics on this issue!

Some may label me a heretic for suggesting that, but I really do think that once we define the terms in a way we can agree (such as, "what is prophecy?") we may find that we're not all so far apart after all.

Just my wordy two cents...
steve :)

donsands said...

To Steve;
"...the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

We can for sure worship this Word, that's for sure.
I agree that man's theology can become an idol. There is a huge difference between man's doctrine and God's doctrine. God's Truth, which is Christ, is a mystery in one sense, and I do not think we can nail this down completely as finite beings.

I worship the Triune God of the Scriptures, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Father in heaven alone. His Words are one with Him. They are holy and perfect. They are never wrong. They are absolute and divine. And His Word is His expression of who he is. Once again a mystery to a point.

Those who are called by the Lord to teach His Word and expound upon it are never perfect.
The Confessions we have, which are wonderful, are man's doctrine. And they can become an idol, I agree.

There's one more doctrine out there, and that's the doctrine of demons. And we need to be aware of these as well. For they surely do become idols for man.

Those are some rather crude thoughts on the matter, but I am learning. Thanks for your input.

Steve Sensenig said...

donsands: Very well said. No disagreement on any of that. Thanks for the dialogue!

steve :)

Court said...

Forgive my ignorance, but do you think that there were no Benny Hins of the first Church? Does the fact there are some who teach falsely on the gifts of the spirit mean that there are no gifts? Because in my eyes, if you use the same logic, Christianity is false because some people preach false doctrines. I know I am probably missing something, but I was a little confused. . .

donsands said...

The two teachings on gifts are that they are still in use, and that they have ceased to be in use. Both sides concur that the gifts were indeed in use in the ist century Church.
I believe they surely could be in use, but for the most part- that is- what we see on T.V.- is fabricated, or simply done in the flesh, thinking it is the Spirit of God.
If it really is the Spirit of our Lord, then it is going to be according to Scripture verbatim.
There is only so much instruction in the Scriptures however, and that is why we have such a controvery with this teaching in the Church.
Like I stated before, I have a difficult time understanding what the gift of interpretation is, and how it should work in the church, according to Acts 2:8, and 1 Cor 14.

vegemitechristian said...

Phil,

I have tried to read your post carefully and would like to try and respond with the following points:

You seem over and over again to come back to a discussion on guidance (as do many of the comments) and the question of discerning the will of God – yet you do this under the heading of prophecy. I step back from what you (and others) write and am left with the impression(!) that you have a different view of prophecy than what I understand it to be. I come from the charistmatic perspective that prophecy/revelation etc. is not (at least normally), “God told me my son is going to be a great evangelist”, “God told me to wear dark blue jeans instead of light blue today” etc. Nor is prophecy/revelation in the NT church (again, according to my understanding) seen (at least normally) in such statements you refer to, with the “failed prophecies of televangelists”. Correctly or incorrectly, my understanding is the kind of example where Steve Camp might say, “Phil, I feel I ought to share this scripture with you” or where you feel led to pray for your missionary friend right now. Or, (and probably more accurately) you’re in your home group and people are simply sharing what they believe God is saying. The others are meant to evaluate that! I look at your highlighted in red main point, “And I eventually want to make the point I set out to make in the first place: That ordering your life by your feelings is the polar opposite of the biblical concept of discernment.”
And I could say a hearty “Amen” to that! But what in the world has that to do with prophecy/revelation???? From my perspective – nothing!
Rather, prophecy/revelation is a wonderful thing that I want to see more of in my little church! 1 Cor.14:24-26 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person enters, he will be convicted by all, he will be called to account by all. The secrets of his heart are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is really among you.” What should you do then, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church.
Amen?

Briefly looking specifically at your 6 points:
(1) Absolutely no one is receiving consistently reliable, demonstrably authentic messages from God today.

…..Okay?! Then you’ve just shown why, “Two or three prophets should speak and the others should evaluate what is said.” (1 Cor 14:29)

(2) There is really no substantive difference (other than scale) between the spectacularly failed prophecies of questionable televangelists like Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn, and the misguided presumption of the non-charismatic Southern Baptist who thinks God routinely communicates to him via specific messages about virtually every daily decision in life, and who thinks he is obliged to order his life according to those impulses.

…..So they are mistaken then. Does the abuse of the gift invalidate the correct use of the gift? On a second note, I think that the scale difference is a very important one – in keeping with the idea that leaders in the church should be held to a higher doctrinal and behavioral standard.

(3) That sort of presumption has been the cause of constant embarrassment…..Cotton Mather had a series of disastrous disappointments that were all rooted in the notion that God was giving him private guarantees that his prayers would be answered.

…..Is it biblical to believe that all your prayers will be answered unless they are according to the will of God? Sounds to me that Cotton ought to have had some corrections to his understanding. Having said that, I wonder what the disastrous dissapointments were? I can think of several examples of “disastrous dissapointments” in Scripture that God meant for good!

(4) Private "revelation" invariably tends to usurp the authority and the proper role of Scripture, even when it turns out to be demonstrably false.

…..Who says? Why? Are you sure? Revelation happens all the time! Growing in faith/knowledge of Christ is a spiritual revelation! (Ephesians 1:17) That doesn’t usurp scripture – growing in the knowledge of Christ requires scripture! But not merely as a cognitive thing – this is a Spiritual thing!

(5) Nothing in Scripture ever commands us to seek such revelation, especially on a routine basis. On the other hand, we are constantly exhorted to seek guidance daily from the Scriptures; to devote ourselves to rightly dividing the inscripturated Word; and to make biblical wisdom and discernment the main source of guidance in all our decision-making.

…..Biblical wisdom and discernment is a spiritual thing – you (perhaps unintentionally) make it sound like you think it’s a purely cognitive thing. See John Calvin. I seek a revelation of Christ, that I would know him more. I also seek the kind of revelation that would build up the body of Christ and cause unbeliever’s to have God revealed to them!

(6) Thinking you can discern the will of God by your own feelings is not only perilous; it is positively, carnally sinful.

…..Agreed brother! And I would only add (for completness) that thinking you can discern the will of God by your own reason/rationalism is not only perilous; it is positively, carnally sinful. Again, revelation is a spiritual thing!

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor 2:12-14)

By the way, were talking again about discerning the will of God – you seem to keep slipping away (IMO) from the topic of prophecy, but that’s okay!
I’ll finish on this thought:

Pursue love*, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
* (Love is of course wonderfully explained in the previous chapter)

Cheers,
Aussie Steve

lionfood said...

....if someone is so submitted to God - living in 100% humility, who says they aren't in tune to the constant guiding of the Holy Spirit. As long as what they share about their "revelations" aren't contradictory to His word, who is anyone to say it isn't authentic? - who is so egotistical as to think they have God completely "figured out" and who would want to place perameters around how He should work in our lives? - just curious.

Dotun said...

Phil,
I think it will be good if you can clarify what you mean by 'personal revelation'. Does that mean that God cannot speak to an individual anymore. Where is the place of the relationship christians are meant to have with the God. You discarding all prophecy on the basis of some particular 'failed' ones in your opinion and doing that without considering what the scriputres says about knowing in part is no difference from an atheist view of christianity as false because of some people's misbehaviour in the name of God. In my opinion your comments are dangerours and misleading for anyone seeking a deeper relationship with God.

donsands said...

On the Catholic station, I remember when the main nun on the show said she was feeling discouraged, until the Lord spoke to her and told her, "You haven't been praying to St. Joseph for encouragement." So she did, and was encouraged.

The Triune God of Scripture has given us His Holy Scripture, and the third Person of the Trinity comes to live in His Church, and in our hearts to help us see His word, which gives us the boundaries we need to grow in His love and grace.

lionfood said...

..so the only role of the third person of God is to help us understand His word better?

lionfood said...

....and He doesn't give us the freedom we need to grow in His love and grace, but boundries?
Ouch - doesn't sound so much like running a race as it does waiting out a storm.

Brad Meyer said...

Sorry I was out of town for this further endeavor into de-spiritualizing/naturalizing Christianity, Phil. This is shockingly awful theology- again.
It's painful to read.
If God does not communicate outside of His Word, why would he intervene at all beyond writing His Word? Do you really preach this despair to the sick and needy at your church? Christ did not. Christ did not send sick people to their Bibles to read to be healed. Neither did the apostles. Christ said come unto me and the apostles said come to Him. Why is it that you say, go read your book- He doesn't do that stuff anymore?

donsands said...

I have a wonderful loving relationship with my Savior. I experience His great love, because He has come and made His abode with me, and because He has, in His perfect wisdom, given me His Word, to nourish my soul, and to protect me from all the wolves in sheeps clothings out there, and there are many who preach a different Jesus, a different gospel, and who even bring a different spirit with them, so that they may deceive even the elect, if possible.
It's because I have the Holy Spirit given to me by my Father through the Son, and His Holy Bible that my love for Him is so deep and rich. He protects His own with His truth, and the Spirit of truth.
What a gracious Lord we do have.
If some need some extra sayings from our Lord, that's fine with me. Maybe the Lord grants that to some, and that's great. But I am a weak and suseptible kind of guy, and I need to be set apart by His truth alone, and kept close in the refuge of His Word alone. And my heart rejoices in His grace, and my soul rests in the shadow of His wings.

Arnold said...

Donsands,

Thats a beautful thing, truly - and very well said. I think the objection is when people try to mandate that walk to everyone and forget that God can and does work anyway he wants too.

M Petzer said...

It is quite clear that God used the miraculous and the supernatural to confirm the word of God and not to replace it as the following scriptures clearly indicate.
(Mark 16:20) And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.
(Hebrews 2:3-4) how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, {4} God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
(Acts 14:3) Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.
(Acts 4:29-30) "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence, {30} while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy servant Jesus."
(Romans 15:19) in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

Prophecy and tongues will pass away, it is true, but the time they pass away is when we fully know even as we are fully known. When we are face to face. This seems far more likely to refer to when Jesus comes than to when the Bible was fully written.
(1 Corinthians 13:8-12) 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 as a child, think as a child, reason as 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 shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.
The time period indicated by these last verses is the return of Christ. Right at the beginning of 1 Corinthians Paul makes this point abundantly clear by writing:
(1 Corinthians 1:7) so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. This verse alone is proof positive that Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) expected the gifts of the Holy Spirit to continue until the second coming of Christ.