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Does God Speak To Us Today? August 5, 2012

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Working Title For Our New Book Under Construction

 

TheTrue ~ TheFalse

A Bible Study on Both True and False Spiritual Gifts

<<>>

Did spiritual gifts cease when the last of the 12 Apostles died?

Or are they still valid for today? 

Just as importantly, if there is the true, then there also is the false

that the Apostles warned us about.

These arguments —pro & con— concerning this subject

are thoroughly discussed in this book.


Did spiritual gifts cease when the last of the 12 Apostles died? Or are they still valid for today?  Just as importantly, if there is the true, then there also is the false that the Apostles warned us about. These arguments —pro & con— concerning this subject are thoroughly discussed in this book.

In the Gospels, Jesus had promised:

It is expedient that I go away, for if I go not away, the comforter will come not to you, but if I depart I will send Him unto you. (John 16:7)

When Jesus became a man, he had locality. But the Holy Spirit indwells every believer. And on the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was

given to the Church. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, Jesus gave the disciples their marching orders:

But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ( Acts 1:8)

Regarded by many as the most exciting and relevant book for the current believer, it is, indeed, one of the most essential for any serious student of the New Testament. Here we see the five ministries and the spiritual gifts being manifested (Ephesians 4:11, I Corinthians 12). In fact, Peter told us that the gift of the Holy Ghost would be available to all generations, and he did not qualify that promise. He said that what those people witnessed at that Pentecost feast day was to continue to all that are afar off, then Peter said to them,

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. (Acts 2:38-39)

The Lord is still calling people today.

CHAPTER ONE

CESSATIONISM

Does God Speak To Us Today?

 Much of our lifestyle, much of what we hold dear to our hearts, is cultural and traditional beliefs we never question. But God may be calling us to choose between our old traditions and His way. To choose between our old wineskins and His new wineskin. Jesus did say, new wine cannot be put in old wineskins (Mt.9:17). But traditions die hard:

“…I’m Italian.”

“…I’m Native American.”

“…I’m Methodist.”

“…I’m Baptist.”

“…I’m a Democrat.”

“…I’m a conservative.”

“…I’m a Texan.”

“…I’m a mid-westerner.”

We say these things with pride and confidence until God tells us to choose between our old traditions and His way. Christ does not conform to our culture. We must conform to the culture of His Kingdom. And to Him.

Our belief that God does or does not speak to us today is more often than not a comfortable tradition that we grew up with and never questioned. Such views were birthed out of our evangelical experiences, matured into our tradition, and instituted as our doctrine,thereby becoming our lifestyle.

It is not the teaching of Scripture that causes people to disbelieve in the contemporary ministry of Spiritual gifts. After all … there is none. Rather, it is their tradition that supports their lack of belief. But their tradition would have no chance of success if it were not coupled with their lack of experience in the miraculous. Many of them disbelieve in the gifts of the Spirit simply because they have not experienced them.

Critics say they cannot find New Testament-quality miracles in church history … true enough. And we can understand the critics’ revulsion caused by the misuse, or the perceived misuse, of the gifts in contemporary churches.

They miss the point that the major abuses and error found to date are due to not following Scripture in the first place, over the centuries. Now the gifts are being restored because Christians are following the Acts model again. Not even the most ardent Bible believing critics deny they were once in effect.  Fact is, the Spiritual gifts did not leave the church, the church left the Spiritual gifts.

We will look at these abuses in another chapter.

Another thing…

We Evangelicals and Pentecostals tend to think that the Scriptures must make a clear statement about an issue before we can take a firm doctrinal stand on it.

Take, for instance, ever day street wisdom. It has always functioned on belief rather than fact. Belief will always win out in an argument, as it requires no proof, and is immune to disproof. Here is an example.

Although science clearly demonstrated that the earth was round, the belief that it was flat held sway for centuries, and those who threatened to upset the status quo were often jailed and tortured.

Nowhere is the dichotomy between belief and truth more evident than in medicine and theology. The insistence of Hungarian obstetrician, Ignaz Semmelweis, 150 years ago that physicians should wash their hands before assisting women in labor to avoid the spread of “childbirth fever” was met with scorn and derision. Years later the medical establishment initially banned Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine.

I’m reminded of Arthur Schopenhauer’s statement, the German philosopher (1788-1860):

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Eventually the truth of a matter comes around to be accepted. But inevitably there’s a struggle to get there.

AVAILABLE BUT UNKNOWN

Take, for instance, when Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) developed antiseptic surgery, many surgeons were deeply offended by Pasteur’s so-called proof that they were doing something wrong. These doctors were not stupid, and they were doing all they believed there was to do. Pasteur simply found a new medical procedure that was also an ancient truth begging to be put into practice.

The truth is . . . one will not practice truth until one first believes truth.

Of course, God foreordained the invention of antiseptic surgery eons before He formed the earth. So this was nothing new and controversial to God, just to the doctors of Pasteur’s generation.

However, since surgeons had practiced for centuries without antiseptics, experience (or tradition) dictated to them that the use of antiseptics was medical quackery. Perhaps they said to themselves, “We don’t use antiseptics because we have never used antiseptics, and if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” This is sometimes called, “The Normalcy bias,” which says, what is has always been and will always be. But there are eras of ignorance in some things, and they come and go.

This analogy also applies to a large number of Christians today. Many devout believers have carried forth the Great Commission quite successfully by using Scripture alone. Therefore, their experience and tradition dictate to them that the notion of God speaking to His people today is religious quackery.

Actually, many Christians are not deliberately practicing error. They simply aren’t aware of, or don’t believe all of, the truth that God has made available to them (Mark 13:11). But some professed Christians are deliberately practicing error, many with the idea of leading others after themselves ahead of Christ, in a similar fashion to the church leaving the Spiritual gifts between the first century and third centuries. A poor spiritual heart condition is the cause rooted in greed and controlling behaviors.

Those nineteenth-century surgeons felt they had intellectual reasons why they should have rejected Pasteur’s research, but their reasons were not scientific. They merely sounded scientific.

Likewise, well-meaning Christians have reasons that sound scriptural as to why they believe that God doesn’t speak outside of the Bible today. Actually their reasons, like the surgeons of Pasteur’s day, come from tradition and experience, and not from the Bible. Eventually, Pasteur’s newly discovered truth won out over a long-held medical tradition.

And so will God’s voice.

THE CESSATIONIST VIEW

If you believe that God speaks to His own today (John 10:27), you probably are not a cessationist. If you believe that God does not speak today, in all likelihood, you are a cessationist. A person who is not a cessationist is usually referred to as a continuationist, or non-cessationist.

The view that I am presenting here states that “the Holy Spirit era” (the church age) started on the day of Pentecost and will continue without change until the Second Coming of Jesus.  In my thinking this also puts dispensationism into question.

The cessationist view states that God became silent; all miracles ceased when the last apostle died, and that we are now in “the Bible era.” This view says: “Scripture alone speaks to us today.”

I am sure there are considerate Christians on both sides of this issue. However, I feel that many have accepted the cessationist view simply because the “Holy Spirit era” teaching has not been presented in the way it is presented here. And, if you already believe as I do, the following presentation will provide you with a scriptural basis for your faith.

John W. Kennedy presents the cessationist view eloquently in his excellent book on church history, “The Torch of the Testimony.”2 He states:

“The Church and the Scriptures developed together, and the church ultimately recognized in the truth of the written revelation her complete foundation. The Bible [I think he means the New Testament] is the expression of the divine Word, at one time spoken directly from the lips of Christ, and then through the apostles. The New Testament embodies the continuance of the apostolic ministry, the revelation of Christ that was completed with the committal to Paul of the mystery of the church (Col. 1:24-27). From this, it follows that the ministry of apostleship and prophecy as embodied in particular people was but a temporary expedient. It was vitally necessary during the transition period when the written Word was being formulated and was gaining acceptance among believers, but when the written Word was completed, the particular ministry of the apostle and the prophet became redundant, just as the observation of the Old Testament sacrifices had to give way to their fulfillment in Christ. The principle came into operation, “But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Cor. 13:10). The function of the apostle and the prophet still exist, but embodied in the written Word, not in any man.”

Although John Kennedy inferred that miracles and prophecy disappeared along with the apostles and prophets, he didn’t say it specifically, as most cessationists do. However, Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Th.D., Ph.D., does state it explicitly in his Bible commentary. Note his commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:11:

“After the church began, there was a period of immaturity, during which spectacular gifts were needed for growth and authentication (Heb. 2:3-4). With the completion of the New Testament and the growing maturity of the church, the need for such gifts disappeared.”

When Dr. Ryrie speaks of a period of immaturity, he is referring to the high water mark, the glory days of the church. To refer to this period as “immature” is to insinuate that the apostles and the authors of the New Testament were immature. Dr. Ryrie catches himself in a contradiction. By this logic, he should be able to pen for us a much more mature Scripture and doctrine than the writers of the New Testament gave us.

I ask a rhetorical question: Could the mature New Testament come out of an immature church?

In my up and coming chapter, Surprising Bible Manuscript History, we will dig deeper into this intriguing subject of “the completion of the New Testament” Dr. Ryrie spoke of.

We have stated the cessationist view by quoting two notable authors who champion this view. Many books have been written in great depth covering this view, but I trust sufficient information has been presented to give an overall understanding of the cessationist view.

And now I would like to propose an equally gracious but opposing position on what is called the continuationist view.

When the Perfect Comes . . .

The cessationist view states that God became silent and all miracles ceased when the last Apostle died.

Some have said something to this effect: “The miracles, signs, and wonders of the book of Acts were temporary. They served to authenticate the apostles and prophets until the New Testament could be written. Now we have the completed Word of God, which erases the need for supernatural happenings.”

The punch line from the cessationists’ favorite proof text says: “When the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” Here is their proof text:

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. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 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. 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. (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)

The cessationist proof text ends with verse 10 because, whether inadvertently or on purpose, verse 12 undoes their argument, as you will see shortly.

Also it needs to be pointed out that nowhere in the entire Bible does it say that any of the spiritual gifts, described in 1 Corinthians 12, ceased. All so-called proof texts are taken out of contexts, as verse 10 was. There is conjecture only.

The Greek word used for “dimly” or “darkly” is enainigmati and means “in an enigma.” The dictionary defines “enigma” as: “a perplexing or baffling matter, usually an ambiguous statement or riddle,to speak in a riddle.”

Glass mirrors were probably introduced in Paul’s time. However, the surfaces of most first-century mirrors were usually made of a polished metal, a mixture of tin and copper. At best, those ancient metal and glass mirrors were unequal to our modern glass mirrors and, more often than not, were tarnished and dim.

Paul implies that he is speaking of a great truth that is difficult to see, or perplexing; and that it takes spiritual eyes to “see” this insight by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

There are several Greek words for the English word “glass,” but in this particular Scripture, it clearly means a looking glass…a mirror. Both the Strong’s and Young’s concordance were compiled for use with the King James Version of the Bible. Both define “glass” as:

  • Esoptron: looking glass (1 Cor. 13:12; James 1:23)

  • Hualos: anything transparent (Rev. 21:16, 21)

  • Hualinos: made of glass (Rev. 4:6; 15:2)

FACE TO FACE WITH JESUS

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly); but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]. –1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Amplified Bible)

The expression “face to face” has to be in reference to the return of Christ. Obviously, we can only meet a person face to face, and that person can only be Jesus (Rev. 1:7). In the Old Testament, the expression “face to face” meant to see God personally. For example, Jacob saw Jesus face to face as he wrestled with the angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Christ) (Gen. 32:30). Also, after the angel of the Lord had visited Gideon in the winepress, Gideon exclaimed, “I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face” (Judges. 6:22).

 As a final example, Exodus 33:11 says that, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”

 When Paul uses the expression “face to face,” he is referring to the time when we shall see Jesus face to face. That time can only refer to His return, when every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7).

 Obviously, we cannot meet face to face with the Bible, or some nebulous idea or event. We can only meet a person face to face, and that person can only be Jesus, when every eye will see Him at the Second Coming!

 In the natural, we would see our own reflection when we look into a mirror, but spiritually we are to reflect Jesus because God is conforming us to His image. Yet, all we can see is a poor reflection of Jesus through our Adamic eyes, until we see Jesus face to face beyond the veil of flesh. We can’t even see ourselves clearly in that spiritual mirror because we are wretched sinners who need God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness every day.

 WE SHALL KNOW HIM FULLY

 Then we shall know Him fully, just as He has fully known us! This statement also can only refer to the Lord’s return. Paul is not saying that when the Lord returns, believers will be omniscient like the Lord. Rather, we will know Jesus accurately without any misinformation, or lack of information, or misconceptions because we will be mature. We will have our glorified, eternal bodies.

 Coming face to face with Jesus will be sufficient to provide edification far beyond our present comprehension. In this new environment, we will know everything clearly, completely, and emphatically.

 EXACTLY WHAT IS “THE PERFECT?”

 The Greek word used in verse 10 for “perfect” is teleios, which means: ended, complete, absolute, or mature. Some argue that Paul’s reference to “the perfect” speaks of a conception of something in its most excellent form, and not to anything specific. However, there are those who argue that it means the Bible. Yet, most commentaries will also admit that “when the perfect comes” refers to the Second Coming of Christ. A valid question is: which of these options can best be defined as “the perfect,” (1) something excellent? (2) the Bible? or (3) Jesus?

 First we will ponder Jesus (the Living Word) and the Bible (the written Word) to see which of these two comes the closest to being the “perfect” in verse 10. Consider the following:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. –John 1:1 (KJV)

 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. –John 1:14a (KJV)

 And His name is called The Word of God. –Revelation 19:13b (KJV)

 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. –John 21:25 (KJV)

 Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. –John 20:30-31 (NASB)

 But He [Jesus] replied, it has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. –Matthew 4:4 (The Amplified Bible)

 Let’s summarize: Jesus, the Living Word, is complete (John 1:1). Therefore, Jesus is greater than the Bible, the summarized written Word about Him (John 21: 25). Although the Bible is God’s revealed Word to us, and is without error, we are waiting for Jesus, the Living Word to be revealed at His Second Coming.

 The revelation of Jesus Christ begins by seeing Him first as The Living Word of God!

 PERFECT, BUT TEMPORARY?

Canonization of New Testament books, the determination of which books were authentic and should be included in Scripture, was not accomplished until the year AD 397. If by this time in church history, Paul’s teachings on the gifts of the Spirit had become obsolete, why were they included? Why were they canonized? Charles Carrin explains this seeming contradiction:

“If it be true that First Corinthians 12 and 14 became imperfect when the Bible was completed, then the long-awaited “perfect” book was not perfect at all. Canonization had only destroyed its perfection. Who can sincerely believe this? The idea is absurd. It defies logic. Paul himself terminated such an argument when he wrote Timothy: ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17.)'”

 If II Timothy is Scripture, then, according to Paul, I Corinthians 12 and 14 are also Scripture. Both passages are given to us so that “the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

“THE PERFECT” IS SOMETHING EXCELLENT

Now we will consider the possibility that “the perfect” is a conception of something in its most excellent form. As you may know, Greek nouns are assigned a gender—either feminine, masculine, or neuter. When referring to a noun in the feminine gender, one uses the pronoun “she;” when referring to a word in the masculine gender, one uses the pronoun “he;” and, when referring to a noun in the neuter gender, the pronoun is “it.”

 The word “perfect,” as used in verse 10, is used in the neuter gender. That means it cannot refer to a single person, but it can refer to a group of things, which can include several people. Here is an example.

 A ship, boat or vessel, is an example of a noun that can be in the neuter gender that can include its cargo, its equipment, and its crew, as well as the ship itself. And the Second Coming is, in a manner of speaking, our ship that is coming in. On board is Captain Jesus, His crew, and His fulfillment of all Messianic prophecy.

 I believe that “the perfect” is BOTH Jesus AND the fulfillment of all messianic prophecy that will transpire at the Second Coming.

 The next chapter, titled “The Partial Will Be Done Away,” will thoroughly explore this subject.

MY PERSONAL AMPLIFIED VERSION

We have read First Corinthians 13:8-12 from the New American Standard Version Bible. Now we’re about to read my own personal amplified reiteration of the same Scripture that clarifies what we have just learned.

 Before we do so, notice that 1st Corinthians 12, verses 1, 4, and 31 imply that all nine “gifts” are “of the Spirit” collectively, even though not all of them are individually called “gifts.” Therefore, I took the liberty of referring to all of them collectively as “gifts” of the Holy Spirit in order to keep things simple.

 Here’s my version . . .

Love, an eternal virtue of God,never fails or comes to an end (1 John 4:8). As for [the gift of] prophecy, it will be fulfilled and pass away (1 Cor. 12:10); as for [the gift of] unacquired] tongues, they will cease (1 Cor. 12:10), As for [the gift of] knowledge, it will pass away (1 Cor. 12:8). All of these spiritual gifts will be superseded by the physical presence of JESUS. We know that knowledge has not passed away, and in fact is increasing exponentially. In Daniel 12:4 God said; “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Brethren, are we approaching the end of time? Then it should be obvious that none of these spiritual gifts have ceased! Right?

For our present knowledge [of Jesus, the Living Word] is fragmentary, incomplete, and imperfect, and [the gift of] prophecy is fragmentary, incomplete, and imperfect.

But, at the Second Coming, when JESUS comes to bring all messianic prophecy in the Bible to completion and to rule His Kingdom, the incomplete and imperfect gifts of the Spirit will disappear; Spiritual gifts will become something we have outgrown and discarded, LIKE CHILDHOOD TOYS WHEN WE REACH ADULTHOOD (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:11, 14-15).

Because, when I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought and reasoned like a child. Now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.

For now we are looking in a mirror (through our natural eyes) that gives only a dim or blurred reflection (of the glory of the Lord) as in a riddle or enigma (2 Cor. 3:18). But, AT THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS, when Jesus (the Perfection) comes, we shall see Him face to face in physical form! Now I know JESUS in part, or imperfectly because I am still IN MY NATURAL BODY; but then, IN MY GLORIFIED BODY, I shall know and understand JESUS fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and dearly known and understood by JESUS (1 John 3:2).

 (My own personal amplified reiteration of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12)

 To be brief, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 is saying that at the Second Coming of Christ the partial, incomplete spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12) and the five incomplete ministries (Eph. 4:11) will no longer be needed because Jesus is the perfect consummation of all of them, and we will be like Him when we see Him face to face. Meanwhile, until the Second Coming, everything is still in place that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14. This is called the continuationist or non-cessationist view.

 Hear Jim Cymbala’s concise response to this issue:

“If we have a completed revelation in written form, are we seeing at least as much advance for God’s Kingdom, as many people coming to Christ, as many victories over Satan as those poor fellows who had to get along with just the Old Testament? If not, why not? Are we missing something valuable that they felt was essential?”

SIMPLY ASK: IS IT SCRIPTURAL?

Perhaps it comes down to the simplest of issues. Do you believe the Bible, or do you prefer the traditions of the elders? If God gives you a clearer understanding of a Scripture, are you, out of obedience, required to bring about change into your life, or are you free to remain in bondage? Sobering question.

Again, Jim Cymbala speaks from his considerable experience.

“Unfortunately, I have learned firsthand that many Christians who pound the Bible the hardest and most strongly defend the verbal inspiration of Scripture are the most unbelieving and cynical about God ever doing a new thing in His church. They seem so intent on preserving tradition that any spontaneity is spurned as “emotionalism.” My question is: If Jesus is the same today as He was in the Bible we defend, why shouldn’t we believe Him to do great things among us and through us, so we can touch people’s lives in powerful ways as did the first-century apostles? Peter was no perfect saint, as evidenced by his denial of Christ; many churches today would hardly allow such a failure to stand in their pulpits. But God chose him on the Day of Pentecost and used him mightily, and God can do the same with us if we look to Him with childlike faith in our hearts.”

Simply because a particular Christian group comes to an understanding of a scriptural truth prior to another group, that does not make that truth “private property” and unavailable to other groups. No doctrinal group has exclusive rights to any portion of the Bible. We can assume that all Bible truth is available to all believers.

 For example, wouldn’t it be ridiculous to assume that if some group were to start baptizing by submersion they, thereby, would lose their original identity and become Southern Baptists?

 That’s nonsense!

 Some argue—there are sections of the book of Revelation that make perfectly good sense in plain English that should be taken literally. If that argument is true, then why is it not also true for 1st Corinthians 12, 13, and 14?

The bottom line? All Christians are compelled to grow and be faithful to the Word of God.

THE PARTIAL WILL BE DONE AWAY WITH

As long as we are living in these mortal bodies, our knowledge and understanding of supernatural things will be unclear, tarnished, and partial until we come face to face with Jesus! Then we will understand all things. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”

 In the simplest of terms, the partial is what we have now, and the perfect is what we will have at the Second Coming. Said another way—we are fractional until we are complete in Him.

 Between our partial knowledge and our lack of knowledge, let’s face it, all of us are in partial error. The problem with partial error, partial knowledge, or no knowledge, is—we dont know what it is we dont know! It is the nature of fallible, sinful, incomplete beings to stumble. And if you are in error, how are you to repent if you don’t think you’re in error?

The Bible is the inerrant, immutable, universal Word of God, but our understanding of the Bible is not inerrant or immutable. Therefore, we cannot preach the whole counsel of God because we do not know the whole counsel of God.

 The New Testament is also perfect, but it is a partial, incomplete record of the events in the lives of Jesus and the apostles (John 20:30-31; 21:25).

 Realizing such matters humble us.

THE TWELVE DISCIPLES DID NOT UNDERSTAND

Not until the Second Coming will Jesus complete all messianic prophecy and bring absolute perfection into His Kingdom. Allow me to expound…

 The Jews believed that ALL of the blessings of the Kingdom of God would accompany the First Advent of the Messiah. The disciples of Jesus understood the concept of the Kingdom of God arriving in the person of Jesus. But they did not understand the form of the Kingdom Jesus brought until they watched His gruesome death.

 Specifically, the disciples were unable to embrace the idea that Jesus did not break the Roman yoke from Israel’s neck, remove the presence of sin, wipe away every tear, destroy poverty, and throw death and Satan into hell.

 However, when they experienced the power of His resurrected life, then they were able to understand and embrace this new Kingdom. It was only then that they realized—the Kingdom of God prophesied in the Old Testament was to enter this world through two Advents of the Messiah, not one (1 Peter 2:9,10).

 We need to recognize—cultural assumptions are very stubborn and are not replaced in our minds by a once-and-for-all decision.

The disciples of Jesus could not grasp a two-part fulfillment and held firmly to a one-part fulfillment. They needed to be reminded not infrequently that Christ had to suffer and die. They certainly heard the message regarding the Messiah’s suffering and death and perhaps, at last, began to grasp it.

Nevertheless, the shift in their worldview regarding the Messiah’s work was a slow and painful process. The Messiah’s two Advents is what His disciples stumbled over. Perhaps we also stumble over our worldview. After all, we too live in the realm of the partial and the incomplete.

 More than 200 years ago, William Law bluntly declared that the church of his day was “in the same apostasy that characterized the Jewish nation…The Jews refused Him who was the substance and fulfilling of all that was taught in their Law and Prophets. The Christian church is in a fallen state for the same rejection of the Holy Spirit.”

 He further said that just as the Jews refused Jesus and quoted Scripture to prove their point, “So church leaders today reject the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit in the name of sound doctrine.”1

 We know that the Old and New Testament is the infallible Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. And although fallible men penned these two testaments, Scripture remains infallible. That is probably why Paul taught that all prophetic and revelatory utterances (and writings?) are to be judged and tested (1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:19-22).

 Even though there was an abundance of Christian writings in the first century, only a small portion were canonized (judged, tested, and declared to be perfect) by a progression of elders in the second, third, and fourth centuries.

 It is possible, but rare, for a Christian to be “in tune with the Holy Spirit” to such a degree that he performs a complete and perfect work.

 Here is a simple spiritual law that should be self-evident: If anything is good and perfect and glorifies GodGod is in it!

WE ARE ONLY PARTIALLY COMPLETED

Evangelicals, charismatic or Baptist, agree that our Lord’s primary mission during His first coming was “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). However, although the work of His atonement is His chief and central work, it was not His only work accomplished.

 Jesus sent His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost so we could have power to minister as He ministered (John 7:39; 14:26: 1 John 2:27; Acts 1:5: 1:8). His first coming also demonstrated His bringing “a small portion of eternity into time.” He did that through proclaiming and demonstrating the Kingdom of God as He went about healing the sick, casting out demons, and performing miracles.

 You are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking in any special spiritual (gift) endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you wait and watch [consistently living in hope] for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to all. –1 Corinthians 1:7 (The Amplified Bible)

 In this verse, Paul connects spiritual gifts with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul is saying that Christians will not be lacking in any of the spiritual gifts until that glorious day of the Second Coming of Christ. The gifts that Paul speaks of are given free of charge…free of obligation…at the discretion of the Giver, the Holy Spirit.

 Herein lies the irony: we live between the already and the not yet. The kingdom of God is already here but not yet here.

Still, knowing in part is better than not knowing at all! Isn’t it wonderful to know that we are children of God! And even though it has not appeared as yet what we shall be, we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is (1 John 3:2).

 God desires to take us as we are and lead us to where we need to be—conformed to the image of Christ. Where we are is always less than perfect; we are only partially completed. Therefore, we need to quit lying to each other, the world, and ourselves and admit that our doctrine, our understanding of the Bible, and probably 95 percent of what we do is less than perfect.

That would include prophecy and the prophetic ministry, healings and miracles. This would also include the most overlooked imperfection of all…our teaching!

 A person may receive a healing from one disease, only to become sick again later. Even Lazarus died a second time. And although Peter was miraculously delivered from prison, Stephen was stoned to death.

 Agabus prophesied correctly concerning Paul being bound hand and foot, but he did not properly understand that it was actually God’s will for Paul to be bound.

 Agabus believed that the vision showed what would happen if Paul went to Jerusalem. Paul understood the vision as showing what was to happen to him when he went to Jerusalem. For that reason, Paul saw Agabus’ vision as confirmation that God was sending him. And the binding was in God’s plans and will for Paul (Acts 21).

 This raises an interesting question: Since Agabus missed God, did that make Agabus a false prophet? I think not.

INCOMPLETE BUT STILL VICTORIOUS

Yes, we are incomplete! Our salvation is incomplete! The gifts of the Spirit are incomplete! And in John 21:25 we see that even the Bible is incomplete!

 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

 Oh, how we yearn for the Second Coming of our redeeming Lord and King! In the meantime, we have a Great Commission to fulfill, and we were given the power to accomplish it.

 That power is the person of the Holy Spirit that is resident in us, who desires to manifest His great power through us. He alone brings victory into our lives individually and in the church corporately. He alone can instruct us in the infallible written Word. He alone can teach us the voice of the blessed One who promised us that His sheep would know His voice.

 Our programs can only be of the flesh. Collectively and individually, we are the walking, talking temples the Holy Spirit of God uses to accomplish His work.

PRACTICING WHAT WE PRAISE

The Spiritual gifts did not leave the church, the church left the Spiritual gifts. So, why do we delay returning to what God intended for us?

It isn’t mandatory that we receive the Holy Spirit, but why would any Christian reject a blessing from his loving heavenly Father? Any gift from the Holy Spirit is more than desirable.

 Even though we study the Bible, the Christian religion is primarily experiential, not mere mental agreement. Jesus wants our fellowship. He said, “My sheep know My voice.” We’re to subjectively experience His presence, the presence of His Holy Spirit within us, and objectively experience the manifestation of His presence through us.

 If we do not experience Jesus, we’re missing the boat; we’re missing the major aspect of the Christian life. Christianity is an experience, a fellowship, a relationship, not just scholarship or doctrine or a philosophical belief system. I’m reminded of what an old, wise Southern Baptist preacher from South Carolina said:

 “Remember, son. God is the Truth. Your Bible is the truth about the Truth. Your theology is the truth about the truth about the Truth.” And then he went on to say, “And you can know the truth about the truth about the Truth, and not know the Truth. And that’s the truth!”

 Setting aside the humor in that statement, there is much wisdom in what the elderly preacher said.

Yes, doctrine has its place. Paul made it very clear that Biblical doctrine is crucial to the Christian faith. This chapter has been an exegesis on the doctrine of spiritual gifts. Let’s remain open.

 On the day of Pentecost the 120 believers in the upper room had a sense of expectancy, but they didn’t know what to expect. They simply were obedient to “tarry” and pray in unity until they “received the promised Holy Spirit.”

 In our day, we too are to have a sense of expectancy, and a desire to pray in unity until that glorious day when we see Jesus face to face (I Corinthians 13:12).

FOOTNOTES

Does God Speak To Us Today?

1. Most Pentecostal denominations have very conservative doctrinal statements regarding the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Thus, most Pentecostals are Evangelicals.

 Alister McGrath, an English theologian, listed six characteristics of Evangelicalism. In his opinion, these include:

1. the supreme authority of Scripture,

2. the majesty of Jesus Christ,

3. the Lordship of the Holy Spirit,

4. the need for personal conversion,

5. the priority of evangelism,

6. the importance of Christian community.

Mainstream Trinitarian Pentecostals clearly fulfill these six criteria. [Alister McGrath, Evangelicalism and the Future of Christianity, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1994, 51. Nevertheless, in popular usage, conservative Evangelicalism generally refers to that portion of Evangelicalism that is noncharismatic. In the United States, the leadership of Billy Graham and Carl Henry would represent conservative Evangelicalism.

2. John Kennedy is a precious brother in the Lord, and I do not wish to attack him or his excellent book, The Torch of the Testimony, Auburn: Christian Books, 1965, 30. Instead, I highly recommend this very affordable, and easily understood book on church history. I can assure you that it is on my bookshelf along with many other books on church history, and the margins are crammed with my scribbled notes.

When The Perfect Comes

1. Charles Carrin, The Edge of Glory, published by Charles Carrin Ministries, P.O. Drawer 800, Boynton Beach, Florida, 33425-0800, 1999, 99. Used by permission of Charles Carrin.

2. Similar words, such as boat, vessel, and ship, can be either neuter or feminine in gender. Even so, I believe the corollary behind comparing a ship to “the perfect” is very descriptive and appropriate in this setting.

3. I believe that my definition of the perfect and the partial, as used in 2 Cor. 13:10, will hold up under any eschatology.

4. The argument that “not only has ‘knowledge’ not passed away, but it has greatly increased this century, therefore the gifts are still valid for today,” has a fatal flaw. Knowledge has increased today, that is true. However, this “knowledge” in verse 8 is in reference to, and in context with “the word of knowledge” in 1 Corinthians 12:8.

5. Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1997, 147. Jim Cymbala is Pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

6. Jim Cymbala, Fresh Faith, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1999, 204. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

The Partial Will Be Done Away

1. William Law, The Power of the Spirit, Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1971, 23.

2. Part of the insight for this chapter came from the book: Empowered Evangelicals, by Rick Nathan and Ken Wilson, Vine Books.

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Book: A Bible Study on Both True and False Spiritual Gifts May 13, 2012

Posted by arkwork in Cessationism.
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Working Title For Our New Book Under Construction

The TrueThe False

A Bible Study on Both True and False Spiritual Gifts

<<>>

Did spiritual gifts cease when the last of the 12 Apostles died?

Or are they still valid for today? 

Just as importantly, if there is the true, then there also is the false

that the Apostles warned us about.

These arguments —pro & con— concerning this subject

are thoroughly discussed in this book.

<<>>

See the index to read the finished chapters

Peter’s Definition of “The Last Days” December 2, 2011

Posted by arkwork in Cessationism.
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There is one single Scripture that tells us very literally the time when God would pour out His Holy Spirit, and the time when signs and wonders will all culminate.

I am referring to that glorious and historic day of Pentecost when Peter preached his classic sermon recorded in Acts 2:17-21. Early that morning in Jerusalem, 120 Spirit-filled believers came pouring out of the upper room and into the street—apparently drunk. Peter proclaimed: “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel” (from Joel 2:28-32):

17. “And it shall be in the last days,” God says, “that I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;

18. “Even upon My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.

19. “And I will grant wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.

20. “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.

21. “And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 1

Acts 2

We Evangelicals believe that we are living in the last days! But do we know when the last days started, and when they will end? Peter told us precisely when in his Pentecost sermon.

THE FIRST DAY OF THE LAST DAYS

Peter said: on the first day they would receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, with the evidence of spiritual gifts such as the visions and prophesy that Joel announced so eloquently.

That first day, Peter said, was the day of Pentecost! As the Amplified Bible says, that was “[the beginning of] what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Then, in verse 19 and 20 Peter told us when the last day of the last days would be. That last day, Peter said, will be the day of the Second Coming of Christ. Otherwise, why didn’t Peter just quote verses 17 and 182 and stop? To reiterate . . .

Peter said that the first day of “the last days” started on the day of Pentecost, and the last day of “the last days” will take place on the day of the Second Advent of Christ. And on every day between the first and last day of “the last days,” anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. And—lest we forget—prophetic messages, visions, and dreams could potentially be poured out by God’s Spirit during this whole 2,000-year period!

Again, Peter said: “The gifts of the Holy Spirit (outlined in 1 Corinthians 12) are to be poured out in the last days, and the last days started on the day of Pentecost, and will end on the day of the Second Coming. The Bible clearly says that the fulfillment of this prophecy of Joel’s started, even as Peter was speaking it, on the day of Pentecost. Peter based his whole argument on that premise.3

We need to understand that Peter wasn’t just preaching to those present on that day 2,000 years ago, but to us as well—according to Acts 2:38-39. He was an anointed oracle of God, a prophet, speaking the fulfillment and the revelation of a prophecy made by Joel 835 years earlier.

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.” (Acts 2:38-39).

THE APPARENT CONTRADICTION

Two things bothered me for a while. First, the crowd of foreigners watching this exuberant scene wondered if the upper room occupants were drunk (Acts 2:15). It struck me as a curious contrast with many sober-side pulpits of today that the first Christian sermon should begin with a stout denial by Peter that he and his 120 friends were drunk. But, since their intoxicating experience is scriptural, I got over being bothered.

Second, it bothered me that there is an apparent contradiction in this passage. Using the King James Version this time . . . Peter said, “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel.” When Peter used the word “this” he obviously was referring to (and pointing at?) the 120 that were speaking in languages unknown to them (verse 6). However, the crowd of foreigners from several nations that gathered around (to see what the commotion was all about) heard the 120 speaking in their native language.

So, the “this” was the “other” tongues, and the “that” was Joel’s prophecy (1 Cor. 13:1). Yet, Joel’s prophecy does not mention tongues. And, worse yet, the 120 were not manifesting the prophecy, visions, or dreams that are listed in Joel’s prophecy. Is this inconsistent or a contradiction?

Consider all the unlikely things happening here. Even though Isaiah 28:11-12 may be the exception . . . this was the first time in history that tongues were mentioned or manifested, yet Peter seemed to suddenly understand what was happening.

How could that be?

I believe the key phrase is in verse 17, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh.” By divine revelation the Holy Spirit caused Peter to understand what Jesus had said (in John 16:7 and Acts 1:6-8): . . . the comforter will . . . come unto you . . . I will send him to you . . . on the day of Pentecost . . .

HOW COULD PETER HAVE KNOWN?

We can all agree that the Holy Spirit inspired Peter, and by divine revelation he suddenly knew—this is that—spoken of by the Prophet Joel. Perhaps Peter experienced the word of knowledge4 here (1 Cor. 12:8; Acts 2, verses 17 and 18 happened that morning—figuratively speaking). Then verses 19 and 20 (which sound like Matthew 24:29, 30) 5 tell of an event sometime in our future; but verse 21 (see Romans 10:13) is for ALL of the church age. Therefore, in context, Peter is saying that all of this passage is for the whole church age—the last days—from that day to this.

IT IS TIME TO RESTORE THIS TEACHING

Brethren, we are in the same “last days” that Peter was in. He saw them start, and our generation will (as taught by most Evangelicals) see the “last days” end. Isn’t that exciting? Therefore, if we believe Peter, we can and should expect to see Christians prophesying, and having prophetic dreams and visions today! As further proof, Jesus commanded the apostles to:

Go . . . and make disciples of all the nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I commanded you . . . “

Matthew 28:19, 20

Here is what Jesus said to us in this verse: In every generation the whole church is to do everything that Jesus commanded the apostles to do.

There is no biblical reason to exclude prophecy, prophetic dreams, or visions (or any other spiritual gift) from the “everything I have commanded you” in the Great Commission any more than we would exclude witnessing or prayer.

And, if that were not enough, Paul tells the whole church that . . .

9. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.

Philippians 4

Part of that “whatever” is found in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14.

Since Paul was writing to the parishioners at Philippi—common Christians like you and me—it cannot be argued that only apostles could practice the Pauline precedent.

Now is the time to restore this teaching and expect these experiences, because God has never changed!

3. 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 the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.

Hebrews 2:3,4

It is vital in this hour that God would give us a heart for signs and wonders. Hebrews 2:3-4 says God testifies to our great salvation by signs, wonders, miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit. He gives us these signs to create a hunger in our hearts for Him. We need to go on with God, and He often uses the supernatural to rekindle our spiritual passion.6

IT’S JUST SCRIPTURAL

Some people will get nervous when Peter talks to us about prophecy and visions. It sounds so Pentecostal . . . so Charismatic. Yet, these doctrinal groups also practice water baptism by submersion, and the Lord’s Supper the same way Southern Baptists do. That does not make them Baptists. But it does make them solidly scriptural.

That is how we are to look at prophecy and visions. They are scriptural. And they are as much for us today as water baptism and the Lord’s Supper. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29 NKJV).

The question is not IF the spiritual gifts are Scriptural and revocable, but SINCE they are Scriptural and irrevocable, how are they to be defined and practiced today?

Perhaps they are now diminished and less frequent than their first century counterpart. Perhaps they are not. The Bible is silent on this issue. But, whether diminished or not, they are still valid for today.

That is a separate issue that needs to be studied by Evangelicals. However, we won’t pursue it here.

Baptists do not have to adopt the traditions or theology of the Pentecostals and Charismatics, and vice-versa. One tradition is as good, bad, or indifferent as any other. This being true, Baptists [Evangelicals] are free to allow the Holy Spirit to manifest His gifts in them —according to their own Baptist [Evangelical] style and traditions.

The bottom line is: All Christians are compelled to be (1) faithful to the Word of God, (2) obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and (3) acceptant of these gifts experientially, even as the Holy Spirit chooses to manifest Himself through us.

 ____________________________________________

Footnotes: Peter’s Definition of the Last Days

1. Verses 19 and 20 in Acts 2 reads a lot like verses 29 and 30 in Matthew 24.

29. But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken,

30. and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear.

2. It can be argued that Peter reluctantly quoted verses 19 and 20 only because he was trying to get to verse 21. Here we are in the middle of one of the most important days in church history. The Holy Spirit has 120 people simultaneously preaching in a language they don’t know. And Peter is telling us all about something he had no way of knowing anything about. Obviously, the Holy Spirit was using him as an oracle to proclaim a great new revelation to the church. Due to the importance of this momentous day in history and the unprecedented anointing on Peter and the 120, it seems ridiculous that anything that happened that morning was fumbled or bumbled or done in the flesh. Therefore, I believe that there is nothing misleading or erroneous in this passage of the inerrant Word of God. Surely everything Peter said that morning was a completely clear and straightforward oracle of God.

3. The following confirmation was copied from Parousia . . . The Sign Ministries Newsletter, Spring 1998, by Charles Cooper. P.O. Box 113, West Olive, MI 49460. Article: Dispensational Foundations, Acts, Joel, and Revelation, Part 2 of 2, 3, and 4.

Peter’s quotation of Joel 2:28-32 evidences several changes from its Old Testament counterpart, the most important being the phrase “in the last days.” The original phrase “after these things” is very broad and offers no clue as to when the event would occur from Joel’s perspective. However, with the alternative phrase “in the last days” the timing became crystal clear. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit marked the entrance into a period called “the last days” (the church age), the period proceeding the day of the Lord. The gift of the Spirit is thus a token that the last days foretold by the prophets have arrived. This period is characterized by prophetic utterances (2:17).

Unlike the previous generations, both male and female, the young and old, slave and free will reveal God’s will. Secondly, heavenly wonders and earthly signs will mark the beginning of the eschatological Day of the Lord (2:19-20); and thirdly, salvation is available to anyone requesting it (2:21).

The book of Acts does contain prophecies, visions, and miraculous signs. However, there are no cosmic disturbance on a magnitude prophesied by Joel listed in Acts. Therefore, the Pentecost experience is a beginning of the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, but it certainly is not the total fulfillment.

A second significant change by Peter of Joel’s passage is the phrase “and they shall prophesy” at the end of verse 18. Peter’s insertion of this sentence in Joel’s prophecy at the beginning of verse 19 underscores the fact that as prophetic activity marked the beginning of “the last days,” the end of “the last days” will be characterized by prophetic activity as well. God’s servants shall announce the coming Day of the Lord. The time period between these two events is called “the last days,” “the church age,” and “the dispensation of mystery.”

4. It can be argued that while the Spirit is certainly inspiring the sermon, it may be one of the things He brings to mind that Jesus taught. Some say a “word of knowledge” usually does not refer directly to a Scripture. But, since opinions are a dime a dozen, here is my nickel’s worth. When God speaks knowledge to us in word form . . . how are we to restrict, define, or dictate His source? When the Holy Spirit tells a Christian a “word of knowledge,” the message usually addresses (reveals, defines) a problem that the ministering Christian had no way of knowing about. In like manner, a “word of wisdom” usually gives God’s answer to the problem. And the problem and answer most probably are both addressed in Scripture. That is both an academic and an experiential answer.

5. See note 1.

6. Water and rain can be symbolic of the Holy Spirit, but only if the context supports this symbolism. In John 7:37-39, the context supports the symbolism, but in James 5:7,8 and Joel 2:23 some believe that the rains may simply be an analogy, but Billy Graham used it symbolically (see Billy Graham quote above).





Do You Believe The Bible? November 5, 2011

Posted by arkwork in Cessationism.
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Get ready for an introduction to what is probably the oldest, most important (but least known) Bible manuscript discovery within the last 2000 years! Then you’ll be well on your way to recognizing the excitement it has generated in me, and hopefully it will in you, too.

When John Maxwell1 held a seminar at a church I once attended years ago, he peppered his presentation with this little phrase, “Do you believe the Bible?” He then proceeded to show many of us that we didn’t believe the Bible nearly as much as we thought we did.

It took a little time for us to realize that we were alternately funny and pathetic. We laughed and we cried, but when we left that service we were changed people . . . people who hopefully had a stronger belief in the Bible.

Now, let’s see if you believe the Bible as much as you think you do.

One of the most challenging verses in the bible is found in Mark 16:17. This verse says: “These signs will accompany those who believe . . . .” The trouble is, just about every Bible commentary tells us Mark did not write that verse in his Gospel. The scholars who write these commentaries tell us that some unknown person, some presumptuous person, some unauthorized person, wrote the last twelve verses that purportedly quote Jesus, including verse 17.

What a powerful statement! Isn’t it just too bad that Mark didn’t actually say, “These signs will accompany those who believe . . . ,” or did he?

You’re in for a BIG surprise . . .

First we need to document the conventional view presented by these scholars before getting to our surprise. Two of the most ancient Bible manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus, do not contain the last twelve verses that appear in the King James Version of Mark’s Gospel.2d Here is what the Nelson Study Bible’s footnotes say about those verses in Mark:

ArkWork Logo eludes to Noahs Ark and working on end-time preperation

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“The authenticity of these last twelve verses has been disputed. Those who doubt Mark’s authorship of this passage point to two fourth-century manuscripts that omit these verses. Others believe that they should be included because even those two manuscripts leave space for all or some of these verses, indicating that their copyists knew of their existence. The difficulty is in knowing whether the space is for this longer version of Mark’s ending or for one of the alternate endings found in the manuscripts. Practically all other manuscripts contain vv. 9-20, and this passage is endorsed by such early church fathers as Justin Martyr (A.D. 155), Tatian (A.D. 170), and Irenaeus (A.D. 180). It does not seem likely that Mark would end his story on a note of fear (v. 8).” 

Here is what the Ryrie Study Bible commentary says about Mark 16:9-20:

“These verses do not appear in two of the most trustworthy manuscripts of the N.T., though they are part of many other manuscripts and versions. If they are not a part of the genuine text of Mark, the abrupt ending at verse 8 is probably because the original closing verses were lost. The doubtful genuineness of verses 9-20 makes it unwise to build a doctrine or base an experience on them (especially vv. 16-18).” 

Yet, the Nelson Study Bible makes this historically accurate statement about verses 17 and 18.

“These signs were evident in the early church. Casting out demons demonstrated victory over Satan (Acts 16:18). Speaking with new tongues began at Pentecost (Acts 2:4-11). Healing the sick occurred in several instances, including Acts 28:8. Taking up serpents occurred in Paul’s encounter with a poisonous snake, which did not produce ill effects (Acts 28:1-6). The New Testament does not record Christians drinking anything deadly without harm.” 

Well, this scholarly speculation is about to end.

CODEX WASHINGTONENSIS

The trouble is, these scholars are not aware of another ancient Codex2d (or manuscript) that completely blows away all of their skepticism and speculation.2f Allow me to introduce you to the great manuscript discoveryI alluded to earlier—Codex Washingtonensis, or Codex W for short. 2b But first let me explain to you (if you are a non-scholar) why this discovery is so tremendously important to everything you and I believe.

CODEX W IS AN ORIGINAL (according to Dr. Lee Woodard)! In fact, it is the ONLY original First Century Gospel Manuscripts ever found, and therefore the greatest gospel manuscript discovery ever made. All other manuscripts are copies of other copies of the original ancient codex.

This Codex is a bound collection of four separate manuscripts that were written (in whole or in part) in the actual handwriting of the four Gospel authors. We can see the signatures and seals of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John written both in Greek and Aramaic! Just seeing their signatures is an awesome experience!2e

This Codex is just loaded with marvelously informative Aramaic notes and dates. For that reason this discovery just begs for Dead Sea scroll scholars to study these enlightening Aramaic notes.

In short, this is an incredible find that authenticates what these four holy men set forth for us to read and believe.

As of this writing I am one of the few non-scholars aware of these facts, and I have a passion to share this good news with you.

A SHORT HISTORY LESSON ABOUT CODEX W

After this incredible manuscript of the four Gospels was discovered, several prominent Greek scholars studied it. But it wasn’t until 19812a that a scholar who had the right combination of credentials read this manuscript and made discoveries the other Scholars overlooked.This scholar is Dr. Lee W. Woodard who has a background of forty plus years in Biblical, Paleographical, Historical, and linguistic studies. He recorded his research findings in a fascinating 184-page book containing many facsimiles of pages from this ancient codex.2

This Codex was found in 1906,during an excavation of some sandy ruins in Medinet Dimay, a walled and fortified city in Egypt.2cCodex W was bound2h with a wood cover, then sealed in a case and buried in the sand under a church. It is not known when Codex W was buried, but probably sometime in the second century during one of the several periods of persecutions by the Roman government.

If you want to know more about this incredible find you will want to read my extensive and informative endnotes.2

MARK WROTE ALL THE ENDINGS

Now for the big surprise we have been working up to!

Mark himself wrote those endings to his gospel over a period of three years, between 69 A.D. and 72 A.D. His official seal and the date are by each ending, and he signed his name at the bottom for all to see. Therefore, these endings are as valid, as inspired, and canonical as the rest of the gospel of Mark.2g

R. C. H. Lenski’s commentary on Mark contains a lengthy discussion dealing with the theories made by the commentators above. Briefly, his answers to the above theories are in this order:

  • Mark wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. He quit when the anointing lifted. The Bible says all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.

  • Tradition says that Mark lived a number of years beyond the writing of his Gospel. If the last page was lost shortly after he wrote it, he could have supplied it again.

  • This makes God (who knows all things, and therefore knew when Mark would die) so inept that he didn’t start anointing Mark early enough to that he would have time to finish the work before he died. 

If I could enter a fourth answer to Lenski’s three, it would emphasize that the disputed passage is a purported quote from Jesus Himself. It is absolutely outlandish to suggest that any scribe would be so audacious and presumptuous as to put words in the Master’s mouth. Now we have a quote from Jesus Himself that confirms Paul and Luke’s account of these spiritual gifts as they described them in Acts and in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14.

The King James Version translates Mark 16:14-20 correctly (as seen in Codex W), but I will use “Throckmorton’s Synopsis of the Four Gospels” in order to show the longer ending unique to Codex W.

14. Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

15. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.

16. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

17. And these signs will accompany those who believe; in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them;

18. they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19. So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God,

20. And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.

Here is Mark’s longer ending that extends from verse 20 in Codex W, as seen in Throckmorton’s translation.

21. And they replied saying, “This age of lawlessness and unbelief is under Satan, who by means of unclean spirits does not allow men to comprehend the true power of God; therefore reveal now thy righteousness.” Thus they spoke to Christ; and Christ answered them: “The limit of the years of the authority of Satan is fulfilled; but other afflictions draw near, even for those sinners on whose behalf I was delivered up to death, in order that they might return to the truth and sin no more; that they might inherit the spiritual and incorruptible glory of righteousness which is in heaven.”

Mark must have felt led to include this ending in 72 A.D. after seeing the extreme wickedness manifested in the horrible siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Great Temple, etc., in 70 A.D. He felt that what he was including (as to the expansion of Jesus’ words) was fully in accord with the earlier revelation from Jesus, following the Resurrection.

It should be pointed out that the contents of Codex W are essentially the same as the good copies mentioned above. What makes this discovery different and exciting is the fact that:

  • Codex W is the only first century original, and

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John did indeed write the gospel attributed to them, and

  • Mark did indeed write all those endings himself, therefore

  • Codex W is the most reliable of all gospel manuscripts.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO US?

Now that we know Mark actually wrote all the endings to his gospel, we can dismiss the opinion of all those well-meaning scholars who said someone else wrote them. And for that reason we will now have to take this passage seriously. Let’s read it again.

And these signs will accompany those who believe; in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Mark 16:17-18

This is no, “Bow your head and repeat after me” prayer. The early apostles proclaimed God’s word “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” that the faith of those who listened would “not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor 2:4,5). Notice how much that passage sounds like this undisputed quote from Jesus.

And as you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.

Matthew 10:7-8

Dear friend, how many of these gifts have ever followed you?

I don’t think he meant that ALL of these signs would follow EVERY believer. Most probably he meant that one or more of these signs (at the absolute minimum) would accompany a believer at least once in their lifetime.

For instance, a viper bit Paul while he was gathering firewood. He didn’t deliberately handle the viper and tempt God, as is the practice of some. And, according to legend, John the Revelator’s persecutors forced him to take a cup of poison. He didn’t deliberately drink anything deadly, but he was not harmed by it.

People tend to get hung up on these more exceptional “signs” and as a result, overlook the “signs” that we see following hundreds of believers in the book of Acts and in 1 Corinthians 12.

These “signs” follow true believers because the Holy Spirit indwells them. So, these Spiritual “signs” or “gifts” are a virtue of the Holy Spirit to use at His digression. Since the Holy Spirit indwells us, He can manifest His gifts through us as He wills. We have no control over the Holy Spirit or His “signs” or “gifts”, but we must allow, and not resist the Holy Spirit to work through us.

Verses 17 & 18 are really saying that God is well able to protect us from all harm and danger. The mission field can often be a perilous place. Come to think of it, EVERY PLACE is a perilous place now days. Missionaries—all Christians—have to believe that God will provide the means and the protection that must go withourcalling, or the strength to die a martyr’s death that glorifies Him. We see examples of both in the Bible.

In a minute we will look at another scriptural way to understand this passage.

The point is: God really did deliver Paul and John with these rare and exceptional “sign” gifts. And Jesus Himself spoke these words—these are red-letter words—so therefore they are a commandment and prophecy to us.

Some will argue that Jesus was speaking only to the eleven apostles in this passage. But verses 15 and 16 make it clear that Jesus was talking to “he who has believed and has been baptized” as a result of the evangelization of the eleven.

Since water baptism does not save, Jesus was undoubtedly talking about baptism in the Holy Spirit. If you have believed and were baptized, that verse includes you. Have any of these signs accompanied you since you have believed?

A final thought: Even without Codex W there is more than enough evidence presented here to prove that verses 17 through 20 were, and are, valid. Which brings us back to our nagging question…

Do you believe the Bible?

PARTIAL AND INCOMPLETE

Again, here is a simple spiritual law that should be self-evident to be truth. If anything is good, perfect, and glorifies God—then God did it!

Such non-apostles as Stephen, Philip, and Ananias, and such congregations as the ones in Galatia, Corinth, Philippi, and Jewish Christian congregations; all experienced and practiced the ministry of the Kingdom. Their Kingdom message included more than the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins. They also proclaimed and practiced the healing of sickness and the driving out of demons. Many passages in the Bible tell us about ordinary Christians who cast out demons, spoke in new tongues, and laid hands on the sick.

We, like the disciples, stumble if we do not do likewise, even if we misuse and abuse and prove ourselves to be the imperfect, stumbling, bumbling saints that we are. Jesus brought His Kingdom into the messiness of the world, knowing that his Holy Word would be misused and abused, as would the precious gifts of His Spirit.

But, back to the question: Do you believe the Bible?

Let’s put it to the test. We will examine (or re-examine) three subjects that some modern Christians have attached a faith-shattering stigma to. As you read about these subjects, ask yourself, “Is this in the Bible?” And, “Do I believe the Bible concerning these stigmas?”

THE SNAKE STIGMA

Now let’s read this part of verses 17 and 18 again:

These signs will follow those who believe. . . they will take up serpents . . .

Mark 16 (NKJV)

This passage, “They shall take up serpents,” has caused two controversies. At the suggestion of handling snakes, some (who say they believe in the infallibility of the Bible) have rejected the passage altogether. Another doctrinal group takes this passage as a literal commandment to handle rattle snakes in church. As a result, some have suffered snakebites and died. Needless to say, neither position is valid.

While the scholars (who don’t know about Codex W yet) argue whether verses 17 and 18 were penned by Mark and whether they were inspired or not, we can go to other Bible verses (as the Nelson commentary points out) to confirm the same message.

Now, before making a careful study of verse 18, let’s read it one more time. It says, “They will take up serpents . . .” The Greek verb, airo, “take up,” means, “to seize, bear away, cast out,” in the sense of removing violently. Keep in mind that Paul did not pick up that snake on Patmos Island. The snake attached itself to Paul and he violently cast it off into the campfire (see Acts 28:1-6).

John the Baptist used the same word, ario, in introducing Jesus. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus never touches sin; He casts out . . . He takes away sin . . . violently.

The verse that says,“They will take up serpents,”is a parallel to“I give you authority to trample on serpents . . .” (Luke 10:19). Jesus spoke these two parables to teach Christians how to “trample” and “snatch away” demonic power using the authority of Jesus’ name (see Mark 9:38).

Is this a solidly scriptural teaching?

Do you believe the Bible?

THE TONGUES STIGMA

The day of Pentecost in Acts 2 marked the glorious beginning of the Church (see Matt. 16:18). Then, in Acts 10 and 11, we see another major event that is sometimes called “the Gentile Pentecost.”

In both events we see a group of people gathered together to hear from God. And in both events, the Holy Spirit fell upon all that were present, and they spoke in tongues.

44. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message.

45. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.

46. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.

Acts 10

In Acts 2, the Jews ran out into the street and in Acts 10, the Gentiles stayed in the room. In Acts 2, the Jews spoke in the languages of the crowd on the street, and in Acts 10 we are not told what language they spoke.

Now, let me show you in Acts 19:2 where Paul asked some disciples in Corinth, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” If the gift of the Spirit and tongues are given at the time of believing, why did Paul ask them a stupid question?

However, that aside, when Paul had laid his hands upon them the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying” (Acts 19:6). Again, we don’t know what languages they spoke, and we do not know what they prophesied. Furthermore, there is no mention of interpretation of tongues.

Those who argue that tongues are for the exclusive purpose of evangelizing run into a real problem. Here is why Acts 2 makes a weak argument for them. Acts 2:11 says; “we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.” Speaking of the mighty deeds of God” is witnessing, and not necessarily evangelizing. It was Peter who evangelized when he began to preach his famous message recorded in Acts 2:14-36. In all the other instances recorded in Acts, everyone present was already saved, and no one preached after tongues were spoken, and no one heard of the mighty deeds of God in tongues. Tongues are for a sign.

Here is another problem. Paul said (in 1 Cor. 13:1): “ . . . I speak with the tongues of men and of angels . . . “

What is angel language? If Paul had only said he spoke in the language of angels, we could point out that the word “angels” could (and often did) mean “men.” But since he mentioned both men and angels in the same sentence, it would be ridiculous to conclude that Paul actually said, “I speak in the language of men and men.”

If tongues are for evangelism only, then does that mean we are to evangelize angels?

14. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.

15. What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also.

1 Corinthians 14

If you will read 1 Corinthians 14:14-21, it will be clear to you that praying and singing in tongues helps us give praise to God and to allow the Holy Spirit to intercede for us, because in some difficult situations we don’t know how to pray (Rom. 8:26,27).

The point is: 1 Corinthians 14 makes it clear that the use of tongues is not always for the purpose of evangelizing!

Those who make this “evangelism” argument are trying their very best to discourage the use of tongues. They pay lip service to tongues because they can’t deny that tongues are Scriptural. They assure us that there is a proper place for tongues, but they never seem to find that place. And if they did, many churches would ask them to leave. It is an enigma . . . a stigma.

Surely it is time to admit that tongues are valid for today, and rather than deny or ignore tongues any longer, we must now hear God’s call to incorporate this Spiritual gift into our churches. I am sure that incorporating tongues into the traditions and style of worship of all the different doctrinal groups will result in a lot of diversity, but that is only to be expected.

THE ISAIAH 28:11-12 SIGN

There is another peculiar objection to tongues. The proof text this argument uses is found in 1 Corinthians 14:21 where Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11-12 (which is very similar to a passage in Deut. 28 and Jer. 25).

In the law it is written, “By MEN OF STRANGE TONGUES AND BY THE LIPS OF STRANGERS I WILL SPEAK TO THIS PEOPLE, AND EVEN SO THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO ME,” says the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:21

The Ryrie commentary on this verse says: “Tongues were given as a sign to provoke the Jews to consider the truth of the Christian message.” That is an excellent explanation, but not all explanations are so valid.

For instance, there is the teaching that tongues were for a sign, or prophecy, to Jews only; and that tongues ceased to exist in 70 AD when this Isaiah 28:11-12 prophecy was fulfilled and Judea ceased to be a nation. Since Mark dated his last entry in the year 72 A.D., that really discredits the 70 A.D. theory. Besides, it should be pointed out that in Acts 10 it was Gentile Romans who spoke in tongues, not Jews. And if Peter understood a word of those tongues, the Bible never mentions that.

At any rate, this teaching goes far beyond the context of what Paul was saying about tongues being a sign gift. And to this day most Jews still are not listening to what God is telling them about their Messiah.

Before we get too harsh with these dear brethren we need to ask ourselves, “Do I believe the Bible?” As John Maxwell points out, we Christians are just sure we do, and are shocked to discover that there are some Bible verses we wish were NOT in there. What verses do you and I stumble over?

Since it is a fact that these verses are often left out of the discussion on tongues, one has to ask, “Why?”

THE EXORCISM STIGMA

And as you go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you received, freely give.

Matthew 10:7,8

You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

James 2:18

When the seventy-two followers returned, they were excited and said, Lord, even the demons obeyed when we spoke in your name! Jesus told them . . . I have given you power to. . . defeat the power of your enemy Satan. Nothing can harm you.

Luke 10:17, 19 (The Promise)

13. Some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”

14. And seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

15. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”

16. And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Acts 19

Notice that the evil spirit manifested itself and spoke to these seven foolish brothers (Acts 19). And notice that the seventy-two cast out demons in Jesus name (Luke 10).

What difference was there between the seven and the seventy-two? The seventy-two—as believers—had the authority to invoke the power in Jesus’ name to defeat the power of Satan and cast out demons without suffering harm. The seven got beat up for using Jesus’ name as sort of a magical charm. Exorcism is dangerous unless the exorcist is anointed by the Holy Spirit and is genuinely dealing with real demonic powers.

Although exorcism is solidly scriptural, few practice it today because we are too sophisticated to believe in the boogieman anymore. Besides, we prefer psychology to exorcism. Yet, there is no Scripture that in any way hints the demonic world became silent and harmless.

DEMONIC CESSATIONISM

Forgive me for asking a dumb question, but did the demons leave planet earth (close shop, or diminish their activity) when the last apostle died? Of course not! Here is what Paul said about the spiritual forces of wickedness and how we can stand firm against them:

Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly.

Ephesians 6:11,12

We all have heard numerous sermons and Sunday school lessons on what it means to “put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

In the Spirit world, nothing has changed since before the Garden of Eden; but there will be a big change when Jesus comes again. Yet, some cessationists believe that the demons —as well as God—do not manifest themselves (i.e., speak or intervene) in the affairs of sophisticated, modern man. In short, some Christians do not believe in the supernatural. Yet, whatever the Spirit world was in the Garden of Eden, it still is. And whatever Satan’s b.c. agenda was, it still is in the a.d. And since demons are still in our midst, we still need power to overcome them.

It seems to me that we would not have authority to defeat the power of demons in Jesus’ name today, and we would not need the full armor of God —IF—the cessationist view were valid. But the demons are still with us, are they not? Therefore, we still need an offensive weapon against them.

Or, are we now at their mercy?

God forbid!

THE RESTORATION MESSAGE

Jesus Christ has not changed. God has not replaced Christ’s gospel of the kingdom of heaven with impotent religion; both Christ and the Holy Spirit are with us, “even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

Dear brethren, the first century text is still the last century text (Heb. 1:1,2). Nothing has been added to, or taken away (Rev. 22:18,19). Let us walk in this divine truth. And may our lives bare our testimony that we truly believe the Bible. 

FOOTNOTES: Do You Believe The Bible?

1. John Maxwell conducts lay ministry training seminars across the country, and is a frequent speaker at Promise Keeper rallies.  The subject of his sermon that day worked well for this article.

2. Dr. Lee W. Woodard, DBA, Kodex W: Old and Holy, Printed by Lee W. Woodard, P. O. Box 1605, Sallisaw, Oklahoma 74955, www.lasallemonument.com. Dr. Lee W. Woodard has a forty plus years background of in Biblical, Paleographical, Historical, and linguistic studies, and presently pastors a Christian church in Sallisaw.

Since the Latin-English expression “Codex” is dealing with documents written in ancient Greek, which has no “C,” as such the author chose to change “Codex” into a combined Anglican-Greek-Germanic “Kodex.” Thus becoming part of the book title, “Kodex W.”

2a. In 1981 while attending Phillips University Graduate Seminary, Enid, Oklahoma, Dr. Woodard was studying the “Infancy Narratives.” He became convinced that there was a recognizable poetic rhyme within Joseph’s dream about the miraculous conception of Jesus. His professor, Dr. Boring, suggested that he look at some photographic facsimiles of the actual pages of some of the oldest known manuscripts to further his study. He was looking for manuscripts with line arrangements or some sort of small scribal notations or markings of rhyming words. Most manuscript facsimiles had very little by way of scribal notes or markings, which would apply to what he was studying, until he came to Codex Washingtonensis, or Codex W for short. Then he realized that he had discovered something potentially far more important. Strangely, no one prior to him had noticed the marvelously informative Aramaic notes.

2b. Washingtonensis is Latin for Washington, the city where that old Codes came to be housed. It is on display at the Charles Lang Freer National Gallery of Art, which is a significant portion of the Smithsonian Institution and Museum complex in Washington, D.C.

2c. On December 19, 1906, Cheikh Aly Arabi of Gizeh, Egypt sold codex W and other old Bible manuscripts to Charles L. Freer. Freer was a wealthy man who made his fortune manufacturing railroad passenger cars. Cheikh Aly probably got these manuscripts from an illegal artifacts digger, so the exact location of the find is unknown. But the digger said he found this Codex in a wooden housing buried in the sand in the ruins of an ancient Christian Church-Monastic community in Medinet Dismay, Egypt.

2d. Codex is a formal Latin expression for an old and important collection of historically valuable manuscript(s), or, in this case, a bound, velum (sheep and goatskin) paged “book:” composed of four old codices, or originally separate manuscripts, bound together within that larger book. These four codices were composed of the four Gospels of Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark (bound in that order),

2e. We know from history that a scribe did not sign an author’s signature, but the scribe would write, “signed by Levi Mark.” Sometimes patriarchs (such as Mark) would dictate to a scribe. Then the author would proof the work and sign it. One time Paul said, “signed with my own hand.” John signed his gospel this way, “I Jesus’ John sign this.” There may well have been a class of professional scribes, such as Fortunatus, Sylvanus, Tertius, etc, who did part of the tedious scribal and manuscript reproduction duties.

All four of the gospels and Acts were progressive works that took years to complete. The first edition of Matthew’s gospel did not contain the genealogy, nor the birth and escape into Egypt. Copies of it were made and passed around. Then years later Matthew pinned the beginning we know.

It would take pages to explain all the history behind the gospels. The historians of the time, and other letters and records tell us these things.

Since the authors signed their names in both Greek and Aramaic, and since their personal seal is by their name, and since the date it was signed is usually in Aramaic and a special coding method, this proves that Codex W is an original. No other gospel manuscript has a signature in both languages, just a scribal notation of who signed it.

Most commentaries date Codex W to about 400 A.D., but the dates on the manuscripts and in the pictures— written in Aramaic—are all first century. The scholars who estimated the date at 400 A.D. could not read Aramaic, and hesitantly made their estimate on other factors.

Some of the Old Testament scholars will probably think of the Dead Sea discoveries as being just as important (at least to them). But this discovery needs some of those Dead Sea scholars to issue agreements to some of the Aramaic on Codex W.

2f. It may seem outlandish to claim that a First Century codex containing the four Gospels has been found that is in the actual handwriting—in whole or in part— of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But in all areas of science and academia the validity of EVERY discovery and theory is disputed, and ALL GREAT DISCOVERIES are rejected for a few years before they are accepted.

As a result of Dr. Woodard’s research, this discovery is being recognized by an ever-growing number of scholars, but is virtually unknown outside of this small circle of academics. There may be folks who will want to argue with some aspects of Dr. Woodard’s claim (at least for a while); but he predicts that eventually all of the academic community will recognize Codex W as being an original.

Once this discovery becomes fully recognized there will be a lot of interest in those samples of first century AD Aramaic, even though most of them are of small script and some of them smudged and difficult to read. Additionally, there are those who might be searching for the latest in New Testament studies.

2g. On the last page of Mark’s Gospel three endings are visible, along with his seal after each of them, and his signature and date at the bottom. Shorter endings were copied and passed on before the longer endings were added. The Codex W ending was Mark’s last extension while living in Egypt. Although Jerome quoted part of it, this ending did not get passed on. Perhaps that ending was added not very long before this collection of the four Gospels was bound and then buried. Dr. Woodard believes that the ending within the KJV is from the first century AD, and from Mark himself in 72 AD.

Dr. Woodard is of the opinion that Mark himself authorized and approved the various endings for his Gospel; and he may very well have penned them himself. It should be kept in mind, however, that there were trained Scribes and penmanship experts who often did the final versions of those Manuscripts; but in such cases Mark (and other Gospel namesakes) would still have affixed their own seals and signatures, approving what they had authorized for the text.

It is unreasonable to believe that scribes invented the Text. They just rewrote it in fine script to fit what the gospel namesakes were intending and approving; and it is reasonable to believe that the endings of quite a few Gospels and Epistles were altered by the namesakes — witness Mark, John, Paul.

The wooden book cover on the front and back of the manuscripts helped preserve the codex. The front cover has a portrait of Matthew and John painted on it, and the back cover has a portrait of Mark and Luke. Their names are painted into the pictures in Aramaic and Greek, so there is no missing who the pictures represent. Dates and location are also encoded into the pictures. Except for John, the paintings are in fair condition, giving us some idea of what these great men looked like. The manuscripts of the four gospels were assembled in this order: Matthew, John, Mark, and Luke.

The Reformation’s Greatest Weapon November 5, 2011

Posted by arkwork in Cessationism.
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There are those who teach that, “Scripture alone” is the source of absolute truth, and that it is the only voice of God that we have today. These people contend that God has spoken in a clear manner through the Scriptures, and that only Scripture can interpret Scripture (with no Scripture to support their view). Yet there is something like 25,000 Protestant denominations, and most of them espouse solo scriptura, which means “Scripture alone.”

This would force some people to a logical deduction that concludes: God has spoken 25,000 clear but different messages.

God forbid!

The great motto of the Reformation, solo scriptura, was initially penned in reaction to the indiscriminate instituting of Christian doctrines by the popes, many of whom were actually in conflict with the Scriptures. The justification for this was the Papal claim that the residing Pope’s authority exceeded that of the Scriptures.

This practice by church leaders led to the greatest spiritual darkness—the Dark Ages—that the world has ever known, and this motto—solo scriptura—could be cited as the primary force to break that darkness and begin the release of every true spiritual advance since. But one can go too far with a great motto, especially after it has served its purpose in history. Today this motto must be challenged as a philosophical system called rationalism. Here is why:

It takes reasoning power to determine when, where, and how Scripture has, in fact, interpreted Scripture. So, “Scripture alone” boils down to “reason alone”.

With our human reasoning power we compare Scripture to Scripture to see what we think it says. And our reasoning power boils down to the sum total of our experience, which is a muddled mindset. In short, many conservative Evangelicals trust more in rationalism than in a relationship with Jesus.

RATIONALISM & BIBLIOLATRY

The post-enlightenment culture has gained an understanding of the natural world primarily through the use of reason and intellect: The world, we believe, is accurately mediated to us through our intellects and our reason, rather than intuition and emotion.

The priority that westerners place on human reason and the corresponding devaluation of emotion, intuition, and experience is called rationalism.

Western conservative Evangelicals are regularly told not to base their relationship with God on their experience, but on the truth! Who would not agree that we ought to base our relationship with God on the truth? But why would anyone implicitly assume that our experience would not be a vehicle for communicating the truth to us?

Experience and feelings are so often called into question that one might begin to believe that only human reason was left untouched by the Fall.

But every part of our being, including our reason, has been corrupted as a result of the fall. Nevertheless, the idea persists in Evangelical circles that feelings, experience, and intuition are, by definition, suspect while reason is not.

Bibliolatry” is another word related to rationalism. Daniel Wallace, assistant professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, has said that “while charismatics sometimes give a higher priority to experience than to relationship, rationalistic Evangelicals give a higher priority to knowledge than to relationship. Both of these miss the mark.”1

Wallace goes on to speak of his own brush with Bibliolatry.

For me, as a New Testament professor, the text is my task—but I made it my God. The text became my idol . . . The net effect of such Bibliolatry is a depersonalization of God. Eventually, we no longer relate to him. God becomes the object of our investigation . . . the vitality of our religion gets sucked out. As God gets dissected, our stance changes from ‘I trust in . . .’ to ‘I believe that . . .’”■

Since each one of us is a unique being, our reasoning, and therefore our doctrine, is also unique—one of a kind. But a church of one is not very practical or scriptural, so we seek out others with similar views and join ranks with them.

That is how we come up with an excess of 25,000 denominations, each one claiming they alone have the correct interpretation of Scripture. The human tendency is to forget that our goal is transformation, not information.

By what authority do we interpret the Bible? Surely, that authority is not “reason alone.” We can conclude that we will never find all truth in the Scriptures by reasoning power alone. Surely, the same authority that inspired and authored the Scriptures is the only authority for interpreting Scriptures. In other words: the Holy Spirit will instruct us—if we know His voice.

Over the centuries, cultures changed, languages changed, and, therefore, the human co-authors (with the Holy Spirit) of Scripture changed, BUT the Holy Spirit did not change. He alone is what kept the continuity and integrity of Scripture intact. The Holy Spirit still knows what He said, and He alone knows exactly what He meant. Therefore, our best chance of knowing what is true is to ask the Holy Spirit! Here is our text.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

John 14:26

And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

1 John 2:27

9. Just as it is written, Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.

10. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

11. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God,

13. which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words [i.e., the gift of knowledge and wisdom, and discerning of spirits?].

1 Corinthians 2:9-13 [My insert]

17. [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insights into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him,

18. By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones),

19. And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength.

Ephesians 1: (The Amplified Bible).

Even if we ask the Holy Spirit what is true, and we hear His voice, we will still have some diversity in understanding. We will still see in a glass darkly because we are human. We will still see a poor reflection of Jesus through our veil of flesh, until we see Jesus face to face—beyond this veil of flesh.

Until then, we must rely, in all humility, upon the Living Word to reveal as much of the written Word to us as we can comprehend.

Until then, we must accept and observe much (but not all) of the diversity amongst the Bible believing brethren today.

Until then, all that Jesus put in place will remain in place until He comes again.

CONTRIBUTION OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS

The term apostolic fathers is traditionally used to designate the collection of the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament (that we have copies of today). These apostolic fathers (who wrote between a.d. 70 and a.d.135) were widely accepted by the church for several hundred years. Some bishops at that time accepted the apostolic fathers’ writings as being on an equal footing with the epistles.

. . . In some books which were greatly prized by Christians of the first five centuries, among them the Didache, The Shepherdof Hermas, and extensive portions of the Paidagogos of Clement of Alexandria.2

An early Christian document, the Didache ton Dodeka Apostolon, or “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” describes a church organization which knew of traveling apostles and prophets and of resident prophets and teachers. It instructs the Christians to appoint for themselves bishops and deacons and to hold them in honor, along with the prophets and teachers. There were several bishops, not just one, and no presbyters.

It has been suggested that there was a transition from an earlier structure of the churches to the later one, either in communities apart from the main centers where old customs lingered, or perhaps mirroring the change in some of the larger urban churches.” 3

The exact date or period when the Didache was written is not known. Dating the Didache is made difficult by a lack of hard evidence and the fact that it is a composite document written by anonymous author(s) and edited and stitched together at a later time. The Didache may have been put in its present form as late as a.d. 150, yet the original material was probably written in about a.d. 70, give or take a decade.4

THE KING JAMES VERSION

I must be particularly discreet and gracious on this particular subject because it can be controversial. Therefore, allow me to make this a history lesson devoid of any personal prejudice or preferences.

Today it is hard to find anyone who is sure that the Apostle Paul carried a black, leather bound King James Bible with him on all his travels. Yet, just a few short years ago many people believed that. I do not wish to poke fun at those people, but while we are still on the subject of Bible manuscript history, a brief history of the most influential of all English translations might be in order.

The English language was just starting to be developed in the fifth century [a.d. 449-1100]. Before that time, there was no such thing as the English language. This earliest form of English was called Old English, known formerly as Anglo-Saxon, and we would not have understood a word of it. If you have ever heard the epic poem Beowulf, you know what I mean.

Then came the Middle English period from a.d. 1100 to 1500.

Our interest here is in Early and Late Modern English. King James and Shakespeare spoke Early English [a.d. 1500-1750]. Since we speak Late Modern English, we can appreciate the difficulty we have in reading the original printing of the King James translation [a.d.1611].

Almost nine-tenths of the New Testament portion of the KJV can be found word for word in the Tyndale version of 1525. During subsequent decades the spelling of the KJV has been modernized, misprints have been corrected, and many English words that are no longer in use (or are obscure) were replaced with the modern equivalent. By 1613, the text showed over 300 differences from the original of 1611! Even then we would not be able to understand very much of it due to the archaic words and sentence structure. This was a wonderful translation for the time, but keep in mind that the church went for 1,600 years without the KJV.

The Old Testament rested upon the same Masoretic Hebrew text as all subsequent versions. However, because no ancient manuscripts of the Greek New Testament arrived in England until 1628, those responsible for the greatest of all translations did not have the advantage of the best Greek text.

The King James translators used a Greek text known as the TextusReceptus (or, the “Received Text”), which came from the work of Erasmus. When Erasmus compiled this text, he used five or six very late manuscripts dating from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries.

Determining which ancient manuscripts are the most accurate is done by taking the oldest manuscripts available and comparing them, letter for letter. The older the manuscript is, and the more manuscripts that are identical letter for letter, these manuscripts are the ones considered to be the most reliable text.

The earliest manuscript, Codex Vaticanus (a.d. 325), had been in the Vatican’s library since at least 1481, but it was not made available to scholars until the middle of the nineteenth century.

What am I trying to say?

When we make our statement of faith that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, we are referring to the original manuscript that was penned.

Gaining an understanding of the original Hebrew and Greek that the Bible was written in is the lifelong pursuit of Bible scholars. Finding the most ancient manuscripts that are still in existence today is another worthy scholarly pursuit. That is why Codex W is so valuable today.

The final pursuit is to find scholars who are totally committed to faithfully and accurately translating these ancient manuscripts from extinct languages to modern languages. The two languages the Bible is written in (ancient Hebrew and Greek) are extinct languages today, and only Bible Scholars know them. The Hebrew spoken in modern Israel and the Greek spoken in Greece today are entirely different languages. They are as different from that spoken by the authors of Holy Canon as modern English is from the Beowulf poem.

No Bible translation is infallible, but the author still is. Never forget that the Holy Spirit is the REAL author of the Bible. Although the men who penned Scripture, and the animal skins that they wrote their inspired words on are long gone, the Holy Spirit lives on eternally. The Holy Spirit can enlighten our understanding and transform the written Word into the Living Word.

Our focus is always Jesus. And if anything is Spiritual and of God, God had to do it. We are never to focus on a Bible translation, a denomination, a teacher, or anything else. Our focus is always Jesus.

If you want to do your own research, here is what to look for in an encyclopedia: English language translations, and Bible translations. Many Bibles have a section in the back that gives the history of English translations of Bibles. It might be titled, The English Bible and Its Development. I also referenced a book titled, The Origin of the Bible, put out by Tyndale House Publishers.

CONCLUSION

The testimony of church history contradicts many of our unfounded, traditional views, and demonstrates that the truth can set us free. I hope this will inspire you to read a book on church history this year. If nothing else, read the history of English Bible translations that can be found in the back of many Bibles. This alone can be a revelation.

I can testify that spending forty-hour weeks over an eighteen-month period studying church history revolutionized my theological thinking. These were books that I either bought or checked out of libraries and read at home.

If you don’t think that would happen to you, just try it. Prove me wrong, but with this one qualification. The books I read were written by theologians from seven different doctrinal groups. The tendency is to tell only the good stuff about your own boys, but to reveal every deep dark secret about the other guys. After reading the same 2,000 year history from seven different perspectives, you begin to see a more accurate picture of what really happened, and thereby what is going to happen in the future.

We cannot truly understand what is going on in the church today if we do not understand the line of continuity from the past. And we cannot truly understand the future of the church if we cannot trace that line of continuity from the past and present into the future. In other words, if we don’t know where we’ve been, we can’t know with accuracy where we are going.

A thorough knowledge of church history greatly improves our perspective of unfulfilled Bible prophecy. 

FOOTNOTES: The Reformation’s Greatest Weapon

1. Daniel Wallace, Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit?, Christianity Today, September 12, 1994.

2. Kenneth Scott Latourette, A History Of Christianity, Vol. 1, Beginnings to 1500, Revised Edition, Harper San Francisco, 1975, 215.

3. Ibid, 117,118.

4. Excerpted from the Apostolic Fathers—Second Edition, translated by J.B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, published by Baker Book House.

Surprising Bible Manuscript History November 5, 2011

Posted by arkwork in Cessationism.
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A big part of the cessationist view is based on the belief that the Bible replaced the gifts of the Spirit, and the ministry of the apostle and prophet. But Bible manuscript history conclusively proves the exact opposite.

We all know when the books of the New Testament were written—in the first century. But when were all the books of the New Testament compiled under one cover? When was this compilation actually called and accepted as the New Testament? And when was all (or part) of this New Testament available to the common man?

In short, exactly when did this supposed transition take place? Does history support this cessationist argument? History gives us an answer that may surprise you.

Surely, the old wouldn’t exit until the new was established. We need to ask . . . when was the new established, and when did the old exit the scene? The Origin of the Biblea booklisted in the bibliography—answers such questions.

BIBLE MANUSCRIPT HISTORY

When Paul wrote a letter to “the church at Corinth” (or any other city) his letter was passed around from church to church in that city to be read aloud. All of these congregations in Corinth were collectively called “the church of Corinth.” The average first century Christian was fortunate if, in his lifetime, he was to hear even three such letters when they were read to a congregation. It was even more rare for anyone to have the privilege of reading three letters. Of course, copies of these manuscripts would eventually be stored (along with Old Testament scrolls) in church archives.

The Gospels and the letters of Paul were circulated as working documents among churches, but only the Old Testament books were formerly recognized as Scripture in the first century.

Nobody owned a New Testament, much less a whole Bible in the first or second century because there weren’t any. Period! However, an almost complete collection of all twenty-seven books that now make up the New Testament were in use for the first time in Rome by about a.d. 180—but this was only one set. The first church council to list these twenty-seven books was the Council of Carthage in a.d. 397.

Early in the third century (around a.d. 210), Tertullian, an outstanding Christian writer, popularized the title, the “New Testament”. The acceptance of this new title placed the New Testament Scripture on a level of inspiration and authority with the Old Testament for the first time.

The Gospels and the Pauline Epistles did not gain importance equal to the books of the Old Testament until the third century. Until then, the church could not accept even the possibility of there being a second or a New Testament.

This is comparable to us anguishing over the possibility of there being a third Testament written after the Second Coming of Christ. We instantly reject the idea as unthinkable, don’t we? So did they.

CANONIZATION OF THE BIBLE

The word canon means “rule” or “measuring rod,” and in relation to the Bible, it refers to the collection of books that passed a test of authenticity and authority. It also means that those books are our rule of life.

Several books were canonical even before they were tested. That’s like saying that some students are obviously intelligent before they take any tests. The test only proves or measures what is already intrinsically there. In the same way, neither the church nor councils made any book canonical or authentic. Either the book was authentic when it was written or it was not. The church or its councils recognized and verified certain books as the Word of God, and in time—over the second, third, and fourth centuries—those so recognized were collected together in what we now call the Bible. [Ref. A Survey of Bible Doctrine, by Dr. Charles C. Ryrie].

BIBLES EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE

Until the invention of printing with movable type in a.d. 1456, the text of the Bible could be transmitted only by laboriously copying it letter-by-letter and word-by-word. In fact, it took up to a year for a scribe to hand copy just one new book. Therefore, it took the equivalent of a year’s wages of the average man to buy a book the size of a Bible.

Today, if we were to pay someone eight dollars an hour, and this person worked for fifty weeks making a copy of the Bible for us, the cost would be $18,000—before taxes. Not only was there a huge price tag on a new book, but very few people could read and write in those days. As a result, for over a thousand years there were very few individuals or congregations who could afford (or read) a Bible.

Even if they could, the Roman church outlawed the ownership of Bible up to the time of the Reformation. A priest could read a passage from a Bible on Sunday mornings, but it usually was not in a language the congregation knew. Several Godly men were persecuted for translating the Bible in the language of the people.

LET’S GET REAL

Now, let’s look at that cessationist statement again. “ . . . but the written Word completed, the particular ministry of the apostle and the prophet became redundant . . . “

We know when the Bible was completed, but when was the Bible compiled? When was it recognized as being a “New” Testament? When was it named or titled “The New Testament?” How many clergy and lay people had access to the written Word in their language—at a price they could afford?

Based on these more realistic questions, when did God cease talking to His people? Logic and history would conclude that God fell silent sometime after 1456 when the printing press was invented and the Reformation started. The Bible says . . . never!

WHAT IS GOD TELLING US?

The writing of Bible text by first century Christians ceased with their death—that is true. And these texts were canonical even before some men decided they were—that is true. However, the Scriptures they left attest to us that everything Jesus instituted is still very much in place today.

Does God still speak to us today? Yes, ever since Adam’s day! Now we must ask, “what does He tell us?” In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul said God’s Holy Spirit manifests Himself in us, His words of wisdom and words of knowledge; and He tells us who He is about to heal, etc. In Ephesians 4:11, Jesus said He established certain ministries (see 1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12:6-8).

These ministries and gifts may be ignored . . . they may be misunderstood and misused, but they are still valid and in place for today.

Brethren, this generation needs to witness “sign gifts” far more than the first century people did—and we can. All we have to do is say, “Yes Lord!”

CESSATIONISM: Does God Speak To Us Today? October 15, 2011

Posted by arkwork in Cessationism.
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Working Title For Our New Book Under Construction

The True   The False

A Bible Study on Both True and False Spiritual Gifts

<<>>

Did spiritual gifts cease when the last of the 12 Apostles died?

Or are they still valid for today? 

Just as importantly, if there is the true, then there also is the false

that the Apostles warned us about.

These arguments —pro & con— concerning this subject

are thoroughly discussed in this book.


Did spiritual gifts cease when the last of the 12 Apostles died? Or are they still valid for today?  Just as importantly, if there is the true, then there also is the false that the Apostles warned us about. These arguments —pro & con— concerning this subject are thoroughly discussed in this book.

In the Gospels, Jesus had promised:

It is expedient that I go away, for if I go not away, the comforter will come not to you, but if I depart I will send Him unto you. (John 16:7)

When Jesus became a man, he had locality. But the Holy Spirit indwells every believer. And on the Feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was

Kenneth Uptegrove

given to the Church. In the first chapter of the Book of Acts, Jesus gave the disciples their marching orders:

But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. ( Acts 1:8)

Regarded by many as the most exciting and relevant book for the current believer, it is, indeed, one of the most essential for any serious student of the New Testament. Here we see the five ministries and the spiritual gifts being manifested (Ephesians 4:11, I Corinthians 12). In fact, Peter told us that the gift of the Holy Ghost would be available to all generations, and he did not qualify that promise. He said that what those people witnessed at that Pentecost feast day was to continue to all that are afar off, then Peter said to them,

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. (Acts 2:38-39)

The Lord is still calling people today.

CHAPTER ONE

CESSATIONISM

Does God Speak To Us Today?

 Much of our lifestyle, much of what we hold dear to our hearts, is cultural and traditional beliefs we never question. But God may be calling us to choose between our old traditions and His way. To choose between our old wineskins and His new wineskin. Jesus did say, new wine cannot be put in old wineskins (Mt.9:17). But traditions die hard:

“…I’m Italian.”

“…I’m Native American.”

“…I’m Methodist.”

“…I’m Baptist.”

“…I’m a Democrat.”

“…I’m a conservative.”

“…I’m a Texan.”

“…I’m a mid-westerner.”

We say these things with pride and confidence until God tells us to choose between our old traditions and His way. Christ does not conform to our culture. We must conform to the culture of His Kingdom. And to Him.

Our belief that God does or does not speak to us today is more often than not a comfortable tradition that we grew up with and never questioned. Such views were birthed out of our evangelical experiences, matured into our tradition, and instituted as our doctrine,thereby becoming our lifestyle.

It is not the teaching of Scripture that causes people to disbelieve in the contemporary ministry of Spiritual gifts. After all … there is none. Rather, it is their tradition that supports their lack of belief. But their tradition would have no chance of success if it were not coupled with their lack of experience in the miraculous. Many of them disbelieve in the gifts of the Spirit simply because they have not experienced them.

Critics say they cannot find New Testament-quality miracles in church history … true enough. And we can understand the critics’ revulsion caused by the misuse, or the perceived misuse, of the gifts in contemporary churches.

They miss the point that the major abuses and error found to date are due to not following Scripture in the first place, over the centuries. Now the gifts are being restored because Christians are following the Acts model again. Not even the most ardent Bible believing critics deny they were once in effect.  Fact is, the Spiritual gifts did not leave the church, the church left the Spiritual gifts.

We will look at these abuses in another chapter.

Another thing…

We Evangelicals and Pentecostals tend to think that the Scriptures must make a clear statement about an issue before we can take a firm doctrinal stand on it.

Take, for instance, ever day street wisdom. It has always functioned on belief rather than fact. Belief will always win out in an argument, as it requires no proof, and is immune to disproof. Here is an example.

Although science clearly demonstrated that the earth was round, the belief that it was flat held sway for centuries, and those who threatened to upset the status quo were often jailed and tortured.

Nowhere is the dichotomy between belief and truth more evident than in medicine and theology. The insistence of Hungarian obstetrician, Ignaz Semmelweis, 150 years ago that physicians should wash their hands before assisting women in labor to avoid the spread of “childbirth fever” was met with scorn and derision. Years later the medical establishment initially banned Jonas Salks polio vaccine.

I’m reminded of Arthur Schopenhauer’s statement, the German philosopher (1788-1860):

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Eventually the truth of a matter comes around to be accepted. But inevitably there’s a struggle to get there.

AVAILABLE BUT UNKNOWN

Take, for instance, when Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) developed antiseptic surgery, many surgeons were deeply offended by Pasteurs so-called proof that they were doing something wrong. These doctors were not stupid, and they were doing all they believed there was to do. Pasteur simply found a new medical procedure that was also an ancient truth begging to be put into practice.

The truth is . . . one will not practice truth until one first believes truth.

Of course, God foreordained the invention of antiseptic surgery eons before He formed the earth. So this was nothing new and controversial to God, just to the doctors of Pasteurs generation.

However, since surgeons had practiced for centuries without antiseptics, experience (or tradition) dictated to them that the use of antiseptics was medical quackery. Perhaps they said to themselves, “We dont use antiseptics because we have never used antiseptics, and if it isnt broken, dont fix it.” This is sometimes called, “The Normalcy bias,” which says, what is has always been and will always be. But there are eras of ignorance in some things, and they come and go.

This analogy also applies to a large number of Christians today. Many devout believers have carried forth the Great Commission quite successfully by using Scripture alone. Therefore, their experience and tradition dictate to them that the notion of God speaking to His people today is religious quackery.

Actually, many Christians are not deliberately practicing error. They simply arent aware of, or dont believe all of, the truth that God has made available to them (Mark 13:11). But some professed Christians are deliberately practicing error, many with the idea of leading others after themselves ahead of Christ, in a similar fashion to the church leaving the Spiritual gifts between the first century and third centuries. A poor spiritual heart condition is the cause rooted in greed and controlling behaviors.

Those nineteenth-century surgeons felt they had intellectual reasons why they should have rejected Pasteurs research, but their reasons were not scientific. They merely sounded scientific.

Likewise, well-meaning Christians have reasons that sound scriptural as to why they believe that God doesnt speak outside of the Bible today. Actually their reasons, like the surgeons of Pasteurs day, come from tradition and experience, and not from the Bible. Eventually, Pasteurs newly discovered truth won out over a long-held medical tradition.

And so will Gods voice.

THE CESSATIONIST VIEW

If you believe that God speaks to His own today (John 10:27), you probably are not a cessationist. If you believe that God does not speak today, in all likelihood, you are a cessationist. A person who is not a cessationist is usually referred to as a continuationist, or non-cessationist.

The view that I am presenting here states that “the Holy Spirit era” (the church age) started on the day of Pentecost and will continue without change until the Second Coming of Jesus.  In my thinking this also puts dispensationism into question.

The cessationist view states that God became silent; all miracles ceased when the last apostle died, and that we are now in “the Bible era.” This view says: “Scripture alone speaks to us today.”

I am sure there are considerate Christians on both sides of this issue. However, I feel that many have accepted the cessationist view simply because the “Holy Spirit era” teaching has not been presented in the way it is presented here. And, if you already believe as I do, the following presentation will provide you with a scriptural basis for your faith.

John W. Kennedy presents the cessationist view eloquently in his excellent book on church history, “The Torch of the Testimony.”2 He states:

“The Church and the Scriptures developed together, and the church ultimately recognized in the truth of the written revelation her complete foundation. The Bible [I think he means the New Testament] is the expression of the divine Word, at one time spoken directly from the lips of Christ, and then through the apostles. The New Testament embodies the continuance of the apostolic ministry, the revelation of Christ that was completed with the committal to Paul of the mystery of the church (Col. 1:24-27). From this, it follows that the ministry of apostleship and prophecy as embodied in particular people was but a temporary expedient. It was vitally necessary during the transition period when the written Word was being formulated and was gaining acceptance among believers, but when the written Word was completed, the particular ministry of the apostle and the prophet became redundant, just as the observation of the Old Testament sacrifices had to give way to their fulfillment in Christ. The principle came into operation, “But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Cor. 13:10). The function of the apostle and the prophet still exist, but embodied in the written Word, not in any man.”

Although John Kennedy inferred that miracles and prophecy disappeared along with the apostles and prophets, he didnt say it specifically, as most cessationists do. However, Dr. Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Th.D., Ph.D., does state it explicitly in his Bible commentary. Note his commentary on 1 Corinthians 13:11:

“After the church began, there was a period of immaturity, during which spectacular gifts were needed for growth and authentication (Heb. 2:3-4). With the completion of the New Testament and the growing maturity of the church, the need for such gifts disappeared.”

When Dr. Ryrie speaks of a period of immaturity, he is referring to the high water mark, the glory days of the church. To refer to this period as “immature” is to insinuate that the apostles and the authors of the New Testament were immature. Dr. Ryrie catches himself in a contradiction. By this logic, he should be able to pen for us a much more mature Scripture and doctrine than the writers of the New Testament gave us.

I ask a rhetorical question: Could the mature New Testament come out of an immature church?

In my up and coming chapter, Surprising Bible Manuscript History, we will dig deeper into this intriguing subject of “the completion of the New Testament” Dr. Ryrie spoke of.

We have stated the cessationist view by quoting two notable authors who champion this view. Many books have been written in great depth covering this view, but I trust sufficient information has been presented to give an overall understanding of the cessationist view.

And now I would like to propose an equally gracious but opposing position on what is called the continuationist view.

When the Perfect Comes . . .

The cessationist view states that God became silent and all miracles ceased when the last Apostle died.

Some have said something to this effect: “The miracles, signs, and wonders of the book of Acts were temporary. They served to authenticate the apostles and prophets until the New Testament could be written. Now we have the completed Word of God, which erases the need for supernatural happenings.”

The punch line from the cessationistsfavorite proof text says: “When the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” Here is their proof text:

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. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 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. 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. (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)

The cessationist proof text ends with verse 10 because, whether inadvertently or on purpose, verse 12 undoes their argument, as you will see shortly.

Also it needs to be pointed out that nowhere in the entire Bible does it say that any of the spiritual gifts, described in 1 Corinthians 12, ceased. All so-called proof texts are taken out of contexts, as verse 10 was. There is conjecture only.

The Greek word used for “dimly” or “darkly” is enainigmati and means “in an enigma.” The dictionary defines “enigma” as: “a perplexing or baffling matter, usually an ambiguous statement or riddle,to speak in a riddle.”

Glass mirrors were probably introduced in Pauls time. However, the surfaces of most first-century mirrors were usually made of a polished metal, a mixture of tin and copper. At best, those ancient metal and glass mirrors were unequal to our modern glass mirrors and, more often than not, were tarnished and dim.

Paul implies that he is speaking of a great truth that is difficult to see, or perplexing; and that it takes spiritual eyes to “see” this insight by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

There are several Greek words for the English word “glass,” but in this particular Scripture, it clearly means a looking glass…a mirror. Both the Strongs and Youngs concordance were compiled for use with the King James Version of the Bible. Both define “glass” as:

  • Esoptron: looking glass (1 Cor. 13:12; James 1:23)

  • Hualos: anything transparent (Rev. 21:16, 21)

  • Hualinos: made of glass (Rev. 4:6; 15:2)

FACE TO FACE WITH JESUS

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly); but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]. –1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Amplified Bible)

The expression “face to face” has to be in reference to the return of Christ. Obviously, we can only meet a person face to face, and that person can only be Jesus (Rev. 1:7). In the Old Testament, the expression “face to face” meant to see God personally. For example, Jacob saw Jesus face to face as he wrestled with the angel of the Lord (the pre-incarnate Christ) (Gen. 32:30). Also, after the angel of the Lord had visited Gideon in the winepress, Gideon exclaimed, “I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face” (Judges. 6:22).

 As a final example, Exodus 33:11 says that, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”

 When Paul uses the expression “face to face,” he is referring to the time when we shall see Jesus face to face. That time can only refer to His return, when every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7).

 Obviously, we cannot meet face to face with the Bible, or some nebulous idea or event. We can only meet a person face to face, and that person can only be Jesus, when every eye will see Him at the Second Coming!

 In the natural, we would see our own reflection when we look into a mirror, but spiritually we are to reflect Jesus because God is conforming us to His image. Yet, all we can see is a poor reflection of Jesus through our Adamic eyes, until we see Jesus face to face beyond the veil of flesh. We cant even see ourselves clearly in that spiritual mirror because we are wretched sinners who need Gods mercy, grace, and forgiveness every day.

 WE SHALL KNOW HIM FULLY

 Then we shall know Him fully, just as He has fully known us! This statement also can only refer to the Lords return. Paul is not saying that when the Lord returns, believers will be omniscient like the Lord. Rather, we will know Jesus accurately without any misinformation, or lack of information, or misconceptions because we will be mature. We will have our glorified, eternal bodies.

 Coming face to face with Jesus will be sufficient to provide edification far beyond our present comprehension. In this new environment, we will know everything clearly, completely, and emphatically.

 EXACTLY WHAT IS “THE PERFECT?”

 The Greek word used in verse 10 for “perfect” is teleios, which means: ended, complete, absolute, or mature. Some argue that Pauls reference to “the perfect” speaks of a conception of something in its most excellent form, and not to anything specific. However, there are those who argue that it means the Bible. Yet, most commentaries will also admit that “when the perfect comes” refers to the Second Coming of Christ. A valid question is: which of these options can best be defined as “the perfect,” (1) something excellent? (2) the Bible? or (3) Jesus?

 First we will ponder Jesus (the Living Word) and the Bible (the written Word) to see which of these two comes the closest to being the “perfect” in verse 10. Consider the following:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. –John 1:1 (KJV)

 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. –John 1:14a (KJV)

 And His name is called The Word of God. –Revelation 19:13b (KJV)

 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. –John 21:25 (KJV)

 Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. –John 20:30-31 (NASB)

 But He [Jesus] replied, it has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God. –Matthew 4:4 (The Amplified Bible)

 Let’s summarize: Jesus, the Living Word, is complete (John 1:1). Therefore, Jesus is greater than the Bible, the summarized written Word about Him (John 21: 25). Although the Bible is Gods revealed Word to us, and is without error, we are waiting for Jesus, the Living Word to be revealed at His Second Coming.

 The revelation of Jesus Christ begins by seeing Him first as The Living Word of God!

 PERFECT, BUT TEMPORARY?

Canonization of New Testament books, the determination of which books were authentic and should be included in Scripture, was not accomplished until the year AD 397. If by this time in church history, Pauls teachings on the gifts of the Spirit had become obsolete, why were they included? Why were they canonized? Charles Carrin explains this seeming contradiction:

“If it be true that First Corinthians 12 and 14 became imperfect when the Bible was completed, then the long-awaited “perfect” book was not perfect at all. Canonization had only destroyed its perfection. Who can sincerely believe this? The idea is absurd. It defies logic. Paul himself terminated such an argument when he wrote Timothy: ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17.)'”

 If II Timothy is Scripture, then, according to Paul, I Corinthians 12 and 14 are also Scripture. Both passages are given to us so that “the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

“THE PERFECT” IS SOMETHING EXCELLENT

Now we will consider the possibility that “the perfect” is a conception of something in its most excellent form. As you may know, Greek nouns are assigned a gendereither feminine, masculine, or neuter. When referring to a noun in the feminine gender, one uses the pronoun “she;” when referring to a word in the masculine gender, one uses the pronoun “he;” and, when referring to a noun in the neuter gender, the pronoun is “it.”

 The word “perfect,” as used in verse 10, is used in the neuter gender. That means it cannot refer to a single person, but it can refer to a group of things, which can include several people. Here is an example.

 A ship, boat or vessel, is an example of a noun that can be in the neuter gender that can include its cargo, its equipment, and its crew, as well as the ship itself. And the Second Coming is, in a manner of speaking, our ship that is coming in. On board is Captain Jesus, His crew, and His fulfillment of all Messianic prophecy.

 I believe that “the perfect” is BOTH Jesus AND the fulfillment of all messianic prophecy that will transpire at the Second Coming.

 The next chapter, titled “The Partial Will Be Done Away,” will thoroughly explore this subject.

MY PERSONAL AMPLIFIED VERSION

We have read First Corinthians 13:8-12 from the New American Standard Version Bible. Now we’re about to read my own personal amplified reiteration of the same Scripture that clarifies what we have just learned.

 Before we do so, notice that 1st Corinthians 12, verses 1, 4, and 31 imply that all nine “gifts” are “of the Spirit” collectively, even though not all of them are individually called “gifts.” Therefore, I took the liberty of referring to all of them collectively as “gifts” of the Holy Spirit in order to keep things simple.

 Here’s my version . . .

Love, an eternal virtue of God,never fails or comes to an end (1 John 4:8). As for [the gift of] prophecy, it will be fulfilled and pass away (1 Cor. 12:10); as for [the gift of] unacquired] tongues, they will cease (1 Cor. 12:10), As for [the gift of] knowledge, it will pass away (1 Cor. 12:8). All of these spiritual gifts will be superseded by the physical presence of JESUS. We know that knowledge has not passed away, and in fact is increasing exponentially. In Daniel 12:4 God said; “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Brethren, are we approaching the end of time? Then it should be obvious that none of these spiritual gifts have ceased! Right?

For our present knowledge [of Jesus, the Living Word] is fragmentary, incomplete, and imperfect, and [the gift of] prophecy is fragmentary, incomplete, and imperfect.

But, at the Second Coming, when JESUS comes to bring all messianic prophecy in the Bible to completion and to rule His Kingdom, the incomplete and imperfect gifts of the Spirit will disappear; Spiritual gifts will become something we have outgrown and discarded, LIKE CHILDHOOD TOYS WHEN WE REACH ADULTHOOD (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:11, 14-15).

Because, when I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought and reasoned like a child. Now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.

For now we are looking in a mirror (through our natural eyes) that gives only a dim or blurred reflection (of the glory of the Lord) as in a riddle or enigma (2 Cor. 3:18). But, AT THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS, when Jesus (the Perfection) comes, we shall see Him face to face in physical form! Now I know JESUS in part, or imperfectly because I am still IN MY NATURAL BODY; but then, IN MY GLORIFIED BODY, I shall know and understand JESUS fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and dearly known and understood by JESUS (1 John 3:2).

 (My own personal amplified reiteration of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12)

 To be brief, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 is saying that at the Second Coming of Christ the partial, incomplete spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12) and the five incomplete ministries (Eph. 4:11) will no longer be needed because Jesus is the perfect consummation of all of them, and we will be like Him when we see Him face to face. Meanwhile, until the Second Coming, everything is still in place that Paul described in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14. This is called the continuationist or non-cessationist view.

 Hear Jim Cymbalas concise response to this issue:

“If we have a completed revelation in written form, are we seeing at least as much advance for Gods Kingdom, as many people coming to Christ, as many victories over Satan as those poor fellows who had to get along with just the Old Testament? If not, why not? Are we missing something valuable that they felt was essential?”

SIMPLY ASK: IS IT SCRIPTURAL?

Perhaps it comes down to the simplest of issues. Do you believe the Bible, or do you prefer the traditions of the elders? If God gives you a clearer understanding of a Scripture, are you, out of obedience, required to bring about change into your life, or are you free to remain in bondage? Sobering question.

Again, Jim Cymbala speaks from his considerable experience.

“Unfortunately, I have learned firsthand that many Christians who pound the Bible the hardest and most strongly defend the verbal inspiration of Scripture are the most unbelieving and cynical about God ever doing a new thing in His church. They seem so intent on preserving tradition that any spontaneity is spurned as “emotionalism.” My question is: If Jesus is the same today as He was in the Bible we defend, why shouldn’t we believe Him to do great things among us and through us, so we can touch peoples lives in powerful ways as did the first-century apostles? Peter was no perfect saint, as evidenced by his denial of Christ; many churches today would hardly allow such a failure to stand in their pulpits. But God chose him on the Day of Pentecost and used him mightily, and God can do the same with us if we look to Him with childlike faith in our hearts.”

Simply because a particular Christian group comes to an understanding of a scriptural truth prior to another group, that does not make that truth “private property” and unavailable to other groups. No doctrinal group has exclusive rights to any portion of the Bible. We can assume that all Bible truth is available to all believers.

 For example, wouldnt it be ridiculous to assume that if some group were to start baptizing by submersion they, thereby, would lose their original identity and become Southern Baptists?

 That’s nonsense!

 Some argue—there are sections of the book of Revelation that make perfectly good sense in plain English that should be taken literally. If that argument is true, then why is it not also true for 1st Corinthians 12, 13, and 14?

The bottom line? All Christians are compelled to grow and be faithful to the Word of God.

THE PARTIAL WILL BE DONE AWAY WITH

As long as we are living in these mortal bodies, our knowledge and understanding of supernatural things will be unclear, tarnished, and partial until we come face to face with Jesus! Then we will understand all things. “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”

 In the simplest of terms, the partial is what we have now, and the perfect is what we will have at the Second Coming. Said another way—we are fractional until we are complete in Him.

 Between our partial knowledge and our lack of knowledge, lets face it, all of us are in partial error. The problem with partial error, partial knowledge, or no knowledge, is—we dont know what it is we dont know! It is the nature of fallible, sinful, incomplete beings to stumble. And if you are in error, how are you to repent if you dont think you’re in error?

The Bible is the inerrant, immutable, universal Word of God, but our understanding of the Bible is not inerrant or immutable. Therefore, we cannot preach the whole counsel of God because we do not know the whole counsel of God.

 The New Testament is also perfect, but it is a partial, incomplete record of the events in the lives of Jesus and the apostles (John 20:30-31; 21:25).

 Realizing such matters humble us.

THE TWELVE DISCIPLES DID NOT UNDERSTAND

Not until the Second Coming will Jesus complete all messianic prophecy and bring absolute perfection into His Kingdom. Allow me to expound…

 The Jews believed that ALL of the blessings of the Kingdom of God would accompany the First Advent of the Messiah. The disciples of Jesus understood the concept of the Kingdom of God arriving in the person of Jesus. But they did not understand the form of the Kingdom Jesus brought until they watched His gruesome death.

 Specifically, the disciples were unable to embrace the idea that Jesus did not break the Roman yoke from Israels neck, remove the presence of sin, wipe away every tear, destroy poverty, and throw death and Satan into hell.

 However, when they experienced the power of His resurrected life, then they were able to understand and embrace this new Kingdom. It was only then that they realized—the Kingdom of God prophesied in the Old Testament was to enter this world through two Advents of the Messiah, not one (1 Peter 2:9,10).

 We need to recognize—cultural assumptions are very stubborn and are not replaced in our minds by a once-and-for-all decision.

The disciples of Jesus could not grasp a two-part fulfillment and held firmly to a one-part fulfillment. They needed to be reminded not infrequently that Christ had to suffer and die. They certainly heard the message regarding the Messiahs suffering and death and perhaps, at last, began to grasp it.

Nevertheless, the shift in their worldview regarding the Messiahs work was a slow and painful process. The Messiah’s two Advents is what His disciples stumbled over. Perhaps we also stumble over our worldview. After all, we too live in the realm of the partial and the incomplete.

 More than 200 years ago, William Law bluntly declared that the church of his day was “in the same apostasy that characterized the Jewish nation…The Jews refused Him who was the substance and fulfilling of all that was taught in their Law and Prophets. The Christian church is in a fallen state for the same rejection of the Holy Spirit.”

 He further said that just as the Jews refused Jesus and quoted Scripture to prove their point, “So church leaders today reject the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit in the name of sound doctrine.”1

 We know that the Old and New Testament is the infallible Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. And although fallible men penned these two testaments, Scripture remains infallible. That is probably why Paul taught that all prophetic and revelatory utterances (and writings?) are to be judged and tested (1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Thess. 5:19-22).

 Even though there was an abundance of Christian writings in the first century, only a small portion were canonized (judged, tested, and declared to be perfect) by a progression of elders in the second, third, and fourth centuries.

 It is possible, but rare, for a Christian to be “in tune with the Holy Spirit” to such a degree that he performs a complete and perfect work.

 Here is a simple spiritual law that should be self-evident: If anything is good and perfect and glorifies GodGod is in it!

WE ARE ONLY PARTIALLY COMPLETED

Evangelicals, charismatic or Baptist, agree that our Lord’s primary mission during His first coming was “to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). However, although the work of His atonement is His chief and central work, it was not His only work accomplished.

 Jesus sent His Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost so we could have power to minister as He ministered (John 7:39; 14:26: 1 John 2:27; Acts 1:5: 1:8). His first coming also demonstrated His bringing “a small portion of eternity into time.” He did that through proclaiming and demonstrating the Kingdom of God as He went about healing the sick, casting out demons, and performing miracles.

 You are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking in any special spiritual (gift) endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you wait and watch [consistently living in hope] for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to all. –1 Corinthians 1:7 (The Amplified Bible)

 In this verse, Paul connects spiritual gifts with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Paul is saying that Christians will not be lacking in any of the spiritual gifts until that glorious day of the Second Coming of Christ. The gifts that Paul speaks of are given free of charge…free of obligation…at the discretion of the Giver, the Holy Spirit.

 Herein lies the irony: we live between the already and the not yet. The kingdom of God is already here but not yet here.

Still, knowing in part is better than not knowing at all! Isnt it wonderful to know that we are children of God! And even though it has not appeared as yet what we shall be, we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is (1 John 3:2).

 God desires to take us as we are and lead us to where we need to beconformed to the image of Christ. Where we are is always less than perfect; we are only partially completed. Therefore, we need to quit lying to each other, the world, and ourselves and admit that our doctrine, our understanding of the Bible, and probably 95 percent of what we do is less than perfect.

That would include prophecy and the prophetic ministry, healings and miracles. This would also include the most overlooked imperfection of all…our teaching!

 A person may receive a healing from one disease, only to become sick again later. Even Lazarus died a second time. And although Peter was miraculously delivered from prison, Stephen was stoned to death.

 Agabus prophesied correctly concerning Paul being bound hand and foot, but he did not properly understand that it was actually Gods will for Paul to be bound.

 Agabus believed that the vision showed what would happen if Paul went to Jerusalem. Paul understood the vision as showing what was to happen to him when he went to Jerusalem. For that reason, Paul saw Agabusvision as confirmation that God was sending him. And the binding was in Gods plans and will for Paul (Acts 21).

 This raises an interesting question: Since Agabus missed God, did that make Agabus a false prophet? I think not.

INCOMPLETE BUT STILL VICTORIOUS

Yes, we are incomplete! Our salvation is incomplete! The gifts of the Spirit are incomplete! And in John 21:25 we see that even the Bible is incomplete!

 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

 Oh, how we yearn for the Second Coming of our redeeming Lord and King! In the meantime, we have a Great Commission to fulfill, and we were given the power to accomplish it.

 That power is the person of the Holy Spirit that is resident in us, who desires to manifest His great power through us. He alone brings victory into our lives individually and in the church corporately. He alone can instruct us in the infallible written Word. He alone can teach us the voice of the blessed One who promised us that His sheep would know His voice.

 Our programs can only be of the flesh. Collectively and individually, we are the walking, talking temples the Holy Spirit of God uses to accomplish His work.

PRACTICING WHAT WE PRAISE

The Spiritual gifts did not leave the church, the church left the Spiritual gifts. So, why do we delay returning to what God intended for us?

It isnt mandatory that we receive the Holy Spirit, but why would any Christian reject a blessing from his loving heavenly Father? Any gift from the Holy Spirit is more than desirable.

 Even though we study the Bible, the Christian religion is primarily experiential, not mere mental agreement. Jesus wants our fellowship. He said, “My sheep know My voice.” We’re to subjectively experience His presence, the presence of His Holy Spirit within us, and objectively experience the manifestation of His presence through us.

 If we do not experience Jesus, we’re missing the boat; we’re missing the major aspect of the Christian life. Christianity is an experience, a fellowship, a relationship, not just scholarship or doctrine or a philosophical belief system. I’m reminded of what an old, wise Southern Baptist preacher from South Carolina said:

 Remember, son. God is the Truth. Your Bible is the truth about the Truth. Your theology is the truth about the truth about the Truth.” And then he went on to say, “And you can know the truth about the truth about the Truth, and not know the Truth. And that’s the truth!”

 Setting aside the humor in that statement, there is much wisdom in what the elderly preacher said.

Yes, doctrine has its place. Paul made it very clear that Biblical doctrine is crucial to the Christian faith. This chapter has been an exegesis on the doctrine of spiritual gifts. Let’s remain open.

 On the day of Pentecost the 120 believers in the upper room had a sense of expectancy, but they didnt know what to expect. They simply were obedient to “tarry” and pray in unity until they “received the promised Holy Spirit.”

 In our day, we too are to have a sense of expectancy, and a desire to pray in unity until that glorious day when we see Jesus face to face (I Corinthians 13:12).

FOOTNOTES

Does God Speak To Us Today?

1. Most Pentecostal denominations have very conservative doctrinal statements regarding the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Thus, most Pentecostals are Evangelicals.

 Alister McGrath, an English theologian, listed six characteristics of Evangelicalism. In his opinion, these include:

1. the supreme authority of Scripture,

2. the majesty of Jesus Christ,

3. the Lordship of the Holy Spirit,

4. the need for personal conversion,

5. the priority of evangelism,

6. the importance of Christian community.

Mainstream Trinitarian Pentecostals clearly fulfill these six criteria. [Alister McGrath, Evangelicalism and the Future of Christianity, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1994, 51. Nevertheless, in popular usage, conservative Evangelicalism generally refers to that portion of Evangelicalism that is noncharismatic. In the United States, the leadership of Billy Graham and Carl Henry would represent conservative Evangelicalism.

2. John Kennedy is a precious brother in the Lord, and I do not wish to attack him or his excellent book, The Torch of the Testimony, Auburn: Christian Books, 1965, 30. Instead, I highly recommend this very affordable, and easily understood book on church history. I can assure you that it is on my bookshelf along with many other books on church history, and the margins are crammed with my scribbled notes.

When The Perfect Comes

1. Charles Carrin, The Edge of Glory, published by Charles Carrin Ministries, P.O. Drawer 800, Boynton Beach, Florida, 33425-0800, 1999, 99. Used by permission of Charles Carrin.

2. Similar words, such as boat, vessel, and ship, can be either neuter or feminine in gender. Even so, I believe the corollary behind comparing a ship to “the perfect” is very descriptive and appropriate in this setting.

3. I believe that my definition of the perfect and the partial, as used in 2 Cor. 13:10, will hold up under any eschatology.

4. The argument that “not only has knowledge not passed away, but it has greatly increased this century, therefore the gifts are still valid for today,” has a fatal flaw. Knowledge has increased today, that is true. However, this “knowledge” in verse 8 is in reference to, and in context with “the word of knowledge” in 1 Corinthians 12:8.

5. Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1997, 147. Jim Cymbala is Pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

6. Jim Cymbala, Fresh Faith, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1999, 204. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

The Partial Will Be Done Away

1. William Law, The Power of the Spirit, Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1971, 23.

2. Part of the insight for this chapter came from the book: Empowered Evangelicals, by Rick Nathan and Ken Wilson, Vine Books.

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