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#1 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 09:15 AM

A related topic to this one ("Is speaking in tongues still for today?") is one that I had the privilege of debating a couple summers ago in the context of a very large Southern Baptist church. On one side of the debate that evening was a gentleman who argued that many of the "sign gifts" of the Apostles (i.e. tongues, divine healing, prophecy, etc.) ceased with the close of the New Testament canon. While on the opposite side was a Pentecostal who basically argued at one point that speaking in tongues exists for us to be personally blessed as believers. He seemed to be taking the position that all Spirit-filled believers needed the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.

In the midst of that debate, I advocated an "open-but-cautious" view of tongues that, back then, I associated with the doctrinal position of the Conservative Baptist theologian, Millard Erickson. Upon revisiting the Alliance website later, I realized that in many ways I was advocating something very close to the Alliance position on spiritual gifts. A key part of my argument that evening hinged on an interpretation of I Corinthians 13: 8-10 put forth by the Evangelical Christian apologist Ron Rhodes and others. The passage reads as follows:

"Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away." (I Cor. 13: 8-10 ESV; emphasis added)

My Cessationist colleague stood in the tradition that equates the "perfect" with the close of the canon of scripture or the first coming of Jesus, but I took the position of Rhodes and others that the coming of the perfect refers to the Second Coming of Jesus. Thus, until that blessed event happens, we should not argue for the cessation of the gifts, but keep an open and discerning attitude toward them.

There were other nuances that I won't go into at this point. At the end of the debate that evening, I left the building with my wife who was in attendance, feeling very much alone and like the proverbial "dead skunk in the middle of the road." Then, many months later, I reread the Alliance position and thought, "I may have more partners theologically than I once thought !" I began to feel re-energized thinking about this fact, and it has even caused me to think that the C&MA may end up being my future place of ministry. Anyway, if there are those who would like to weigh in on any of this, let me know. I am here to learn and be blessed.
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#2 Josh Gaudreau

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 12:32 PM

A great book you may be interested in checking out is Paul King's "Genuine Gold: The Cautiously Charismatic Story of the Early Christian and Missionary Alliance"

Coming from a Pentecostal background but now attending a Canadian Alliance church, I do believe that the spiritual gifts are still for us today, and it was great reading how a lot of Simpson's teachings influenced the early Azusa St. theology. It was also interesting reading how the CMA became less charismatic over the decades, but how there's a call for renewing the practice of the gifts within the denomination.

Just because we can abuse/misunderstand the gifts doesn't mean we should throw them out altogether, but with the Spirit 'test all things' (and all expressions/manifestations of the gifts).
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#3 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 01:01 PM

Josh,


Thanks for your recommendation. I look forward to reading it. The historical roots of the holiness and Pentecostal movements has been an ongoing interest of mine ever since I read Vinson Synan's noted book The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement in the United States.

Like you, I also came from a Pentecostal background (Assemblies of God in my case), but it was a breath of fresh air to learn about the historical diversity regarding views of the gifts -- from both inside and outside of my limited A of G vantage point.

The history of Azusa is insightful on many fronts, especially when one looks at the split between Charles F. Parham and W. J. Seymour. Parham's link to the KKK really disturbed me when I learned more about it, and until I read more, I had no idea how central he was in promoting the doctrine of "subsequence" in Pentecostalism (i.e. the idea that one only receives the Holy Spirit after salvation and water baptism, when the "initial" evidence of tongues must be manifested).

According to Synan's work, it seems as if Parham, all his personal shortcomings aside, was heavily influenced by Benjamin H. Irwin's late 19th century, Fire-Baptized Holiness doctrine of the need for a "third" experience (i.e. "THE FIRE") after salvation and sanctification prior to his emphasis on the initial evidence, still dogmatically asserted by many Pentecostal groups today. Fascinating. Blessings and peace to you as you enter another winter up there in Canada.


A great book you may be interested in checking out is Paul King's "Genuine Gold: The Cautiously Charismatic Story of the Early Christian and Missionary Alliance"

Coming from a Pentecostal background but now attending a Canadian Alliance church, I do believe that the spiritual gifts are still for us today, and it was great reading how a lot of Simpson's teachings influenced the early Azusa St. theology. It was also interesting reading how the CMA became less charismatic over the decades, but how there's a call for renewing the practice of the gifts within the denomination.

Just because we can abuse/misunderstand the gifts doesn't mean we should throw them out altogether, but with the Spirit 'test all things' (and all expressions/manifestations of the gifts).



#4 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 05:51 PM

As a supplement to my earlier post, I would refer readers to W. Harold Mare's excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians in The Expositor's Bible Commentary with the New International Version: 1 & 2 Corinthians,W. Harold Mare and Murray J. Harris (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1995), pp. 96-96.

He analyzes the Greek word for "perfection" in verse 10 of I Corinthians 13. It is the word telion, and it refers to something completed in the future. But this is the key point made by Mare...although the word refers to completion, it does not designate that time for future completion as being close. This leads the commentator to conclude that the future perfection referred to by Paul is either the Second Coming of Jesus or the time after a believer dies and is ushered into the Lord's presence (Here, the author refers readers to II Corinthians 5: 1-10). Thus, Mare is not too supportive of the common Cessationist view that the "perfection" of verse 10 is the completed, Biblical canon. Besides, this would seem to elevate the canon to the level of Bibliolatry in some contexts, downplaying the supremacy of the living Word, Jesus (Logos of John1: 1-2).

Furthermore, along the lines suggested by Ron Rhodes in his book Miracles Around Us (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 2000), pp. 150-152, Revelation 11: 3-6 prophesies that God's two FUTURE witnesses will display miraculous powers that resemble those performed by Moses and Elijah (i.e. "water turning to blood," "fire out of their mouths" etc.). If one supports a futurist/ literal interpretation of the Apocalypse (as I do, along with friends in many other Christian denominations-- C&MA included), then it is strange to say all sign gifts have ceased since the time of the Apostles. Here, future signs are predicted, and taken in tandem with the "Day of the Lord" prophecies in Joel quoted by Peter after the Day of Pentecost (See Joel 2:30 & Acts 2:16-20).

No, one does not have to resurrect the notorious "Latter Rain" movement arguments in order to see that future signs and wonders are central to the Biblical presentation of future prophecy. Can we pick and choose? In other words, argue that healing miracles and other sign miracles are still valid and YET deny that the tongues experienced at the original Pentecost could never happen again? This is not an argument for the wholesale endorsement of every incident of "tongues" speaking that occurs in Charismatic circles, NOR is it an argument that fits neatly with those theologians like Benjamin Warfield, Norman Geisler and others who advocated Cessationism. Instead, it is a plea for openness and caution born of discernment See I John 4:1-6). Blessings to all.


#5 Joel Stoddert

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:51 PM

As a supplement to my earlier post, I would refer readers to W. Harold Mare's excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians in The Expositor's Bible Commentary with the New International Version: 1 & 2 Corinthians,W. Harold Mare and Murray J. Harris (Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1995), pp. 96-96.

He analyzes the Greek word for "perfection" in verse 10 of I Corinthians 13. It is the word telion, and it refers to something completed in the future. But this is the key point made by Mare...although the word refers to completion, it does not designate that time for future completion as being close. This leads the commentator to conclude that the future perfection referred to by Paul is either the Second Coming of Jesus or the time after a believer dies and is ushered into the Lord's presence (Here, the author refers readers to II Corinthians 5: 1-10). Thus, Mare is not too supportive of the common Cessationist view that the "perfection" of verse 10 is the completed, Biblical canon. Besides, this would seem to elevate the canon to the level of Bibliolatry in some contexts, downplaying the supremacy of the living Word, Jesus (Logos of John1: 1-2).

Furthermore, along the lines suggested by Ron Rhodes in his book Miracles Around Us (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 2000), pp. 150-152, Revelation 11: 3-6 prophesies that God's two FUTURE witnesses will display miraculous powers that resemble those performed by Moses and Elijah (i.e. "water turning to blood," "fire out of their mouths" etc.). If one supports a futurist/ literal interpretation of the Apocalypse (as I do, along with friends in many other Christian denominations-- C&MA included), then it is strange to say all sign gifts have ceased since the time of the Apostles. Here, future signs are predicted, and taken in tandem with the "Day of the Lord" prophecies in Joel quoted by Peter after the Day of Pentecost (See Joel 2:30 & Acts 2:16-20).

No, one does not have to resurrect the notorious "Latter Rain" movement arguments in order to see that future signs and wonders are central to the Biblical presentation of future prophecy. Can we pick and choose? In other words, argue that healing miracles and other sign miracles are still valid and YET deny that the tongues experienced at the original Pentecost could never happen again? This is not an argument for the wholesale endorsement of every incident of "tongues" speaking that occurs in Charismatic circles, NOR is it an argument that fits neatly with those theologians like Benjamin Warfield, Norman Geisler and others who advocated Cessationism. Instead, it is a plea for openness and caution born of discernment See I John 4:1-6). Blessings to all.


These are fine, thought-provoking posts, Alan. I too appreciate the Alliance's balanced view on the gifts of the Spirit, summarized in Simpson's comment, "Seek not, forbid not." Not only did his teachings influence the early Pentecostal movement, as you say, but many of the early pastors in what's now the Assemblies of God were former C&MA pastors who left after Simpson refused to give tongues the place the gift has in Pentecostal thinking. I've noted, in my experience, two main issues underlie opposition to the idea that all of the gifts are for today: misunderstanding the nature of the gifts and the issue of control. As for misunderstanding the gifts, I've had people take, say, apostleship as an example, assuming I'll agree there are no apostles today. Pointing out that the first apostles were basically church planting missionaries, which we certainly still have, has changed some minds. Or healing. It isn't about the healer, but the ability of Christ our Healer to do His work in the body as well as the soul. Pointing out how the gospels show Him healing others, and Hebrews 13:8 says He is the same today tends to quiet some objections! I also find it interesting that when a church lists the gifts it believes are not for today, it's the gifts we can't totally control! No one lists gifts like administration,pastoring, teaching, hospitality, etc. It's always tongues, healing, discerning of spirits and the like--the "weird" ones (a description I've heard)--which make some uncomfortable. We tend to get nervous about things we don't control, and the Holy Spirit controls His gifts, distributing them as He wishes in the Body of Christ. Our fellow believers are supposed to be under the Lord's control. Yes, we're to submit in Christ to leaders He puts over us, but He is in control. That makes some folks nervous! Thanks again for your posts. :)

#6 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 07:39 PM

John,

I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of addressing both misunderstandings and control when dealing with this topic. Yes, you are correct about the selectivity regarding which gifts are deemed operational by many Cessationists and which ones are not. Thank YOU for your thoughtful and well-stated post/ reply. Yes, where the Sprit of the Lord is there is power, love and self-control amidst all His gifts. Have a great evening and week. Grace and peace to you, as we enter the Christmas season.

These are fine, thought-provoking posts, Alan. I too appreciate the Alliance's balanced view on the gifts of the Spirit, summarized in Simpson's comment, "Seek not, forbid not." Not only did his teachings influence the early Pentecostal movement, as you say, but many of the early pastors in what's now the Assemblies of God were former C&MA pastors who left after Simpson refused to give tongues the place the gift has in Pentecostal thinking. I've noted, in my experience, two main issues underlie opposition to the idea that all of the gifts are for today: misunderstanding the nature of the gifts and the issue of control. As for misunderstanding the gifts, I've had people take, say, apostleship as an example, assuming I'll agree there are no apostles today. Pointing out that the first apostles were basically church planting missionaries, which we certainly still have, has changed some minds. Or healing. It isn't about the healer, but the ability of Christ our Healer to do His work in the body as well as the soul. Pointing out how the gospels show Him healing others, and Hebrews 13:8 says He is the same today tends to quiet some objections! I also find it interesting that when a church lists the gifts it believes are not for today, it's the gifts we can't totally control! No one lists gifts like administration,pastoring, teaching, hospitality, etc. It's always tongues, healing, discerning of spirits and the like--the "weird" ones (a description I've heard)--which make some uncomfortable. We tend to get nervous about things we don't control, and the Holy Spirit controls His gifts, distributing them as He wishes in the Body of Christ. Our fellow believers are supposed to be under the Lord's control. Yes, we're to submit in Christ to leaders He puts over us, but He is in control. That makes some folks nervous! Thanks again for your posts. :)



#7 Josh Gaudreau

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 08:11 PM

These are fine, thought-provoking posts, Alan. I too appreciate the Alliance's balanced view on the gifts of the Spirit, summarized in Simpson's comment, "Seek not, forbid not."


I've always wondered how Simpson's comment could be held in balance (or tension) with 1 Cor. 12:31 and 14:1 where Paul tells us to eagerly desire the gifts.

I also wonder at the popularity of this quote when one of the four distinctives of the Alliance is Christ our Healer.

It seems Simpson's quote has been traditionally used to dissuade people from even desiring the gifts (because if desired, they'd be sought), or possibly as an excuse not to teach about them. I think in Genuine Gold King says that the quote has been used in ways that Simpson never intended (but I can't remember for sure).
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#8 Joel Stoddert

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 09:33 PM

I've always wondered how Simpson's comment could be held in balance (or tension) with 1 Cor. 12:31 and 14:1 where Paul tells us to eagerly desire the gifts.

I also wonder at the popularity of this quote when one of the four distinctives of the Alliance is Christ our Healer.

It seems Simpson's quote has been traditionally used to dissuade people from even desiring the gifts (because if desired, they'd be sought), or possibly as an excuse not to teach about them. I think in Genuine Gold King says that the quote has been used in ways that Simpson never intended (but I can't remember for sure).


Point taken, Josh. I haven't read Simpson in awhile, but don't remember seeing anything in his writings which would make me think he had an issue with "earnestly desiring spiritual gifts" as Scripture says. What I found is that he was not comfortable with people fixating on one gift--generally tongues, hence his statement, "Seek not, forbid not." In other words, if the Lord wants you to have the gift of tongues, when you seek gifting, he'll give you that gift, but don't fixate on it. In contrast, a good number of our pastors in NY & OH who had been influenced by the Azusa Street revival came to him, asking him, in essence, to label the Alliance a Pentecostal movement, leaving when he refused to emphasize one gift over all others. If you've ever read Simpson's hymn, "Himself", he says, for example, "Once the gifts I wanted, now the Giver own." It sounds like he understood the temptation to focus on one gift, or the gifts in general, rather than the Holy Spirit Himself, & was committed to worshiping God the Holy Spirit rather than idolizing His gifts to us.

#9 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 08:34 AM

Joel and Josh,

Good exchange about the "seek not, forbid not" quote attributed to Simpson. Perhaps, this discussion brings us to one of those great tensions in Scripture, ushering us to the intersection between what we are to desire and what God actually fulfills (I Corinthians 14: 1 ESV -- "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."). Here, Josh, you remind us of the Biblical openness we are to have regarding all the spiritual gifts, and we are enjoined to earnestly desire them. Yet, earlier in Paul's great letter to Corinth, readers are also reminded, "All these [gifts] are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills" (I Corinthians 12: 11 ESV). The desire of the believer is filtered through the sovereign will of the Spirit in the dispensation of all spiritual gifts. Thanks for the great "food for thought" this morning, men. Have a blessed day.

Point taken, Josh. I haven't read Simpson in awhile, but don't remember seeing anything in his writings which would make me think he had an issue with "earnestly desiring spiritual gifts" as Scripture says. What I found is that he was not comfortable with people fixating on one gift--generally tongues, hence his statement, "Seek not, forbid not." In other words, if the Lord wants you to have the gift of tongues, when you seek gifting, he'll give you that gift, but don't fixate on it. In contrast, a good number of our pastors in NY & OH who had been influenced by the Azusa Street revival came to him, asking him, in essence, to label the Alliance a Pentecostal movement, leaving when he refused to emphasize one gift over all others. If you've ever read Simpson's hymn, "Himself", he says, for example, "Once the gifts I wanted, now the Giver own." It sounds like he understood the temptation to focus on one gift, or the gifts in general, rather than the Holy Spirit Himself, & was committed to worshiping God the Holy Spirit rather than idolizing His gifts to us.



#10 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 01:39 PM

Okay, up to this point, we have addressed the "open" part of an "open-but-cautious" understanding of the spiritual gifts operative in the New Testament church (See Romans 12:6-8; I Corinthians 12:7-10; 28 and Ephesians 4:11, for examples.). Presently, I would like to address the "cautious" part, focusing on the gift of "tongues" as one example, but not the exclusive one where I believe a cautionary tone must be sounded if spiritual balance is to reign in the contemporary Church.

First, a quick anecdote: Not too long ago, a good Pentecostal brother of mine chided me a bit, wanting to know when I last "spoke in tongues." I had to level with him and admit that I was not exercising this "gift," as it has been some time since I circulated, worshipped, or participated in Pentecostal/ Charismatic circles. He knew I came from an Assemblies of God pastor's home, but was concerned because I was no longer "FULL GOSPEL" (i.e. Put another way, I was still part of a Baptist church and in the denomination where I was ordained.). After we made my spiritual condition the object of his grave concern, the conversation turned to his regular use of his "gift of tongues." Here, he made it clear to me that he was not preaching the Gospel through the supernatural acquisition of Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, French or German. No, he made it clear to em that his gift was an unknown or heavenly language, spoken in his prayer life and key for a victorious, overcoming walk with God. This line of reasoning was not new to me, and I tried to exercise the better part of valor by keeping our conversation from degenerating into a heated argument. It worked, as we are still good brothers in the Lord to this day.

But, at some point, before I can ever take the "heavenly language" plunge with my good Christian brother, there are a whole lot of questions and concerns that I need have to answered, so I can be sure that I am staying clear of some serious deceptions. Maybe this means I am too rationalistic, liberal or even worse...radical for his brand of Christian spirituality. At this point in my life, I am used to these tags--and even some that have been thrown at me that I will not repeat in this Biblical forum. Okay, here are some of my concerns (My list is not exhaustive.):

1. Although I am not in full agreement with Norman Geisler's brand of Cessationism, I do think he has an interesting point about the adjective unknown that modifies "tongues" in the New Testament (See Norman Geisler's Systematic Theology, vol. 4, Minneapolis: Bethany, 2005, p. 665). It is italicized in the KJV of the Bible (See I Cor. 14:2, for example.) because this adjective does not appear in the original Greek text of the New Testament. As Geisler points out, most Biblical translations omit it. Yet, there are many Pentecostals who don't want to concede this and continue to use the adjective from the KJV as a basis for the doctrine of "unknown" heavenly languages spoken either in public or private by believers. Why should I accept a later translation of the Bible here and not go with the earlier translation that omits unknown? Furthermore, should I build a practice on a later biblical translation that has no corroboration in the earliest manuscripts?

2. Paul mentions the "tongues of angels" (See I Cor. 13:1), but notice he does not tell all believers to try--as humans--to speak in such languages. Some Charismatics have pointed to this brief hypothetical statement of Paul's as a dogmatic basis for heavenly languages that no one has translated, so they claim to speak in such "angelic" languages during their worship services. However, I have big problems with this one. As noted by the Bible teacher John MacArthur in his book Charismatic Chaos, any times angels have spoken in the Bible, they spoke in known languages, which is why we can read their God-sent messages in scripture today (See Luke 1: 11-12; 26-37; 2: 8-14) (MacArthur 1992, p. 276). Also, it seems that the only record we have of unknown angelic languages that defy human translation is in extra-biblical, pseudepigraphic texts like Ethiopic Enoch 40 or Testament of Job 38-40. Why should I be seeking a capacity or gift based on the Pseudepigrapha or apocryphal literature? Doesn't this violate the basic Protestant principle of sola scriptura?

3. As an allied point to #1 above, my good Christian brother was fond of quoting me Mark 16:17 ("they will speak in new tongues" ESV). As noted in the RSV, NASB, ESV and other solid translations that mention this passage (and all of vss. 9-20), many of the earliest Biblical manuscripts (i.e. Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, in addition to early Latin, Syriac, Armenian and Georgian manuscripts) do NOT include these verses of Mark 16 (vss. 9-20) as canonical. Again, why build a supposedly solid case for the inclusion of new, non-human language from verses that are not present in many of the earliest Bible manuscripts?

As I noted, my list is not exhaustive, and perhaps I will include some other points for thought later. Suffice it to say, I am VERY cautious about the undersatnding of tongues in terms of heavenly languages or the "tongues of angels." Based on my understanding of Acts, the early believers were blessed with the gift of languages they had not learned, so the Gospel could reach beyond the narrow confines of the Jerusalem church. Blessings until next time.

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#11 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 06:34 PM

Addendum to my Last Post: Being Cautious About Seeking Experiences Subsequent to Grace

Another cautionary note is in order for those Christians who insist that believers need a variety of religious experiences subsequent to salvation and water baptism. Those with even a rudimentary knowledge of Church history should know where I am headed on this one, so I will try to be brief.:)

Years ago, I preached a sermon entitled "The Complete Package" based on the text Galatians 1:6-10. Part of my message dealt with the nagging feelings many of us have that scream things like "Do you really feel saved? You accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, but have you really experienced _______________? (Hint: fill in the blank with your favorite SUBSEQUENT experience from history -- speaking in tongues, entire sanctification, uncontrolled bouts of holy laughter, positive thinking, being "slain" in the Spirit, one of Benjamin Hardin Irwin's many baptisms -- fire, lyddite or oxidite -- etc., etc.) Am I really complete in the Lord?"

Some Christians seem to approach their salvation as they do some of the Christmas gifts they buy for their kids: "Batteries sold separately." They do this in spite of the Bible's assurance that they are complete in Jesus (i.e. have all the components available to help them grow, develop and eventually become the holy followers God wants them to be). Colossians 2:10 reminds us, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power" (KJV).

When we truly have a realtionship with Jesus, He gives us a complete package. We become a new creation according to 2 Corinthians 5:17 and ALL things become new. Now, this does not mean that we are completely familiar with our new position in Christ, or that we do not need to progress in sanctification. Here's another anaology: I can have a new truck, one that completely replaces my old beater that got towed away. But if I am not familiar with the owner's manual that tells me about all the new features available on my new vehicle, then I might mistakenly conclude that the vehicle is incomplete and needs a long line of repair and fixes.

Translation: All I need is made available to me as a new believer, but if I am not familiar with God's instructions about all the features of my new life in Him, I might be tempted to run from place to place, and meeting to metting in order to find that extra "something" that I really do not need to seek.

We are almost to Sunday...so I need to shut up here, but I know so many good Christian people who sincerely believe that they need so many experiences subsequent to their salvation, failing to realize that they were made whole when the Lord saved them. All they need is readily available to them as believers, but they fail to access all the features of their new life in Christ because they are ignorant of his Word. Many Christians marvel at other religions that insist on pilgrimages to "holy shrines" to find supernatural experiences.

Yet, some of these same believers tramp around the world, seeking 3-day-long retreat weekends (you know who I mean) or wandering "super-apostles" (See 2 Cor. 11:5-6). They have a "complete package," but fail to access all of its features. Thus, unfortunately, they look for 2nd, 3rd, 4th even 5th "works of grace" instead of the GRACE that's sufficient.

As a result, they make themselves vulnerable to false signs and wonders. Remember, even Latter Day Saints, Spiritualists, Shamanic cults and groups like the Shakers have focused on the importance of tongues-speaking. All genuine spiritual experiences should be validated by the "owner's manual" (the Bible). Generally, I am skeptical of appeals to experiences that have no clear support in scripture. His grace is sufficient for me...and for you.


#12 Joel Stoddert

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 09:34 PM

Addendum to my Last Post: Being Cautious About Seeking Experiences Subsequent to Grace

Another cautionary note is in order for those Christians who insist that believers need a variety of religious experiences subsequent to salvation and water baptism. Those with even a rudimentary knowledge of Church history should know where I am headed on this one, so I will try to be brief.:)

Years ago, I preached a sermon entitled "The Complete Package" based on the text Galatians 1:6-10. Part of my message dealt with the nagging feelings many of us have that scream things like "Do you really feel saved? You accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, but have you really experienced _______________? (Hint: fill in the blank with your favorite SUBSEQUENT experience from history -- speaking in tongues, entire sanctification, uncontrolled bouts of holy laughter, positive thinking, being "slain" in the Spirit, one of Benjamin Hardin Irwin's many baptisms -- fire, lyddite or oxidite -- etc., etc.) Am I really complete in the Lord?"

Some Christians seem to approach their salvation as they do some of the Christmas gifts they buy for their kids: "Batteries sold separately." They do this in spite of the Bible's assurance that they are complete in Jesus (i.e. have all the components available to help them grow, develop and eventually become the holy followers God wants them to be). Colossians 2:10 reminds us, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power" (KJV).

When we truly have a realtionship with Jesus, He gives us a complete package. We become a new creation according to 2 Corinthians 5:17 and ALL things become new. Now, this does not mean that we are completely familiar with our new position in Christ, or that we do not need to progress in sanctification. Here's another anaology: I can have a new truck, one that completely replaces my old beater that got towed away. But if I am not familiar with the owner's manual that tells me about all the new features available on my new vehicle, then I might mistakenly conclude that the vehicle is incomplete and needs a long line of repair and fixes.

Translation: All I need is made available to me as a new believer, but if I am not familiar with God's instructions about all the features of my new life in Him, I might be tempted to run from place to place, and meeting to metting in order to find that extra "something" that I really do not need to seek.

We are almost to Sunday...so I need to shut up here, but I know so many good Christian people who sincerely believe that they need so many experiences subsequent to their salvation, failing to realize that they were made whole when the Lord saved them. All they need is readily available to them as believers, but they fail to access all the features of their new life in Christ because they are ignorant of his Word. Many Christians marvel at other religions that insist on pilgrimages to "holy shrines" to find supernatural experiences.

Yet, some of these same believers tramp around the world, seeking 3-day-long retreat weekends (you know who I mean) or wandering "super-apostles" (See 2 Cor. 11:5-6). They have a "complete package," but fail to access all of its features. Thus, unfortunately, they look for 2nd, 3rd, 4th even 5th "works of grace" instead of the GRACE that's sufficient.

As a result, they make themselves vulnerable to false signs and wonders. Remember, even Latter Day Saints, Spiritualists, Shamanic cults and groups like the Shakers have focused on the importance of tongues-speaking. All genuine spiritual experiences should be validated by the "owner's manual" (the Bible). Generally, I am skeptical of appeals to experiences that have no clear support in scripture. His grace is sufficient for me...and for you.



Well put, brother. I especially like the analogy of the complete package.

#13 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:45 AM

Joel,

Thanks for the feedback. You have a great Sunday in the Lord out there in Vermont.

Blessings,

Alan


#14 Lori Smith

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 11:28 AM

I think this article by A.W. Tozer states things quite clearly: http://www.sermonind...2632&forum=34

I certainly am not fixated on any particular gift; however, I cannot imagine not having the added fullness of God that I received when I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. It was not like buying a package of batteries; rather it was and is for me something sacred, for the Holy Spirit is God.
In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer writes, "Jesus taught that He wrought His works by always keeping His inward eyes upon His Father. His power lay in His continuous look at God (John 5:19-21)."

#15 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 02:13 PM

Lori,

Thanks for your input. Like all analogies, mine does have its limits. Basically, the point of my anaolgy was that unlike a gift that requires additional things to function adequately (like batteries), grace includes all that we need to access in order to be mature Christians and powerful witnesses. When we are saved, we receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and are enjoined to walk continually in the fullness of God's presence to be salt and light in a sin-sick world. As Christians, we do not have to seek out "other works of grace." Instead, we need to grow and mature, learning more about the complete package of God's promises that are all given to us as new creations in Christ.

Have a great day,

Alan


#16 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 05:22 PM

More Reservations About Parham's Subsequence Doctrine

In many ways, I am amazed by the strong level of commitment to Charles Parham's strong doctrine of subsequence (i.e. the idea that one must display the initial evidence of tongues-speaking after being saved and baptized by immersion to demonstrate to others that he/ she has the presence of the Holy Spirit operating in his/ her life).

Many contemporary Pentecostals reject this well-worn dogma on the grounds that it lacks clear Biblical support and that it was promoted by a man with questionable knowledge of theological truth...and even suspect, personal morals.

A Pentecostal writer named Myer Pearlman, wrote the following passage in his book Knowing the Doctrines of the Bible (Springfield, Missori: Gospel Publishing House [1937] 1981):

"Indeed the New Testament teaches that one cannot be a Christian without having the Spirit, which is the same as being indwelt with the Spirit. 'If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.' Rom. 8:9...Other references are cited as supporting the same truth. Rom. 5:5; 8:14,16; I Cor. 6:19; Gal. 4:6; I John 3:24; 4:13...It cannot be successfully denied that there is a real sense in which all truly regenerated persons have the Spirit" (1937, p. 311).

To my knowledge, Pearlman was not a Cessationist by any stretch of the imagination, but here, he mounts a challenge to a simple view of the subsequence doctrine (a view that also finds little clear support when one reads the book of Acts, either as a historical account of the early church or as a pattern for New Testament churches to follow today). Have a blessed week.


#17 John William Weiss

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 03:47 PM

I am new to this form so please bear with me.
My Great Grandfather W.W. Simpson graduated from AB Simpsons Missionary school in early 1892 and chose Tibet as his mission field where no one was teaching the Gospel, upon arriving in WuHu China for language study he told the station cheif that he 'was trusting the Lord to give him the language' the station cheif suggested that if he was not so empowered by noon the next day he would need to learn Chinese 'the old fashion way' W.W. prayed for guidance and was led to submit. After one year learning Chinese he went to Peking and studied another year the Tibetan language, by 1895 he and William Christie were working on the border of Tibet teaching the word of God in the native tongue. His mission in China and Tibet lasted 57 years. In 1912 while playing the pump organ he did receive the gift of Tongues after years of seeking. In China converting to Christianity was not a matter of convincing anyone of the spirit realm just the right way so he began to insist that new missionaries be open to speaking in tongues, it created a controversy among his fellow missionaries and ultimately resigned and joined the fledgling Assemblies of God. He was among one of the most effective missionaries in China because being spirit filled he was very confident in his purpose not because he spoke in tongues. Everyone has some gift of the Holy Spirit, some speak in Tongues, some prophesize, but it is clear that the gift of love is the most important gift of all, without that we have nothing.
John William Weiss

#18 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 02:49 PM

John William Weiss wrote: "Everyone has some gift of the Holy Spirit, some speak in Tongues, some prophesize, but it is clear that the gift of love is the most important gift of all, without that we have nothing."


John, you hit the nail on the head. Blessings to you and welcome to the forum.

Dr. Alan G. Phillips, Jr.


I am new to this form so please bear with me.
My Great Grandfather W.W. Simpson graduated from AB Simpsons Missionary school in early 1892 and chose Tibet as his mission field where no one was teaching the Gospel, upon arriving in WuHu China for language study he told the station cheif that he 'was trusting the Lord to give him the language' the station cheif suggested that if he was not so empowered by noon the next day he would need to learn Chinese 'the old fashion way' W.W. prayed for guidance and was led to submit. After one year learning Chinese he went to Peking and studied another year the Tibetan language, by 1895 he and William Christie were working on the border of Tibet teaching the word of God in the native tongue. His mission in China and Tibet lasted 57 years. In 1912 while playing the pump organ he did receive the gift of Tongues after years of seeking. In China converting to Christianity was not a matter of convincing anyone of the spirit realm just the right way so he began to insist that new missionaries be open to speaking in tongues, it created a controversy among his fellow missionaries and ultimately resigned and joined the fledgling Assemblies of God. He was among one of the most effective missionaries in China because being spirit filled he was very confident in his purpose not because he spoke in tongues. Everyone has some gift of the Holy Spirit, some speak in Tongues, some prophesize, but it is clear that the gift of love is the most important gift of all, without that we have nothing.
John William Weiss



#19 Russell Holmes

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 10:22 PM

Hi Alan,

Thought I would like to add a couple of comments on your spiritual gifts blog. I am a C&MA pastor in Australia and have been so for nearly thirty years.

A key question that many ask regarding spiritual gifts is "What is the balance point?" It is natural that most people think the answer to that question is "Where I stand!" The better answer is "Where the Scriptures stand!" But that becomes the same answer for most of us! We usually think we stand on the Scriptures. But does the Bible give us a statement on the balance point? My answer is that it most certainly does.

The key passage on spiritual gifts is obviously 1Cor.12-14.

In chapter 12 Paul teaches on spiritual gifts (or maybe more correctly spiritual manifestations of which spiritual gifts are a part).

In Chapter 13 he teaches about the superiority of love.

In Chapter 14 he first states the balance point, and then applies this to the practices of the church in Corinth.

So what is the balance point? It is: "Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts" (or spiritual manifestations including the charismata listed in chapter 12).

This is THE key verse of these three chapters, and unless we realise that we end up making our practice the balance point. To expound a little, Paul is saying that we must have love for others as our goal in all we do. But we must also desire earnestly spiritual gifts. If we only desire gifts but have some other motive or goal then we do damage to ourselves and others. If we only pursue love then there are many times we cannot love others effectively because we need the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit to do something for that person. For example, if we visit a sick person we show love, but it is even better if the Spirit manifests the risen power of Jesus through us and heals the person. We see this in the life of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. He not only loved the sick, he healed them. He not only loved the demoniac, he delivered him.

Because we all assume that we are balanced, what we do is take the verses from the Bible, and particularly 1Cor. 12-14, and push our perspective. Thus the Pentecostal takes Paul's statement "I wish that you all spoke in tongues" and pushes tongues. The cessationist takes the "...but have not love I am nothing" to belittle tongues. So what happens is that those who are earnestly desiring spiritual gifts push down on the "desire earnestly spiritual gifts" side of the balance. But they should be pushing on the "pursue love" side. Those who have neer seen a tongue spoken in their church emphasise that you must have an interpreter if you speak in tongues, and also allow the elders to test to see if it was demonic. (No sane person would dare use their gift of tongues in that environment- it can't end well!) But they are pushing the wrong side of the balance. They should be desiring earnestly spiritual gifts. Love is not enough.

Paul, to correct the lack of love in the Corinthian churches use of tongues, said that two or at the most three should speak in tongues. What would he have written to a church which had reacted against using the gift of tongues in an unloving way by banning it in their services, either openly or covertly? Well there are a few statements in chapter 14 that address that (eg.1Cor.14:5, 18, 39) but because of the situation he mainly address their lack of love and tells them to how to use the gifts lovingly, not cease using them at all.

In this context it may be helpful to comment on the "Seek not, forbid not" stance of the C&MA, attributed to Tozer. As a correction to unloving use of tongues it may be a good summary. That is, if a church is overdesireous of tongues it may be good to counsel that they back off on tongues. But it does not reflect a truly balanced position in churches which have no practical use of the gift of tongues. Paul's balance point would indicate that they SHOULD earnestly seek tongues for everyone, though admitting that God only gave the gift to some. However he would caution that it shoud be desired and used for loving purposes. And prophecy should be more prevalent in the congregational context and that tongues should be interpreted because of the benefit of understandable language, i.e. it was more loving. That is, in a church context where the gift of tongues is not used the statement "seek not" is pushing the wrong side of the balance, and forbid not is irrelevant if nobody has the gift.

One final comment. The idea that love is the greatest gift does not really help the situation. In 1Cor. 12 Paul does not speak of love as one of the "spirituals" (ie manifestations of the Spirit). Love is the summation of the fruit of the Spirit, it is the proper response of the believer to the Spirit of grace. It is the measure of a person's spiritual maturity. The temptation is to assume that spiritual gifts are the measure of spiritual growth. But they are not. They are unearned gifts. Jesus even says that they can be manifested by unsaved people! (Matt.7:22) Gifts are supernatural tools by which we can serve Jesus, but love is our mature Christian skill in using these gifts effectively. The danger of pursing gifts instead of love is made extreme when we equate gifts with spiritual maturity or greatness, instead of love. The danger of saying love is the greatest gift is that we would fool ourselves into thinking that it is therefore a substitute for the gifts. Jesus would not have had the same ministry if he was not endued with power from on high at his baptism so that he could heal, deliver, minister in words of wisdom and knowledge and perform miracles. It is the same in the church, his body. We should earnestly desire the spiritual gifts so that we can love others effectively.

Hope you find these comments helpful.

God bless,

Russell

#20 Alan G Phillips Jr

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 01:09 PM

Russell,

Much more can be said, but I really like the way you emphasize the point-of-balance approach. This is one of the many things that attracts me to the C&MA perspective about the gifts.

Blessings to You and Those You Minister to in the Land "Down Under."

Alan G. Phillips, Jr.