Question #1: I'm reading through your opinion about tongues on the question board and have some questions of my own. First, do you have anything like and “dot.edu” site or classes or formal courses of study available? Second, what you think of Paul's mention of speaking in the tongues of angels, since you say that you believe all tongues must be human language? Or your comment that tongues are only meant for unbelievers, but we see in Acts and even in 1 Cor 12 tongues used in praise, prayer and worship as well? You have to admit that you have had limited experience with the charismatic church. If you went to one, you could easily here genuine tongues. My tongues sound like they could be different languages. God always provided me with these gifts and experiences outside of church even before I even knew what they were so that I would understand they were genuinely from Him. I'm also appalled at your statement that you don't believe any major miracles will happen again until the ministry of the 144,000 after the beginning of the Tribulation. OUCH! That doesn't sound like faith to me, especially with all the miracles I've seen and experienced. Where in Scripture do you think that it says miracles or gifts have passed away?
Response#1: To get to your class problem first, I
don't have anything on an .edu site that is related to my biblical
studies. My university research is all secular (you can check out my
bibliography at this link:
Current CV). My biblical studies are own my own personal website.
This separation is very deliberate, and has served me well. I try to do
my best to render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.
Now to your specific questions:
1) "tongues of angels": I don't say that "tongues of angels" don't exist. What I am saying is that the gift of tongues as given to believers is always in the form of a human language. 1st Corinthians 13:1 supports this. In the Greek of that passage, we have a present general condition, that is, a condition used for the sake of argument. So grammatically, as well as logically (and every other way) Paul is not saying that he or any other human being can or does "speak with the tongues of angels". He is saying that "even if this were the case", it would not compare to love. This is an extreme example to show that even if one has truly spectacular and unheard of spiritual gifts, they mean nothing without the love of Christ. So this passage is really devaluing tongues of every type as compared to the practice of Christian virtue.
2) "tongues in praise, prayer and worship": I have no problem with this. There is no question but that the primary purpose of tongues was evangelism (cf. "tongues are for a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers": 1Cor.14:22). True they were occasionally used in the early church services to supplement the lack of a completed New Testament and trained clergy, but Paul's entire point in 1Cor.14 is to remove the abuses that went along with this use. His position, the biblical position, is that there should never be tongues in church without interpretation (1Cor.14:27-28).
3) "language": A tongue is a language. There are many, many human languages, but there are also people who speak all of those languages. Therefore all these languages can be understood by someone and translated for the benefit of other people who don't speak that particular language. So if a person is truly exercising the biblical gift of tongues, that is, speaking in a genuine language they don't personally understand, it would always be possible to find someone else to interpret this message from the Spirit - and how wonderful that would be! This is exactly what happened at Pentecost. The Spirit fell on largely Galilean believers with no formal education and all of sudden they began speaking in a variety of real, human, foreign languages they didn't know (Acts 2:9-10), so that the unbelievers from out of town who were in Jerusalem for the festival exclaimed, "we hear (i.e., and also “understand”) them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues" (Acts 2:11).
4) "experience": I do not wish to belittle anyone else's experience. However, I recall the words of Paul, that the Galatians shouldn't listen to a different gospel, even it came from an angel or from him personally (Gal.1:8-9). To me this means that what the scriptures say is more real and more important than anything we experience or anything we see with our eyes (2Cor.4:18; 5:7; Heb.11:1), let alone what someone else may report. Don't get me wrong. I do not say "there are no tongues today"; what I do say is "I have not seen it". And, as I always point out, it is a simple enough thing to prove, for those who want to prove it. Since a tongue is a language and people speak languages, make a recording, do a video tape, bring someone who speaks that language to the service, transcribe the words. In the history of the Christian Church, there have been many times and cases, many movements and denominations, which have built theology on emotional experience. When we get excited, we do things that we wouldn't normally do. The Spirit is indeed a source of energy, and a source of zeal - but we are told to stay in control: the spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets (1Cor.14:32); God is not a God of confusion (1Cor.14:33); and everything in the Church should be done decently, and in good order (1Cor.14:40). This is not a diatribe against “Charismatics”. We believers are commanded to be zealous (Rev.3:19), but our zeal must never stray from the actual truth of the Word of God. When our emotions take control, we really have to ask whether or not that is of God. I do not quarrel with any experience that matches up with the Word of God.
5) "miracles": Miracles happen every moment of every day. It depends upon what you are describing. What I talk about in the studies you reference are possibly better described as "signs". John describes Jesus' turning of the water into wine as the "first of His signs" (Jn.2:11); the next "sign" is the healing of the official's son (Jn.4:54). Surely we are not to believe that Jesus didn't do any miracles between the two, are we? But some miracles are so overwhelmingly impossible by any worldly standard that no one who observes them can be left in any doubt. If I have cancer and pray to the Lord to heal me and He does, that is most assuredly a miracle. But the world has the luxury of remaining skeptical. But if I pass away and you come by my funeral, put your hand on my head, and I rise up from the dead, that is a little harder to ignore. This second category, the irrefutable "sign" category of miracle, is the one to which I am referring. And, again don't get me wrong, I have complete and absolute faith in God's ability to do absolutely anything whenever and wherever He will. I believe God. I believe the Bible. But I am not inclined to believe the testimony of men in things that are questionable, especially when that testimony seems to me to run contrary to scripture. This is no small issue. Antichrist will do many "miracles" (2Thes.2:9-12; cf. Rev.13:13ff.).
To sum up, it is most certainly not my position that "gifts and miracles have passed away". I believe, and I know that I too have experienced answered prayer. I believe, and I know that I too possess spiritual gifts. My point is that the pyro-technic types of gifts and miracles that attract the attention of the world are not, from all I can see and from what I read in scripture (for references, see: "Is speaking in tongues a sin?", "Baptism of the Spirit", "The Baptism of the Spirit distinct from Tongues", and "Prophets"), currently being empowered by the Lord. Either He is empowering these things or He is not. It is not a question of faith. He can do it if He chooses - but is He currently choosing to do so? The first place to look for that answer is the Bible, not our experiences.
So, my brother, if you can truly speak in tongues, by all means, speak in tongues. If you can, heal the sick, by all means, heal them. And if you can raise the dead, we will be hard pressed to gainsay you. Only let all be done to the glory of Jesus Christ, in the power of His Spirit, and to the glory of God the Father. Ultimately, all such gifts and miracles are meant to lead the unbelieving to Jesus and believers to trusting what His Word says is true. That is to say, all such powerful "experiences" have as their ultimate goal not their own repetition and emulation, but to lead us ever deeper into the Word of God, and ever closer to Jesus Christ as a result. Given the distraction that they or their counterfeits have traditionally provided, I think you may have your answer as to why these sorts of gifts are not currently in operation - they would have the potential of distracting from the really important reasons we are here: to learn God's truth, put it into practice, then help others do the same.
Yours in Him who is the only truth, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thanks for responding. I'd love to be as kind and eloquent with my
words with you as you are with me, but I don't have the time, so I'll
stick to the meat of the matter (just understand this is all said in
1. Interesting. Other than the grammar point your whole position is based on your disbelief humans can speak in the tongues of angels. I would tend to disagree but am not certain. As I said, most of my tongues do sound like it should be a human language, but who knows.
2. We are in agreement here, though I think you still lack support for tongues being used other than for Evangelism, as in Acts 10 and 19, and Romans 8.
3. Well, I've never seen it personally, but I've heard plenty of testimonies of a person speaking an unknown language at a service and someone in the crowd interpreting it, being their native language. That brings us to a new point, since you keep referring to Pentecost where Peter and the others were speaking in other tongues and the crowd heard them in their native language. One thing I've never heard anybody else mention, but what I think is a good theory, is that Peter and the others could have very well been speaking in the tongues of angels or whatever human language and that it was really other people who provided the interpretation. What do you think?
4. As I said about my early experiences with God, they didn't happen in church or any type of "emotional" state. I never desired to speak in tongues before God baptized me in His Spirit; He just "did it". It wasn't something I had to "try to do" or was even seeking.
5. It's not a matter of faith? Jesus rebuked his disciple many times for not having enough faith to heal people or cast out demons. You said yourself in another thread about the importance of the role of the recipient's faith in order to be healed. Everything in Christendom is a matter faith. As to all the miracles you claim to have never seen, maybe that is because you don't attend church, or a Spirit-filled one. I haven't seen, but I personally know credible people who have raised people from the dead.
So I think you still have some explaining to do.
It does seem we are still in some
disagreement. In my opinion, the scriptural objections I lodged in the
previous e-mail still need to be answered (see below on this). I think
it would be fair to sum up your first four points by saying that you are
essentially choosing to put your own personal experience first and then
find support in scripture for it afterwards (rather than having
scripture take the lead). That is certainly your right, but the most
obvious problem with this approach is that we all have different
experiences. The Bible - and the undiluted truth it contains - is the
one common, visible and tangible thing that all who truly profess Jesus
from the heart have in common.
As to your final point, yes, it is all about faith, but faith in what? You have your experience, and I have mine. I am skeptical of your experience, you are skeptical of mine. The main difference between us seems to me to be that you take your experience as "a given", then look to scripture to support what you know to be true from experience. I do not claim to be entirely innocent of this, but I have made it my policy and the basis of this ministry to put what scripture says first, even (and possibly especially) when it conflicts with what I otherwise would think, or feel, or believe . . . or experience. I have faith in God, God knows. I believe in His words, inerrantly recorded in His Word. Scripture I know to be true. My own experience will always be subject to interpretation, but the truth of the Bible is a sharp sword in the Spirit's hands that cuts through everything else.
I don't believe you can put "what you know from experience" in first place in your scale of values and not have it adversely affect your Christian life and walk. This is not lack of faith. Rather, it is having faith in the right things. I have seen a lot of good people put their faith in pastors who turned out to be charlatans, and in organizations which turned out to be corrupt, and in practices which turned out not to be biblical. Of course, all of these people were convinced of the rightness of what they were doing at the time, and in some cases the people and groups who were leading them on even started out as not entirely apostate. But the influence of money, the lust for popularity, and the other temptations of the flesh more often than not eventually turn such experience-based approaches sour, and damage those poor sheep who have trusted, who have had faith, way too much faith, in the wrong things, the wrong groups, and in the wrong people. When misplaced faith is betrayed, no emotional experience, no miracle witnessed or enjoyed, no fine promises and expectation of overflowing blessing, can make up for the hurt and heartbreak of betrayal, and the bitter realization that faith has been betrayed - not by God, but by the substitutes that were put in His place. In such instances, it often turns out that the faith of such victims (and they are victims whether or not they should have known better), is all to often completely destroyed so that "the end is worse than the beginning". Everyone who puts anything in front of the Bible when it comes to faith, be it a person, or an organization, or a personal experience, is making a big mistake in my view. And the people who lead them to do so have a lot to answer for.
Here is a safe rule of thumb, found over a cash register in a roadside restaurant: "In God we trust - all others pay cash." I trust in God. And I trust in His Word. Of everything else and of everyone else I retain a healthy, sanctified skepticism. And I believe in this I also have the Spirit of God.
I hope you will receive this in the loving spirit in which it is written. I do not know you personally, so I have no idea where you are spiritually or what your walk with the Lord is like, so please don't take this any more personally than the Spirit of God would have you take it.
In for whom nothing is impossible, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I think you should be careful about who you're calling a cult and
cult leaders. I think I understand mostly where you are coming from
(except for the part of purposefully ignoring much of Scripture, in
which all anti-prosperity/faith/tongues/healing Christians have to do).
But I would never call you a cult leader. You believe in the essentials
as outlined on your website. But there are countless warriors for God
that believe, live and teach from the Scriptures these doctrines that
you disagree with and who are very close to God, dedicated to His work,
and leading thousands to Christ, and healing thousands more.
I really think John 16:33 is commonly misquoted. You didn't directly imply it, though many do, that it means we are supposed to be poor or sick. I interpret it to mean persecution from other people ... as far as being against the prosperity gospel. In that respect, your answers on your forum seem very one-sided. This is what I always get from every anti-prosperity person I've ever talked to. But there are hundreds of Scriptures in the Bible that support prosperity and God blessing His people with wealth. There are zero Scriptures condemning riches. There are plenty condemning the love of money. Making money our primary goal, but that's completely different than having money, like David, Solomon, Matthew, Cornelius, Abraham, Isaac, Lot, etc. You even used Job in another thread about him being poor, but failed to mention that he was filthy rich when God blessed him after persevering. Also, in another e-mail you assumed a questioner was referring to the parable of the sower when talking about a hundred fold increase in harvest, when they may have well been referring to Mark 10:30, which actually does include material possessions.
I'll get right to it. First, John
16:33 says "tribulation". You are correct that it does not say we are
"supposed to" have it. It does however say that we "will" have it (as do
many other scriptures: cf. Acts 14:22). You can be rich and have
trouble. In fact, scripture teaches that the rich are likely to have
more trouble (Eccl.5:12); wanting to be rich causes you trouble
(1Tim.6:9); and if you are rich, you have more responsibility vis-a-vis
your use of your resources than someone who is poor will have, and more
to account for before the throne of Christ (1Tim.6:17-18; Jas.1:9-11;
There's nothing wrong with being rich per se. But it does make a spiritual life more of a challenge (Prov.30:7-9). God has blessed some exceptional believers who were capable of passing this "prosperity test" with exceptional riches - like Job. On Job, I'm not sure what you're referring to - I am the first to admit and rejoice in Job's restored material prosperity. It should be noted that Job put God first, so God could give Him everything material without Job being in any danger of suffering spiritually.
I don't condemn riches. I would be happy to have them; I would be happy for you and all my fellow believers to have them. What I do have a problem with are teachings and teachers that teach that we will have them "if only we _________" (fill in the blank). The Bible does not teach that we will have material riches on this earth. We may well have, but it is worth considering that in all the examples of the Bible, very, very few spiritually successful believers were materially rich. Jesus was dirt poor (having made Himself poor to save us: 2Cor.8:9). Peter, Paul, John, all abysmally poor. My point is this: if God allowed our Lord Himself and the greatest of His apostles to remain poor, how is it that some are teaching that by becoming great believers we will become materially rich? These men became spiritually rich beyond our dreams, and they will be rewarded for it . . . in eternity.
Finally, Mark 10:30, the "hundred fold" is defined in terms of "brothers, mothers, sisters, children". Clearly, we only have one mother. What can this 100-fold family we will have be then except our family in Jesus, the Church? The more we grow and help the Church of Christ grow, the more we see this harvest of blessing accelerate. It doesn't pay in Caesar's coin, but it pays a spiritual reward that cannot compare to gold.
It is also true that there are many out there who seem at least to be working for the Church of Christ who preach this prosperity gospel. Is that proof? The Buddhists, the Muslims, the Catholics, the Mormons, etc., etc., all work very hard . . . for God (or god) they say. Is that proof? Even in cases where I would allow that the gist of some group's teaching is sound, I would not for that reason alone give my stamp of approval to all the rest. That would be like praising a blemish because the complexion is otherwise good. Thinking like this can only lead us to more blemishes until they dominate the complexion.
I do pray for the material well-being of all those to whom I minister and of all those whom I love. I have to say, however, that I can easily imagine many of the people I pray for for whom exceptional material prosperity might well do more harm than good.
In our Lord who made us rich by making Himself poor, our Savior Jesus Christ.
You have made some false "assumptions" about me putting experience
over Scripture. I've never understand people who talk about Scripture
over experience. As a child of God, when I'm not sinning but living in
His will I always "experience" His Word. I've never experienced anything
that was contrary to His Word.
I am very glad to hear you say that
you put the Bible over experience. That is the main thing that I would
want to emphasize. As long as one is proceeding from the truth of
scripture, one can never ever go wrong.
Because in my experience, there are a lot of groups out there who are using excitement to get money out of unsuspecting sheep (whether they are willing to admit this to themselves or not), and that is one of the reasons I am so adamant about being careful when it comes to grand claims of things I have never seen or seen documented as currently taking place.
You make the claim to tongues, prophecy, and sign-type miracles. It occurs to me that there are two possibilities: 1) either what you say is 100% true, or 2) it isn't. If it is, then I praise God for all His wondrous manifestations of grace through the power of His Spirit to the glorification of His Son, and I would certainly not wish to stand in the way of His will or His working.
I will leave you with one thought on this whole ecstasy of experience vs. more sedate truth from scripture alone. Paul counsels the Corinthians "since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church" (1Cor.14:12), and, just before explaining the fading away of certain gifts in chapter 13, to "earnestly desire the greater gifts" (1Cor.12:31). These edifying, greater gifts are clearly from context teaching gifts which illuminate the Bible. Both of these passages indicate that while the pyrotechnic gifts of the early Church were useful, necessary, wonderful and true gifts from God, they were a transition on the way to something "greater", something that would "edify" the Church, and that something was the completed Word of God and the mature modus operandi of the Church, the teaching of the Word as the number one focus (at least, that is what should be the number one focus).
My major beef with an extreme focus on pyrotechnic gifts - even if they are genuine - is that it is clear to me from these three chapters in 1st Corinthians (i.e., 12-14), that it is easy for the function of such gifts to get in the way of what is really important - that was certainly what was happening in Corinth, and seems to me to be an occupational hazard today as well (again, whatever one's opinion may be of the validity of such things). This testimony of Paul's agrees entirely with that of Peter who says in 2nd Peter 1:16-21 that, although he had been privileged to see a vision the likes of which has no peers, namely, the transfiguration of our Lord, he nevertheless felt that scripture, "the prophetic word" was "more sure" than even what his own eyes had seen, and it is to that "light shining in the darkness" that we should look (v.19; compare Jesus' words at John 14:12 where the “greater things” must mean that ministering the Word is greater than performing miracles).
Yours in Him who is the truth, the Word Himself, our Savior Jesus Christ.
A couple more questions. What do you think the gift of healing is?
Doesn't Jesus command all Christians to heal people in His Name? What is
the difference between all Christians doing that, and certain ones with
the gift of healing? I've healed many people through the power of God,
but I don't believe that is my gift. And as far as prophecy is
concerned, how do you define prophecy? To me, it is simply hearing from
God about another person or future event. I mean, you do hear from God,
right? All Christians have the ability to do this. Most Christians I
know at least do this for their own lives (John 10:27). So if God can
tell you what to do about something in your own life, why cant He tell
you something about someone else's life? I'm not sure what the major
differences are between prophecy and having a "word of knowledge/wisdom"
either? Because God tells me things about other people all the time that
I couldn't have known naturally. Is that not prophecy?
1) Jesus' command to heal the sick is
given to the 12 as special heralds of His arrival. Later they are given
different instructions for what to do after Jesus' departure because the
circumstance would later be different (cf. Lk.22:35-37). This is a big
part of my point. Special miracles and gifts have a special purpose;
they are "a sign" that something big is going to happen. This is one
reason why I am reluctant to say dogmatically that they can't be
happening now. But again, everyone has to look soberly into their own
hearts and evaluate experience with the sharp sword of the Word of
2) By prophecy I believe I mean what scripture means, namely the forth-telling (and occasional foretelling) of a message directly and verbally from God. That is not to say that all prophecy is to be recorded as scripture (even in Old Testament times that was not the case); but to be truly a prophecy the message has to come from God, and has to be His words. I do believe in the guidance of the Spirit, that God leads us one way or another, that He calls us to do one thing or another. But that is different from actually hearing His voice, and reporting His exact words. I have had many people claim that they spoke to God in this way, like Samuel did, like Elijah and Elisha did, like Moses did, like the apostles did. God is not limited. He can do it. But it is worth considering that in the entire Bible there are only a handful of people recorded to have had any such conversation with God, let alone repeated experiences. Therefore while I do not doubt God, I retain a healthy skepticism where flesh and blood is concerned.
You have a good point about the variation of gifts in regard to information coming from God other than from the Bible - it's not all prophecy. More to the point, now that we have the Bible, it is good to consider that the truth flowing from it in the power of the Spirit is better than any such gift - we can actually see it with our eyes, hear it with our ears, repeat it verbally, and show it to others. Many such gifts were needful at the time of the early Church when there was no New Testament as yet. Now we have something even better, and something that cannot be easily falsified. If I say "I have a gift of prophecy", then I can tell you anything I want, and how can you say it isn't true? But if I say, "I read this in Bible", you can say "where?", and go on to question my understanding of the passage, exactly as you are doing here.
In our Lord Jesus,
You've made the sad mistake of falsely assuming many things about me, by lumping me into a group of other people who've you dealt with. You speak of the greater gifts, and 1st Corinthians 13 is all about love. If you were walking in love, you would treat each person as an individual child of God. No offense, but you seem to be doing the very opposite of what you're preaching. I came to you with direct Scriptures and asked how you reconcile them to your beliefs. You haven't responded to a single one, but instead, have wrote to me about your experience: "In my experience, there are a lot of groups out there who are using excitement to get money out of unsuspecting sheep". So it seems very obvious that you are putting your experience over Scripture. As for me, I don't emphasize things like prophecy, tongues, and healing to the extreme. I consider myself to have child like faith when I study the Bible, so I believe it all. So when I see Scriptures about Jesus empowering His children, commanding His children to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, etc, and teaching them about faith to do it, I'm going to do my best to "follow Christ" as a Christian in all aspects of His Word. I understand that I probably do seem like a "defender of the faith" when it comes to the "charismatics", and I proudly admit to that. After I was saved, I went to a Baptist church where the preacher was preaching against all kinds of Televangelists, and Charismatic groups. As a brand new Christian without much Bible knowledge, I didn't have much of a choice but to believe him. I was the same way, very critical and judgmental against these groups, until I started studying the Bible for myself, and found out all these things that my pastor wasn't preaching on. Later, I was baptized in the Holy Ghost and started speaking in tongues! Even so, I didn't desire to leave my church then, but after awhile I felt like my spirit just wasn't getting fed in certain areas. My point is, that I had a "Damascus road" experience and went from a very extreme life of sin, to one of salvation and holiness. As far as tongues, prophecy and knowledge passing away, obviously I do not believe that happened with the coming of the canon, which I saw somewhere is what you think. So, if you think that, how can you say that you even believe tongues and prophecy exist today? Do you think you've already "seen face to face" and "know fully"? That also seems impossible to me on this side of heaven.
First, if I have offended you in any
way, I sincerely apologize. That was certainly not my purpose, even if
it was the effect. Please forgive me for any offense (I ask that in all
Since we have never met, a conversation like this over e-mail always runs the risk of mutual misunderstanding. From much of what you have said, and much of how you have characterized what I have written on the site and even what I have written to you, I would say that this misunderstanding cuts both ways. That may be entirely my fault. If so, again, I apologize.
I suggest a fresh start. I am happy to use this latest e-mail of yours, if that is acceptable. I would ask that we keep this conversation to one response apiece, and remain as focused as possible. Otherwise, if our letters cross in the mail or we focus on one part of a response while the other person is focused on another, we run the risk of further confusion and misunderstanding.
Let me start by saying that from what you have shared with me in this e-mail, we have quite a bit in common. My primary experience is Presbyterian to quasi-Baptist to charismatic to outcast (my current status in the wilderness). After a very positive early life experience, later in life I found the Presbyterians growing ever farther from scripture, the quasi-Baptists dogmatic about things for which dogmatism was inappropriate, and, as for the charismatics, well, that is in many ways the underlying issue of this conversation. I found good and bad in all groups, and good and bad people in all groups, but, ultimately, like you, God lead me to choose undiluted truth over what was flawed and incorrect. So, like you, I am off doing "my own thing" because in my heart I was called by the Lord to do "His thing", and that is what I am trying to do to the best of my ability.
On the gifts of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, it is not my view that they are gone forever. I am also careful not to say that they dogmatically and definitely have never operated since the apostolic generation. It is certainly true that I am skeptical that they have done so. It is also true that I am very much inclined to believe that, at the very least, much of what passes for these things (and related overtly miraculous occurrences), is not real. 1st Corinthians 13:8ff., does not, it is true, teach definitively that these gifts have now ceased to operate. But it does compare them to the things of childhood (v.11), and it does call them partial (v.9), and it does look forward to a time when they will no longer be necessary because of God's perfecting work (v.10). I certainly understand that this time when we shall "know even as we are known" will not finally occur until we are face to face with Jesus, but it is also true that Paul is using this example - of perfection then and incompleteness now - to teach the Corinthians that there are things more important than these spectacular gifts that had come to dominate their thinking (cf. 1Cor.12 and 14). Love is more important. And since these miraculous gifts (not the teaching gifts and etc.) are partial, temporary, needful in the early stages of things, and destined to pass away (again, while the others are not so designated), it is at least a reasonable position to take that such gifts may indeed have been superseded by more complete, lasting, permanent things - like the completed canon of scripture along with the means and opportunity to understand, teach, and live it.
Let me put it this way in a question to you. Since there is only "one baptism" (Eph.4:5), and that baptism then must be the baptism of the Spirit, how then can those of us who have put our faith in Jesus really be saved, if we have not received this baptism? For "If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ" (Rom.8:9).
Yours in the Lord of love and mercy, our Savior Jesus Christ.
No need for apologies. As a child of God, I don't take offense. As
for 1Cor.13, you seem to be contradicting yourself even in this email.
You seemingly agreed with me that the latter part is referring to seeing
Jesus "face to face", which would tell me that prophecy, knowledge and
tongues have not passed away. But then at the end, you mention why those
gifts are not needed as much today, but only in the early church. That's
fine to have an opinion, but what Scriptural backing do you have for
that? Again, how do you reconcile Jesus' command in Mark 16 to speak
with new tongues, heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, for
all who follow Him?
As for Ephesians 4 and Romans 8, I believe those are both references to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when a person get saved. In my humble opinion that is not the same as later being "baptized in the Holy Ghost", which is simply a phrase used for that doctrine, not necessarily having to match the word "baptize" with Scripture (as in Rapture, Trinity, etc.).
Glad to hear we are still on good
terms. As to your points:
1) I don't see any contradiction. The passage strongly implies a later cessation of these gifts - I don't see any other way to take it. The only question is when. Since the time is not specified, from a purely scriptural point of view, it is just as incumbent upon those who say that it hasn't happened yet to prove it hasn't as it is upon those who say it has to prove it has. I only say I remain to be convinced that cessation hasn't happened, because the perfection of scripture has happened, and the gifts we are discussing are not now universally falling upon new believers as they did in the book of Acts - strong evidence that the "when" starts immediately after the age of the apostles.
2) Mark 16 from verse 9 onward is not in the Bible. It is an invention that was added later (circa 5th or 6th century) and does not appear in any of the earliest and best manuscripts. Next to the "he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone", and "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do", this is one of the most egregious and most quoted forgeries in the history of the Bible. The KJV is a great translation (archaic now though), but it was done before most of the early witnesses to the text came to light in the 19th century.
3) The indwelling of the Spirit is the result of the baptism of the Spirit. They cannot be separated and there is no scriptural evidence to suggest they should be (cf. 1Cor.12:13; Gal.3:27, etc.). So my question still needs to be answered. The desire to draw a distinction between the indwelling that comes about as a result of Spirit baptism and the baptism itself stems, in my view, from a need on the part of hyper-charismatics to explain how non-charismatics can still be believers. This question is at the heart of all my objections with the way charismatic theology has been constructed, so I believe it needs to be dealt with specifically rather than peripherally and dogmatically.
In our Lord.
1. I think the very fact that you even admit that these signs will
not pass away until we are "face to face" and "am known", proves my
point. My biggest concern is that you have never genuinely seen these
things going on when all you have to do is attend one Spirit-filled
church in your area or revival or conference. Then I'm sure you'll see
plenty of miracles.
2. Didn't you just say the Bible was perfect? But now it depends on what version you're reading? Doc, I know that you do this for a living - that's great - but doesn't hold much water in my eyes anymore. no offense, but I've had so-called "Bible scholars" run circles around me with Greek and Hebrew and why this shouldn't be in the Bible or it should have been translated this way, to the point of them refuting basic teachings. One factor we have left out in this discussion and the biggest factor of all is the Holy Spirit, who should be our main Teacher. As for Mark 16, after verse 9, it lines up with other Scripture, and I've "experienced" it, so i believe it. Throughout the NT, we see Christ's followers healing the sick, raising the dead, speaking in new tongues and casting out devils.... for the other references that you don't believe should be in the Bible, those are also backed up by other Scriptures. The Bible tells us many times not to judge each other (which I think the "cast the first stone" Scripture is talking about) and 2. "Father forgive them" lines up with other Scriptures too, about forgiveness, forgiving the world and our spiritual family.
3. Let me ease some of your fears possibly because you keep lumping me with a group that deceives people for money and is extreme on charismatic issues. The groups I'm referring to have heretical teachings about salvation: that you must speak in tongues to be saved, must be baptized in the Holy Ghost to be saved, must be baptized in water to be saved, must be baptized in water only in Jesus name to be saved, (that is, if you were baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, it was not valid), and you must deny the Trinity to be saved. That would put 99.9% of all Christians in hell if that were true. Please believe me when I say I'm not part of that.
4. You want me to explain how they "can be" believers, if they not are "Baptized in the Holy Ghost"? Well, that would require me to explain the whole doctrine of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which I wont get into yet. Suffice it say that we believe there is a distinction between being "indwelled" by the Spirit when one gets saved, which is called "regeneration", and may sometimes referred to in the Bible as "baptized" unto the Spirit. We still believe that non-charismatics are saved because they are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, as you made reference to in Romans 8. That is our seal, our personal proof that we are saved. And personally, I was saved for over 2 years before I was baptized in the Holy Ghost.
1. The burden of proof is on your
side, as I have argued from scripture, because Paul uses cessation to
explain why love (and later teaching) is far more important than
tongues. Compare the case of apostleship. That is a gift that has ceased
to be given out, even though "we are still on earth". I have seen
plenty, but what I have not seen is a case of true, biblical tongues, or
true, biblical miraculous healing, etc., that is, the real thing by the
power of God. Jesus tells us to believe the truth. He also warns us not
to believe things that only purport to be true. We are told to "test
2. This stuff is not in the Bible, believe me. It was added later. That's just a simple historical fact of basic textual criticism. Because some of it may seem to you to line up with your understanding of scripture does not make it scripture.
3. I'm glad to hear this, but I didn't think you were.
4. There is no distinction between Holy Spirit baptism and indwelling - He comes into us by the Spirit baptism we receive when we believe (and is thus in us). Scripture doesn't distinguish. Jesus told us that He "is with you but He will be in you" (Jn.14:17). This can't be made to mean "only some of you". I can understand if you don't have the time to visit this issue now, but it is fundamental to continuing the discussion.
In our Lord,
Okay, lets start over; lets refer to the gifts of the Spirit,
mentioned in 1 Cor 13. we have agreed that these will not "cease" until
we get to heaven, and/or Jesus sets up the New Earth, right? Your
opinion is that these were only needed at the beginning of the Church.
I'd like to know how you back that opinion up with Scripture, since we
also know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Your
philosophy sounds like one of a "pick-and-choose" what parts of the
Bible apply today, no offense.
What sort of documentation do you need to believe in healing, prophecy (we'll get to tongues later, because the issue on that is about if people can speak heavenly languages, not only earthly ones)? Like I said, I've never falsely prophesied about someone, but I could have someone I have write you and tell you that what I said about them came to pass, or that what I said about their past was true, without me having any "natural" way to know about it. I could have witnesses e-mail of you when I healed them as well.
Again, no offense, but much your doctrines seem to come from your experience (in that you claim not to have seen these things or seen them documented) and not from Scripture (in that you haven't shown anything Biblically as to why these things would not be going on today).
We do indeed seem to be having quite a
problem of mis-communication. I have attempted to answer these questions
multiple times now and always with the backing of scripture. This will
have to be my last go at it.
It has never been my position that 1st Corinthians 13 says the gifts will not cease. What I said was that the Bible does not definitively state when they will cease. That is a huge distinction. And, in fact, since this passage comes in the context of reining in the Corinthian believers who had gone way off track as far as tongues are concerned, the fact that "tongues will cease" strongly suggests that the "when" was already soon when Paul wrote this in the 1st Cent. A.D., and that the cessation almost certainly occurred with the end of the apostolic generation and the completion of the canon of scripture. The proofs of . . .
1) the context in 1Cor.12-14 of de-emphasizing tongues,
2) the language itself of 1Cor.13:8 that they most assuredly "will cease",
3) the parallel of the cessation of other special gifts (like apostleship [there were only 12: cf. Rev.21:14], and like healing [cf. 2Tim.4:20]),
4) the fact that there is a biblical rationale for cessation (as argued before: these were needed to fill in the gap before the normal m.o. of the Church, pastors teaching "the perfect" Bible was available - those early day needs don't exist today) and
5) the fact that the periods in the history of the world when miraculous gifts have functioned have been few and far between, of short duration, and for very specific purposes (cf. the miracles of Elijah and Elisha during the period of Northern Kingdom revival which were unprecedented and not repeated again until the First Advent), clearly put the burden of proof squarely on the shoulders of those who claim that special gifts like tongues haven't ceased. Since I have strong indication and evidence from the Bible that they have ceased, I would need something besides what I have seen in charismatic services to convince me that they haven't - in particular since, as I say, the scripture teaches that a "tongue" is a real human language (and I have laid the predicate for this with you in detail before; cf. 1Cor.14:10).
Everything I have said to you and everything I have put on the website has been backed up by scripture as I understand and interpret it. You may not like my interpretation, and that is your business, but it is not fair to suggest that your disagreement with my interpretation means that I am basing what I say on "philosophy" or "experience". There is much I do not know about you, but there is also much you do not know about me. I have changed many dearly held beliefs in my life which I thought were based upon a correct interpretation of the Bible because the scriptures themselves, carefully and properly understood (with the help of the Spirit) after much painstaking study eventually led me to a better understanding of the truth. I stand ready to do so again today on whatever point of doctrine. I am not looking for extra-biblical documentation to support or refute anything I know from scripture. If the Bible says it, that is good enough for me. What I have been saying to you is that I have never seen or heard and am not aware of anything in the realm of special gifts that would cause me from what my eye has seen to revisit what scripture has led me to believe is true. This conversation began because you questioned the validity of what I had written. That was fair enough, and you certainly have a right to your own opinion and interpretation. I have explained my position in some detail. I remain happy to address individual scriptures you feel contradict it. But, again, as far as 1st Corinthians 13 is concerned, in my view, that passage creates more of a problem for those who claim that "will-cease-tongues" haven't done so till yet, than for those who understand that they have indeed ceased (and for the reasons adduced above).
Finally, the position that the baptism of the Spirit has not yet happened for some who believe in Jesus does not have any scriptural basis whatsoever from what I can see (see prior e-mails - happy to revisit the verses provided and provide more if interested). When this fact is added to the mix, it seems to me that the whole foundation of essential charismatic theology on this point shivers and collapses. I have never had what even approaches a reasonable let alone a scriptural answer to this problem I put to you (from anyone), to wit that the Bible does not make any distinction between a first and second baptism of the Spirit, however one defines it and whatever name one chooses to place upon it. Lastly, it is of no small moment in this debate (even if it is an argument from observation), that the way all charismatic groups use their so-called "tongues" is definitely not biblical (1Cor.14:27-28). As I have pointed out earlier, this gift was primarily for evangelizing (those who spoke the tongue: Acts. 2:1-12) and for teaching (through an interpreter: 1Cor.14:27-28). Yet I do not know of any group or person who seriously makes a claim to be using the gift in that way. To me this speaks volumes about the reality of what is going on in charismatic circles.
Here are some other pertinent links:
The Gift of Tongues: Part 1
The Gift of Tongues: Part 2
An Extended Conversation about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Yours in our Savior Jesus Christ, your Lord and mine.