Question: I have several questions. 1) Christmas and the decoration of pine trees. Is that not a pagan custom (decorating pines in silver and gold in celebration of Nimrod)? 2) Doesn't the Bible say "do not forbid speaking in tongues"? From my understanding it is a sign of all believers. We are told it is for everyone past, present and future. Yes it will end, but knowledge hasn't ended, so why should tongues and healings? 3) I have been healed by God of two incurable medical conditions. I have witnessed true miracles of healing not only of myself but others too. Have you ever seen a foot grown where there wasn't one? Or fingers grown? I have, and only by the grace of God can that be! Forgive me if I sound harsh, that is not my intention. I stand firm with God and not with religion. I'm merely pointing out things that bothered me in your writings. I believe you are a man of God that is bringing His Light and Truth to so many of us. Thank you for that and may God continue to bless you all your days.
In His name.
Response: First let me say thank you for your kind words and encouraging comments. They are much appreciated. As to your questions:
1) I have never heard the Christmas tree connected to Nimrod before (for what I have written about Nimrod, see the link in The Satanic Rebellion, part 5: "Satan's postdiluvian attack on human freedom, the Tower of Babel"). As far as I am aware, the only historical mentions of Nimrod occur in scripture, and there is, of course, nothing about this in the passages in Genesis where he is mentioned (or the two brief references in Chronicles and Micah). The origin of the Christmas tree is, like so many symbols, shrouded in mystery, but we may be sure that it is not a biblical symbol (there is a very good article on the web you might peruse: see the link: The Origin of the Christmas Tree). Whether it is originally pagan or not is in some ways beside the point. It is a sentimental ritual that has no place in the Bible - but that is true of so much in traditional Christianity.
None of the non-scriptural ritual that churches engage in are necessarily detrimental to faith in and of themselves. It is only when people invest them with meaning and significance contrary to the truth of the Bible that problems crop up. As Paul says of those in his day who were convinced of the need to refrain from eating meat which had been offered to idols, the two problems here are 1) the weakness of the conscience and understanding on the part of those who have the erroneous belief that the meat is thus somehow magically corrupted, but also 2) the lack of love on the part of those who understand this but fail to take into consideration the fact that eating this meat openly and obviously will prove a stumbling block to other believers so convinced (see Rom.14:1-23; 15:1, and 1Cor.8:1-13). So one might say that having a Christmas tree is no problem for believers who understand that it is just a cultural symbol and sentimental ritual with no real Christian implications one way or the other. But three things would be a problem: 1) to have one when one is convinced that it is a pagan symbol and is troubled by that conviction; 2) to have one when it is known to the possessor that it will cause serious spiritual problems for a certain individual or individuals who strongly hold this view; 3) to invest the Christmas tree with such sentiment, emotion, or (non-biblical) meaning that it proves a detriment to faith. After all, Christmas isn't in the Bible. In my chronological estimation, Jesus was probably born around the time we celebrate His birth (see: The Birth of Christ in part 5 of the Satanic Rebellion series), but the date itself is definitely not included in scripture (unlike the resurrection, which we know occurred on the Sunday after Passover and can therefore be approximated). Scripture is clear that the observance of special days is not the stuff of mature faith (Rom.14:5; Gal.4:10; Col.2:16). The observance of specific days was important under the Mosaic Law, but the law was shadow (Col.2:17; Heb.8:5; 10:1), while we have the reality in our Lord Jesus Christ. See the link: "Is it valid to celebrate Christmas?" Jesus Christ is the same everyday (Heb.13:8). For those of us who believe in the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus, yesterday is the day of our salvation, tomorrow the day of our reunion with Him, and today we are here to serve Him, love Him, learn about Him, no matter what day it is.
2) On tongues, yes the Bible very definitely commands us not to forbid speaking in tongues. Paul makes this statement in 1st Corinthians 14:39, but he does so at the conclusion of a three chapter disquisition on spiritual gifts, much of which is concerned with regulating the practice of tongues. It is very clear from Paul's comments, for example, that no one should speak in tongues in church without an interpreter of that tongue being present to make clear to the rest of the congregation what the person has said in the Spirit (1Cor.14:28, etc.). I would never wish to stand in the way of the ministry of the Spirit or the Word of God. My problem with much contemporary practice is that it does not seem to me to square with the Bible. For one thing, not everyone has the gift of tongues anymore than everyone has the gift of teaching, or helps, or healing, etc. (1Cor.12:30; cf. 12:10). For this reason it would be very wrong to suppose that speaking in tongues is a necessary "sign" as to whether a person "has the Holy Spirit" or is "really a Christian". But in my admittedly limited experience, this is just what many charismatic groups do when they make speaking in tongues a kind of litmus test of one's spirituality. Under such circumstances, it does not take much imagination to understand how some would feel pressure to start "speaking in tongues", if only to demonstrate that they were "with the program". Given 1st Corinthians 12:10 and 12:30, therefore, if virtually all of the people in a church are speaking in tongues, it stands to reason that at least some of that speaking in tongues must not be genuine. Furthermore, these chapters in 1st Corinthians also make it clear that every tongue is a genuine language (cf. 1Cor.14:6-10) - exactly as the "tongues" were at Pentecost (Acts 2:5-12). Therefore every "tongue" must be capable of being interpreted by a native speaker of that language or by someone with the gift of interpretation (1Cor.14:5; cf. Acts 2:8). And in our day and age, it is a relatively easy matter to determine whether what is coming out of a person's mouth is really a genuine human language or not (and I have never seen any evidence of this).
The whole point of tongues is "for a sign" - but for the conviction of unbelievers (1Cor.14:22), not to demonstrate that those who speak in tongues are believers. This is just what tongues was, for example, on the day of Pentecost when unbelieving Jews from all over the world who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover heard the believers speaking in tongues, that is, in their own native languages (Acts 2:4-12). The miracle of the gift of tongues is that a person is enabled to speak in a language they have not learned and do not understand (and the miracle of interpretation is that a person can understand a language they have not learned). But it is still a language and may easily be determined to be such in our time. Again, in my limited experience, I have never heard nor heard of what was discernible as a genuine human language being uttered by anyone purportedly speaking in tongues.
Finally, while I would not wish to prevent speaking in tongues, there are good reasons why the Lord might not be giving that gift at present. The periods in the history of the world when miraculous gifts functioned were few and specific. In the early days of our own era of the Church, these gifts were clearly necessary to establish the authority of the apostles, spread the Word from a very small cadre around the world, evangelize without the opportunity to learn native languages at university, and fill in the gap of divine revelation until such time as the Bible could be completed and disseminated. None of these conditions still pertains today. It would not, therefore, be surprising to me if these special gifts were not presently being given. That brings us to the real point here.
If the Holy Spirit has gifted you or me or anyone else with the gift of tongues, then far be it from me or you or anyone else to question this or oppose this in any way, but rather we should rejoice in it and benefit from it. If, on the other hand, the Spirit has not truly given a person the genuine gift of tongues ... (I leave you to fill in the blank). What I am saying is that I have personally never seen any sort of evidence of a person speaking a real language they have never learned, and so am inclined to stand by my interpretation of 1Cor.13:8-10 and say that as far as I personally can discern, these special gifts seem to be in hiatus at the present time (the gift of knowledge may also be interpreted as a special gift - nowadays we have to study the scripture for the receipt of such knowledge-gnosis).
3) As far as healing is concerned, I do find what your report remarkable. Truly, the growing a foot where none had been before is a miracle and could only come about by the grace of God. Here, however, we are on delicate turf. When it comes to something so amazing that it cannot be denied, it is well to take care about the validity of such things. Let me put it this way. We all would like to think that we would be stronger in our faith than Thomas who had to see and touch the Lord Himself before he believed, and we all remember well our Lord's words "blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (Jn.20:29). But there is a difference between this situation and Thomas' unbelief. Thomas failed to believe the Word of the Lord - Jesus had told him of the resurrection, but Thomas needed proof in spite of Jesus' own words. What I am saying here is that my reading of the Bible gives me to understand that it is scripture which is more true than even what my eyes see (2Cor.4:18; 5:7; Heb.11:1; 2Pet.1:19-21).
If I see something that disagrees with what I know from scripture to be true, I will stand with the truth of the Word of God even against my own eyes. Praise be to the God of healing for whom nothing is impossible. But please know that there are dangerous wolves about who would not shrink from any sort of trick to win followers to themselves. Jannes and Jambres were able to do things we would see as miraculous (Ex.7:11; 2Tim.3:8). And antichrist's false prophet will do likewise and lead many astray in the process (Rev.13). Indeed, during the Tribulation, many will be led astray from the faith by just this sort of activity. Please see the following links:
The Great Apostasy in part 3A of The Coming Tribulation series
Read your Bible: protection against cults
False teaching in Satan's system: Peter #13
Far be it from me to tell you that either 1) you didn't see what you thought you saw, or 2) you were deliberately deceived. For myself, however, I choose to retain a healthy amount of sanctified skepticism about any event which runs contrary to the direction I feel the Spirit guiding me through the scriptures - and I hope and pray that, given what I know from scripture about these things, I would even have that skepticism were I to see such things myself. In my reading of the Bible, the next major round of significant miraculous activity will not occur until the ministry of the 144,000 begins after the commencement of the Tribulation (see the link: the Ministry of the 144,000).
Thank you again for your very kind and supportive comments. I hope that you will receive this e-mail in the spirit of love in which it is written as I have likewise received yours. I am willing to be convinced of any error in my application or understanding of God's truth. May His truth be exalted and all human misunderstanding and may all untruth be expunged.
In the name of Him who is the very truth, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.