Heat and Light

Icon

an online resource for Reformed Charismatics, Pentecostal Calvinists, & Empowered Evangelicals

Lakeland: current thoughts…

Last night I watched the Lakeland Revival on GodTV for the first time in over a month. This was brought about by the encouragement of a few friends, and then me stumbling across a recent YouTube ‘interview’ of sorts with Bentley. Though by no means do I ‘recant’ of my blogs on the subject (Be the Revival, Be the Miracle, Sound Doctrine, & Drop Kick), I was encouraged by much of what I saw.

Although I would love to see some ‘clarification’ (and correction of?) on some points of doctrine from Bentley, I will give him kudos in that he apparently listens to criticism from other believers. Last night there was far less talk of angels, no mention of ‘Emma’, and a LOT more talk of Jesus (though if I were a non-believer I’d still have pretty much no idea who Jesus was or what he did for me from the actual content of the revival teaching). In fact, there was far less ‘Todd’, and more ‘Jesus’, which is a considerable improvement over the last few times I had watched. More Jesus and less of anything else is always an improvement.

Another thing I really appreciated was the fact that he emphasized that – even with the world watching (and one has to admit that it adds a degree of risk to each possible healing) – he would pray for healing for anyone that came up to be prayed for. Now, though I don’t think illnesses, diseases, or viruses are all demons to be addressed ‘in Jesus name’, nor have I any idea what “Bam” or any of the other bizarre things Bentley says during ‘healings’ are intended to mean, as a “Third Wave Charismatic”, I love the openess to ‘pray’ for anyone. It would be even more powerful to me if it weren’t on a stage – move this thing to the streets, begin going door to door, meeting people’s needs then ask “Excuse me, may I…” BAM – healed! Maybe if there were less sound effects, and casting out diseases, and more actual prayers addressing God, and clearly trusting Him and His power to heal – then I would feel even less concerned by the Lakeland Outpouring.

Lastly, Todd claims they are trying to verify every healing testimony that is given on stage. That is an honorable thing indeed – I would expect no less from anyone that wasn’t a fake. However, given that Bentley himself gives no update from stage when healing testimonies are discovered to have not been true (which would increase the credibility factor 100% were he to do so), might it be better to do a full follow-up with the doctors and such FIRST, then – if it all pans out unquestionably – invite them to give their testimony at the revival? The fact that to-date none of the individuals having been raised from the dead as a result of this revival can be confirmed, and at least one has been proven false, as have a number of the healings (one husband was called after his wife was supposedly healed of deafness – he said his wife had never been deaf), leaves a great deal to be desired. I believe in healing – I’ve prayed for a man who was dying in the hospital with less than hours to live, who made a miraculous turn around and was home 2 days later (he’s still well, last I heard), but we shouldn’t expect sheeple to believe every radical testimony given on that stage, especially when some are shortly thereafter being shown untrue. Verify first, testify later. That said, kudos for pursuing any sort of verification whatsoever – that is a step in the right direction.

If I had one last request it would be this: TEACH JESUS. Thank you for mentioning Jesus more, and angels less (though, in an off-handed way, which I assumed Todd didn’t even realize, he did mention Jesus even more than he knows: in the Old Testament “the Angel of the Lord” IS the pre-incarnate Christ, since He is the only angel which receives worship without rebuking), however – as I mentioned before – if I were a non-believer watching I would have no idea, in reality, who this Jesus was. He could have been merely a miracle worker for all I know. Take time to teach Jesus – explain the Gospel more often, even if in simple terms. Acknowledge the indwelling problem of sin, and show how Jesus is the answer to that, Then the real miracles which may take place will have a larger context: they will make sense in the resurrected life of Jesus working through His Spirit in the church. That would be good news, indeed.

So, though I have no intentions of visiting Lakeland, and I still have my criticisms, doubts, & concerns, even I am not beyond acknowledging where I see growth and blessings. Don’t leave your head at the door, but don’t let me keep you from visiting either.

So be it! Amen…

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Forgiveness, Gospel, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Mystery, Prayer, prophecy, Revival, Salvation, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Tongues, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

As promised, BlogLove part 2: a lot on revival, plus some…

So, a number of folks I respect & admire in the blog world are finally researching, visiting, and reflecting upon the Lakeland Revival, and revivals in general.

For one, Adrian Warnock chimed in with his thoughtful piece, TODD BENTLEY AND THE LAKELAND FLORIDA ‘REVIVAL MEETINGS’. He has also been publishing Jesse Phillips series of detailed accounts from his visit, as Jesse has taken an indefinite hiatus from blog-world to work on a book. First is, WORSHIP AT THE LAKELAND FLORIDA REVIVAL MEETINGS, followed by WHAT IS HAPPENING IN LAKELAND FLORIDA?, then JESSE PHILLIPS REFLECTS ON THE LAKELAND FLORIDA REVIVAL MEETINGSMORE REFLECTIONS, with the FINAL THOUGHTS. Adrian is a part of New Frontiers International, and Jesse is a part of Sovereign Grace Ministries, but it’s easy to tell why the two are, by some, considered almost sister organizations. Now if C.J. Mahaney & Michael Fletcher would both chime in.

Others with interesting thoughts on Lakeland, Florida:
DISCERNMENT, REVIVALS, & GODLY COMMON SENSE by Cerulean Sanctum
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT FLORIDA? by Blue Fish Project
LAKELAND (before) and LAKELAND TRIP (after) by Reformed-TULIP-Charismatic Girl

In other loosely related news:
THREE REASONS I’M A CHRISTIAN HEDONIST from Beneath the Cross
GOD TOLD ME – REALLY? by R.T. Kendall
An excellent 2 parter on one of my living spiritual heros, Sam Storms, at My Spiritual Journey Blog – ABOUT DR. SAM STORMS & MY INTERVIEW WITH DR. SAM STORMS.
SEARCHING FOR SIGNS by Aspirations, Brainwork, & Cognitive Content.

and lastly, an oldie but a goodie:
PICTURE OF A PROPHET by Leonard Ravenhill.

Now that those are all cleared away, I can return to writing original content again. So be it! Amen.

Filed under: Adrian Warnock, Blog-Love, Bloggers, C.J. Mahaney, Calvinism, Cessasionist, Charismatic, Christian Hedonism, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Denominations, Doctrine, Emotionalism, FAVORITE BLOG POSTS, Flesh, Gospel, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, John Piper, Lakeland Revival, Reformed, Revival, Sam Storms, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HEAT & LIGHT: Greatest Hits…

Whenever traffic picks up around here, I like to direct any newer readers to the more often read, and some of the simply more important (by my standards) posts here at Heat & Light.

As always, I suggest everyone begins with the ‘cornerstone’ of all I’ve written here: HOW TO EAT YOUR CAKE. If you read nothing else, read it, for the rest of what I’ve written here flows from it.

The 2nd tier: WHAT IS A REFORMED CHARISMATIC?; EARNESTLY DESIRE SPIRITUAL GIFTS; GOD IS IN CONTROL, CHRISTIAN HEDONISM & PLEASURES EVERMORE, DISCUSSIONS ON SUFFERING & THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD, and ETERNAL SECURITY: IS IT BIBLICAL?, all of which expand further what I began explaining in “How to eat your cake”.

And the 3rd tier delves even deeper into some questions and critiques: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO MIRACLES?; A FEW GOD-STIRRED THOUGHTS; HOW TO BE A CHARISMATIC IN A NON-CHARISMATIC CHURCH; HOLY LAUGHTER: BLESSING OR CURSE?; and the more recent posts; BE THE REVIVAL (DON’T GO TO ONE); BE THE MIRACLE, and SOUND DOCTRINE & CORRECT PRACTICE IN REVIVAL.

Yes, that’s a lot of reading, but I think it’ll be worth your while. Dive in, and comment – join in the discussion. Maybe God will lead you to teach me something – maybe we can sharpen one another. Either way, be blessed!

So be it!

Filed under: Adrian Warnock, Apostles, Bible, Bob Kauflin, Books, C.H. Spurgeon, C.J. Mahaney, Calvinism, Cessasionist, Charismatic, Christian Hedonism, Continualist, Contraversy, D.A. Carson, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Evangelical, FAVORITE BLOG POSTS, Flesh, Gospel, Grace, Grace Churches International, Grace Network, Greg Haslam, Ground Network, Hermeneutics, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Intellectualism, John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, Josh Harris, Jubilee Church, Lakeland Revival, Lloyd-Jones, London, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Michael Fletcher, Miracles, Mystery, Pentecostalism, Pete Greasley, Prayer, prophecy, R.T. Kendall, Reformed, Revival, Sam Storms, Signs of the Spirit, Suffering & the Sovereignty of God, Terry Virgo, Theology, Tongues, Wayne Grudem, Westminster Chapel, Word of Faith, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog-Love: confessions and more…

There have been some excellent new blogs in the blogosphere as of late – so many that it’s been hard to keep up!

A great author, James K. A. Smith, whom I’ve learned much from in the past 2 or 3 years, recently wrote an articles that’s making it’s rounds on the web, entitled Confessions of a Pentecostal Calvinist. He also recently published Teaching a Calvinist to Dance in Christianity Today Magazine. Both are well worth reading. And look here – he has his own blog! Apparently he’s finishing up his new book, Thinking in Tongues: Elements of a Pentecostal Worldview. Add another one to my ‘to read’ list. Here’s an article from Smith which develops this idea.

Finally, one of the Christians I admire most has chimed with a very well balanced response to the ‘Lakeland Outpouring’. Terry Virgo, leader of New Frontiers International, has posted a two part blog-post entitled Lakeland, Florida, & aptly, Lakeland Florida (continued). Honestly, his is a solid ‘reformed charismatic’ – or even simply a solid evangelical – response. They are well worth reading.

On a somewhat lighter note, but not really, the Wittenburg Door posted this detailed expose on their neighborhood televangelist. I also found this stunning NBC documentary about the same televangelist.  As many of you will know, much of what I see there breaks my heart, as I’ve written on similar issues myself here in the recent past. As one who believes firmly in a miracle working God, I’m likely saddened by the frauds more than most.

As a bit of the old-school, I found this old article by David Wilkerson, referencing an even OLDER article from Azuza Street many moons ago – it’s called A Christless Pentecost. Wow.

And I’m not even to the end of all the goodies! I think I’ll have to post a Blog Love part 2 tomorrow just to keep up! Let’s hope!

May God’s blessings be evidence. Seek God, walk in the Spirit, and USE DISCERNMENT. So be it. I mean, Amen!

Filed under: Blog-Love, Bloggers, Calvinism, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Lakeland Revival, Ministers, Miracles, prophecy, Reformed, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, TBN, Terry Virgo, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

YES, I do believe in miracles…

…and here’s one to boot. Dead 17 hours, rigor mortis had set in, then starts talking again as they were about to harvest her organs!

That’s the sort of verifiable miracle that makes me consider editing & rewriting my blog on subject! Thank You, God!

Filed under: Charismatic, Miracles, , , , , ,

the Holy Spirit told me to drop-kick you

I realize that God doesn’t always work in nice neat categories, and obey every rule that we may set out for him (that may be why I call myself a ‘charismatic’), however much of this is too much to take. I’m tempted to laugh, but some of it doesn’t strike me a very funny

Now, having watched that – and recognizing that it was edited (he didn’t say all of those things in a row, but each from from various sessions – seems he has a general tendency to hear violent commands from the Spirit, though), is there Biblical justification for these things. That is to say, if you heard a voice in your head ask you to drop-kick someone, does that sound like the Spirit of Christ that you encounter in His Word? Why or why not? Discuss.

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Holy Spirit, Knowing God, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Revival, Uncategorized, Word of Faith, , , , ,

Sound Doctrine & Correct Practice in Revival

In the midst of all the discussion about the Lakeland Revival, the unusual over-emotional expressions of the first great awakening are often brought up. Having read Jonathan Edwards‘ biography, his collected sermons, and his ‘Religious Affections’, as well as being midway through Sam Storm’s “Signs of the Spirit”, and having long research the life and teaching of George Whitefield, I can honestly say that there is a very significant difference between the revivals of old, and the so-called revivals of today, and those differences are what give me pause.

The difference is that Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and most (if not all) of preachers involved in the First Great Awakening, were Orthodox Evangelical Christians – they taught sound doctrine, and modeled correct practice. Yes, the crowds, when some were touched by the Spirit of God, sometimes responded with a mix of Spirit and flesh, and there were – to be sure, by Edward’s own account – many among them who were merely caught up in the emotion of it all, who acted not in response to a move of God’s Spirit on their hearts, but merely to the buzz of emotion in the air. However, all the while they heard the Gospel proclaimed – the Scriptures taught with an attention to detail, and truthfulness. It was not the goal of Edwards or Whitefield to work the churches they stood before into an emotional frenzy, but to teach the truth of God, and see people respond appropriately.

I can look beyond unorthopraxy in those attending the Lakeland Revival, but what grieves my Spirit is that so many of those allowed to take the pulpit aren’t orthodox in what they teach or practice, both of which are important to genuine, full-orbed Christian faith.

A few years ago I taught on this passage from 1st John:

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist–he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us–even eternal life. I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.1 John 2:18-27

Here is what I wrote about these important verses…

“Here John gives us couple of ways that we can identify saving faith. He asks, “Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is antichrist – he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” It appears as though individuals had left the congregation because they no longer believed the truth about Jesus.

Notice that by denying that Jesus is the Christ, we also deny God the Father. Since Jesus revealed the one true God who spoke through the prophets, by denying Jesus we show that we also do not truly believe in the one true God of the Old Testament, since one testified to the truth of the other.

Notice, also, the results of this false belief: they left the church. Remember this; it is SO IMPORTANT that we believe what is ultimately true because what we believe has an effect on what we DO — on how we live! Here the results of their misconceptions were divisions in the church, but every time we accept what Paul called deceptive philosophy over the truth of God it will have some sort of negative results. We were made to live out what we believe, whether it be true saving faith, or falsehood and lies. Either way we will live according to what we believe is ultimately true.

Later John expands on this thought by saying, “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God “(from 1 John 4:1-6). We should strive to know the Biblical truth about God, and to live out the teachings of Scripture, in order that we might present ourselves as a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

There are ways of denying the Father & the Son that are not overt – in fact, as an Angel of Light, those are the means that Satan most often employs. When one is actively acknowledging Jesus – that He is of God, and came ‘in the flesh’ – that individual is by necessity being Cross-Centered, & Gospel-Driven. To focus attention primarily on the Holy Spirit, who’s central goal is the guide eyes to Christ, is to actually go against the Spirit, and to risk submitting to another spirit entirely – one that is not quite so Holy.

Sound doctrine and correct practice should accompany the Spirit-filled, Spirit-guided man of God, as the Holy Spirit not only teaches us the Scriptures, but even more-so, applies them to our hearts and lives. To claim to have come in the name of God, and to claim to be led by His Holy Spirit, yet to not teach Cross-Centered sound doctrine, and to not practice Biblical orthopraxy – well, of that person we should at least set our ‘discernment’ on ‘high’, and be very careful to ‘test the spirits’ in every thing we hear them say or see them do.

Please don’t leave your brain at the door in exchange for an experience. If you do so, there is no promise that the experience you have will be one from God, no matter how good it may make you feel at the time. Be blessed.

Filed under: Bible, Books, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Evangelical, Flesh, Gospel, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Jonathan Edwards, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Pastors, prophecy, Revival, Sam Storms, Sermon, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Tongues, Uncategorized, Word of Faith, , , , , , , , , ,

Strange Fire – a great discussion…

I would just like to draw your attention to Dan Edelen’s thoughts on the Lakeland Revival. Yet another excellent, thought provoking response to the goings-on in Florida.

And you can read another opinion on THE FLORIDA REVIVAL at the Gospel-Driven Church.

Filed under: Blog-Love, Lakeland Revival, Revival, , ,

Mid-May Blog-love

There are some excellent resources available at Brent Detwiler’s online home.

I’ve also really been enjoying (and being challenged by) my recent visit’s to Andrew Strom’s online REVIVAL SCHOOL.

Ron Smith, a Reformed Vineyard Charismatic, recently posted his thoughts on the Gift of Prophecy.

I really enjoyed this post about Future Pastors the Church does not Need.

Lastly, Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds posted The Most Crying Need in the Church Today.

Filed under: Blog-Love, Bloggers, , , , , ,

Friday Bloglove: HONEST QUESTIONS

Let me just say that my opinion of Charisma magazine just jumped 10+ points today.  Charisma’s editor, J. Lee Grady, posted what I believe to be the most balance look at the so-called Lakeland Revival I have read yet, far surpassing my own blogs, BE THE REVIVAL & BE THE MIRACLE.  It’s called HONEST QUESTIONS ABOUT THE LAKELAND REVIVAL.  Read it, consider it, pray over it.  It’s one of the best things I’ve read online for weeks.

Filed under: Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, FAVORITE BLOG POSTS, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Revival, , , , ,

The Miracle Worker: be the miracle…

Having never read it from cover-to-cover, I’ve still found much to agree with – in what little I’ve read – in John Wimber‘s POWER EVANGELISM, and the overall portrait he set forth for what the Christian life should look like. Though I was wary of him during his life (when he was living I was far more skeptical of the pentecostal/charismatic movement – even the 3rd Wave – than I am now), in hindsight, he had a degree of humility that many modern ‘healers’ seem to greatly lack.

Wimber made a Biblical case that, as Jesus disciples, we are to walk as Jesus walked. Even though Jesus was sinless, and we sinful, he still – setting aside the benefits of his divinity – lived as a Spirit-filled man during his life-time, and as his disciples, so should we. As a result, though maybe not in magnitude or perfection (sin didn’t trip up Jesus’ miracles – it may our own), we should walk in the miraculous much the same way that Jesus did. Jesus was not only our ‘Savior’, but also our example of what Kingdom living should look like. Amen, Mr. Wimber – and again I say, AMEN!

So, where are the miracle workers who run from the spotlight, instead of revel in it – you know, like Jesus? If we are to be ‘little-Christs’ (the meaning of the word ‘Christian’), walking in the ‘Kingdom of God’ (meaning submitted to Christ’s Lordship/Kingship), and to display the restored Image of God (which is what it means to be conformed to Christ – a restoration of what we lost in Adam’s fall), should we not only walk in the miraculous, but walk AS JESUS WALKED in the miraculous.

When I skim the Gospels, the healings He offered were personal – often he even told the ones healed to tell no one about it. When crowds gathered to see a display of miracles, He fled. His miracles had 2 purposes: the most important was to reveal God, or an aspect of God, to the individual or individuals present, and the 2nd was to enable the one healed to give glory to God. Even Jesus, who deserved the glory, didn’t glorify Himself – He gave glory to the Father, who in turn glorified His Son. One thing is for sure: when I look through all of the accounts of healings in the Bible I absolutely never see ANYTHING that even moderately resembled a show of any kind. It’s not there.

As I said in response to another blog earlier this morning, if you suspect you have the gift of healing, or God has annointed you to heal, or however you see it, do us all a favor: get a list of the sick from your church, and go to them, find the sick homeless under a nearby bridge or down a dark alleyway, then visit your local hospital, or even hospice, if they’ll let you in. If God moves powerfully, delight yourself in HIM, and not in what He’s done through you – remove yourself from the picture, empty that hospital, if God so wills – clear the beds of your local hospice. Whatever you do, don’t seek a stage, where people thirsty for a miraculous ‘tickle’ – a ‘God-show’ – will come for miles to catch a glimpse of ‘power’. It’s not about ‘power’ – particularly, it’s not about your power. At least, for Jesus it wasn’t – I guess I expect to much to hope that Christians will want to live like Christ.

Honestly, I suspect that’s what has happened to many of our famous, continually re-discredited big-time healing ministers today. There was a time when God really and truly used them to heal – I believe it is entirely possible – then they put it on stage as a show, and took the show on the road. At that point it becomes far more about the supposed miracle-worker than about Jesus – more about the ‘show’ than about Jesus – and what do you know: at that point the Holy Spirit has left the building! God wants none of it! But now they are a superstar – it’s how they make the bacon, so they have to fake it, to use artificial methods to work people into an emotional buzz which they call ‘faith’, and their doctrine creeps downhill to justify their actions. Voila – we end up putting on revivals, instead of God visiting on His own accord and bringing one about!

Yes, this moves me deeply, and I am saddened by so much of what I see. And, as always, the change begins in – and with – me. Be the miracle, and walk it like Jesus did – that’s the only place we can begin.

Amen…

Filed under: Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Emotionalism, Flesh, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, TeamPyro, Uncategorized, Word of Faith, , , , , , ,

God should be praised…

We should always praise God for the outcome – no matter what it be – of God’s response to believing prayer, whether His response be what we desired, it’s opposite, or something else entirely. Discuss.

Filed under: Calvinism, Charismatic, Doctrine, Holy Spirit, Reformed, Theology, Uncategorized, , , , ,

Friday Morning Blog Love

For those of you following my Reflections of Suffering & the Sovereignty of God, here is a powerful video called “Life without Limbs”, as well a a portion of an audio message by John Piper on suffering.

Also, surely of interest to nearly all of my readers, Cerulean Sanctum has been posting some challenging blogs on the gifts: THAT GIFT, & MORE ON CHARISMATIC GIFTS. As a double blessing of sorts, so has the Blue Fish Project: SPIRITUAL IS GOSPEL, & GIFTS FOR THE COMMON GOOD. I don’t necessarily agree with their every word, but there is indeed some meat there, and it’s content worth mulling over.

And it never hurts to be reminded of the Gospel, which is why Living the Cross-Centered Life is one of my favorite books of all time. Well 21st Century Reformation has given us a healthy reminder: JESUS IS THE CHRIST – THE GOSPEL PROPER.

Lastly, given how loosely Christian have been throwing around the word ‘Evangelical’ in recent years, it’s sure refreshing to hear that some truly ‘Evangelical’ believers are working to bring the church back to it’s center again. Tim Challies reports on THE EVANGELICAL MANIFESTO, and Between Two Worlds gives a good summary of it. All I can say is “it’s about time“.

Filed under: Blog-Love, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

Eternal Security: is it Biblical?

In an incredible discussion some months ago on a friend’s blog, some fellow believers determined that, though salvation can not be ‘lost’, one may ‘reject’ it after having genuinely received it. The analogy recently came to me, however, of a parent and his/her child: if a child leaves the parent of it’s own free will, who is held responsible? The parent – or rather, the most mature, and in-control person at hand. The parent ‘lost’ the child, even if the child intentionally ran away. As God is the one ‘in control’ and our ‘father’, the question comes back again not to “Can Salvation be Lost?” or even “Can a truly saved person choose to reject Christ?“, but “Can Christ lose a Christian?“, because ultimately it would mean a breakdown of God’s ‘chain of salvation’ if He were to do so.

One of the strongest passages undergirding the doctrine of Eternal Security is Romans 8:28-39, which begins, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” ‘All things’, of course, ties strongly to my current blog series on Suffering & the Sovereignty of God, and means – in fact – ALL THINGS. We immediately get a picture here of a God that is so big that He uses all events and people – whether seeming good or evil, from our perspective – for our (that is, believers – or ‘the elect’ – God’s true children – those who are ‘in Christ’) ultimate benefit. That is what we mean when we say that God is sovereign: He’s over all things, able to ‘veto’ the intended outcome of human decisions and bring good from evil – that He’s the one ultimately in control.

Next comes the centerpiece of this verse: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Ignoring all of the other debatable implications of this verse (i.e. – does ‘foreknow’ mean to already have a relationship with, or to see the future – and does ‘predestine’ mean God hand-picks certain individuals for salvation, or that God has a specific destiny for all who are in Christ? Good questions, and I’m not dealing with them here), one thing is clear: the chain is unbroken. If someone is among those God ‘foreknew’ there is no question whatsoever whether or not they will be ‘glorified’ (which means to be sinless in our resurrected Bodies with Jesus) – there is no room in that list for human error or choice to derail what was begun in the very beginning of verse 29. It’s like the old computer program (does anyone remember ‘BASIC’ on the Apple II?) that says “If FOREKNEW then PREDESTINED”, “If PREDESTINED then CALLED”, “If CALLED then JUSTIFIED”, and “If JUSTIFIED then GLORIFIED”. Each of God’s actions towards the elect are guaranteed (and brought about?) by the action proceeding it. It seems to me, given the clarity of this stream of thought, that any understanding of any other verse that might seem to contradict this passage would need to be re-examined, else we would need to accept that there are direct theological contradictions in the Bible, and possibly within Paul’s letters themselves. I don’t personally think the latter is necessary, given that nearly every reading of a verse that seems to contradict this doctrine of ‘Eternal Security’ has other equally viable options that can allow them to fit well within the parameters of this, far clearer, verse.

From this, in Romans 8, Paul asks us for a natural response to this ‘security’ – “who can be against us?”, “who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?”, “who is to condemn?”, and “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” If we are God’s elect – truly His – then the obvious implied answer is ‘NO ONE’! No one can be against us, bring charge against us, or condemn us in a way that could separate us from Christ! All of these things/charges/condemnations are all part of the ‘all things’ which God works for our good in Romans 8:28, over which we are ‘more than conquerors‘ in Romans 8:37 – at least if we find ourselves part of the group which God “foreknew” in verse 8:29. And if ‘NO ONE’ can break that obvious chain of events which flow directly from the over-flowing Grace of almighty God, and we are ‘ONE’ – a person – then wouldn’t we find ourselves included in those being excluded from being able to successfully separate ourselves from the love of Christ, which in this context, is obviously a reference to the SAVING love of Christ, and not merely the love He has for all of creation, included lost humanity.

Of course, this makes perfect sense, as 1 Corinthians 1:8 states that God “will sustain you to the end, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ“. Why would God ‘sustain’ his elect if part of that sustaining were not spiritual in nature – sustaining the very most important aspect of who we are: our faith? In Philippians 1:6 Paul makes yet another reference to the ‘chain’ in Romans when he says, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The work was begun by God (He ‘foreknew’) will be completed by God (He will ‘glorify’). Remember, ‘justified’ – which is what we call ‘salvation’ – isn’t even at the head of that chain. It’s in the middle. The work God began started long before you were ‘saved’, and will continue long afterward, and He ‘will bring it to completion…‘ – that is an absolute promise, not an ‘if/then’ statement, hinging on our faithfulness to Christ and continued faith. In fact, that faithfulness and continued faith is something God promises to the elect – that is a work HE does IN us, and is only one aspect to His ‘sustaining’ work, as 1 Peter 1:5 states of the elect “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” God is guarding those who are truly His.

Lastly, John 10:27-29 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” First, notice the reference to ‘know’-ing the sheep, and consider how that relates to ‘foreknew’ in Romans 8. Next, notice that He give ‘eternal’ life. Again, there is no ‘if/then’ statement included in the word ‘eternal’ – ‘eternal’ means forever, or everlasting. If our ‘eternal life’ could at any point be revoked – even by ourselves – then we would have never had ‘eternal life’, would we? It would be a direct contradiction of the word ‘eternal’! Again, notice that ‘NO ONE’ is able to snatch them our of the Father’s hand – and again, NO ONE would obviously include ourselves, because we are some ONE, so we would be included among those who could not snatch ourselves out of the Father’s hands. It only sounds silly because it’s so obvious.

Lastly, and most importantly – “they will never perish“, which according to Greek scholars literally means, “and they shall certainly not perish forever“. Again, who is ‘they’? Christ’s sheep – those He knows, those He foreknew in Romans 8 – those in whom He begun a good work, the ‘chain of salvation’ which begins in God’s foreknowledge and ends in their glorification – eternal life – and which NO ONE (not even ourselves, as we are SOME ONE) can interrupt or permanently derail for we are being sustained and guarded by God himself along the way.

That is not to say the Bible doesn’t allow for people who fellowship among His people, who receive from Him various graces, who may claim the name of Christ for themselves, & who may even serve in His body, yet are not ultimately his, and of them He says “I never knew you, depart from me.” But His true saints will persevere in faith until the end.

Don’t get me wrong – I disagree strongly with the “Once Saved, Always Saved” position as it is commonly expressed, where someone believes they can walk an aisle and then live however they like and still be in God’s good grace. Just take a look at my sermon SAVING FAITH to see what it looks like. The doctrine of “Eternal Security” recognizes that the elect will walk with Christ – live in the Kingdom of God here and now – until the end. Also, I think it’s important to emphasize the common ground we ‘eternal security’ folks share with many of those who aren’t convinced – we both agree that it is Christ that saves, and one must be in Christ to be saved. That is a very good, and solid foundation to find in common, and it means also that we agree that those who persevere will be saved – our only disagreement is ultimately whether or not someone who once claims the name ‘Christian’, yet turns away, was ever really saved or not. Though I hope the verses I mention above will radically re-shape your thoughts on this, I don’t in any way doubt your salvation for not coming to the same conclusion.

Blessings as you dig into the word…may you find TRUTH!

Filed under: Calvinism, Contraversy, Doctrine, Reformed, Theology, , ,

Be the revival, don’t go to one (on revivals in Florida & elsewhere)…

I do hate to be the skeptic. Sometimes I think having discernment is more a curse than a gift. It might be fun to be able to jump on every bandwagon that comes down the Spiritual pike. It may not be spiritually healthy, but it might be fun.

Yet, I’ve done enough digging to know that my internal sense of uneasiness towards this ‘revival’ in Florida is not something I can support unquestionably with a clean conscious. I think the prophetically gifted Andrew Strom – who I disagree with on a few things as well – sums up most of my concerns quite well both here and here as does another blogger here(& though we don’t get along very well, I think Dan Philips makes a few good points himself). Don’t get me wrong – I hope & pray that the healings are genuine, even if the doctrine behind them is askew, for the sake of both those looking for healing and for the Glory of God. And that’s really what it comes down to: is this really about God?

That’s what I loved about the First Great Awakening, and Jonathan Edwards: from all accounts, Edwards was far from flashy – He preached the Word, God moved, people’s hearts were changed, and they came to God by the thousands. And it didn’t happen only in one church, but many, and for almost ten years! That’s what I call a revival, and that’s the sort of move of God that I’ve been praying for: that God will be the center – that Christ will be lifted up and made much of – that the Holy Spirit will move (which Scripturally means He will draw eyes AWAY from himself, and TO Jesus).

As I wrote a good friend this morning, I’m not going on the rampage battling against this – in fact, that would be silly. Ultimately if it’s not the real deal that will become readily clear (it always does), even if it takes some time. In fact, it’s probably a mix of divinely revealed truth, and human error, which I’ve dealt with before on this blog. However, I’d hate to see believers whom I love go the route that emphasizes flash & bang over (and ultimately against, since it’s a distraction from the real deal) what Christ did on the Cross, and the heart of the Gospel.

Don’t get me wrong – walking in the Kingdom of God results in miracles, but the picture of how the apostles worked miracles – the part miracles played in their ministry – and how many modern-day revival preachers use them look so different that I have a hard time even comparing the two. We’re so thirsty for signs & wonders that we forget what it means to actually follow God day-to-day, and instead we run to where-ever we hear that something exciting is happening.

Think about this: the only time I recall Paul going to where the signs & wonders were happening was to rebuke them for doing it incorrectly.

The real core of the issue is this: why even bother going to where someone else may or may not be experiencing ‘revival’? If it’s real, and God wants to do it, pray for it where you are! Then, when God sovereignly brings revival, you’ll be in the midst of it – you’ll already know the hearts and motives of those involved – you’ll see the real change in your own heart, and know your deeper affection towards God, and recognize it in those you’ve known all along when you see lasting change in them. Ultimately, that’s how one recognizes true revival – not only by it’s immediate external expressions, but it’s fruit many years after the ‘buzz’ has left the building.

I’m just another voice that wants to see God’s will done on earth as it is in Heaven – it just so happens that this voice isn’t yet convinced that many of the modern day revivals are working to bring that about. I say, “Be the real revival – don’t go to one.”

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blogroll

Books

Discussion Groups

ESSENTIAL SERMON AUDIO

FAVORITE BLOG POSTS

MY OTHER BLOGS

WEBSITES/RESOURCES