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

5 points I’ll stand behind…

Though in many ways I consider myself a Calvinist, I often prefer the label “Reformed”.  You see, I find my grounding as a Reformed believer far more in line with Richard Mouw’s “Kuyperian Calvinism”, than folks like R.C. Sproul & John McAurther. That is to say, the center of my “Calvinism” isn’t so much the 5 points, but rather the Biblical concept that Abraham Kuyper summarized so perfectly: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” Also, with John Piper, I affirm “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.” That is to say, I am ‘reformed’ because I don’t believe the story is really about US: we were made by Him and for Him, and I think that Biblical concept is best brought to the forefront by a ‘reformed/calvinist’ reading of the Word.  That said, I’m very uncomfortable with most Calvinist’s emphasis on the 5 points, and even most interpretations of what each of those points actually MEANS.

Well, recently Jared Hanley, an e-friend I met some time back over myspace, re-worded the 5 points in a way that I could affirm 100%, and I can’t help but share these with you:

1. We’re so messed up that we need a miracle to restore our broken fellowship with God.
2. God chooses us, not based on what He knew that we would do, but simply out of love.
3. Christ gave Himself for the church.
4. When the light of the gospel fully shines in our hearts, we find God’s love to be irresistible.
5. Those who truly belong to Christ are able to stand strong only by the grace of God.

He’s stripped away, at least for me, all of the primary areas of debate, and left behind a simple, modern phrasing which succinctly summarizes some powerful Biblical truths.  Re-reading these, I was reminded of another, more famous author, who had also summarized the 5 points in a way that really made sense to me.

John Piper organized the 5 points below as we subjectively experience them, which seems to make a whole lot more sense than the traditional TULIP formation:

  1. We experience first our depravity and need of salvation.
  2. Then we experience the irresistible grace of God leading us toward faith.
  3. Then we trust the sufficiency of the atoning death of Christ for our sins.
  4. Then we discover that behind the work of God to atone for our sins and bring us to faith was the unconditional election of God.
  5. And finally we rest in his electing grace to give us the strength and will to persevere to the end in faith.

Gives one much to ponder, indeed.  God is the star in our story – we are the supporting actors.  So very glad to be in a movie with such a big name, aren’t you? 😉

Filed under: Bible, Books, Calvinism, Christian Hedonism, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Gospel, Grace, John Piper, Reformed, Salvation, Theology, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , ,

Prophets and/or Apostles: a Leaky Canon?

If this post begins to get confusing, I suggest you begin by reading EARNESTLY DESIRE….

There are many Christians who – in spite of good Biblical scholarship which convincingly disproves this – argue that the Canon of Scripture is closed because prophecy is no longer in operation – or at least that the canon is closed, and therefore we no longer NEED the prophetic gift(s). Yet, the New Testament was not written by prophets, with the exception of the Revelation of John (who was also an Apostle)! You see, the group of men in the New Testament who spoke the words of God with God’s authority – like the “prophets” of the Old Testament – were called “the Apostles.”

First, the message the Apostles proclaimed was the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the revelation of God’s message of salvation to the world. As Wayne Grudem points out, “Such an insistence on the divine origin of (this) message is clearly in the tradition of the Old Testament prophets.

Secondly, Jesus promised a special empowering to the 12, who were called the Apostles after Christ’s resurrection. John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you (he was speaking here to the Apostles) all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” Later, in John 16:13, Jesus says to the Apostles, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth…” Yes, there is a sense in which these verses may apply to us, for it shows that one of the roles of the Spirit is to lead people to the truth of Jesus, however Jesus, here, directly promised the Apostles that the Holy Spirit would help them remember and understand the message that he gave them to proclaim to the world, and this is a special call of God on their lives.

Lastly, the Apostles recognized the authority of their own teachings and writings as the very words of God. Paul commands the church in Thessalonica to receive his words “…not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13), and points out, as was the case with denying the words of the Old Testament prophets, that anyone who disregards his words “disregards not man but God” (1 Thessalonians 4:8). Others are punished for disregarding the message of the Apostles; “If anyone refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14) Also, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, Peter equates Paul’s letters with “the other Scriptures.” Further, Acts 5:3-4 & 21, implies that lying to an Apostle is equivalent to lying to the Holy Spirit, and thus God himself!

Some of what confuses us is that many – Evangelicals & Charismatics – automatically assume that the ‘gift of prophecy’ in the New Testament (and for today?) is exactly the same as the calling to be a prophet which occurs in the Old: they are not the same thing.  It’s important to note that the Hebrew Old Testament word for “prophet” meant “authoritative messenger of God”. However, the Greek word that we translate as “prophecy” in the New Testament didn’t carry that same connotation. We have a number of extra-Biblical writings ranging from the time 60 B.C. – 199 A.D. wherein the Greek word “prophet” is used to mean anything from a philosopher to a medical quack – a botanist to historian, and any range of things in-between. The primary definition for the Greek word “prophet” was essentially “one who declares, proclaims, or makes known” and that appears to have only sometimes been a proclamation of secret knowledge revealed from the spirit-realm. That is why the soldiers who blindfold and beat Jesus in Luke 22:64 command him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” They are not commanding Jesus to speak revealed words of divine authority, but simply to tell them something hidden that has been revealed to him. This would be a good working definition of the New Testament gift of prophecy as well.

The New Testament is made up of the writings of the Apostles (and of those under their authority) because it is THEY, not the New Testament prophets, who are the authoritative messengers of God during that time. And since to be in the office of New Testament Apostles you had to have personally experienced the living or physically resurrected Jesus, that office (in the New Testament sense of being an authoritative messenger of Jesus) is now closed, thus no one can any longer speak the very words of God to his people, except in that they are rightfully dividing His written word (the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles) in the Scriptures.

That is just to say, the modern-day operation of the gift of prophecy – Biblically understood – does nothing to create a “Leaky Canon” (i.e. – the idea of a “Leaky Canon” is where one believes that the prophetic words spoken today have the same authority over their lives as Scripture, essentially ‘adding’ to the Biblical revelation).

In fact, it should lead those in the prophetic movement back to the Scriptures, as the Biblical gives a great deal of guidance on how to correct and guide our interpretations and understanding of the modern-day  Prophecy. 1 Corinthians 14:29 encourages us to “weigh” what is spoken in a prophecy. 1 Thessalonians 5:21, likewise, encourages us – after telling us specifically not to ‘despise prophecy’ (and doesn’t that mean that there must be some reason – misuse, probably – that led people to be tempted to ‘despise prophecy’?) – to “test everything and hold fast to what is good”.

Scripture IS sufficient: prophecy does not need to lead to a ‘leaky canon.’ It is good, however, to clearly state what we means by the term ‘sufficient’. I believe that Scripture is sufficient, and since the Scripture tells me to desire Prophecy, and to not despise it, I seek to hear God that way, and since Scripture tells me that the heavens show of His glory, I recognize that there are things to know of God revealed by the stars and creation, and since the Scriptures encourage fellowship with other believers as a source of growth and strength, I expect to meet God there too. Being obedient to Scripture IS a proper recognition of Scripture’s sufficiency. Developing doctrines which entail ideas and restrictions that aren’t necessarily in the Word, is not a good way to recognize the Scriptures’ sufficiency.

The Bible is our authoritative guide – the unquestionable Words of God through the Holy Spirit.  Prophecy is a potentially powerful, subjective, broadly given gift, which is seeing “through a mirror, dimly” – a seeing “in part” – an imperfect gift which, though useful now, will pass at the return of Christ, when we will finally see “face to face“.

Do not despise prophecy, but even more so, cling to the Word.  If you do this, and walk in the prophetic, chances are that you are walking Biblical grounds.

Be blessed.

Filed under: Apostles, Bible, Cessasionist, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Hermeneutics, Holy Spirit, Miracles, Mystery, Pentecostalism, prophecy, Theology, Wayne Grudem, , , , , , , ,

Against Revival?

In the case that anyone has come to the conclusion that I am somehow ‘against’ the Lakeland Revival (if some have misunderstood, than I’m sure other’s will have as well), I hope you will re-read all I’ve written on it hre, as I’ve tried to be clear and Biblical through-out. Though I rarely think attending a ‘revival’ the best option (I’d rather one happen locally, so those involved be under authority I know personally, and trust – besides I see no Biblical example of ‘running to where the miracles are’, for any reason other than to correct their improper use), as far as this particular ‘revival’ is involved, I have all along encouraged discernment and critical thinking on the issues surrounding the events in Lakeland, and – by most account – have been very balanced in my reporting. As I’ve already said more than once in my recent blogs, I won’t judge anyone who attends (I’ve had many friends go, and the reports have been mixed), but my conscience – at this point – will not allow me to go, and I’m a firm believer one should never acts in opposition of their conscience. If you think it would benefit you to go – by all means, go – just don’t turn off your filter, and keep your ears open to the still small voice, in the midst of all that’s spoken from the platform.

And if you’d like to reminded of all that I’ve said so far concerning revival, particularly in Lakeland: Be the Revival; Be the Miracle; Sound Doctrine, Drop-Kick, Current Thoughts, & Quenching the Spirit.
Be blessed as you read. Amen.

Filed under: Bible, Cessasionist, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Prayer, prophecy, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, , , , , , , , , ,

Prayer is not Magic: approaching Aslan…

A few years ago I was emailed an excellent essay by my old friend, Julie. So many aspects of what she had written struck me as so very true – and rarely heard – that I felt it necessary to quote her. Please be encouraged and challenged by her words of wisdom…

“Every time we bend our knee to petition God for the healing of an ill, we open ourselves to a Person Who is neither manageable nor fully known, and what is at stake in this exchange is nothing less than the integrity of our working theology and the endurance of our friendship with this God. When we petition God, our deepest beliefs about God’s goodness, God’s power, and God’s kingdom are laid bare. And when we petition God, the solidity of our friendship with this God is the very ground on which we tread.”

“How often when we pray do we remember: God is not safe. Like Aslan, God cannot be made to perform tricks at the flick of a wrist or the click of a rosary bead. ‘Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases.’ There is a wildness in God.”

“…how often are the ‘ends’ we beg for very well conceived, either? Our culture has seduced us into thinking that personal wealth, happiness, and general well-being is the chief end of man.”

Julie reminds me that we were created by and for God – not the other way around. Be humbled. Pray accordingly.

Filed under: Bible, Prayer, , , , , , , ,

Recent Assemblies of God statement on Revival…

Though the AOG would reject my reformed theology, and I disagree with them regarding the significance they bestow on the gift of tongues (there my 3rd Wave leaning begin to shine through again), overall I find much to admire among Assemblies of God churches.  Here is the AOG’s excellent official response to the numerous reports of revival around the world presently.  Well worth watching the whole thing.

Filed under: Apostles, Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Denominations, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Evangelical, Gospel, Hermeneutics, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Pastors, Pentecostalism, Prayer, prophecy, , , , , , , , ,

Still more Lakeland blog-love (and some)…

Still more people are chiming in on Lakeland & the goings on there. Again, I don’t agree with all that’s written below – in fact, some I disagree with, but they are helpful perspectives to get a bigger picture of what’s happening:

My visit to Lakeland

When is a “Revival” Genuine?

Leaving Lakeland

Lakeland – real revival?

Does Todd Bentley have anything to do with Jesus?

Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival

There is much to take in, but I will let these speak for themselves: real people, honest thoughts, sincere emotions…seeking the truth.  Some have left the church entirely and are taking one last peak inside, some are in the middle of the excitement yet voicing concerns, some are sympathetic but have questions, and others are diametrically opposed.  Read, pray, listen.  Amen.

Filed under: Bible, Blog-Love, Bloggers, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Mystery, Pentecostalism, Philosophy, Prayer, prophecy, Revival, Salvation, Sermon, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Tongues, Uncategorized, Unity, Word of Faith, , , ,

Solid Sermons on Spiritual Gifts (from iTunes)

I realize that my blog has often recently relied more heavily on criticism (there have been things to think critically about), than on positive contributions. Realizing this, I wanted to put forth a number of positive, Biblical sermons/teachings on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are some of my personal favorites currently available on iTunes. If you don’t have time to listen to them immediately, please do go ahead and download them for later, as there’s no telling how long they may be available for download.

I do hope these with challenge & encourage you in your faith as they have me. Walk deeply with the Spirit of God.

Concerning Spiritual Gifts – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Prophecy Today – Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Use & Abuse of Tongues part 1Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport
Use & Abuse of Tongues part 2Pete Greasley/ChristChurch, Newport

Discerning the Spirit – Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville
Discerning the Spirit’s Guidance – Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville
Empowered by the Spirit – Bill Kittrell/Cornerstone Church of Knoxville

The Kingdom Triangle – J.P. Moreland/Vineyard Anaheim

All except the Apostles – Michael Fletcher/Manna Church

Convergence – Sam Storms/Sojourn Community Church

Filed under: Apostles, Bible, Calvinism, Charismatic, Continualist, Doctrine, ESSENTIAL SERMON AUDIO, Holy Spirit, Knowing God, Miracles, Pete Greasley, prophecy, Reformed, Sam Storms, Sermon, Signs of the Spirit, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quenching the Spirit, my heart aches…

It happens so often in charismatic circles.  I listen to sermons – I don’t simply absorb them, but I listen for what is really being said, and to the best of my ability I check all of it against the Scripture in my head, and I open the Word directly and check things that sound questionable, yet attempt to still rejoice in what is true.  In the process of trying to filter sermons for ‘truth’, and trying to stand for the truth, I am called “mean”, “heartless”, “too heady”, and have even been told that I am somehow “quenching the Spirit”, and I won’t lie – sometimes it hurts.

In the flesh, it hurts my own pride – which is sad, I admit.  Yes, I am prideful – aren’t you?  I like being ‘right’, but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to correction…by Scripture.  As a former campus minister, and as someone who still find himself in various areas of ministry leadership, I sometimes get asked questions – hard questions.  I see it as part of my calling to help guide people to God’s answer to those questions, which means I don’t only read the Word to get ‘personal words from the Lord’, but I go to it to find what is God’s mind – to the best of my human ability – towards certain issues.  I’ve heard too much junk from man – I’ve believed too much junk taught by men: I want to know God’s thoughts.  That has led me to be a critical thinker.  I hate lies, subtle or overt.  I don’t (usually) hate the people from whom they are coming (often they don’t know they speak untruth), but so many people grow disillusioned with God and lose faith not because God has somehow failed them or been shown untrue, but because – in little ways – they believed in a false god, or at least so many falsities about God, that it led to the same end.  And when we believe in a god of our imaginations, instead of the God of revelation, in spite of how spiritual we may look on the surface, our lives will eventually take us the clear route of open idolatry.  That sure explains the ‘New Age’ edge that much of what calls itself ‘Charismatic’ carries with it.

In my spirit, however, that is what hurts me deepest: to see genuine, sincere people – some who may really be Christians – engage in idolatry, trusting in a false god, instead of the God revealed in Scripture.  It saddens me because I’ve seen the disappointment that ultimately leads to – I’ve seen them lose faith altogether when their tiny ‘image’ of god refuses to follow the ‘rules’ they’ve set up for him (which is nothing short of ‘magic’ – thinking ‘if I do x, my god must to y in response’).

So, go ahead and tell me I’m too often ‘in my head’, or that I’m ‘quenching the Spirit’.  Though it will hurt my pride, what will ache most is for the Church to return to her first love: the one true God revealed in Jesus, empowering His people through the Spirit.  My heart aches to see Spirit-filled believers turn from their idols – turn from their ‘magic’ – turn from the god of their imagination, and see the Biblical God as He really is: to meet the real Jesus.

Send Your Spirit, Lord – restore Your truth to Your church, and we would walk in it.  Till then, I will continue to ache, and to do all within my power to be faithful to Your Word.

So be it.

Filed under: Doctrine, Flesh, Hermeneutics, Intellectualism, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Pentecostalism, Prayer, Reformed, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Word of Faith, , , , , , , , , ,

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