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

Podcasts I have found particularly encouraging of late…

If you haven’t yet, you may want to take a listen to these:

Contending for the Supernatural (part 1) – Sam Storms, Bridgeway Church
Contending for the Supernatural (part 2) – Sam Storms, Bridgeway Church

The Effects of the Holy Spirit – Tom Shaw, Jubilee Church

The Supremacy of Scripture – Michael Fletcher, Manna Church

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Filed under: Bible, Calvinism, Charismatic, Continualist, Doctrine, Holy Spirit, Reformed, Theology, , , , , , , , , ,

Hearing God…

Last time I taught publicly on the subject of “Hearing God”, I asked a random student onto the stage, and I began sharing with them what was going on in my life at that time.  After a few minutes of useless, self-centered banter, I dove in, “Did I tell you I’m getting a new car? I have to drive to Ohio next week to pick it up: it’s used, but in great shape and I’m getting it for a steal.”  After a few minutes more of babble, I asked them how they had been, but interrupted them a mere couple words into their response – clearly not listening – with another question, “So, what’ve you been up to this week?”  Pausing for only a moment, looking somewhat baffled, but flowing with it, they began to answer, but before they got into any depth, I again interrupted; “That’s nice – hey, I’ve started recording another c.d.? Oh, and my last one just got another review – I’m really excited about this one.  So, what bands do you like?”  Again, they began to respond, but after naming only one band, again I piped in with,  “That’s nice, I’ve not heard of them – I’ve been listening to this band named Pedro the Lion, and I really like Vigilantes of Love, Over the Rhine, Bruce Cockburn…” then I babbled on about the high points of each band’s careers.  Yes, it was clearly a frustrating conversation for my ‘guest’, but – of course – that’s the point. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Doctrine, Knowing God, Prayer, prophecy, Theology, , , , , ,

Some challenging blog-love worth considering…

Well, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of recent blogs on Lakeland, given the recently publicized moral failures of Mr. Bentley.  I have been quiet on the matter because I really see this as a very sad occasion – one where prayer for the fallen is far more needed than a pointed “I told you so“.  However, it is a fact that bad theology results in poor life choices – that is to say: THEOLOGY MATTERS.  Whether we like the word or not, we all have a ‘theology’, and what we believe about God, the world, and ourselves plays out in what sort of decisions we make, and how we go about making those decisions.  Personally, I hope Todd’s marriage is restored – I hope and pray that he grows to trust Christ more fully, love God’s Word more wholey, and serve him more devotedly in the coming years.

That having been said, though I may not entirely agree with the following blogs on all matters, I cannot deny that the messages contained in some of the following seem to me almost prophetic for the charismatic movement.  Listen/read closely, friends – this is important…

First, the sad news…

Then, the wisdom gained…

CERULEAN SANCTUM shares some bold thoughts in Burned & Cleansing the Charismatic Crackup & Cleansing the Charismatic Crackup part 2.

Lee Grady, of Charisma magazine responded to these events in Life after Lakeland

R.T. Kendall, one of my spiritual heros, on the Lakeland Revival, as reported by MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.  The original article can be found on his site in ‘Ministry Today’

That said, please be in prayer for Todd, his family, all who have attended the Lakeland ‘revival’, and for the glory of God in all of this.  Blessings…

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, , , , , , , , ,

The Lakeland “Outpouring”: I have gone, and these are my thoughts…

I’m sure some of my friends leaning further into the ‘reformed’ camp will immediately question me for having gone, and I can entirely understand why: a scattering of unBiblical teachings from the ‘pulpit’, a number of examples of overblown claims, and some practices that are questionable at best.  Don’t worry, folks – I’m still with you on those, but please hear me out.

Overall, I was really challenged and blessed there.

You heard me right: I was – generally speaking – challenged and blessed by attending 2 nights of the Lakeland Outpouring.  

Now, what that DOESN’T mean is that I withdrawal ANY of my earlier blogs on the subject (see BE THE REVIVAL, MIRACLE WORKER, SOUND DOCTRINE, CURRENT THOUGHTS, QUENCHING, & AGAINST), though it definitely puts them in a new, broader perspective.  It doesn’t mean, in fact, that I’m even convinced that Todd Bentley has a gift of healing, though I DO suspect he has a strong gift of faith, and the two are sometimes, though not always, related.

Honestly, I went – primarily for two reasons:
1.) My wife is significantly more open & less suspicious (that is not to say she has no discernment – the opposite’s true, but she is far more ‘open’…), and was very interested in attending, and it looked as though it would work out to be a ‘family vacation’ of sorts for us all.  Her family has a history of involvement with the various revivals in this area over the years, so Lakeland was a draw for her.
2.) My brother-n-law, who I’m proud to say is also one of my best friends, is a current member of SonicFlood, who were leading worship both nights, and I wanted to go show him my support.

First, though I can’t speak for the other worship leaders who have been part of Lakeland since it initially broke out, Rick & SonicFlood led a particularly God-honoring, Gospel-saturated, Christ-centered worship set both nights.  In fact, until Lakeland I had hardly HEARD anything by SonicFlood – they weren’t really on my musical radar.  Not only were they technically a great band, but it was a powerful time of worship.

Then came the prayer time.  I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that – at least on the nights I attended – though Todd Bentley was present and involved, it was clearly NOT the ‘Todd Bentley show’, as I had originally feared.  Maybe in that way that cameras of GodTV have actually misrepresented Lakeland, since he is so captivating – he has such a strong presence.  The stage was filled with various volunteers and pastors ministering, speaking, and praying – there was a significant team actively involved, and most of the time I was barely even aware of Bentley.  I was very blessed that even the most extreme cases were welcomed to the stage for prayer, and when some of these individuals stood there in need for a touch from God, my heart broke, and I have not petitioned God with such passion in very long-time.  I was face-to-face with a Holy, and powerful God, begging Him to intercede – to show His power, and in such an atmosphere of faith it was not hard to be convinced that God can do whatever He wills.  Tears well up in my eyes even thinking about it.

Then Todd stood up to ‘teach’.  Teaching is not Todd’s strong-point (everyone I talked to, in fact, emphasized this), and let me just say that I was about 50%/50% – when he was ‘on’ he was dead-on, and I wanted to shout “AMEN!’, but much of the time he was ‘off’, and there was a clear influence of various theologies that I think not Biblical (I’d encourage all of the teachers at this revival to study Carson’s “Exegetical Fallacies”, in fact).  However, and though some may find this sad, others will sigh with relief: many left at the beginning of, or during the ‘teaching’, and many others there had enough discernment to sift it for the good, and even the not-so-good was at-least half-true.  I know it sounds like I’m letting the guy off the hook, I’m not, however I don’t think this “Outpouring” is really about Todd, so it doesn’t concern me quite as much as I thought.  I believe there were, and are, many being touched here, sometimes in spite of him, quite honestly.  Yes, there are some with little or no discernment who may grab hold of and be led astray by some of what he says, but if it weren’t him, they’d find someone else to ‘whisper’ in their ears – without the true guidance of the Spirit any of us would do the same.  However, I came, sincere God-centered worship took place, and God was encountered by many.  

Personally, I am glad I went.  You can proceed to pick your jaw up off the floor now.

Though I still don’t think it’s necessarily Scriptural to chase revivals, I will be praying for Todd more, and criticizing Him far less from now on.

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Gospel, Hermeneutics, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Pentecostalism, Prayer, Revival, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Tongues, Word of Faith, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Free Piper…

For a limited time Desiring God ministries is giving away a free copy of The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, edited by John Piper & Justin Taylor, for all orders over $25 from their store. This book is an excellent collection of essays by some of today’s top thinkers like D. A. Carson, Timothy Keller, Mark Driscoll, and David Wells related to engaging a post-modern culture for Christ. Quite a deal for free, don’t you think?

But here’s the problem: you don’t have a lot of money, so what do you buy to add up to $25 to get the free-book deal? As an avid Piper reader, I feel for you who may not yet be familiar with his work, so I went to the site and put together my own combo-package of shorter, easy-to-read, and beneficial books available from Desiring God Ministries that have blessed and challenged me far beyond their size or complexity. Here’s my suggestions:

Dangerous DutyThe Dangerous Duty of Delight

In all honesty, this is Desiring God-lite, which for most people is a good thing. I don’t know how many folks I’ve talked to who were really challenged by Piper’s Desiring God, but simply couldn’t finish it. Dangerous Duty of Delight is the solution to that. A short, powerful little read that should pretty much blow your heart and mind wide open with a powerful picture of a God worthy of being worshiped and served with our whole heart, mind, soul, & strength. Great stuff here!

PiercedPierced by the Word: 21 meditations for your soul

By far one of the most powerful devotional books I’ve ever read. Each ‘chapter’ is short, yet Scripture drenched, packed with Biblical insight, and practical application. I’ve given this away as a gift more than once.

suffering sovereigntySuffering & the Sovereignty of God

It’s hard for me to know where to begin with this book, honestly. A theological book on suffering by people who have almost all suffered far more than I ever will: the authors/speakers who contribute essays here are paralyzed, battling cancer, have lost love ones under unbelievable circumstances, and all point towards an absolutely sovereign God as their hope and strength. I’m currently reading it for the 3rd time, and I just bought it this year. Challenging, and moving, to say the least.

And there you have it: 4 excellent, life-changing books for $25.85. You can thank me later. 😉

Filed under: Bible, Books, Calvinism, Charismatic, Christian Hedonism, Continualist, Contraversy, Doctrine, Holy Spirit, John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, Reformed, Theology, , , , , , ,

Reflections on Suffering & the Sovereignty of God (Chapter 4, part 1)

If you are just now stepping into this conversation, I encourage you to first look over INTRO & CHAPTER 1, CHAPTER 2 PART 1, CHAPTER 2 PART 2, CHAPTER 3, A DETOUR, & DISCUSSIONS.

Chapter 4, entitled WHY GOD APPOINTS SUFFERING FOR HIS SERVANTS, is another one of Piper’s own chapters, and as is normal for Piper, comes out of the starting block with a bold, yet Scripture-drenched proposal:

“Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines his children through suffering. His aim is deeper faith and deeper Holiness. “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). Jesus experienced the same thing. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). This does not mean that Jesus grew from disobedience to obedience; the same writer says he never sinned (Heb. 4:15). It means that the process through which he demonstrated deeper and deeper obedience was the process of suffering. For us there is not only the need to have our obedience tested and proven deep, but also purified of all remnants of self-reliance and entanglement with the world”

What immediately strikes me here is a quote I have long used in my own personal ministry, the origins of which I no longer can put my finger on: “God is not so much concerned with our happiness as He is our holiness”, or to put it another way: God did not save us to make us comfortable, but to make us like Jesus.

As a “3rd Wave/neoCharismatic“, profoundly influenced by the Vineyard movement, and John Wimber in particular, I carry with me a deep conscious awareness that it is the same Holy Spirit that fills me – a son of Adam – as empowered Jesus – the 2nd Adam – who set aside His rights to God-hood to usher in the Kingdom not ONLY as our savior who hung on a cross, but also as our model, who LIVED a God-empowered life. Think about it: if Jesus only came to simply be a blood sacrifice for us, the Father could have worked it out that he was simply born – perfectly innocent – fully human and yet fully God – then had him killed. Biblically, it would have atoned for God’s people, so why bother living 33 years, working a dull job, maturing as a person, eventually gathering disciples, and living life out before them? Christ modeled what the 1st Adam should have: Kingdom living.

But there is a catch. If Christ was our example in God-empowered life – in Kingdom living – as an example of what it looks like to walk in the miraculous and trust in God, that’s not the only thing He modeled for us, as Piper reminds us of above. Christ was the perfect example of suffering – he was, in fact, the suffering servant. And the suffering of Christ was part of the plan of God from the beginning (before the foundations of the world, in fact), and was FOR GOOD! If Christ, who modeled Kingdom living for us perfectly, suffered so deeply – and according to the will of God the Father, even – why do we assume, as Christ’s followers, that we will not?

In fact, the Bible promises that the opposite is the case.  Romans 8:17 goes so far as to suggest that if we do not find ourselves suffering as followers of Christ, that we may not be saved, when Paul writes there that we are God’s children and “fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him“.  And that will take us to our next post…

Ever wondered how we might fill up “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions“? Coming soon in Chapter 4, part 2.

Filed under: Bible, Calvinism, Charismatic, Contraversy, Debate, Discipline, Doctrine, Gospel, Holy Spirit, John Piper, Reformed, Salvation, Suffering & the Sovereignty of God, Theology, , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , ,

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, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reflections on Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Chapter 2 – part 2)

For the first two parts in this blog read here & here.

Here is the question I posed last: is God involved, and if so, how, in creating, sending, & permitting evil?

I suppose THAT should be simple enough to answer? 😉

Mark Talbot’s chapter, “ALL THE GOOD THAT IS OURS IN CHRIST” brings to bear many troubling and – if seen in the correct light – comforting verses, many of which we tend to skim over in our Bible reading without thinking deeply about what they are really saying.

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'” – Isaiah 46:9b-10a

Talbot clarifies this passage: “They (the Jewish readers) would know that the One who said (Isaiah 46) is the One who ensures this by bringing everything about, including, in the immediate context of Isaiah’s words, ‘calling a bird of prey from the east, …from a far country’ (Isa. 46:10f.) – that is, Cyrus the Great, king of Persia from 559-530 B.C., who would conquer Babylon in 539 B.C. and then allow the Jews to return to Jerusalem so that they could rebuild the temple… God here calls the pagan, unbelieving Cyrus ‘a man to fulfill my purpose.’

God can use evil men – by creating them, sustaining them, and even by not deterring their actions (which He could easily do – look at the boundaries He set around Satan regarding what the devil could and could not do to Job) – to accomplish His own purposes, which He intended and foreknew from the beginning.

Matthew 10:20 says “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Sparrows – in man’s eyes, worth very little. Yet, God’s sovereign hold on things is so all-encompassing – far greater than the so-called ‘sovereignty’ of earthly kings – that even the seemingly insignificant events on earth, like the death of a single half-penny sparrow, only happen because of the Father – only happens because it is the Father’s will to allow it, and bring it to pass.

If not even a sparrow dies apart from the Father’s will, cannot God sovereignly move, direct, and restrain the hearts of evil men? As he adds in Isaiah 46:11b regarding his use of the pagan King Cyrus, “I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”

Some, when hearing this, will most assuredly run aground trying to understand how this understanding of God’s sovereignty squares with human ‘free will’ but we must always keep in mind that ‘free will’ as a word or phrase is found no where in the Scriptures, and though that is not proof that it does not true (the word “Trinity” is also nowhere found in the Scriptures, but the concept is centrally Biblical), it does seem that we should be incredibly careful to glean the concept of a ‘will’ from God’s Word, and not simply from the Western political ideas that have shaped our thinking far more greatly than we would often be comfortable admitting.

Again, I will revert to an excerpt from a later post, GOD IS IN CONTROL:

“The second foundation of Biblical Faith flows from the first; free will. I do not speak of the free will of man, but rather, the ultimately free and sovereign (all powerful – in control) will of God. It is frequently and clearly stated in Scripture that God does as he pleases. Psalm 135:6 states, “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and in their depths.” Likewise, Isaiah 46:9-10; “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: my purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Lastly, whether or not this passage supports traditionally understood views of salvation (I question that it does), Romans 9:15 indeed makes is clear that God’s will in regard to whom he will be merciful to will not be thwarted; “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.””

That is all just to say, God’s is the only will that is truly free, in the sense that He can do whatever He wills – man’s will must be subject to God’s to some degree, otherwise it may be possible for man, or even angels – like the devil himself – to thwart the will of God (however hard that is to imagine under any circumstances). However, the Bible is clear – God is truly free – He does whatever He pleases, and his purposes will stand. Therefore, it must be true that our will can only be as free as it keeps us from hindering God’s.

Think about it: say there is a man who is riding his bike along a beautiful bike path, when suddenly he hears a car coming up quickly from behind him. Glancing behind him, he sees the car swerving erratically, and knows he has only a moment to act. He dives from his bike to the left of the road, rolling down the sidewalk, and avoiding the speeding, drunk driver, getting nothing worse that some bloody road-rash from the concrete, and some rough marks on his clothes. Now, he chose to dive to the left onto the sidewalk, but was his decision ‘free’ in the sense that a person who emphasizes ‘free will’ would understand it?

Let’s just say that the opposite side of the road from the sidewalk was a stream, which any other bike rider may have opted to dive into to avoid the swerving car – but our bike rider never learned to swim, because his mother lost one of her best friends to drowning and wouldn’t let her children near water except for the bathtub. Let’s say that there was a railroad crossing exactly at the location, so tracks crossed not only the sidewalk to the left, but also created a bridge over the water to his right, which he could have dove towards and clung to – but he lost his own younger brother when he was in his teens because he got his feet stuck between the ties and was hit by a train, causing such a deep seated fear of trains and railroad tracks that he intended on turning around at this point in his bike trip so he wouldn’t have to cross the tracks on his bike. Another option would be to simply stop the bike in the middle of the road and take on the car head on – essentially suicide, but he had a very happy marriage, a good job, great kids, and people he loved who loved him, and killing himself wasn’t really a live option – he simply had too much to live for. If he were me, what he would have most wanted to do upon hearing that speeding car coming from behind is simply fly off his bike (do I have ANY dreams where-in I cannot fly?) like an eagle, out of the impending danger – unfortunately, his basic biology was of a human, and not a bird, so that wasn’t a live option either.

So, our ‘friend’ made his choice – he dove to the left onto the sidewalk – and he was responsible for that decision: the scratches he took were truly his, as was his life which was just saved. But, if you rewinded those events a million times, and played through them over and over again, could he have even considered doing anything else? The events of that day were entirely pre-determined by his genetics, biology, psychology, sociology – everything about who he was, by his birth, upbringing, and the events from his past DROVE him to do the only thing he could: the only option he could will was the one he chose!

I argue that such is our lot, especially when we look at the picture of human freedom painted in the Scriptures – we are absolutely responsible and pay the consequences and/or receive the rewards from our own actions – but to call them ‘free’ in the sense which most of us understand ‘freedom’, especially here in the West – the USA particularly – that seems to be a serious stretch and far outside the Biblical portrait of human freedom. Ask yourselves, is a human ‘will’ which is – in the flesh, before Christ frees it – a ‘slave to sin’ (John 8:34, Romans 6:20) in any sense ‘free’? Can we consider our wills ‘free’ if it is true, as Jesus says, that “…no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” (John 6:65b) and on the flip-side that “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37a)?

Though I admit that Biblically we seem to be given some degree of autonomy regarding our decision making, to call our wills “free” seems to me to be a stretch.

This all goes full circle back to our original topic: though God doesn’t DO evil, his sovereign control over it is far beyond what we are often comfortable with, but also brings us our greatest hope – the gospel itself:

“…this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” – Acts 2:23

“…for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” – Acts 4:27-28

The ‘lawless men’ – Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the Jews – who killed God the Son, Jesus Christ, were entirely responsible for the evil done on that great day, however God had carried them along in the strongest sense of the word – He had actually predestined it (i.e. – it could not have happened any differently!) – he called them ‘annointed’ for this purposed – he had not only allowed, but had somehow ‘planned’ according to ‘foreknowledge’ to use the greatest evil the world has ever known for the greatest good possible: the death of the God-man, was the salvation of all who would believe.

This is why I see God’s sovereignty over evil as a comfort, and not something to despair over – if neither the death of a sparrow, nor the death of God’s son were meaningless evil, then neither is the pain and suffering I undergo as I live this life being conformed more and more into the image of Jesus for God’s glory.

Stay tuned next week for my reflections on chapter 3, one of John Piper’s chapters, “THE SUFFERING OF CHRIST AND THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD”.

discuss…

Filed under: Bible, Books, Calvinism, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Mystery, Philosophy, Reformed, Suffering & the Sovereignty of God, Theology

Convergence

CONVERGENCE (iTunes podcast)- a sermon by Sam Storms on “Reformed Charismatic” theology. There is also QUESTION AND ANSWERS session available.

Many of you know that Sam is such an influence that I’ve partially named my very-soon-to-be-here 2nd son after him (Samuel Tucker Haddon Lewis – he’ll answer to “Tucker”, though). If you don’t have the time to read his many excellent books, at least listen to this teaching, and the question and answer session. Very solid.

Filed under: Bible, Books, Calvinism, Cessasionist, Charismatic, Christian Hedonism, Continualist, Doctrine, Emotionalism, ESSENTIAL SERMON AUDIO, Holy Spirit, Miracles, Reformed, Sam Storms, Sermon, Theology, Tongues

Strange things, these Christians…

Isn’t it strange that most Christians, especially churches, forgive fellow ‘believers’ and will often go to almost any end to cover their sin, especially when it involves breaking the law, and at the same time spend great energy condemning non-believers who are behaving exactly as their morality and conscience allow. It’s especially sad that God tells us to do exactly the opposite Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bible, Contraversy, Discipline, Doctrine, Forgiveness, Grace, Theology

1st Corinthians/Spiritual Gifts at Christchurch Newport

Pete Greasley of Christchurch Newport in the UK has been LAYING IT DOWN for over a month on the Gifts of the Spirit. The whole series on 1 Corinthians is here, but so far my favorites are: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Doctrine, Holy Spirit, Pete Greasley, prophecy, Theology, Tongues

Reforming Alcohol: being Scriptural about Alcohol Consumption

Before this post is misconstrued and twisted out of context let me make a few things very clear:
1.) Underage drinking is against the law, and for good reason. During one’s teenage years we tend to FEEL mature, and responsible, when in-fact we are not. Unless you are given an alcoholic beverage to drink by your parents, and even then in moderation, do not drink alcohol. 21 will come soon enough, and trust me – you really aren’t missing much.
2.) Alcoholism is terrible, sad, and destructive. Please, if you are of drinking age, and choose to do so, don’t do it in front of people you suspect may struggle with alcoholism.
3.) Please don’t suggest that “the weaker brother” (who is, according to the Bible, the one who thinks God ordains abstinence from such things) go against his/her conscience on this issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Alcohol, Bible, Contraversy, Denominations, Doctrine, Theology

It’s not easy being an Elder, nor should it be…

Elders. For some, that word brings to mind a group of grumpy old men gathered together to either advise, or give orders to, a church’s pastor. And Biblically, they may be elders, but they aren’t the only ‘elders’ at your church. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bible, Bishops, Charismatic, Denominations, Doctrine, Elders, Hermeneutics, Ministers, Theology

Women’s roles in the church

I always worry when bringing up such a controversial topic, especially given that I was at one-time (during my neo-orthodox phase about 10 years ago) a theological – and even political – feminist myself.  However, after much study I grew convinced that though many Evangelical churches do not empower women nearly enough in ministry, even more frequently, especially among the more broadly popular charismatic churches, women are given equal authority to that of their husbands (sometimes ABOVE their husbands) from the pulpit.  This I find VERY troubling, not because I haven’t known women with incredible ministry gifts, but because the best reading of the relevant texts seems to lead away from those extremes. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Contraversy, Doctrine, Evangelical, Hermeneutics, Theology, Unity, Women in Ministry

How to read the Word: Evangelical Hermeneutics (or how to read & interpret the Bible)

A few years ago a person on Set on Edge‘s – my old band – mailing list emailed me a rather angry message. This individual was disappointed that we, as Christians, would listen to and support non-Christian artists, and quoted Scripture to support himself. It just so happens that the verses he had quoted, Ephesians 5:19-20, was one of my favorite passages, and at the time I was teaching on it in my Thursday night Bible study. How could we both so love and be so inspired by the same passage of Scripture, yet read and apply the passage so differently? Usually, when it comes down to this, the issue is hermeneutics. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bible, Books, D.A. Carson, Doctrine, Evangelical, Hermeneutics

Cynicism, Pessimism, & the Christian Hope – a sermon from ’02

 

Those of you who know me very well might find it funny that I’m teaching on this subject, but I always find I learn the most when I teach on a subject that I, myself, most need to learn. That way, if I begin to get preachy, I’m preaching at you AND me! Even to this day, I sometimes struggle against irritation when people seem to be just a bit too joyful – those whose lives seem without difficulty, and always have a kind word to give. My cynicism has at times in my life left me embittered and even hardened towards the work of God, quicker to criticize the faults of a fellow believer’s efforts rather than move in beside them to encourage and challenge their growth as a co-laborer. May the Lord forgive the times I could have encouraged someone first, but rather cut them down because I thought them naïve. May God forgive me for the many times I went into a situation expecting the worst, and even after a beautiful outcome, focused only upon the things that didn’t go as I’d hoped. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bible, Doctrine, Sermon, Theology

A few recent God-stirred thoughts…

Is it possible to walk simultaneously in the FRUIT and GIFTS of the Holy Spirit, yet remember that the FRUIT are the sign of a vital relationship with God by His Holy Spirit, and not the Gifts? It seems to me, as one who has experienced and walks in a number of the gifts, that to elevate the gifts (tongues, prophecy, etc) of the Spirit above that of the fruit (peace, kindness, etc) of God’s Spirit is much like a husband bragging about the birthday card he received from his wife, whom everyone knows – including himself – is cheating on him. Yeah – pretty silly. Here’s an idea – next time we throw around the word “Spirit Filled”, let’s be sure the evidence is there – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, & self-control. The Bible – Corinthians in particular – is quite clear that the gifts are just that – GIFTS – and are no sign of one’s spiritual state or nearness to God, as the Corinthian church was a spiritual WRECK and yet very active in the practice of spiritual gifts. Thank God for His gifts, and walk in them, but don’t use them as a ruler to measure the depth of another’s faith. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Bible, Books, Charismatic, Holy Spirit, Theology

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