Monday, August 26, 2013

JOHN MACARTHUR ON R. L. DABNEY AND THE DECLINE OF BIBLICAL PREACHING


Robert Lewis DabneyThis is from an excellent message given by John MacArthur at the 2002 Shepherds’ Conference. He stated,
R.L. Dabney, who is a very helpful writer, wrote,
All the leading Reformers, whether in Germany, Switzerland, England, or Scotland, were constant preachers, and their sermons were prevalently expository…We may assume with safety, that the instrumentality to which the spiritual power of that great revolution was mainly due, was the restoration of scriptural preaching. . .
That was really the key to the Reformation. And then Dabney says something that I think is pretty interesting. I think you can relate to this. He said,
a perversion of the pulpit is surely followed by spiritual apostasy in the Church.
Apostasy doesn’t come first, Dabney said. The perversion comes first then the apostasy follows. And he said,
[It is] instructive to note, that there are three stages through which preaching has repeatedly passed with the same results. The first is that in which scriptural truth is faithfully presented in scriptural garb—that is to say, not only are all the doctrines asserted which truly belong to the revealed system of redemption, but they are presented in that dress and connection in which the Holy Spirit has presented them, without seeking any other from human science. This state of the pulpit marks the golden age of the Church.
What does he mean by this? He means this: that biblical doctrine is preached in biblical dress. That is to say the truth is preached from the text. This is the golden age of the church. Second, he writes, is the transition stage,
In this the doctrines taught are still those of the Scriptures, but their relations are moulded into conformity with the prevalent human dialectics.
John MacArthur at a Q & A
John MacArthur
That is to say the truth is still preached. The gospel is still preached. But no longer in biblical dress. It’s now put in cultural dress “People don’t want to hear the Bible. People don’t want to hear exposition of Scripture. You can’t just drag people through verse by verse stuff. You’ve got to come up with cultural ways to communicate these truths. We believe these truths. We believe the gospel. We are evangelical. But we’re not going to bore people with Bible verses. So we take those great truths and we put them in cultural dress that people can relate to.”
Dabney said that’s the transition.
And God’s truth is now, he writes,
shorn of a part of its power over the soul.
Let me tell you something simple. God intended that sound doctrine be taught the way He revealed it and dressed it in Scripture. There isn’t a better way to do that or He would have used it. And if you think there is, mercy on you. You’ve got a god complex.
The third stage, writes Dabney, is then the stage in which,
not only are the methods and explanations conformed to the philosophy of the day, but the doctrines themselves contradict the truth of the Word.
And he writes,
Again and again have the clergy traveled this descending scale, and always with the same disastrous result. May we ever be content to exhibit Bible doctrine in its own Bible dress!
That’s from his wonderful book called Evangelical Eloquence…I mean you understand that. Don’t kid yourself that because you’re speaking Bible doctrine that somehow you’re faithful to your calling. If it’s not in Bible dress, you’re not.
You say, “But they don’t live in agrarian culture. They don’t understand soils and seed.”
Then explain it. How hard is it.
So the Bible forms our whole content of preaching, and God sets forth all its truth in such contexts, proportions, and relations as He knows best suit the soul of man under the work of the Holy Spirit. You know I’ve said this through the years, I choose to illustrate using the Bible. To illustrate one passage using other passages from the Bible, because I just think the Bible carries with it Divine authority. I know it does. So if I have to choose between a human illustration and a biblical illustration, that’s easy. It is the sword of the spirit. It is the mind of Christ, and so again we say: Preach the Word.
taken from: The Sufficiency of God’s Grace, John MacArthur.

Friday, August 23, 2013

8 SYMPTOMS OF FALSE TEACHING - J. C. RYLE


Pastor Colin Smith (@PastorColinS) of Unlocking the Bible recently offered 7 Traits of False Teachers on The Gospel Coalition’s website. In it, he contrasts the teaching 2 Peter 1 and 2 to show several traits of a false teacher. Over 100 years ago, J.C. Ryle shared a similar list that focused on symptoms of false teaching that still has tremendous relevance for the church today.
Here are Bishop J.C. Ryle’s 8 symptoms of false teaching:
1. There is an undeniable zeal in some teachers of error–their “earnestness” makes many people think they must be right.
2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge–many think that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe to listen to.
3. There is a general tendency to completely free and independent thinking today–many like to prove their independence of judgment by believing the newest ideas, which are nothing but novelties.
4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear kind, loving, and open-minded–many seem half-ashamed to say that anybody can be wrong or is a false teacher.
5. There is always a portion of half-truth taught by modern false teachers–they are always using scriptural words and phrases, but with unscriptural meaning.
6. There is a public craving for a more sensational and entertaining worship–people are impatient with the more inward and invisible work of God within the hearts of men.
7. There is a superficial readiness all around to believe anyone who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, forgetting that Satan often masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).
8. There is a wide-spread ignorance among professing Christians–every heretic who speaks well is surely believed, and anyone who doubts him is called narrow-minded and unloving.
All these are especially symptoms of our times. I challenge any honest and observant person to deny them. These tend to make the assaults of false doctrine today especially dangerous and make it even more important to say loudly, “Do not be carried away with strange doctrine!”
Related Links:
Blog: 5 Marks of a Truly Forgiven Person
Blog: J.C. Ryle on What Type of Church to Attend
Free MP3 Download: J.C. Ryle’s “Forgiveness” Sermon

Product: 10 Keys for Unlocking the Christian Life
People are often uncertain about what the next step in their Christian life ought to be after salvation. In 10 Keys to Unlock the Christian Life, Colin Smith gives you a fresh look at the book of 1 Peter, which will show you how to grow in your faith.  This book is packed full of encouragement and practical insights.




- See more at: http://www.unlockingthebible.org/symptoms-of-false-teaching-prophets/#sthash.kzRnFFyr.dpuf

7 TRAITS OF FALSE TEACHERS

From The Gospel Coalition
"There were also false prophets among the people,
just as there will be false teachers among you." (2 Peter 2:1)
There are no "ifs, ands, or buts" in Peter's words. It's a clear and definite statement. There were false prophets among the people (of Israel in the Old Testament). That's a matter of history.
False prophets were a constant problem in the Old Testament, and those who falsely claimed to be prophets of God were to be stoned. The people rarely had the will to deal with them, so they multiplied, causing disaster to the spiritual life of God's people.
In the same way Peter says, "There will be false teachers among you." Notice the words "among you." Peter is writing to the church and says, "There will be false prophets among you." So he is not talking about New Age people on television. He is talking about people in the local church, members of a local congregation.
There is no such thing as a pure church this side of heaven. You will never find it. The wheat and the tares grow together. Warren Wiersbe writes:
Satan is the counterfeiter. . . . He has a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), preached by false ministers (2 Corinthians 11:13-12), producing false Christians (2 Corinthians 11:26). . . . Satan plants his counterfeits wherever God plants true believers (Matthew 13:38).

Authentic or Counterfeit?

How would you recognize counterfeit Christianity?
In 2 Peter 1 we read about genuine believers. And in 2 Peter 2 we read about counterfeit believers. If you put these chapters side by side you will see the difference between authentic and counterfeit believers.
1. Different SourceWhere does the message come from?
Peter says, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you "with stories they have made up" (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.
2. Different MessageWhat is the substance of the message?
For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. "We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him" (1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: "They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them" (2:1).
Notice the word secretly. It's rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.
3. Different PositionIn what position will the message leave you?
The true Christian "escapes the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (1:4). Listen to how Peter describes the counterfeit Christian: "They promise . . . freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity, for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him" (2:19). The true believer is escaping corruption, while the counterfeit believer is mastered by it.
4. Different CharacterWhat kind of people does the message produce?
The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (1:5). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They are "experts in greed" and "their eyes are full of adultery" (2:14). They also "despise authority" (2:10). This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.
5. Different AppealWhy should you listen to the message?
The true teacher appeals to Scripture. "We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it" (1:19). God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to his Word.
The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: "By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error" (2:18). So the true teacher asks, "What has God said in his Word?" The false teacher asks, "What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?"
6. Different FruitWhat result does the message have in people's lives?
The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:8). The counterfeit is "like a spring without water" (2:17). This is an extraordinary picture! They promise much but produce little.
7. Different EndWhere does the message ultimately lead you?
Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all. The true believer will receive "a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1:11). The false believer will experience "swift destruction" (2:1). "Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping" (2:3).
Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, "Depart from me; I never knew you" (Matthew 7:21). Who are these people? Surely Peter is describing them in this passage.

Don't Be Naïve

We must not be ignorant: "There will be false teachers among you" (2:1). So how do we apply this warning?
First, Peter's plain statement reminds us that the church needs to be protected. Among the many wonderful people who come to through the doors of the church each year, some would do more harm than good.
They may seem the nicest of people, but they do not believe in the authority of the Bible or the exclusivity of salvation in Christ. We welcome such people, because they need Christ as much as we do, but we must not allow them to have influence in the church.
Second, skeptics will always be able to point to hypocrisy and inconsistency in the church. They've always done it, and they always will. One of the strangest reasons for not following Christ goes like this: "I've seen people in the church who are hypocrites." So you will not follow Christ because some people who claim to do so are hypocrites?
The existence of the counterfeit is never a good reason for rejecting the genuine. Peter essentially tells us, "Of course there are counterfeit Christians. Of course there are teachers who do the church more harm than good. What else would you expect in this fallen world? Grow up! Don't be naïve! Don't miss what's real simply because you have seen the counterfeit."
Point to 2 Peter 2:1 the next time you meet someone hiding behind this excuse.
* * * * * * * * * *
Colin Smith and Unlocking the Bible just launched a new daily devotional called LIFEKeys DailyVisit Unlocking the Bible's site to request a free sample of the daily devotional, listen to the program, or browse other gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources.
And join us next month in Orlando for The Gospel Coalition National Conference to hear Colin Smith deliver a plenary address on "Jesus Despised" from Luke 4:14-30Register here for this five-day event featuring more than 80 speakers, including John Piper, Tim Keller, Don Carson, Matt Chandler, David Platt, and Albert Mohler.

Colin Smith (@PastorColinS) is senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Churchin the northwest suburbs of Chicago and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition. For more resources by Colin Smith visit Unlocking the Bible.

APOSTASY AND THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

From Do Not be Surprised.....


I'm excited to welcome back Hariton "Harry" Deligiannides as a guest blogger here at Do Not Be Surprised. Harry serves as an elder at Bethlehem Bible Church in West Boylston, MA. He already has blessed us with the articles, "Bible Study in a Morgue?" and "Whispers and Campaigns Do Not Preach the Word," and I'm certain you'll enjoy this latest article as well.


Apostasy and the Perseverance of the Saints

It had been 18 years since we graduated seminary together, so in 2010 I looked up my friend on Facebook to reconnect. After reaching out to him, his response was shocking.

“I have apostatized from 'the church' and put the Bible aside … I do not go to any church or 'study group' and do not plan to ever again either. The last thing I want is any teaching, preaching, instructing or supposed enlightenment from a well-intentioned born again believer. I studied, memorized and read enough Scripture to quote anyone into oblivion. And I have no intention to enter that ring anytime soon."

This was a man with whom I studied to enter into the ministry. We prayed together. We read the Bible together. We took the same classes together. We talked about where and how we wanted to serve in the ministry. We spent time together outside of seminary class. We had formed a friendship, a close bond. Years later he had asked me to be best man in his wedding.

Then just earlier this year, I received a phone call from a friend of mine to tell me that our mutual friend had left the faith and gone back to the Greek Orthodox church and baptized his children there.

This was a man who years ago asked me, “Would you disciple me?” I worked with him very closely and invested time. We prayed together. We memorized Scripture together. We ministered together. Along with my wife, we ministered to him and his wife so much so that they were considering joining us in a church plant. And even though they had been involved in a church that taught the doctrines of grace, that God is sovereign not only in saving dead sinners, but also in finishing the work He began in them, they abandoned the faith.

Were these incidents uncommon? No. Not at all.

In his book Hard to Believe, pastor John MacArthur writes about 3 of his friends.
Some of the most dramatic examples I’ve ever seen of the deceived disguised as Christians were people who had been my closest friends. The first was a high school classmate and teammate named Ralph. ...We spent a lot of other time together besides work and school, passing out tracts and witnessing in Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. He was the head of his church youth group, and I was the head of mine. He said all the right things and seemed for all the world to be on fire for Christ. But when he went off to college, he completely abandoned the faith. I was stunned.

In college I had a close friend named Don who was, I thought, a true spiritual friend in every sense. We were co-captains of the football team; he was class president and I was vice-president; we both taught Bible studies; our dads were pastors, and we were thinking about being pastors too. We talked a lot together about serving the Lord. But then he went off to Europe, got a PhD. in psychology, became a teacher and rock-concert promoter, and eventually was indicted, convicted, and sentenced for having students naked up in front of his classroom. He totally abandoned the faith.

Then I went to seminary,where one of my best friends, whose father was a dean, put a Buddhist altar in his house after he graduated. Here was someone who had prepared himself for a lifetime of preaching and teaching the truth of Scripture, yet whose whole life and ministry up to that time were revealed to be a deceptive lie.
Furthermore, a letter written to pastor John MacArthur’s radio ministry “Grace To You”, reveals the widespread apostasy.
Ten years of full time ministry proved to me that there is no God and that the God of the Bible does not care. I now reject Christianity and have come to peace. (Source)
At this point you may be asking yourself: What happened? Why did these apostatize from the faith? Was God’s Word proven false? What did it do to your faith?

Allow me to answer each of these categorically.

1) What happened?

In the case of my 2 friends, they both went through deep trials in their marriage that shook the foundation of the marriage. It reminded me how God uses trials to reveal the genuineness of one’s faith, or lack thereof. As 1 Peter 1:6–7 says,
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (emphasis added)
2) Why did these apostatize from the faith?

When there is apostasy, there are 2 possibilities, as R.C. Sproul delineates in his book, Grace Unknown.
We have all known people who have made professions of faith and exhibited zeal for Christ, only to repudiate their confessions and turn away from Christ. What should we make of this? We consider two possibilities.
photo: Ryk Neethling via photopin cc

The first possibility of that their profession was not genuine in the first place.They confessed Christ with their mouths and then later committed a real apostasy from that confession. They are like the seed that fell in shallow soil and sprang up quickly, then withered and died (Matt. 13:5-6). The seed never really took root.

The second possible explanation of those who make a profession of faith, give outward evidence of conversion, and then repudiate the faith, is that they are true believers who have fallen into serious and radical apostasy, but who will repent of their sin and be restored before they die. If they persist in apostasy until death, then theirs is a full and final fall from grace, which is evidence that they were not genuine believers in the first place.
3) Was God’s Word proven false?

Absolutely not.

In his book Redemption Accomplished and Applied, John Murray writes,
In order to place the doctrine of perseverance in its proper light we need to know what it isnot. It does not mean that every one who professes faith in Christ and who is accepted as a believer in the fellowship of the saints is secure for eternity and may entertain the assurance of eternal salvation. (emphasis added)
Well, then what does it mean?

Anthony Hoekema, in his book Saved By Grace, puts it this way,
Those who have true faith can lose that faith neither totally nor finally.
Or the Westminster Confession of Faith:
They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. (Chapter 17, Section 1)
The Scripture is very clear that true believers will never ultimately fall away from the faith and deny the Master.
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor 1:7–9. emphasis added)
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thess 5:23–24, emphasis added)
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completionat the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:6, emphasis added)
On Philippians 1:6, Charles Spurgeon said,
Observe that the apostle affirms that this good work was begun by God. He was evidently no believer in those remarkable powers which some theologians ascribe to free will. (Iain Murray, The Forgotten Spurgeon, p. 95)
Notice that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is true because of the very character of God Himself. He is the One who is faithful to preserve His own. He is the One who will sustain us to the end. He is the One who will keep the saints until the very end. He is the One who will complete the work of salvation which He began. He cannot do otherwise. It would be contrary to His nature.

If that’s not enough, there is more. The Word of God is unequivocal and unambiguous, leaving no doubt.
But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he isable to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” (2 Tim 1:12, emphasis added)
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: (Jude 1, emphasis added)
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, (Jude 24, emphasis added)
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Pet 5:10, emphasis added)
Notice again that this doctrine is undergirded by the work of God Himself. He is the One who is able. He is the One who has called.

Ultimately what guarantees the saints will persevere is God’s sovereign election!

As R.C. Sproul has said in his book Grace Unknown,
Were the Bible to say nothing of perseverance, what it says about God’s electing grace would be sufficient to convince us of the doctrine of perseverance.
photo: E V Peters via photopin cc
Salvation is all of God. Salvation is monergistic, not synergistic. It is monergistic (mono meaning alone and ergo meaning work) because it is the work of God alone. It is not synergistic (syn meaning together) because is is not the work of God together with the work of man. Man is not in joint cooperation with God. Why? Simply because man is spiritually dead in his sins and thus incapable (see my June post Bible Study in a Morgue). Therefore God must choose man for salvation. Man is incapable of choosing God. Actually, left to his own, without the work of the Holy Spirit, man will not choose God, but reject Him.

As Richard Phillips wrote in his book Saved By Grace:
We are like Jesus’ friend Lazarus in John chapter 11. He was dead and buried, and the one thing Jesus did not do was to wait for Lazarus to do something. (Richard Phillips, Saved By Grace, 35.)
4) What did it do to my faith?

I can assure you it did not weaken my faith but rather strengthened my faith. How so? Let us remember that the object of faith is God Himself. I trust in Him. Despite the apostasy, God is unchanging. He is the One constant when everyone else is wavering. It reminded me that God is faithful to complete that miraculous work of salvation that He alone began.

Encouraging is the story of how God used the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints to bring the Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, to faith.

In Spurgeon’s own words,
I must confess that the doctrine of the final preservation of the saints was a bait that my soul could not resist. I thought it was a sort of life insurance - an insurance of my character, an insurance of my soul, an insurance of my eternal destiny. I knew that I could not keep myself, but if Christ promised to keep me, then I should be safe for ever; and I longed and prayed to find Christ, because I knew that, if I found Him, He would not give me a temporary and trumpery salvation, such as some preach, but eternal life which could never be lost. (Steve Lawson, The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon, 56–57.)
Further Reading
Bible Study in a Morgue?
Whispers and Campaigns Do Not Preach the Word
Shaking Your Fist in the Face of God
Free Will and Liquid Plumr®

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

GOD SPEAKS, BUT HOW?

Does God speak today? Yes.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Heb 1:1–2)
photo credit: practicalowl via photopin cc
Many may be familiar with the Justin Peter's quote, "If you want to hear God speak, read your Bible. If you want to hear God speak audibly, read your Bible out loud." Yes, the Lord speaks today—loudly and clearly. He does so through the closed canon and written revelation of His Word, Scripture. Sufficient for all things (2 Tim 3:15–17), God in His great goodness has provided this Word so that there would be no mistaking, misunderstanding, adding to or taking away from what He has revealed. For the Christian, Scripture must be the final, authoritative word.
Scripture is a closed system of truth, complete, sufficient, and not to be added to (Rev 22:18–19). It contains all the spiritual truth God intended to reveal.1
Yet, there are always those who seek for "more." More spirituality, more emotion, more revelation. There are those contemplatives and those mystics who teach that if one will only sit still long enough and be quiet enough, they may actually hear the voice of God. There are those who maintain that the Lord still sends prophetic dreams and visions. It is as if God still has more to say, that He didn't quite finish His sentence when the Apostle John closed the book on Revelation 22:21.

To these it may be asked, "Do you write down these personal prophecies and revelations given to you by "God" in the back of your Bible? Are you in the midst of composing the Book of Beth or John or Bill?" Such questions usually will be met with scoffing and exasperation, but are they not appropriate? After all, when God speaks, does He not speak authoritatively? Surely it is impossible for the God of the universe to speak with only partial authority! Either God speaks reliably and with supremacy, or He does not speak at all.

Those who seek after personal revelation, whose ears must be perpetually strained to hear the mumblings and whispers of "God" surely must be forgetting the words of the Apostle Peter. Peter, who himself witnessed the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ, says this about the importance of God's Word:
For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased'—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
(2 Peter 1:17–21)
It is truly amazing, is it not, that God would offer to men such a Word as revealed through His Son, Jesus Christ? How dare the creature demand anything more when He has already provided all that is necessary! Dr. John MacArthur notes,
Once a congregation sees Scripture as less than the final, complete, infallible authority for faith and practice, it has opened the doors to theological chaos. Anyone can claim to be speaking God’s revelation--and almost anything can be passed off as divinely revealed truth. And make no mistake, some of the best-known charismatic leaders have abused their people’s trust by claiming they are receiving new truth from God, when what they are really teaching are lies and fabrications.2
In spite of this great Word called the Bible, congregations across the globe continue to teach that God is offering progressive revelation, that He still is speaking to believers here and there through voices, visions and dreams. One such example of this is Pastor Rob Reimer of South Shore Community Church in Brockton, Massachusetts. In his book, Pathways to the King, Reimer states:
The gift of the Spirit is about a direct experience with God. We will hear God's voice—through dreams, visions, and prophecy—and that will authenticate the presence of God and draw people to direct experiences with Him. This is for all God's people: men, women, and children.3
In a 2011 blog post entitled, "God Speaks. Are You Listening?" Dr. Reimer offers six ways in which he claims the Lord continues to speak today:
  1. An audible voice

  2. Says Reimer, "Jesus heard the audible voice of His Father." Well, yes He did. Of course, He was, after all, Jesus. Reimer offers Paul as another example of God speaking audibly, yet the Bible-reading Christian will note that Paul's experience was most certainly unique and not something that is to be expected by all Christians for all time.
  3. A whisper

  4. "The old timers called it the still small voice of God. Often it is just God guiding our thoughts, but we learn to recognize when it is God guiding our thoughts, and when it is just us thinking." Unfortunately, Reimer does not reveal just how it is that this distinction between God's "guiding our thoughts" and "just us thinking" can even be made. Perhaps it is just trial and error? Yet, trial and error is hardly the method in which God revealed His Word to the prophets of old.
  5. Through pictures

  6. Of this means, Reimer states, "Not every picture that comes to our mind, not every dream we have is from God. Just like not every voice that is heard, nor every thought that we have is from God. We have to test it." Again one is left with trial and error. Oh, one may perhaps argue that the picture need only be tested against the truth of Scripture to discern its validity. This by necessity leads to the question, "Why isn't Scripture good enough in the first place?"
  7. Through emotions

  8. "Grief is an emotion. Sometimes the conviction of the Spirit comes to me and I feel it. . . . Many times, God speaks to us through love. Often I will begin to feel God’s love for a person, right before God gives me a prophetic word to encourage a person." Indeed, the Holy Spirit does convict of sin and the believer rests in the joy of the Lord, but man cannot trust his emotional whims. Emotions are fickle and easily manipulated. No doubt this is why Jeremiah warned that "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?"
  9. Through "a word we see in our mind's eye"

  10. Reimer explains, "It is like a cartoon caption. We see a word spelled out." The ridiculousness of this statement makes additional commentary unnecessary.
  11. To our "knower"

  12. Says Reimer, "Sometimes we just know something. God speaks to us Spirit to spirit, and we just know something." How can one know that it is God who has spoken "Spirit to spirit"? Well, ironically enough, Reimer's explanation of this last point leaves one not knowing.
The astute reader may notice something glaringly absent from this list. Out of Rob Reimer's "six ways God speaks," he does not include the fact that God speaks through His Word! How is it that the most obvious method by which God speaks was omitted from this list?

Though now two years old, this blog post of Reimer's sparked new interest as a reader, who calls herself Barb, recently left the following comment:
Source
To which Reimer replied:
Source
Reimer's use of passages such as Acts 2:17, John 14–16 and John 10:27 to substantiate his claims that "There is no verse that says God stops speaking" seemed worthy of a challenge. Verses must, after all, be examined in their broader context in order to properly interpret them.

As such, this writer left three nearly identical comments over a period of a couple of weeks, simply attempting to engage the text. The persistence of this writer was due to the perhaps naive assumption that a pastor of the Word of God would be eager and anxious to discuss why it is he believes and teaches a certain thing. Unfortunately, none of those comments were published on Pastor Reimer's blog. Instead, an email recently was received from Executive Pastor Sharon Anderson (see this post for additional teaching on the unbiblical notion of women elders). That email reads as follows:
To Whom it May Concern:
This blog is the intellectual property of South Shore Community Church. We are under no obligation to publish your comments. However, the First Amendment gives you the right to express your opinions on your own blog. We would encourage you to do so.
Respectfully,
Sharon Anderson, Executive Pastor
This writer thanked Sharon Anderson for her reply and explained the reason for such persistence. At this point it is extremely important to note that this blog post at Do Not Be Surprised has not in any way been written out of spite or anger. Indeed, every blog owner has the right to publish or not publish comments on his or her own blog as is seen fit (even DNBS exercises this right per the posted comment policy).

Rather, the purpose of this post is to once again shed light upon the darkness that is found within the charismatic movement. How many caught up in this movement live in bondage and depression because they have not yet "heard" from God through voices, visions and dreams? How many live in despair that they have not yet exercised enough faith for God to "speak" to them? How many are robbed of joy and peace because they do not realize that God has spoken to them, fully and finally and personally, in His Holy Word?

The second purpose of this post is to ensure that all things truly are tested against Scripture. God's Word is the final and perfect authority. It points the believer to Christ, who is the Christian's hope, Savior, Lord and King. With that, below is the comment that was left at Pastor Reimer's blog and remains unpublished as of this writing:

The man or woman who seeks to have his or her personal experience trump the Word of God is one who desperately needs to seek the truth that is only found in that Word. May Christians pray that God would open the eyes of those who have been deceived by these dangerous and deceptive doctrines. May God rescue many who are wandering, lost amid the voices and visions in their head, ignorant that the way to the truth can be found in the most obvious of places: the pages of Scripture.
The truth is, there is no fresher or more intimate revelation than Scripture. God does not need to give private revelation to help us in our walk with Him. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16–17, emphasis added). Scripture is sufficient. It offers all we need for every good work.4
______________________
Footnotes
1. John MacArthur, "Does God Still Give Revelation?" Accessed 18 August 2013.
2. ibid.
3. Rob Reimer, Pathways to the King, (Carpenter's Son Publishing: 2013), 68.
4. John MacArthur, "Does God Still Give Revelation?" Accessed 18 August 2013.

Further Reading
What God Says About His Word
Affirming Sola Scriptura
Doctrine Matters
Beth Moore's 'Sabbath Moment' Playdate with God

Saturday, August 17, 2013

WILL ISAIAH 17 SOON BE FULFILLED?

On January 29, 2013, Israel launched the first of several recent attacks inside Syria. Several reports said Israel destroyed a Syrian military convoy that was transporting sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft missiles. Other reports said Israel destroyed a Syrian factory that produced and stored biological and chemical weapons. Some sources said several Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops were killed. Iran was livid and said Israel would regret it.
On May 5, 2013, Israel launched a second attack inside Syria. Bombs were dropped on a series of targets housing high-tech Russian missiles. One report said at least 300 elite Syrian soldiers were killed and hundreds were wounded and hospitalized. Syria's Foreign Minister quickly called this second attack a "Declaration of War."
On May14, 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu flew to Russia for an emergency meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss these two attacks and the Russian sale of two kinds of sophisticated missiles to Syria: The S-300 anti-aircraft missile and the Yakhont anti-ship cruise missile. Mr. Netanyahu opposed the sale of these missiles and warned Mr. Putin that Israel would destroy them if they were shipped. Mr. Putin warned Mr. Netanyahu that Israel is headed for a war with Syria and it would be a war that could drag in Russia (drag in Russia made me think of God's hook mentioned in Ezekiel 38:4). Mr. Netanyahu returned to Israel believing this quickly arranged very important emergency meeting had failed. He was also burdened with a bad feeling about what might happen in the very near future if Russia continued to ship these missiles and Israel continued to destroy them. Russia's Foreign Minister said the missiles have been sold to Syria and they will be delivered.
The very next day, on May 15, 2013, a Palestinian group known for its strong support of Syrian President Assad fired several mortars out of Syria into Israel. Mr. Netanyahu quickly reacted with a strong warning to Mr. Assad: If Mr. Assad's proxies continued to attack Israel, Israel would remove Mr. Assad from power.
On July 5, 2013, Israel launched a third attack inside Syria. Several great explosions destroyed everything at a very large weapons depot near Syria's main seaport. There were contradictory reports about what happened and who did it, but some said Russia had carried through on its promise to deliver the controversial missiles and Israel had carried through on its warning to destroy them. All doubt was erased about the contradictory reports when several CIA officials, with the seeming approval of President Obama, said it was Israel.
Vladimir Putin was furious. He ordered a surprise drill, the largest since the fall of the Soviet Union, to begin on July 13, 2013 to test Russia's readiness for war. He urged his troops to enter a state of full combat readiness. This was seen as a clear warning to Israel to stop attacking the missiles he keeps sending to Syria.
On July 27, 2013, Israel launched a fourth attack, but this time it was in Lebanon and Syria. One unconfirmed report said Israel destroyed a convoy transporting weapons from Syria to Lebanon. Another unconfirmed report said Israel bombed a Syrian army post.
On August 1, 2013, CIA officials with President Obama's approval confirmed that Israel was behind the July 27, 2013 attack. But they said that Syria had moved some of the missiles and all of them didn't get destroyed. These same CIA officials said we can expect Israel to carry out more attacks on Syria to finish the job in the future. They added that as long as Russia keeps sending controversial missiles to Syria we can expect Israel to keep attacking them. By deliberately disclosing Israeli military secrets against the wishes of Israel, President Obama is increasing the likelihood of war between Israel and Syria.
Why would he deliberately release information that could start a war between Israel and Syria that could drag in Russia? I don't know, but he might be trying to weaken Israel (which he has threatened to do), help the rebels in Syria (which he has said he will do), and embarrass Putin (who looks the "bored kid in the back of the classroom") that he clearly doesn't like.
With all of this going on it is difficult to imagine that someone won't make a mistake and trigger a war between Israel and Syria in the near future (or that Russia, Iran and others won't quickly get involved). The Bible says it will happen in that day (at the end of the age). Are you ready? The way these explosive events are lining up with Bible prophecy is too real to ignore.
FYI: "God Has Spoken (And We Know It)" by Daymond Duck will be out this month (August 2013).
Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck

Monday, August 12, 2013

QUESTION: "WHAT IS SANCTIFICATION? WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF CHRISTIAN SANCTIFICATION?"


Answer:
Jesus had a lot to say about sanctification in the Book of John, chapter 17. In verse 16 the Lord says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,” and this is before His request: “Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth.” Sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter into this state when they are born of God: “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). This is a once-for-ever separation, eternally unto God. It is an intricate part of our salvation, our connection with Christ (Hebrews 10:10).

Sanctification also refers to the practical experience of this separation unto God, being the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life, and is to be pursued by the believer earnestly (1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14). Just as the Lord prayed in John 17, it has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world: “As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so send I them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (v. 18, 19). That He set Himself apart for the purpose for which He was sent is both the basis and the condition of our being set apart for that for which we are sent (John 10:36). His sanctification is the pattern of, and the power for, ours. The sending and the sanctifying are inseparable. On this account they are called saints, hagioi in the Greek; “sanctified ones.” Whereas previously their behavior bore witness to their standing in the world in separation from God, now their behavior should bear witness to their standing before God in separation from the world.

There is one more sense that the word sanctification is referred to in Scripture. Paul prayed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “The God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul also wrote in Colossians of “the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel” (Colossians 1:5). He later speaks of Christ Himself as “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) and then mentions the fact of that hope when he says, “When Christ, who is our Life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory” (Colossians 3:4). This glorified state will be our ultimate separation from sin, total sanctification in every aspect. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

To summarize, sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios,” meaning a separation. First, a once-for-all positional separation unto Christ at our salvation. Second, a practical progressive holiness in a believer’s life while awaiting the return of Christ. Third, we will be changed into His perfect likeness—holy, sanctified, and completely separated from the presence of evil.

Recommended Resources: Logos Bible Software and So Great Salvation by Charles Ryrie.


While he is not the author of every article on GotQuestions.org, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.





QUESTION: "WHAT IS PRAYING IN TONGUES? IS PRAYING IN TONGUES A PRAYER LANGUAGE BETWEEN A BELIEVER AND GOD?"

Answer: As a background, please read our article on the gift of speaking in tongues. There are four primary Scripture passages that are cited as evidence for praying in tongues: Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 14:4-17; Ephesians 6:18; and Jude verse 20. Ephesians 6:18 and Jude 20 mention “praying in the Spirit.” However, tongues as a prayer language is not a likely interpretation of “praying in the Spirit.”

Romans 8:26 teaches us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Two key points make it highly unlikely that Romans 8:26 is referring to tongues as a prayer language. First, Romans 8:26 states that it is the Spirit who “groans,” not believers. Second, Romans 8:26 states that the “groans” of the Spirit “cannot be expressed.” The very essence of speaking in tongues is uttering words.

That leaves us with 1 Corinthians 14:4-17 and verse 14 especially: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.” First Corinthians 14:14 distinctly mentions “praying in tongues.” What does this mean? First, studying the context is immensely valuable. First Corinthians chapter 14 is primarily a comparison/contrast of the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of prophecy. Verses 2-5 make it clear that Paul views prophecy as a gift superior to tongues. At the same time, Paul exclaims the value of tongues and declares that he is glad that he speaks in tongues more than anyone (verse 18).

Acts chapter 2 describes the first occurrence of the gift of tongues. On the day of Pentecost, the apostles spoke in tongues. Acts chapter 2 makes it clear that the apostles were speaking in a human language (Acts 2:6-8). The word translated “tongues” in both Acts chapter 2 and 1 Corinthians chapter 14 is glossa which means “language.” It is the word from which we get our modern English word “glossary.” Speaking in tongues was the ability to speak in a language the speaker does not know, in order to communicate the gospel to someone who does speak that language. In the multicultural area of Corinth, it seems that the gift of tongues was especially valuable and prominent. The Corinthians believers were able to better communicate the gospel and God’s Word as a result of the gift of tongues. However, Paul made it abundantly clear that even in this usage of tongues, it was to be interpreted or “translated” (1 Corinthians 14:13, 27). A Corinthian believer would speak in tongues, proclaiming God’s truth to someone who spoke that language, and then that believer, or another believer in the church, was to interpret what was spoken so that the entire assembly could understand what was said.

What, then, is praying in tongues, and how is it different than speaking in tongues? First Corinthians 14:13-17 indicates that praying in tongues is also to be interpreted. As a result, it seems that praying in tongues was offering a prayer to God. This prayer would minister to someone who spoke that language, but would also need to be interpreted so that the entire body could be edified.

This interpretation does not agree with those who view praying in tongues as a prayer language. This alternate understanding can be summarized as follows: praying in tongues is a personal prayer language between a believer and God (1 Corinthians 13:1) that a believer uses to edify himself (1 Corinthians 14:4). This interpretation is unbiblical for the following reasons: 1) How could praying in tongues be a private prayer language if it is to be interpreted (1 Corinthians 14:13-17)? 2) How could praying in tongues be for self-edification when Scripture says that the spiritual gifts are for the edification of the church, not the self (1 Corinthians 12:7). 3) How can praying in tongues be a private prayer language if the gift of tongues is a “sign to unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 14:22)? 4) The Bible makes it clear that not everyone possesses the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:11, 28-30). How could tongues be a gift for self-edification if not every believer can possess it? Do we not all need to be edified?

Some understand praying in tongues to be a “secret code language” that prevents Satan and his demons from understanding our prayers and thereby gaining an advantage over us. This interpretation is unbiblical for the following reasons: 1) The New Testament consistently describes tongues as a human language. It is unlikely that Satan and his demons are unable to understand human languages. 2) The Bible records countless believers praying in their own language, out loud, with no concern of Satan intercepting the prayer. Even if Satan and/or his demons hear and understand the prayers we pray, they have absolutely no power to prevent God from answering the prayers according to His will. We know that God hears our prayers, and that fact makes it irrelevant whether Satan and his demons hear and understand our prayers.

What do we say, then, about the many Christians who have experienced praying in tongues and find it to be very personally edifying? First, we must base our faith and practice on Scripture, not experience. We must view our experiences in light of Scripture, not interpret Scripture in light of our experiences. Second, many of the cults and world religions also report occurrences of speaking in tongues/praying in tongues. Obviously the Holy Spirit is not gifting these unbelieving individuals. So, it seems that the demons are able to counterfeit the gift of speaking in tongues. This should cause us to compare even more carefully our experiences with Scripture. Third, studies have shown how speaking/praying in tongues can be a learned behavior. Through hearing and observing others speak in tongues, a person can learn the procedure, even subconsciously. This is the most likely explanation for the vast majority of instances of speaking/praying in tongues among Christians. Fourth, the feeling of “self-edification” is natural. The human body produces adrenaline and endorphins when it experiences something new, exciting, emotional, and/or disconnected from rational thought.

Praying in tongues is most definitely an issue on which Christians can respectfully and lovingly agree to disagree. Praying in tongues is not what determines salvation. Praying in tongues is not what separates a mature Christian from an immature Christian. Whether or not there is such a thing as praying in tongues as a personal prayer language is not a fundamental of the Christian faith. So, while we believe the biblical interpretation of praying in tongues leads away from the idea of a private prayer language for personal edification, we also recognize that many who practice such are our brothers and sisters in Christ and are worthy of our love and respect.

Recommended Resources: Logos Bible Software and Are Miraculous Gifts for Today - Four Views edited by Wayne Grudem.


While he is not the author of every article on GotQuestions.org, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.



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