No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

HOLY WAR (but NOT Jihad)!!!


God’s Word makes it very clear that all Christians are in a very dangerous and deadly battle – we are called to MAKE WAR!  That is why we are given instructions on how and who and with which weapons we are expected to fight. Check out what Eph 6:10-18 has to say about it:

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Not only are we expected to fight, but we are expected to WIN – BIG TIME (cf. Romans 8:37).

Over the coming days we are going to look at the various aspects of the Armor of God… and see how each to be used to increase our effectiveness for our Supreme Commander-in-Chief. But before we strap on the Armor and go out Rambo-style to kick tail and take names I think it’s important for us to examine just exactly who who or what is/are the enemy.

Far too often I see Christians assuming that we need to fight against people and their messed up thinking… their ideologies (aka their politics), but it seems to me that verse 12 above makes it pretty clear that this is not the case. Let’s take a peek at what God says about it elsewhere (Ephesians 2:1-3):

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

One can derive from this passage, and the one from chapter 6 above, that Christians have three basic enemies: the World (culture), Satan/the Devil, and our own wicked Flesh… NOT other people!!! Nowhere does it talk about political entities… Hmmm…

Now for those of you who know me you know that I personally have a massive disdain for certain political views and that most of these views are held dear by a certain political party here in our country. This, of course, leads me to have VERY strong negative feelings about that party. But I have to stop and ask myself are rage… frustration… outrage… disgust… against a political party (and thus many of the people in it) a good use of my time and energy?

If our enemies are the World, our own flesh and Satan, aren’t we already fighting on 3 fronts? No military expert would tell you that is a winning battle plan… So why on earth would we want to add a 4th? It is a losing strategy, it is harmful to other people, the reputation of Christ and when you get down to the bottom of it, in almost every instance, fighting against other people it is downright sinful…

When I studied this out to teach it on our recent youth retreat I think I found that, we can reduce this fight to a two front battle. I deeply believe that if we will rightly focus our efforts it will make us more effective for the cause of Christ – I welcome your comments on whether or not the following makes sense.

In spiritual warfare we often (rightly?) begin by focusing on Satan as the primary enemy. Let’s look at some of his names (characteristics) to understand him better and fight him better. As I studied out his names I saw a pattern or progression unfold that made a lot of sense to me and helped me focus my battle efforts – hope it does the same for you.

In simplest terms the Devil is God’s enemy… Satan HATES God and would love nothing more than to replace Him. We see this in these names: Satan (which means Adversary) 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Timothy 5:15; Enemy/Opponent – Matthew 13:28; Evil One – John 17:15…

He is not powerful enough to oppose/fight God directly so he employs a round-about attack by going after God’s people and doing everything in his power to keep others from becoming God’s people… To do this Satan has masterfully influenced the culture toward greater and greater depravity and evil. God recognizes this ploy and has warned us in other names that have been given to Satan: Prince of the Power of the Air (which means he controls unbelievers) – Ephesians 2:2; Ruler of Demons – Mark 3:22; Ruler of this World (which means he rules the world system/culture) – John 12:31; God of this Age (which means he influences the thinking of this world) – 2 Cor. 4:4; Beelzebub (Lord of the Flies) – Matthew 12:24; Belial (which means that he is worthless – just like the corruption he has brought to the world) – 2 Cor. 6:15

Satan then uses the Culture/World to provide temptation for our flesh (the second enemy listed above). We see this in his names: Tempter – 1 Thes. 3:5; Serpent of Old – Deceiver in Garden – Rev. 12:9, 20:2

God warns us from falling to these schemes in 1 John 2:15-17 when He says:

15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

However, Satan is stubborn and will not give up… through the World/Culture will try to tell you that certain sins are OKAY… he’ll try to convince you that they are not that bad… He’ll provide you with every kind of justification from “I’m just wired/born this way” to “God wants me to be happy and this will do it” to “I/they deserve this”… But I’m here to tell you IT’s NOT OKAY…

Satan is a masterful liar (cf. John 8:34) – Though he tries to make it look good, pleasing and harmless, sin is an affront to God and His Holiness and it is harmful to our soul and damaging to our lives and relationships! Sinning is telling your heavenly father that you know best – it’s basically giving God the finger… and though God is loving and forgiving that is a dangerous game to play…

Once Satan has trapped you in one of his schemes and he has hooked you with some type of addictive sin, he then capitalizes upon our temptations and failures. God calls him the Accuser  (Rev 12:10) because Satan bad-mouths you to God, in your mind and to other people. He is called the Dragon/Destroyer (Rev. 9:11; 12:3, 7, 9) because he uses your sinful mistakes to ruin your life. He is called a Roaring Lion (1 Peter 5:8) because he wants to swallow you up in the consequences of sin and keep you from experiencing fellowship with God. He is a Murderer (John 8:34) because he leads people to eternal death (aka Hell). The term “Devil” actually means “slanderer” ( Matt. 4:1) because If he can’t get to you any other way, he’ll try to destroy your/God’s reputation.

So, what I see from all this is that if Satan is the deceiving force that is corrupting the culture we only truly have to fight the battle on two fronts… We need to Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7-8).  And we need to MAKE WAR against our sinful nature (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27, Galatians 5:16-26). John Piper would say that the war against our own flesh is the most important aspect of this… but I’d have to respectfully disagree… I think both prongs of our counter-attack are equally important… If we fight directly against Satan (and we’ll see how to do that in coming posts) then the culture will be effected which will minimize temptations as much as possible, making it easier to fight against our sinful desires…

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen sin’s painful effects on a lot of people’s lives and I’m hopping mad about it… I’m ready to strap the armor on and get it on with Satan in God’s mighty power… Will you join me?

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It’s Okay… Don’t give up!!!


Today I want to put out a word of encouragement to all my friends and readers… I’ve seen some discouragement and that makes my heart heavy… DON’T GIVE UP!!!

God, Himself, encourages us to, “Not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6)

I’ve had some conversations with people who have tried to take the G90X challenge with me and/or who have committed to reading through the Bible in 2010, but have fallen behind in their goals… They were bold enough to try and start something that will help them grow in their walk with Jesus, but have not been able to completely follow through with their original goal…

And do you know what?  THAT’S OKAY!!! Seriously! We all fall short sometimes… There is nothing magic about ANY spiritual discipline in and of itself! Christianity is about a relationship with the God who created the universe, NOT about trying to work at doing better things or striving to be a good person!

Let me remind you of what Greg said in his original G90X post:

By the way, let’s not be legalistic with this. G90X is just an intensive spiritual workout to jumpstart our spiritual disciplines. Remember that those who choose to do it with me are not necessarily more spiritual than those who don’t. You can do all the disciplines in the world and if you are not controlled by the Spirit and fueled through God’s power in your motives it is all wood, hay and stubble… If you are choosing not to do it (which is totally fine) I challenge you to, at the least, amp up your spiritual disciplines.

Let me come at this from a different angle… Think about a person with whom you have a solid relationship… Got it? Okay… Now, how is it that you maintain that relationship? Love, right? And that Love is expressed by T-I-M-E… but that time isn’t spent in a ritualistic ridged manner is it? Relationships are fluid and we spend time with our friends and family in different ways… The same should be for our relationship with (worship of) God!! The point is to spend time with Him!!

Struggling reading so much of the Bible at one clip? That’s okay!!! Keep at it – Get back on the proverbial horse… but don’t beat yourself up over it… But realize also, that this isn’t the only way God wants us to spend time with Him… He wants us to prayHe wants us to sing to Him… He wants us to talk about Him to others… He wants us to spend time with other believers (at church AND other places)…

Do you get it? GOD wants to have a relationship with you!!!  But He wants a REAL relationship not something manufactured or fake. If you struggle with some aspect of spending time with God be sure that you are supplementing it with other ways… but don’t grow weary of trying to make the weaker aspects of your walk better… If you don’t get a hold of a friend on the phone, what do you do? You call back, right? If that doesn’t work you txt or you swing by their house or maybe you try to get a hold of one of their friends/family to tell them you’re looking for them. God is trying to get a hold of you… He’s not hard to reach…

Go spend some time with Him today in a variety of ways!!  You won’t regret it.

I’ll Ask for Forgiveness…. Later.


Tell me if you’ve ever heard something like this: “I know what I’m doing isn’t right… okay, well maybe it’s even wrong… maybe… but I REALLY want to do this… it feels right… Well, at least I think it’s what’s going to make me happiest now. Yeah, it’s probably not what God wants, but it’s okay, cuz I’ll just ask Him to forgive me for it… later…”

Maybe we’ve even heard ourselves saying something like that… If not aloud, perhaps we’ve tried to justify sinful actions in our minds this way… Friends, let me say as lovingly as I can… this is a VERY dangerous game to play…

Consider what God says in Deuteronomy 29:

Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God… make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.

 When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster… The LORD will single him out… for disaster.

Granted, this passage is written to Israel and in relation to the covenant they had with God… But the principle is clear… God HATES it when we identify with Him in name only and then go ahead and do our own thing… Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing when (like above) we try to justify stupidity? How many people do you know that claim to be Christian, yet don’t live it out in their lives at all? If and when they are confronted with their sin they blow it off as “mistakes” or dismiss it as “personality flaws” or “shortcomings”… and they will ask for forgiveness… later?

To bring this in a NT light, let’s look quickly at the end of Romans 5 and the beginning of Romans 6.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?… Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God…

Also consider Hebrews 10

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Notice at the end it says the LORD will judge His people… Can you be saved and sin willfully, yes… but then consider the next sentence… It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. And, as a child of God, who loves Him, you will not want to persist in that sin… Robert and I have both written in recent posts about freedom in Christ, and how that freedom should not be used for evil.

It has been said that there is no such thing as a person who has accepted Jesus but has no change in their life… Does that mean that you will be perfect from the moment of salvation? Of course not! However, if there is little to no evidence of a change in your life, there is much to fear and that person should take head to 2 Corinthians 13:5 which says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

Does this mean that you have to “clean up” your life before you come to Christ? Absolutely not… Salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone… Ephesians 4:8-9 affirms, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Since we are transformed into a new creation upon salvation then we ought to look and act differently than we did before… If we don’t we are massively immature as Christians or we are not Christians at all. Will there be ups and downs in the Christian life? SURE! Sometimes the downs might be huge… but we should be growing more and more as time progresses…

Philippians 2:13-14 says, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Basically, what this means that we have to rely upon God for the changes that He wants to take place in our lives, but we are to work with Him in that process…

So, I guess what this post boils down to is an appeal for everyone claiming the name of Christ (i.e. calling themselves Christian) to be, well, christlike (though the power of the Holy Spirit). Let’s stop living for ourselves and start living for Him… no more lame excuses for stupidity (like above) that presume upon the grace of God…

Themes in the Bible and God’s Will


With the sermon last week I got bogged down in study rather than the speed reading needed to keep up the G90X pace… Today is a catch up day…

So instead of trying to teach today, let me pose some questions (please shoot me your answers as a comment to this post)… In a previous post I said that the overarching theme for the Bible is the redemption of mankind, in other words it is about God easing the tension between His perfect love and His perfect justice…

  • What other themes do you see in the Bible?
  • How do they speak to you?
  • AND… How are you responding to them in obedience (And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6)?
  • Finally, do you trust these as God’s Will for your life (The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17)?

Why Pray?!?!


So, yet again my internet at home was down yesterday… so the G90X is a day late again! Sorry… I’ve hopefully got that shored up (ATT said I needed a new modem, so I got one and installed it late last night)…

As promised, I wanted to talk about the prayer aspect of the G90X… But to do that, I’ve got to start with a confession. I didn’t get in the full 90 minutes last week… The first 2 weeks I did in spades, but last week, I let business creep in and rob me of my prayer time… Boy, could I tell the difference!

The best way I can explain how prayer works and changes me is by a personal analogy. I’ve got some VERY good friends who do not live in the same town as I do, but with whom I keep in close contact… I Facebook, or email or text them often (usually one or all of these multiple times a day)… These guys are two of my very best friends and they keep me sharp, on my toes… hold me accountable… listen to my joys, concerns and hurts and they encourage me – I value their friendship and their time VERY, VERY much! In fact, if I don’t get my daily “fix” (i.e. fellowship with these friends) my day is not quite as good as it would be otherwise… Oh, it can still be a great day, but regardless of how good it is, it is somewhat diminished by my not communicating with these important men.

It works the same with my Heavenly Father. The days I communicate intimately with Him (more than just a “drive by” or “rub-a-dub-dub thanks for the grub… Yea, God!” type prayer) are the days that I’m most encouraged, empowered, focused on what’s important and submitted to Him… These are the days I’m closest to Him and these are the days I’m most selfless and filled with compassion for other people! Like above, these days can still be horrible days (believe me!), but days are just somehow better when I’ve had my “Jesus fix”…  THAT’s what I missed out on a little bit last week – I didn’t have as much fellowship as I should have or would have liked. My week was good, but how much better would it have been had I communed more with the God who not only created the universe, but who also loves me with a burning and passionate love?

If you don’t understand what I’m talking about because you’ve never experienced it let me encourage you to seriously consider John 3:16-18 and 1 John 4:9-10… Here’s what they have to say:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

If you HAVE experienced what I’m talking about let me encourage you to Love Him more and more and more… and express that love through time spent with Him through prayer… after all 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray continually” – Our days would be so much better if we would!

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!


I’ve been reflecting on graduation and everything that surrounds it.  Partially because I’m a youth minister and a lot of my students are graduating… partially because I just graduated with an MAR from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.

Anyway, when I get all reflective and nostalgic about graduation, my ADHD mind almost immediately travels to thinking about Dr. Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” If you’ve been around any graduations recently, I’m fairly certain you’ve seen, heard or read something about this book… For those of you who aren’t familiar here’s the basic premise:

Someone poetically encourages a young person (presumably their child) who is just about to go out and take on the world… They tell them that they will be great and awesome and do amazing wonderful and spectacularly successful things… except when they don’t, cuz sometimes they won’t… and sometimes they will have to wait for things… and sometimes there will be hard decisions… on and on… It’s a really cute way to say, “Hey, life happens… but I love you and I support you, am here for you and I want you to be successful – Go forth and do your best… I’m with you every step of the way!”

When you think about it, that’s a lot like God… In fact, He said a lot of these same things in His word…

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. ~ Matthew 19:26

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. ~ Psalm 27:14

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. ~ Psalm 33:20

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. ~ John 15:18-19

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. ~ Hebrews 13:5

…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~ John 10:10b

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. ~ Matthew 28:18-20

So, here’s what my crazy mind takes from Dr. Seuss and these (and other) passages from the Bible…

  1. Whatever we decide to do as an occupation, our life’s calling is to be missional… That is, we are called to share Jesus’ love and work for the Kingdom regardless of how we pay the bills.
  2. Sometimes we are going to fail…
  3. Sometimes our plans and prayers require waiting – but God’s solution is always worth the wait!
  4. Life happens… but no matter what God loves you and will be there.
  5. If you are His child, He will support you and ALWAYS have your back and help you max out your considerable potential!

So, let me encourage you to go forth… take on the world… do your best… God is with you!!! Just remember:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ~ Colossians 3:17

A Thankful Prayer for Mothers (or Anyone Else!)


Mother’s day is a notoriously hard to preach on… I get both the blessing and the challenge of preaching today. As I tried to decide what to speak about I got more and more nervous… You have to decide whether to preach to moms or to children… Then there’s the complications:

  • Not everyone is a Mom, who wants to be
  • Not everyone has/had a great relationship with their mom.
  • Not every mom and child can be together on this day

What God led me to was to speak on Paul’s prayer for the Colossians (Col. 1:3-14).

What I found in this passage was a cycle of thankfulness and prayer that would benefit us all! But first, we’ve got to back up and point out a foundational premise… God wants us to be joyful, prayerful and, most of all, thankful – Regardless of our circumstances! (cf. 1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Paul showed us that our thankfulness will lead us to think of, and more importantly, pray for other people (cf. Romans 1:8-10; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; Philippians 1:3-11; 1 Thess. 1:2-3; 2 Thess. 1:3-4; 2 Timothy 1:3-7; Philemon 1:4-7; Colossians 1:3-14) – hint, hint… if she’s living, this can and should involve your mom, regardless of the type of relationship you have! Fleshing out thankfulness through prayer starts the cycle that will pay dividends for your whole life.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints…

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for youCol. 1:3-4, 9

It may be hard to be thankful for certain people – maybe they’ve hurt you… but the fact is that EVERYONE God has placed in your life has helped you to become the person you are. Being thankful for what God has done in and through both you and them will free us to ask God to work in their lives (especially if you are already thankful for them).

There is a good pattern in this passage (Col. 1:9-14) of what we should pray for other people often. We should ask God to help them:

  • Live a life HONORING of Him
  • PLEASE Him in every way
  • Bear FRUIT in every good work
  • Continue to GROW (in the knowledge of God)
  • Be STRENTHENED with all power to produce endurance and patience.

Next, we should ask God to fill them with Joy so that they will, then, be led to become more and more thankful for what God has done in and through them, which should, of course, start the cycle all over again.

If you look at the end of the passage there is a long list of what God has done for Christians, for which we should be infinitely thankful.  What this says to me is that our thankfulness isn’t tied to our friends and relatives – we CAN be thankful for them – but our attitude of thankfulness is not dependent upon the quality of our relationships with them! This is because it’s not about who they are or what they’ve done – it’s about what God’s done!

If we start this cycle of thankful prayer, for not only our mom or kids, but for most of the Christians in our lives we will be richly blessed… Because thankful prayer leads us to encourage and be encouraged by each others’ Faith and Love (cf. Col. 1:3-4)!

Let me encourage you to start the cycle today – and let the people you are praying for know about it!!! It will make a world of difference in your heart, your attitude and will add immeasurably to your joy!

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Have tongues ceased? The debate…closing arguments


Robert – If we were to look at the most basic argument against tongues and prophecy not existing today it would come down to 1 Corinthians 13:8-10.  It is here that Paul says they will cease:   “8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”  So then the question becomes, when, and has perfection come?  Kevin has offered two points here.  He states that because tongues is not mentioned in the Epistles after 1 Corinthians that tongues ceased then.  Then he suggested that perhaps the perfection that is mentioned is the canonized Bible.  If we take both of those statements at face value, then there is a time contradiction.  It has to be either or, and cannot be both. 

There is another point that I have to make here because Kevin has eluded to it on several occasions.  The Bible is clear as to how these gifts are to be used.  Tongues/ Prophesy have abusers just as does many aspects of the Bible.  That fact cannot support the argument against tongues and prophecy.  If you were to base any argument based on that rule, then you would have to eliminate several portions of the Bible. 

History has shown that God can move in a number of ways.  Historically, we have to remember the shock waves that were sent by Martin Luther and John Calvin during the reformation.  They were labeled heretics, not true to doctrine. Similar to today, there are those who would deny any reformation or revival because it does not fit into their world view.  A play that would be and possibly is similar to the response of the Catholic Church during the reformation.  If it was possible then, why is it so impossible now?

Kevin – In total, my impression of Robert’s argumentation reminds me of the old adage “where there’s smoke there’s fire”. We all know that’s not true. It’s like Robert’s saying: Smoke doesn’t necessarily mean a current fire… Maybe the fire was put out… nor does a fire truck roaring by – there could be an accident. But when you see a fire truck roaring by, then you look to the horizon and see smoke and then as you get closer to the smoke you feel heat most reasonable people would say that there is most likely a fire… What’s most reasonable?

1 Corinthians 13 doesn’t say when tongues will cease… so, I guess, they could maybe still be current. Silence in scripture about sign gifts for the most part doesn’t necessarily  mean that 1 Corinthians 13 has been fulfilled… Sign gifts disappearing almost completely off the scene historically from after the apostolic era until about 100 years ago (except in rare and dubious circumstances) isn’t an air-tight case against the biblical validity of their current manifestation – maybe God had no use for them then (why does He need them now?)… But, when you take all these into account… Where there’s fire trucks, and smoke and intense heat… What’s more reasonable… Fire or maybe no fire?

Look… If Robert’s point is to argue that God CAN assign the sign gifts to Christians in the modern era, I will concede the debate – God CAN do anything He wants. However, if he is trying to talk about what happens currently then the history of how this doctrine came to be debated in modern times needs to be examined. Now, to be fair, Robert has divorced himself from groups who have propagated sign gifts in a way that is inconsistent with 1 Corinthians 14. The problem is that the modern practice of tongues and “prophetic words” had resurgence and kept momentum due in large part to groups and theologians who, by and large,  do not conform to biblical mandates regarding how they should be used (see 1 Corinthians 14) and/or make them an additional requirement for salvation (a notation that is clearly unbiblical). Again, this IS NOT Robert’s position, however the modern manifestation of sign gifts are, to use a law term, fruit from the poison tree. This wouldn’t even be an issue had the current manifestations not happened.  

In looking at the whole picture to determine our present circumstances, one must examine Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:8-10, among others); look at the silence in the scriptures about this issue after Paul said that they would stop; look at the historical use of spiritual gifts in total; look at the history of the use of these gifts in light of 1 Corinthians 14 and then ask themselves: What’s more reasonable and logical? That the sign gifts took an 1800+ year hiatus and are now completely valid. Has God left 1800+ years of Christians without some key revelations that He is just now revealing to these generations? Should we assume that God is erratic or inconsistent or schizophrenic since the end of the apostolic era? Or should we take 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 at face value; cling to the fact that the Bible is perfect and sufficient for instruction and prophecy; and trust that God has been consistent in the post-apostolic era? Which position is more logical and reasonable?

Overall, however, I think a focus on the “powers” of the Holy Spirit is a bit misguided. I think a better focus (especially in light of how the spiritual gifts lists interplay with the theme of love in 1 Corinthians 13) is for us to focus on the FRUIT of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-26). We should use whatever gift(s) God has given us to love one another and to strengthen the church and to point others to Jesus. Let’s do a better job of that and leave the secondary/tertiary issues alone until we get the primary stuff down cold. Let’s focus on how the Holy Spirit empowers us to live a godly life and then submit to His leadings. Robert and I have done our best to do that in our own lives and in our friendship with one another in spite of our differences on this topic.

Have tongues ceased? The debate…Part 2


I have a hard time limiting the ability of God to allow someone to speak in tongues or prophesize.  The whole Bible demonstrates various ways that the Holy Spirit moves.  None of them are identical.

Robert – God is capable of doing anything that is not contradictory to Himself.  Allowing these powers to continue on today is not a contradiction to any Bible verse.  If God wants people to speak in tongues, He can and will make that happen. 

Kevin – Rest assured. No one is trying to limit what God can or cannot do – You or I certainly could not even if we tried. Beyond that, I’m not sure what you are trying to say here. Of course the Holy Spirit does things differently with different people, just look at 1 Corinthians 12:4-6: Gifts are used in different ways to serve the Church and those different means of service are worked out differently by each individual. I have a hard time getting my brain and heart around the concept of Hell… Does that make it any less real… any less biblical? Of course not. God said that tongues and prophecy would cease – Why because He couldn’t sustain them… Again, of course not!

No one is questioning God’s ability to give the gift of tongues or prophecy to people, rather the question is whether He does give people the gift of prophecy and tongues. God could give people any number of abilities… the question is not can He, but why would He? The same has to be asked of tongues and prophecy, especially in light of the fact that (in spite of your dismissing 1 Corinthians 13:8-10) He said He would stop giving those gifts at some point.

One more thing that needs to be pointed out… we need to clarify what we are talking about when we mention prophecy… I am NOT talking about the simple bold proclamation/preaching of the Word of God, but rather the supernatural ability to accurately predict the future – i.e. reveal an, before unforeseen portion of God’s plan. Claiming that gift is still needed is, in essence, claiming that the Bible is incomplete and inadequate – it is saying that God has not sufficiently revealed His plan and intentions for mankind and the earth. I have a hard time limiting the completeness and perfection of the Scriptures that way.

Omission of the prophecy/tongues gifts from the Epistles is NOT admission they have stopped. 

Robert – My understanding of the Epistles is that they are not a complete look at God.  They were written to answer very specific issues for the growth of specific churches that allow us to learn.  There is theology involved but it is specifically aimed at specific circumstances.  Paul wrote ad nauseam about tongues in 1 Corinthians (Chapters 12, 13 and 14).  Then it seemingly disappears.  That to me is not an indication that tongues ceased… rather, to me it could indicate Paul instructed his students so well that it was no longer an issue.

This issue ties in with the previous issue in my mind.  How about this… Perhaps there was no need for tongues or prophecy during those previous revivals.  I mean let’s be honest here… what would have happened during the medieval age if someone was speaking in tongues?  They would have been drawn and quartered or tried as a witch.  Would it make more sense for the Holy Spirit move in a way that was conducive to the environment?  My answer would be yes.

Kevin – Robert brings up an interesting point… Why did Paul quit talking about how the sign gifts should be regulated? Why do the other NT writers not address the topic? The burden of proof is upon Robert to demonstrate why this topic drops off the face of the earth after Paul says that tongues will cease, if it’s not because they HAVE ceased.

Robert – To answer your other question… Why do the other NT writers not address the topic?  Speaking of hermeneutics you of all people should know that the Epistles are not a complete theology.  These books are Paul and Peter addressing specific theological issues as they arose.  To say that because there is an absence of issue there is an absence of power is insane.  I may not talk to my wife about a communication for months…it doesn’t mean that we aren’t communicating.  Seriously, Kevin!  Your Pastor may not talk about regeneration for a year…it doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit has stopped!  Burden of proof is on you Kevin because neither of us contest that tongues were there.  You say they simply stopped because they were no longer talked about…Prove it.

Kevin – I never said that they “simply stopped because they weren’t talked about”. I said that Paul said they would stop, THEN shortly after, he stopped talking about it. This is a classic attempt at twisting my words. I’m not going to hang the entire debate on an argument from silence. There’s any number of possible reasons as to why God didn’t speak about these gifts elsewhere, but the silence coupled with 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 and history make it pretty clear as to why. You have to take the argument in context and in light of the rest of the debate. Also, shame on any pastor who would not talk about salvation for a whole year… they’d be completely ignoring the Great Commission – I’d not be a part of a church like that – that’s ludicrous.

1 Corinthians 13 does not mean that tongues/prophecy stopped in the apostolic era.

Robert – There is no date or time stamp assigned to 1 Corinthians 13:8.  There is only the vague reference offered in verse 9 that states when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  There is only one perfection: God.  Since perfection has not come… then one could argue that these gifts have not ceased.

Kevin – If “tongues and prophecies will (have) ceased” is not what 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 says, then, what does it say? One cannot say that something with seemingly plain meaning doesn’t mean what it plainly seems to mean without offering a plausible suggestion as to what it DOES mean. The text clearly states tongues (one of the “sign gifts”) will cease – the questions are when and why?

You say that the only thing that is perfect is God. What about God’s word (i.e. the Bible)? I would suggest that in light of Hebrews 2, the “perfect” thing spoken of in 1 Cor. 13 is the canon (i.e. the 66 books we call the Holy Bible). Once all the books of the Bible were written and in circulation there was no need for miraculous validation of what was being taught, because by and large early church leaders exclusively taught from the writings that soon after became the “Holy Bible.” These teachings (and the letters from which they came) had already been validated and accepted as truth. Given your high view on the Bible (see your previous post on biblical inerrancy) I am surprised you do not consider the Bible perfect!

Robert – Kevin you want to talk about putting words in someone’s mouth!  I said God was perfect.  I figured that you would know this… that if God is perfection, his word is also.  Lets not be ridiculous.

Kevin you can’t have it both ways.  Did tongues and prophecy end with the apostolic era (approx 33 A.D – 100 A.D) or did they end with the canonization of the New Testament (approx 374 AD)?  If you believe that it ended when perfection came (canonized bible) then that is well beyond the apostolic era.  If you believe they ended with the apostolic era then what is perfection and when did it come?

Kevin – Actually, I’m not trying to have it both ways. The epistles and books that became the Bible were in wide circulation well before the formal settling of the cannon. The cannon was settled upon (through God’s direction) the miraculous and wondrous signs that helped confirm the validity and authority of the apostles and other church leaders, was no longer required, because they were already accepted as scripture (check out 2 Peter 3:15-16). The acceptance of the cannon supports the idea that prophecy had ceased because the church fathers in 374 AD determined that there was no further revelation that was required past Revelation (widely considered the last of the biblical books to be written), and they therefore closed the canon. Further “revelation” and “prophecy” had not occurred from the end of the apostolic era (approximately 85-86 AD) through 374 AD when the canon was finalized – this is STRONG evidence for the cessation of the type prophecy you are advocating.

Why again would it cease? Because we have the only source needed to know with certainty what God wants and requires. There is no need for further “prophesies” (foretelling of the future of the Church), or revelations, etc. Because God has already given us enough material to chew on and apply in our lives – the Bible is complete, and perfect and sufficient for one to study without supplement – all other theological instruction should be commentary upon God’s Word, not addition to it – this is where many cults get in trouble (i.e. Mormons, Muslims…) by saying that the Bible is insufficient and needs to be added to and/or correction – that is what both Joseph Smith and Mohamed claimed.  But hey, if you think the Bible is inadequate for instruction and that God needs to reveal more prophecies, knock yourself out – I just can’t go there.

The lack of historical evidence of prophecy/tongues/healing in historical revivals does not mean that they have ceased, it only means that perhaps God had no use for it then.

Robert – I look at it this way… If historically a group of people thought that the earth was flat, would they live their lives according to that idea?  If, historically, men are closed off to the idea that there is healing/prophecy/tongues would they exist?  The fact that tongues/prophecy was not used previously for revivals does not mean that they no longer exist.  As I have already established…There is no repetitive nature to the Holy Spirit.  What is good for one age/revival may not have been good for another.  God knows what will work and when it will work.  Not you.

Kevin – This argument of Robert’s doesn’t hold water. God predicted that at some point sign gifts would cease. Then they disappear off the scene for like 1800+ years only to be resurrected and we are supposed to just accept that God has suddenly, without reason or precedent decided to start granting the gifts of tongues and prophecy? In Acts, tongues were used to validate certain movements of the Spirit and yet there are no records of tongues during the Reformation or prophecies of that movement beforehand. One would think that these would be immeasurably useful to legitimize the massive changes taking place in Christianity… And yet, nothing. Strange.

Another thing Robert fails to answer is: Why tongues now? Why additional prophecy now? Robert’s only defense is “Why Not?” I don’t know why God chose to inspire Paul to write 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. I don’t know why God has done or refrained from doing a lot of the things He has, and I don’t worry myself with much of it – His ways are higher than mine. However, in light of Christian History, Scripture, and the history of the manifestation of spiritual gifts and the circumstances surrounding the relatively recent resurgence of tongues and prophecies these current manifestations are dubious at best.

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Have tongues ceased? The debate…Part 1


Robert – Here are the points where I believe that gifts (or sign gifts as Kevin would call them) are still active today:

  1. The gifts were given to fulfill the great commission (Acts 1:8).  The great commission is not fulfilled thus the gifts have not stopped.
  2. I have a hard time limiting the ability of God to allow someone to speak in tongues or prophesize.  The whole Bible demonstrates various ways that the Holy Spirit moves.  None of them are identical.
  3. Omission of the prophecy/tongues gifts from the Epistles is NOT admission they have stopped. 
  4. 1 Corinthians 13 does not mean that tongues/prophecy stopped in the apostolic era.
  5. The lack of historical evidence of prophecy/tongues in historical revivals does not mean that they have ceased, it only means that perhaps God had no use for it then.

Kevin – Let me clarify… I have never said that Spiritual Gifts are not active today. They absolutely ARE. I do believe, however, certain Spiritual Gifts (a.k.a. “sign gifts”) have served their purpose and, according to Paul’s prophecy in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, have ceased.

Robert – First let me begin by saying that these points were not chosen randomly.  They are the most common points argued for and against the use of tongues and prophecy.  I hardly think that we will be breaking new ground here but at the very least these arguments will be our own.  So the first point…

The gifts were given to fulfill the great commission (Acts 1:8).  The great commission is not fulfilled thus the gifts have not stopped.

Robert – Acts 1:8 provides a pretty clear connection to the commission (Matthew 28:16-20).  The Holy Spirit delivers these powers for the witness.  As the great commission has not been fulfilled… the gifts of the Holy Spirit are continuing to be delivered.

Kevin – Again, we are not talking about ALL gifts here… However, the premise that spiritual GIFTS were given to fulfill the Great Commission is based on a flawed hermeneutic – Robert here is confusing a function/role of the Spirit (Empowerment – which is general and thus universally belongs to all believers to carry out the Great Commission), with specific gifts of the Spirit (of which there are many and assigned individually to believers at salvation – i.e. no believer has every spiritual gift.)

When studying the Holy Spirit one should look at Him from every angle: His Role, His Work, His Fruit… We don’t have time and space to chase all that down here, but suffice it to say that empowering people to live the Christian life and imparting Spiritual Gifts to believers are two different aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work that should not be confused.

  • So, why are they given? Spiritual Gifts ARE given to build up the body (1 Corinthians 12-13, especially 12:7) and to confirm the validity of authoritative teaching of the apostles (cf. Hebrews 2:3-4)

The context here points to the surrounding passage as talking to believers in how they are to function together within the context of the church. Spiritual gifts (especially the ones listed in 1 Corinthians) are, then, more for the building up of the Church rather than evangelism. An integral part of building up the early church was confirming what teaching should be considered authoritative and what should be disregarded as heretical. God used spiritual gifts to confirm which teachings were false and which were true (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1-3)

Robert – Kevin, you talk about how the gifts were to be used.  I am confused.  Weren’t ALL gifts given to build the church?  If the body of Christ is the Church then don’t all gifts support the body of Christ?  I understand that not every believer has every spiritual gift, and I make no assertion of that kind.  You say that I am confusing the function and role of the Holy Spirit with the specific gifts, but I make no mention of former.  I think you are unnecessarily bringing in the function and role of the Holy Spirit.  You call it bad hermeneutics, but I call it plain reading…

Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Emphasis on and you will be my witnesses. 

For  some reason you are wanting to isolate two specific gifts (tongues and prophecy) from the list.  Do these two gifts not build up the body of Christ as well?  According to Paul they do if done correctly (1 Corinthains 14).  If tongues and prophecy were not intended to be a gift, why did Paul list them?  Kevin…you have the last word.

Kevin: When I say your interpretation of Acts 1:8 is a case of bad hermeneutics it is because Acts 1:8 doesn’t specifically talk about spiritual gifts, yet you are tying it to spiritual gifts – forcing scripture to say something it doesn’t isn’t plain reading it’s bad logic. Acts 1:8 says that “you will receive power”. Without getting overly technical the original Greek word here is not the same word as is used for spiritual gifts… Therefore, to say that God is talking about spiritual gifts here is mistaken. I draw the distinction between different roles of the Holy Spirit because there is no link between Acts 1:8 and spiritual gifts. The word for “power” used in Acts 1:8 does not refer to specific talents, skills, or spiritual gifts, but rather the general strength to complete the task God has assigned – One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to empower us to obey God (in general) and to embolden us to fulfill the Great Commission.

Robert, before linking spiritual gifts to Acts 1:8 you should take a hard look at 1 Corinthians 14:20-25. This passage clearly states that not all spiritual gifts are for evangelism, therefore, they should not be linked to the Great Commission, which is a command to evanglize.

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