Miracles vs. Closed Canon

Now that the grandbaby thread also got too long, I jump on this opportunity to spawn a fresh thread. From here, I reproduce Daniel B’s four questions:

There are 4 reasons why I cannot consider supposed cessation of miracles to be the criteria that closed the canon.

  1. If the Authorized agents are marked by their ability to do signs, wonders and miracles then I am bound to believe when I see a miracle, sign or wonder, thus making me susceptible to being led astray by false miracles. (You do agree that false miracles can occur today do you not)?
  2. If I say that miracles, signs and wonders ceased then I would then have to deny the spiritual gifts taught in the New Testament (specifically Romans and the Corinthian epistles). And this is the main point we are arguing. I believe it is very clear that the Spirit in the New Testament churches should be in play today (I Corinthians 1:7, II Corinthians 11:4; Romans 8:15). If we say that the Spirit is different now then it was then are we not in danger of losing EVERYTHING (i.e. communion)?
  3. If that canon is closed when the apostles died and only the apostles were able to do miracles then what is Jesus talking about in John 14:12 when he says that those who believe in him will do greater things (miracles)? Does “anyone who has faith” mean “Any APOSTLE who has faith”?
  4. (This one is just for echo;-) What about these personal experiences? Am I to believe they are all works of Satan or self? Am I not supposed to allow for some type of “leading by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18)? What of all believers who have at some point prayed for direction? Does that direction exclusively and entirely come through the Bible? I think we all agree that the Spirit does SOMETHING, to lead us and to convict us and to teach us and to gift us. If at any point that something occurs outside of the Bible (dream, counsel, seminary class) then are we advocating an open canon?

My friends I think the best way, the biblical way, is to practice all these things the way they are prescribed and described in the Bible.

This comment of Daniel B’s earned Echo’s highest praise: “lucid, mature, well thought out, plausible, sensible, and even logical. Bravo!” Echo responded to each of the questions here (and as the first comment to this post, I will forge a reproduction of that comment, as if it were from Echo (echoing himself)), and Daniel B challenged back thusly:

I have a reply to all of your counter points to my 4 questions but I am wondering if you would perhaps do me a favor for the purpose of advancing this discussion to a deeper level. Would you be willing to play devil’s advocate; to argue from my position against your counter points? I could at least know for sure that you saw where I was coming from if you could recognize the flaws of your arguments (that I am going to exploit) before I do so. If you don’t want to, that’s fine I totally understand. Your post is number 111 and I don’t wish to discuss anything but your replies to my questions.

I can’t answer for Echo, whether he wants to play Daniel B’s devil’s advocate, but either way, this post provides a fresh thread to contain this deeper-level discussion.

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69 Responses

  1. Daniel,
    This is a good discussion.
    First, let me say a word about rainbows. The promise has not yet been fulfilled. The promise is that God will never again destroy the world with a flood. While the promise is BEING realized as every day passes and there is no world-destroying flood, at what point in history will this promise BE realized? Not until the end of history. The promise has not yet been fulfilled. If it has been fulfilled, the we suppose that NEVER has arrived in some way. Until we arrive at the New Heavens, New Earth of Rev 21, we are still hoping in this promise, and thus there remains the sign.
    By contrast, when Jesus arrived and sacrificed himself to God for our sins, it ceased to be appropriate to sacrifice animals in the temple. Why? Because the thing that the animal sacrifice had pointed to had been fully realized.
    In the same way, tongues and other miracles legitimized the new Word from God.
    What proof do you offer me that this new Word came from God? The miracles. In the case of prophesy and tongues, these ARE the new Word from God, delivered in miraculous fashion. They are self legitimizing because of their miraculous nature. (Of course, I speak of translated tongues, because the content is the same as prophesy, which is revealed when translated. Here’s a question: if tongues aren’t translated, how do we know it comes from God and it’s not just the person making sounds? We cannot. So then, how do we perceive a miracle taking place? If you’ll note my above discussion of 1 Cor 14:11, this is PRECISELY Paul’s point. Untranslated tongues do not prove themselves to be miraculous, because for all we can know, it’s just the person making strange sounds. There’s no difference to OUR ears between that and baby talk. Baby talk is certainly not miraculous. But if the words are translated, either by a native speaker or someone with a gift of interpretation, then we can see that it’s a miracle because we note that the person had not learned that language, and that the content is in line with the Scriptures and with Christ.)
    Ok, here are your four questions:

    1. If the Authorized agents are marked by their ability to do signs, wonders and miracles then I am bound to believe when I see a miracle, sign or wonder, thus making me suceptible to being led astray by false miracles. (You do agree that false miracles can occur today do you not)?

    Echo says: Before Christ, this would be true. We know, however, that since Jesus is the exact copy of God’s Being, because he is God incarnate (Col 1), that God has been FULLY revealed to the extent possible to finite creatures. Jesus Christ (his person and work) is the FINAL, COMPLETE Word of God. He FULLY reveals God. And again we have the Christ event and the inspired interpretation of the Christ event. No more revelation is coming until the world ends. No more revelation, no need for miracles to affirm the revelation. All miracles (once the canon was closed) are necessarily false. Does that mean God does not act? No. Does that mean that sometimes people are not mysteriously cured from cancer? No. But God employs means. He acts, but he acts through the creation, through creatures. Does God speak with an audible voice? Sure, through preachers. Does God heal people of thier diseases? All the time, go to your local hospital. Are people sometimes mysteriously cured of illness after people pray? Yep. Is this miraculous? Maybe. Unexplained to be sure, but not necessarily miraculous. Either way, God still did it. However, is there such a thing as the gift of miraculous healings today? No. If there were, wouldn’t those people be offering it in hospitals? We don’t always understand the human body. Medicine has not been able to figure it all out. The point is this: tongues is supposed to serve as EVIDENCE. Evidence of what? God’s presence, the Holy Spirit moving the heart of the tongue-speaker, etc. Tongues DO provide evidence. They provide evidence that the Jews have been rejected in favor of the Gentiles, and they provide evidence that the Word being preached is genuine. Today, we do not need these signs to have a genuine Word. We have the Bible, which we all believe to be authoritative, and we have the testimony of tongues to go with the Bible. So when the preacher preaches, we don’t need tongues as proof that it comes from God. We need to be Berean and see if it lines up with the Bible. But we do still have visible signs that the preached Word can be trusted. We call them sacraments: Lord’s Supper and Baptism. Tongues speaking not only undermines the Bible, but also the sacraments.

    2. If I say that miracles, signs and wonders ceased then I would then have to deny the spiritual gifts taught in the New Testament (specifically Romans and the Corinthian episltes). And this is the main point we are arguing. I believe it is very clear that the Spirit in the New Testament churches should be in play today (I Corinthians 1:7, II Corinthians 11:4; Romans 8:15). If we say that the Spirit is diffirent now then it was then are we not in danger of losing EVERYTHING (i.e. communion)?

    Echo says: you are only in danger of losing everything if you don’t understand how the Spirit acted then and how he acts now. That’s like saying that if we no longer have to obey the ceremonial law thanks to Jesus, we don’t have to obey the moral law either. In other words, if the dietary laws for Israel have ceased to apply to us, then don’t the 10 Commandments? If we can eat pork, can we also murder? No one would ask this question because it’s contrary to common sense. But if you think about it, it really just employs the same logic that you’re employing here. We do not deny the validity of the gifts, we deny that they are still being given in the same way. We deny that the miraculous gifts – which were given to support the authority of the message – are still being given. The foundation is laid. The support is in place. We do not need to lay the foundation all over again. It has been laid. It is accomplished. We stand on the foundation of miracles, but we do not seek miracles. Jesus said that it was wicked to seek miracles. He said that wicked people are always seeking the sign. What did he mean? He performed lots of signs. He is not saying that signs are wrong or that they don’t come from God. They aren’t wrong; they do come from God. But he is saying that it’s wrong to seek the sign rather than the thing signified.
    Echo also says: Please do me a favor and affirm that you agree that there is such a thing as a sign and a thing that the sign points to. Please confirm that such a distinction can be made. It is very important to me that you affirm this distinction. And, pretty much, you have to, because it’s just true by definition. I eagerly await your affirmation of this distinction between a sign and the thing signified. Please affirm that these are two different things. While you’re at it, please affirm that for EVERY sign there is a thing signified, a thing pointed to. Please affirm this.

    3. If that canon is closed when the apostles died and only the apostles were able to do miracles then what is Jesus talking about in John 14:12 when he says that those who believe in him will do greater things (miracles)? Does “anyone who has faith” mean “Any APOSTLE who has faith”?

    Echo says: This is a very good question. The Greek word that is translated “works” in the ESV, and “things” in the NIV literally means “works”. It doesn’t mean miracles. If it was miracles, the word would be dunamis, but the word used is ergon. This is just the simple word for action, deed, works. However, I would ask you to take a closer look at this verse. Did the apostles do greater work than Jesus? What could be greater than accomplishing our salvation? Was Jesus lying or incorrect? surely not. So what does this mean? I would guess that it refers to the work of spreading the good news of the gospel. But you tell me. Did the apostles perform GREATER miracles even than Jesus? Jesus walked on water, Peter could not. Jesus fed the 5000 and then the 4000, and no apostle ever repeated that. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and you did see that repeated, but no one did anything greater than this. But perhaps the greatest miracle of all that Jesus did was rising from the dead on Easter morning. To my knowledge, when the apostles died, they remained dead. So not only is it the wrong Greek word for it to refer to miracles, even that interpretation doesn’t seem to fit. I think that the apostles did more and greater work to spread the gospel. Jesus preached almost totally exclusively to the Jews. But the apostles spread the gospel all over the world, culminating in Paul’s testimony before Ceasar. So they did more to spread the gospel. That’s the only way I can even think of to explain what Jesus is saying here. I welcome further comment, however.

    4. (This one is just for echo;-) What about these personal experiences? Am i to beleive they are all works of Satan or self? Am i not supposed to allow for some type of “leading by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18)? What of all beleivers who have at some point prayed for direction? Does that direction exclusviley and entirely come through the Bible? I think we all agree that the Spirit does SOMETHING, to lead us and to convict us and to teach us and to gift us. If at any point that something occurs outside of the Bible (dream, counsel, seminary class) then are we advocating an open canon?

    Echo says: no, we not advocating an open canon. I do not believe in seeking a “special Word” from the Lord. For example, many young people in the evangelical world get very distressed over which college to go to. Some spend multiple days in prayer and fasting and crying out to God that he would show them which college they should go to. I don’t believe in this sort of thing. I think it’s actually quite foolish, and I’ll be happy to tell you why. Note carefully that I did not call a person foolish, but an action. And actually I used the word “foolish” very deliberately, because it’s an action that is expressly the opposite of “wisdom”. God encourages us to seek, find and employ godly wisdom. His wisdom that is found in the Bible. Some people particularly like the wisdom literature, like Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and whatever else, but really, the entire Bible provides wisdom for us. And Jesus Christ is himself our wisdom from God.

    1Co 1:30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

    See, Jesus IS our wisdom from God. What does this mean? It means that we can learn everything God wishes to tell us (especially about wisdom) by looking to Jesus.
    Do you want to know what college to go to? Employ the wisdom God has given you, make the best decision you can, and don’t worry about it. If you are trying to choose between USC and UCSD, be encouraged; neither one of those choices is SINFUL. God has revealed sin and righteousness. He has not concealed that from us. If you go to USC, you have not sinned. If you go to UCSD, you have not sinned. It’s not like God has some secret plan THAT YOU MUST DISCOVER and be obedient to. God does have a secret plan for each one of us. But we call it secret precisely because it hasn’t been revealed, and it won’t be revealed, except in God’s bringing it about. If you want to go to USC, go there. And when you arrive, you’ll find that since you’re there, it must have been God’s plan all along. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gotten there.
    But the Bible commands us to cultivate and exercise wisdom. Wisdom tells us how to make proper decisions. The Bible is indifferent to which college you choose. Neither one is sin, go where you want. Make some practical choices about it. Which one will give you the better education for the money? Will you be close or far from your parents, and is that what you want? Should you instead go to a Christian college? Maybe, but you don’t have to. If you’re going to study the Bible, you’re probably going to want to be concerned to go to a Bible college that reflects good, solid biblical principles. But if you’re going to get a degree in accounting, by all means, try to go to the best school for accounting that you can afford. Do you want to be a lawyer and can you afford to go to Harvard? do it. God bless you. You haven’t sinned.
    What about personal experiences? Do they come from the devil or the self? Well, perhaps one or the other, perhaps both. But I’ll tell you what. When I spoke in tongues, I know for a FACT that I merely imitated the sounds I heard around me. I simply copied them. I never had any idea what I was saying. I am not using this to prove tongues false. I have already sought to do that from Scripture. However, in my own experience, I can say that I just repeated the sounds I heard around me. How fascinating it is that I came to eventually believe that this was the Holy Spirit granting me utterance. I did it, but I thought it was the work of God. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not the work of God or the devil. Like God, the devil too employs creaturely means. The devil may use a woman, for example, to entice you to lust. When you really think about it, it’s really YOU that is sinful and lusting after the woman. Sure, the devil is using her to get to you, and he’s using your sinful heart so that you are tempted and lust after the woman, but at the end of the day, you have no one to blame but yourself. You can’t blame your sin on the devil.
    So let’s say, for the sake of argument, that tongues is wrong and not for today. Then that would make tongues sinful. It would mean that everyone who speaks in tongues is just making it up, imitating the sounds around them perhaps.
    How could this happen? Well, if you’re in a church that encourages you to be holy, that encourages you to be sold out for Jesus, that encourages you to witness to others boldly: you might be seeking the power to do these things. You might be seeking the power to be holy. And your church offers you the answer: the baptism in the Holy Spirit. So you think you really want this, because you want to be holy; you want to have the power to be holy, you want to be sold out for Jesus, you don’t want to be too shy to talk about your faith with others, you might even be looking for some tangible sign that you are saved, because you’re afraid that you’re a phoney, and that God has not actually saved you. You’re afraid that you are backslidden, and that you have blasphemed the Holy Spirit so that you are condemned to hell no matter what you do. You lie awake at night thinking of all the sins you forgot to confess that day. You go to church on communion Sunday and seriously consider not taking the communion because you don’t think you’re holy enough.
    There are lots of reasons to want this experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit. But God has provided for all of these needs. Let me be clear though: being saved is being baptized in the Holy Spirit. I am not denying that believers are filled with the Spirit, I am denying that this is an emotional experience above and beyond salvation, that is accompanied by signs and wonders, such as tongues.
    Do you require power over sin? Be of good cheer. God has provided for you. The regular preaching of the Word gives you power over sin. Faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ. Hearing about what Jesus has done for you makes you grateful to him, and causes you to want to sin less. This is definitely the work of the Spirit, but we call it sanctification, and the Spirit uses the preaching of the Word to bring it about.
    Do you require boldness in witnessing? What did Paul do when he required boldness? He asked people to pray that God would give him boldness.

    Col 4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison–
    Col 4:4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

    But note well that it is God who gives opportunities to share the gospel. We should seek to share with people, but we should not ever cram our faith down peoples’ throats.
    Are you afraid that you’re a phoney, and that God has not actually saved you? Are you afraid that you are backslidden, and that you have blasphemed the Holy Spirit so that you are condemned to hell no matter what you do? Do you lie awake at night thinking of all the sins you forgot to confess that day? Do you go to church on communion Sunday and seriously consider not taking the communion because you don’t think you’re holy enough? Do you just keep on sinning the same sins over and over again?
    God has made a provision for you. You need no assurance of your salvation than this: once saved, always saved. There is NO SUCH THING as being able to lose your salvation. If you really believe that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, and that God raised him from the dead, and that he is your ONLY hope for peace with God, you ARE saved. You can’t believe this if you aren’t. If you doubt these things, join the club! Many of us doubt. No one has perfect faith. But if I ask you if Jesus Christ is your hope for salvation, don’t you know it’s true? You are saved. God will sustain you. Continue to trust him. He will not let you down. Meanwhile, get to church. God has provided that the Word of God will be preached to you every Sunday. Go and hear it. You can’t make it to Wednesday night Bible study, Friday night praise night, Monday night discipleship, Saturday morning prayer? Don’t worry about it. God ONLY COMMANDS that you go and hear the preaching on Sunday morning. Get to church. Weekday activities are fine, but not commanded by Scripture. You don’t have to go to church every day. You DO, however, have to go on Sunday. And that means not taking a day off to go to a Chargers game or because you’ve got too much work to do. Get to church.
    If you believe in Christ as your only hope, you have not blasphemed the Holy Spirit. Don’t even allow yourself to be threatened by this. Keep trusting in God. He will sustain you. He has PROMISED to sustain you.
    Are you afraid that your sin will keep you from God? Then what did Jesus die for? He doesn’t die afresh every day. He died once. That’s it. When you were forgiven of your sins, you were forgiven of the ones you had not yet committed. By all means, continue to confess your sins for the sake of conscience and your relationship with God – after all, it shows him that you aren’t afraid to admit your sins, and thus your need for his provision for them – but do not suppose that God cannot save you despite your sins. This is the very meaning of the cross.

    Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
    Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

    Good news, Christian! You ARE not condemned. What condemnation is being referred to? JUDGMENT DAY. You stand exonerated today because you will be exonerated then. That’s what it means to be free from the law. The law cannot CONDEMN you. It still commands you, and you should seek to be obedient, but there is NO CONDEMNATION for those in Christ Jesus. And those who are in Christ Jesus are those who have faith in him as their only hope. If you believe that Jesus life and death can accomplish salvation, it is because the Holy Spirit is at work within you, allowing you to perceive this truth. God is not an indian giver. Your salvation is permanent. If it wasn’t permanent, it wouldn’t really be salvation.
    Look, the whole point of Jesus’ death was to make up for our weaknesses. If we weren’t sinful, we wouldn’t need Christ in the first place. God saves you. You don’t save yourself. God doesn’t give you the power to save yourself. God saves you. You continue to sin, but Jesus’ sacrifice is of infinite value. Your sin will never be greater than the value of the life of the Son of God. How could it be?
    Once saved, always saved.
    You cannot lose your salvation, because you didn’t earn it yourself. God is the one who gave it to you. You are saved by grace through faith right?

    Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
    Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    What is not of your own doing? FAITH. And faith is the only thing you need for salvation. Hmmm.

    Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    God has assigned to you a measure of faith. It is not your own doing, God gave it to you.
    So if you aren’t responsible in ANY WAY for your salvation, how could you lose it? You are not the one who gained it for you. Not only can you not lose it, you can’t acquire it either. God has given it to you, and he won’t take it away from you.
    Most churches that advocate tongues use, whether they mean to or not, whether we just tend that way or not, teach you to depend on an emotional experience as CONFIRMATION. Confirmation of what, you ask? Confirmation that God has forgiven you – THIS TIME.
    There is no permanent assurance that God has forgiven you. You only get to be forgiven THIS TIME, and that’s only because you FELT God. But what about next time when you don’t “feel” God? Are you still forgiven? Did you get anything out of the sermon if it didn’t make you cry or feel bad? Is there such a thing as walking out of church feeling GOOD? HAPPY? CONFIDENT IN YOUR SALVATION???
    Do you know that the reason to go to church is to hear the good news that you can’t earn your salvation, but Christ has earned it for you? You have not chosen God, God has chosen YOU. You are saved now, you will always be saved. Your salvation is not your doing. This isn’t something to be feared, it’s something to take comfort in. Your salvation isn’t in your weak and sinful hands. It’s not up to you to ruin it. You can’t mess it up!
    think about falling in love. You either love that girl or you don’t. Her faults? She doesn’t have any. But if you don’t love her, all you see are faults. It’s the same with God. If he loves us and has saved us, he doesn’t see our faults. He sees only the righteousness of Christ Jesus, which covers us like a garment. When God looks at us, he doesn’t see our sin, he sees his Son. When God said of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” he also said it of you who are IN Christ Jesus by faith. But even this faith is a gift from God.
    You either love that girl, or you don’t. You can’t close your eyes and WILL yourself to love her. You can’t try really hard to love her. You either do or you don’t. But if you do love her, nothing will detract you. If you don’t love her, nothing will convince you. This is just like what it means to have faith. Do you think you can force yourself to have faith? You can’t. You either have it or you don’t. Without faith, no amount of convincing or reasonable argumentation will convince ANYONE. But with faith, nothing will convince you that God’s Word is not true. You are like a tree that is planted by the water, you shall not be moved.
    God has given you this faith. You shall not be moved.
    This is why you go to church. You don’t go to hear about how you had better do more for God this week, and you better do better too! That’s not what church is! Church is: YOU’VE FAILED, and you will ALWAYS FAIL! But that’s ok! IT IS FOR YOU THAT CHRIST DIED! Now come and sit down with Christ for supper. You’ve had a long week, beloved.
    You see, you only NEED these experiences when you aren’t hearing the gospel. You only NEED these experiences when your needs aren’t being met. If the gospel were being preached to you, you wouldn’t need to seek assurance elsewhere. You would feast on the flesh of Christ and the blood of Christ every week, and you would sleep soundly at night, quietly trusting that God will do what he has promised.
    You would know that God can be trusted when he says, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” You will know that he can be trusted when he says, “I will raise you up at the last day.” Or when he says, “Behold, we shall all be changed at the last trumpet.” And most importantly, you would believe when he says, “THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS.”
    People of God, do not hope in miracles. Rather, hope in Christ. This is why Paul said that he preached Christ and him crucified. What more could you ask for? What more do you need? Nothing.

    Rom 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
    32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
    33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
    34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
    35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
    36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
    37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
    38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
    39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  2. Daniel B,

    I don’t think you want me to take you up on your challenge. Not only would I not be able to argue your position effectively, but I would necessarily argue it in a fallacious manner, because I cannot comprehend it in a way other than it being fallacious. To me, insisting that tongues should continue is sort of like insisting that the sky is pink. It’s difficult for me to say anything other than, “No, it’s not pink. Have you looked outside lately?” To argue against your position requires an immense amount of effort and deep thinking. It’s like trying to help a ROman Catholic understand that Mary isn’t divine.

    Anyway, I hope that you don’t find those comments insulting, but that you’ll at least understand me when I say that to actually argue your position would be almost completely counterproductive and would require a herculean effort on my part. It’s funny; in some ways, I remember my Pentecostal days like they were yesterday, but in other ways, I don’t even remember those days at all. I don’t remember how to think that way anymore. I have a completely different set of categories than I used to. That’s why I’m trying to get you to affirm some more basic things, like the distinction between the sign and the thing signified.

    So I ask you to excuse me from your challenge on the grounds that it would be impossible for me to argue from your position. Your position doesn’t actually make sense to me. I frankly don’t understand why you don’t respond to my posts with answers of, “Oh, I’ve never thought of that before.” I mean, much of what I said has been entirely new to you. You will probably disagree, but I know otherwise. That’s why it’s kind of fascinating to me that you find my arguments so unconvincing. Fascinating and dumbfounding.

    Since there’s literally a mountain of things that I have written that have been completely ignored by you and the others, grant me this one request.

    Please affirm the distinction between the thing signified and the sign itself. Please affirm that these are two different things.

    And then, I’m afraid you’ll have to answer me yourself. I can’t possibly argue your position without having my tongue in my cheek, and that would just be counterproductive. I really have no idea what’s going on in your head.

  3. Interesting debate tactic, Daniel, but it looks like you’re going to have to do your own work!

  4. Rube,

    In his defense, that might have proven a useful exercise. You learn a lot about someone else’s position when you have to articulate it for yourself.

    My point was that I couldn’t possibly do that in this case, because I can’t really comprehend the tongue speaking position. I actually find it to be *gasp* irrational.

  5. Well, everybody seems to be ignoring me the host, but I happen to find it rational that foreign-language tongues (not personal babble tongues) could exist still today. Maybe I’ll give a shot at picking apart your reasoning…

  6. Echo’s example of irrationality:

    Someone said private tongues are good and that they edify the speaker. They cited Scripture to support their answer.

    While this doesn’t appear irrational at first, I have shown that tongues speaking is a miracle. Miracles are supposed to demonstrate the power of God to others. I have demonstrated by extensive discussion of the Greek and the rest of the passage that 1 Cor 14:11 clearly states that if the tongues are not translated, there can be no perception of the power of God in said tongues by others. But if you can’t perceive the power of God behind the tongues without them being translated, how is private tongues of any value?

    The only possible benefit that the private tongues speaker can derive from them is that they “feel” like a miracle is taking place. They don’t know it has because the tongues are untranslated.

    Here you face the same problem with yourself as you do with others. When you hear someone speaking in untranslated tongues, you have no proof whatsoever that it is a genuine miracle from the Holy Spirit. The person could just be babbling. It’s the same when you are alone. How do you know that your speech is from the Spirit and not just babbling? The only proof you offer is the emotions you feel.

    You would deny this, but I read something written on another website by someone who advocates tongues here (and I will allow him to reveal himself if he so chooses) recently, and it specifically stated that you know God’s presence is more real to you if you are in the car listening to a worship CD and you begin to cry. I have read other things that stated that some feeling of God crashes over you like a wave. Feelings, emotions, feelings.

    You guys keep denying that your feelings and emotions are proof of anything, and that’s just downright wrong. You have cited such proof yourselves elsewhere in other contexts. Perhaps you do not realize this, but you do it.

    I can only conclude that this is why so much of what I have written has not convinced you, and why so much of it has gone entirely unanswered, aside from a giggle about my posts being long and boring. I know they’re boring. They totally lack excitement and emotional experience. Don’t you guys understand that that doesn’t take away from credibility? Exciting does not equal credible, emotion does not equal proof.

    Consider the audiences in Ancient Greece of the Greek tragedies. They were all weeping as they watched them. But what they were watching was decidedly pagan and often quite disgusting, full of rape and incest, suicide and all sorts of terrible things. Just because you cry is by no means proof that the Holy Spirit is at work. It may just as easily be your wicked heart.

    Perhaps now it is clear why I cannot argue your position for you. I find it to be irrational.

    I would find your position rational if, for example, you were to at least attempt to prove to me that Paul’s instructions to the Corinthian believers necessarily apply in the exact same literal way to us. I mean, that’s a hermeneutical point I’ve made a couple times now, with no response. None! None of you has explained how the Bible is to be interpreted beyond: open it and read it. Never mind that the methods I am advocating of understanding the Bible have been in use for 2000 years by responsible theologians and irresponsible theologians alike. And never mind that you think that that’s so far from carrying any weight that it almost makes you think it MUST be wrong. Some people say that if it’s new, it isn’t true; you seem to want to say that if it isn’t new, it can’t be true. You seem to think that you are smarter than 2000 years of theological study by the church at large.

    And for proof you offer your tears.

    In fact, why don’t you look into an ancient heresy called Montanism:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montanism

    Note well that it was declared by the church to be heresy. Granted, there was some confusion about it, but it was declared to be heretical. They eventually figured it out.

  7. Rube,

    I’m not ignoring you.

    E

  8. Maybe not, but the previous argument about tongues doesn’t touch me, as I 100% agree that toungues without interpretation is unedifying, does not reveal the glory of God, and is a voluntary action deriving from self. I allow for the possibility of interpreted, understood, foreign-but-earthly-language miraculous tongues that reveal the glory of the God. And this is certainly not based on personal experience, emotions, excitement, or tears.

  9. Rube,

    That’s great that you want to forbid the false tongues that is called tongues, and allow for the real tongues. There’s just one problem. Once you get rid of all the self-derived, as you call it, tongues, there’s no tongues left.

    Now I think the Bible is actually pretty clear about tongues and other miracles, and I think it teaches us that it has completely ceased.

    But ok, you don’t buy that. That’s fine. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and say, why are all the tongues that actually happen self derived as you say? How come there’s (in general) an anti-intellectualism that goes along with this teaching of tongues? In short, how come all the tongues-speaking churches seem to have not somewhat erroneous but horrible, off the wall crazy theology? And I don’t mean the moderates who are discussing here, but sometime you should go into an Assembly of God or a 4-H or something. This is some absolute nutty stuff that has no root in common sense, much less the Bible.

    In short, show me a church that practices tongues whose theology is excellent, who study the Bible, who know their stuff, and then I’ll insist that all the stuff I’ve been spending so much time to write is of utmost importance. In other words, I really don’t care if you can’t or don’t buy my arguments, but at least look at the churches who are teaching tongues. Jesus said, “By their fruit you shall know them.” Just look at their theology. Think about it; if they are receiving tongues and interpretation from the Holy Spirit, why don’t they believe in election or the other 5 points of TULIP? Why have they never heard of covenant theology? Why are they Arminian? Why do they think “Left Behind” is a theology textbook? Why do they think alcohol is inherently evil or tobacco? Why are their sermons from their pulpits all law and no gospel (moralism) that have little or nothing to do with the text at hand? Why do they sing songs for hours that have no theological substance? Why do they say that practical application is better than doctrine, and stop up their ears and talk about head knowledge any time anyone wants to have a theological or rational discussion? I could go on…

    But you object. You say that there are PEOPLE who have very good theology that still hold that gifts might remain a possibility. Ok, fine, there are people, but where is the church?

    Show me the church that practices tongues that is a true church having the following marks: the Preaching of the Word, the proper administration of the Sacraments, and discipline. No three marks, no true church.

    By the way, if the gospel isn’t preached properly, that’s one mark right there, and they’re disqualified. Improper sacraments, for example paedocommunion, there’s a failed mark right there. Divorcees in the church that aren’t repenting and are not under discipline? Such a church is not a church.

    Those are Calvin’s three marks of the church, and the “Three Forms of Unity” (Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dordt, and the Belgic Confession) say that if you lack one of these you are not a true church.

    For those of you reading, note that it is possible for a church to have all three. Having all three doesn’t make it a perfect church.

    Anyway, I’m not sure if I agree with Calvin’s assessment. The Westminster Confession and Catechisms has a more moderate stance, speaking of more or less pure churches. That’s our confession. But of course, a church can still exhibit all three marks. And a church should exhibit all three marks.

    But ok, so, whether such a church would or would not constitute a true church will be laid aside. Please just tell me if there is such a church that teaches tongues and has all three marks. Good luck.

    By the way Rube, maybe you wouldn’t mind affirming my sign/thing signified distinction?

  10. Rube,

    PS We need a thread on how preaching should be done, on how the Bible should be properly interpreted and preached. Ask Bruce if this is a good idea.

    E

  11. Working backwards…
    Such a thread on preaching sounds like a great idea, but not my bailiwick. Starting a new blog at wordpress.com is free and easy (hint hint), and I think it’s pretty obvious you’ve got plenty of stuff to say!

    Of course, I will affirm that signs are to be distinguished from things signified. But are miracles always signs? I think miracles can be gratuitous displays of God’s power and glory, but not necessarily meant to be signs in the symbolism sense that, say Baptism & Communion are signs. For instance, Gideon’s fleeces are miraculous signs. But signifying what? Rather, symbolizing what? What does wet or dry sheepskin have to do with military strategy? Circumcision is a sign, and
    that went away because…yes, a signified thing appeared, but the old sign was also simply replaced with a new sign. And the signified of baptism is realized in us,
    but the sign doesn’t go away (same with communion). Or let’s talk about healings. Was the purpose of miraculous only about signifying the spiritual healing that the gopel was bringing? Or was it also a little bit about physical healing, because God loves people and sometimes wants to reduce suffering? Where can you draw the lines between medical results, psychosomatic results, self-healing through the interaction of mind and body, or God’s direct intervention? Do the lines shift as medical technology advances? If God does sometimes directly heal today (as the result of prayer), are you excluding that from your definition of miracle just because it is not a sign of a signified? Or are miracles not always signs?

    But you make an excellent point; where are the churches that preach — and PRACTICE — proper tongues! And of course, like you, I have never heard of such a thing. But the purpose of the proper gift of tongues is to spread the gospel across language barriers, and in a local congregation, almost by definition such language barriers would not exist. So it is not surprising that the Holy Spirit does not work that way, that tongues would only appear out on the remotest mission field (coincidentally, where claims are hardest to verify, or distinguish from legends). And besides, the proper gift of tongues cannot be PRACTICED, as a musical instrument can be practiced, or bible study can be practiced, or sacraments can be practiced. The proper gift of tongues happens at the Holy Spirit’s volition, not ours.

    But if you were in my church before I was in my church, you would have witnessed our (now retired) pastor go through (literal, OPC) trials for expositionally preaching through 1 Cor 14, and holding (from what I understand) essentially the “mild-cessationist” stance I have been advocating (I got it from him originally). He was raked over the coals for not affirming cessation of tongues, nor prophecy (which he (re?)defined as “proclamation of God’s word with Holy Spirit dunamis”, and basically equated with true mark of the church #1: Preaching of the Word). As for now, with our new pastor, the issue has not come up yet, and I really don’t want to bother him about it (or bait him into getting in trouble — although now that we’re in the PCA the Presbytery is supposed to be more chill about these kinds of things).

    But assuming the pastoral (and I guess session-endorsed) position on tongues has not changed, then come on over, to see “a church that teaches tongues and has all three marks.”

    Speaking of marks, one of the first weeks we visited our church they announced from the pulpit that a woman was being disciplined for adultery (she had an affair, was unrepentant, and got a divorce). I don’t remember them using the actual word “excommunication”, but I guess that’s what that was. And for proper administration of the sacraments, I’m surprised you chose paedocommunion instead of credobaptism. I am not aware of common practice of paedocommunion outside hyper-reformed (mono-covenantal, Federal Vision) types of churches. As for preaching the gospel, I seem to remember in my youth that virtually every service at least had the offer of the gospel tacked on to the end, even if the sermon might not have exposited it.

  12. OK Echo, I am not surprised that you wouldn’t (couldn’t) take that challenge. But I probably mislabeled the challenge when i said “argue from my position”. I should have said, “look for the logical fallicies of your arguments.” Because thats what I am going to do and I was hoping that if you saw them for yourself then you might be a little more receptive to what I am trying to explain to you.

    1. I questioned how you can make the (supposed) cessation of miracles the basis for the closing of the canon and if by doing so you make yourself open to believe in false miracles and a newly opened canon.

    Your response was logically impossible. What is called “circular reasoning”. You claim that “all miracles (once the canon was closed)are necessarily false”.
    Q: But what do you claim as the closing of the canon?
    A:The scriptures, specifically Collosians 1. (Fully revealed)
    Q:But how do i know that the scriptures can be trusted?
    A:Because the canon is closed.
    Q: But how do I know that Canon is fully closed?
    A: Because miracles have ceased.
    Q: How Do I know miracles have ceased?
    A: Because the Canon is closed.

    Then you also make the very dangerous statement that, “no more revelation until the world ends” implying that the “signs” Christ talked about (bloody moon etc)are yet to come. So then you admit that miracles and signs still are very much possible, just not right now. Almost like you KNOW that right now is not the time of the Second Coming.

    In addition to this you go further by saying, miracles have ceased, but God still acts in ways that are not miraculous. OKayyy; um isn’t this just making everything subjective? You sight the sudden dissapearance of cancer from a persons body and then say it “maybe” a miracle. But it doens’t have to be if miracles don’t fit into your theology.

    With all do respect it is this type of subjective reasoning that I find irrational.

    2. You reject what I consider a very reasonable question regarding what you pick and choose to consider applicable scriptures for present church practice.

    You claim that I don’t get it because i don’t understand how the spirit acted then and how he acts today.

    (first of all this argument is based on the accuracy of your first argument and I have already demonstrated that to be false)

    Lets use communion as an example. What verses tell you to continue on in communion? You will find in the context of those verses discources regarding the Holy Spirit (already sighted the upper room discourse; and the epistles to the Corinthians). It is a very difficult thing to heremenuetically take out some scriptures and leave in others. Nevertheless I will acknowledge everyone does it with things like women speaking in church, or the picking up of venemous snakes or verses regarding slavery. It’s not impossible, it just takes alot of work. So far I haven’t seen any exposition that does this effectivley with regards to tongues and prophecy (and miracles)without the pressupositions of circular arguments or that the congregational prophecy occuring in Corinth was infallible. Those two presuppositions are falacious and unless they can be proved there is no ground for you to tell me that you understand better then i do how the Spirit worked and works.

    3. You deny that John 14 is refering to miracles. I acknowledge the Greek word is “works” but no interpreter of scripture would have any difficulty saying the most impressive of Jesus’ works would be the “miracles” he performed. Esspecially in the mind of the present audience (the disciples) they were not thinking of his sacrificial death on the cross, his ressurection or his sinless life, but rather his miracles. In fact, they did do fantastic miracles. They also did fantastic works, i.e. the spreading of the gospel. So which one of these do we also get to participate in if we are refered to in the “anyone who has faith”? Why not both? why not more? In fact it is implicit that we will do greater things provided we have faith in him. How, by what means, we are so weak. By the Spirit. That is what Jesus is promising his disciples in this upper room discourse. The Holy Spirit will give them power. They lacked that power then for two reasons 1. their faith was weak and 2. the Spirit had not yet been poured out. After the ascension on the day of pentecost that Spirit was poured out in a mighty way. A way we see demonstrated in the book of Acts, and Peter said that it is a way promised through all generations. We both agree that a person who is saved recieves the promised indwelling Holy Spirit. and then you ask me to make a distinction between the sign and the thing signified. I guess this means that indwelling Holy Spirit is the sign of sonship. How does this eliminate the use of a “manifestation of the Spirit”? In fact a manifestation of the Spirit ought to be expected if someone has the indwelling Holy Spirit. Ahhhh but here comes the part you cessationist dislike the most. You now say that I preach tongues as an assurance of salvation. No I don’t, I preach the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. I preach the fruit of the Spirit as well as the gifts of the Spirit. both of these are necessary elements of the Holy Spirit in our heart. Can a person mimic the fruit? yes. Can a person fake the gifts? Yeah.(So of course I wouldn’t preach either gifts or fruit as ASSURANCE). Can a person grieve the Holy Spirit? Of course. Could they grieve the Holy Spirit by denying the gifts of the Holy Spirit? Absolutley. Does this mean that they don’t have the Holy Spirit? Not at all.

    Ok so I went on a bit of a bunny trail but it all had to do with your response to question 3 so i think it’s ok.

    4. This one i find the most humerous. your primary basis for arguing against personal experiences is your own personal experience. I will admitt personal experiences are impossible to argue against so there really is little that can be said about this except that the only way you can deny someones personal experience is that you MUST know the Bible better, you MUST know Jesus better, you MUST have the best theology. And that my friend is where you stake your claim. You can’t be wrong, because you have the better theology. to further strengthen your position you go to the BEST school with the BEST professors and read the BEST books on the subjects. But who is the determination of this bestness? It’s you. It all comes down to you. Your post number 9 is so telling of your position. You’ve got your standard “marks of the true church” all set out and ready to deny any person who disagrees with you on that basis. This is totally a side note but how come nobody ever lists “persecution” as a mark of a true church? I mean that seems more Biblical and less subjective to me then the ol’ “proper practice of church disciple” cop out. BTW where do you get your instructions for church discipline? I hope it’s not that darn Corinthians epistle becaue that sure doesn’t give us instructions on how to run a church.

    Do you see my point? it’s these little subjective things that cause the disunity in the body of Christ that i’m afraid do more harm then good. If you were the judge I doubt any church would make the cut. Maybe a few of the elect might find their way to a congregation or 2 but you would have to be the pastor because you have the best Theology.

    The irony of it all is that I agree with most of your theology. I believe in Covenant theology, I am an amillenialist, I agree with the 5 points of Calvanism. But oops, I don’t see how you can prove the cessation of spiritual gifts so I am the one in error. SIGH. I do feel bad for you echo because you have to fight against it so hard. I spent a couple hourse yesterday counseling a young girl who has baisically rebelled against God, her family the church. We talked about her circle of friends and how she intentionally chooses friends who do worse things then her so that she can feel better about herself. The same logic applies when a person starts tearing apart and judging other churches or other peoples theology. As long as their theology is bad, my theology is good.

    I HATE the theology of David Jeremiah. But I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago to fellowship with the him. Did i sit there and judge this man for preaching false hope for the Jewish people? No, not at all. Though i disagree with his theology i recognized he has a tremendous impact on reaching people for Christ. Could you do that? could you acknowledge the impact that the Baptist church or the Wesleyian church or the Evangelical free Church or the Nazarene Church has made in “doing great works than these” (I will leave out the A/G church for obvious reasons) or would you rather criticize all the places their theology is wrong?

    I appreciate being able to have these discussions with brothers and sisters in Christ because I find them intellectually stimulating. Of course I feel my theology is the best, but I am not so sure that anyone has it all figured out. Who knows, maybe if I go to seminary I wll realize just how wrong I am and how easy it is to have it all figured out. who knows?

  13. You cite the sudden disapearance of cancer from a persons body and then say it “maybe” is a miracle.

    That’s the point I was trying to make. Echo, since your definition of “miracle” is tied to “sign”, and the only purpose you allow for “sign” is “authorization of new revelation”, and closed canon means no more new revelation, anything that fits your definition of “miracle” is disallowed today — by definition! But the possibility that God would directly heal (trying to avoid use of the word “miraculous”, since that is the definition in question), without intending to signify, but just because he loves us (and does not gnostically hate our bodies), does not fit into your definition of miracle. But it is part of everybody else’s intuitive concept of “miracle”. As to “wouldn’t those people [with the gift of healing] be offering it in hospitals?” what makes you assume that the gift of healing could be operated like a volitional tool any more than tongues can? (I realize that with Daniel & I, you kind of have a war on two fronts; he and I are advocating radically different concepts of extant gifts)

    You deny that John 14 is refering to miracles. I acknowledge the Greek word is “works” but no interpreter of scripture would have any difficulty saying the most impressive of Jesus’ works would be the “miracles” he performed.

    If John 14 does refer to miracles, who fulfilled Jesus’ promise of performing greater miracles than Jesus? Or is that promise yet to be fulfilled? Or does it mean some other kind of work than miracles?

    They lacked that power then for two reasons 1. their faith was weak and 2. the Spirit had not yet been poured out.

    #1 is ridiculous. Their faith had nothing to do with why they lacked that power then (and #2 had everything to do with it). If the Holy Spirit pours out, it pours out. Them having more faith wouldn’t have made the outpouring come any sooner.

    I agree with the 5 points of Calvanism

    Good for you! (no sarcasm) You need to work on Albino — he’s 3 1/2 petals shy of a full TULIP (by his own assessment — I don’t even grant him the 1 for T)

  14. Rube, their lack of faith is significant, this is not in regards to the quantity (as the word “lack” may indicate) but the quality of their faith. Throughout the gospels we see faith as something that both assists (Matthew 9:22) and dimishes (Matthew 13:58) the miraculous. It is for this reason that Jesus is so excited at the end of his upper room discourse that they beleive (John 16:31). I didn’t mean to imply that a greater amount of faith would have sped up the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but you can’t deny that an indivudals faith still plays a key role in the miraculous (Acts 14:9). But even a faith that can move mountains without love is of little value to God (I Corinthians 13:2)

    Maybe we should be discussing the difference between the faith that saves us and the faith that heals us. Is there a difference? Is saving faith something less or is it something more? Can you have any less faith and still be saved? Can there be levels of faith? Would more knowledge mean more faith? Would more spiritual gifts be an indication of more faith? (the accusation of charismatics). Obviously I am asking these rhetorically but I think it is a worthwhile study for each individual.

  15. Well I was waiting for a response from Echo today but I’m asusming he’s just been very busy or has come to the conclusion that these discussions are without value. Either way I have enjoyed them for what they are worth. If there is a reply soon I won’t be able to comment until Saturday as I am hoping to take my wife to Disneyland tomorrow.

  16. There remains another possibility: he’s typing up his longest comment ever…

  17. Rube,

    Re: 11

    EXCELLENT! What a great post.

    First of all, yes, there’s a definite distinction to be made between signs and symbols. If the two were the same, there wouldn’t be two different words, after all. While the miracles of Scripture are always symbolic (I’m pretty sure; I can’t think of one that doesn’t have a symbolic meaning), there is also a significance to the miracle, that just simply shows that person’s authority.

    For example, tongues are a sign, but they are also symbolic, as you said, that the gospel is going out to all the nations, that salvation is no longer a matter of Jews only, but now includes Gentiles. (Of course, we realize that we will see more than just Jews in heaven from before the time of Christ, for example, see Melchizadek, who never was a Jew, but yet was a priest to God in Jerusalem. the point is that it was a sign TO THE JEWS that the Word of God now belonged to them, when previously the Word of God was given specifically, and more clearly than previously, to them.) But while that was the symbol of tongues, that was not, as you said, the purpose of tongues, in my estimation. For example, Wycliffe Bible translators now go to various nations and learn their language and translate the Bible in that language. It is usually a lifetime commitment. I know of a woman who does this in Colombia. (I am not advocating female ordination, by the way.) Anyway, the gospel can go out to the nations apart from the gift of tongues, just as Judaism went out to the nations via the Jewish dispersion. There were, after all, synagogues everywhere Paul went, and tongues didn’t come until Pentecost. So tongues was primarily a sign of the rejection of the Jews. Putting Christ to death was their ultimate rejection of their God, as Jesus himself declared in Matthew 23. “Fill up the sins of your fathers,” etc. But tongues, as they were practiced in churches, did more than simply proclaim the goodness and mercy of God in Christ in foreign languages. While this did aide the expediency of the proclamation to foreign peoples, this was not the primary purpose. Just like today, there were people everywhere who spoke multiple languages and could translate. But it was also a sign of the validity of the message, insofar as it was simply miraculous. In the same way, when Christ performed miracles, it was not only symbolic of the healing power of the gospel, and not only symbolic of God’s care for his people, and not only symbolic of his power to reverse the effects of the fall, it was also a credibility issue. It showed his authority by demonstrating that he was God and came from God.

    While preaching can be considered prophesy in some sense, prophesy is not always used univocally (in exactly the same way) in the Scriptures. On the one hand, prophesy is merely speaking for God. On the other, prophesy is bringing a NEW Word of revelation, adding to the canon. We cannot simply assume that everywhere in Scripture where it talks about prophesy that it simply means speaking for God or preaching. In some places it does mean preaching, but it is preaching a new Word. Christ was a new Word in NT times. Sometimes prophesy in the NT looks exactly the same as preaching does today, but sometimes it means something more akin to what Agabus did with Paul. “The bearer of this belt will likewise be put in chains” etc. Moses said that the test of a prophet to see whether he speaks for God is to determine if his prediction comes true. If it comes true, it’s from God, if not, then he doesn’t. So while it is correct to say that preaching is in some ways prophetic, it is not correct to simply conflate the office of pastor with the office of prophet. The two are not the same. Paul certainly distinguishes them in Eph 4. So I think that the former pastor of your church probably rightly came under criticism if he simply said that prophesy continues today in preaching, and therefore he is a mild cessationist. I think preaching is somewhat prophetic in nature, but preaching never, ever, ever goes beyond the Word already given. It doesn’t bring a new, fresh or whatever Word from the Lord. The preacher, for example, doesn’t have dreams or visions in which God himself dictates the sermon he is going to preach. Rather, he studies the passage in question in the light of Scripture and expounds it for his listeners. Big difference.

    And by the way, I sincerely doubt that the PCA would tolerate a tongues utterance during the worship service, even though they seem to be tolerating the Auburn Avenue fiasco.

    Paedocommunion goes on in MANY churches. It is practiced in the A/G, but also in the Baptist churches, and I would imagine that it is also practiced in Methodist churches, but I can’t be sure. To my knowledge, it is often practiced in Reformed Baptist churches as well, but they’re not exactly all the same.

  18. Daniel,

    Re: 12

    You make some good points. Your point about John 14 is particularly stimulating and will require more thought.

    However, I never, ever said that I know the canon is closed because there are no more miracles. Nope. Never did. If I said anything that gives you the impression that that’s what I was arguing, forgive my failure to communicate.

    Let me be very clear. The closing of the canon does NOT depend on the cessation of miracles. In fact, it is quite the other way around.

    As a matter of fact, we know the canon is closed because Christ is the FULLNESS of God’s revelation to man. There is no more Word to come. The only thing that remains is Jesus’ return to judge the living and the dead. I too am an amillenialist.

    And as I said before, we needed not just Christ, his person and work, but we also needed the INSPIRED INTERPRETATION of the Christ event. For further discussion of this, please see Michael Horton, Covenant and Eschatology, p. 233. I asked Horton about that just last night. His principle is called Word-Act-Word. More specifically, it can be understood as prediction-event-interpretation. This touches on Rube’s discussion previously on prophesy as well. For example, we note that the preacher does interpret, but his interpretation is not INSPIRED. I’m not going to reargue this point, nor am I going to type in Horton’s words. Search the Scriptures, and see if you don’t discover this principle. Remember, not every doctrine is explicit. The Bible never commands us to give communion to women, for example, but we know we should. How do we know? We can deduce it from Scripture by comparing Scripture with Scripture. We can also deduce this principle of revelation by looking at all of revelation and noticing a pattern. It’s just like recognizing that the Bible is organized covenantally. That’s not stated in Scripture explicitly, it’s rather a fact about Scripture that is discovered by studying it.

    So we know that the canon is closed because of the nature of the Scriptures themselves. We know Christ is the fulfilment of the OT; we know he is the fulness of God’s revelation, since he is the exact representation of God’s being. He IS the Word made flesh, he IS God revealed. But again, we still required inspired interpretation of this. And in fact, we get this doctrine from the inspired interpretation itself. (Heb 1, Col 1, etc.)

    Now we know miracles have ceased because miracles serve to give credibility to God’s messengers.

    Is it a miracle when someone is healed of cancer? MAYBE. It depends on how you define miracle. In the Bible, miracles are always performed BY SOMEONE. That’s why it lends the person credibility. When we, however, pray and ask God to heal someone, and he does it, GOD has acted alone. No one went up to the cancer victim and said, “In the name of Jesus, be healed.” The apostles did that, but we don’t. Binny Hinn is a sham. But we can ask GOD to do it.

    I mean, seriously, if you want to be very loose with the definition of words, let’s be really loose and say that the birth of a baby is a miracle, and then claim that miracles happen everyday. Let’s further claim that everyone who learns a foreign language has performed a miracle. Let’s claim that the Wycliffe Bible Translators have the gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues.

    If you want to be loose with definitions, go ahead, but then don’t insert that broad and made up definition of words back into the Bible, because you are SURE to misinterpret it.

    Speaking of interpretation, you have certainly performed some serious gymnastics in interpreting what I have said. You say that I make everything subjective by claiming that I insist that MY interpretation is in some way infallible.

    You are the one making subjective claims. My interpretation of the Bible, and consequently what I say about the Bible, does NOT, NOT, NOT rest on my authority. You have made an interpretive assumption here. When I claim that this is what the Bible says, I am claiming the BIBLE’S authority, not my own. The consequence of your argument would be that no one would ever be allowed to say definitively what the Bible says. You have YOUR interpretation, and I have MINE, but neither one of us can say more than that. According to you, there is no such thing as WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS, but only SOMEONE’S SUBJECTIVE INTERPRETATION of what the Bible says.

    How is anyone supposed to appeal to the Bible as an authority, indeed, as THE authority in your view? You reject my arguments because you have misinterpreted them to be circular by restating claims I have not made, such as the closing of the canon based on miracles. But ultimately, you are rejecting my arguments because they don’t agree with your subjective interpretation of the Bible. In your mind, what I am saying about the Bible is ONLY my subjective interpretation, and therefore carries no weight with you.

    I do not claim to have the BEST interpretation because I’M SO SMART. I have simply made exegetical arguments that have contradicted what you have said. I have not sought to give you only my opinion, but I have sought to argue for what the BIBLE is actually saying, and I have gone to GREAT LENGTHS, literally, to SHOW YOU that that is what the Bible is saying.

    By contrast, with the exception of what you said above about John 14 (which I have already admitted is a good point), you have not gone to great lengths to SHOW that you are interpreting the Bible correctly. You have not made any hermeneutical claims at all. Judging from your interpretations, one can deduce that you seem to want to interpret everything literally, univocally, and written for you univocally as it was to the original audience, but I have sought to demonstrate that this method of interpretation is fallacious because you ARE NOT the original audience! Meanwhile, all you have done is proof text, demanding that the verse you claim for authority be ripped violently out of the context of the rest of Scripture, as if Paul were alive today and speaking to you the exact same message. Albino did the same thing when he asked if Paul would “feel comfortable” in my church. Perhaps I should turn the tables and ask if Isaiah would feel comfortable in our churches, since we’d be calling this man Jesus the Son of God! Isaiah would be like, HUH? Who do you heretics think you are ascribing divinity to a man? Who is this man?

    These kinds of arguments not only do malice to the Scriptures, but go against even the most common of common sense. But, as the old saying goes, common sense isn’t all that common.

    1 Corinthians was not written to you. It was written to the Corinthian church. While I CERTAINLY admit that what the nature of that difference is, is not patently obvious or necessarily self evident and requires a bit of work to fully quanitfy, you guys seem to want to assume that there is NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL!!!

    This tyrrany will not stand. I will continue to resist you. It’s not a lot of work for me. It’s not pleasurable. For GOD’S sake I can’t sit idly by and watch such malice done to his Word.

    And you ought to feel the same way! You ought not to think that I am speaking simply of my own guesses or even the guesses of my professors. You ought not to think that what you see in Scripture is your own idea either! You ought to stand up for what you believe not as your beliefs, but as revelation from God. I know you would say that you are and that you do, but your arguments indicate otherwise when you argue against me.

    Sigh. I know it seems like I’m very angry and frustrated and that I’m making this personal. I’m trying so hard not to make it personal, but I know I have failed. Just try to understand that I see what you are doing and teaching to be wicked and false. I see it as putting the people of God in bondage to trusting their heart and their feelings. Can you understand at the very least that if I see it that way that I would want to stand against it, that I would even feel that it’s my responsibility to stand against it? I don’t mean to make it personal, but I also don’t want to sugar-coat how strongly I feel about what you are saying either. I am firmly convinced by the Word of God, which, yes, needs to be explained to us by people just like anything else, but nonetheless, I am convinced by Scripture alone of these views. I am not claiming merely my own authority. I am appealing to the Bible itself that what you are saying is out of accord with the Scriptures. It’s not that you disagree with ME that makes you wrong, it’s that you disagree with the Bible. That’s how I see it. Quite right – that’s how I, I, I see it. You don’t see it that way. But the Bible DOES speak to this issue. It is not silent. We cannot possibly both be right. One of us is standing up for the Bible, one of us is twisting the Bible and thus against it. How can EITHER of us in good conscience simply accept what the other says as simply their opinion? I’m not asking you to accept my opinion, I’m asking you to accept GOD’S opinion, which isn’t an opinion at all, but Truth.

    And now I’m sure that everyone in the thread will think I’ve gone too far, and brought the blog to a place where it need not have gone, and that I’m just downright mean.

    Well, to you who feel that way, I’m sorry. You’re probably quite right. I probably am mean. But please note: I am not saying that these folks are simply my brothers who have made a small clerical error that can be overlooked. Many of these men are pastors or teachers of some kind. Albino is, and Daniel is, at the very least.

    I refuse to acknowledge that their teaching is biblical, good, or friendly to Christ. It isn’t. I don’t know how to put that in a nice way. I’m not sure I even want to. What they are saying is not a small mistake. It is an affront to God himself, to his Son, and to his Holy Spirit. It is an affront to Scripture, not a little mistake. For a layman, it might be a small mistake, but for a pastor/teacher of God’s people, it is grave indeed. It is sin. I’m not saying that they aren’t Christians. I’m not saying that they cannot go to heaven. I don’t have that right anyway. What I AM saying, however, is that this nonsense is heresy. I have the right to say that, perhaps even arguably the responsibility to say it.

    I’m sick and tired of people telling me that I have to cow-tow to heresy. I’m sick and tired of people saying that we could or should reunite with the Roman church, or that we should be nice to Norm Shepherd, or that we should be careful not to speak against NT Wright and the Federal Vision monocovenantalists. I reject that. No, no, no.

    I respond: it is heresy. Repent. I am not your judge, but as a fellow Christian, here is my message. Repent. I’m not saying you’re going to go to hell if you don’t. I’m not even convinced that that would be true. But I am saying, in uncompromising, no nonsense fashion: repent.

    As Luther said, here I stand, I can do no other. God help me.

    You are free to reject what I am saying. But I am telling you that you are leading people astray and consigning them to horrible, terrible bondage to their sin. You, not me, will stand before God one day and give an account. Repent, for your own sake, not mine. Repent for Christ’s sake, not mine. Repent for the sake of your flocks, repent and turn from this great evil. Make no further compromise. Repent. Unequivocally.

    Reject me if you wish, but I beg you, I urge you, don’t reject the Word of God.

    Don’t take me seriously if you wish. But doesn’t it give you pause that a Christian would speak to you this way? Doesn’t it make you want to stop and think, if just for a moment?

  19. Echo, it is quotes like this… “Let me be very clear. The closing of the canon does NOT depend on the cessation of miracles. In fact, it is quite the other way around.” that give indication of circular arguments. But since you don’t see your own logical inconsistencies I don’t know what else i can do.

    At least now I think we are both at the same place as far as the closing of the canon is concerned. Good. Cool. maybe progress can be made. Now then the problem is not a matter of miracles making us susceptible to an open canon but it is a case of us both disagreeing with how the Spirit works then and how he works now. I have contended many times to demonstrate exegeticaly that the Spirit is the same today as he was in the New testament church and that the gifts of the Spirit are the same today as they were then. I have sighted primarily I Corinthians 1:7 as well as 13:8-10 as my main texts. Both of these passages indicate that until Christ returns the gifts of the New testament church will remain.

    Now you wrote up a scathing article about how much of a duty it is of yours to defend the truth and all and then claimed the Bible as your source. I’ve never seen so much crap in my life. The reality is that you don’t know how to bow out of a debate you’ve clearly lost gracefully so you decided to (in a last ditch effort to) strengthen your weak position by condemning the person(s) you are arguing against as sinners. I’m sorry you have said the things you said because they served no benefit to anyone reading nor to yourself. I am sorry because I instigated it by putting in too much of my opinion onto why you hold your view (saying it is more on personal experience then actual Bible knowledge). I apologize for anything I may have said that was offensive to you, but I strongly encourage yuo to rethink your view on this subject and to biblically judge the Spirit you are so quick to condemn rather then subjectively judge it. After all, if it is the Spirit of God (and it is), then I am very sorry for you.

    It is not good for you to pronounce people heretical who are not heretical.

  20. Daniel,

    I didn’t say you were a heretic, I said that your view is heresy. I suppose that if you want to take it as implied that I am condemning you, that’s fine, but I tried to say I was condemning not people but ideas, not people but interpretations, not people, not people, not people. But you still say I’m condemning you, when that doesn’t even make sense since I’m not God and have no right to condemn people. I do, however, have every right to claim that something is heresy.

    Heresy is something that has been declared heresy by the church. The church, NOT ME, has the right to declare something to be heresy. Your view has been declared heresy over and over again. That’s why people who hold your views had to leave the church and start their own churches.

    Now, you have every right to “claim” that, as the Protestants did, that the church that declared your views to be heretical is actually no longer a true Church of God. You can claim that, and frankly, you have claimed that by starting your own church.

    By the way, how do you figure that my rant was a last ditch effort? If I had stopped engaging you and said that I cannot answer your arguments, and THEN simply declared YOU to be a heretic, you’d have a point.

    But the FACT is, I disputed you point by point, and even conceded that you had a GOOD point about John 14 and that I’d have to think about it.

    How would you define the phrase “last ditch effort”? I don’t think you’re using it the same way that you intended it.

    Anyway, we have always been on the same place with regard to the canon. I think you are transferring some of Mike S’s comments to me. that’s certainly understandable. But never once did I claim that miracles ending is proof, in ANY way that the canon is closed.

    What I DID say is that SINCE the canon is closed, there is no longer any need for miracles, because of the purpose I cited for miracles.

    I must be a profound idiot; I cannot see the circular nature of my argument. In fact, I don’t think your argument makes any sense. This is how I’m reading what you said:

    1. You said that I claimed that because miracles have ceased, therefore we know the canon is closed.

    2. I countered that I never made this claim, and in fact said that you had my view completely backwards (thus the meaning of the phrase “quite the reverse” is revealed). And I claimed therefore that because the canon is closed, THEREFORE miracles have ceased. perhaps more precisely, the miraculous gifts. By this I mean people performing miracles.

    3. You said that this counterclaim of mine proves my circularity.

    What on earth do you mean? I said that you had reversed my argument, and now you say that my reasoning is circular? I pointed out YOUR error in recapitulating my argument. What’s circular about that?

    Let’s just stick with this for now.

  21. Wow, Echo…

    I think you have lost your way here. We are not the enemy. Your argument is with Paul. You rebuked me some time ago and told me to tone down the rhetoric, I think it’s time for you to do the same.

  22. Rube and Daniel,

    You guys are rightly scrutinizing the definition of miracle, as am I. I said that perhaps some people are mysteriously cured of cancer when we pray for them. Fine, no problem.

    Where is the miraculous gift there?

    When I spoke of miracles, I spoke about PEOPLE PERFORMING THEM. that’s what the miraculous gifts are. I said that PEOPLE were given miraculous gifts to give them credibility.

    Who, other than GOD is granted credibility when doctors are stumped about someone’s being healed from cancer? Perhaps that person’s pastor who prayed for them the previous Sunday? Who?

    I mean, if I pray that God would bring an end to the war in Iraq, and it eventually ends, do I have a miraculous gift? Or if a man prays that God would give him a child, and he gets his wife pregnant, does he have a miraculous impregnating gift?

    God simply answering our prayers has literally nothing to do with miraculous gifts. Now, if you were to go and lay your hands on a dead man and he rose from the dead, that would be different.

    We have the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ. And as Paul says in Romans, if God has given us THAT gift, what do we lack? Won’t God give us all things? And Psalm 23 teaches us that if the Lord is our shepherd, we lack nothing. It’s not that we lack nothing, and oh, by the way, the Lord is our shepherd. We lack nothing precisely because the Lord is our shepherd, because everything else pales in comparison to knowing Christ Jesus as Lord!

    This is precisely the problem with the tongues and the miracles and all of that business! These people teach – at LEAST implicitly – people to seek something other than Jesus Christ speaking in his Word. They teach people to seek after emotional/miraculous experiences, which is by definition at odds with our simple hope in the Word of God.

  23. Albino,

    I agree with you that the rhetoric needs toning down. But again, you are leading people astray. You are victimizing the flock of God’s people. I wouldn’t be your brother, I would care nothing for you if I didn’t tell you and encourage you to repent.

    That, my friend, is quite a different matter from simply making fun of you. Telling you that your view is wrong, sinful, even heretical, is not disrespectful. Just pretend for the sake of argument that I am right. I have done you a favor. By comparison, simply making fun of people never does anyone any favors.

    But that being said, you’re right, the rhetoric does need to be toned down a bit. However, again, I AM NOT CONDEMNING PEOPLE.

    I don’t know why everyone always seems to think that just because someone has sinned that they are condemned. We don’t believe that our sin condemns us as Christians. At least, I don’t. In fact, I have made that quite clear. I make no claim at all about anyone’s salvation. That’s between you and God.

    However, we are here having an honest conversation. You cannot, at the very least, accuse me of watering down my message, which again I believe to be God’s message, because contained in Scripture. I have not failed to speak the full truth of the matter.

    You’re right, you are not the enemy. But what if you’re God’s enemy? What if I am? One of us is certainly twisting the Scriptures. Should we take that lightly? Should we kick back with a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other and giggle about how one of us is misleading people and working against the Holy Spirit speaking in the Word? I’m sorry, but I don’t think these are light and casual issues. One of us is binding people in sin. Perhaps both of us are. Is that funny? Should we toast each other’s views and declare our mutual liberty to spit on the Word of God?

    No Sir, I will not. Call me a heretic, call me a schismatic, tell me I’m mean, that’s fine. I will be happy to take that. You should feel that way. But let’s not kid ourselves and think that this isn’t a big deal. It IS a big deal. One of us is trampling on the Word of God and leading people astray, barring their way to heaven. One of us is committing a great evil and injustice. One of us is a hypocrite, a liar and a blasphemer. And we both know that this is the case, and we both believe the other party to be guilty of this tragic evil. I won’t sit back, put my feet up and toast this fact. I won’t take it lightly. I won’t smile at this evil or wink at it. I won’t compromise the Word of God.

    And you shouldn’t either!

    You know, I disagree with Charles Spurgeon on some things, and I find him to be out of accord with the Scriptures on his view of baptism, but I admire his principles when he says that baptism by sprinkling is heresy. Good for him! he’s wrong, but he’s bold and standing up for the truth as best he can and he isn’t compromising it. Now that is something I can applaud. That is something I can admire. In his case I can say that his heart is obviously in the right place because he’s wearing it honestly on his sleeve.

  24. It is ironic that I can’t answer you fully right now because in one hour our church parking lot will be filled with visitors and friends, many of whom will hear the Gospel for the first time, repent and be saved. I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Pray for our outreach.

  25. http://www.bible.ca/tongues-neo-montanism.htm

    I would love especially Rube and Mike S’s comments on this.

  26. And this too…

    http://www.bible.ca/tongues.htm

    Go ahead, have fun.

  27. Sigh…I get home from church (where 10 got saved tonight) and get linked to those freakburgers? Now I see why you fight so hard against the Apostle Paul, if these weirdos are your image Holy Spirit gifted people. ugh…

  28. Albino,

    Actually, I just dug that up yesterday, so it’s not like my image of tongues speakers is shaped by it. But it brings up an interesting point, nonetheless.

    You see, I knew you or someone else would have that kind of reaction. “Oh, they’re extremists.” Or, “Well, surely you don’t think I believe THAT, do you?”

    But you see, this is my point. These are your roots. These are YOUR roots. Prior to this time, namely the 1800’s or whatever, no one was speaking in tongues. No one was prophesying. The church had condemned Montanism as heresy over a thousand years ago. For over 1600-1700 years, everyone in the church understood that prophesies, miracles and tongues had ceased.

    But here’s what happened. These crazy people, these sick people, came out and started doing wierd things that to anyone with common sense looks more like the occult than Christianity. And they were everywhere condemned and excommunicated.

    By the way, note how someone who held the non-cessationist view was excommunicated by the Presbyterian church, thus my claim that this is heresy is grounded in historical fact, since I am, after all, a Presbyterian. My church has told me that it’s heresy. It’s not MY claim. And the guy they excommunicated wasn’t even a wierdo, but just someone who held views like yours.

    “In the western world Pentecostalism generally traces its roots back to the teachings and experiences of Edward Irving, a Presbyterian Minister in Scotland in the early 1800’s. After studying the Book of Acts he began to teach that what the early church experienced was to be normative for the church in his day. He was excommunicated from the Presbyterian Church over his heretical Christological doctrines. (Strachan, George, The Pentecostal Theology of Edward Irving, Hendrickson Publishers, 1973, pg. 13)”

    Ok, so these guys were condemned and excommunicated. But then they formed their own churches. Today, these churches have been around for a century. Especially for Americans who have a hard time remembering what happened last week, these goofballs look legitimate. And it SEEMS like a casual reading of Scripture legitimizes them.

    There’s still a lot of wierd stuff out there, but it’s mostly limited to youth and fringe groups. So you adults and mainliners can just say, hey, look at Acts, look at 1 Cor, what we’re doing is in the Bible. How are we wrong?

    And today’s uneducated evangelicals who are uninterested in matters of doctrine, uninterested in having faith in the ordinary means of grace, looking for excitement and tangible emotional experiences, flocked to your churches in droves.

    The error began with something very extreme, but then moderated and became a giant movement so that there are more Pentecostals and Charismatics in America than Presbyterians now.

    By the way, lest I be misunderstood, numbers, pure numbers of adherents does not equal orthodoxy. The Roman church, we can all agree, is totally off base. They practice goddess worship for crying out loud! (I’m talking about Mary, the Mother of God, the Queen of Heaven, whom they claim was taken up into heaven rather than dying, and they claim was without sin, etc, etc, etc.) But they have more adherents than all Protestants combined.

    Obviously, numbers of adherants does not equal truth or orthodoxy. So, you say, what then of my appeal to the church that has excommunicated the few who believed in continuation of miraculous gifts? Good question, but I’m sure if you think about it, you’ll agree that this is not merely an appeal to numbers. This is an appeal to the authority of the church to declare heresy to be heresy.

    Eph 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
    Eph 4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
    Eph 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
    Eph 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

    God gave us the leadership in the church that we have. He gave us elders and ministers to keep us from being tossed back and forth by every new heresy that comes along.

    You ask the Bible: say, Bible, how will God protect me from heresy? The Bible answers: God will send men who will be your leaders: apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, elders, etc. They will keep you from error, acting on God’s behalf.

    The one universal church declared Montanism to be heresy almost 2000 years ago. It was declared heresy by the men that God had given to the church to protect it from error! That’s what the Bible says!

    Over and over and over and over again the church leaders, again, promised by God to keep us from error, have declared your views to be heretical.

    At this point, I have made every reasonable argument that can be made. I know you will continue to reject what I’m saying. I know.

    What I’m telling you is true. The error was introduced in a gross and extreme way, but remained and became more moderate. Because of the longevity of the error, it now looks very reasonable to simply look at the Bible literally, as if we were the original audience of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Why not read it that way? it’s so hard to read it any other way. And besides, if we read it that way, we get to continue doing what we love, having our emotional experiences and feeling God near us. Why would we want to give up feeling God near to us?

    BECAUSE IT’S NOT GOD THAT IS NEAR TO YOU!!!

    God is a SPIRIT. You are looking for PHYSICAL proof of a SPIRITUAL reality. You are confusing the two, and this is brought about by the errors that were started back in the 1800s. You can’t feel God. You can’t feel God!!! The presence of a demon doesn’t make you feel queasy, greasy food does. The presence of the Holy Spirit doesn’t make you cry. If his presence did make you cry, you’d be crying all the time, because the Bible says, “NEVER WILL I LEAVE YOU, NEVER WILL I FORSAKE YOU.” The Holy Spirit lives IN you. You don’t need to get in touch with him through emotional experiences. He already is IN you. How much closer can he get?

    By why should I be upset? Why should I care? I suppose I should be more upset by the Romans who bind people to sin in far greater quantities than you do.

    You distance yourself from the extremists, but it’s ONLY thanks to them that the confusion that gave rise to your beliefs was allowed to gain a foothold.

    You probably grew up speaking in tongues. You have no reason to question it. And you don’t have to work too hard on your congregation either. You know they likely won’t leave. This stuff is too compelling. It’s way too tempting for people to resist. The idea that you could have physical proof of a spiritual reality, well, how exciting is that? It’s thrilling and comforting to know that you can have physical proof of spiritual realities. You no longer need as much faith.

    But you see, we walk by faith, not by sight. We don’t look for or ask for physical signs of spiritual realities. We know that that only undermines our faith. We are content to rest in him, because this is all we need. We don’t need your false proof or counterfeit signs. False signs provide only false comfort in idols of the heart, not in Christ. The only satisfaction in this world is in Christ. Idols never satisfy, and you can never please them. They always demand more, more devotion, more sacrifices; but Christ doesn’t demand of you, he gives. And he doesn’t give emotional experiences, ecstatic utterances or anything of the sort. He gives himself. But this is spiritual, not physical.

    Sigh. But you won’t listen. You love to know that you can sit in your car and pop in a worship CD and cry for a while, and know that God is near. It’s too easy for you to cling to that. Why would you want to cling to the dead letters of the Bible, when you can cling to the living word in your heart? Why would you want to fall asleep reading your Bible, understanding it only in part, when you can feel alive through your tears? Why would you want to have faith that Jesus is with you and near to you and will never leave you, when you can have PROOF?

    But your proof isn’t proof. Your tears are proof only that you wanted to cry. I know. I did lots of crying. You’re no different from me. We’re both people. Your tears aren’t proof of anything. You can work yourself up into an emotional frenzy if you really want to. Your emotions are totally in your control. I know, women everywhere are reading this and objecting, but it’s true. You are in control of your emotions. Sure, sometimes something really terrible happens, and you lose that control, like when someone near you dies. That’s true. But in the worship service, what is the really terrible and awful thing that you are crying about? Are you crying about your sin? Are you mourning your sin? Maybe sometimes. Are you crying about the fact that Jesus had to die to pay for your sin? Perhaps. I cried for both of those reasons. But sometimes I just cried. I think I cried because I just thought it was all so wonderful. That doesn’t even make sense, apart from saying, well, it must have been the presence of God that made you feel that way.

    By the way, I don’t think it’s healthy to cry about your sin or to cry about Jesus’ death on the cross. From time to time, perhaps, it may be appropriate. But we ought not feel like we NEED to cry in order for our repentance to be genuine. True repentance does not mean that you cry. True repentance is not characterized by emotion, but by turning from that which you have done. I saw time and time again the same people coming to the same “altar” (but we know the once and for all sacrificial alter is the cross) and crying out to God for forgiveness for the same sins they were crying about last week. And the week before. And the week before. And the week before. We don’t need to cry to get God’s attention. He hears us. We don’t need to cry for hours, fast for days, or anything else to prove to God that we mean it or whatever. Sounds more like the pagans of Elijah’s day singing and dancing and cutting themselves to try to get the attention of their gods. But you’ll notice that Elijah just says his one simple prayer, and that was it. Praying is simple. Jesus himself instructs us not to pray long prayers, repeating ourselves as if to be heard more clearly, like the pagans.

    Mat 6:7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

    Do you teach your congregation to pray like this? Do you teach them to pray as Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s prayer? Or do you teach them to fast so that God will hear? Do you teach them that they should be spending 2 hours a day in prayer? Do you teach them to come forward and cry for a while, so that God will hear them? Are you sending them a message that is contrary to the message of Jesus? You are if you practice these things.

    Do you teach your congregation to mourn the death of Christ? Should they mourn it? Is it a bad thing that Jesus died for us? If it is, then God surely doesn’t know what he’s doing, because Jesus dying for us was his idea.

    We shouldn’t mourn Jesus’ death, because he didn’t stay dead. Furthermore, his death and resurrection is what brings us eternal life? Is eternal life to be mourned? If you want to mourn something, mourn your sin. But get over it. The price has been paid. God has provided for our failure. Get over it. Don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself like Achilles who mourned the death of Patrochlus with much bitterness and days and days of mourning, followed by vengeful murder. We don’t mourn like the pagans. We don’t mourn like the pagans!

    Sure, mourn your sin, but then get up and move on. Don’t wallow in self pity. That’s what you’re doing, whether you are crying for hours over your sin, or over the sadness you feel for Christ’s death on the cross. Which are you mourning? Either way, it’s over, and Jesus lives and so will you. Get over it! Confess your sins to God and then walk in confidence before him, knowing full well that he has taken care of it. Cast your cares and anxieties on him, and then be done with it. Casting your cares on him doesn’t entail continuing to carry it yourself.

    Perhaps your tears are more pious than all of that. Perhaps your tears transcend these causes, and you are crying because of the beauty of feeling God near to you.

    What about when you aren’t crying? Has God left you?

    Go on thinking that your tears are proof of something they aren’t. I know you will anyway. I know you’re just going to look in the book of James where it tells us to mourn and weep, or some other passage, and you’re gonna say, “See, crying many tears is OBVIOUSLY a work of the Spirit, and gets me points with God. You are an idiot and don’t know what you’re talking about, you twist the Scriptures.”

    Go on earning your own way to heaven with your tears. I’d much rather hope not in my tears but in Christ. But go ahead and think that you can get to heaven on your tears. And by all means, teach that to others too. Feel free. When you stand before God, go ahead and tell him about your tears. I’m sure he’ll think that your tears far outweigh your sins. I’m sure he’ll weigh them in the balance, and since tears are physical, and sin is spiritual, the tears will obviously weigh more. Your good deeds will far outweigh your bad deeds, and he’ll say, well done, you made it all on your own. You’re going to get a bigger mansion than anyone else, because you cried more tears.

    don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll say that. No, you’re right. Your view is completely consistent with the Bible. No, don’t worry, you aren’t teaching error or heresy. Don’t worry about it. You’ll get to heaven on your tears. The more you cry, the bigger God’s smile. Carry on rejustifying yourself every Sunday with the tears of repentance. Jesus paid the price on the cross to pave the way for your tears of repentance to really crystallize that forgiveness. Jesus paved the way, made it possible. Your tears grab hold of it. That’s totally biblical. Keep drilling that into the heads of your congregants. God loves it, and so do your people. They can’t get enough of it.

    Some day, you will discover that your emphasis on the miraculous and the emotional inevitably becomes semi-pelagian. Whether in this life or the next.

    But the Reformation taught us what the Bible says: we are saved by GRACE ALONE, through FAITH ALONE, in CHRIST ALONE, according to the SCRIPTURES ALONE, TO THE GLORY OF GOD ALONE.
    Sola Gratia,
    Sola Fide,
    Solus Christus,
    Sola Scriptura,
    Soli Deo Gloria.

  29. Echo, if you go to the top of this whole thread you can see why I saw your argument as circular. I was arguing that the supposed cessation of miracels could not be criteria for closing the canon. Evidently I see now that you agree with me. You didn’t have to respond to my 4 arguments, by doing so I assumed that you believed the alleged cessation of miracles to be criteria for closing the canon.

    Now I want you to realize that you are claiming the inferrence of our teaching to be heretical, not what we are teaching. you are judging by mere outward appearances. Your links further that truth.

    if you want us to start juding the appearance and inferrence of you and your fellow presbyterians than lets do it. But I would rather not. i would rather debate the scriptural evidence for how the Holy Spirit works today.

    Rube, My wife and I saw your wife and kids at a museum yesterday, it was very cool. Are you planning on takng in any of the Dead Sea scroll lectures? they look to be very interesting.

    It’s been a very busy week and I apoligize if my replies are slow in coming.

  30. Daniel,

    You obviously have me confused with someone else. I have no children.

    You may feel free to judge my views if you wish, and frankly I can’t understand why you haven’t done so already.

    But let’s talk a little about the closing of the canon. The closing of the canon is supported by a number of things.

    First, and most important, is that Christ is the final Word. He is the Word incarnate. It’s not that he’s a very good and helpful Word, and that we therefore don’t have any NEED of further Word, but that there might be. What I mean is, Christ is the COMPLETE Word, because he is God in the flesh. The point of revelation is to reveal. That’s why we call it revelation, the act of revealing. And the Bible, all revelation, reveals God. It is God’s self revelation to man. God is FULLY revealed in Jesus Christ. FULLY, or if you like, COMPLETELY. See, for example, Heb 1 and Col 1. Also, you can look at Christ’s testimony about himself in the gospels. There are at least a couple of places where Jesus says that he is, for example, the fulfillment of the law, that the entirety of the law and prophets bear witness to him, which is in John when he’s talking to the Pharisees, telling them that they search the Scriptures thinking that they have life, but they don’t realize that the Scriptures testify to him, there’s the road to Emmaus where Jesus taught the disciples about how the OT points to him, and not just parts of the OT, but the whole thing, which is why we have the apostles’ writings discussing things like the rock that gave forth water in the wilderness was Christ, etc. The imagery of the transfiguration is perhaps the most vivid picture of how the law and the prophets, Moses and Elijah, point to Christ. So the main point here is that the entire canon finds its fulfillment in Christ. And Paul confirms this when he discusses things like, we preach Christ and him crucified, and I resolved to know nothing among you but Christ and him crucified, etc. John also confirms this quite explicitly, when he claims that his book of revelation is a revelation OF Jesus Christ in the very first verse. But all the apostles make explicit mention that their job in life was to bear witness to Christ, and Christ also said that that was the mission of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the final Word from God because he is the complete Word of God made flesh, as John also so eloquently states in the beginning of his gospel.

    But God, in his infinite mercy and grace, did not merely send Jesus to earth to do what he did. He also gave us apostles to bring INSPIRED witness to what Jesus did, interpreting for us what Jesus did. God knows that we, being sinful, could not understand the Christ event without having this interpreted for us. You see, we don’t just need to know that a man named Jesus died on a cross. Lots of people died on crosses. We needed the apostles to explain to us that this was no ordinary man, but God in the flesh, the Word made flesh. We needed Paul to explain to us that this is how we are justified by faith alone, and that this was how Abraham had really been justified all along. We needed that, to show us what Christ’s person and work MEANT. We needed Paul’s prophesies about what was to come, we needed John’s visions to comfort us when we feel oppressed by the world, to remind us of what Jesus did, how he has overcome Death, that he was worthy to open the scroll that had been sealed up in the book of Daniel. We needed the apostles to give us examples of how to interpret the OT in the light of Christ’s person and work which completes the OT by fulfilling what the OT anticipated. In short, we needed the apostles to explain to us that Christ was the final Word, and what that Word says, what it means, and how it should affect our lives.

    Furthermore, we know the canon is closed because there are no more apostles, given the qualifications in the book of Acts, and Paul’s own discussion of his credentials as an apostle. The apostles, and the apostles alone, are eye witnesses to Jesus. John tells us this at the very beginning of his first epistle, saying that which we have touched, looked at, etc, this is what we bear witness to, this is what we proclaim to you that you might have fellowship with us, etc.

    So a little review here. First, we have Christ being the final Word, signalling to us that the fulness of revelation had come. Next, we know that the NT belongs to the canon, because of the unique mission of the apostles to bring that final Word to us, having been eye witnesses of him, and being inspired by the Spirit to properly explain him to us. Next, we know that there is no one serving in this unique capacity any more, because no one remains alive that was an eye witness to Jesus’ person and work, bearing in mind that Jesus himself wrote nothing.

    Thus the canon is closed. There is the evidence. This has been confirmed to us by the witness of the church. Do not suppose that the Da Vinci Code gets it right, when it seeks to give us the impression that no one had any idea what should be considered Scripture before the council of Nicea 300 years after Christ. Note well that Peter refers to Paul’s letters as Scripture, and that ought to be enough. There is a great deal of biblical and extrabiblical historical evidence that debunks this flawed notion. The canon was not complete at Nicea. The canon was acknowledged to be what it is and closed at Nicea formally. That was only when enough controversy had arisen, thanks to the stupid Gnostics who were cutting out whatever they didn’t like in the NT. In order to answer the Gnostics of various shapes and sizes and some other heresies, the Council of Nicea was called.

    Now, it has been my contention that miracles/tongues/prophesy has ceased BECAUSE the canon is closed.

    This is because the apostles are the writers (or direct supervisors of the writers) of Scripture. They alone had the authority to bear witness to Christ and explain his person and work, because they were INSPIRED. To make it abundantly clear that they came from God and that the message about Christ came from God, the apostles were given power to work miracles. Some were given the power to prophesy, and some were given power to speak in tongues and interpret, and all to bear witness to Christ. No more. These tongues and prophesies served to bear witness to Christ in the same way that the apostolic writings bear witness to Christ. So God gave INSPIRED interpretation of Christ and the OT’s pointing to Christ through the mouths of prophets and tongue speakers. The purpose of this was to make up for the fact that they didn’t yet have the full NT inspired interpretation of Christ and the OT. But so that churches wouldn’t be missing out, God granted all of this.

    But aren’t we missing out by not getting to SEE miracles and tongues and prophesy and all of that? No. Because all of that pointed to Christ, and we have the full interpretation of Christ, his person and work. They only had the miracles to point to Christ, to teach them about Christ, to explain Christ. We have not just Christ, but the FULL inspired interpretation and witness to him in the Bible.

    Thus, cessation.

    Now don’t tell me that’s circular, because it isn’t. Don’t tell me that’s irrational, because it isn’t. Don’t tell me it’s based on experience, because it isn’t. It’s not only abundantly clear in the Scriptures, but 2000 years of the Church also bears witness to these truths. That’s not an argument from experience, that’s experience confirming the truth of the Scriptures.

    It is perfectly rational to say that you are not a member of the church of Corinth. If tongues DID continue, sure, you’d have ample room to say that the instructions to the Corinthian believers still apply to you. But the instructions to the Corinthians ONLY apply to you if tongues continue. If they DON’T continue, the instructions to Corinth, while still instructional to illustrate biblical truth, do not command you to speak in tongues. The message to you is different. There are general principles about God being orderly, for example, and therefore his worship should be orderly as well, that we can take away from those passages, just as there is plenty we can learn about God from the OT dietary laws, even though they no longer apply to us. They still reveal something ABOUT GOD.

    But it is ABSOLUTELY circular reasoning to say that since Paul commanded the Corinthians not to forbid speaking in tongues, that therefore we shouldn’t forbid it. Here’s how.

    1. Paul commands tongues in the letter to the Corinthians.
    2. Therefore, Paul commands us to speak in tongues.

    There is a missing premise here. Since the OT dietary laws don’t apply to us anymore, we know that just because God commanded someone at some time to do something, it doesn’t necessarily apply to you. So you HAVE TO SAY the following:

    1. Paul commands tongues in the letter to the Corinthians.
    2. This command still applies to us because tongues still continue.
    3. Therefore, Paul commands us to speak in tongues.

    That’s what you have to say. None of you tongues speakers have yet advanced ANY reason why Paul’s command to the Corinthians still applies to us. The only POSSIBLE reason is that tongues still continue. But none of you admit that.

    I know why you won’t admit it. Because you have to assume that tongues continue for the command to speak in tongues to remain applicable to us. So here’s what you’re left with.

    1. Tongues continue today.
    2. Therefore, Paul’s command to the Corinthians still applies to us.
    3. Therefore, tongues continue today.

    Now, you might say that I am circular in the same way, by saying the following.

    1. Tongues don’t continue today.
    2. Therefore, Paul’s command to the Corinthians does NOT still apply to us.
    3. Therefore, tongues don’t continue today.

    And you would be quite exactly correct – IF that was the argument I was making. The argument I am making is this.

    1. The canon is closed.
    2. Tongues only given for the time before the canon was closed.
    3. Therefore, tongues don’t continue today.

    I have argued for 1, and I have argued for 2. You tongues speakers, however, have only asserted that Paul commands the Corinthians to speak in tongues, therefore tonges continue. But what you don’t realize is that command ONLY has validity and applicability for us IF AND ONLY IF tongues continue today!

    So you need to argue that Paul’s commands to the Corinthians still apply today.

    This is a rational, logical argument I’m making here. It is the same reason why millenia of pastors, teachers, elders, etc have affirmed that your view is heresy. And don’t forget, the Bible teaches us that these men have been given to us BY GOD to PROTECT US FROM HERESY. That’s their job. That’s their mission. Either God didn’t send them to perform that mission, or God didn’t help them perform it properly, if your view is correct. But I deny that that’s the case. You have not argued that that’s the case, and I don’t think you’d want to try.

    You are incorrect. Your arguments are circular and irrational. I’m sorry, but that’s just a fact. I have just proven it definitively. If you want to defeat my argument, you’ll have to do better than what you’re doing.

    I have made NUMEROUS arguments from multiple angles, all leading to the same conclusion. And your only response is simply to say that Paul commands it. But I have shown that just because Paul commands it to the Corinthians doesn’t mean it’s commanded to us. You have to demonstrate that it does. But you can’t do that, because to do that you would be wrong, and when you do something that is wrong according to the Bible, you can only do so by violating Scripture and logic both. So every argument you make, I will be able to shoot down, precisely because it’s WRONG. God’s truth always prevails.

    If I am right, you are not necessarily condemned to hell. I have never said that, and I’m not even implying that. Just repent. Christ can always forgive you. Repent, and go to your churches and tell them that you have repented of this grave error, and tell them why. They’ll probably kick you out, but if they don’t, you’ll have a great opportunity to show them a more excellent way.

    But make no mistake. You need to repent. That doesn’t mean you’re going to hell. It just means you need to stop doing what you’re doing. What you’re doing, the things you are teaching, the things you believe – it’s all WRONG. Stop it. Repent. It is for you that Christ died, so you can surely be forgiven on the day of judgment. So you’ve got nothing to worry about.

    You have two choices. No, make it three.

    1. Find a way to prove definitively that Paul’s command to the Corinthians still applies to us, thus disproving my argument biblically and logically.

    2. Repent and be healed.

    3. Remain in your sin silently, recognizing that it’s unbiblical and illogical.

    Otherwise, quit trying to deceive these good people on this blog.

    Repent or argue properly.

  31. Daniel,

    I just reread your post. It seems the wife and kids thing was addressed to Rube. I must have missed that somehow. Sorry about that. I’m the one who’s confused.

  32. Echo — Who were you addressing in the long harangue about tears? Reuben already testified here that when he rededicated his life to Christ, he wept in church. So I assume you’re talking to him? Tears seem to be a frequent target of your diatribes, that don’t seem to connect to any previous post here. You’ll be happy to know that 6 more people repented and were saved tonight in the 2nd night of our community outreach. Hallelujah! (woops, sorry I got a little emotional there) The Bible says that the angels in heaven rejoice. I assume you’re rejoicing too.

  33. Albino,

    You invited me to listen to one of your sermons in an earlier post. Well, I didn’t just listen to your sermon, I looked into some other things. Here’s what I’m talking about, and by the way, this is very typical of the Assemblies of God as well.

    You wrote this here: http://jimost.com/holyground.htm

    “Haven’t you had the experience of listening to a worship cd in your car, and as you begin to sing along with the words, God’s presence becomes very real to you, and sometimes you even began to cry when you think of Jesus’ love and mercy? Your car has just become “holy ground”, and “awesome place”, the very “gate of heaven.””

    Now, if you hadn’t intended to make that particular website available to me, or if you feel that it is some kind of violation of your privacy that I put that here, please forgive me. I mean that sincerely. It was never my intention to say that you had said it. I intended to refer to it vaguely, allowing you to remain anonymous if you so chose. In an earlier post, I said something to the effect of, one of you on another site said such and such, but I won’t name him, he can reveal himself if he wants to. That’s not the exact wording of it, and I really don’t want to look for it.

    Anyway, I didn’t read all of your articles. This was the first and only one I read. And wouldn’t you know it, there you were claiming that tears were evidence of God’s presence.

    I don’t even know what to say. And you know what? It doesn’t really even matter what you meant by that. What matters is the message that is communicated to people who listen. I know it’s got to be awfully tough to be a minister. All your words seem put on trial at times. I’m sure it must be very difficult to carefully craft every word to ensure you don’t give the wrong impression. I certainly have sympathy for you in that regard.

    But you can’t say these kinds of things to people! You can’t do it! Whether you meant to offer them their tears that flow as a result of listening to the praise music in the car or not is beside the point, because that’s what they’re going to walk away with! Can’t you see that the next time they listen to a CD in their car and they start crying that they will think that Jesus must be near them? Don’t you realize that they will take that to mean that their tears BRING him near? Don’t you think about what people will do with your words the other 6 days of the week?

    I can see it now. One of your congregants will be driving to work, listening to a praise CD, and they’ll start crying. They’ll think, “God’s presence must be here. This place, my car, has become a holy place.” Then they’ll think, “He really does love me. I really am saved. It must be real.” The very reality of God has become PROVEN to this person on account of their tears. The reality of their salvation becomes more real to them because of their tears. Their tears are now serving as assurance of not only their salvation, but God’s existence. I’m not jumping to conclusions here. This is what is going on in the minds of your congregants.

    And what happens when they’re driving to work a month later, and they don’t cry? “Has God forsaken me?” Don’t you realize that by saying things like that to people, they learn from you to equate their emotional experiences with God’s presence? Do you think that that’s problematic in any way? They’re not trusting in the promises of God, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you,” as found in the Bible anymore, they’re trusting in their tears because YOU have told them that they can, whether you meant to or not, whether you like it or not.

    They come to church and they desire to cry, so that they can be reassured that God still loves them. They are to be pitied. I’m not sure which is worse; the fact that they derive assurance of salvation and God’s nearness when they cry, or the fact that they have no assurance when they don’t cry.

    You see, when they don’t cry, or can’t cry, they become anxious. They wonder if God has left them, because, “if God’s presence is near when I cry, does that mean he leaves when I don’t cry?” So they will say to themselves that they must seek God’s presence, and his presence is to be found in an emotional experience. So when you invite them to come forward, they come forward because they need to cry, and “forward” is a great place to do that. They come forward, maybe you lay hands on them, they begin crying because they want to so badly, and they begin speaking in tongues, again because they want to so badly. And why do they want this so badly? Why are they craving these emotional experiences?

    Because you have taught them to equate their tears with God’s presence. You have TAUGHT them that. And in their sinful weakness that wants to do anything other than trust in the Word alone – because that requires faith, and the sinful nature hates faith – they accept your words quickly and eagerly like baby birds.

    You have not taught them to trust in the promises of God in Scripture alone, you have taught them to trust in THEIR tears.

    Again, this is exceedingly problematic. They trust for their assurance in something THEY do. You have taught them to trust in their response, rather than in the substance of the message. You have not taught them to trust in the finished work of Christ, even if it’s your desire to teach them that. If it is your desire to teach them to trust only in the finished work of Christ, only in the promises of God in the Scriptures that all find their realization in Christ, that’s great. Your desire is to be commended. But in practice, you have put a stumbling block between them and the cross. You have diverted them from the cross, like it or not.

    You see, if you tell them to equate their tears with God’s nearness, they will gobble that up quickly, and they won’t even hear you if you mention the cross. If you mention the cross that’s great, but it doesn’t do any good. You have already given them a place to put their trust, namely their tears.

    But it gets worse. They start to believe that if they’re really, really sorry for their sins, then they should be crying about it. Because they have begun to crave emotional experiences as proof of their salvation, of God’s nearness, of his love, they begin to equate true repentance with tears. If you don’t cry, you didn’t mean it.

    They begin equating their repentance, which leads to tears, with God’s nearness. They begin to think that if they cry, it is because God is near, and if God is near, it is because they truly repented. If you think I’m full of it or exaggerating, just watch the people at your next altar call.

    And the inevitable place they end up whether you meant it or not, whether you tried to bring them to this place or not, is here: “My repentance earns God’s favor.”

    It is because of people like you, who said things like you do, who taught me to trust in my tears rather than the free promises of God that I languished believing in a works based salvation. My pastors never, ever said anything different from what you said in that sermon/article. Never once. You would have agreed with all of their sermons, they would have agreed with yours. Even the way you phrase things is familiar to me.

    If I ended up believing that my repentance earns God’s favor, and EVERY SINGLE pentecostal I know thought the SAME THING, and that’s not just a few people, then please believe me when I say that this is the place you are leading people. “My repentance earns God’s favor.” That’s where trusting in emotions gets you every single time. Even someone we both know in common said the exact same thing. EXACT SAME THING.

    Now look, I know you tried to put the gospel in the end of that article:

    “As I close, I can’t help but think of one other ordinary plot of ground. A place where murderers and criminals were executed — Calvary. On another routine day, they hung another man on a wooden cross, but something was different about that man, Jesus Christ. After he had carried our sins on the cross and suffered all afternoon, the Bible says that he cried out with a loud voice, “It is finished!” and died. The earth shook, the sun was eclipsed, the veil of the temple was torn, the dead rose up out of their tombs, and everybody realized that Calvary had been transformed into “holy ground” — an “awesome place” and the very “gate of heaven” for all who would believe.”

    I give you credit for that. You appear to have the basic elements of the gospel here. You’ve got Jesus suffering on the cross at Calvary, you appeal to the Bible for evidence, you mention the resurrection, and you even say that he carried our sins to the cross, and mentioned all who believe. This effort is to be applauded.

    But please, please, if you hear nothing else I say, I plead with you to hear this. Especially in the light of what you said earlier in the sermon, people will not hear the gospel here.

    Talking about Jesus carrying our sins to the cross is GREAT! Please keep doing that. But you have to understand that that is not enough. You’ve covered the passive obedience of Christ well, but you haven’t offered them the active obedience of Christ. I’m not trying to say that you have to have a systematic theology discussion with your people every sermon. Please understand that. But when you have already taught them to trust in their tears, don’t you see that they will get the impression that the gospel is semi-pelagian? I mean, after all, Jesus carried my sins, but I still have to cry to bring him near. I still have to cry to OBTAIN Jesus’ sacrifice for me. I HAVE TO CRY, or else God will not approve of me by drawing near to me. Because of course, if I can’t or don’t cry, it is because God is not near to me.

    But you also have to understand that you equated Christ’s EXPERIENCE on the cross with their experience in the car listening to the worship CD and crying! In both instances, the action of the person caused that place to be the very gate of heaven, and holy ground. Jesus was obedient unto death on the cross, and it became holy ground. We are obedient by repenting with tears, and the place becomes holy ground. Jesus is a great moral example. He shows us how to get to God ourselves. Oh, but he carried our sins. So I guess Jesus made it possible that I could ascend to heaven like this by tearfelt repentance.

    You can ask your people if they know they’re going to heaven, or rather how do they know they’re going to heaven. You can ask them that, and I bet some of them, if not most of them would respond with: Jesus died for me.

    But you see, this isn’t assurance of salvation for them. For the Calvinist, it is, because of what he means by it. The Calvinist means: Jesus died…for ME. The people that you’re teaching to be semi-pelagian (almost definitely without intending to) don’t mean that at all. They mean something completely different. They mean something more like: Jesus died, and if I just repent sincerely and often enough with enough tears, I might just make it to heaven. Jesus died, and all I have to do is…

    But for the Calvinist, the confession that Jesus died for our sins is enough. That means my sins are covered, once and for all. Never will he leave me, never will he forsake me. I don’t have to earn God’s love; it’s because God first loved me that he sent his Son to die for me, after all. But what’s more, he didn’t just die for me – he also raised FOR ME. Not only are my sins taken away, imputed to Christ, but his righteousness is imputed to me in return! (Active obedience). No matter what happens, God will never leave me or forsake me. Once saved, always saved, whether I cry or not. I can’t earn God’s approval; Christ earned it for me. I can’t earn his forgiveness, no matter how many tears I shed or how sorry I am; Christ earned it for me. I know I’m going to heaven because the Bible tells me so. I believe, and I couldn’t possibly believe unless the Spirit were at work in me. I believe, and therefore God has saved me. But it’s only because God chose to save me that I believed in the first place. It is only because of the regenerating work of the Spirit within me, which came through the means of the preaching of the Word. I heard the Word, and it changed me. Now I believe. I’m going to heaven because GOD DID SOMETHING. It’s not because I DID SOMETHING.

    Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
    Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    Now, many people debate over whether the word “this” refers to grace or faith. Well, in Greek, the problem isn’t really cleared up, because grace and faith are both feminine, but “this” is neuter. If it were feminine, it would be one or the other, and no one would ever know for sure, just based on this verse. They’d be left to wonder, which is the gift, the grace or the faith? But since it’s neuter, the debate is silenced. The whole first sentence there is what “this” refers to. It refers to being saved by grace through faith. The whole thing is not your own doing. Faith is not self generated. It is a gift from the Father.

    Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    And the word that’s translated here as “assigned” is perhaps better understood by us by a different word. “Assigned” doesn’t quite capture it. “Dealt” is probably better, or perhaps “distributed”. Distributed is probably best, but it still doesn’t fully capture the meaning either. The full meaning is that God “gives” everyone a “different” measure. Oh, I know, “apportion”. That would be a good way to put it. Anyway, think of someone serving food in a cafeteria, and they’re giving large helpings to big strong men, and small helpings to little kids. Maybe “rationing” is a good word, giving the meaning that each is given according to their need. That’s probably the best way to capture it, so that we are alerted to the full meaning.

    Anyway, what does Paul CLEARLY say is the source of our faith? God, who GAVE it to you. (Or rationed.)

    And what about Rom 10:17, faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ? Hearing is passive, not active. You can’t seek out a sound, a sound seeks you out. Sounds come to your ears, and you receive them. You hear them. You don’t have to reach out and grab them, and you cannot prevent yourself from hearing them. You can’t shut your ears like you do your eyes. I suppose you can wear ear plugs, but that would be taking the analogy too far.

    Ah, but is it merely an analogy? Paul IS talking about preaching in the context of this verse, after all. (By the way, notice how he doesn’t say faith comes by crying, or faith comes by speaking in tongues, but rather, faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ.) So there’s good reason to say that he means this quite literally. Literally, when you hear the Word of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the once for all pardon of the gospel, the good Word that you can stand before God blameless (whether you cried or not), then the Spirit uses that to produce faith in you. It is the effectual Word of God that I first talked about in my very first post in “Tongue-tied”.

    Note well that the power of God is IN the very WORD of God. For proof, take a glance at Genesis 1. Unless non-existent light heard God and obeyed him and created itself and became light, then the power is in the Word of God. The power is not in the responder. It’s in the Speaker.

    By teaching your congregation to trust in their tears, you have taught them to trust in their response to God, rather than the POWER of God that is the Word of God. This same Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. He is what the Father has said. Christ is the Word of God, and Christ is what we have faith IN. You have taught your congregation not to have faith in him, but in their own response, in their own tears, in their own sincerity, in their own repentance.

    Here ya go. I just found this. You are teaching a works based righteousness when you say things like this:

    “In America there are millions of people who worship Jesus, who read their Bibles, who send millions of dollars to missions, who tell others of the Gospel and who love Jesus with all their hearts! That’s a lot more than 10 righteous.”
    http://jimost.com/september11thoughts.htm

    I know, bad choice of words right? Here’s a better choice of words:

    Phi 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–

    Let’s think about this. You said that people are righteous if they: worship Jesus, read their Bibles, send millions to missions, tell others of the gospel, and love Jesus with all their hearts.

    Paul, by STARK contrast, RENOUNCED his own deeds in favor of having righteousness from God through faith. There’s that active obedience of Christ being imputed to us by faith that the Bible seems to talk about but you don’t.

    You say peoples’ good deeds make them righteous, Paul says that faith in Christ makes them righteous.

    Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
    Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

    There it is again. NIV translates 1:17 as “righteousness from God that is by faith from first to last”. Both are fine translations as far as the Greek goes, but NIV makes more sense to me. The point is, it’s an “alien righteousness”. It’s a righteousness that comes from God and is placed on to us (imputed to us), covering us like a garment. That is our righteousness. That’s why Jesus didn’t just die, but also raised.

    Rom 4:22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”
    Rom 4:23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,
    Rom 4:24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,
    Rom 4:25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

    See? There it is again. Righteousness by faith. That’s why Christ must be raised for our justification, not just killed. His death takes away our sin. But we cannot stand before God with no merit. We cannot stand before him merely sinless, but we must be positively righteous. Without both the active and passive obedience of Christ imputed to us, we cannot be justified.

    Just in case I haven’t made it clear, I’ll explain it here briefly. The law has two parts that Jesus fulfilled for us. The deeds required to be counted as obedient, and the penalty required for disobedience. His good deeds that he did are given to us, and that’s his active obedience. The penalty he paid, he paid for us, and that’s his passive obedience. You must have the active and passive obedience of Christ applied to you or else you cannot stand before God. But this isn’t a problem, both are given to you by faith in Christ. Faith and ONLY faith.

    It is not the one who gave millions to missions, or the one who remembers to read his Bible everyday who will be counted righteous in the Day of the Lord. But rather:

    Rom 4:5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness

    And here’s a bonus Scripture:

    1Pe 1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;
    1Pe 1:24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls,
    1Pe 1:25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

    I don’t know what more I can say. Maybe:

    Jer 23:25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’
    Jer 23:26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart,
    Jer 23:27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?

    Don’t take this as judgment. Take it as exhortation to better things. Don’t preach what is on your heart. Preach the Word of God.

    2Ti 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
    2Ti 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
    2Ti 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
    2Ti 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

    Did you catch verse 1 there? I think that’s some of the most serious words in all of Scripture. Before God, I charge you to preach the Word. Before Christ Jesus, I charge you to preach the Word. Why? Because he will return, and you will have to give an account when he judges the living and the dead. Preach the Word.

    Be careful! Don’t preach your heart like the false prophets! Preach the Word. Not what you think, but what God has said. Preach the Word of God. Don’t tickle ears, preach the Word.

    And don’t forget WHO the Word is. (John 1)

  34. Gentlemen,

    I am going to have to live to fight another day…sorry for not participating lately. With 3 weeks left in the semester I really want to finish strong.

    But just as General MacAuthur (I think) said, “I shall return”. I check in again in about 3 weeks.

    Mike S.

  35. Echo, I don’t have the time to read your judgments of appearances, it’s quite obvious to anyone who has taken the time to read any of these threads that you are an offended bitter person who has built all his arguments on his negative experiences in pentecostal churches. How dare you teach that calvanist are the only ones going to heaven. You are a fool, you are arguing like a fool. I shouldn’t be surprised because your life is totally devoid of the Holy Spirit. Your faith rests on your “knowledge” you remind me of the Jews in John 5 to whom Jesus comments…

    37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

    This is harsh criticism but I think necessary. You have clearly demonstrated the types of actions Paul warned Titus to avoid (Titus 3:9-10). I’m afraid I should ahve nothing more to do with you. I am very sad because often I appreaciated your insight and perspectives, but your unwillingness to accept any view outside of your own, or even entertain it critically without prejudice makes it fairly clear that no one is gaining anything from this, hence it has become unprofitable and useless to keep it going.

  36. Here is my final statement to you echo, i ahve said it many times but you never wanted to deal with it.

    1. Find a way to prove definitively that Paul’s command to the Corinthians still applies to us, thus disproving my argument biblically and logically.

    8 Love 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    When does the imperfect (tongues, prophecy, miracles, knowledge) cease? When the Perfect comes!!!!!!!! Either you are saying the perfection has come and it is the Canon or you are saying tongues hasn’t ceased. What is so hard about that?

  37. Daniel,

    As has become commonplace in your responses, you didn’t read what I said very carefully at all.

    You said: “How dare you teach that calvanist are the only ones going to heaven. You are a fool, you are arguing like a fool. I shouldn’t be surprised because your life is totally devoid of the Holy Spirit.”

    But here’s what I said that you MUST be talking about:

    “You can ask your people if they know they’re going to heaven, or rather how do they know they’re going to heaven. You can ask them that, and I bet some of them, if not most of them would respond with: Jesus died for me.
    “But you see, this isn’t assurance of salvation for them. For the Calvinist, it is, because of what he means by it. The Calvinist means: Jesus died…for ME. The people that you’re teaching to be semi-pelagian (almost definitely without intending to) don’t mean that at all. They mean something completely different. They mean something more like: Jesus died, and if I just repent sincerely and often enough with enough tears, I might just make it to heaven. Jesus died, and all I have to do is…
    “But for the Calvinist, the confession that Jesus died for our sins is enough.”

    Daniel, read what I said again. You got the wrong impression the first time. And I’m kind of surprised too, since I went to such great lengths to avoid saying what you wrongly accused me of saying. I was talking about how we KNOW we are saved, and ASSURANCE of salvation.

    You do, I assume, understand that there is a difference between BEING SAVED, on the one hand, and being SURE that you’re saved on the other. Surely you cannot possibly equate the two of those, and I would not be so bold and arrogant as to assert that you don’t know that those are two different things. I will give you the benefit of the doubt, though, and assume that you just didn’t feel like reading such a long post thoroughly, and you glanced at it too quickly. This undoubtedly led to an emotional reaction on your part, and you were probably too mad to even finish reading before you fired off your post.

    That’s understandable. I’ve lost my temper like that before and gotten carried away too. No harm done.

    Now please, do me the courtesy of re-reading what I said and thinking about it carefully before you respond in the future. Otherwise, don’t respond. You haven’t the right to respond if you haven’t read the post carefully. I read your posts carefully before responding.

  38. Daniel,

    Re: 36

    It is unwise, in my opinion, to place all of your eggs in one basket. It is unwise to derive an entire doctrine from one verse, rather than the entire Bible. When you do that, you are not doing systematic theology, but only exegesis of a given text. Do not proof text, by simply citing a verse and assuming that the interpretation is self evident or something. If someone came to you asking how they could be saved, you wouldn’t shove John 3:16 in their face and tell them to figure it out on their own.

    That being said, systematic theology remains the fruit of exegesis. Granted, you never build a doctrine on one text, but only on the entire Bible, but nonetheless, cessationists should have a way to interpret this passage. I have often heard it cited in favor of cessationism, but have never heard it cited, as you do, in favor of continuation. But I digress.

    So here’s the passage again, copied from whatever translation you had up there, from 1 Cor 13.

    8 Love 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. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    And here’s your question:

    “When does the imperfect (tongues, prophecy, miracles, knowledge) cease? When the Perfect comes!!!!!!!! Either you are saying the perfection has come and it is the Canon or you are saying tongues hasn’t ceased. What is so hard about that?”

    That’s a good question. However, I would ask you if you really think that knowledge will pass away, “when the perfect comes”. I’m not sure what you mean by “perfect”, but since you capitalized it, I suppose you mean the return of Christ. Note that you have forced me to assume that by not actually stating it. But let’s assume that that’s what you meant. You’re saying that when Jesus returns, we will cease to know anything? We won’t have knowledge anymore?

    I mean, again, assuming that the “perfect” is the return of Christ, it seems like you’re saying that knowledge will be done away with, and so will prophesy, tongues, and all of it. So we won’t know anything, and won’t say anything. Do you think this is true, even though our physical bodies will be resurrected from the dead? I mean, Jesus was raised from the dead, and Paul, in 1 Cor 15, says that our bodies will become like his body. But Jesus talked to the disciples, prophesied to them, and seemed to know at least a thing or two. I mean, he did pass through walls, but he still had a mouth to speak, and the things he said must have been things he knew. Unless he was guessing and got lucky.

    So would you like to look at what the text says with me? It says, in verse 12, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Somehow, this means the same thing as “where there is knowledge, it will pass away” and “when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears”. Here’s the ESV’s rendering of verse 8:

    (ESV) Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

    When your version (NIV?) says “where there are prophesies…” I’m afraid it’s incorrect. It’s probably trying to capture the meaning idiomatically, and that’s understandable, but it’s just not what the Greek says. I grant, however, that the Greek is kind of difficult to translate.

    The Literal Version is helpful here, because it translates the Greek word for word.

    (LITV) Love never fails. But if (there are) prophecies, they will be caused to cease; if tongues, they shall cease; if knowledge, it will be caused to cease.

    The words “there are” is in parentheses because it’s not in the Greek text. In this case, however, it can be understood. The Greeks leave out the verb “to be” a lot. It’s quite annoying. It makes sense to insert it here. Now the words translated here do not mean simply “if”, but that’s an acceptable way to translate them. It is “eite” in Greek. “ei” means “if”, but “te” means “and”. These are little particles that are always being combined all over the place, and it’s very confusing. Literally it means “if also” or “if too”. But what it does not mean is “and if”. If they wanted to say “and if” they would have used two words instead of this combined particle. This “if too” is sort of like an additional if, connecting it to what came before. The Greeks are always doing this sort of thing. That’s why their sentences are a whole page long, and the main verb only shows up at the end. It’s quite annoying. Sigh. So in English, it should be translated as just plain “if”, but we should note that there is a connection between what follows the “if” and what came before.

    So how should we understand this verse? We should understand it to be one sentence, for one thing. Putting that period there really breaks up the thought flow of the sentence, which I just so painstakingly illustrated. And there’s no period in the Greek New Testament, so I don’t know who these people are who are putting periods wherever they feel like it. Of course, that’s not quite as bad as changing “if too” to “where there are”. That’s kind of changing the meaning.

    OK, IF YOU’RE SKIMMING, READ THIS PART CAREFULLY!!!!!

    Because here’s my point…

    Love is superior to prophesy, tongues and knowledge, because love lasts forever, whereas these others pass away. These other things are things of TIME, whereas love is eternal.

    It does not say that knowledge, prophesy, or tongues will cease. It says that these things are temporary by nature, whereas love is eternal by nature, thus making it inherently superior, and thus, says Paul, what we should more earnestly pursue.

    PLEASE CONTINUE SKIMMING NOW…

    I mean, if you think about it, prophesies cease to be of much value once they have come to pass. Prophesies only exist because there is such a thing as time. Perhaps we should be especially thinking of predictive prophesies here, such as Agabus telling Paul that he’d be put in chains, etc. Knowledge too is temporary by nature. You can just go ask your grandpa if he still knows all the players on his favorite childhood baseball team. (Contrast this with the Platonic idea of knowledge, which views knowledge as forms, and are eternal and unchanging. For Plato, if you claim to know someone said something, you’re a liar, because you can’t have knowledge of the temporal, of that which changes or happens in time. Knowledge can only be of eternal things. Note carefully that the Bible rejects this.) Tongues too, which word here simply means language, is also a temporary thing. As soon as I say something, it’s gone. If you weren’t there to hear it, I’m sorry, you can’t go back in time and hear it. It’s gone forever.

    Love never fails. Or love never falls. Or love is eternal because unchanging.

    Why? Because love is NOT rude, it does NOT envy or boast, it IS patient and kind, it does NOT insist on its own way, etc. Here, look:

    1Co 13:4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
    1Co 13:5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
    1Co 13:6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
    1Co 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Read these verses, and ask yourself if Paul is trying to make the point that love CONTINUES. Love doesn’t pass away like the words that come out of your mouth that make a sound only once and then they are gone. Do you get the impression in these verses that love is a promise?

    If you say, “I love you” to someone, and you mean love according to Paul’s characterization of it in these verses, his definition if you will, you have made a committment forever. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (falls)…”

    When it says that “love never…”, then that means when you say “I love you” and you really mean it the way Paul here describes it, you’re actually saying, “I will never…” That’s a committment forever. Why? Because as soon as you stop believing, stop hoping, stop enduring, stop bearing all things, as soon as you fall or fail, you are no longer fitting the requirements for love. You haven’t stopped being love, you never were love in the first place, because “love believes ALL THINGS,” etc. If you had love, you wouldn’t have fallen, you wouldn’t have stopped believing. As soon as you violate the rules, all your efforts are in vain according to this definiton.

    So love must be forever. Eternal. Unchanging.

    Do you think he’s talking about OUR love here?

    Paul is not making a statement about cessation here. That’s totally not the point. That’s why I said that cessationists who use this passage to back up what they are saying are making a mistake. I have not claimed this as being proof of cessation.

    Just like I am not looking for the Bible to use the word “Trinity”, however, before I will believe it, I am not looking for the Bible to say, “On such and such a day, no one will speak in tongues anymore. Take note Echo, and begin the heresy trials on the very next day.” No. That’s not how it works. Everything isn’t always spelled out in black and white. We have to approach Scripture cautiously. We cannot be reckless with it. We have to act like we think it’s important what we say about it – because it is. We have to take very special care to understand it thoroughly before we go around making pronouncements about its content, because its content is Christ himself. If we have misunderstood the Bible, we have misunderstood something about Christ. We don’t want to do that, right? So we take our time. We study it thorougly, and then we start over and study it again, and again, and again, and perhaps after we have studied for a while, then we might say that it seems to be saying…

    But it is for this reason that we never want to put all of our eggs in one basket. It may be that we are missing the point, even if we are convinced that we are reading a clear passage of Scripture. Just because it seems clear to us what we are reading, doesn’t mean it is so.

    Why, if you need an example, look at how I was talking about assurance of salvation, and you thought I meant salvation. I said tongue speakers don’t have the same assurance the Calvinist does by making the same confession. ASSURANCE, mind you. And then you said, how dare you say that only Calvinists are going to heaven! But I never said that, nor would I, because I don’t believe it. And if I don’t believe it, why would I say it? Particularly in this conversation, that would be extremely counter-productive. And I made a great deal of effort to say that I wasn’t judging, but encouraging toward repentance. I have no right to judge, only God does. But I have the right, even the responsibility to encourage others to repent on something this huge. “Repent and believe” is a good message to bring to people. I mean, after all, just about every man of God in Scripture says it, including Christ, the apostles, etc. Sure, they say it with more authority, but you know, it’s up to you how you receive the message. You can freak out, or blow me off. It’s up to you. But if I see someone preaching something that I know is dangerous to his hearers, and he isn’t intentionally exposing them to that danger, and we’re on a blog discussing it on the internet – where we can remain nice and anonymous, more or less, well, it’s a great time to encourage someone to repentance.

    Anyway, do you see how much can go wrong when you don’t read something carefully and slowly and you assume that your first casual glance at the text must be what it means?

    Oh, I guess I better explain the rest of the passage, lest I am accused of not answering the question.

    1Co 13:9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
    1Co 13:10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
    1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
    1Co 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known

    Here’s the Literal version of verse 10:

    (LITV) but when the perfect thing comes, then that which is in part will be caused to cease.

    But “perfect” is a horrible word to use here. Ok, I guess that’s a little harsh, since just about every translation uses it. The Greek word is “teleios”. It means “completeness” or “completion”. There’s just one tiny little problem. The word translated “perfect” is in the accusative case.

    Ok, Greek has 4 basic cases. (Actually 8, because 4 singular, 4 plural, and 2 more vocative cases if you want to count those, but I frankly don’t.) So, 4 basic cases.

    Nominative: this case is used for when a noun is the subject of the verb.
    Genitive: generally used for possession and objects of verbs of separation, motion away from
    Dative: indirect objects (to, for), fixed location
    Accusative: direct objects, motion towards

    Now, the “completeness” is in the accusative. This is the word that’s frequently translated as “perfect” in english bibles. And the verb is indeed the verb “to go, come”. And it’s in the Aorist Active Subjunctive, 3rd singular. So, if “the completeness” were in the Nominative case, we would say that it means “when the completeness comes”. But it’s in the accusative. That means it isn’t the completeness doing the coming. Something is coming to it.

    But what could it be?

    Often, verbs contain the subject. In this case, it must be third person singular, and that means “he”, “she” or “it”. I hereby nominate “it”. Furthermore, verse 9 doesn’t end in a period in the Greek (not like that matters in Greek, but it does in English), so we can put the two verses from the ESV in like this:

    1Co 13:9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
    1Co 13:10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

    I don’t honestly have any idea why they insist on translating it this way. It’s no wonder so many people are so confused as to how to interpret this. Watch how easy it becomes when it’s translated properly.

    For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when it comes to completion, the partial will pass away.

    There now, doesn’t that give the sentence just that much more…balance and cohesion? Excellent. So now we can understand that it is not knowledge that will pass away, but the little imperfections of knowledge that pass away, or the incompletenesses, the shortcomings of our knowledge that renders it incomplete. Consider too, the prophesies about Christ before he actually died. Everyone thought he would be an earthly king and drive the Romans out. But when he rose from the dead, this partial and imperfect knowledge passed away, because their knowledge was completed, as they realized that Jesus was indeed a king, but the enemy he drove away was Death itself – a far more important battle for a far more important king. You see, the partial prophesies (because they’re fulfilled) will pass away, and incomplete knowledge will pass away – why? Because they have been completed; therefore, they are no longer partial anymore, or incomplete. They are complete.

    But wait! Why is it not plural? Shouldn’t that verb be a 3rd person plural, rather than 3rd person singular? Isn’t that why they’ve always assumed that the perfect is doing the coming? No, not necessarily. But this is probably why it gets translated the way it does.

    These two things, as concepts, are simply that: things. Notice that in verse 9, nouns are not used, but verbs. But in verse 10, they are referred to as if they are things. If you have a neuter plural, such as “things” (were you to literally use the word), you don’t use the 3rd person plural form of the verb, but the singular. So even though it’s 3rd singular, you can understand the subject to be referring to more than one thing.

    If you would bear with a further refinement, then, to my translation, a perfection, a completion, if you will. As follows:

    “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when these come to completion, the partial will pass away.”

    That’s what the best translation would be. Surely we can all see quite clearly how this perfectly harmonizes with verses 11 and 12, almost to the point that it seems like it was originally intended to be that way. Ahem. That’s because it was. Paul’s a good writer. Very clear and to the point. But Greek’s a tough language. Not all people who translate the New Testament have studied Greek as well as they could have, and even if they did, there’s always an editor who looks at other translations and says, “If we depart too much from all the other translations, we won’t sell copies because people will think we’re wierd.” So, if the KJV has a bad translation of a somewhat unclear passage, you can bet that it’ll be a long, long time before it gets corrected.

    Daniel, I know that this totally ruins your proof text, but take comfort in knowing that those who are irresponsible in their exegesis of Scripture cannot use this passage to prove cessation any more than you can use it to prove continuation. You’ll have to look elsewhere.

    However, you seemed to be pretty emphatic about this text necessarily meaning one thing or another. Does that seem wise now, in retrospect? Here’s what you said again:

    “When does the imperfect (tongues, prophecy, miracles, knowledge) cease? When the Perfect comes!!!!!!!! Either you are saying the perfection has come and it is the Canon or you are saying tongues hasn’t ceased. What is so hard about that?”

    Maybe you capitalized “perfect” by mistake. But you demanded that I either say that the perfection has come and it is the canon, or that tongues haven’t ceased. You demanded it. Seems pretty hostile too, but that might just be because of all the exclamation points. You might not have put those in because you were getting frustrated, you might have just put them in for reasons that have nothing to do with your mood. Perhaps you just really, really, really meant it. But if that was what it was, I still have to wonder why you capitalized “perfect”. Did you know that in the original Greek text all the letters were capitals? Yeah, and there was no punctuation. And no space between words. And no accent marks. I’d be lost trying to read a text like that. That’s better than Hebrew though; the orignal Hebrew of the oldest texts was written without any vowels at all. And let me tell you, that can make a big difference. I’m so glad for the Masoretes who put in the vowels for Hebrew, and for the Byzantines, who put in the accents for Greek. Whew! We owe those guys a debt. That’s for sure.

    Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, I was wondering why you capitalized the P in “perfect”. You might have done it inadvertently, but what with all the exclamation marks that followed, one can only assume that you really, really meant it, so I find it hard to believe that you’d be that emphatic about a typo.

    So, did you mean that I had to believe that either Christ or the Bible MUST be “the Perfect” who will come or has come? It all hinged not on what the text was saying, but on my opinion as to what “perfect” refers to, right? Well, breathe easy, man, because the text always tells us what it is saying. We don’t have to guess what “perfect” means, Christ or the Word, and then base doctrine on that. Good thing too, because Christ IS the Word, and they’ve both already come. But don’t worry, that’s got nothing to do with this word “perfect”, because the “perfect” isn’t coming, but rather it is WE who are being brought to completion.

    And since love is forever, and all these other things are temporary and fleeting, we should seek completion, we should seek love, etc. It all makes perfect sense, is very harmonious and beautiful, but it is speaking about love, not cessation or continuation.

    It is my hope that you feel a bit less frustrated now, but that’s probably too much to hope for. However, I have given you an arrow for your quiver the next time a cessationist tries to use this passage against you.

    The Word of God is not a McDonald’s drive-thru. You have to wait a while and let it simmer. You have to stop and wait a while, think it through, mull it over, etc. You can’t expect to just pick it up, glance at it, and whatever immediately comes to your mind must be what it’s saying. Sometimes that is the case, but often times it isn’t. Often we need to stop and think a moment, pull out a Greek grammar, roll up our sleeves and get to work. This is what pastors do. This is why the pastors I know say that a good sermon generally takes about 20 hours of preparation time. You have to think through these issues. You have to take your time, handling the Word of God gently and carefully. Because the moment you mess it up, you’re doing a…very bad thing.

    Stop. Think. Pot roast, not McDonalds. Instant gratification works for hamburgers, not the Bible.

  39. …pssst…for all you Greek scholars out there reading this: most translations of verse 10 are wrong because the Nom and Accus are spelled the same way, and therefore, it never ocurrs to them that “it” might be the subject. But all three of my Greek texts that have parsing codes label it a neuter accusative. That doesn’t mean it has to be, but they label it that way because that helps make more sense out of the passage. Furthermore, most translators are going through the McDonald’s drive thru too. They don’t stop to think about it for a while. Since they’re working from an unparsed text, they ASSUME it’s a nominative, especially since that’s what the majority of English Bibles seem to say, and it never, ever ocurrs to them that the subject might be the knowing and prophesying in part in verse 9, taken as one complex subject, or simply things. So, Greek scholar, take your Greek slowly. Chew on it. Mull it over. Spend some time. The McDonald’s answer is almost always wrong.

  40. McDonald’s? Man, I’ve lost it. Crazy busy weekend, I hope to catch up on what all you hooligans been wrangling about soon…

  41. Rube,

    Hooligans? Awww, gee.

    E

  42. Somebody e-mailed this too me and it was just too good not to post here. Enjoy.

    Pentecostal Man’s Glossolalia Echos NBA Rosters

    MURFREESBORO, TN – When new believer Gentry Tate attended Murfreesboro Assembly of God’s Friday Night Signs and Wonders meeting, he wasn’t expecting to make use of his acute knowledge of professional basketball. However, when traveling preacher Morgan Sheppard gave the altar call for those who wanted to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Tate turned to the NBA for guidance. “He laid hands on me, and I didn’t want to let him down, so I spouted the weirdest gibberish I could come up with: ‘Kirelenko, Mutombo, Potapenko, you name it’. I guess it worked – everyone around me praised Jesus.”

    The 21 year old native of Murfreesboro was led to Christ by best friend Cole Smith earlier this year. “Cole said I needed to get baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost, so he dunked me down at Buffalo Creek. I didn’t talk in tongues, so I guess it didn’t take. He suggested I see an anointed preacher like Reverend Sheppard. On the way over, Cole kinda prepped me for the infilling. He said I just needed to do some baby talk and the Holy Ghost would take over from there. Boy am I glad I was watching the Spurs-Jazz game before I went.”

    “His prayer language is beautiful,” said long time Assembly attender June Dunton. “When he rattled off that string of ‘Stojakovic Ilgauskis Pau Gasol,’ I was just mesmerized. I never heard anything like it before.” For his part, Tate simply didn’t want to embarrass Reverend Sheppard. “Everybody he slapped on the forehead did a tongue, but I was at a loss for words. Until I remembered Tim Duncan’s slam dunk. Then I went for it with a, ‘Hallelujah Manu Ginobili.’ I heard everybody around me saying ‘yes Lord,’ so I figured I had the Holy Ghost. Then I let loose with a ‘Hallelujah Manu Ginobili Hedo Turkoglu,’ and it was on. Everybody started jumping up and down. I thought ‘Oh yeah? Take this…’ and I fired off a ‘Hallelujah Manu Ginobili Hedo Turkoglu Slava Medvedenko! MEDvedenko! Whoooaaa MedveDENKO!’ It felt like a tongues triple-double.”

    Though Tate’s tongues were received by all, the interpretation was difficult to decipher. “I really couldn’t get a read on it,” said Duncan Thiel, 47. “So we called in Brother Metcalf.”

    Burl Metcalf, 101, was a toddler during the Azusa Street revival in the early 20th century, and is Murfreesboro Assembly’s chief tongues expert. “Try as I could, all I could come up with was ‘3 ball from downtown!’, and ‘Who’s your Daddy now, sucka!’ I suppose it means the Trinity in the New Jerusalem is still our heavenly Father, or something. I’ve been interpreting tongues for 90 years, and ain’t never heard nothin’ like this; even when the fakers come along and pull that ‘she-rode-a-Honda’ chicanery to try and trick me and the Holy Ghost.”

    Months after his infilling, Tate is still fired up in the Spirit. “Oh yeah, I break off a tongue or two everyday. Who knew a prayer language could be so easy to learn? But I’m still growing in the gift. I can’t wait ‘til the NBA draft next year.”

  43. Albino,

    Hahahahahahahahahahaahahahahaha…

    To quote Homer Simpson, “It’s funny cuz it’s true! Hee hee hee!”

    Echo

  44. speaking of silence, it’s deafening in here.

  45. Nobody says we can’t laugh at ourselves. Hmmm, would a wicked, despotic heretic laugh at himself? Hmmmmm…

  46. Sorry guys, I’m afraid I’ve lost this thread, and I doubt I’ll be able to get back on top of it. It’s not like it didn’t have a good run, though…

    Maybe you can take all the silence in here and make a good argument from it?

  47. Rube,

    I can make a good argument from the silence. The tongues speakers cannot argue against the Word of God. But instead of admitting it, they have chosen to clutch their sin and ignore the Word of God. Thus they will not answer because they cannot answer, because the only answer they can give is the answer they do not want to give.

    I’ve done the same thing many times. I understand.

    E

  48. What question was left unanswered?

  49. Are you serious?

  50. yeah dude, I don’t know what more you want. You never argue with our teaching but rather our inference. Then the second I argue your inference you act offended and repeatedly deny that is what you are saying. The double standards make it impossible to have a discussion.

    We teach the Canon is closed.
    We teach salvation by Grace through Faith alone.
    We teach that the Gifts of the Spirit are the same today as they were in the New Testament and they ought to be practiced in the order taught to us in the New Testament.

    You never acknowledge that we beleive the first two and you never argue the reality of the last point. You only argue that we don’t beleive the first two. So what possible discussion can we have?

  51. Daniel,

    I appreciate what you’re saying.

    I think I have probably communicated poorly if that’s how you feel about it.

    I have never meant to convey that you believe the canon is open. I don’t think I ever said that, but it’s quite possible that you could have perceived something I said to be implying that.

    My argument is not that you don’t believe the canon is closed. We do both believe that, otherwise you would be carrying a different Bible. I have only argued that the closing of the canon has an implication that you do not have.

    As for teaching salvation by grace alone through faith alone, I do not doubt that you not only believe it, but that you also teach it. For this you rightly deserve credit. I believe that Albino seeks to teach that as well.

    But that’s why I appealed to Albino in the way that I did. I was trying to say that what tongues teaches has the unintended consequence of sending people the wrong signals. Now, you obviously disagree with that, but if this is different from what you got out of my posts, then I chalk it up to my poor communication skills.

    As for whether or not tongues continue today, I have argued that because of the implication of the closed canon (that I believe in and you don’t), therefore, what Paul says to the Corinthians does not apply to us. There is precedent for this in lots of places in Scripture, such as circumcision, which no longer applies, and the Jewish dietary laws, which also don’t apply. Nobody bats an eyelash when we say that circumcision no longer applies these days, but once upon a time, there was a serious debate over the matter. (Acts 15) I imagine people in those days said things very similar to what you were saying: it says it right here! How could you deny the teachings of Scripture? But Paul, for example, when he said that it no longer applies, was actually correct, even if people in large part did not see it the way he did. There is precedent then, for saying that something in the Bible does not apply to us in the same way as it did to the original audience.

    You were incredulous (because you have a high view of Scripture) that I could say that what Paul says to the Corinthians about tongues does not apply to us. You responded by asking me to interpret 1 Cor 13:9,10, but when I interpreted it from the original Greek, showing that it is generally mistranslated, all those exclamation marks that showed your incedulity were silent. You simply didn’t reply.

    You never said, boy that’s interesting. Even though it happens all the time, I get the feeling that since I said that most translations get it wrong, that you feel that the proper response is no response, because you probably think I’m being irrational to disagree with the common consent of most translations. But when I say it happens all the time, I’m being quite serious. If you would study Greek (and perhaps you have), you would see this for yourself. It happens ALL THE TIME. The reason it happens so much is that it’s just plain hard to do. But this gives the impression that I’m just arrogant, because I’m claiming that I can translate Greek better than those who write our common translations. But I’m not being arrogant. There are a million factors that go into translations. They are done by committees, and probably after much debate many times, they just reach a compromise and shrug their shoulders, because some feel one way about a text, others feel another way about it.

    But this is not the only argument that I have made that has gone unanswered. There have been many.

    For example, I said that your argument is circular, because you are approaching the Scriptures with the idea that tongues are still continuing. Because you have that idea, it is impossible for you to imagine that 1 Cor 14 might not apply to us like it did to the Corinthians. Then, not understanding, or not caring to understand, you say that my claim is ridiculous because it would necessarily follow that none of the Scriptures are written to us. But you misunderstand that I’m not saying that 1 Cor 14 should be removed from the canon. There are many lessons for us today in that passage. But it was written to people during a point in history when tongues were being given as a gift. Today, it is not given, because of a much larger argument I have made, and it is for this reason that 1 Cor 14 no longer means the same thing to us anymore.

    This is not irrational. There are plenty of passages in which this same thing is common sense. For example, Jesus commands his disciples to wash each other’s feet. I’m sure that they did that for a while. But does it surprise you that no one does this anymore? Why not? Jesus commanded it after all. You better go wash someone’s feet. Do you eat hot dogs? How could you, since the OT, which is part of the Bible, commands you not to eat pork? Don’t you see what I’m saying? I’m not arbitrarily dismissing Scripture, but I have good, Scriptural reasons for saying that Paul’s commands do not apply to us today in the same way that they applied to the Corinthians. It is not irrational. Paul himself recognized that parts of the OT no longer applied, and he was vehement about it.

    You, on the other hand, don’t seem to want to even entertain the possibility. You simply dismiss my arguments because you have rejected them before giving them a fair hearing.

    I have given your arguments a fair hearing. I went to a tongues speaking church for 20 years. Can you say that you have given me such a fair hearing?

    I do not have a low view of Scripture any more than you do. But that doesn’t mean we have to take everything in it literally as if Paul is here today saying the same thing. For many things that Paul says, this is true. For many things we do want to take them literally. But not everything. Just like we don’t take all the commands of the OT literally today, there are some things in the NT that we no longer take literally.

    Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.

    Are you searching for Caesar so that you can obey this command literally? Of course not. Caesar has been replaced for us by the US Congress, or perhaps the IRS in this case.

    1Co 7:8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.
    1Co 7:9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

    What do you do with this passage? Were there any special circumstances that serve as a context in which Paul would write this? How can this be reconciled with Genesis, which says that God said it is not good for man to be alone, so he made Eve? This directly contradicts what Paul was saying here. Paul says it is good to be alone, God said it isn’t. Which is it?

    Read just about any decent commentary, and they’ll tell you the same thing. Paul was writing to a church that was being severely persecuted. Because of those circumstances, he told them that it would be good to remain single. Why? Because if you have a family, you are more tempted to apostatize and live, rather than confess and die for your faith. You have a family to think about. But if you don’t have a family, it is easier to stand firm and die for your faith. This view is not only reasonable, but agreed upon by many commentators. See for yourself if you are unwilling to take my word for it. As a man who didn’t get married until I was 30 I can tell you that for most men, being single is NOT a good thing, and being married is far better. But am I denying what Paul said? Is Paul denying what God said? Or are there SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES through which the Scriptures need to be interpreted? Obviously marriage is a good thing, because children are a good thing. If no one married, the human race would die out!

    Won’t you please respond to these arguments?

  52. Lest I receive one of those annoying “arguing from silence” responses about the persecution circumstances for Corinth at the time of the first letter (having relevance only to marriage, not tongues, but only to serve as an example of a similar kind of thing):

    1Co 7:26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is.

    “Distress” is a good translation. “Crisis” is better. Note the word “present”, meaning of course, current, as in something that is limited to this present time. Paul didn’t say that this is good advice for all times, he said it’s good advice for the CURRENT crisis.

  53. E,

    I am very frustrated about the whole inference arguments here. You apologized in part but keep holding on to it…

    “I was trying to say that what tongues teaches has the unintended consequence of sending people the wrong signals.”

    It is this point that makes it impossible for you to(as you say) give tongues a “fair trial”.

    You’re not giving it a fair trial because you approach it as heresy.

    Meanwhile back at the ranch you teach Calvanism, the inference teaching of “I’m saved so I can do whatever I want” and “People are going to get saved anyways so i have no responsiblity to preach the gospel.”

    I bring those topics up because I know they will illicit in you defensive thoughts, but we could argue those forever and unless I acknowledge that is NOT what you are really teaching and even if it becomes an implict teaching it doesn’t mean you are a heretic in need of repentance.

    OK I hope you get the point.

    Anyways I have no problem with your interpretation of the I Corinthians 13 passage. I didn’t respond to it, because I agree with it. And it further proves my point. Perfection, completness, maturity, etc. Are you asserting that we are there? Of course you are not, everyone acknowledges it is a process that we won’t get to until Christ returns. This is why I say, the Spiritual gifts are a part of what brings us to maturity. Both individually, and collectivley as a church body (and for that matter church bodies). We would agree that the gifts mentioned to the Romans serve that purpose (Romans 12:3-8), gifts like leadership, encouragement, teaching, giving, serving, mercy, prophecy (oops). The point is the intention of these gifts is that they be practiced in love to help build up and mature the body of Christ.

    Now you want to throw them into circumcision and levitical dietary laws as things that have been eliminated (superceeded). Using Acts 15 to try to prove your point there was a HORRIBLE thing for you to do. (If you really want I can get into that but I try to keep my post somewhat reasonable in case someone other then the two of us idiots decides to read).

    Then you mention the washing of the disciples feet to prove your point… well yeah thats not quite the same now because well, people wear shoes today. Does that mean the principle doesn’t remain? Are you saying we should not longer humble ourselves and serve one another?

    As for the celebecy verse I have no difficulty with your translation of that either, Paul taught elswhere that those who FORBID marriage are hypocritical liars (I Timothy 4:1-3). I tend to take notice when Paul talks about forbidding and not forbidding certain things because I tend to apply Paul’s words (God’s words) to my life.

    You must understand the whole Bible! I don’t know about you but I make it a routine practice to read through the whole Bible on an annual basis (my 7th time this year). I love the whole Bible I read it and study it and seek to understand as much of it as God allows. Your assumptions that I am taking things out of context and basing them on my experiences is so offensive because it attmepts to strike down who I am. I’m sorry but you’re just plain wrong when you accuse me of “fast-food” interpretation. Your arguments for the cessation of tongues are nothing more than you arbitrarily ripping out pages of the Bible (I could use the EXACT same logic on the Lord’s Supper, try it, it’s true). This is why it is so necessary for you to make it (tongues) into an evil thing that teaches a false gospel. Sorry but it just isn’t so any more than TULIP is.

    I want to apologize for calling you a fool in an earlier post. That’s a strong word and i had no buisness using it on you. You are not a fool, you are just wrong.

  54. Rube,

    I appeal to you to begin a new thread about the gospel. What is it, how does it work, why is it important, the necessity of preachcing it in every single sermon, etc.

    E

  55. Daniel,

    My post 54 is the response to your post 53.

    E

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