Jesus Christ Is Lord

That every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

Posts Tagged ‘Pneumatology’

Regeneration Does Precede Faith (I Was Wrong)

Posted by Job on March 22, 2013

In the past, I have vehemently criticized the doctrine that regeneration precedes faith. The reason for this was my ignorance. I took regeneration to be another word for conversion in that it had the exact same meaning.

However, regeneration only refers to passing from death to life. It is what happened in the natural sense when Lazarus and a number of unnamed characters were raised from the dead by those such as Jesus Christ, Elijah and Elisha. Those natural regenerations were types, or prefigurements, of the spiritual regeneration that happens when a sinner becomes a believer. We can include the resurrection of Jesus Christ as this sort of natural regeneration, as Jesus Christ’s physical existence went from being dead to alive. Obviously, being the sinless perfect and pre-existing God and Son of God, Jesus Christ needed no spiritual regeneration of any sort. This is in contrast with Lazarus, who not only experienced natural regeneration after being dead four days, but being one born into original sin and having sinned – as the soul that sinneth shall die as Lazarus did – he needed to receive spiritual regeneration also.

The subject of confusion: being regenerated, being born again, is only part of the salvation process. The actual conversion process happens after regeneration. Further, the effectual calling occurs before regeneration.

1. Effectual call: this is when God (the Holy Spirit) calls the sinner to salvation. It takes place when the sinner hears the gospel. (Note: the providence of God must place the sinner in position to hear the gospel first.)

2. Regeneration: this is when the Holy Spirit raises the sinner from the dead.

3. Conversion: this is when the sinner receives faith from the Holy Spirit, believes the gospel of Jesus Christ and hence fulfills John 3:16, Romans 10:8-9 etc.

The effectual calling cannot and will not happen unless one has first been chosen (elected by God the Father unto salvation from before the foundation of the world). The regeneration will not occur until one has been called. And salvation occurs after regeneration.

Why must regeneration precede faith? I am certain that you have heard that “dead men tell no tales.” Similarly, dead men cannot have faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). How can a dead man have assurance or conviction? A secular dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” How can a dead man have trust or confidence of any sort in anything, let alone a complete and total one in the unseen God? A dead man cannot even have wishy washy confidence in the casket that he is lying in. Why? Because he is dead. He doesn’t even know that he is in a casket. He has no feelings, thoughts or emotions.

This is not a contrivance of philosophy or idle speculation, but a truth clearly taught in scripture. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.” Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” But that is Paul’s doctrine, right? Well from the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Now John 3:3 is key. Seeing the kingdom of God or entering the kingdom of God is always used by Jesus Christ to refer to salvation. Always. So, Jesus Christ explicitly states that one must be born again before that person can be saved. Again, when Jesus Christ said “except”, He was making a condition. So, the condition of being saved was being born again. Regeneration precedes conversion or salvation. And take a look at Ephesians 2:8, which says “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God.” Regeneration precedes salvation. Salvation comes by faith. Thus, regeneration precedes faith. It is clearly, explicitly taught in scripture.

The doctrine of regeneration precedes faith is considered to be a Calvinist distinctive. However, many non-Calvinists believe so also without acknowledging or admitting it. Many non-Calvinists believe that God makes a change in the sinner that allows the sinner to make a choice to accept or reject him. Of course, the acceptance is a decision made through faith, and the rejection is a decision made through a lack of faith according to this doctrine. The non-Calvinist does not refer to this as regeneration, of course, because he recognizes that regeneration must necessarily result in salvation. So the non-Calvinist regards this as God’s merely opening the sinner’s eyes and hearts for the purposes of allowing him a free choice.

Problems with this doctrine are many. The Bible makes it clear that unsaved people are spiritually dead. So the person goes from spiritually dead to “sort of dead”, akin to the woman who says that she is “sort of pregnant”? Just as you are either pregnant or not, you are either dead or not … there is no in-between! Second, how can the “sort of dead/alive” person choose to believe and accept God on this basis in the absence of faith? Simple: he cannot. He cannot accept the gospel and believe without faith. And if God gives him faith, he will inevitably believe. There is no such thing as conditional, decision-based faith that is only activated on choice. So, for the sinner to choose God once God makes this choice possible requires the sinner to already have faith present within himself. And if this faith is present, he never was a sinner to begin with, and he was never spiritually dead to begin with. The Bible states that without faith it is impossible to please God. The converse would mean that those who have faith are already acceptable to God, meaning that they were righteous, justified, regenerate and converted already. Instead of being in a condition of original sin, this person would have had to have been inherently righteous already without having heard the gospel and without need of Jesus Christ. Moreover, if such a righteous person were to confess and repent of his sinful condition and state his need for Christ to be his savior, that person would be a liar!

The doctrine of regeneration coming after faith – or truthfully that regeneration and conversion are the same – is due to people being determined to believe that God must offer a man a free choice to accept or reject Him in order to be just and righteous. However, accepting God cannot be made in the absence of faith! The Bible is clear on this. Thus, denying that regeneration precedes faith is nothing more than an absolute determination to believe a lie.

This also solves the problem of those who fall away and confirms the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, or “once saved always saved.” Be not deceived: faith is not mere belief. Faith only comes by the Holy Spirit after the Holy Spirit regenerates you. And after conversion, the Holy Spirit seals you and keeps you in the faith. The Bible is clear on this. The Bible is also clear with the parable of the sower that it is possible to believe the gospel at one point but later renounce that belief. The Bible further states clearly that it is possible to believe the gospel, retain this belief but not bear fruit. The Bible further still states that it is possible to believe the gospel, do good works and bear fruit but not be obedient. These are the teachings of Jesus Christ, and Christ makes it clear that those people (the ones who renounce the gospel after believing at one point, those who believe but do not bear fruit, and those who believe and bear fruit but are disobedient) will be cast into the lake of fire! Why is this so? Because these people believed without receiving faith, and they did not receive faith because they are still unregenerate. You cannot have faith and be spiritually dead, but you can certainly believe and be spiritually dead. Hence, rejecting the truth that regeneration precedes faith is one of the reasons why many Christian denominations (Methodists and many Pentecostals for example) believe that it is possible to lose your salvation. The regeneration precedes faith doctrine provides both absolute proof that those who fall away were never saved to begin with, and provides absolute assurance that those who are truly saved will bear fruit, attain obedience and endure trials and tribulations until the end, even unto death!

So God will accept anyone who comes to Him through His Son, because those who come to God are those that God has called to do so. Is God calling you today? If so, repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. If you wish for more information on how to do so:

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan

Advertisements

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

The Strong Trinitarian Statement In 2 Corinthians 3:14-18 And The Second Blessing Doctrine

Posted by Job on December 26, 2009

Actually, the context for this statement is contained within the entire chapter of 2 Corinthians 3, which builds up to the last 2 or 3 verses at the end. However, for length purposes, only verses 14-18 will be considered.

But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Even from a direct literary interpretation with very little if any background in Christian doctrine required, this passage treats God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as being one and the same AND treats God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as being distinct. The Lord referred to in this passage is Jesus Christ. The Spirit spoken of in this passage is the Holy Spirit. Yet verse 17 specifically states “Now the Lord is that Spirit.” This can only be if Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are One. Yet verses 17 and 18 refer to the Lord (Jesus Christ) and the Spirit of the Lord (the Holy Spirit) distinctly, not as relationships, “divisions of an egg”, emanations, manifestations or any of the other ideas proposed by those who deny God’s eternal triune nature.

Implication:

If the Lord is that Spirit, meaning that Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit, then receiving Jesus Christ means receiving the Holy Spirit. To receive Jesus Christ means to receive the Holy Spirit, and therefore receiving Jesus Christ (salvation) means receiving the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. That would mean that while these gifts and fruits may not all manifest immediately but instead may manifest and develop as the believer is being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ and matures in the faith of Jesus Christ, they are still given to Christians at the time of conversion, at the time that they are placed in Jesus Christ’s body and the Holy Spirit begins to indwell them.

So the doctrine of a second blessing of the Holy Spirit? Since Jesus Christ is the Holy Spirit, then this “second blessing” can only mean receiving Jesus Christ a second time. How is receiving Jesus Christ a second time possible and why is this necessary? When considering your answer to this, ponder upon Hebrews 6:6, which reads:

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Where the context of Hebrews 6:6 diverges somewhat from the matter being discussed here, it is still useful for establishing that receiving Jesus Christ once is sufficient just as was Jesus Christ’s going to the cross once was sufficient. The larger context of the book of Hebrews is actually very beneficial, because that epistle makes it obvious that only one sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross was necessary and links the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to the one receipt of Jesus Christ by the believer. Thus, beware of any doctrine that teaches multiple receipts of Jesus Christ.

While this second blessing doctrine treats the Holy Spirit as acting separately, independently or at least supplementary to Jesus Christ with regards to the issue of salvation, Ephesians 4:7-8 says that Jesus Christ gives the gifts to the church.

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

So why are these gifts (and fruits) commonly referred to as gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit as opposed to gifts and fruits of Jesus Christ? Again, from 2 Corinthians 3:17, Lord and Spirit are one! So, if the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ are One and if Jesus Christ can only be received once, then how can there be second blessings, multiple blessings, multiple portions etc. of the Holy Spirit? It is so commonly accepted because saying “receive a triple portion of the Holy Spirit” sounds completely different from “receive a triple portion of Jesus Christ!” and more to the point “crucify Jesus Christ three times!” even though it is precisely what those terms mean.

Incidentally, I shall point out that the idea that Jesus Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross was insufficient and that He must be sacrificed anew again and again to provide benefits and gifts to the church is something that touches the Roman Catholic doctrines of communion and specifically of transubstantiation. Words have meaning, including the words used in doctrines. If one does not understand the meanings of the words, then one will not understand the doctrine.

So, the question must be asked: what implication does the fact that “a receiving second blessing from the Holy Spirit” amounts to “receiving Jesus Christ a second time” and then “Jesus Christ being sacrificed a second time” mean for those who adhere to this doctrine? Thank you.

Posted in Bible, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Ruach Hakadosh | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Seeking An Interpretation of Acts 8:12-17 That Answers The Pentecostal Challenge

Posted by Job on February 16, 2009

A little while ago, I happened to be watching an old Lester Sumrall sermon on Christian television. In it, he used the text Acts 8:12-17 to support the classic and core Pentecostal doctrine of being filled with the Holy Spirit. According to Pentecostalism, this is something distinct from the Holy Spirit’s indwelling born again Christians. 

There is actually an Old Testament basis for the Pentecostal “filling of the Holy Spirit” doctrine. Consider most prominently the book of Judges where such figures as Othniel, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson were empowered by the Holy Spirit to lead Israel. Also, the Holy Spirit was required for Old Testament prophecy. Claiming that such figures had the indwelling Holy Spirit available to them in that dispensation is very problematic theologically, and becomes even more so when one considers that such extremely problematic figures as Balaam and Saul prophesied. 

So, the text of Acts 8:12-17 is as follows:

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 

Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

(For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

Rather compelling I must say. At this point, the Samaritans in question were already baptized believers upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet, they did not receive the Holy Ghost until 1) Christians prayed that they would receive it and 2) hands were laid upon them. 

Now, it was Sumrall’s position that the Samaritans, having already believed and been baptized, already had the indwelling Holy Spirit, and that what the Samaritans received as a result of the prayer intercession and having laid hands on them was the empowering, the filling of the Holy Spirit. I find Sumrall’s position to be compelling, because rejecting it would have real implications for the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the believer, because – and Sumrall made this a point of emphasis – the Samaritans were already baptized believers, that is born again Christians, before the incident of their receiving prayer and the laying on of hands.  

So, if Sumrall’s explanation – reasonably if not perfectly supportable by the plain reading of the text and the context of scripture – that this text refers to the filling  or empowering of the Holy Spirit and not the indwelling Holy Spirit is not correct, then does a better one exist?

Now I have seen a treatment of Acts 8:12-17 in the New American Commentary which asserted that the Samaritans received the indwelling Holy Spirit and the completion of their salvation process. Its justification of their position was plausible: that the salvation accounts in Acts never conformed to any rigid formula or pattern but instead depicted a diversity of salvation experiences, so in this case the receipt of the indwelling Holy Spirit by the Samaritans was delayed in order for the apostles to witness it, and thus see evidence that the gospel of Jesus Christ was not meant for Jews alone; a sign of divine approval for the Samaritan mission. 

The New American Commentary’s treatment of the issue was plausible. But was it superior to Sumrall’s? Now I have conceded that Sumrall’s assertion was imperfect. It is not based on anything that the Bible comes right out and says at any point, but instead uses some assumptions. (For instance, Sumrall did not even mention the incidents of individuals being empowered by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament; that was something that I supplied to lend weight to Sumrall’s thesis.) But the New American Commentary’s explanation is guilty of the same. If anything, it is even less perfect than Sumrall’s, because it relies on speculation to supply a reason for why things transpired the way that they did.  

As a matter of fact, the New American Commentary attempts to draw a parallel between the Samaritans in this instance and those of the Ephesians in Acts 19 to support their position. However, this is a false parallel and a completely inappropriate comparison, based solely on the fact that both the Samaritans and Ephesians had been baptized. However, the Samaritans of Acts 8 had heard and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ and been baptized. Meanwhile, the Ephesians of Acts 19 had received their baptism from John the Baptist, and had not heard the gospel. The only parallel is that the Ephesians received the Holy Spirit after Paul laid hands on them, but it was that same Paul who baptized them in the Name of Jesus Christ. So even without including the Acts 19 example, the New American Commentary’s explanation is weaker than Sumrall’s, and so their seeing fit to include this incident as an attempt to strengthen their explanation makes it weaker still.

However, Sumrall’s main flaw is that Acts 8:12-17 does explicitly state that the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit upon being laid hands upon. As much as Sumrall would like for the text to say “the Samaritans were empowered by the Holy Spirit” or “the Samaritans received a second blessing”, it simply does not say it. So, the fact that Sumrall’s thesis – driven interpretation is superior to the thesis – driven interpretation of the New American Commentary does not change the fact that it is thesis – driven. Sumrall, being Pentecostal, has an agenda to use this text to support a second blessing. The New American Commentary, being written from the Baptist perspective, has the opposite agenda. (The commentary’s invocation of John 8:3 to state that the Holy Spirit comes when He chooses appears to be extremely helpful, but not only is it citing John 8:3 out of context, but as mentioned earlier, wielding John 8:3 in that fashion has real implications for the doctrine that the Holy Spirit indwells all believers, and the “indwells” in that doctrine is commonly understood to be a present tense and never a future tense.) 

So, a straight interpretation of Acts 8:12-17, void of any agendas, would be useful in meeting the challenge posed by Sumrall. Otherwise, Acts 8:12-17 may well stand as a text that supports of Pentecostal doctrines. However, one should always recall that Pentecostalism was a direct outgrowth and logical extension of the doctrines of one John Wesley, who among other things taught that it was possible for a born – again Christian to lose his salvation, and furthermore was an apologist for the Roman Catholic Church (a fact for which Roman Catholics are both grateful to and proud of Wesley … see this link where the Vatican officially celebrated the 300th anniversary of Wesley’s birth; Wesley was to Protestants of his time what Billy Graham is today regarding the cult of Mary).

Posted in Bible, Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Is Cessationism Biblical?

Posted by Job on September 20, 2008

Many suggest that the sign gifts (tongues, prophecies, interpretations, gifts of healings and miracles) were for the apostolic era for the purposes of founding the church, and that after the time of the apostles past, the church was on solid ground, and particularly when the canon was completed, there was no longer such a need for these gifts. This is a rough, simplistic statement of the doctrine of cessationism. (You can read more details about this doctrine here.)

The Bible verses used to support this view are Ephesians 2:20, Hebrews 2:3-4, and 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. I suppose that I am going to have to shelve my beloved King James Version and use a more modern translation, the NASB, on this issue.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10

8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of (A)prophecy, they will be done away; if there are(B)tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

 9For we (C)know in part and we prophesy in part;

 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

Ephesians 2:19-22

19So then you are no longer (A)strangers and aliens, but you are (B)fellow citizens with the saints, and are of (C)God’s household,

 20having been (D)built on (E)the foundation of (F)the apostles and prophets, (G)Christ Jesus Himself being the (H)corner stone,

 21(I)in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into (J)a holy temple in the Lord,

 22in whom you also are being (K)built together into a (L)dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Hebrews 2:1-4

1For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that (A)we do not drift away from it. 2For if the word (B)spoken through (C)angels proved unalterable, and (D)every transgression and disobedience received a just (E)penalty,

 3(F)how will we escape if we neglect so great a (G)salvation? After it was at the first (H)spoken through the Lord, it was (I)confirmed to us by those who heard,

 4God also testifying with them, both by (J)signs and wonders and by (K)various miracles and by(L)gifts of the Holy Spirit (M)according to His own will.

I find the case for cessationism based on these scriptures to be inconclusive at best to spurious at worst. The weakest is Hebrews 2:1-4. First, the context, the intended meaning of the passage, has nothing to do with the duration of sign gifts. Instead, it was one of the famous warning passages to Hebrew Christians not to use persecution as an excuse to abandon the faith and return to Judaism under the false belief that as Jews the law of Moses offered them a path to heaven. That was the point of mentioning the signs and wonders showed by Jesus Christ to the apostles. The writer of Hebrews is stating that the law of Moses was mediated to mankind by angels, but the new covenant was given by God the Son Himself, with the signs and wonders to the apostles showing evidence that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and God in the flesh. If the signs and wonders had the purpose of demonstrating to the apostles the identity and mission of Jesus of Nazareth, then what was the purpose of those gifts being present in people who never saw the long resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ in places where the church had long been established? 

Ephesians 2:19-22 does make a decent case for the idea that apostles and prophets no longer exist … they were the foundation that the church was built upon with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone. The cornerstone main stone of the foundation, or rather the stone that supports the other foundation stones. Roman Catholics who claim that the church was built on Peter ignore that Peter’s stone lies on Jesus Christ’s stone, the one that Daniel prophesied would fill the whole earth, and that also scripture does not record Peter’s stone being any more important than any of the other apostles … as a matter of fact when Revelation speaks of the pearled gates of heaven having the names of the apostles on them, no special mention is given to Peter’s gate, so their doctrine of Peter admitting people into heaven that you see represented in popular culture so often actually opposes scripture. In any case, my opinion is that the prophets referred to in that passage actually refers to the Old Testament prophets (of which John the Baptist was the last and greatest) not the New Testament prophets. At the very least, the Old Testament prophets and the apostolic prophets are both included. Now, there were of course other apostles than the 12 (with Matthias replacing Judas) such as Paul – who called himself the least – and Barnabas at minimum. We should note that Paul, Barnabas, and the other unnamed individuals were not among the ones that Revelation counted has having a pearled gate. (For that matter, neither were any prophets.) In any case, I have no issue with the Old Testament prophets being called part of the foundation of the church because of the role that they played in Israel, progressive revelation and salvation history. I have no issue with the apostles past the original 12 (again with Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot) being called part of the foundation of the church because these men did in fact start and sustain the early church with their efforts under the guide of the Holy Spirit. But how can a prophet or apostle thereafter be considered a foundation stone? You cannot keep adding to a foundation after it has been laid, can you? Actually, the answer to that question is yes. When you enlarge a building, say add a wing to it, a new foundation has to be poured to support it, and it can be joined to the original foundation. (Any input from people with backgrounds in architecture, construction, or civil engineering would be welcome!) A person who establishes a church where there was none prior can be considered, especially if that person is obviously gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit as was the father of modern missions, William Carey. However, it is curious that the very people that can likely qualify for the office of apostle and prophet do not seek the titles for themselves. Meanwhile, the people who DO call themselves apostles and prophets in these times have never taken the gospel of Jesus Christ anywhere new. So, it is probably expedient to interpret this passage strictly and state that those two offices ceased in apostolic times, and to challenge anyone who claims this title for himself or herself (as there were female prophets at least) as to whether they are part of the foundation of the church, and if so prove it. In any case, this passage only applies to prophets and apostles, not the sign gifts.

So that leaves us with the final and strongest passage for cessationism, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. And even this one is fraught with problems. We cannot dislocate this passage from is larger context, which is Paul’s love discourse. So, when Paul stated that the sign gifts will cease but love will never cease or fail, the primary point of emphasis here is not that sign gifts will cease. The primary point is that love will never cease, and in general that possessing and exhibiting love is more important than the sign gifts. Now the Corinthian church was making sign gifts the center of their practice and worship; Paul was telling them to make love the center of their practice and worship instead. Does the cessationist state that a reason why Paul was telling them this was that the second generation of this church was not going to have the sign gifts to center their worship on in the first place? Or is a more balanced view is the notion that love should be the focus whether one has sign gifts or not? The latter is the one that better fits the context of the entire chapter and indeed the entire section of 1 Corinthians. So, the doctrine of cessationism would be based on what was at best the second and possibly even the third or fourth idea of importance in that very short passage. It would be fine had the idea been directly stated, or were there some other passages that picked up this idea, fleshed it out, or that we could use to interpret it with. Now it is common to use Hebrews 2:1-4 and Ephesians 2:19-22 to interpret or add to 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, but to me that seems to be something thesis – driven, verses selected to prove a previously existing idea, rather than developing the doctrine from the Biblical evidence. In other words, people who already believed that the sign gifts had passed – or had to explain why those gifts were no longer present in their churches – picked 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 as the best that they could do, and used definitely Hebrews 2:1-4 and possibly also Ephesians 2:19-22 out of their intended meaning to the people that those epistles were written AND to the church that came after them. In other words, engaging in some of the very same creative and tactical uses of scripture that Pentecostals and charismatics are oft accused of doing, although I acknowledge not nearly so bad as what is often done with “Ye are gods children of the Most High” or “speaking things that are not as though they were.”

Now the contextual problems is not the biggest problem. One can still assert cessationism based on 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 alone despite them; my only argument at this point is that the case is very weak. (Much stronger cases can actually be made for requiring Christians to tithe and to abstain from alcohol, doctrinal positions that I disagree with even though I myself do choose to tithe and not drink alcohol.) The biggest problem is internal. Paul stated that the sign gifts were meant only until the time that things were made perfect, then they would cease. “For we have knowledge in part and we prophesy in part but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.” Verses prior and following speak of the other gifts reveal only a portion of the truth also, but in a time to come, everything would be revealed. So, once all is revealed, there will be no need for the gifts that are designed to reveal the truth to us.

But when will the church be made perfect, and all things revealed? I am sorry, but the answer is not with the death of the last apostle or the completion of the canon, but the return of Jesus Christ. Not only is that self – evident and presupposed from the rest of Christian doctrine (who or what else “perfect” that we should wait on save the Holy Spirit, which came when Jesus Christ went away for a time, and if the coming of the Holy Spirit made things fulfilled that passage would the gifts have been needed?) scripture explicitly states it. Hebrews 9:28, for instance, refers to Jesus Christ’s second return completing the salvation process for the church. Currently He is interceding, but when He returns the intercessory ministry will be done. Why is Jesus Christ interceding now, despite His death justifying the elect? Because though the church has been justified, all is not perfect. Why will the need for His intercessory ministry be done with when He returns? Because perfection will have been accomplished, so no more intercession is required. (By the way, this means real problems for the “dual return” doctrines i.e. the rapture, because one Jesus Christ leaves the right hand of the Father, it means that the church will have been perfected, and there will be no need for Jesus Christ to return again on the last day.)

And that is the reference “when the trump sounds, we shall all be changed incorruptible”, meaning we shall be PERFECTED. Into that context, please consider this: Revelation 10:7 – “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” That verse refers to the trump that Paul is speaking of when he made references to “we shall all not sleep, but when the trump sounds we shall be changed and caught up.” At that point will be the mystery of God finished, when the process of making the church perfect done, and Jesus Christ will leave His intercessory ministry to do the work of reward for the church and punishment for everyone else.

According to the internal evidence of 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, the reference to “but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away”, that is when the sign gifts will be taken away. That is my position, and I welcome all thoughtful comments supporting or opposing this position. Also, please note that my position fully corresponds to Reformed doctrine, including but not limited to the solas: Scripture Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Through Christ Alone, To God alone be the Glory. All legitimate sign gift activity should be governed by those, particularly sola scriptura. If it is not, then it is not of God. Yes, that is aimed at you, followers of Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, Kenneth Copeland, and all similar.

Posted in Bible, Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

How Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

Posted by Job on May 30, 2008

From Sharper Iron.

How Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

by Doug Kutilek at 1:00 am May 28, 2008. 170 views. Filed under: Theology, Christology, Pneumatology (Holy Spirit) 

Note: This article is reprinted with permission from As I See It, a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.That Jesus did perform a multitude of bona fide, undeniable, nature-superceding miracles is the clear and consistent testimony of the New Testament, most commonly noted in the Gospels and Acts. (For a convenient but not quite complete list of Gospel references to Jesus’ miracles, see A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels, p. 294.) One question requiring attention is, “How did Jesus perform these miracles? In His own divine power, or by some other means?”

One crucial theological aspect of Christ’s incarnation was His “self-emptying” as described by Paul in Philippians 2:6-7.

Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (NASB)

It is the uniform view of orthodox Christianity that this “emptying” involved the voluntary surrender of the independent exercise of His inherent divine powers, the voluntary surrender of His divine will to that of the Father, and the voluntary complete veiling or concealment of the visible or outward manifestation of His divine glory, but not the loss in any manner of any of His divine attributes or essences as God. God can never be or become less than God. Explaining the dynamics of this self-emptying and the permanent assumption by the second Person of the Trinity of genuine and complete humanity is another matter altogether and is largely an unfathomable mystery.

On the specific relationship between Jesus’ voluntary non-use of His divine powers and how He was nevertheless able to perform miracles, some New Testament texts are particularly pertinent. John 5:19, 30a says,

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. . . . I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” (NASB)

It theoretically could have been the Father’s will for the Son to perform miracles in His own divine power, but apparently it was not, thereby maintaining the self-imposed limitations of His humanity. Rather, He performed miracles in precisely the same way other men performed miracles—through the power of the Holy Spirit. And it is notable that the kinds of miracle performed by Jesus—healings, superhuman knowledge, even resurrections of the dead (though not self-resurrection, which one earthly miracle of Jesus was, I believe, performed in His own divine power, the “emptying” having ended at the point of His death on the cross, at which point the exaltation, with the end of His emptying, began—Philippians 2:8-9)— were performed by the apostles and others.

That the power enabling the miracles of Jesus was the Holy Spirit and not His own Deity is evident from two passages in the Gospels. Luke 4:14 says that Jesus, after the temptation, “returned in the power of the Spirit” (and be it noted that John informs us that the Father gave to the Son the Spirit without limitation, John 3:34). What the phrase “power of the Spirit” entails is illuminated for us in Matthew 12:28, where Jesus said, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God,” as indeed He did. Jesus, then, performed this specific miracle—demon expulsion—by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is a legitimate extrapolation to conclude that what was true of this miracle was true of all of His miracles: He performed the miracles in the same way that the apostles and other New Testament-era Christians did—by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit (see Heb. 2:3-4; 1 Cor. 12:7-11). His voluntary self-subordination to the Father was in no way violated by His profuse performance of miracles since these were done in the Holy Spirit’s power in submission to the will of the Father as testimony that He was indeed the promised Messiah as Jesus Himself affirmed (John 5:36) and as not a few individuals in the Gospels readily recognized: Nicodemus (John 3:2); some in the crowds in Jerusalem (John 7:31); the man born blind (John 9:30-33); and others as well.

Doug Kutilek is editor of www.kjvonly.org, a website dedicated to exposing and refuting the many errors of KJVOism, and has been researching and writing about Bible texts and versions for more than 35 years. He has a B.A. in Bible from Baptist Bible College (Springfield, MO), an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati), and a Th.M. in Bible exposition from Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). A professor in several Bible institutes, college, graduate schools, and seminaries, he edits a monthly cyber-journal, As I See It. The father of four grown children and four granddaughters, he and his wife, Naomi, live near Wichita, Kansas.

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , | 11 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: