A Sidekick's Blog

The Gift of Tongues

April 19, 2014
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While still active in the charismatic movement, I became disillusioned with the obvious disparity between the bible descriptions and accounts of the charismatic gifts, especially the gift of tongues. If it is supposed to be “a sign – not to believers, but to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22), why had I never heard an unbeliever interpret a message in tongues at church? If it is a “prayer language,” then why did we use it so extensively as part of our corporate worship when 1 Corinthians 14 tells us not to? I was overwhelmed with questions and suspicious of even my own experience. So I began a study of the bible and of early church history in order to determine the true biblical nature and purpose of the charismatic gifts. I was not seeking to prove or disprove anything, only to discover the true nature and purpose of the gifts. Here are the results of that study:

The Truth About

The Gift of Tongues

©1999 by Robin Arnaud
used by permission of the author – me!

While still active in the charismatic movement, I became disillusioned with the obvious disparity between the bible descriptions and accounts of the charismatic gifts, especially the gift of tongues. If it is supposed to be “a sign – not to believers, but to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22), why had I never heard an unbeliever interpret a message in tongues at church? If it is a “prayer language,” then why did we use it so extensively as part of our corporate worship when 1 Corinthians 14 tells us not to? I was overwhelmed with questions and suspicious of even my own experience. So I began a study of the bible and of early church history in order to determine the true biblical nature and purpose of the charismatic gifts. I was not seeking to prove or disprove anything, only to discover the true nature and purpose of the gifts. Here are the results of that study:

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The PURPOSE of Tongues

God is a God of order and design (1 Cor 14:33). When He does something, He does so with a plan and purpose. The Lord did not speak in parables, for instance, just to be clever or to appear profound. Scripture teaches that He used parables with the express intent of hiding the truth from the non-elect (Mark 4:11,12) and revealing it to the lowly (1 Cor 1:26-29). Likewise, miracles and gifts are to be understood as having a particular purpose. They served as signs validating the message which they accompanied (John 20:30,31; Acts 2:43, 4:16; 2 Cor 12:12; Gal 3:5; Rom 15:17-19). The purpose of the impartation of gifts by the Apostles (both scripture and subsequent church history demonstrate that the gifts were bestowed only by the Apostles and no one else – ever) was to validate the Apostles’ teachings.

Why do some bible teachers claim that tongues is Satanic?

Paul warned Timothy that in latter times many would fall away from the faith, giving heed to “seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” Since Christ rendered Satan and all his demons powerless by His death and resurrection, the only power demons now have is the power of deceit. Demons are deceiving angels. They get people to listen to their lies by making their lies attractive and alluring. Paul called them “seducing spirits” (1 Tim 4:1). A major reason so many folks believe it is Satanic is because there are so many “gifts” which do not validate the Apostles‘ teaching. Remember the slave girl with “a spirit of divination” who followed the Apostle Paul crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation!” (Acts 16:16-18). It turned out that her “prophesyings” were the work of a demon in spite of her message! Paul cast the demon from her and she stopped prophesying. How could Paul tell that the servant girl’s “gift” was demonic? Two reasons:

1. No Apostle had imparted the gift to her, and

  1. Her prophesyings used Paul’s ministry to validate HER message instead of the other way around! They served a purpose directly opposed to the one intended for genuine gifts of the Spirit.

Charismatic gifts today are often used to “validate” someone else’s ministry or teaching – someone whose teachings are NOT those of the apostles. They use the Apostles’ writings and borrow their words, but they use them to give credibility to their OWN ministry. A demon did exactly that in Acts 16! So it stands to reason that a seducing spirit would use that same tactic today – not to confirm the apostles’ doctrine, but the doctrines of a modern-day messenger who teaches something much different.

-The Bible’s Description of Tongues-

I. The FORM of Tongues in Scripture: Whenever we see tongues mentioned in the bible, it ALWAYS takes the form of a structured foreign language – never “ecstatic gibberish.” One common and persistent peculiarity of many Charismatics is the teaching that tongues-speaking is “of men and angels” – even the language of Heaven itself! This idea is lifted from 1 Corinthians 13:1 where Paul writes, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels…” Even a casual reading of this passage demonstrates Paul’s use of hyperbole as a literary device. “Even if I could” rather than “because I can.” Looking at the verse further: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels and have not love…” Paul was not asserting that he could speak in the language of the angels any more than he was asserting that he had no love! 1 Cor 13:1 is no justification for claims that tongues can be “the language of the angels.” And even if it were so, how could an unbeliever interpret it (14:22)?

A) In Acts 2, many people from many places heard the gospel preached In their own dialects. Peter told the crowd that that event was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:28ff), which makes absolutely no mention of tongues at all but speaks of prophecy, dreams, visions, and signs. Paul later wrote that tongues are “for a SIGN… to unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22).

B) In every event subsequent to the one in Acts 2 where tongues was present, “the Holy Spirit fell on them… “Just as He did on us at the beginning (Acts 11:15-17),” which must mean that tongues on those occasions were like the tongues in Acts 2 – a verifiable foreign language, a sign to unbelievers.

C) The Pentecost form of tongues is the same as for all later forms of tongues-speaking. Every reference in the bible to tongues speaking employs the same basic terminology, implying similarity of form.

D) The Corinthian episodes are defined in terms fully compatible with those in Acts. Paul writes, “no language is without meaning” (1 Cor 14:10). He compares tongues to worldly languages and asserts that all of them have coherent meaning. Tongues, biblically, is certainly not the incoherent babbling gibberish that I witnessed in my charismatic and Pentecostal churches.

 

II. The CONTENT of Tongues in Scripture: Tongues was a revelational gift – a vehicle of revelation from God to man. Tongues brought revelation from God as surely as the gift of prophecy brought revelation from God to the prophets and apostles of old. Thus, tongues must be understood in scripture to have brought inspired, inerrant, and authoritative communication from God to man:

A) The first occurrence of tongues is defined as prophetic by Peter (Acts 2:11-18).

B) Tongues are almost always related to other revelational gifts in scripture (Acts 2, 19, 1 Cor 13 and 14). In Acts 19 they “spoke with tongues and prophesied.” In 1 Corinthians tongues are dealt with at great length in association with prophecy. The difference was that prophecy was the ability to speak infallibly the will of God in one’s own language, while tongues was the ability to speak infallibly the will of God in a language one had never learned. In both cases it could interpreted by UNBELIVERS.

C) Tongues are specifically said to be a speaking of mysteries (1 Cor 14:2). When the word mystery is used in scripture it is always in terms of revelation. A mystery spoken becomes a revelation.

The content of tongues, then, is seen to be infallible, inerrant, inspired revelation of God’s mysteries to man. The tongues we see today among Charismatics and Pentecostals surely does not measure up to this lofty biblical standard. In fact in every service I ever attended in twenty years as a charismatic where tongues was used, it never took the form of a discernable foreign language, and its “interpretation” was never treated as an infallible revelation from God. It used to trouble me very deeply that a direct word from Heaven could be treated so lightly by the hearers – instead of writing it down and being careful to obey it and publish it, the people would nod and say, “Thanks, Lord, for that good word,” treating it more like a divine Hallmark card greeting from Heaven than a revelation from the Sovereign Master of the universe. The Almighty is not sitting on His throne blowing kisses to people on the earth – His word should be treated with the utmost care and held with extreme reverence – just as we claim to treat the bible. But tongues are not treated that way today.

III. The Purpose of Tongues in scripture: As I mentioned at the beginning, God is a God of order and design and when He acts, He does so with a purpose and plan. We see that parables had a specific purpose (Mark 4:11,12); that miracles have a particular purpose (Jn 20:30-31, Acts 2:43 and 4:16, Rom 15:17-19, 2 Cor 12:12), and likewise that the gift of tongues served a very specific purpose: They validated the Apostles’ message, and they were an anticipated sign of covenant curse upon unbelieving Israel.

A) Tongues were a sign to validate the message of the apostles (Mark 16:17), and Paul’s in particular (Acts 10:44-46, 19:6). ONLY the Apostles had the authority and ability to impart the gifts to others through the laying on of hands or prayer. None of the people they laid hands on could pass he Holy Spirit or the gifts on to others. There is not a single instance in scripture nor in subsequent church history to support the contention that anyone other than the Apostles could “impart” the Holy Spirit and His gifts. Those who received these sign-gifts at the hands of the Apostles were not able to pass them along to others. If they were, then it would not have been necessary to send Apostles to Samaria in order for them to receive the Holy Spirit (and other examples). The example of Ananias (Acts 9:10-19) is often used to attempt to refute that argument, but the text does not say that Saul spoke in tongues or prophesied. It says only that his eyesight was restored and he was baptized in water. We don’t hear any more about Saul until way up there in chapter 13, where the Apostles laid hands on him and Barnabus. The fact that Paul passed the charismata to others was one of the proofs that he was to be counted among the Apostles (Acts 19, 2 Cor 12:12, Eph 3:7ff). It was extremely important to establish Paul’s apostleship with “the signs of an Apostle (2 Cor 12:12),” because God’s inclusion of the Gentiles was such a radical departure from the old covenant. It was also important that Paul be counted as an Apostle because Paul wrote most of the New Testament. That is why many of his letters to the churches open with the phrase, “Paul, an apostle by the will of God…”

B) Tongues were a sign of covenant curse upon unbelieving Israel.Since this is probably the most neglected and most misunderstood purpose of tongues, it bears a lot more explaining, so be sure to examine these scriptures closely and in context: Paul explains this use of the sign in 1 Cor 14:21-22:

In the Law it is written, ‘by men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers will I speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord. So then, tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign not to unbelievers, but to those who believe” (NASB).

Bear with a lengthy explanation now:

1) The Old Testament teaches that Israel was a special people to God. He was bound in a special covenantal love to Israel alone among the nations of the earth (Deut 7:6-8, Amos 3:2), thus only they received His law (Deut 4:10-13, Psalm 147:19-20), His oracles (Rom 3:2), the covenantal sign of circumcision (Rom 3:1) – indeed, all the promises and means of covenant life (Rom 9:4-5, Eph 2:12).

2) This covenant with Israel was a two-edged sword. Covenant life was one of both privilege and responsibility. Obedience brought both spiritual and material blessings, and disobedience brought spiritual and material curses (see Deut 28:1-68 which describes alternate covenant blessings and covenant curses).

3) Israel was a nation of people accustomed to signs (Matt 12:38, 1 Cor 1:20-22). Within the covenant contract they were given warning signs which would serve to indicate that the calamities which would befall them were indeed the judgments of God on them. One of the most often-seen signs was the loss of national freedom and self-rule (Deut 28:49). It is also referred to in similar context in Jer 5:15 and Isa 28:11. In scripture after scripture, foreign tongues was a sign of covenant curse on Israel.

Most often it was the language of the foreign occupiers of Israel, but at the dawn of the New Covenant it becomes especially poignant. All of this becomes relevant to the gift of tongues in the New Testament by the fact that Paul applies the sign of covenantal curse (Isa 28:11) to his explanation of the gift of tongues in 1 Cor 14:21-22. The fact that Paul lifted this scripture out of a passage dealing with covenantal curse is extremely significant! To grasp it’s impact you need to look at the reference Paul is quoting in his 1 Cor 14 discourse – Isa 28. In the very heart of God’s rebuke against Israel is the verse Paul quotes… the one that gives the sign of the curse (verse 11). Of course the Isaiah passage referred to the impending Assyrian invasion of Israel, but the Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, applies it further to the future and climactic judgment upon Israel subsequent to their rejection of Christ.

4) Christ, the “Messenger of the Covenant,” (Mal 3:1) and “Ratifier of the New Covenant” (Luke 22:20), came to, lovingly courted, and taught Israel. Yet Israel refused His overtures (Matt 23:37, Acts 28:17-31, Rom 9:31-32 and 10:3). The generation to which Christ ministered was rapidly filling up the measure of the guilt of their forefathers (Matt 23:32). Jesus even went to far as to tell them that that single generation would bear the guilt of all righteous blood shed on earth – from Abel to Zecharaiah (verses 35 and 36). It is a judgment they themselves repeated at His trial: “His blood be upon us and our children! (Matthew 27:25)” Therefore, that generation (Matt 23:36 and 24:43) was to receive the fullness of God’s covenantal curse: God would send Roman armies (Luke 21:20) to raze the temple (Matt 24:2) which the Lord left desolate (Matt 23:38). Thus the sign of judgment (foreign tongues) was given to Israel for a period of 40 years between Christ’s ascension and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70 AD. God was turning from Israel to the Gentiles (Matt 23:37-38; Rom 9:24-29 and 10:19-21)!

5) Tongues had a particular application with regard to Jewish unbelief in light of the New Covenant. In Acts 2 the Jews in particular were called to attention (verse 12), after which they were charged with having slain the Lord of Glory (v 22-24). The double-edged sword of covenant curse fell hard upon then, with the result that many were cut to the heart and repented (Acts 2:37) to follow Christ.

6) The Corinthian church itself is further glaring evidence that tongues was a sign of covenantal curse on Israel! Acts 18 records that Paul’s 18-month-lomg ministry at Corinth (verse 11) was characterized by extremely heated opposition from the Jews. While teaching at the Corinthian synagogue, Jewish opponents resisted the gospel to the point of blasphemy, causing Paul to call down a curse upon them (verse 6). Resistance to the gospel was so violent in Corinth that the Lord appeared to Paul in a vision, promising special protection from harm (verses 12 and 13). In his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul makes reference in the opening verses to the Jews and their desire for signs (1 Cor 1:22). Paul’s citation of Isaiah 28 should be decisive proof. In chapter 10 Paul dealt at length with “our fathers” and their disobedience and judgment, and warned the Corinthians of the same predicament if they weren’t careful (10:1-12).

Tongues then, were “for a sign” – a sign to unbelieving, Christ-rejecting Israel – and in particular, the generation that had murdered Christ. Tongues was God’s prophesied and anticipated sign of covenantal curse.

IV. The transience of Tongues in Scripture: Because scripture demonstrates what the PURPOSE of tongues was – to validate the APOSTLES’ ministry and to serve as the covenantal sign to Israel, it necessarily follows that once those purposes were achieved, the sign would cease. Even those who believe in modern-day tongues speaking agree that the canon is complete – thus they cannot possibly use the gift today in the same sense that it was used throughout the New Testament – inerrant, infallible oracles of God to man.

Modern-day manifestations of charismatic gifts defy the biblical and historical form, content, and purpose described in scripture, and thus it is clear that today’s form of tongues is an unbiblical counterfeit.

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Copyright 1999 Robin Arnaud.


Holy Spirit Baptism: Part Four

April 19, 2014
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This is Part Four, the last of a series on Holy Spirit baptism. Until now it has only touched on a couple of the doctrinal issues which are ordinarily raised in any discussion of the topic, or of the related topics of spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, and/or the offices of prophet and apostle beyond the first century AD. Be sure to read the previous parts to get a full sense of the topic and why I write as I do about it.

Part Three left off at West Lauderdale Baptist Church, where very few kids were left in the youth group after the mass departure of our former youth pastor and the majority of the kids and young adults who followed him to “the church in Fort Lauderdale.” A few of them returned within a year or so, broken and confused; and many more appeared to leave the Christian community entirely. The fruit of the Shepherding / Discipleship movement was horrific and damaging to those who got caught up in it, and many strayed far from the Lord after a period of exuberance followed by massive, cultish exploitation.

But we were not entirely safe from exploitation even in a somewhat accountable Southern Baptist church that strayed far from the word of God to embrace ear-tickling charismatic fables. Following the exodus of many members to the new “church in Fort Lauderdale,” West Lauderdale was left at less than half its former size and still dealing with spillover from the excessive of charismania in the larger movement. There was, for example, a “prophecy” given by “a reliable, proven prophetess” that a great tsunami would wipe out South Florida in the following year, as God’s judgment against the cities for the explosive growth of homosexuality there. Her prophecy was published in a couple of charismatic magazines and caused quite a stir. The only defense our new youth minister could come up with was God’s promise following Noah’s flood never to destroy the earth with water again. Really? There have been countless tsunamis and floods since that was written, so that verse was little comfort to us. What did provide some comfort, though, was a “vision from God” that our pastor shared with the congregation:

“God has shown me what the future holds for West Lauderdale Baptist Church,” the pastor said. “Five buildings will occupy these grounds and the surrounding property. At the center will be a huge sanctuary and administrative offices to oversee ministries in the other four buildings: A Christian school, a home for unwed mothers, a theological school like Samuel’s ‘school of prophets,’ and a music ministry school for psalmists” that would produce a great wealth of new songs, hymns, and spiritual songs for the Church. So at the very same time that some were fleeing the city to escape a prophesied tsunami, our church was fund-raising like crazy and buying up homes and real estate for about a square mile around the church. The year was 1973. Forty years later, this is what West Lauderdale Baptist Church looks like:

The property surrounding the church was purchased and either demolished or used for meetings or whatever, and then abandoned. The entire neighborhood was ruined. And the original sanctuary on Davie Boulevard still stands. The grand vision never became a reality. But like most groundless “visions from God,” this one wasted thousands of dollars and destroyed the credibility of the church.

I graduated from high school at 17 and got the heck out of there as fast as I could. Too small and delicately built (at the time) to qualify for the military, I determined to take the first job that offered room and board, preferably in another city. That job was on a sailing ship – a three-masted schooner – as a member of the crew, and the only kid aboard with a bunch of 30-something guys who couldn’t make it in “real” jobs. Another perfect setup for another tragedy. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Following that whole mess I attempted college, and when the money ran out I found a job with an ambulance company back in Fort Lauderdale again, which was still there. No tsunami had destroyed it and nothing was ever said about the “prophetess” whose “vision” must have been at least as damaging to others in South Florida as my pastor’s “vision” had been to his church and the surrounding neighborhood. It’s curious in the extreme that when prophecies fail to come true, especially with all the damage that they often cause, that nothing is said; and if you say anything then you’re “being judgmental and condemning.” What?! In bible times, these false prophets would have been put to the sword (see Deuteronomy 18:20)! And I’m judgmental and harsh if I simply ask about false prophecies? Yet for all that, I still didn’t open my bible much, except in church, or when I wanted to impress someone with how spiritual and knowledgeable I was.

I had prided myself on instructing others in seeking Holy Spirit baptism, and even in my backslidden condition I continued to do so, and when someone told me had “the gift of discernment” because I hadn’t followed Andy and dared to ask questions about failed prophecies, I fed off of that little bit of affirmation and taught whoever would listen. I had passed my state tests and got certified as a firefighter and began what would become a 30-year career. I met a Pentecostal girl and “converted” her to my charismatic beliefs, and we got married at West Lauderdale Baptist Church, attending there until the fruit of the pastor’s failed “vision” gave us cause to move to a new Charismatic (Presbyterian) church in Pompano, just North of Fort Lauderdale.

In the lessons I taught on Holy Spirit baptism, I liked to use examples from the Old Testament as well as the New. Saul, for example, became “a Charismatic” when Samuel anointed him as king of Israel, and received the gift of prophecy (1st Samuel 10:1-12). Verse 6 is pivotal:

Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophecy with them and be changed into another man.

I simply failed to mention that Saul’s appointment as king was an act of judgment against Israel for rejecting God and desiring a king like the other nations (see verse 19 of the chapter), and that the prophesying was a sign of that coming judgment. When Samuel anointed David as king in Saul’s place, “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward (1 Samuel 16:13),” and “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him (verse 14).” It looks like Holy Spirit baptism was revocable in those days, doesn’t it? But in neither of these examples is the term “baptized in or with the Spirit” employed to describe the Lord’s anointing on them. I simply misapplied the term to those Old Testament examples. I did the same with Elijah and Elisha in 2nd Kings chapter 2. The other prophets witnessing the sign said, “the spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha (verse 15).” This was God’s anointing for a specific office for a specific time. The ministries of Elijah and Elisha also represented God’s judgment upon those in rebellion against Him.

“Jesus had the anointing in His day,” I taught. “Just as Elijah threw the mantle on Elisha, so Jesus, ascending to heaven, ‘threw His mantle on the Church!’ See it fall upon them in the second chapter of Acts!”

Now doesn’t that sound all scholarly and feel all “anointed?” In truth, though, only the examples in Acts 2 and Acts 11:16 are described as “baptism in/with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 1:5).” Subsequently there were many “fillings” with the Spirit (4: 8 and 31, 7:55, etc)) and people described as “full of the Spirit,” like Stephen (Acts 6:3). But for Charismatics, Acts 8:14-17 is among the proofs that “receiving the Holy Spirit” is a separate and distinct experience from conversion to Christ.

For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they [Peter and John] began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:16-17).

The text doesn’t say for sure that these people were genuine converts to Christ, but it is a safe assumption because “they were receiving the Holy Spirit.” The text also specifically states that “He had not yet fallen upon any of them,” so one might rightfully assume that these baptized converts to Christ did not, in fact, have Holy Spirit baptism as in Acts 2. But since regeneration precedes faith (John 3:3-8, 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12:3, Eph 2:4-5), it is safe to say that they were born of the Spirit and thus “had” the Holy Spirit living within. What was “missing” was the peculiar powers conveyed by the Holy Spirit which were available only through the laying on of hands by an Apostle. Otherwise Philip the evangelist would have done so himself, having brought the gospel to Samaria and harvested many souls there. None of the Samaritan converts had given evidence of the gift of tongues, which most frequently (but not always) accompanied the laying on of the Apostles’ hands (see 10:45-46). This “impartation,” or anointing, was only at the hands of the Apostles; and only they had authority from God to do so. Acts 19 demonstrated Paul’s Apostolic authority when the Ephesian converts received the sign-gifts of tongues and prophecy by the laying on of Paul’s hands. It was distinctly a sign of apostleship (2 Cor 12:12) and did not continue after the Apostles died.

As in the Old Testament examples I used above, these special powers were conveyed to a limited number of people for a limited amount of time and for a specific purpose. In Acts we see Spirit baptism among non-Jewish converts as a sign to the Church that God was making no distinction between Jews and Gentiles (Acts 10:47, 11:15-18, and 15:9), and the gift of tongues as a sign to the single generation of unbelieving Jews (1st Corinthians 14:21-22) that had betrayed and murdered their Messiah.

All believers have the Holy Spirit, dwelling in their hearts by faith (2 Corinthians 1:22, Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 3:17). Indeed it is not even possible to become a Christian unless one is born of the Holy Spirit. Baptism in the Holy Spirit, with accompanying signs and gifts, was a strictly first-century phenomenon with a strictly first century purpose. It was a sign of the end of the Old Covenant, superseded by the New. It was a sign of apostolic authority; and the oft-accompanying covenant sign of tongues portended the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Jewish sacrificial covenant. These were prophetic signs, warning of events that occurred in 70 AD. There was no reason for the warnings to persist after the judgment they warned about had come to pass!

When I see “signs and wonders” performed by such hucksters as Benny Hinn, Jesus’ tragic words, recorded in Matthew 7 come instantly to my mind:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlessness (Matt 7:21-23).”


Holy Spirit Baptism – Part Three

April 15, 2014
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This is Part Three of a four-part series on Holy Spirit baptism. Please read Parts One and Two before jumping into the middle of the story here!

Part Two ended where the great experiment – “the Church in Fort Lauderdale” – began. A link at the end of Part Two describes the experiment and it’s tragic results which linger even today. The principle founders of the movement have expressed regret for the damage, at least as far as to say, “we did a right thing a wrong way.” I am here to bear witness that they did a wrong thing, period. They failed to clearly distinguish spiritual authority from other forms of authority; most notably domestic authority, the authority of conscience, and the priestly authority that belongs to every believer in “a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:6).” It was wrongly assumed that disciples were under obligation to their master until released by him. That was never so, even in bible times. Jesus’ disciples were free to walk away at any time, and in fact, many did. In this tyrannical experiment, the “penalty” for departure was condemnation – equivalent to excommunication, “let him be to you as a tax collector (Matthew 18:17).” Entire churches that saw this scheme for what it was were labeled as being “in deception,” and members of those churches who followed the movement were called upon to renounce their churches and be assigned to a new “shepherd.”

My church was soon to become one of them. My old middle school crush didn’t even know that I existed, and her dad’s preaching didn’t make sense to me anyway. So when some of the other kids from the Monday night teaching time who sat on the floor with me, literally at Bob Mumford’s feet, invited me to their church, I was anxious to go. It was a Southern Baptist church, traditional, with a piano, organ, and choir just like a “real” church was supposed to have. And it had a supercharged youth group that was oh-so-Spirit-filled, just like the few kids from my first church! It would be almost like going back to my first church, except with no danger of being kicked out for speaking in tongues! Andy, the youth pastor, was dynamic and “wise in the things of the Spirit,” and the youth group under his leadership grew large and dynamic as well. One of the church buildings was designated “The Cup,” and Friday night meetings there took the form of youth-led rock ‘n’ roll Charismatic bliss where “the gifts of the Spirit” flowed freely. Manifestations of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, and knowledge ran almost amok. It was so very different from the Sunday services, which were more traditional, but peppered with more modest “manifestations” during the song and prayer times before the sermon. The Cup was dark, crowded, and exuberant with runaway Charismatic indulgence that reminded me of my first visit to a Pentecostal church, but less put-on and artificial. I had met Andy and some of the other kids before at the Monday night “Mumford meetings,” but Friday nights at The Cup were wild and wonderfully “anointed.” I didn’t find out until later that Andy was among those being trained as a “shepherd” for the new Church in Fort Lauderdale, nor did I have any hint of the heartbreak that was soon to follow.

Before I get to that part of the story I want to convey what we kids meant when we talked about “the anointing,” or about so-and-so being “a really anointed teacher,” or “that song is really anointed.” For us, a person or event that was “anointed” was one that had a special spiritual power. “Wow couldn’t you just feel the anointing Friday night!” Anointing imparted a kind of righteous ecstasy that was palpable. The thrill of a teaching with implications we hadn’t considered before, or a song that made us feel especially intimate with God, or a teacher whose presentations prompted intense feelings of unqualified weal and delight – this was “the anointing.” It was a sure indication to us that God had empowered and approved the person or thing that was taking place. If one could feel the anointing, one accepted it as having been God-sent and God-empowered.

The Scriptures, however, hold no such definition of the term. Most often the words anoint and anointing in the both Testaments refer to the physical application of medicine, balm, water, or oil to an injured part or a sick person. Sometimes it means “mingled” or “mixed,” as in unleavened cakes “anointed” with oil in Exodus 29:2. In a more spiritual sense, anointing was done to designate people or things as set apart, or holy to the Lord, as in the ordination of Levitical priests (Exodus 29:29) or Samuel anointing Saul and David as kings of Israel (1 Samuel 10:1 and 16:12-13 – and note in the account of Saul’s anointing that he prophesied!). In the New Testament, other than its primary meaning of applying or mixing, it is similarly used to represent ordination or setting apart for God (Luke 4:18, Acts 4:27, 2 Corinthians 1:21). We find it applied generally to all who are in Christ, representative of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, applying God’s word to our hearts, bringing it to remembrance in time of need. As oil is applied to outward things, so the word of God is applied to the inner man by the Holy Spirit. Through the Apostle John, the Holy Spirit writes,

These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him (1st John 2:27, NASB).

The way we know whether a thing is approved by God is not from the giddy feeling we get from having our ears tickled with seductive words. We know God’s approval because of the application of the written and infallible word of God by the Holy Spirit! The anointing, as it applies in believers, is upon their ears and feet, so to say:

…he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth his own, he goes ahead of them and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers (John 10:3-5, NASB).

So how is it that so many of the Lord’s sheep follow false teachers? One would have to ignore and suppress the anointing that John described above in order to do so! But tickle their ears a bit, and many will do just that:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths (2nd Timothy 4:3-4, NASB).

The genuine anointing of God in every believer is what keeps calling them back to the truth, enabling them to walk away from myths and fables to dine in the fields of lush grass that our true Shepherd leads us to. To many Charismatics, “anointing” only means having their ears tickled! But they would rarely admit it.

When all of the “shepherds” in “the Church at Fort Lauderdale” were trained and established in little flocks of their own, all accountable to the three “Apostles” of the church, the call went out from the “Apostles of the Church at Fort Lauderdale” that any church that was not “in submission” to the larger Church at Fort Lauderdale was “in deception,” and those who were truly following the will of God would come out from those churches and take their place under an approved “undershepherd.” My church did not play along. Andy left West Lauderdale Baptist Church, and took most of the Friday night “Cup kids” with him and formed a commune under “the Church at Fort Lauderdale.” While I must confess that I immensely enjoyed having my ears tickled, even at age 14 I knew the voice of my true Shepherd and refused to follow Andy – and almost all of my friends with him – any further. Besides, there was plenty of ear tickling to be enjoyed right where I was. I stayed put, but was lonelier than ever. I watched from a distance as old friends from the Cup were exploited, abused, and abandoned when they broke. The great guitar player I always tried to emulate had gone with Andy. And in less than a year’s time, had entered into a homosexual relationship with another member of “the Church at Fort Lauderdale.”

The youth group at West Lauderdale Baptist had to rebuild, almost from scratch. Very few of the youth had remained, not wanting to miss out on the Grand Anointed Plan that was unfolding. Of those who stayed behind, I was the youngest, I think, and the loneliest of them. The loss of those friendships left me in profound danger of further exploitation, yet God had spared me from the fate of those who left, which was far worse.

In Part Four I will finally get to a scriptural analysis of the doctrine of Holy Spirit baptism, and the role of the spiritual gifts according to scripture. Stay tuned!


The New Birth (6). Paedofaith and Presumptive Regeneration

April 15, 2014
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adoptedsidekick:

Even though officially denounced by several Presbyterian denominations, Federal Vision teaching enjoys growing popularity in others. But why is a Baptist writing about it? For the very same reason that Luther and Calvin wrote as they did, against Rome. FV is, in summary, a call for Protestants BACK TO ROME.

Originally posted on Martin Marprelate:

Paedofaith and Presumptive Regeneration.

It seems that now may be a good time to discuss the Doctrine of Presumptive Regeneration.  In this article, I shall not be criticizing infant baptism per se.  Readers of this Blog will know that I am an unashamed advocate of Believers’ Baptism and I have written various articles on this subject (1).  However, it has to be admitted that God has blessed the ministry of many paedobaptists and paedobaptistic churches just as he has that of many Credo-baptists and their churches.  One must be right and the other wrong and Christians should know what they believe and why, but it may be that God is less concerned about the matter than we are.

My concern in this article is to deal with a belief of many paedobaptists, a doctrine which is, I believe, a virtual denial of the Gospel, that of Presumptive Regeneration

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Holy Spirit Baptism – Part Two

April 12, 2014
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Be sure to read Part One before you read on. This is Part Two.

In Part One I described conversion to Christ, the longing of a 12-year-old to be like some of the older kids in the youth group who were “on fire for God,” and the secret they kept that got us all thrown out of our church when it was exposed. Then followed a search for a new church and the introduction of a radical idea: The church in the city, just being birthed in my hometown by three charismatic teachers.

There were a few Charismatic churches in town that I was to learn about in my 8th grade year, but I just had to visit the one where a girl I had a crush on went. Her father was the pastor of Memorial Baptist Church. Pastor Arnold was instrumental in introducing the new bible teachers to Fort Lauderdale. I wasn’t allowed to go to church on Sundays, but I was able to get rides to Bob Mumford’s Monday night teaching sessions at Memorial Baptist Church. He taught there until the crowds grew too large and the meetings moved to the Governor’s Club Hotel downtown. I used to literally sit at Bob Mumford’s feet for lack of any other seating. And besides, all the kids sat on the floor up front and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. Bob Mumford was entertaining and wonderful, and had a special way of making mysterious teachings sound perfectly sensible.

The Monday night meetings were captivating! The entire crowd, gathered from a half-dozen Charismatic and Pentecostal churches in the area, would sing with abandon to the glory of God. No one really led the song service beyond the first song or two. After that all of the worship was spontaneous, and seemed to be choreographed by the Holy Spirit Himself. As if on cue it might suddenly get quiet, then spontaneously erupt in made-up melodies with unintelligible lyrics. It was angelic-sounding, robust yet subdued, sweet and intimate. Hands in the air, eyes closed, just “letting the Spirit overflow.” I had never seen such heartfelt worship from so many people before, so completely absorbed in rapturous ecstasy. I had seen the super-spiritual kids from my old youth group do it, but this was hundreds of people! I yearned for the intimacy with God that they seemed to have. And I was sure that “Holy Spirit baptism” was the missing ingredient in my life.

There were plenty of people around to help me get “baptized in the Spirit,” including one very attentive “prophet” who told me, “God has called you to the ministry even from the womb, and I am to be your guide.” He even tried to take me from my home to go live with him and I would have gone happily. Until I learned from an older kid that this so-called “prophet” was a pedophile who was especially attracted to vulnerable, frail-looking pre-teen boys.

Oh well. There were others to help me get this “Spirit baptism,” and I wanted it desperately. There seemed to be differences of opinion among my mentors about “how to get baptized in the Spirit,” but some of the things they all had in common were:

  • Be completely pure in heart, “sold out” to God,
  • Confess every last known sin,
  • Pray unceasingly seeking the baptism,
  • Put aside absolutely every other interest,
  • Make peace with every enemy … in short,
  • “Be ye perfect, even as He is perfect.”

I was far from that. I thought I needed the power of the Spirit to achieve such purity and holiness, yet my teachers pressed this spiritual perfection as a prerequisite for receiving the Spirit’s power. Had I not lost sight of the truth, that salvation of imperfect, corrupt, depraved sinners is by grace alone, I might have asked:

If it is possible to achieve such spiritual perfection without Holy Spirit baptism, then what do I need Spirit baptism for?

But alas, as in the years of darkness in the Church before the Reformation, the gospel had become obscured behind mystery, superstition, and gnostic-like seeking after “deeper experiences of God.” Years before, I had been taught that every Christian has the Holy Spirit dwelling within. And if I had kept my bible open and my mouth shut, I might have apprehended the meaning of “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)” and “in Him you have been made complete (2:10),” “made alive with Him (verse 13).” No, it is not possible to “qualify” for God’s grace. No one can earn the Holy Spirit by their own efforts. The best we can offer is like filthy rags to Him! Spirit baptism and having a “prayer language” were treated like some sort of merit badge for advanced Christianity. No “head-knowledge-only” Christian could possibly understand the rewards of being “Spirit-filled.”

It took nearly a year of radical, desperate prayer and pleading and seeking and crying and begging and imploring God to pleeeeeeease immerse me in His Spirit and give me my prayer language so I could truly live for Him and have the power to be like these others; effortlessly soaring far above the “ordinary” Christian who had only doctrine and catechism and orthodoxy to guide him. But then, riding my bicycle home from Rogers Middle School, I was westbound on Davie Boulevard at the intersection of SW 9th Avenue when it happened. I still remember every detail of that magical moment when my “prayer language” spilled out out my mouth through tears of joy. I jumped off my bike and danced and jumped around, singing and crying and babbling away in ecstasy for 15 minutes or more right there on the side of the busy four-lane boulevard. Looking back, I can imagine that if it had happened today, several people might have called 9-1-1 to report “an obviously mentally disturbed kid having some sort of attack or seizure or something.” Thankfully, cell phones were not in common use in 1971.

Now, at last, I thought I would never wander away from God or fail Him again. Now I had POWER, and even the devil himself couldn’t interfere with my perfect prayers, because they would by-pass my mind and go directly from my pure spirit to God’s throne (conspicuously absent from my thinking was the clear biblical teaching of prayer directed to the Father through the Son, by the Spirit), free from the interference of any evil thought that the devil might put in my head. I could be His real true faithful sidekick now that I had been baptized in the Spirit!

And speaking in tongues was to be just the beginning. Bob Mumford described it this way:

Tongues is like the ABCs. You learn them in kindergarten. But even when you’re writing you doctoral thesis in astrophysics, you still use the ABCs! It’s only that you have grown in maturity to a point where you can use them to edify others.

I knew I was on my way to something wonderful. Maybe prophecy or healing or miracle-working faith! Or maybe special knowledge from God like Pat Robertson had: “Someone named Sally has just been healed of cancer! You know who you are, because you just felt the pain go away, just now.” Or maybe I would even have the gift of discerning spirits! Then I would know the next time some false prophet was hoping to molest me, or if someone had the wrong interpretation of a message delivered in tongues. What an adventure I was starting! I had lost touch with all the super-spiritual kids from the little church I started at, but if only they could see me now! And if only that little “head-knowledge-only” church could open up to the experience of God instead of just knowing about Him!

How little I knew what was coming. How unaware I was of how far I had already strayed from the truth. If Calvary Presbyterian Church had cared enough to take us kids to the scriptures instead of just tossing us out of the church, I might have been spared from 20 years of “wilderness wandering.” But God had an even bigger plan than I could have imagined.

The great Fort Lauderdale Experiment was ready to start, and “shepherds” were already being selected and trained. For a sneak peek at the next exciting episode, click HERE!

Until then,
Robin

 


ExCharisma: Spirit Baptism, Part One

April 10, 2014
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When I first heard the gospel of Jesus, I was eight years old. It was in a Good News Club, held at a schoolmate’s house nearly right across the street from my Elementary school. I couldn’t say no to Him. In fact I was delighted with the idea of being adopted by God Himself, and becoming Jesus’ little brother!

Being the only believer in Christ in a large, blended household, I got no guidance as to what to do next, but I knew that Jesus People went to church. So I got rides to church from the family that hosted my Good News Club. It was a little independent Presbyterian church about 5 miles or so from my house. Too far for an 8-year-old to walk, but I actually did walk there many times in during the next few years. I brought a few other members of my household to church and introduced them to Christ there.

Fast forward to middle school. Almost a teenager, looking up to the high school kids and wanting so much to be cool like they were. But mostly I wanted to be “on fire for God” like they were! They talked about God all the time. Not only in church but everywhere they went. They were completely in love with Jesus and determined to be fully His. They were perfect, powerful, sanctified, pure and holy saints in my eyes. But I was struggling just to make sense of the bible. Prayer was my strong suit, probably owing to the hardships I faced in school and at home. Asking God for stuff was easy. Working to understand and apply His word was hard. But these super-saintly older kids had it down pat somehow, and when I kept asking over and over again what their secret was, I was finally given access to the Inside Secret. And I was told that I must tell no one outside the elites in the youth group, because “our church doesn’t believe in this stuff and we could get thrown out.”

I was stunned that any church could condemn and outlaw whatever it was that could make teenagers so wonderfully dedicated to God and burning with passion for Him! Why wouldn’t every Christian want to know, and be on fire for God too? I was soon to find out why their secret was so divisive and dangerous. And soon after that, the pastor of the church joined us. And not long after that, all of us – including the pastor – were kicked out of the church. We kids called our secret “Holy Spirit baptism.” The pastor called it “second blessing.” The church called it heresy.

The church was like,

and the older kids, now “outed” for standing with their pastor, were like,

And I was like,

“Holy Spirit baptism,” according to the supercharged, on-fire-for-God kids that I so much wanted to be like, is a second “experience,” following regeneration and conversion, in which a qualified seeker receives the Holy Spirit in greater measure, empowering the recipient with power for supernatural service to God and to the Church. And they really did mean supernatural. One might get the gift of healing, or miracle-working faith, or special wisdom and knowledge, or prophecy. But everyone got a special, devil-proof “prayer language (see my previous post).”

I didn’t “search the Scriptures to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:11).” I just figured they had to be so, since all the super-spiritual, on-fire-for-God kids had received it. I had even heard some of their prayer language, and it seemed completely believable and sensible. I wanted this power, and my prayer language, more than anything!

Our defrocked pastor moved back up North somewhere and we never heard from him again. Most of the super-spiritual kids went off to college or got jobs in other towns, or got married and moved on. Being the youngest of the Black Sheep from our old church, and still in middle school, I was suddenly without a church and any way to look for one. But fairly near my house was a Pentecostal church. I had heard that they were really on fire for God and had their prayer language too, so I visited one Sunday. But they scared the snot out of me with their excesses and I ran out of there like a scalded dog. All alone again.

Just at the time I was praying desperately for a church, three bible teachers came to our town with a vision for a city-wide church, just like in the bible! We were going to make “the church in Fort Lauderdale,” just like “the church at Ephesus,” “the church at Thessalonica,” and “the church at Phillipi.” One big church, undivided, all with Spirit baptism and supernatural gifts just like in the book of Acts! Everyone knows Ephesus didn’t have a Baptist church, a Lutheran church, a Presbyterian church and all that. There was one church in a city. One glorious, powerful, militant, world-changing church in every city where God was really moving. Ours would be the first citywide church since the book of Acts! A jumping-off point for worldwide revival that would hasten the Second Coming. All the cool kids I wanted to be like would miss out on this “ground floor” move of God, but I got to be right in the thick of it. I was thrilled beyond words! But it was okay, because I would soon have my own new prayer language to perfectly express my gratitude to God.

Stay tuned for Part Two, coming soon! I’ll tell you all about Holy Spirit baptism and the Shepherding movement in Fort Lauderdale.


ExCharisma: Praying in the Spirit

April 6, 2014
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Today I heard what is probably the best sermon of my life on the subject of praying in the Spirit. It turns out that genuine Spirit-initiated, Spirit-ignited, Spirit led, effectual prayer in the Spirit is much harder and far more effort than “turning my mind off” and letting the Spirit “pray through me” in a language I never learned. I’m very well acquainted with the Charismatic meaning and practice of “praying in the Spirit.” For over 20 years I did it throughout the day, believing that my prayers were knocking down enemy strongholds, binding evil spirits, and lending strength to angels battling in the heavenlies. It was “perfect” prayer, immune from interference from the devil tossing bad thoughts into my mind to mess up my prayers. Bypassing the mind made it invulnerable to such attack, and because it was the Spirit praying through me, it was perfect in every way.

But praying in tongues was an easy substitute for “putting to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13)” and being led by the Spirit (verse 14), subject to His infallibly inspired word. How easily I separated the Spirit from the written Word which He inspired! But to truly walk by the Spirit and pray in the Spirit, one must pray according to the bible!

In my new church, I’m told, there are others like me. Coming from the confusion and misleading teachings of the Charismatic movement or Pentecostalism. It truly is remarkable that so many of us, truly seeking God and digging through His unchanging word, have found our way back to the Reformation! My years in the Charismatic movement and my journey out of its superstition, manipulation, empty promises and pretense led me to seek out other who were fed up and making the same journey as I was: Back to basics, back to the bible, putting down deep roots in the solid ground of His unchanging word instead of the incessantly shifting, windblown sand and rubble of Pentecostalism. I called our little group ExCharisma. And it quickly grew over the next couple of years, from a dozen or so of us “questioning Charismatics,” into an international community of hundreds. Almost without exception, those who shared my journey ended up in the same place that I have: The Reformation! Let me tell you why I think that is so remarkable:

In the years prior to the Reformation, the gospel had been almost entirely lost to the ordinary churchgoer. Obscured behind superstition, corruption, ritual and rite, and in the absence of the bible in print for “the common man,” the gospel virtually disappeared but for some unknown (to us) remnant.

Never had there been a greater need for the recovery of the gospel to the Church, and God in His mercy finally did so, through Martin Luther and several others, 500 years ago. When the gospel was clearly preached, the true Church flourished and changed the whole world – just as much as it had done in the First Century! Fast-forward 500 years and what do we find? Again, the gospel in obscurity, barely peeking out from behind the megaministries preaching a gospel of greed (the “prosperity gospel”), self-proclaimed “prophets” who still preach even after their predictions prove completely false – anyone remember when “the greatest prophet since Elijah,” Paul Cain, predicted that as president, Bill Clinton would lead America to the greatest spiritual revival in it’s history? Ooops. And yet those Kansas City “prophets” are still out there making millions of dollars in books, tapes, and other snake-oil sales. As it was in the days before the Reformation, so it is today. Corruption, superstition, greed, and as before a lack of interest and discipline in the study of the bible, have so obscured and covered the simple truth of salvation in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone, that we find ourselves in need of a second Reformation! Or, to be more accurate, a recovery of the earlier Reformation. A recovery of “the faith once delivered to the saints.”

Inspired by that and by the fact that my pastor has told me how I could really help other members of my church who are taking that journey out of “Charismania,” as I have come to call it, back to the Reformation – back to the Gospel, I will publish a few articles from the archives of ExCharisma here in the next few days. The first will take on the subject of the gift of tongues, so central to the Charismatic experience. If you can’t wait, you can catch a preview of it by clicking here.


Disaster Drill: Just like Old Times

April 3, 2014
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CF_Disaster CF_Ff

CF_LawEnforcementTriage

Law Enforcement escorts a “Walking Wounded” patient

CF_MedsCF_firefighter CF_Red

CF_WanderingYello

 

I observed the Disaster Drill at College of Central Florida today. Every such drill I have ever taken part in always has one common issue: Noisy, clamoring “walking wounded” who get in the way; and the temptation to give them higher priority than more critically injured victims seems to win out. Several “Green-tagged” victims get transported off the scene before “Red and Yellow-tagged” ones do just to get them the heck out of the way. You have Law Enforcement people there, use them to corral these noisy people. Set up a little lemonade stand for them and for goodnessakes, don’t let them wander around talking to the Press! In Triage, you can’t let the “squeaky wheels” steal grease from those who need it far worse.

Multi-agency scenarios bring unique problems when everyone is wearing an orange vest, but what was the Staging officer doing at the west entrance bringing victims out of the building?

CF_StagingOfficer

His vest is marked, “Staging.” But he’s at the entrance to the building.

“Oh, I’m not the Staging officer,” he says.
“Where is the Staging officer? Where is the Staging area for that matter?”
“I dunno.”
“Okaaaaay…”

Someone tagged “Medical Supply Officer” wasn’t replenishing medical supplies or seeing to it. He was busy talking to observers – ?

Play the assigned role, don’t “help” the other guys out. If they need more resources, they know to ask for them. If you need them, ask! That’s what Command is for! To get resources to where they are needed. When rescuers start swapping personnel, duties, and supplies to meet immediate needs, the plan falls apart. Command isn’t just there to look pretty. Put those fancy-pants white shirts to work getting you what you need!

No designated rehab area? That’s far too common a mistake, but overworked rescuers quickly become victims themselves, especially in hot weather like today. Assign one Medical Rescue unit to nothing but Rehab and use a PASS (Personal Accountability System) to keep track of rescuers and make sure they don’t become a liability themselves. Like this firefighter:

CF_Firefighter_Down

The deceased need to be moved out of sight as soon as it’s practical. Don’t let the “walking wounded” and rescuers step over the deceased to get to the Treatment area for goodnessakes. Treat the deceased with dignity as much as possible. I didn’t see any area designated as a temporary morgue at all. Commandeer a refrigerated truck if you have to, but at least don’t let the deceased become a threat to the safety of other victims.

CF_stepping_over_the_deceased

The Press has telephoto lenses, y’know. And everyone in sight has a camera-equipped cellphone!

Perimeter security. Just thought I’d mention it.

What benchmarks were in use at the Command Post? Not a peep from Command about those… Rescuers were told to stay out of the building until it was safe to enter, but the announcement of that benchmark never actually happened. But there were plenty of rescuers in the building. Were they acting in defiance of orders? When was the Loss Stopped benchmark reached? I guarantee it was later than the rescuers thought.

Very nice job by a Law Enforcement student who had to deliver a baby herself for lack of an EMT in the area. Nicely done, whoever you are! Oh, and a half-dozen EMTs were less than 10 meters away having some kind of confab or something, sorry about that…

CF_CJ_Hero

This CJ Student was awesome. I’m sorry I didn’t get video of her performance when the “pregnant victim” was brought out in labor! This hearty soul took it all in stride.

These drills are always a tough learning experience, I know, and everyone worked very hard. But it need not be so confusing. And if it’s this bad at a drill, think about why this stuff matters. I’m talking to officers here (white shirts), not so much the rank-and-file blue shirts.

-Lieutenant Robin Arnaud (Retired),
Broward County Fire Rescue

 


Linux Vs Windows

March 29, 2014
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Most of you know I’m finally going back to school after more than 30 years. I don’t mind telling y’all that I’m not a little scared about it. My first class is Freshman English Composition 1. It made sense to me to take that one first so I’ll know how to write papers for all my other classes.

This is my second essay, a “comparison & contrast” essay. It’s probably not hard for my readers to guess what I wanted to compare and contrast, since I think the majority of my posts here have been about my desktop operating system. Borrrrrinnnnnng for most people, I know. And for this essay we were instructed “to inform and entertain,” which means I really couldn’t write a boring, technical comparison. I think I succeeded – a little late in the essay though – in making it “entertaining.” We’ll do peer reviews of each other’s work next week, but I’d like to start mine early, so please, offer some feedback as to how I can make this essay better, and especially more entertaining!

Desktop Operating Systems

Linux vs. Microsoft Windows®

Most computer users are content to use whatever operating system “comes with the computer when they buy it, never giving their operating system a second thought – until it slows to a crawl, gets a virus, or freezes. They think about the operating system when the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) appears in Microsoft Windows®. Then the only operating systems most people are aware of are Windows and Apple’s Macintosh system. Now with support for Windows XP ending next month, many users have resigned themselves to buying a new computer that can support the new versions of Windows. That, however, is not actually necessary, because most Linux desktop and laptop operating systems support older, modest hardware and are available to most PC users free of charge. For most users Linux does everything that Windows can.

Home users use their computers for writing, spreadsheets, web browsing, e-mail, sharing music and pictures, and keeping up with Facebook. Since many Windows users are heavy gamers, Linux may not fully satisfy their needs, because the majority of people who write computer games have Windows users in mind when they write them. Yet players of many popular Massively Multi-Player Role Playing Games (MMPRPGs) are able to play World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy on Linux machines. Non-gamers are likely to have an even more satisfying experience on Linux than they had on Windows.

Almost all Linux desktop operating systems are available at no charge! Released under the General Public License, Linux and most of the software it uses are Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Thousands of coders from all over the world collaborate continually to maintain Linux and keep it updated. This is in stark contrast with Microsoft Windows®, which is proprietary and closed-source, and lavishly expensive; as is the “bloatware” needed to maintain it.

The term “bloatware” refers to software that is not intended for the user, but just for the operating system (OS). Anti-virus / security software, registry cleaners, and other optimization software is considered “bloatware.” Linux, by contrast, has no registry to clean and has virtual immunity from known viruses, spyware, and other forms of malware. One of the reasons for this difference is simply the fact that Windows users ordinarily operate with “Administrator” privileges, while Linux users have to enter a password and log in as “root” (Administrator) to access the vulnerable bits of the system. No need for “bloatware” whatsoever. It is an easy choice: Pay lavishly for an expensive, resource-hogging system, and for expensive “bloatware” to keep Windows happy and cooperative, or pay nothing for a virtually virus-proof system, saving your hard drive space for your pictures, videos, documents, and favorite miscellaneous digital treasures.

FOSS offers free (as in cost) alternatives to most applications that Windows users pay big money for: Evince does what Adobe Reader does; Firefox, Chromium, Opera, and Midori do what Internet Exlporer does. Thunderbird and Evolution do what Outlook does; and Open Office and Libre Office do almost everything that Microsoft Office® does. GIMP does what Adobe Photoshop® does. Pidgin is an all-in-one FOSS application that replaces AOL’s Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Instant Messaging, and Skype®. Most of the 300-plus free Linux distributions include all this software on their free and downloadable installation CDs and DVDs.

Linux users are able to keep their older hardware out of the landfills and lend their computers years of new life simply by switching from Microsoft Windows® to one of the completely free distributions of a Linux operating system. It makes good ecological sense to use Linux rather than to discard a perfectly good computer simply because the operating system has become obsolete. Linux is also more energy efficient, making full use of the computer’s resources without needing to run a half-dozen instances of “bloatware” in the background, robbing the user of the use of those resources for applications. Computer users want to run applications, not the operating system! Linux lets users do that, staying out of the way; while Windows is a resource hog that reserves vast resources for itself, keeping them unavailable to the user. In an interview with PC Magazine, the inventor of Linux, Linus Torvaldes, put it better than anyone before or since: “Computers are like air conditioners,” he said. “Once you open Windows, they’re useless!”

In the blockbuster film The Matrix, one if it’s major characters, Morpheus, describes the Matrix’ grip on the minds of its victims in terms that exactly and perfectly describe the majority of computer users victimized by Windows:

“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” Microsoft counts on that sense of dependency and fosters it by discounting their system to original equipment manufacturers who agree to sell Windows and other Microsoft products on their new computers. Windows has become an institution in itself: The default format for most documents is .doc and .docx, used in Microsoft Office®. Drivers for printers, monitors, and other peripherals are written overwhelmingly to operate on Windows. The grip of Microsoft, both on manufacturers and users is almost palpable. Yet as the most-used operating system worldwide, Windows XP, reaches the end of its life, more and more people, institutions, and governments are switching to Linux and saving millions by doing so. Among the most notable of these, according to Wikipedia, are the city government of Munich, Germany, which chose in 2003 to migrate its 14,000 desktops to Linux. The United States Department of Defense has switched all the servers for the US Army to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, the Federal Aviation Administration is currently making the switch, and the National Nuclear Security Administration is using it. The city of Vienna, Italy scrapped Windows for Linux. The French Parliament has switched its desktop computers to Ubuntu Linux, as has their police force, the National Gendaremie, and France’s Ministry of Agriculture as well. The federal employment office of Germany has switched to OpenSUSE Linux. Several school systems in the United States and abroad are saving thousands by switching to Linux, and Daytona State College / University of Central Florida’s Writing Center is promoting Libre Office in place of Microsoft Office.

Put side by side, the two operating systems are so unevenly matched for cost, security, availability, support, and ability to function speedily on modest hardware that in the years to come, the Microsoft Matrix-like grip on the desktop computer may be loosened. One computer and one user at a time, a new standard may emerge to dominate the desktop.


Justification By Faith Alone

March 22, 2014
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A Reformed Christian web site with a huge, vast library of excellent resources, also has a forum that I participate in. One of the recurring debates that has arisen there over the past few years has been on the doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone (Sola Fide). Due in part to all the foot-dragging in the courts of the PCA on the rise of the Federal Vision teaching (hereafter abbreviated as “FV”), the debate has been renewed in recent months and years with greater fervor among the leaders of that denomination. Thankfully, other conservative Presbyterian denominations have addressed the matter with the speed and urgency it demands. FV represents a hyper-covenantalism that elevates the Church nearly to the level of co-redemtrix, where salvation is determined by one’s standing in the church, receipt of the sacraments, and the judgment of the Esteemed Clergy and Elders. It is supreme irony that FV originated in denominations spawned by the Reformation, since it is essentially a call back to Rome. It turns the Reformation on its head. It is an attack upon its very soul.

A beloved tactic of false teachers is to change the definitions of theological terms without actually telling us that they’re defining the words differently. In the Word of Faith movement, for example, faith is redefined to make it something more akin to “the Force” of Star Wars fame; a neutral power for both good and evil depending on how it is applied using the spoken word in a mind-over-matter sort of way. So when the Word of Faith teachers speak, they can use “Christian-sounding” words to totally pervert the Christian religion. They conveniently neglect to inform their listeners and readers that the word faith has a completely different meaning for them. In the same way, FV teachers have deceptively merged two different meanings of the word justification:

In my college classes I am frequently asked to write essay answers to tests and quizzes with the instruction, “justify your answer.”

That is the use of the word “justify” that James uses most often in his epistle. Works justify faith. That is, works authenticate faith; they testify that faith is genuine; they prove that faith has done its work in the heart of the believer. It is their works that “justify” (or authenticate) the faith of those listed in the “Honor Roll of Faith” of Hebrews 11, a “great cloud” of witnesses whose works certify that their faith was genuine; who all testify to the same thing: That the guilt of their sin was borne by Christ and appropriated to them by faith alone. So then we are justified by faith, and our faith is justified (proven to be genuine) by works.

When the word justified is applied to people, it means “declared Not Guilty.” Applied to actions, deeds, and works, the word means “authenticated, proved to be genuine.”

In Paul’s epistles the word is most often applied to persons rather than works, so it describes the forensic decree of “Not Guilty” in the Court of God. But like James, Paul insists upon faith that can be proven to be authentic by good works. I’m sure the two Apostles had many long talks on the subject with one another and fully agreed with each other.

When one considers the authorship and intended audience of Paul’s epistles and James’, one can account for the different uses of the words “justify” and “justification” thusly: Paul writes in a “legal opinion” sort of fashion as a Roman citizen, and as a “Pharisee of Pharisees” to an audience of mostly Gentile believers. He writes to reassure them that their standing before the Court of God is not dependent upon their ability and faithfulness to do all works of the Law, but upon simple faith in the One who did the works perfectly in our stead and died bearing our sins away in His own body on the tree. His resurrection “justifies” (proves) His atoning work, showing that the Father had accepted His sacrifice, and it is applied to us in the court of God (persons are justified) by faith alone. James’ epistle is written to the entire Church, Jew and Gentile alike, to describe what disciples of Jesus ought to look like, demonstrating works that justify (as in authenticate, prove as genuine) the faith that justifies (declares Not Guilty) the believer.

That’s the only difference between Paul and James. But if we merge those two senses of the word, and conveniently forget to inform our readers and listeners of such subterfuge, we can use these “Christian-sounding” terms and quote whole sections of scripture to “prove” that justification is by our works as much as it is by our faith. In only one sense are believers justified by works, and that is that the works of Christ are imputed to believers by faith, and so we are justified – declared “Not Guilty” – by faith alone, apart from our works of the Law, since Christ’s perfect obedience to the Law is credited to us. By faith. By faith alone.


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