A Sidekick's Blog

Discernment

September 17, 2016
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Every Christian has “discernment.”  Jesus Himself said so:

“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.”

To a Charismatic, it’s a special gift that only a select few have!  But the gift of discerning spirits listed among the charismata in 1st Corinthians 12-14 was different from the natural discernment of the Lord’s sheep.  It was the ability to see and distinguish angels and demons. Examples include the army of angel warriors that Elisha saw when Elijah asked God to open his eyes, and the Apostles’ recognition of demons in Acts, where even a truth-saying spirit was recognized and expelled (Acts 16:16ff).

Please enjoy this excellent article from Pulpit & Pen:

Within the Charismatic Movement, discernment is often viewed as this supernatural ability to see if the spirit which influenced something is a good spirit or a demon. That is not what true discernment is in the modern context. Others within the same movement say that discernment is a supernatural feeling you get that tells you…

via What Discernment Is and Isn’t — Pulpit & Pen

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Defining “Reformed Baptist” (again)

March 9, 2015
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It’s surprising how quickly the meanings of words and definitions change.  In fact I’m sure that a lot of plain, longstanding theological definitions are deliberately changed – without saying so – in order to “justify” some new and completely unorthodox theological position while making it appear orthodox by using familiar terminology.

Federal Visionists in my former denomination have turned the Reformation on it’s head to justify such unorthodox things as paedocommunion and salvation-by-sacrament, yet most of them claim the Westminster Confession and the Three Forms of Unity.  All they had to do was apply new definitions to the old terms and viola – they’ve undone the Reformation using their Reformed Confession.  They know that their heretical position cannot be justified in Baptist theology, so they call even 1689-Confessional Baptists “non-Reformed.”

Absurd.  They’re a heckuvalot further removed from the Reformation than any Reformed Baptist is.  But it seems that, again, Reformed Baptists – just at a time when we are rediscovering our own roots and restoring our churches to their historic heritage – have to defend our very existence again, as others change the meanings of plain, long-understood theological terms.  Linked below is a wonderfully clear article which I hope will help cement our identity.  Enjoy:

Defining “Reformed Baptist” (again).

 


Why I Dumped Facebook

February 12, 2015
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No matter what I did on Facebook, it seemed like it always hurt someone. Someone I left out, someone I included, someone who took me seriously when I wasn’t serious, or vice versa. I was only on Facebook because my family begged me to get on there so they could “keep in touch.” As if the phone had stopped working. Or e-mail had disappeared. Or the Postal Service had gone out of business. There are a zillion and eleven ways for family to keep in touch, with or without Facebook, and I frankly resent being forced into a single one. A proprietary one at that, in which every “like,” every click, every comment, and every check-in is logged and sold to targeted advertisers. I don’t like being reduced to a commodity, and that is exactly what Facebook users are. My phone still works, family and friends. So does the United States Postal Service. So does my e-mail. You want to keep in touch because family matters to you? Then answer my letters (e-mail and snail mail)! Return my phone calls! Make a few keystrokes if it’s important to you. If “keeping in touch” just means clicking a “like” button once in a while, then we have very different ideas about what keeping in touch means. And, apparently, very different values when it comes to family.

There is an alternative “social networking” site that I’m still on, but it is far from ideal, probably not safe for kids, for the easily offended, or the easily provoked. I don’t think I’ll even stay on Diaspora either since almost no one there shares my interests and the federation of content (as opposed to having it all on a centralized network) needs a lot more tweaking before Diaspora can really function as a viable “social network.” They do keep trying, but I think the main issue is more basic than the ones they keep re-trying and re-tweaking.

I don’t tweet, and I never will. I don’t “check in” on social media and I never will again. I like and I share and I comment, but I use the telephone, email, Internet message boards, and this blog to do that. Besides, in my experience, communication that isn’t done person-to-person is at high risk for misunderstanding, hurt feelings, drama, and other pointless, unnecessary headaches. That is what finally drove me off of Facebook, but all along there were other concerns that gnawed at me:

Privacy concerns: I’m not shy with my opinions, and I’m probably already on a dozen watch lists for my political, religious, and vocational views.


Permanency:
Nothing posted to facebook is ever deleted. There is a permanent record of every little thing I ever liked, posted, or commented on. Including some stuff I wish I could take back. An impossible fantasy on facebook. I still have a future to think about, too: Finishing college, getting a job, applying for loans… everything with my name on it is available on-line to potential employers, partners, professors, supervisors, fellow employees. And most of it is simply none of their business.

False friendship: People who never kept in touch for years suddenly appear and want “friendship” after having ignored me for years. Just – no. I don’t put up with that sort of phoney behavior from memebers of my own family! So why in heck would I put up with it from someone who has let himself become a stranger?

I am not for sale: Facebook is not free. No multinational corporation is simply giving away a product for people to use as they see fit. Facebook users are a commodity, to be sold to targeted advertisers. Your likes and dislikes, favorite things, and affiliations are valuable information which is gathered by Facebook and sold. It doesn’t make sense for me to give that valuable information away and let Mister Zuckerberg use it to line his own pockets and share none of the profit with me. I’m not a commodity to be bought and sold. This for me is an ethical issue, and I’m ashamed that I ever took part in it.


Big Brother is Watching:
I’m sorry if this sounds paranoid, but it isn’t only the NSA that has me nervous about sharing every little thing on “social” media. It’s all the other players in this global intelligence game as well. Members of the military are cautioned all the time about what they post to sites like Facebook. Enemies use posts from soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families to gain access to information which seems innocuous and harmless, but used cumulatively and coordination with other global cyber-sources can lead to disastrous consequences at home and overseas.

In the end it was “family drama” that finally got me to listen to my own conscience and close the door on Facebook. People who are accustomed to communicating only in memes and text messages can expect to be misunderstood, offended, scolded, and “unfriended” frequently. Real life relationships are becoming an endangered thing, and the simple skills needed to maintain good relationships are vanishing. I hope they will last beyond my own generation.


Missions and the Prosperity Gospel

September 19, 2014
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As if Benny Hinn and other health-and-wealth teachers haven’t exploited enough people already, lately they are “crusading” in third-world nations.

When you carry their teachings to their logical conclusion, though, it only makes sense. It is the poorest of the poor who most desperately need prosperity and healing. So naturally, the folks who support teachers of the prosperity gospel have to insist that the prosperity message be brought to “those who need it most.”

But what of missionary efforts already underway in these third world tribes? How does the message of the media stars impact the work of missionaries who cannot offer promises of riches and divine health, but only simple gospel of salvation from God’s just wrath against sinners? As you might imagine, opposition to the truth is multiplied by the itchy-eared.

Even though the prosperity teachers cannot hope to profit from the desperately poor, they must maintain the appearance of taking the prosperity message to the desperately poor who “need it most.”

Here is a recent example, described by a missionary of the true gospel. He describes his own efforts to counter this exploitation and deception. He describes the angry opposition he encountered from those who have heard what they wanted to hear and eagerly accepted it, and who now fiercely defend their new hope against the truth.

There was a long period of time when I complained loudly to the Lord for many months about the proliferation of false teachers, hirelings and charlatans taking advantage of the Lord’s sheep.

“Judge them, O Lord! Save Your people from being ruined by those who would shear Your sheep; killing them and feasting on Your little lambs!” I cried.

Until I realized a terrible truth.

These false teachers are God’s judgment! He will judge the false teachers in His own time. Just as He sent the Babylonians to judge His own people first, before sending Persia to judge the Babylonians! He will eventually bring “Persia” to judge “Babylon” for bringing false teachings to His sheep. But He judges His own before He judges the world.

Benny Hinn and his fellow heretics are God’s judgment against itchy-eared sheep,

who, wanting to have their ears tickled, gather for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and will turn away from the truth, turning aside to myths (2 Tim 4:3-4 emphasis mine).

Indeed, such was I once. And

such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).

Many among those being deceived are to be called out later on, and they will need help, just as I did, to overcome the fables and superstitions they were taught. It takes time and patience. But that is why this little forum is here. ExCharisma is a tool for those who have been exploited, betrayed, and damaged by these false teachings. But even if you, dear reader, are not among those who once believed these things, please consider those in your circle who have quit going to church after being betrayed by these self-serving wolves who prey upon the itchy-eared, and now are broken, confused, and have no idea who to trust anymore or what is true anymore. If they’re seeking some plain ol’ back-to-basics gospel truth from Scripture alone, tell them they’re not alone. Tell them about one little sidekick who found his way back. Tell them about ExCharisma.

Thanks, from the bottom of my heart.


A Nation Under Judgment

September 12, 2014
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Yesterday I went to one of the local 9/11 remembrance ceremonies in my small hometown, and it broke my heart.

I wasn’t heartbroken because of the images of that horrible day 13 years ago, nor because of the many lives lost on that occasion and thousands more in the ensuing war on terror. I was heartbroken because in all of the prayers, songs, and speeches from all of the bible-quoting, church-going, rah-rah-for-Jesus participants, there was no call for repentance from the national sins which brought this judgment against our country. This was a pep rally for pride in America instead of a time for mourning and national repentance.

I hold dual citizenship. I am first and foremost a citizen of the Kingdom of God, and loyalty to my King transcends all duties and all loyalties to my country of origin, the United States. It is my King who establishes authority on Earth. He sets kings and presidents, czars and prime ministers in place; and removes them from their places at His will. From ancient times He has used wicked tyrants to bring covenant judgment against even His own chosen people when they forsook His ways and His holy law. The reverse is also true, that there were times that God used His chosen people to cleanse the land from the wickedness of other nations. On those occasions, there was always this warning:

Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God had driven them out before you, “Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,” but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness nor for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Know then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people (Deuteronomy 9:6, NASB, emphasis mine).

He is the Lord of all nations. And His holy law is binding upon all men in all of those nations. As He sent the Hebrews to cleanse the promised land of evildoers, so also did He send others to cleanse the land when the Hebrews themselves did evil. There were even times when He used a people far more wicked to judge a less wicked people (read the little book of Habakkuk)! But in every case, the appropriate (and nation-saving) response of a people to such judgment was mourning and repentance from their wickedness! Nations who are righteous enjoy God’s blessings, and He brings calamity against nations who are wicked. Before America outlawed public prayer, expelled God from her classrooms, legalized abortion, sanctioned perversion, and exploited the poor to enrich the powerful, she prospered. But in the years since she rejected God’s laws, she has suffered defeat in war with tragedy and decline at home.

  • Consider America’s national sins of the past 50 years: The killing of her most defenseless citizens, shedding innocent blood as “a woman’s right.” Redefining marriage (which was once the domain of churches rather than governments) to protect homosexuality which God has declared “abominable.” Allowing usury to run amok so that the poor are robbed by the rich.
  • Consider God’s judgments since America institutionalized murder, perversion, and robbery: Storms, drought, economic decline approaching complete collapse, war on multiple fronts, terror, invasion from the southern border, pestilence, inflation. An incompetent, bumbling idiot in the White House, elected twice and presiding over massive decline and ruin while he takes vacations and plays golf – fiddling while Rome burns.
  • Now consider America’s response thus far to God’s judgments: “Gay marriage” legalized in more states. “Nero” re-elected. Government power grabs and tyrannical, crippling regulation. And people who call themselves Christians hold pep rallies like the stupid one I attended yesterday, in which they quote carefully selected positive scripture portions that encourage us to “be strong and courageous, for the Lord is with us,” and “rise up and soar like eagles” instead of calling for repentance for national sin! We should be begging forgiveness and changing our laws, electing righteous men to public office and holding them accountable to God’s law as well as our own Constitution. We should be weeping and fasting and wearing sackcloth and ashes instead of singing and parading and singing feel-good “Christian” songs about prosperity and blessing and being “happy in Jesus.”

That’s why I was heartbroken yesterday. Flag-waving pep rallies that use God’s Name and God’s words while failing to call for national repentance from the very deeds that brought His judgment against us to begin with. Christ did not die so we could all feel good and be happy and get everything we need so we can feel happier and get more. He died to redeem a people for Himself from fallen, depraved humanity. Not to make depraved humans feel better while continuing in their depravity.

For the righteous living in a nation that is under judgment, there is assurance of God’s providential care. But only for the righteous. God may spare a nation for many years for the sake of a few righteous citizens. But He will certainly not fail to bring judgment on any nation that practices evil. The missing ingredient in yesterday’s pep rallies was a call to repent. In its place was a plea for God to bless an unrepentant people. I can tell you on the authority of His word: That ain’t gonna happen.


Thursday is for Theology

September 4, 2014
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Thursday is for Theology.

Amateur theology, but co-writing on my friend’s blog.  Adoptedsidekick will remain as a “friends and family” blog, the theological stuff will be published on Keachfan, and I’ll create a new separate one for the Linux stuff and move all the posts around accordingly when I get some time at the computer to do it.  Stay tuned!

 

 


Two Wills of God?

August 12, 2014
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It’s God’s will for EVERYONE to be saved, is it not? Absolutely. He requires all men in all times and all places to repent and believe the gospel (John 3:18), and thus to be saved from His wrath.

But of course, not everyone believes the gospel, and most of humanity is not saved. Does this mean that God’s will is thwarted by men? How can it be His will for everyone to be saved, yet also His will for so many to perish? Does He have “two wills” that conflict with each other? Not at all. Here is why:

Both the righteous and the wicked exist for God’s glory: The righteous to the praise of His mercy and love; and the wicked to the glory of His holiness and justice. BOTH glorify their Creator!

But the question of whether God truly “wants” every person to be saved or not is like the plan of God itself:

this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men… (Acts 2:23)

On one hand, murder is not God’s will! He says, “You shall not kill!” It is not His moral will that anyone should be murdered. And yet even before He created the world He had planned the murder of His only begotten Son, and it occurred exactly as God had determined and planned ages before the fact. His will was not thwarted, but rather carried out “by the hands of godless men,” for a fantastic display of God’s mercy towards undeserving sinners like me!

So while murder is “against God’s will,” we also see that the murder of His Son was God’s will. Is there a conflict between His “moral will” and His “decreative will?” On the surface it looks like it, but His decree – before creation – that the Son would be murdered to purchase a people for Himself from the fallen race of Adam, was in fact, God’s will.

Two “wills” of God?

No. One standard of morality, and one plan to redeem a people. The standard is holiness! The one single attribute of God that is repeated three times by the heavenly beings, in Isaiah and Revelation, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty…” – we never see “Loving, loving, loving” or “merciful, merciful, merciful,” but always, in both Testaments, “Holy, holy, holy.” His “moral will” is His standard. It requires perfection, purity, absolute righteousness from all living beings, period. The plan was and is to have rebellious, fallen men to demonstrate the awesomeness of God’s holiness and purity in the treatment they shall receive at His hands, whether He shows them mercy by granting them repentance and faith, or whether He shows them justice in the everlasting lake of fire.

So is it His “will” for everyone to be saved? That is the standard He holds all men to. He requires faith in Christ of all men (John 3:18). But His plan was to demonstrate BOTH His justice AND His love. The wicked demonstrate His justice, and the redeemed His mercy and love. There is no contradiction between God’s standard and His plan. They are consistent both with who He is and with how He has revealed Himself in His written word.

 


By the Book

July 9, 2014
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We Sidekicks are not at liberty to decide how best to serve our Hero. My Hero has written a Book that He expects me to understand and put into practice.  Most Sidekicks have supervisor/mentors that have been in the service of the Hero for many years before, and who have learned to know His will and apply His teachings. They are commonly called Pastors. But once in a while a Pastor becomes enamored with all the “feel-good” fluff and excitement of being in the service of our Hero, Jesus Christ. That’s easy to do, of course. I’m guilty of that myself sometimes. But when that “feel-good” stuff becomes an end in itself, or a higher priority than faithfulness to the Hero’s Book, it’s big big trouble.

A former pastor rebuked me thusly after the umpteenth time I brought him a bunch of questions about the Book:

 

Oh, doctrine, doctrine, doctrine! You and that doctrinal stuff, Robin. Enough already! Can’t you just love the Lord?

Oh. Wow. I was stunned! Had I missed the whole point of all that bible study? Was I too concerned with my Hero’s teachings so that I missed out on just enjoying my role of serving at His side? Maybe… so I really worked hard at trying to “just love the Lord” and not being so concerned about “minutia,” as my pastor had called it. But I discovered something in the process of “trying to love the Lord” that really freaked me out:

1. – If you love the Lord, you’ll do what He says (John 14:15).
2. – You can’t do what He says if you don’t know what He says and what it means.
3. – Knowing what He says and what it means is – omygosh… DOCTRINE!

Uh-oh, how did this happen? But as it turns out, there’s no way to “just love the Lord” without studying doctrine! Dr. John Gerstner says this better than I can. Clicky here: Everyman Must be a Theologian Excerpt:

If a theologian is a person who knows God, then by reverse reasoning a person who is not a theologian does not know God. There is no shame in a layman‘s being told that he does not know carpentry, or plumbing, or medicine, or law, or teaching, or the ways of a housewife; but there surely is the greatest of shame in a layman‘s being told that he does not know God. Furthermore, there is more than shame; there is very great danger. The Scripture says that to live apart from God is death. And just as the text quoted says it is life eternal to know God and Christ, another passage in the same book says that they who do not believe in Jesus shall not see life and, furthermore, the wrath of God abides upon them: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

I was even more confused after I went back to my pastor to seek an answer to this riddle:

Robin: Pastor, how can I love the Lord without doctrine? Can you tell me about Him without referring to doctrine?
Pastor: Oh, you again… you and your book. Um, sure. Tell you about Jesus without doctrine? Well lemme see… well, He loves us, so…
Robin (interrupting): Wait, pastor, that’s doctrine! “He loves us” is doctrine! Try again, please, I really need to know.
Pastor: Oh, yeah, well, okay. Um, okay. He is building His kingdom here, and…”
Robin (interrupting again): Doctrine. Please try again? I really want to just love the Lord!
Pastor: Love is a feeling, Robin! Can’t you just feel His love and be satisfied?
Robin: Not if I truly love Him back. See here where He said… (turning to John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” – you gotta know what they are!)
Pastor (interrupting): Put that book down! It’s not a matter of doctrine! It’s a feeling! Feel the love! Let go and let God be God!

Was it just that I didn’t get it, or had my pastor just told me to put the Hero’s book aside for a good feeling? I actually got scared. I wondered if I didn’t really love the Lord. I wondered if I was guilty of being one of those “head knowledge only” Christians that were so scorned in our church.

Only one thing to do: Go straight to the Hero for His advice.  He sent me to a new mentor, and shortly thereafter He removed my former mentor from his position. Wow. Y’see? My Hero takes good care of me!


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:

=================================

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).”


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