16 January 2015

This 'n' That

photo credit: Tiger Girl via photopin cc ​
Between Perry Noble's 'word from the Lord'-derived Christmas Eve sermon, and Beth Moore's ongoing claims to personal, direct revelation, and others within professing evangelicalism who would affirm their personal conversations with the God of the universe, there has been quite a bit of chatter (actual chatter, not 'gee, I think that might have been God giving my heart a little squeeze') about the nature of how God speaks today and whether or not impressions, instincts, and nudges can originate from Him.

'Don't put God in a box!' is an argument I hear quite often (and, quite frankly, I'd really appreciate it if continuationists, postmoderns, and undiscerning Christians would adopt a new slogan. This one is pretty tired). Well, how about I contain Him not in a box, but a book? A book that, incidentally, He Himself wrote as holy men were carried about by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1:1–2)
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”-- and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:16–21)
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)
Is that okay? Is it okay for me to 'limit' God, as it were, within the confines of His holy Word? Look, I get it. Sometimes we just 'feel led' (if you'll forgive the expression) to do or say something, and it turns out that God, in His providential, sovereign plan and timing, ordained that circumstance to further His perfect plan. But that doesn't mean that God was talking to you personally and directly outside of Scripture. Let's be careful with our terms, shall we, brethren? Because when we say that 'God told me' to do or say or write something, we tread into very precarious waters.

Think with me for a moment—if I say, 'God told me' to write this blog post, what does that ultimately imply? It implies that this blog post has all the authority of the written Word of Scripture. 'No, no,' you argue, 'God speaks to me, but I would never elevate that experience higher than the Bible.'

My friend, if you think that God is speaking to you directly and personally, but you do not elevate that as high as Scripture, then you sin. Does God ever speak with less authority? Does He say, 'Hey, Jim, I want you to make note of this and act on it, but just know that I'm not speaking with my full authority as the Lord of all here'? Really, if you think about it, to view God in this way is to view Him as little more than the pope. The pope, after all, holds quite a bit of earthly authority, but He only speaks 'infallibly' when he's speaking ex cathedra (in Catholic theory and tradition, anyway). Do you see how illogical and ridiculous it is for us to apply the same thinking to the Lord and King of the universe? Worse, do you see how utterly blasphemous it is for us to do so?

Causing further confusion amid these claims to revelation is the fact that the recipients of these alleged 'words from the Lord', while claiming to not elevate such words above Scripture, also do not want anyone to question those words. After all, these words and thoughts came from God. Again, this returns us to the issue of authority. Either God speaks authoritatively or He does not. You cannot have it both ways, so pick one. If you believe He speaks authoritatively at all times that He speaks, and you believe that He is still giving revelation today, then buy a Bible with a lot of blank sheets in the back so that you can keep adding to Scripture each time your liver shivers. If you don't believe He speaks authoritatively, then stop calling Him God and stop waxing eloquent about what you think He told you. In either instance, if you think He is still providing ongoing revelation, you probably should stop talking, open your Bible, and do some prayerful study and examination.

Now...wait...hold on just a minute...is that you, Lord? What's that? You want the readers to stop listening to the murmurs of their deceitful heart and hungry tummy and instead want them to pause and enjoy their week in review (kind of)? Well, okay then. I can't argue with that. Here's your week in review (kind of):
  • I am not responsible for the hole that you are about to put into your wall by slamming your head into it with great force. Also, there are no refunds on the 7 minutes of your life that you are about to lose.
  • If this is true about David Jeremiah's Turning Point, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.
  • What is the Gospel? No, really…do you know?
  • In light of recent events…
  • I definitely agree that taking notes by hand helps you process and retain more information.
  • Don't go to this conference. No arguments! Don't. Go.
  • It's like Hollywood is trying to redeem itself or something.
  • Fred Butler takes a look at Perry Noble's apology. Dr. James Duncan also offers a detailed and helpful analysis.
  • I knew about this awhile ago, but it's getting some new publicity. And now Tyndale House is going to stop selling the book altogether. Great news. Thankful for Alex Malarkey and his mother, Beth.
  • Thankful also for this post by Phil Johnson, where he offers a timeline of the Malarkey fiasco and sets the record straight.
  • "Male and female and 'whatever', He created them." Wait…what?
  • Mortification of Spin's Todd Pruitt weighs in on Beth Moore's nonsense.
  • The sad thing is, you can find a lot of this same Pope-abilia at the local Family Not-So-Christian Store.
  • Here's your weekly dose of adorable (thanks, Rick!).
  • You need to listen to this Phil Johnson sermon.
  • Excellent. I'm pretty excited about June 21 being International Yoga Day. I could use another day off of work. Wait—we do get to take off work for this, right?
  • Cameron Buettel continues GTY's series discussing standards for shepherds: be respectable and hospitable.
  • This was weird. As in, a very weird choice of individuals to consult on this topic. And it was utterly unhelpful. And weird. Did I already say that?
  • I really enjoyed this interview Mike Abendroth did with his son, Luke.
  • The purposes of God in your pursuit of godliness:

10 comments:

  1. Watching that abomination of a video, I tried to picture the apostle Paul at a service like that.

    Nope.

    -Jennifer

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  2. I suddenly thought of a line from a Stephen King novel ("It"?) from the 1980s. It simply read:

    "Telephone call from heaven; Jesus on the line." Enough said.

    Yes, Erin, I've been against this "Don't put God in a box" line for years. It's a self-help theology, in a way. God has revealed Himself to us through His Son and through His Word. Let's respect His directives; it is, after, all, His call, not ours. Let's keep God in His Word. It is a Word, by the way, that is so majestic, so fantastic, and so true and authoritative that it does not need any extra revelations, no matter how impressive these may seem.

    A great piece, Erin. Well done.

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    1. "It is a Word, by the way, that is so majestic, so fantastic, and so true and authoritative that it does not need any extra revelations, no matter how impressive these may seem."

      Amen.

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  3. Burk Parsons had me until he defined what the gospel is and is not. Burk Parsons states that the gospel is, " It’s good news—the good news about what our triune God has accomplished for His people: the Father’s sending His Son, the incarnate Jesus Christ, to live perfectly, fulfill the law, and die sacrificially, satisfying God’s wrath against us that we might not face hell, thereby atoning for our sins; and raising Him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the victorious announcement that God saves sinners." He then states it is not, "the call of Jesus to “take up your cross and follow me,” “repent and believe,” “deny yourself,” and “keep my commandments.” He then states that the commands of Christ, "are necessary commands that directly follow the proclamation of the gospel, they are not in themselves the good news..." So my question is, "What was Jesus preaching, teaching, and commanding if not the gospel? What does John MacArthur say the gospel is? While I firmly believe in Christ alone and works cannot save me, is obedience required to believe?

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    1. Hi Mike,

      Great comment/question, so thanks for posing it. I defer to the Apostle Paul:

      For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor 15:3-4)

      This is the good news, the gospel. It is distinct from our response to that good news, which is repentance and faith (both of which are gifts from God, of course: Eph 2:8,9; Acts 11:18).

      This short video might help as well.

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    2. Great video! I do not disagree with you or the video or the Apostle Paul. When we take any passage away from it's context and not let the Scripture interpret the Scripture we can divorce ourselves from other aspects of the gospel. I realize you are a student of the Scriptures and most likely much more versed than I am, but when the gospel does not require blood, repentance, following Christ, recognition of His Lordship, then how can one know the simplicity and the depth and riches of His glorious gospel? I and my wife must admit, 40 years ago, we received Christ without this knowledge, but when we 1st heard Christ's commands, we responded. I think we believe and speak close to the same thing and vary a little, but the end is the same...

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    3. Hey Mike!

      I think it's a matter of very carefully defining our terms. The gospel is not that you need to repent of your sin. The gospel is that Jesus did not sin, He bled, died, and rose again so that you may be forgiven of your sins. The good news is not about us and what we need to do (and indeed cannot do apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit) it is about Christ and what He has already done.

      Again, though, the response to that good news must be the command to repent and believe (Mark 1:15; Matthew 4:17). In fact, in Mark 1:14-15, it says that "Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'"

      Here we see the distinction: the gospel is preached (the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ) and people are commanded to repent and believe it. The gospel demands a response, and the only saving response is repentance and faith and full submission to the Lordship of Christ. The gospel should never be preached without a call to repentance; easy-believism does not save. But again, in our own mind, for our own sakes, we must distinguish between the gospel and the response. Jesus did what I cannot and died the death I deserve - wonderful, good, amazing, saving news! Because He has done this and because He has saved me and transformed me and my desires, I turn from my sin and live a life in submission to Him.

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  4. I appreciate your definition of terms and an explanation is helpful to me. I am not willing to "go to the wall" "nailing down" my understanding of the gospel in light of your explanation as long as Christians preaching 1Cor 15:3-5 never divorce their message from obedience.

    Paul stating in Romans 1, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." and to the Corinthians, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

    And again Paul to the Roman Church, "But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved...But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

    I think it is a minor point of difference between me and thee, only your definition is narrow and mine is broader, which should never end in contention of endless debate...

    I remain a faithful reader of all your work minus the "adorable" portion which I routinely skip...in Christ alone, mike

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    1. Mike,
      I think we are on exactly the same page. I would wholeheartedly affirm that a proclamation of the gospel must never, never be divorced from a call to repentance, faith, and a life of obedience to Him. If it is, then we have not fully called someone to come to Christ, for to be saved by Him is to experience and live all of these things. And I think since you have been a faithful reader, you know that I would affirm this.

      "Faith without works is dead," said James, and so we must be careful to call people to a living faith.

      "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me," said Jesus in John 15:3-4.

      It is important to note that we do not see a gospel proclamation in Scripture without a call to respond in repentance and faith. The two must go together, lest we contribute to the proliferation of false converts within the visible church. In fact, Christ began His public ministry with a call to repentance in Matthew 4:17. Thus, the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount is a description of a saved life, a life that has been regenerated, has repented of sin, and lives in obedience to the Christ who saved him.

      As I said before, the good news of the gospel demands a response and there are only two possibilities: repentance or rejection. May we, as did Jesus, call people to repent and believe upon Him for salvation.

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  5. Pastor Don Green's sermon is excellent. I am going to listen to it at least one more time. I hope all your readers will take the time to listen. Thanks for sharing.

    - Deborah

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