Table Charismata Matters

Friday, August 30, 2013

Life Without Miracles by F.B. Meyer

This blog is about the charismata. Yet, not all Christians knowingly operate in the gifts of the Spirit. Some cessationists argue that continuationist theologies (e.g. Pentecostal, Charismatic, Third Wave etc.) breed a sense of elitism among continuationist Christians as well as implying that non-continuationist Christians are a lower level kind of Christian (i.e. second class Christians). But in reality, there is no place for such things since God is sovereign over who believes in the continuation of the charismatic gifts as well as who knowingly operates in them. I suspect that many cessationists operate in the gifts of the Spirit (to some degree or another) without even knowing it. But even if some Christians never operated in the miraculous, the more important part of living the Christian life is that of being faithful to Christ. It's pointless and it ultimately leads to greater condemnation to have been able to perform miracles like Judas did and yet turn out to be unbelieving and unfaithful (Matt. 7:21-23). "Usefulness" at the expense of faithfulness profits little. Whereas focusing on faithfulness automatically leads to true usefulness and lasting fruit. And so, I post this short article by F.B. Meyer on the priority of faithfulness to Christ in one's life and testimony. More books and articles by F.B. Meyer HERE.

Life Without Miracles
by F.B. Meyer

(Text Source
John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.” John 10:41

Beyond the Jordan! To the Jew living in Jerusalem that meant banishment indeed. The district there was called Perea, and it was comparatively desert. There were a few mountain torrents which made their impetuous way down to the Jordan, patches of fruitful soil, and a few scattered villages; but for the most part the population was poor and sparse, and destitute of the culture which reigned in Jerusalem.
Why then did our Lord come hither to spend the last hours of His life? Would not Nazareth welcome Him to His early home, or Capernaum provide Him a resting place in a marble palace washed by the caressing waters of the lake He loved so well? Would He not be better lodged at Jerusalem in the palace of Caiaphas, the pretorium of Herod, or even the temple itself ?
Alas! All these were shut against Him by the relentless hate of His enemies. Perea alone could offer Him a resting place.

There was a peculiar fascination attached to Perea. It was the place where John had first baptized. Those desolate hills had been black with crowds gathered from all the land to hear the crying of that trumpet voice; those waters had been the scene of countless baptisms; the people around had many a story to tell of the appearance and life of the grand young prophet who had met his tragic end in the dungeons of Herod's castle.

And as the disciples wandered over the ground in company with Christ, memory recalled the spot where some of them had been baptized, or others had seen him designate Jesus as the Lamb of God. Christ's own mind must have been strangely moved by conflicting thoughts as He contrasted the radiant dawn of His ministry in this spot with the overcast skies that had since darkened above Him.

No sooner did our Lord find Himself in comparative safety than He threw Himself into His much-loved work of preaching the gospel, working miracles, and healing all who were diseased. Crowds gathered around Him - many from the immediate neighbourhood, some from a greater distance; but as they stood on that memorable spot, old memories were stirred; the place, with its surroundings, even to the stones that lay in the riverbed, forcefully reminded them of the great life set as a jewel in these rugged scenes.

They confessed the mighty gulf which severed him from Christ - "John did no miracle;" but they gladly emphasized the fact that all things which he had spoken of Christ were true.


To the eye of the casual observer the Baptist seemed to have failed. The morning star had paled before the sunrise; the crowds who had gathered round the Bridegroom's friend ebbed slowly and steadily away to follow the Bridegroom Himself. His disciples half reproachfully said, "Master, He to whom thou barest witness beyond Jordan, the same has commenced to baptize, and all men come to Him."

The faithful few that gathered around him must have deeply felt that they were the adherents of a dwindling cause, which was destined gradually to come to an end. And this was only a prelude to the immuring of this brave soul within the dark walls of Herod's dungeons.

Like an eagle with broken wing, the Baptist lay spent and powerless. And there, the captivity, the lack of the ministry of nature, the inability to understand why Christ did not deliver him - if He were indeed the Messiah - led to a still greater lapse, and he sent to ask whether Jesus of Nazareth were after all what he had announced Him to be.

"Art Thou He that should come, or look we for another?"

Finally down the long corridor, the executioner came to his cell, the sword gleamed, the severed head fell from the body, and from that subterranean prison his spirit returned to God.

How sad and disastrous seemed such a termination to a life which had once been the centre of the national thought and movement!

Was it not all a failure? Had not John made a profound mistake in following his lofty ideals? Had not God Himself deserted His faithful servant? Was it after all a real voice that spoke from the opened heaven?

Then God took up the cause of His faithful martyr, and vindicated him through the tribute which the crowds paid his memory as they gathered in Perea. "John was true," the people said. "What he said has been verified by the event."

He had said that Christ was from heaven, and above all, and it was true.

He had said that Christ was the true Bridegroom of faithful souls, and it was true. He had said that the Father did not give Him the Holy Spirit by measure and it was true.

He had said that He was the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world, and it was true.

John had said many other things about Christ, which they had treasured and now recalled. But among them all there was no statement made about Christ which was not true. This strengthened their faith in the Lord Jesus, but it also vindicated the Baptist as the true prophet of the Most High.

Thus it has often been since, and may be for you and me:

Around that mother's grave you may gather and say, "She was not brilliant or greatly remarkable, but she spoke true words of Jesus Christ which will never die." Of some Sunday-school teacher, or minister, who seems to have been a voice crying in the wilderness, and to have passed away before accomplishing any lasting monument: " He did no miracle, but he spoke true words for Christ."

Do not look for success or dread failure. Go on day by day fulfilling the task of the day, and leaving the results with God. You know not what you are doing; you are scattering seeds which will yield harvests when you lie beneath the sod of the valley.

God will vindicate you, and some day, as men recall your memory, if they say that you wrought no miracle, they will also say that whatever you spoke of this Man was true.


These are days in which the Bible is greatly discredited. There are those who appear to delight in hunting out discrepancies in the venerable record of God's dealings with men. The higher critics in many cases appear to me to be devoid of that reverence for the Spirit of God and the religious life of men which should make one inclined to trust them. In many points they contradict each other, and few of their decisions are likely to remain unchallenged when a few more years have passed over.

In the meanwhile, it is doubtless a matter of concern to many Christians to know how to hold to their confidence in that sacred volume which they had been accustomed to consider the authoritative Word of the Most High. To read the books which are constantly pouring from the press would take more time than most of us can afford; to understand and combat their objections would take greater scholarship than is within our reach.

Even if we were to canvass the matter to the bottom, it is not probable that our evidence would be taken, in the court of general opinion, as against scholars and literalists.

What, then can we do?

May we not adopt the method suggested by our text, and vindicate the truth of the Bible by comparing its statements with what we have discovered through personal association with the Lord Jesus ?

The Bible says that the peace of God comes to those who trust in Him who died on the cross under Pontius Pilate, and was raised again according to the Scriptures. We have come, and trusted, and found peace. All that the Bible said in this respect is true.

The Bible says that if we open our hearts to the Spirit of God He will infill them with a holy hatred of sin, and with the hunger and thirst of a new life. We have acted upon the suggestion and have been delivered from sins which had cursed and defiled our whole life. All that the Bible said in this respect is true.

The Bible says that if we make our requests known to God through Jesus Christ He will abundantly answer them; and hundreds of answered prayers, as we review them, attest that what the Bible said in this respect also is true.

The Bible says that Christ's gospel is the antidote of death; that for those who believe in Him death is abolished, and the fear of it at an end. Now, we had been all our lifetime subject to bondage, but have forgotten to fear since Christ has shed upon our hearts the rays of immortality and life. In this also what the Bible said was true.

In these and in many other particulars we have verified for ourselves the Word of God, and are able to affirm, from the platform of personal experience, that all it says of Jesus Christ is true, and therefore it shall still be our guide through the unknown.


You may be very discontented with yourself. You are no genius, have no brilliant gifts, and are inconspicuous for any special faculty.

Mediocrity is the law of your existence. Your days are remarkable for nothing but sameness and insipidity, always spent within the same small room, tethered by the same short string, and surrounded by the same ignorant and uncongenial people. Yet you may live a great life, and one on which angels on their way home to God may loiter to look with admiration.

John did no miracle, but Jesus said among those that were born of women there had not appeared a greater than he.

Set yourself to say true things about Jesus Christ. Perhaps you cannot preach the set speech or studied discourse, but you may always set forth what you have known and seen of Him who still manifests Himself to loving and believing hearts. John's main business was to bear witness to the Light, that all men through Him might believe; and this business may be yours and mine also.

Do it privately

John did not only speak of Jesus to the throng, but when standing with two of his disciples, looking upon Jesus as He walked, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Let us use the opportunities of daily life to speak of our dearest Lord.

Do it experientially

"I saw, and bare record" said John. We cannot have the opened heaven and the audible voice, as he, but these are not the best evidences. For though John had enjoyed them, he doubted. We have a more sure basis, because we may daily see and handle the good Word of life.

Do it unostentatiously

John was content to be only a voice, if men would think of Christ. Be willing to be only a voice, heard but not seen; a mirror whose surface is lost to view, because it reflects the dazzling glory of the sun; a breeze that springs up just before daylight, and says, "The dawn! The dawn!" and then dies away.

But this can never be till we are altogether taken up with Christ; and when that happens there will be no effort to speak of Him, nothing unnatural, forced, or strained, no breach of the laws of Christian courtesy.

"You should have told him to mind his own business," said a gentleman to his wife, when she told him that a man of God had spoken to her about her soul.

"If you had heard him speak," was the reply, "you would have thought that that was his business."

Do not long after wealth. The men who have done most for the world have been those who could truly say, "Silver and gold have I none."

Do not long after position. Some of the worst men that ever lived were nobly born, while the uncrowned kings of the race have sprung from the ranks of poverty.

Do not long for genius. It is very doubtful whether mere genius has done much for the world. It is inclined to be spasmodic, fluctuating, unreliable.

Be content if you can do no miracle; live to give the world a true conception of the unseen Lord.

Put away self-indulgence, whether of the sense or thought, for this will undermine the better qualities of the heart. Carefully check impatience, uncharity, and insincerity of speech or manner.

Embody in heart and life the meekness and gentleness, the purity and truth of the Lord Jesus.

Do the commonest and smallest things as beneath His eye

Are you beset with chafing irritations and annoyances ? Bear them as the martyrs endured the pillory and the torture chamber.

If you must live with uncongenial people, set to their conquest by love. If you have made a great mistake in your life, do not let it becloud all of it, but, locking the secret in your breast, compel it to yield strength and sweetness.

You may do all these things by the peace of God, and without brilliant talent; and acting thus you will do more real good than:

Rank - with its aristocratic bearing,

Wealth - with its golden shower, and

Genius - with its meteoric flash.

We are doing more good than we know, sowing seeds, starting streamlets, giving men true thoughts of Christ, to which men will refer one day as the first things that started them thinking of Him; and of my part, I shall be satisfied if no great mausoleum is raised over my grave, but that simple souls shall gather there when I am gone, and say, "He was a good man; he wrought no miracles, but he spake words about Christ which led me to know Him for myself."

John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.


More books and articles by F.B. Meyer HERE

E.M Bounds on Prayer

Decades ago Baker Book House came out with The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds On Prayer. Inside are eight classic books by Bounds on prayer. For some unknown reason to me, the Christian Classics Ethereal Library has every book except for book three, "The Possibilities of Prayer." So, with some differences in the texts, here's an attempt to reconstruct Baker's book using links to online public domain texts. I've also included links to other books by Bounds on other topics. Even though many Christian websites have E.M. Bounds' books on prayer, I thought it was fitting to have links to the books at this blog too. Bounds was a Methodist minister and so wrote from an Arminian perspective. But much of his material can be of benefit to Calvinists as well. I emailed CCEL recently asking them to add "Possibilities of Prayer" to their library. Hopefully, they will soon. But in the meantime...

Book One: The Necessity of Prayer

Book Two: The Essentials of Prayer

Book Three: The Possibilities of Prayer
Here, or Here, or Here, or Here, or Here
[[UPDATE: I've found an old link to The Possibilities of Prayer at HERE]]

Book Four: The Reality of Prayer

Book Five: Purpose in Prayer

Book Six: The Weapon of Prayer

Book Seven: Power Through Prayer

Book Eight: Prayer and Praying Men


Heaven: A Place–A City–A Home by E.M. Bounds (or HERE, HERE, HERE)
(more sermons on Heaven by other authors HERE)

Preacher and Prayer by E.M. Bounds (This might be another version of "Power Through Prayer")

Satan: His Personality, Power and Overthrow by E.M. Bounds
(or Here, Here, Here)

"Prayer is not a little habit pinned on to us while we were tied to our mother's apron strings; neither is it a little decent quarter of a minute's grace said over an hour's dinner, but it is a most serious work of our most serious years. It engages more of time and appetite than our longest dinings or richest feasts."- E. M. Bounds (in Power Through Prayer)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Full Salvation Our High Privilege

The following is an excerpt from Andrew Murray's classic book Divine Healing, which is freely available online from various websites. I've collected some links HERE.


Full Salvation Our High Privilege

Luke 15:31

Please turn with me to the 15th chapter of Luke, and read the thirty-first verse: the Father said, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.”

Some time ago, when at Northfield, I was told by Mr. Moody that the best thing that he had heard at Keswick two years ago was this verse—given by some parting minister as a closing or parting text and Mr. Moody said to himself, “Why did I not see that before?”

We may talk a great deal, and write a great deal, about the father’s love to the prodigal, but when we think of the way he treated the elder brother, it brings to our hearts a truer sense of the wonderful love of the father; therefore I want to speak on this verse.

I suppose there are not a few Christians here who have got “full salvation”; but perhaps more than half those present have not got it, and, if I were to ask you, “Have you got it?” you would probably say, “I don’t understand what you mean by it, what is it?” Well, the great object of our Convention is to bring you to see that full salvation is waiting for you now, that God wants you to experience it, and, if you feel you have not got it, we wish to show you how wrong it is to be without it, and then to show you how to come out of the wrong life into the right one here and now. Oh, may all who have not got the experience pray very humbly, “Oh, my Father, bring me into the full enjoyment of Thy full salvation.”

First, the high privilege of God’s children.

Second, the low experience of many of them.

Third, the cause of this great discrepancy.

Fourth, the way of restoration, or how to get full salvation.

First, then, the elder son, being ever with his father, had, if he liked, the privilege of two things: unceasing fellowship and unlimited partnership. But he was worse than the prodigal, for, although always at home, yet he had never known, nor enjoyed, nor understood the privileges that were his. All this fullness of fellowship had been waiting for and offered to him, but not received. While the prodigal was away from home in the far country, his elder brother was far from the enjoyment of home, while he was at home.

Unceasing Fellowship. An earthly father loves his child, and delights to make his child happy. “God is love,” and He delights to pour out His own nature to His people. So many people talk about God hiding His face; but there are only two things that ever caused God to do so—sin or unbelief. Nothing else can. It is the very nature of the sun to shine, and it can’t help shining on and on. “God is love,” and, speaking with all reverence, He can’t help loving. We see His goodness toward the ungodly, and His compassion on the erring, but His fatherly love is manifested toward all His children. “Ever with me”; but, you say, “Is it possible to be always happy and dwelling with God?” Yes, certainly, and there are many Scripture promises as to this. Look at the Epistle to the Hebrews, where we read of “boldness to enter within the veil”; how often, too, does David speak of hiding “in the secret of his tabernacle,” and “dwelling under the shadow of the Almighty.”

My message is that the Lord your God desires to have you living continually in the light of His countenance. Your business, your temper, your circumstances, of which you complain as hindering, are they stronger than God? If you come and ask God to shine in and upon you, you will see and prove that He can do it, and that you as a believer may walk all the day and every day in the light of His love. That is “full salvation.” “‘Ever with Thee’; I never knew it, Lord, and so I did not enjoy it, but I do now.”

Unlimited Partnership—”All I have is thine.” The elder son complained of the father’s gracious reception of the prodigal, of all the feasting and rejoicing over his return, while to him had never been given a kid that he might make merry with his friends. The father, in the tenderness of his love, answers him, “Son, you were always in my house; you had only to ask and you would have got all you desired and required.” And that is what our Father says to all His children. But you are saying, “I am so weak, I cannot conquer my sins, I can’t manage to keep right, I can’t do this and the other thing.” No, but God can; and all the time He is saying to you: “All I have is thine; for in Christ I have given it to you. All the Spirit’s power and wisdom, all the riches of Christ, all the love of the Father; there is nothing that I have but is thine; I as God am God, that I may love, keep, and bless thee.” Thus God speaks, but it seems all a dream to some. Why are you so poor? God’s Word is sure, and does He not promise all this? See in John, chapters 14 to 16, how He tells us that we may have wonderful answers to prayer if we come in Jesus’ name and abide in Him. Do we really believe that it is possible for a Christian to live such a life?

Now, we have looked at this high privilege which is for all, so we pass on to consider our second point: The Low Experience of many of God’s dear children. What is it? Just living in poverty and starvation. The elder son, the child of a rich man, living in utter poverty!—”never had a kid,” while all that was his father’s was his—just exactly the state of many a child of God. The way He wants us to live is in the fullest fellowship of all His blessings, yet what a contrast!

Ask some if their lives are full of joy; why, they don’t even believe it is possible to be always happy and holy. “How could we get on thus in business?” they say; and they imagine that the life of fullest blessing possible to them must be one of sighing and sadness and sorrow.

I asked a dear woman at the Cape—a devoted Christian woman—how she was getting on. She answered that in her experience it was sometimes light and sometimes darkness, and argued that, as this was so in nature, the same thing held good in the kingdom of grace. So she just gave herself up to a wretched experience. But I don’t read in the Bible that there is to be any night or darkness in the believer’s experience; on the contrary, I read, “thy sun shall no more go down”; yet there are many who actually believe that there is nothing so good for them. As I said already, nothing can hide God from us but sin and unbelief. If you are in spiritual poverty, and there is no joy, no experience of victory over sin, temper, wandering, why is it so? “Oh,” you say, “I’m too weak, I must fall.” But does not the Scripture say that He is “able to keep you from falling [stumbling]”? A minister once told me That, although God is able, the verse does not say He is willing to do it. God does not mock us, beloved; if He says He is “able,” then it is a proof of His willingness to do it. Do let us believe God’s Word and examine our own experience in the light of it.

Again, are you working and bearing much fruit for God, and do people by your life see and say, “God is with that man, keeping him humble, pure, and heavenly minded”? Or are they forced to confess that you are just a very ordinary Christian, easily provoked, worldly, and not heavenly minded? That is not the life God wants us to live, brethren. We have a rich Father, and as no true earthly father would like to see his child in rags, or without shoes and proper clothing, etc., neither does our God; but He wishes to fill up our life with richest and choicest blessings. How many Sunday school teachers there are who teach, and teach, and hope for the conversion of their scholars, but yet they can’t say God uses them to the conversion of any of them. They enjoy no close fellowship with God, no victory over sin, no power to convince the world. To which class do you belong? The low-level, or the fully possessed? Confess it today. These two sons represent two classes of Christians: the prodigal—away backslidden; the elder son—out of full fellowship with God. They were alike poor, and the elder son needed as great a change as did the prodigal; he needed to repent and confess and claim his full privileges; and so ought all low-level Christians to repent, confess, and claim full salvation. Oh, both of you, come today and say, “Father, I have sinned.”

Now, we ask, What is the cause of this terrible discrepancy? Why the great difference in the experience, I wonder? Ask yourself, “What is the reason I am not enjoying this full blessing? God’s Word speaks of it, others speak of it, and I see some who are living in it.” Oh, do ask the reason; come to God and say: “Why is it I never live the life You want me to live?”

You will find the answer in our story. The elder son had an un-childlike spirit, and entertained wrong thoughts about his father; and, if you had known the real character of your Father, your life would have been all right. You have, as it were, said, “I never got a kid to make merry; my Father is rich, but He never gives. I have prayed quite enough, but God does not answer me. I hear other people say that God fills and satisfies them, but He never does that for me.”

A dear minister told me once that such a life was not for everybody, that it was of God’s sovereignty to give this to whomsoever He pleased. Friends, there is no doubt as to God’s sovereignty. He dispenses His gifts as He will; we are not all Pauls or Peters; places at the right and left hand of God are prepared for whomsoever He will. But this is not a matter of divine sovereignty; it is a question of child’s heritage. The Father’s love offers to give to every child in actual experience His full salvation. Now look at an earthly father. His children are of various ages, but all have equal right to the joy of their father’s countenance. True, he gives to his son of twenty years more money than to the son of five, and he has more to speak of to the boy of fifteen than to the child of three; but, as regards his love toward them, it is all the same, and in their privileges as children they are all alike. And God’s love to His dear children is all the same. Oh, do not try to throw the blame on God, but say, “I have had hard thoughts of Thee, O God, and I have sinned. As a father I have done for my children what I did not believe God was able and willing to do for me, and I have been lacking in childlike faith.” Oh, do believe in the love, the willingness and power of God to give you full salvation, and a change must surely come.

Now let us consider the Way of Restoration: how to get out of this poor experience. The prodigal repented and so must those children of God who have been living within sight of, but not enjoying, His promises. Conversion is generally sudden and a long repentance is usually a long impenitence. Many in the Church of Christ think it must take a long time to get into full salvation. Yes, it will take a long time if you are to do it yourself—indeed, you never will. No, no, friend, if you come and trust God it can be done in a moment. By God’s grace give yourself up to Him. Don’t say, “What’s the use? It will do no good”; but put yourself, as you are in sin and weakness, into the bosom of your Father. God will deliver you, and you will find that it is only one step out of the darkness into the light. Say, “Father, what a wretch I have been, in being with Thee and yet not believing Thy love to me!”

Yes, I come today with a call to “repent”; addressed, not to the unsaved, but to those who know what it is to be pardoned. For have you not sinned in the hard thoughts you have had of God, and is there not a longing, a thirsting and hungering after something better? Come, then, repent, and just believe that God does blot out the sin of your unbelief. Do you believe it? Oh, do not dishonor God by unbelief, but come today and confidently claim full salvation. Then trust in Him to keep you. This seems difficult to some; but there is no difficulty about it. God will shine His light upon you always, saying, “Son, thou art ever with me”; and all you have to do is to dwell in and walk in that light.

I began by saying there are two classes of Christians: those who enjoy full salvation, and those who do not understand about it. Well, if it is not clear to you, ask God to make it clear. But if you do understand about it, remember it is a definite act. Just let yourself go into the arms of God; hear Him say, “All is thine”; then you say, “Praise God, I believe, I accept, I give up myself to Him, and I believe God gives Himself now to me!”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Reformation Discussion of Extraordinary Predictive Prophecy Subsequent to the Closing of the Canon of Scripture by the Session of the PRCE

The following is a link to a Presbyterian document that argues that it is in keeping with historic Presbyterianism to admit that there are special cases in which "prophecy" (in some qualified sense) can and does sometimes function in the church after the closing of the Canon of Scripture.

Some Excerpts:

Moreover, notice Gillespie's reluctance to say that the extraordinary foretelling of the future has ceased with the closing of the canon:

...for I dare not say that since the days of the apostles there has never been, or that to the end of the world there shall never be, any raised up by God with such gifts, and for such administrations, as I have now described to be proper to prophets and evangelists, i.e., the foretelling of things to come... (George Gillespie, Miscellany Questions , Chapter 5, section 7, p. 30).

Though Gillespie will "dare not say" that the extraordinary gift of prophecy has ceased with the closing of the canon of Scripture, notice what he believes that he "must say":

I must say it, to the glory of God, there were in the church of Scotland, both in the time of our first reformation, and after the reformation, such extraordinary men as were more than ordinary pastors and teachers, even holy prophets receiving extraordinary revelations from God, and foretelling diverse strange and remarkable things, which did accordingly come to pass punctually, to the great admiration of all who knew the particulars. Such were Mr. Wishart the martyr, Mr. Knox the reformer, also Mr. John Welsh, Mr. John Davidson, Mr. Robert Bruce, Mr. Alexander Simpson, Mr. Fergusson, and others. It were too long to make a narrative here of all such particulars, and there are so many of them stupendous, that to give instance in some few, might seem to derogate from the rest, but if God give me opportunity, I shall think it worth the while to make a collection of these things (George Gillespie, Miscellany Questions , Vol. 2, Chapter 5, section 7, p. 30).

3. There is a 3rd revelation of some particular men, who have foretold things to come even since the ceasing of the canon of the word, as John Huss, Wycliffe, Luther, have foretold things to come, and they certainly fell out. And in our nation of Scotland, Mr. George Wishart foretold that Cardinal Beaton should not come out alive at the gates of the Castle of St. Andrews, but that he should die a shameful death; and he [Beaton-PRCE] was hanged over the window that he did look out at, when he saw the man of God [Wishart-PRCE] burnt. Mr. Knox prophesied of the hanging of the Lord of Grange. Mr. John Davidson uttered prophesies, known to many of the kingdom, diverse holy and mortified preachers in England have done the like (Samuel Rutherford, A Survey of Spiritual Antichrist, London, 1648, p. 42).

Assert. 2. Yet it is not altogether to be denied, but that the Lord may, in particulars of the last kind, sometimes, reveal himself to some, by foretelling events before they come, such as the famine that Agabus foretold of, or Paul's imprisonment were; of such the history of the martyrs and saints do sometimes make mention: and particularly, Athanasius is often advertised of hazards, as is recorded, and in the verity cannot be denied; and of this sort there were many at the reviving of the light of the gospel who, by foretelling of particular events, were famous, as John Huss's foretelling, within a hundred years after him, to follow the outbreaking of reformation; such, it is likely, was Hieronymus Savonarola, who was burnt by the Pope, not as was pretended, for foretelling of events, as they imputed to him, by unlawful means, but for faithful reproving of his faults, as he is described by Philip de Cumius, and other authors: of such many were in this land, as Messrs. Wishart, Knox, Welch, Davidson, etc.. And this cannot be said altogether to be made void: for, although God has now closed the canon of scripture, yet that he should be restrained in his freedom, from manifesting of himself thus, there is no convincing ground to bear it out, especially when experience has often proven the contrary in the most holy men. (James Durham, Commentary upon the Book of Revelation, Glasgow, 1788 edition, cited from SWRB bound photocopy, Vol. 2., pp. 219-224).

Next, Gillespie notes:

... although such prophets be extraordinary, and but seldom raised up in the church, yet there have been, I dare say, not only in primitive times, but amongst our first reformers and others; and upon what Scripture can we pitch for such extraordinary prophets, if not upon those scriptures which are applied by some to the prophesying brethren, or gifted church members? (George Gillespie, Miscellany Questions, Vol. 2, Chapter 5, section 7, p. 30).

There is difference to be put betwixt the simple foretelling of an event, which may be of God, and a conclusion which may be drawn therefrom; this may be of ourselves, as we may see in the predictions of these, Acts 21 [vs. 11-PRCE], who foretold of Paul's imprisonment at Jerusalem, yet was not that to divert him from his going there, as many collected; that therefore was not from God, as Paul's pressure in the spirit to go notwithstanding, does clear; every such prediction therefore cannot make be made a rule of duty, seeing the Lord may have other good ends of trial, advertisement and confirmation in it. And we will not find, that any have made use of such particular revelations, as from them to press a duty upon others, that would not otherwise be warrantable, although, when it concurs with other grounds, it may have its weight for swaying in lawful things (James Durham, Commentary upon the Book of Revelation, Glasgow, 1788 edition, cited from SWRB bound photocopy, Vol. 2, p. 222).

Wayne Grudem once surveyed the historical evidence for the apparent operation of the gifts of the Spirit among Reformed, Reformational, and Puritan ministers. He wrote in his book The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Revised Edition):

I may add a personal note at this point: When I first found this material in Baxter, I photocopied these two pages and sent them to J. I. Packer, whose doctoral dissertation at Oxford was on Baxter's work. Packer sent back the following note:

By the way, some weeks ago you faxed me an extract from Baxter about God making personal informative revelations. This was the standard Puritan view, as I have observed it—they weren't cessationists in the Richard Gaffin sense.15 [bold added by me] - This quote can be read directly from HERE.
That statement came from J.I. Packer who is well known for being well versed in the writings of the Puritans. 

Also highly recommended:    The charismatic covenanters by Steve Hays

see also this webpage: Extraordinary Gifts and Church Officers 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

God's Promises and Our Warranted Expectation of Their Fulfillment

In response to Rhology HERE, I wrote up my understanding of the relationship between God's promises and our warranted expectation of their fulfillment. Here's a copy of my response (with minor corrections & additions):

Rhology, I understand if you don't respond to this post. I think this conversation has run it's course (you probably do too). I always enjoy discussions with knowledgeable committed fellow believers like you. But for the record I wanted to respond again to something you said one more (& last) time.

2) Just b/c we seek something doesn't mean God always gives it.
As Christians (and especially as Calvinists) we believe that all our prayers should be submitted to God's Sovereign will which He has purposed according to His superior wisdom which is coupled with His love.

However, I believe some things are more clearly His will than others. Also, as Calvinists we distinguish between God's revealed will and His decretive will (which is secret). Since we cannot know what God's secret will of decree is, we cannot specifically pray for those things. We can only submit to it, praising God that it's for the ultimate best. However, when it comes to God's revealed will, there are some things that we can pray for which are 1. specifically promised/commanded in Scripture, 2. generally promised in Scripture, 3. things not specifically promised but are consistent and in keeping with His general promises, 4. things contrary to His revealed will. Then we have to also distinguish between conditional and unconditional promises. For example, God's promise to keep the current cosmos ordered till His purposes are fulfilled are unconditional (Jer. 31:35-36; Isa. 66:22). God will do it regardless of whether we pray and obey. But, many of God's promises are conditional. Additionally, God teaches us (and promises by that teaching) that our ability to fulfill the conditions are from Him (Isa. 26:12; Phil. 2:12-13). Moreover, God teaches that He has ordained to what degree we will fulfill those conditions at any given time (Eph. 1:11; 2:10; Prov. 19:21; 20:24; 21:1; Jer. 10:23).

To the degree that something is God's will or promise, and to whatever degree of consistency (or inconsistency) we fulfill their conditions: 1. God will fulfill His promises (whether they be specific or general); 2. we can have confidence to believe we may, can (or definitely will) receive them (1 John 3:21-22; 5:14-15). As well as having Biblical warrant to persist and persevere in prayer until we receive their fulfillment (Luke 11:8; 18:1, 7; Matt. 7:7-11).
For example, God's revealed will clearly and specifically commands us to (and promises us that we can by His grace) glorify God (command: Matt. 6:9; 1 Cor. 10:31; promise: John 15:5, 16) and pursue our sanctification (command: 1 Thess. 4:3; promise 1 Thess. 5:23-34). Since these are specifically God's revealed will, we have warrant to pray for these things with boldness.

Speaking of perseverance, George Mueller said: 

"It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly continue in prayer, until we obtain an answer; and further, we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing."

The question then is whether spiritual gifts are specifically or generally promised; and whether they are promised with or without conditions. Same thing for other promises like wisdom (Jehovah Ori: 1 Cor. 1:30; Ps. 27:1; James 1:5-8), justification (Jehovah Tsidkenu: 1 Cor. 1:30; Isa. 23:6; 53:11; Rom. 10:9-10), sanctification (Jehovah Mekaddishkem: 1 Cor. 1:30; Exo. 31:12-13; Lev. 20:7-8; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; Heb. 12:14), redemption (Jehovah Goel: 1 Cor. 1:30; Is. 49:26, 60:16; Rom. 3:24; 8:23), provision (Jehovah Jireh: Gen. 22:14; Matt. 6:8, 11 25-26, 30-33; Phil. 4:19; 2 Cor. 9:8, 10-11), healing (Jehovah Rapha: Exo. 15:26; 23:25-26; Ps. 103:2-3; Mal. 4:2; James 5:14-16ff; Acts 3:16; Mark 1:41; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; et cetera, et cetera, etc. See my blog HERE). I could type up more references for promises of protection, long life, perseverance in the faith, and much more, but you all get the picture. There are also dozens more Jehovah compound names.

Paul tells us, "For all the promises of God in Him [i.e. in Christ] are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us" (2 Cor. 1:20). Yet we know instances of Christians or OT believers who weren't protected (but died as martyrs), starved to death (for not compromising), died of sickness, made foolish choices, got morally worse as they got older (e.g. Solomon). To summarize my resolution to the apparent contradiction between God's promises and our (sometimes) lack of experience of them, I would point to the distinctions I made above concerning specific, general, unconditional, conditional promises and God's sovereign purposes. Regardless of God secret intentions, I believe we are to persist in seeking for the fulfillment of God's promises since 1. God commands us to and 2. tells us their fulfillment is often conditioned on faith, prayer, persistent prayer, and obedience (and God commands us to fulfill those conditions).

When it comes to spiritual gifts, and assuming some form of continuationism, it's clear that God generally promises spiritual gifts and conditions their giving based on earnestly desiring and pursuing them in prayer (1 Cor. 14:1, 39; James 4:2; Luke 11:9-13; Matt. 7:7-11). From those same passages (and others) it's also clear that all Christians OUGHT to have spiritual gifts. Some might even argue that Scripture declares and explicitly teaches ALL Christians DO have spiritual gifts. If that's true, then (it has been argued) they remain LATENT until we pursue them and we find out which spiritual gifts we have or until God reveals to us which we have and which others God may want to additionally give us.
  In addition to the Calvinism's distinctions of God's 1. Will of Decree and 2. Will of Demand (also known as, "will of command", "revealed will", "prescriptive will", or "preceptive will"), I also believe in 3. God's Will Delight. I suspect this is the same as R.C. Sproul's distinction and description of God's Will of Disposition (or dispositional will).  It refers to God's general benevolent attitude toward His creation and creatures and what He's willing to do for it and them.

For example, God's revealed will during Christ's earthly ministry was that the Gospel be only preached, heralded and offered to the lost House of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6; 15:24; Acts 3:26; 13:46; Luke 24:47). Nevertheless, because of God's dispositional will (which is alluded to in many passages in God's revealed will in Scripture; e.g. Ps. 145:8-9), Jesus (with God the Father's approval) answered the prayer and responded to the faith of the Syrophoenician woman who was a Gentile. Even though it was contrary to God's revealed will. Initially, when the woman asked Jesus for mercy on her daughter, Jesus kept quiet and didn't respond to her (Matt. 15:23a). His disciples begged Him to command her to leave (Matt. 15:23b). He chose not to send her away even though He reiterated His mission was only for "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 15:24). The woman persisted and asked for mercy again (Matt. 15:25). Then Jesus responded by saying, "It is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." Then she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table." By her insightful response, Jesus gladly granted her request and commended her for her great faith. From this passage we can see that all along Jesus was secretly willing to grant her request even though it contradicted God's revealed will, since He didn't send her away (when He could have). Evidently, His intention was to draw out her faith by His initial refusal. A refusal which was based on God's revealed will concerning His mission. This is an instance where God's Will of Disposition/Delight contradicted God's Revealed Will. But because of the woman's persistent faith, she was able to appropriate what God was willing to grant in one sense, which He was not willing to grant in another sense.


I also believe in 4. God's Directional Will. It refers to situations in which God reveals to us outside of Scripture (but which doesn't contradict Scripture) a course of action He would have us take. Such impressions, leadings, or commands may have differing degrees of clearness, certainty and urgency.
This would have been a common situation before the close of the Bible's Canon. Cessationists and (and some semi-Cessationists) would deny that such directions are possible (or are EXTREMELY rare) after the close of the Canon or the death of the last Apostle. However, continuationist believe that they can or do happen even if they are rare. An example might be waking up in the middle of the night to a voice saying there's a fire in the house and to get out. The voice may be directly from God or the voice of an angel commissioned by God to protect you (and if necessary to speak to you).

Friday, August 16, 2013

Steve Hays on Cessationism

In a matter of a few short weeks apologist Steve Hays has been able to post multiple blogs critiquing some cessationist arguments against continuationism. Hays has described himself as a semi-cessationist in the past. At the time of this blog posting Hays does not consider himself a continuationist. Neverthless, his insight, honesty and clear thinking on the subject is useful to cessationists and continuationists alike. In these following blogs Hays manages to point out many of the serious problems with the arguments cessationists often use. He does a masterful job at uncovering and critiquing the terrible arguments that some cessationists employ. To be fair, he also gives critiques of some continuationists and continuationist arguments. I've listed the blogs from the oldest to the newest so that one can get a sense of the flow of the argument between Steve and his interlocutors. Being a continuationist myself, I've contributed comments to many of these blogs. I'll be adding to the list whenever appropriate.

Note: I usually didn't include Steve's blogs where he only posted an external link to someone else's webpage article. If I did, it was because there were immediate comments in that blog and Steve aggressively interacted with the comments. That means it's possible that such blogs (which were merely links) may eventually (down the line) have comments in them which Steve interacts with. Those blogs will not have been included in the list below because they remained comment free early on. Sometimes I've also included blogs posted by other Triabloggers because Steve decided to make insightful comments or respond to other comments at the bottom.

Was Kathryn Kuhlman a charlatan?

Christian debunkers

Skeptical cessationism

Healing a few

Debunking continuationism

Is continuationism false by definition?

Mediate and immediate miracles

In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son

The Church of Hume

Strange Fire conference

Can God be chained?

What is prophecy?

Hypocrites chiding hypocrites

"Extrabiblical revelation"

Primary and secondary sources


Apostolic signs

Butler for the prosecution

Speaking in tongues

Ghost Hunters

Cessationism, testimonial evidence, and historical knowledge

Feminist cessationists

Don't bother me with the facts!

Clueless in MacArthurville

Reporting miracles

Will the real Dan Phillips please stand up?

Laying the foundation

"Acts 4:16-level miracles"

Cessationism and selective standards

MacArthurite preterists

Who's redefining what?

"Woefully naive and theologically Pollyannish"

Preaching to the bathroom mirror

900 foot Jesus

In-house narratives

Is Wayne Grudem a heretical cult-member?

Cessationism and the argument from miracles

Hume in sheep's clothing

Purveyors of a false gospel

Brown v. MacArthur

Fissures in dispensationalism

Bob Larson

Deflecting miracles

"Gutless enablers"

Divine freedom

Brown v. Turk

Judging by appearances

Zero tolerance cessationism

Bridge burning

Seeing in a mirror

When the perfect comes

Pauline prophecy

Catholic miracles

Revive Us Again

Disambiguating the charismatic debate

Rearguard cessationism

Strange bedfellows

Short-sighted objections

Soul brothers

Perspectives on Africa

Strike three and counting

Are Biblical miracles "undeniable"?

George Müller: charismatic Calvinist

Is this charismatic?

Denying the undeniable

Charismatic miracles

Healers and healing

Demarcating miracles

Wedge tactics

Some charismatic demographics

Clarifying charismata

James Randi in sheep's clothing

Strange fire or misfire?

Shooting themselves in the foot

Prophecies will pass away

The two witnesses

Comical Ali

Critical thinking on modern miracles

The latter day drought

Testing the spirits

Putting God in a box

The prayer of faith will save the sick

What cessationism is not...or is it?

The charismatic covenanters

Throwing the baby out with the paintbrush

Hiding behind a girl

Charismatic Christianity in Africa

Hodge on prophecy

Same product, different label

Have the charismata ceased?

Brown v. Waldron

Postmortem on the Waldron/Brown debate

Dreaming of Jesus

Bring my cloak

Fire and smoke

The prayer of faith

Tongues of fire

Redshirt recruits

The Protestant Polemic on Post-Biblical Miracles

Hacking nature

"Modern apostles"

On prophecy and prayer

Keener reviews Strange Fire

Piper on the Strange Fire conference

How cessationism denies the self-attesting authority of Scripture

Cessationism and continuationism, never mind the Torah, what do we think happened in the golden age when the canon was forming?

Charismatic glossary

My rodeo clown beats your rodeo clown!

MacArthurite mythmakers

Was Spurgeon clairvoyant?

Was Martyn Lloyd-Jones a cessationist?

Lloyd-Jones on cessationism

All or nothing

Do you believe in miracles?

Fathoms of doubt

Token faith in miracles

Swinging at the piñata

Naturalizing miracles

Visions of Jesus

Ufology and miracles

The truth is out there

What makes a miracle miraculous?

Sancho, saddle up Rocinante

Sacerdotal cessationism

Brush fire

Praying for amputees

NT quality miracles

Can the leopard change its spots?

Undeniable exorcisms

Fred's decoy

Instant healing

To whom are miracles undeniable?

Playing with atheist matches

Founding the church

The healing debate

Primer on Eph 2:20

Modern xenoglossy

Parsing theological metaphors

Matches in the dark

Complete healing

Weeding out charlatans

Proximal prayer

Science & Healing

Spotting charlatans

Compartmentalized Christians

John 14:12

Miracles and medicine

A simple method for weeding out charlatan faith-healers


They shall take up serpents

The golden calf

Massive elephants

Pastor, Inc.

Old gossipy wags

"Subjective dreams and visions"

"Woefully out of touch"

Raising the dead

"How to recognize a false prophet"

Blown about by every wind of doctrine

Fragging Craig Keener

Life in the compound

Shilling for radical feminism

Taking shortcuts on miracles

The Monsters On Maple Street

Apostolic miracles

Does Cessationism Still Stand?

The Spirit of prophecy

Huguenot miracles

Correcting Fred's falsehoods

Let God Arise

Guiding light

God is my co-pilot

An audible voice


Cases of xenoglossy

Charismata in church history

Gifts of healing

Heaven Tourism

Dousing strange fires

Exorcism and healing

Availing prayer

How prevalent were the charismata?

Does God heal?

Bubbleboy cessationism


Recommended Link:

Links on the Subject of Miracles in the Context of Craig Keener's Recent Book