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The ‘Word of God’ and quotes from Reformers via social media Pt 3

In my first post I discussed a strange phenomenon or development which occurred while I was driving over the road last year, namely: that many on social media which call themselves Christians, have developed an antipathy for the Words of God. You can read my first post here. In my second post I went on to discuss the quoting of ‘Reformers, creeds, confessions, and men who are for the more part theologically sound in the things of God.‘ You can read that post here.

In my last post I had two primary questions concerning the quoting of ‘Reformers, creeds, confessions, and men who are for the more part theologically sound in the things of God.‘ I covered the first question in my last post, which was:

First. Why have Christians, especially Reformed Christians stopped reading quotes from men who have come before us or creeds and confessions?

My goal today is to discuss the second question which is:

Secondly. Why does the only attention they (my quotes) draw is a negative comment, instead of reading them in context?

In answering this question I will state that I believe many think of themselves as grown up or beyond the scope of learning anything new from men who have come before us. In other words, they took their baby steps with Calvin, Luther, Knox, Spurgeon, and so forth, and now they need something deeper. I have talked to many Pastors/theologians on social media. Some of these were prideful and wouldn’t give me much of their time because I didn’t have that degree abbreviation associated with my name. Many of these are no longer on my friends list because they fell into some heinous sin, which brought shame on the name of Christ. The heinous sin which brought shame on the name of Christ wasn’t their downfall. Their downfall was the primary, underlying, main sin which they clung too and that was the sin of pride.

The main and primary reason of which I believe that my quotes draw a negative comment is because of laziness. That is right. I said that it is because of laziness. In other words, because we live in a society that is fast paced, we do not take the time to search a quote out and read it in context, to see if it is reading differently than what we perceive it to read. When I post a comment to social media it is not some obscure comment of which I searched the net and found. I list all the credentials under it in order that anyone who reads it may be able to go back and read it in context. Again, I list the author of the comment, the publisher of the book, the name of the book, and the exact page number where it may be found in the book from which the quote was taken. Just as we do not interpret a single scripture by itself, but instead interpret it in the light of context and the whole council of God, even so we should not interpret a single quote in isolation.

Another reason my quotes draw a negative comment is because it is not from that persons theological camp. A Baptist doesn’t think the quote is good because it isn’t from a Baptist theologian and a Paedobaptist doesn’t think the quote is good because it isn’t from a Paedobaptist. I once had a Covenanter state that we should only quote from our own theological camp. I even had one person tell me that I shouldn’t be quoting from Sir Isaac Newton’s: ‘Observations of the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John.‘ I asked them, ‘Why not?’ They said, ‘Don’t you realize that he was a Unitarian?’ It is funny that John Gill didn’t seem to mind quoting from him in his ‘The Sure Performance of Prophecy.

There may be other reasons why my quotes draw a negative comment, but I will conclude with this reason:

My quotes draw a negative comment because words have changed meaning or have bad connotations attached to them. For instance, many Baptists will not use the word ‘sacraments,’ when speaking of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper because of the use of the term ‘sacraments’ among Roman Catholics. These Baptists prefer to use the term ‘ordinances.’ Many of them do not realize that the seventeenth century Baptists used the term ‘sacraments’ when they wrote concerning Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

For instance: A few weeks ago I placed a quote up be Martin Luther and a brother of whom I highly respect and love, had a problem with one of Luther’s words. Now to be fair and honest, I probably should not have quoted from Luther’s Table Talk. This book, which was not written by Luther, but by his students, possibly should be read primarily for entertainment, due to the fact that the material contained therein is second hand testimony. Roman Catholics like to attack the writings of Luther. It usually falls on deaf ears when you point out that Luther didn’t write the Table Talk. However, a honest, recent Roman Catholic scholar pointed out that the Table Talk does not qualify unconditionally as a primary source. He stated, “the real distortion of the Luther image occurred with the Table Talk.”[1] This is because the Table Talk was written by Luther’s students. Luther had students who stayed in his house and as they gathered around meals or took walks in the garden, Luther would expound on questions or topics, of which were brought up by his students or his friend. Therefore, being notes on what Luther said, they cannot and should not be read as actual quotes from Luther.

However, I did quote from the Table Talk and here is the quote:

“A good preacher should have these properties and virtues: first, to teach systematically; secondly, he should have a ready wit; thirdly, he should be eloquent; fourthly, he should have a good voice; fifthly, a good memory; sixthly, he should know when to make an end; seventhly, he should be sure of his doctrine; eighthly, he should venture and engage body and blood, wealth and honor, in the word; ninthly, he should suffer himself to be mocked and jeered of every one.”

My theological friend responded with 1 Timothy 3:1-7. This list in 1 Timothy are the qualifications for the office of Bishop or Overseer. There is a vast difference between listing the qualifications of an office and listing good qualities which could reside in those holding the office. However, I do recognize that Paul also includes qualities that should reside in those who are seeking this office. So even if Luther did actually make this comment to his students, nevertheless, the qualities or properties for a good preacher which are listed, are not bad in and of themselves. Also the very next paragraph is a qualifier or explains why Luther may have made this comment and that is why my theological friend should have searched the matter out and seen why Luther may have made the comment found above. Here is the next paragraph from the Table Talk:

“The defects in a preacher are soon spied; let a preacher be endued with ten virtues, and but one fault, yet this one fault will eclipse and darken all his virtues and gifts, so evil is the world in these times. Dr. Justus Jonas has all the good virtues and qualities a man may have; yet merely because he hums and spits, the people cannot bear that good and honest man.”

Notice that the Table Talk, if it be Luther’s actual words or not, states that the defects in a preacher are soon spied out, even though the minister may have ten good virtues. And the Table Talk lists an example of a minister who had all good qualities, except for the fact that he hummed and spit while he preached and the congregation could not bare that. (Examples from other theologians will be found below stating some of the same things the Table Talk does concerning the use of the voice in preaching.)

My theologian friend admitted that some of the qualities listed in the above quote for a good preacher are good qualities, but God never expects a man to be eloquent nor to have a good voice. This word ‘eloquent‘ I believe is what really had him up in arms over the quote. This is due to what I stated above, namely that when evil or bad connotations get attached to a word, then people will not use or accept that word.

Some believe that when Paul stated: ‘And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 1 Cor. 2:1, that he was stating that he did not come to them with eloquent preaching. Now if we define eloquence as the Corinthians did, then certainly Paul did not come to the Corinthians with rhetorical speech of the art of sophistry. The art of oratory was huge among the Corinthians. If someone had a problem in court with one of the members of their community, then they would hire them an orator to speak for them. The content was not as important as the rhetoric. If the speech was beautiful and eloquent, then it would captive the audience and move them towards the point of view of the one who had hired them. Certainly Paul did not come to Corinth with this form of rhetoric, However, if eloquence is taken in its basic definition of ‘fluent or persuasive speaking or writing,’ who could argue that Paul wasn’t eloquent? For certainly no more eloquence could be found in words than the words he wrote the Corinthians:

1Co 2:1-7 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

So when the Table Talk uses the expression ‘eloquence‘ it is not stating that a good preacher must be gifted in rhetorical speech, but must be eloquent in the subject of which he is speaking.

I will close this article with a few quotes:

Tell me what you think in the comment section below.

Notice that Ames speaks about a ministers speech, gestures, and voice while preaching:

Concerning delivery, Ames advises that speech and gestures should be: “completely spiritual, flowing from the from the very heart; showing a man very conversant in exercises of piety, who also has persuaded himself beforehand, and thoroughly settled in his own conscience, those things to which he endeavours to persuade others; and into which, finally, there is Zeal, Charity, Mildness, Freedom, and Humility, with grave authority. The pronouncing of the speech must be both natural, familiar, clear, and distinct, so that it may be fitly understood; and also agreeable to the matter, so that it may move the affections. Gal 4.20, I would now be present with you, and change my voice, because I am in doubt of you. Among others, here are two voices that are most to be criticized: the one which is heavy, slow, singing, and drowsy, in which not only the words are separated with a pause, the same as a comma, but even the syllables in the same word are separated, to the great hindrance of the understanding of things. The other voice which most offends here is that which is hasty and swift, which overturns the ears with too much celerity, so that there is no distinct perceiving of things. That type of speech, pronunciation, and action which would be ridiculous in the senate, in places of judgment, or in the Court, is even more to be avoided in a Sermon.”

William Ames- The Marrow of Sacred Divinity, Chapter 35- Of ordinary Ministers, and their Office in Preaching.

Notice Spurgeon speaks first negatively concerning the use of the voice and then positively concerning the same:

“You are not singers but preachers: your voice is but a secondary matter; do not be fops with it, or puling invalids over it, as so many are…….On the other hand, do not think too little of your voice, for its excellence may greatly conduce to the result which you hope to produce…..I once heard a most esteemed minister, who mumbled sadly, compared to “a humble bee in a pitcher,” a vulgar metaphor no doubt, but so exactly descriptive, that it brings to my mind the droning sound at this instant most distinctly, and reminds me of the parody upon Gray’s Elegy: —What a pity that a man who from his heart delivered doctrines of undoubted value, in language the most appropriate, should commit ministerial suicide by harping on one string, when the Lord had given him an instrument of many strings to play upon! Alas! alas! for that dreary voice, it hummed and hummed like a mill-wheel to the same unmusical turn, whether its owner spake of heaven or hell, eternal life or everlasting wrath. It might be, by accident, a little louder or softer, according to the length of the sentence, but its tone was still the same, a dreary waste of sound, a howling wilderness of speech in which there was no possible relief, no variety, no music, nothing but horrible sameness.”

Charles Spurgeon- Lectures to My Students Vol 1, Lecture 8, On the Voice

He does warn not to play act while in the Pulpit:

“This is a most important matter. Of all things that we have to avoid, one of the most essential is that of giving our people the idea, ‘when we are preaching, that we are acting a part. Everything theatrical in the pulpit, either in tone, manner, or anything else. I loathe from my very soul. Just go into the pulpit, and talk to the people as you would in the kitchen, or the drawing-room, and say what you have to tell them in your ordinary tone of voice.”

Charles Spurgeon- Lectures to My Students, Lecture 3, Anecdotes and Illustrations

Notice Edwards, possibly the greatest mind ever produced on American soil, uses the term ‘eloquence‘ in a positive and not a negative sense:

“We know that when men are greatly affected in any matter, and their hearts are very full, it fills them with matter for speech, and makes them eloquent upon, that subject and much more have spiritual affections this tendency, for many reasons that might be given.”

Jonathan Edwards- The Present Revival of Religion, Part 4, Section 2- Another cause of errors in conduct attending a religious revival, is the adoption of wrong principles

Here is an example of eloquence used in the negative sense and then used in the positive sense:

I inquired of Dr. West, Whether Mr. Edwards was an eloquent preacher. He replied, “If you mean, by eloquence, what is usually intended by it in our cities; he had no pretensions to it. He had no studied varieties of the voice, and no strong emphasis. He scarcely gestured, or even moved; and he made no attempt, by the elegance of his style, or the beauty of his pictures, to gratify the taste, and fascinate the imagination. But, if you mean by eloquence, the power of presenting an important truth before an audience, with overwhelming weight of argument, and with such intenseness of feeling, that the whole soul of the speaker is thrown into every part of the conception and delivery; so that the solemn attention of the whole audience is riveted, from the beginning to the close, and impressions are left that cannot be effaced. Mr. Edwards was the most eloquent man I ever heard speak.”

Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards, Chapter 25- Concluding Remarks

Apollos is called an eloquent man in scripture: (chiefly because he was fluent in the scriptures)

Act 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.

Commentators on Acts 18:24

John Gill– an eloquent man; in speech, as well as learned, wise, and “prudent”, as the Ethiopic version renders it:

John Calvin– Furthermore, lest any man should think that Apollos’ eloquence was profane or vain, Luke saith that it was joined with great power, namely, that he was mighty in the Scriptures. Which I expound thus, that he was not only well and soundly exercised in the Scriptures, but that he had the force and efficacy thereof, that, being armed with them, he did in all conflicts get the upper hand. And this (in my judgment) is rather the praise of the Scripture than of man, that it hath sufficient force both to defend the truth, and also to refute the subtilty of Satan.

J. P. Lange, Philip Schaff– He was an eloquent man (λόγιος means both learned and eloquent; as the main fact, however, viz., that he was learned in the Scriptures, is specially mentioned, the word is to be here taken in the latter sense). As his knowledge of the Scriptures is represented as having been very great (δυνατὸς ἐν τ. γρ., i.e., it constituted his strength), it is quite probable that, as an Alexandrian, he was indebted both for his skill in the interpretation of the Old Testament, and for his eloquence, to the school of Philo.

Footnote:

[1] Franz Posset- ‘The Real Luther,’ p. 30.

The ‘Word of God’ and quotes from Reformers via social media Pt 2

In my last post I discussed a strange phenomenon or development which occurred while I was driving over the road last year, namely: that many on social media which call themselves Christians, have developed an antipathy for the Words of God. You can read my last post here.

Today, I would like to discuss point 2 of what I normally post on social media, which is:

2. Quotes from Reformers, creeds, confessions, and men who are for the more part theologically sound in the things of God

I have found, after I came off the road, that quotes which used to generate a lot of attention, rarely draw any attention at all now. I say they rarely draw any attention at all now, however, I have found that when those calling themselves Christians, comment on them; it is usually to say something negative. So my discussion of this strange phenome-non will center on two points:

First. Why have Christians, especially Reformed Christians stopped reading quotes from men who have come before us or creeds and confessions?

Secondly. Why does the only attention they draw is a negative comment, instead of reading them in context?

First. It seems to me that men have given up the great teachers who have come before us. I have had one Pastor tell me, “I do not care to study Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Dagg, Pink, or Spurgeon. I learn through reading scripture by myself.”

It is true, that we are to read scripture. I highly recommend that everyone pull out the Bible and give it a read. Start at Genesis and work your way to Revelation and then start over. However, the Pastor who told me that he only learns by reading scripture himself works 65 plus hours a week. There isn’t much time left to read the Bible, study it in context, and prepare his sermons appropriately. Now I am not knocking working in order to support your family, but as a man who stands in the pulpit, I would rather drive an older vehicle, live in a smaller house, and wear used clothes than to neglect the study of God in order to feed God’s sheep.

This Pastor has committed at least two errors in his study of the things of God:

1st. As heirs of the Protestant Reformation we do not cry, solo Scriptura, but sola Scriptura.

Solo Scriptura basically means ‘just me and my Bible.’ One can get well aquainted with the scriptures by studying one’s Bible by themselves, however, since we all approach scripture with certain biases, then we will never come to the right interpretation, except we be taught.

A good course in hermeneutics will aide the student of scripture to rightly interpret the text. For instance: We all can read the morning paper and the interpretation of what is in it comes spontaneously because we live in the era of the events taking place, of which we are reading. This is not so with the Bible. There is a huge gap between the interpreter of scripture and the text of which he is interpreting. Hermeneutics helps to bridge this gap by applying rules to what we are studying. Hermeneutics isn’t only used with respect to the Bible, but with all pieces of ancient literature. Since there is a time separation between us and what is in the Bible, then there is a historical gap; in that our culture is different, there is a cultural gap; in that the original text was in another language than our own, there is a linguistic gap; in that the documents originated in another country, there is a geographical gap and a biological gap. In that usually a totally different attitude towards life and the universe exists in the text it can be said that there is a philosophical gap. The last could relate to how the universe was put together or who put it together.

Solo Scriptura has lead to many erroneous doctrines, not to mention many cults who call themselves Christians. All one would have to do is look at the doctrines of cults like: The Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and Mormonism to recognize that one is not supposed to approach the study of scripture with a ‘just me and my Bible’ attitude.

The battle cry of the Reformation, however, was sola Scriptura and basically means that scripture is sufficient as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. It means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in scripture. However, this view does not overlook tradition. I realize that the word ‘tradition’ has some bad connotations attached to it because of the Roman Catholic Church’s view of tradition, however, when the Protestant Reformers spoke of tradition they spoke of something entirely different than what the Roman Catholic Church meant.

Reformed Theology shares much in common with other communions of historic Christianity. The sixteenth-century Reformers were not interested in creating a new religion. They were interested, not in innovation, but renovation. Though they rejected tradition as a source of divine revelation, nevertheless they did not despise the entire scope of Christian tradition. They believed that the Church had learned much in her history and therefore embraced the doctrines articulated and formulated by the great ecumenical councils, including the doctrine of the Trinity and of Christ’s person and work formulated at the Council of Nicea in 325 and of Chalcedon in 451.

To close this point: We are not called to live as a hermit and hide in a cave somewhere with just our Bibles and study scripture on our own.

2nd. This Pastor has also rejected the gifts of God. God’s Word says:

Eph 4:11-14 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…

These men of God were gifts unto the Church. Whereas Ephesians 4:8 states this: “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” These gifts were given for the edifying of the body of Christ, that we might grow in Christ and not be children who are tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. Therefore, Christ taught the apostles, the apostles taught the Churches, which elders sprung from, and those elders taught other elders. Much of what Luther and Calvin knew concerning the proper interpretation of scripture came from Augustine, Bernard, Hilary, and many others.

Therefore, to reject the study of men who have gone before us, is to reject the gifts God has given to the Church. It seems to me that some think that they have grown so much, as to not need to be taught anything new. When I state, ‘taught something new,’ I do not mean a new novel or original doctrine, but mean that as long as we are in this body we are always learning concerning the things of God. Once we get to heaven all knowledge will not be given to us for we are not omniscient, but we will always be learning the things concerning God. So this is the primary reason I see that many now pass over quotes from men who have gone before us and that is because many think that they have outgrown studying the things concerning God through men who have gone before us or through the gifts Christ has given to the Church.

I do not want to make this post to long, so I will close here and pick back up next week with:

Secondly. Why does the only attention my quotes from men who came before us or my quotes from creeds and confessions draw is only a negative comment, instead of reading them in context?

Tell me what you think, in the comment section below, of why there has been a distaste for the study of the things of God.

Reformers’ pro-life views recounted

February 16, 2017 Leave a comment

By David Roach

EDITOR’S NOTE: During the coming months, Baptist Press will periodically publish stories observing the 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, Oct. 31, 1517.

NASHVILLE (BP) — With pro-life rallies and events making headlines in the past few days, ethicists and historians have issued a reminder that the pro-life ethic has deep historical roots, including advocacy by the 16th-century Protestant Reformers.

Reformation leaders John Calvin and Martin Bucer both condemned willful termination of a pregnancy directly while Martin Luther addressed the dignity of unborn children and the glory of childbearing. Anabaptists likewise dignified unborn life.

The Reformers’ “anthropology — their doctrine of humanity — led them to confess that abortion was the killing of a human being,” said Union University bioethicist and provost C. Ben Mitchell.

“Similarly, for pro-life evangelicals, biblical anthropology leads…..

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Does God Change?

By Bill Hier

It is of note, and the most great importance, to observe that none of the Reformers or Puritans conceived of God as having to “take on covenantal/relational properties” which were in addition to His “essential essence.” Such thoughts of God as He is, and in how He defines His being and existence in His Scripture, were not only unknown to the orthodox of the church in all ages, but especially unknown to the orthodox of the church in that most orthodox time of theological exposition of the Scriptures by very learned men of God, the Reformation and post-Reformation Scholastic period.

They dealt with those who posited God as being able to experience emotions as the consequence of His relating to men, and classified them as heretics (primarily the Socinians, among others).

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

How Christians Will Know They Can Join Hands With Rome

by Eric Davis

 

“With Reformation Day coming up, this is a good time to recall why the Reformers departed from Roman Catholicism. In our day especially, it seems that many Christians have history-amnesia when it comes to the importance of what God did through the Reformers. During the Reformation, great confusion existed regarding what was, and was not, the true church of Christ. Rome had asserted itself as the true church for centuries, and continues to do so today. However, as the Reformers recognized then, Christians must follow in step today by recalling that joining hands with Rome is a departure from Christ.

To be clear, this is not to say that everyone who sits in a Roman Catholic church is not a Christian. What it is saying is that several changes must occur before Roman Catholicism, by the book, can be considered biblical Christianity. And the men and women of the Reformation understood this, hence their necessary break with Rome. In their case, and ours, joining Christ necessitates breaking with Rome and coming under Christ means coming out from under Rome.”

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Free Ebook-The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation

September 8, 2014 1 comment

by William Cunningham

Available in ePub and Kindle .mobi formats

This book is made up of a number of Articles contributed by Dr Cunningham to the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, with a few additions from his manuscript Lectures on Church History. The substance of these Articles originally formed a series of carefully prepared Lectures, delivered to his Class, on the leading Reformers and the character of their Theology ; and they were subsequently transferred to the pages of the Review in which they appeared, with almost no alteration beyond extensive enlargements and additions, and such references to the more recent criticisms upon the Reformers as were suggested by the books reviewed. They were written upon a plan, and as an orderly series of discussions, embracing the leading historical characters, and the great developments of scriptural truth at the time of the Reformation ; and were intended by their Author for separate publication as a connected whole. Happily the series was completed before Dr Cunningham’s death; and it now exhibits a full and systematic view of the leading agents, and of the spiritual principles, of that great theological and ecclesiastical movement in the sixteenth century, which constitutes the greatest event in the history of the Church of Christ since the Apostolic Age, and which has bequeathed to us, in the present day, both our Church creeds and our Church polity. The alterations which the Editors, in the exercise of their discretion, have made on the original text, have been more numerous than important, and in no case have affected the substance of the thought or reasoning. They have been guided in these alterations, sometimes by the manuscript corrections made by Dr Cunningham himself; sometimes by the desire to avoid those repetitions and references to passing events, which naturally occur in a series of Articles appearing at intervals in the pages of a periodical ; and sometimes by a conviction — which many years of confidential intercourse with the Author on the subjects handled, as well as his own last instructions to them, enabled and warranted them to act upon — of what he himself would have done had he been permitted to revise, with his own eye, the sheets before publication. The quotations and references have been verified and corrected, with the kind assistance of the Rev. John Laing, Librarian to the New College.

The Editors expect to be enabled in a short time to issue two other volumes similar to the present, and comprising a full review of the leading theological discussions that have taken place in the Christian Church since the Apostolic Age.

JAMES BUCHANAN.
JAMES BANNERMAN.

New College, Edinburgh, April 1862.

Table of Contents

Leaders of the Reformation
Luther
The Reformers and the Doctrine of Assurance
Melancthon and the Theology of the Church of England
Zwingli and the Doctrine of the Sacraments
John Calvin
Calvin and Beza
Calvinism and Arminianism
Calvinism and the Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity
Calvinism and Its Practical Application
The Reformers and the Lessons From Their History

 

Source: [Monergism.com]

Appendix on James 5:14-16 Pt 2-Reformers and Puritans

Arthur PinkSecond, the position generally taken by the Reformers and Puritans, was, that this anointing the sick with oil was not designed as a sacrament, they being but two in number: baptism and the Lord’s supper. They pointed out that so far from this being a standing rite, the apostles themselves seldom used oil in the healing of the sick: they wrought cures by a touch (Acts 3:7), by their shadow (Acts 5:15), by handkerchiefs (Acts 19:12), by laying on of hands (Acts 28:8), by word of mouth (Acts 9:34).
Nor does it appear that they were permitted to employ this gift indiscriminately, no not even among brethren in Christ dear to them, or why should Paul leave Trophimus at Miletum sick (2 Timothy 4:20) or sorrow so much over the illness of Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:27)? In this too God exercised His sovereignty. But what is more to the point, this supernatural endowment was only of brief duration:

“But that grace of healing has disappeared, like all other miraculous powers, which the Lord was pleased to exhibit for a time, that He might render the power of the Gospel, which was then new, the object of admiration forever” (Calvin).

A list of the “charismata” or supernatural gifts which obtained during th apostolic period is found in 1 Corinthians 12:

“to another faith, by the same Spirit; to another the gift of healing, by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues” (vv. 9, 10.).

They were designed chiefly for the authenticating of Christianity and to confirm it in heathen countries. Their purpose, then, was only a temporary one, and as soon as the canon of Scripture was closed they were withdrawn. As 1 Corinthians 13 plainly intimates “whether there be prophecies (inspired messages from God) they shall fail (to be given any more); whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be (supernatural) knowledge, it shall vanish away” (v. 8). It was the view of Matthew Henry, Thomas Manton, John Owen, and in fact nearly all of the Puritan divines, that James 5:14, 15 refers to the exercise of one of those supernatural gifts which the church enjoyed only in the first century.

Among the leading arguments advanced in support of this contention are the following. First, the “anointing with oil” clearly appears to look back to Mark 6:13 where we are told of the twelve, they “anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” Second, the positive promise of healing, verse 15, seems to be an unconditional and general one, as though no exceptions, no cases of failure, were to be looked for. Third, “healing” was certainly one of the miraculous gifts specified in 1 Corinthians 12. Moreover, it hardly seems likely that the “faith” here mentioned is an ordinary one: though whether it differed in kind or only in degree is not easy to determine. There was the “faith of miracles”—either to work them or the expectation of them on the part of those who were the beneficiaries, as is clear from Matthew 21:24; Mark 11:24; 1 Corinthians 13:2. The “anointing with oil’’ after the praying over the sick is regarded as a seal or pledge of the certainty of healing or recovery.

On the other side, we find such a deeply-taught man and so able an expositor as Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680) insisting on the contrary. He pointed out, first, that James 5:14 is quite different from Mark 6:13, for here the anointing with oil is joined with prayer, whereas prayer is not mentioned there, but only the miraculous gift. Second, the ones to be sent for were not specified as men endowed with the gift of healing, but the “elders,” and there is nothing to show that all of them possessed that gift. The “elders” were standing officers who were to continue. Third, the ones to be healed are the “sick” or infirm, but extraordinary healing would have extended further—to the blind, the deaf and dumb, and would have reached to unbelievers instead of being restricted to church members: cf. 1 Corinthians 14:22. Fourth, the means commanded: oil and prayer on all such occasions, whereas the extraordinary gift of healing was not so confined, but was frequently effected without any means at all, by mere
word of mouth.

Arthur W. Pink-Divine Healing-Is It Scriptural?

Sam Storms and Two Types of Tongues

April 22, 2014 1 comment

In last week’s post, we introduced a series about the gift of tongues. Cessationists generally define the gift of tongues as the supernatural ability to speak authentic foreign languages that the speaker had not previously learned. Continuationists, by contrast, generally allow for the possibility that the gift produces speech that does not correspond to any human language. The question we are asking in this series is whether or not that possibility is biblically warranted.

Does the Gift of Tongues Produce Non-Human Languages?

Most continuationists acknowledge that modern tongues-speech predominately consists of something other than human foreign languages.

Of course, some continuationists point to anecdotal evidence to claim that modern glossolalia (tongues-speaking) can sometimes consist of human languages. But even supporters of modern tongues, like George P. Wood of the Assemblies of God, admit the infrequency of such reported occurrences. After commenting on alleged accounts “where one person spoke in a tongue that a second person recognized as a human language,” Wood is quick to state: “Admittedly, such occurrences are rare” (from his review of Strange Fire, published Jan. 13, 2014).

 
Read the entire article here.

Are Tongues Real Languages?

February 25, 2014 5 comments

Here is an outstanding article that explains what the gifts of tongues actually consisted of and was believed to be: by the Early Church, the Reformers, and the founders of the modern Pentecostal movement. All affirmed that this gift was the ability to speak in other languages, of which the speaker had never learned. The founders of the modern Pentecostal movement also confessed that this is what the gift of tongues consisted of, until they began to speak in utterances and realized that none of them had actually spoken a foreign language. The founders of the modern Pentecostal movement, then came up with a new doctrine, in which they taught, that some tongues are unintelligible prayer languages. This false view of tongues is not found anywhere in scripture. Here is a portion of the article:

 

We begin today’s post with a question: In New Testament times, did the gift of tongues produce authentic foreign languages only, or did it also result in non-cognitive speech (like the private prayer languages of modern charismatics)? The answer is of critical importance to the contemporary continuationist/cessationist debate regarding the gift of tongues.

From the outset, it is important to note that the gift of tongues was, in reality, the gift of languages. I agree with continuationist author Wayne Grudem when he writes:

It should be said at the outset that the Greek word glossa, translated “tongue,” is not used only to mean the physical tongue in a person’s mouth, but also to mean “language.” In the New Testament passages where speaking in tongues is discussed, the meaning “languages” is certainly in view. It is unfortunate, therefore, that English translations have continued to use the phrase “speaking in tongues,” which is an expression not otherwise used in ordinary English and which gives the impression of a strange experience, something completely foreign to ordinary human life. But if English translations were to use the expression “speaking in languages,” it would not seem nearly as strange, and would give the reader a sense much closer to what first century Greek speaking readers would have heard in the phrase when they read it in Acts or 1 Corinthians. (Systematic Theology, 1069).

But what are we to think about the gift of languages?

If we consider the history of the church, we find that the gift of languages was universally considered to be the supernatural ability to speak authentic foreign languages that the speaker had not learned.

 

Read the entire article here.

The Five Points of Calvinism

February 18, 2014 Leave a comment

This quote comes from an article entitled: The Five Points

 

The five points are a great summary of what the Bible has to say about the way God saves human beings [see, for example 1, 2, 3]. But the five points are not the starting point in understanding and worshipping God. Believers should be more interested in God himself than in what he does for us. God is worthy to be praised because of who he is: one God in three persons, ‘infinite, eternal and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth’. If I were asked which is the most important doctrine for Christians to believe, I would say unhesitatingly, the doctrine of the Trinity: that doctrine underlies all other Christian doctrines, including the doctrines of salvation. I would prefer to hear believers praising God joyfully for the love that has existed eternally between the three persons, than for the mercy we have received from him. Isolating the five points from the whole biblical presentation of God’s being can be dangerous.

 

The Five Points: important and providential

 

And yet the five points are important. They do give us a clear and systematic overview of what the Bible says about God’s plan of salvation. And a number of you have said how helpful it’s been to hear the plan of salvation presented in this systematic way.

How did the five points come to be formulated in the first place? By a strange and wonderful providence of God. We only have that five-point outline because of the attempts of false teachers to undermine the teaching of God’s Word.(1) By God’s overruling, their attacks on the truth led to this wonderfully clear summary of the Bible’s teaching on God’s plan of salvation….

 

Arminius and his followers

 

We call the false teachers Arminians. They were followers of Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch minister who was appointed as professor of theology at LeidenUniversity in 1603. As a minister in the Reformed church, Arminius had vowed to uphold the teaching of the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism – these were the two documents that summarised the teaching of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands. But Arminius had come to doubt what those documents teach about God’s plan of salvation. Those who listened to him preach began to suspect that secretly he had turned away from the teaching of the Bible and the churches. But he denied it. When he was invited to become professor at Leiden, again he vowed that he would be faithful to the Confession and the Catechism. He did not keep that vow. Rather he used his position to spread the false doctrines that he had come to believe…..

 

Read the entire article here.

 

(1) Emphasis on this sentence is mine and not the emphasis of the author of this article