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Posts Tagged ‘Signs’

The cloud, and smoke, and flame, though they were symbols of heavenly glory, nevertheless curbed men’s minds as with a bridle, that they might not attempt to penetrate farther

April 30, 2014 3 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Consideration of an objection taken from various passages in Moses. The Cherubim and Seraphim show that images are not fit to represent divine mysteries. The Cherubim belonged to the tutelage of the Law.

It is true that the Lord occasionally manifested his presence by certain signs, so that he was said to be seen face to face; but all the signs he ever employed were in apt accordance with the scheme of doctrine, and, at the same time, gave plain intimation of his incomprehensible essence. For the cloud, and smoke, and flame, though they were symbols of heavenly glory, (Deuteronomy 4:11,) curbed men’s minds as with a bridle, that they might not attempt to penetrate farther. Therefore, even Moses (to whom, of all men, God manifested himself most familiarly) was not permitted though he prayed for it, to behold that face, but received for answer, that the refulgence was too great for man, (Exodus 33:20.) The Holy Spirit appeared under the form of a dove, but as it instantly vanished, who does not see that in this symbol of a moment, the faithful were admonished to regard the Spirit as invisible, to be contented with his power and grace, and not call for any external figure? God sometimes appeared in the form of a man, but this was in anticipation of the future revelation in Christ, and, therefore, did not give the Jews the least pretext for setting up a symbol of Deity under the human form. The mercy-seat, also, (Exodus 25:17,18,21,) where, under the Law, God exhibited the presence of his power, was so framed, as to intimate that God is best seen when the mind rises in admiration above itself: the Cherubim with outstretched wings shaded, and the veil covered it, while the remoteness of the place was in itself a sufficient concealment. It is therefore mere infatuation to attempt to defend images of God and the saints by the example of the Cherubim. For what, pray, did these figures mean, if not that images are unfit to represent the mysteries of God, since they were so formed as to cover the mercy-seat with their wings, thereby concealing the view of God, not only from the eye, but from every human sense, and curbing presumption? To this we may add, that the prophets depict the Seraphim, who are exhibited to us in vision, as having their faces veiled; thus intimating, that the refulgence of the divine glory is so great, that even the angels cannot gaze upon it directly, while the minute beams which sparkle in the face of angels are shrouded from our view. Moreover, all men of sound judgment acknowledge that the Cherubim in question belonged to the old tutelage of the law. It is absurd, therefore, to bring them forward as an example for our age. For that period of puerility, if I may so express it, to which such rudiments were adapted, has passed away. And surely it is disgraceful, that heathen writers should be more skillful interpreters of Scripture than the Papists. Juvenal (Sat. 14) holds up the Jews to derision for worshipping the thin clouds and firmament. This he does perversely and impiously; still, in denying that any visible shape of Deity existed among them, he speaks more accurately than the Papists, who prate about there having been some visible image. In the fact that the people every now and then rushed forth with boiling haste in pursuit of idols, just like water gushing forth with violence from a copious spring, let us learn how prone our nature is to idolatry, that we may not, by throwing the whole blame of a common vice upon the Jews, be led away by vain and sinful enticements to sleep the sleep of death.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 11-Henry Beveridge Translation

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Today’s Charismatic Tongues Examined Pt 3

April 14, 2011 1 comment

The past few weeks we have looked at the Charismatic use of tongues in our present churches. We have discovered that the tongues that are practiced today, among Charismatics, are not the same as the tongues manifested among the early Church. First the early church spoke in other languages and not just several syllable words that are nothing more than gibberish. Secondly the tongue gift used in the early church was a sign to the unbelieving Israelites and not for the believing Gentiles. Today we will examine why Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning tongues.

It seems that every Charismatic Church, that I have ever visited, who have manifested strange utterances during the service, have always been out of order in their use of their so-called tongues. Men or women will begin to use strange utterances at any or all times during the service. I have even heard, through close acquaintances, that in the Church of God denomination that certain people will begin to use tongues even while the preaching is going on.

Paul wrote no instructions on how to preach the word of God. In other words he did not say that a preacher must wear a robe or not wear a robe. He did not say that the minister ought to sit, stand, kneel, preach from a pulpit, a table, etc….. He wrote very little concerning how to partake of the Lord’s Supper, save only that an individual ought to examine himself and see whether he is worthy to partake of it. Paul also wrote no instructions on how to baptize individuals, yet when it comes to the spiritual gifts and particularly tongues, Paul wrote three whole chapters and one chapter centers around nothing but the right use of tongues.

Why did Paul spend so much time on the subject of gifts and particularly the subject of tongues? The reason is obvious; the Corinthian Church was out of order in their use of this gift. Most Charismatics today believe that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 12-14  in order to give the Corinthians the knowledge of how to use spiritual gifts. This is only half the truth. Paul’s entire letter to the Corinthians is a rebuke and not a commendation. In other words Paul wrote a letter that was actually a rebuke of the Corinthians for all kinds of sins, abuses or misuse of sacraments, namely the Lord’s Supper. The first letter to the Corinthians is a rebuke by Paul for division, vain oratory, fornication, going to law against one another before unbelievers, getting drunk and taking communion, depriving the poor of communion, misuse and extreme abuse of sign gifts, and so forth. Therefore chapters 12-14 are chapters that are meant as a rebuke of the Corinthians misuse and even pagan manifestation of certain so-called gifts, instead of chapters on the use of spiritual gifts, as some Charismatics of today think.

Therefore I will say that even if the so-called tongues movement of today were genuine, then it is usually manifested against the order laid down by Paul in the first book to the Corinthians. Since God is not the author of confusion as Paul states, then we should not practice anything that leads to confusion in the Church.

Though I had much more that I wanted to go into, nevertheless in order to keep this post from being to long, then I will conclude by saying that today we have seen that Paul’s writing of the first letter to the Corinthians was in order to correct abuses that were present among the Corinthian Church. Therefore we have discovered that the chapters that deal with spiritual gifts were actually written in order to bring order to a church, which was out of order.

Next week we will examine the right use of tongues as laid down by the Apostle Paul.

Hershel Lee Harvell Jr.