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Posts Tagged ‘The Holy Spirit

The Awakened State of Sinners

John Wesley called the awakened state of man as “the almost Christian.”  Wesley believed that most people in the church were that way, they were aware of their sins but they had not truly become children of God.  They were servants of Christ but not sons.  All sons are servants but not all servants are sons.

Wesley believed that Romans 7 described the awakened state.  While nearly all Calvinists that I know of teach that Romans 7 is the normal state for Christians and Martin Luther taught that a Christian is both a sinner and a saint at the same time, Wesley taught (along with Arminius I might add) that Romans 7 describes people who are not saved.  This is what Wesley deemed the awakened state, where a person is aware of their sins and aware that they are not pleasing to God so they seek to please God by their works or by their flesh.  This cannot merit salvation (Romans 4:5).  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:7-8).

Sadly many in the modern church are in that state as well.  Many of the seeker sensitive churches preach an easy gospel that is without conviction, without true repentance, without a true knowledge of God’s holiness and our sinfulness before God.  They preach a message of “come to Christ” but they fail to convict sinners of their sins.  They ignore the Bible’s call to repentance (Mark 1:15-16).  They fail to preach repentance for the forgiveness of their sins (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19).  They seek to lead people to Christ using the goodness of God but fail to preach His just wrath nor His forbearance and patience with sinners (Romans 2:4).  Just this week I listened to two local seeker churches “sermons” and both were focused on the flesh rather than God, on what the sinner can get from God rather than repentance from their sins, and they both gave “altar calls” where the sinners just said a prayer and were said to be saved by grace.  Both failed to preach the gospel where sinners see their sins and repent of their sins against God.  Both failed to present Christ as the propitiation for our sins (John 1:29).  Both preached a message of “Christ wants to fill the void in your life.”  That is not the gospel.  That is what many people are hearing week after week in many churches.

The Arminian should preach the law of God to produce the awakened state.  Of course, the Spirit of God is the one who produces mighty conviction of sin (John 16:8-11).  The almost Christian will see their sins and their need for Christ but they don’t know how to respond to the call of God to salvation.  People believe (because of their sinfulness) that they must do something to earn salvation.  This is human thought through and through.  World religions attest to this fact.  Religious people are consistently trying to earn God’s favor, His forgiveness, or His salvation.  They think that they will be saved if their good works out number their bad works.  Others believe that their actions (sacrifices, prayers, etc.) will bring salvation.

The truth is that only Jesus Christ can save us from the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  Isaiah the prophet saw the work of Christ in Isaiah 53:4-6:

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

The Lord Jesus is the hope for our salvation.  Jesus is the hope for the awakened sinner who sees his sins but doesn’t know how to flee from them.   The hope for the sinner is not rehabilitation or reform.  The hope for the sinner is to be born from above (John 3:3-7).  The hope is for the Spirit of God to regenerate the sinner to bring about new life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Titus 3:5-7) and this only comes through faith.

Romans 3:21-26 is full of the richness of God’s mercy and grace given freely to the sinner in Christ Jesus our Lord:

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The sinner is justified before God only grace through faith in Christ alone (Romans 5:1).  The sinner is not justified before God by a combination of human works and God’s grace (as many cults teach).  We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  Why is this?  Because the sinner cannot merit God’s salvation.  Consider good works for a moment.  How many good works must we do to earn God’s forgiveness?  What works qualify as “good” works?  How do we know that our wicked hearts will not produce pride in our “good” works?  How will we know if God approves of our “good” works?  Are there any “good” works which we consider good but God considers as bad?  How can we know?

The awakened sinner, writes Wesley, fears God but does not love Him.  The Christian loves God and fears Him (Romans 11:20-22; 1 John 4:18).  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7) and the Christian has a healthy fear of God (Hebrews 10:31).  Too many do not fear God but sadly few actually love Him either.  The awakened sinner fears God and knows that the judgment of God is just in punishment of their sins but they do not love God.  They seek to win God’s approval by reforms, by vows, by religion.  They find Romans 7 to be true, that they are too sinful to do any “good” works.  Their flesh simply will never please God.  They find in their awakened state that they are fully aware that they are sinners but have no peace with God.

The gospel is the solution.  The gospel brings peace.  Jesus is the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6).  Jesus came to bring peace (Ephesians 2:14).  Jesus came to bring us not just peace in the storms of life (as many seekers preach) but He came to bring us peace with God whom we have greatly offended by our wicked sins.  The holy God of the universe is the one that we have violated.  He is the offended one.  When we talk about salvation we are saying that we are being saved from something and that something is the wrath of God that we justly deserve for breaking His laws and shaking our fists at Him.

The awakened sinner is not saved.  The duty of the evangelist is to preach Christ to the awakened sinner and call the sinner to faith and repentance through Christ.  The blessed Holy Spirit aids us in this preaching.  The Spirit works on the sinner’s heart to free the will to believe freely the gospel of God’s grace and mercy.  May we preach Christ and Him crucified for our sins.

Books on Speaking in Tongues

After my review of chapter seven of John MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire, I wanted to post titles I would suggest for further study on the issue of speaking in tongues.  I will post books that are both for and against speaking in tongues.

Pentecostal-Charismatic Books on Speaking in Tongues

1.  Glossolalia Phenomenon edited by Wade Horton.  A classical Pentecostal study of speaking in tongues from Church of God (Cleveland, TN) perspective.  While dated, it is useful.

2.  Spiritual Gifts: A Fresh Look by David Lim.  A scholarly look at spiritual gifts from a classical Pentecostal perspective.

3.  What Meaneth This?  by Carl Brumback.  An early Pentecostal work on speaking in tongues.  While dated, it is worth reading to see the desire to be scholarly in their approach to the issue.

4.  1 & 2 Corinthians: A Logion Press Commentary by Stanley Horton.  Dr. Horton is a top scholar.  This work examines 1 and 2 Corinthians but also Horton spends time on the issue of spiritual gifts and speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14.

5.  What the Bible Says about the Holy Spirit by Stanley Horton.  This work, while primarily focused on the Person of the Holy Spirit, does deal with spiritual gifts and speaking in tongues.

6.  The Beauty of Spiritual Language by Jack Hayford.  This book focuses on speaking in tongues in regard to prayer.

7.  The Glory Within: The Interior Life and the Power of Speaking in Tongues by Corey Russell.  I have not read this work.  I only include it based on the title.

Books That Differ With The Pentecostal-Charismatic View

1.  The Speaking in Tongues Controversy by Rick Walston.  I read this book years ago and it was a very well written book.  Dr. Walston is a former Assemblies of God pastor who is not angry with the movement at all but writes with a sincere desire to communicate the truth.  I highly recommend this work.

2.  New Testament Teaching on Tongues: A Biblical and Historical Survey by Merrill Unger.  The late Dr. Unger wrote this book that surveys speaking in tongues.  While dated, it is worth reading.

3.  The Corinthian Catastrophe by George Gardiner.  Gardiner was a Pentecostal who was stranded during WWII and decided to take his Bible and study the issue of tongues.  His conclusion was that the Pentecostal movement was wrong on the issue of tongues.  While dated, it is worth reading.

4.  Perspectives of Pentecost by Richard Gaffin.  This well written book is a book that, while against the Pentecostal movement, is fair and loving.  Gaffin believes that many charismatics do love the Lord but they are wrong on the issue of Pentecost.  I enjoyed this book.

5.  To Be Continued?  Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?  by Samuel  Waldron.  I have not read this book but have heard Waldron speak.  He is loving and gentle with those whom he disagrees.

6.  Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament on the Gift of the Spirit by James Dunn.  This is the standard work that most evangelicals follow though they do not know it.  This book is the standard view that the baptism in the Spirit occurs at salvation and Dunn’s conclusion is that the Pentecostal movement is wrong on this vital issue while leads to other errors.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/03/2014 at 10:00 AM

A Chapter By Chapter Review of Strange Fire (Introduction)

Over the next few posts I will be looking at Dr. John MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire.  This book, as the subtitle suggests, is about the danger of offending the Holy Spirit with counterfeit worship.  The book is aimed at correcting the abuses and errant teachings of the charismatic movement.  The book also is aimed at teaching the truth about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers.

Let me make a few general observations before I begin to tackle the book chapter by chapter.  Let me first highlight the positives and then the negatives.

The Positives

I appreciated the biblical basis that MacArthur places on the work of the Holy Spirit.  Over and over again MacArthur quotes from Scripture as the final and absolute authority concerning the work  of the Spirit.  I appreciated that MacArthur focuses on the Word of God to build a doctrine of the Holy Spirit.  Of course, I would expect this from MacArthur.  He is known for his excellent preaching of God’s Word.

I appreciated the number of footnotes to back up what MacArthur was saying or whom he was quoting.  As with Charismatic ChaosMacArthur does list names.  Like Paul the Apostle in 2 Timothy 1:15, MacArthur names teachers from the charismatic movement that he disagrees with such as Benny Hinn or Kenneth Copeland (both Word-Faith teachers) or even mainline Pentecostals such as Jack Hayford.  From what I have heard, MacArthur and Hayford use to golf together from time to time.  The footnotes helped the reader to see that MacArthur is not seeking to just lift quotes from charismatic preachers.  He wants the reader to research them if they so wish.

Finally, I appreciated the emphasis on the ministry of the Lord Jesus and the Apostles.  MacArthur shows that the healing ministry of Jesus and His chosen Apostles was unique.  He leaves no doubt that the healings that we find in the Gospels or Acts were clearly miraculous healings that demonstrated the power of God for the purpose of the gospel (Hebrews 2:3-4).

The Negatives

My biggest complaint would be that MacArthur (and he says that he was intentional) paints the charismatic movement with a broad brush.  As I have written before, I have known many godly Pentecostals.  All of them could have read this book and agreed with much of what MacArthur wrote (though they would obviously disagree with MacArthur over Spirit-baptism and the gifts of the Spirit with emphasis on tongues and prophecy).  To lump godly Pentecostals together with Benny Hinn or Copeland was not fair.  MacArthur would not want to be lumped with Fred Phelps (who is a Calvinist by the way).  MacArthur would reply that the experience element is the problem here though and my godly Pentecostals are just as guilty of promoting false teachings about the Spirit as these Word-Faith preachers are.

MacArthur is a cessationist.  He seeks to build his case in this book but oddly, at least to me, he seeks to build it using the bad examples mainly from the Word-Faith movement.  It seems both movements, whether cessationist or continuists, often build their cases from what the Bible doesn’t say than from what it does say.  This is true of MacArthur.  His strongest arguments seem to be from comparing modern healings to those in Scripture or from his exegesis of 1 Corinthians 13:8.  I feel this is a weak point for MacArthur.  Though I found myself agreeing with much of what he wrote, I felt his case was not very well done from Scripture.  The case is just weak from the beginning.

Lastly, I, of course, rejected MacArthur’s Calvinism thrown into the book here and there.  While I could read the book comfortably, MacArthur states that one of the errors of the modern charismatic movement is largely that they are Arminian in their view of salvation.  At one point MacArthur is writing about the sealing of the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) and he is clear that he believes that this is teaching the eternal security of the believer.  He then attacks charismatics by asserting that they often hold to apostasy (or in his words, “lose their salvation”) and thus have no true security in the Spirit.  This is yet again another broad brush as there are charismatics who hold to eternal security (Sam Storms, John Piper, Mark Driscoll, John Wimber, Jack Deere).  Further, Arminians, such as myself, would reject the notion that we “lose our salvation” but rather we teach that security comes through necessary perseverance (as Calvinists would teach but place the emphasis on God keeping us while ignoring personal responsibility in my estimation).

Closing

Overall this was a good book.  I will begin now a chapter by chapter look at Strange Fire.  I hope to show the many positives this book has while also pointing out areas of disagreement.  MacArthur, like us all, is a fallen man who is not infallible.  He can and does make mistakes.  I know he would agree with me that we need to take 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 seriously and examine all things by the inerrant and infallible Word of God.  I plan to do just that by the grace of God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/11/2014 at 1:15 PM

Best Pentecostal/Charismatic Books on the Holy Spirit

I promise this to be the last post on the issue of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement and the Holy Spirit.  This blog is not a blog that focuses on these issues and even we Arminians don’t fully agree on these issues.  Some Arminians are Pentecostals while many are not.  I myself was raised in the Assemblies of God (Royal Rangers and all!) and was saved in an A/G church in 1992.  I even was in full-time ministry for about 10 years in the Assemblies of God so I know much about being a Pentecostal.

The following are books that I have read from a Pentecostal-Charismatic perspective on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.  I found it ironic that Dr. John MacArthur stated at The Strange Fire Conference that charismatics have not offered any theological works to the Church.  I would disagree.  The following books would show that if they are read and studied.  These books are not placed in any given order.

1.  What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit by Stanley Horton.  A classic A/G book on the Spirit that once was required reading for all A/G students.  Dr. Horton remains one the greatest Pentecostal scholars in history.

2.  The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Perspective by Anthony Palma.  A great book that focuses on the doctrine of the Spirit.  Palma’s chapters on the baptism in the Spirit and on his comparison of Ezekiel 36:25-27 with Joel 2:28-32 is worth reading.

3.  Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere.  Deere, a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor, writes a defense for the sign gifts in this book.  One of the best books I have ever read that deals with cessationism.

4.  The Gift of Prophecy by Wayne Grudem.  One of the most attacked books by cessationists.  This book focuses on what the Bible teaches about prophecy and how God can use it today.  A well written book.

5.  What Meaneth This by Carl Brumback.  Brother Brumback is best remembered for his book on the Trinity against the Oneness Pentecostals but this book focuses on the issue of speaking in tongues.  Brumback argues not just for the gift of tongues but also the initial, physical evidence of the baptism in the Spirit.

6.  Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?  4 Views edited by Wayne Grudem.  This book allows four major views on the gifts of the Spirit.  Dr. Sam Storms writes for the charismatics and Dr. Douglas Oss for the Pentecostals.  A very good book that I have read three times already.

7.  The Holy Spirit: A Pentecostal Interpretation by L. Thomas Holdcroft.  This book is an excellent introduction to the Pentecostal teaching on the Spirit.  While very much evangelical (except the chapter on Spirit-Baptism), the book is well written.

8.  Spiritual Gifts: A Fresh Look by David Lim.  The commentary on the gifts of the Spirit is standard Pentecostal but what makes this book worth reading is Dr. Lim’s exegesis on 1 Corinthians 12-14.  His commentary on 1 Corinthians 14 is very well done.

9.  The Speaking in Tongues Controversy by Rick Walston.  A well written and thought out book on the issue of speaking in tongues in regard to the baptism in the Spirit.  Dr. Walston’s book will challenge you if you hold to speaking in tongues as the initial, physical evidence.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/21/2013 at 10:31 AM

Praise God For Pentecost!

Pentecost Sunday.  The Church celebrates the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church.  We rejoice that God has poured out His Spirit just as He promised He would through Joel the prophet (Joel 2:28-32).  Peter the Apostle saw the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost as the fulfillment of that prophecy (see Acts 2:16).  Just as the Father had promised the coming of the Spirit through the Old Testament Prophets so the Lord Jesus had promised His own disciples just ten days earlier that He would send the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4-5).  The disciples obeyed the Lord Jesus and for ten days they prayed in the upper room waiting Jesus’ promise (Acts 1:14).

The day of Pentecost marked a transformation in the plan of God.  The people of God would now be the people of the Spirit.  All people could enjoy being the people of God through the ministry of the Spirit (John 10:16).  The gift of the Spirit would not be given to only the Jews but to all people who would come and be saved through faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 2:21; Galatians 3:13-14).  In fact, Paul the Apostle would later write in Romans 8:9 that if any person does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.  The baptism by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ is essential to salvation (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

I rejoice that the Comforter has come.  When my mother passed away last August, the Holy Spirit was a sweet friend to me.  I rejoiced time and time again at the words of Jesus in John 14:26-27 (KJV):

26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The Comforter was a dear friend to me as I grieved the loss of my mama.  I sensed His sweet presence.  I sensed His praying (Romans 8:26-27).  I sensed His security (Ephesians 1:13-14).  I sensed His gentle loving hand upon me.  He brought me through.

And He has done this other times as well.  How often have I felt like giving up and felt like I didn’t want to pray anymore.  Yet the gentle love of the Comforter has always been my strength to help me rise up and seek God.  I rejoice that He is not just my Comforter but He also is my convictor (John 16:8).  He gently deals with me about my sins.  The Holy Spirit never condemns me but He gently and lovingly shows me my sins.  He does not lead me to condemnation (Romans 8:1) but He gently leads me to forgiveness in Christ (1 John 1:9).  What a precious friend He is.

This day, I rejoice in the Comforter.  I rejoice that He has come.  I rejoice that He has filled me.  I rejoice that He abides with me both now and forevermore.  I pray that I would not grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30).  I pray that He would be my guide forever.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/19/2013 at 6:58 PM

The Purpose of Receiving the Holy Spirit

Just wanted to give a short post on the subject of receiving the Holy Spirit.  Why does God give us the gift of the Holy Spirit when we repent (Acts 2:38)?  Jesus promised His disciples in John 14:16-17 that He would send the promised Spirit.  Jesus said that the Spirit of truth dwelt with them (in the person of Jesus; 14:6) and He would be in them.  John 7:37-39 clearly shows that the Spirit was not in the disciples until after the cross.  Many, like myself, believe that John 20:22 is when the Apostles received the Spirit.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would enable the disciples to be His witnesses.  The Holy Spirit does this in two ways.  He enables us to live godly lives for the glory of God (Galatians 5:16-17; Titus 2:11-14).  Secondly, the Spirit of God empowers us to boldly preach the Lord Jesus Christ to the lost.  We need the Holy Spirit to do effective witnesses for the glory of God.  We are not effective witnesses merely because we can debate with an unbeliever.  What we need is a godly life filled with the power of God to enable us to live for the Lord and to speak of Him.

Hebrews 12:14 says that without holiness no one will see the Lord (NIV).  This is true both in the eternal sense and in the temporal.  When we are living a holy life, it shows the salvation of the Lord.  Sanctification begins at the new birth (Hebrews 10:10, 14) and yet we are to continue to die to self and to sin (Romans 6:11-23).  Ephesians 4:22-24 says:

22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

This can only happen as we trust in the Holy Spirit.  This is why we need the Holy Spirit.  God does not give us the Spirit merely to give us an emotional experience but He gives us His Spirit to help us to be His witnesses and to glorify His name.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2013 at 10:00 AM

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