Category Archives: Guest Posts

My Testimony (by David Fuller)

Guest Post by: David Fuller (Non-Cessationist)


As a follow-up to my previous post, Tongues And The Church Today, I thought it would be relevant to share my personal testimony, because I think I understand the perspective of those who view the Pentecostal movement as something strange, and maybe even regard it with some suspicion. I grew up Baptist. My parents and grandparents are Baptists, we attended a Baptist church, and I attended Baptist schools from 4th grade on. I’m extremely grateful for the upbringing which God provided me. Baptists tend to be sticklers when it comes to the Word of God, which unfortunately can, and did, lead to the errors of legalism, but it also basically meant that I spent my all of my developmental years in Bible school, resulting in my mind being inundated with God’s Word to the point that it became inextricably woven into every aspect of my thinking. I was also taught to use the skills of critical thinking as did the Bereans in the book of Acts, who “searched the scriptures, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). Spiritual gifts, however, is one area my teachers tended to shy away from. Generally, if someone was talking about speaking in tongues, it was because they were debunking Pentecostal teaching.

What I had gathered from the teaching I received, was that the gifts of the Spirit today consists of God bestowing on various people a supernaturally inspired disposition toward a particular virtue or area of service to the body. Since the Bible says that tongues and prophecy would one day cease, this was believed to have already occurred, assuming that “when that which is perfect is come” refers to the completion of the New Testament writings, and the compilation of the scriptures into a single volume, an interpretation which I think is debatable, since we still “see through a glass, darkly”, and not “face to face”. (1 Corinthians 13:8 – 12)

My earliest memories include being read the Bible and taught the gospel story. The first time I remember being consciously aware of God is when a man from a gospel group singing at our church prayed the prayer of salvation with me, and explained what it means to be saved, and be forever in God’s mighty hand. I was seven, I hadn’t actually asked to be saved, and I didn’t completely understand at the time, but I remember that encounter like it was an hour ago, and I don’t remember anything else around it. I believe now it was God’s way of personally introducing Himself to me. Knowing my understanding was incomplete at the time, when I was thirteen I asked my father to pray with me again, just to be sure it was my decision.

When I was 19, I worked at a dept store. One day a guy asked me where the men’s section was, and then asked if I was a Christian, and I said yes. He asked when I got saved, and when I told him I was young, he said, “Oh, your one of those.” He had met the Lord about a year prior, and proceeded to talk with joyful exuberance about how wonderful it was to know the Lord, and he felt sorry for those who had been saved so long they didn’t seem to share his excitement. I never saw him again, but I couldn’t help seeing his point, because I knew that my Christian life was more about believing the right doctrines, and keeping the right rules. It was not the experience of wonder and irrepressible joy that he seemed to exude, and that bothered me, so I began to pray about it. I wondered, should I feel that way? Was he just acting like a typical new believer, and some maturity would temper him down eventually?

Not long after, a coworker at the same store invited me to a young adults bible study group, hosted by a couple from a local Assembly of God congregation. I went, and got to know them, and began attending their church. Of course, I was all questions. What’s it like? How does it happen? Do you go into a trance? Do you know what language it is? What’s the point of it? Etc, etc. All I could squeeze out of them were dreamy looks and vague sounding descriptions of sublime feelings. I was prayed over a few times, and laid hands on, and even anointed with oil. I was told to just let go, that I might feel my tongue begin to move around in my mouth, as if it wanted to say something, and to just let it flow and trust God. I didn’t feel anything like that, or anything at all, really, but I tried anyway, tried to make the kind of sounds they were making, but I felt silly because I knew that’s all I was doing. I wanted answers.

So I checked out their church library, where I found a book called, “A Handbook on Holy Spirit Baptism”, by Don Basham. It was precisely what I had been looking for. The author, having traveled and spoken extensively, had naturally been confronted with all sorts of questions, and had compiled them into what was essentially a FAQ on tongues and Holy Spirit Baptism. The book was organized into several sections, with each question being a chapter heading, followed by an answer/explanation with pertinent scriptural and historical precedents, and designed so you didn’t have to read it in order. Near the end of the book, he had included a short prayer as a guide for requesting and receiving the Baptism.

I took the book home and perused it, starting with the questions I was most interested in, until I had read most of it. The section with the prayer had something similar to a plan of salvation series of steps, which included the author’s suggestion to read or re-read a particular previous section and look up the scriptures referenced. Now, I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted answers. Consequently, what had begun as a growing sense that something important was lacking in my relationship with God, had merged with my curiosity about spiritual gifts, and the result was a kind of science experiment. I was not looking for vague answers supported by verses that were used out of context, or dubiously interpreted to fit a preset conclusion. I had never desired the gift of tongues or any second experience. I wanted two things. I wanted to be closer to the Lord – to know Him better, love Him more and trust Him more; and I wanted to know, as certainly as it was possible to know, whether God still poured out His Spirit in this way today, since a closer relationship with Him seemed the obvious result, if He still did that.

I feel it’s important to note, that though my new friends were quick to encourage all to seek the Baptism and the gifts, and I was inquiring about them, I was not seeking these. I was seeking the Lord. I was ready to receive whatever His answer was. If it turned out that tongues was not part of His plan for me, I was completely fine with that. That would just mean that I could put the issue to rest for myself, continue asking Him to draw me closer by whatever means appropriate, and not worry that here was some form of intimacy with my Lord that I was missing out on due to pride or ignorance.

Since I had already read the suggested chapter, and looked up all the referenced scriptures, I was at first inclined to skip this step. Then I decided, if nothing happens here, I’m not going to be left forever wondering if it was because of some step I was too proud or lazy to take. So I sat on my bed, alone in my room at my parent’s house, as the night crept into the wee hours of morning, and re-read the chapter, as well as the entire Bible chapter in which each referenced verse was located. Then I prayed.

I prayed, “Lord, if you still do this today, if it’s possible for me to know you the way Paul and the other apostles knew you, then please do this for me. And if you do this, please do it in such a way that there can be no shadow of any kind of a doubt, that it’s YOU doing it, and not some spiritual deception or work of the devil, or something I’m doing and deceiving myself. And if you choose to do this in me, please give me the gift of tongues as the sign by which I will know for sure that Holy Spirit Baptism is what I’m actually experiencing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” I asked specifically for tongues, since there is apparently some debate over whether tongues is always the particular manifestation given with the Baptism, and again, I wanted to be as certain as possible. I didn’t want to wonder, did I actually receive the Baptism, only with one of the less obviously observable gifts? I wanted answers, not more questions.

I waited, the clock ticked, and nothing else happened.

Perhaps partly because of my Protestant background, or my own preference for authenticity in people and things, I’ve never had much use for recited prayers, but since the provided example prayer was the only remaining step I had yet to take, and I wanted to leave nothing undone, or any possibility of my own pride or presumption having hindered me, at about 4 in the morning I knelt beside my bed, alone in my room, and began to read the prayer in the book, and make it my own.

As I began to read and pray, my eyes inexplicably filled with tears, so that it became hard to see the page. By the time I was a couple of lines in, I was so choked up it was difficult to even continue, but I was determined to see this completely through, so I read through the river of tears and choked out the rest of the short prayer, and then let myself collapse beside my bed, where I sobbed and wept uncontrollably as if I had forever lost my best friend in the world, until my sides hurt and I could barely breathe. I can remember wondering why I was weeping. I had had bouts of teenage angst and depression before, but I hadn’t been depressed that day. I don’t enjoy crying, or feeling bad, so I reason my way out of it if I can (what am I really upset about? Is it really that bad, or do I just imagine it to be?, and so on). I couldn’t think of anything I was particularly upset about, certainly not anything that would have me holding my sides and wracked with sobbing tears. I remember thinking, “this is ridiculous, what’s wrong with me? I need to get a grip.” But I couldn’t. It was all I could do just to breathe through the tears and snot and choking sobs.

When it wouldn’t stop and I couldn’t take it anymore, I started asking God to help me. I don’t remember the change, or how, or the precise point at which it happened, but my praying changed from English to something else. It was effortless. Nothing at all like before, where I could come up with a few syllables of mimicking gibberish on my own, and knew that I was doing it. This just flowed, as if I were speaking a language I forgot I knew, though I didn’t understand what I was saying. I was still sobbing, but I was filled with joy like I had never felt before. I was aware that I was also still praying, but not with my understanding. At some point it just turned back into English, and I continued speaking to God, praising Jesus in more ways and by more names (all biblical) than I had ever even thought of in one day before, and I knew (can’t explain it) that what I was hearing from my own lips was the interpretation of what I had just spoken in an unknown language. It was beautiful. I remained on my knees praising Jesus, as it changed back and forth between tongues and the English meaning, for I’m not sure how long. I felt as if I would rather just speak in the new language, because it seemed to flow more easily than English, which seemed crude and inadequate by comparison, though the interpreted praises of Christ were themselves sublime, and certainly nothing I was coming up with on my own, either. I was by myself, but I had never felt less alone.

As with my first encounter with God, I remember these details as if it happened yesterday, but my memories of what immediately followed are less clear. At some point, I think, I must have become exhausted and went to sleep. I think the experience took place over an hour or two. The next day I would have been tempted to think it was just a dream, had I not, without even thinking about it, found myself randomly praying in the new language, still without effort, and also without the immediately following interpretations of the night before, which I believe were given to me in response to my desire and requests for certainty and the elimination of doubt, something difficult to achieve in a mind taught to maintain a healthy level of skepticism towards anything not concretely provable.

Barely able to contain my excitement, I told my parents what had happened, and they told me that “we don’t believe that still happens today”, and encouraged me to search the scriptures and seek God, presumably believing that my error would by this means be corrected. Others I tried to tell just looked at me like, ohhh kaaayy, you need help. So I left off trying to tell them about things they weren’t interested in. Since they were already believers, I left them in God’s hands, and cherished the new way He had given me to talk with Him, which I do all the time, everywhere, to this day. At work, home, church, the store, my car, everywhere. Often out loud (not loudly), sometimes not. Nobody ever seems to notice, or maybe they just think I’m talking to myself. I’ve felt the temptation to show it off, but I’ve always sensed that He frowns on that, and anyway, it’s too special to me. It’s a form of intimacy with Him which I prefer not to share with just anyone.

What’s it like? It’s wonderful! It’s a constant reminder of the reality of His presence and power. There have been times when my rational, practical, skeptical mind has wandered to a place where ideas like armies of horsemen coming out of the sky just seemed ridiculous, and I found it difficult to believe, then I find myself praying in the Spirit, who bears witness with my spirit, that truly “My Beloved is mine, and I am His” (Song of Solomon 2:16), and doubt flees away. How does it happen? By the power of the Holy Spirit. I can’t give you a scientific explanation. Do I go into a trance state when speaking in tongues? No. I always retain full possession of all my faculties. As I said above, it’s as simple and effortless as normal speech. Sometimes I “stir up the gift that is in me” (2 Timothy 1:6), but I frequently find myself praying in the Spirit when (perhaps because?), God and praying are the furthest things from my mind. Do I know what language it is? No. I have at times thought that it sounded like various different languages, and I’ve often wondered if someone with a different first language happened to hear me might they recognize it? But if anyone has even noticed I wasn’t aware of it. I do get the sense, as I sensed about the interpretations, that as a member of the body of Christ, the Spirit may at times intercede through me for people of various languages, in various places, whom I may never meet in this life. Also, Paul often calls it “speaking in an unknown tongue”, which could also mean unknown to anyone in this world, since he clearly refers to tongues of men, and tongues of angels (1 Cor. 13:1), and it seems reasonable to assume that if uncountable legions of angels were created before humanity, they would likely have their own language or languages. What’s the point of it? When I pray, I want to pray according to His will, and sometimes I don’t know how to pray as I ought, or words become inadequate, but the Spirit searches the deep things of God, and intercedes for us, so when I pray in tongues, I can trust that the Spirit knows how best to communicate my heart to His. (Romans 8:26, 1 Cor 2:10)

I should emphasize that this work of the Spirit in me did not eradicate the law of sin at work in my flesh, any more than His work of regeneration did. We will all receive that gift at the same time, when corruption puts on incorruption, and our last enemy is finally defeated. (Rom 7: 15 – 25, 1 Cor 15:26, 52 -54)

As beautiful as the gift of tongues is, Holy Spirit Baptism is much more than any particular gift you may receive, and obviously the greatest gift of all is the one I was actually seeking all along – an unending, ever growing intimacy with Jesus, the likes of which I had previously only heard about and dreamed of, which does not come from speaking with tongues, but from being filled to overflowing with God’s Holy Spirit. “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor 6:17). What could be more intimate, than to be so closely united with the one you love that words of any kind become almost unnecessary? To know that not one tear escapes my eye, but that He feels the sting of it? And wonder beyond wonders, He shares His feelings with me also. It’s just as Jesus said, “My peace I give unto you”, “that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 14:27, John 15:11). It’s not all roses and rainbows, however. As He bears our grief, and carries our sorrows, we are also called to share in His sufferings, that we may also share in His glory. But empowered by His Spirit, His yoke truly is easy, and His burden is light. (Isaiah 53:4, 1 Peter 4:13, Philippians 3:10 – 11, Matt. 11:30)

While I could wish that those whom God used to draw me closer to Himself had been more knowledgeable or articulate, I now understand the dreamy expressions I sometimes saw when I asked them to explain. If you’ve ever tried to talk with someone who’s madly in love, about the object of their affection, then you might know what I mean. Their hearts had been captivated by Jesus and His amazing love.

And so has mine.

 

P.S. The book mentioned above is still in print, and you can Google it if you want to. Remember, though, the ONLY author who can give you the Holy Spirit, is the Author of our Salvation, Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you.

David Fuller


Note: The above post is not a reflection of my personal beliefs. You will be able to read a response in the next post. – The Recovering Legalist

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Filed under Church, Guest Posts, Theology

Submission

Again, my thanks to all of those who have taken the time to help out with guest posts. Your contributions have been very much appreciated. – Anthony

Guest Post by: Donald N. Norris


In my last post, we concluded our study of the godly characteristic of being humble. In this post, we will look at a companion characteristic of being submissive.

Submission Defined

In the English language, submission is a little difficult to concisely define. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines submission, in part, as: “the state of being obedient; the act of accepting the authority or control of someone else.” They list among several that surrender is a synonym. The verb form, “to submit” is defined as: “to stop trying to fight or resist something; to agree to do or accept something that you have been resisting or opposing.” Likewise, surrender is also a synonym for submitting. Surrender is defined as: “the usually forced yielding of one’s person or possessions to the control of another.” And as usual, submission and submitting are listed also synonyms of surrender. Don’t you just love it when definitions are so circular?

I want to look at what the Bible has to say about each of these words.

Surrender in the Bible

Surrender appears numerous times in the Tanakh, but always in relation to a military engagement. “Then David said, ‘Will the men of Keilah surrender me and my men into the hand of Saul?’ And the LORD said, ‘They will surrender you.’” (1 Samuel 23:12) “But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” (Jeremiah 38:17 ESV) Surrender appears only once in the Brit Hadashah. “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3) Only the NASB and the older NIV translate the Greek word “paradidômi” as surrender in this passage. Most other translations use some form of to hand over, to give or deliver over, or to betray.

Submission in the Bible

Submission appears in only two passages of the Tanakh. “Those who hate the LORD would pretend submission to Him; their doom would last forever.” (Psalm 81:15 HCSB) “He will get control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the riches of Egypt. The Libyans and Cushites will also be in submission.” (Daniel 11:43 HCSB) Most other modern translations use “would cringe or grovel before him” in lieu of submission in their versions.

Submission is used slightly more frequently in the Brit Hadashah. “The women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.” (1 Corinthians 14:34 ESV) “By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others.” (2 Corinthians 9:13 ESV) “To them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” (Galatians 2:5 ESV) “A woman should learn in silence with full submission.” (1 Timothy 2:11 HCSB) “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7 NIV84) Jesus “has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” (1 Peter 3:22 NIV84)

Submit in the Bible

Of all the variations of being submissive that we are reviewing, submit is the most frequently used in both the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah.

Submit in the Tanakh: “Then the angel of the LORD said to her [Hagar], ‘Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.’” (Genesis 16:9) “You [Joseph] shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:40 NIV84) “Foreigners submit to me [David] grudgingly; as soon as they hear, they obey me.” (2 Samuel 22:45 HCSB) “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” (Job 22:21 NIV84) (See also Psalm 18:44 NASB; Psalm 66:3 & 68:30 KJV; and Isaiah 41:21 HCSB)

Submit in the Brit Hadashah: “The Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” (Luke 10:17 HCSB) “However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20 HCSB) “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Romans 8:7 NIV84) “Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (Romans 10:3 NIV84) “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1 NIV84 ~ see also 13:5) “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1 ESV)

Any of us who are engaged, married or divorced have certainly heard of or read Ephesians 5:21-33 regarding mutual love and submission one to another.

The writer of Hebrews also touches on this issue: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17) James exhorts us to: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) And, Kefa writes: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority.” (1 Peter 2:13)

I believe the issue is crystal clear no matter what translation you may use, the Word of God teaches us to not only take on the humility of the Messiah but to also have a submissive heart. Submit to God; then to the rightful authorities over you and, if married, to each other.

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Do You Trust God With His Money?

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Guest Post by: Keith Haney

An old writer tells of two brothers who went out to take a walk in the night, and one of them looked up to the sky and said, “I wish I had a pasture-field as large as the night heavens.” And the other brother looked up into the sky, and said, “I wish I had as many oxen as there are stars in the sky.” 

Click on the link below to read the rest of the article. Let Keith know you found him here 🙂

http://revheadpin.org/2017/08/08/do-you-trust-god/

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Humility ~ Part 3

Guest Post by: Donald N. Norris

In my last post, we looked at the concept of humility from the pages of the Tanakh.  In this post, we turn to the Brit Hadashah to help us understand the characteristic of being humble.

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

Humility in the Brit Hadashah [1]

Yeshua life provides the best example of what it means to have humility.  “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29; see also 1 Corinthians 4:21 and Philippians 2:1-11).

Yeshua preached and taught often about the need for humility.  “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11; 18:14)  “Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.’” (Mark 9:35)

Yeshua urged those who desired to live by Kingdom standards to practice humility.  “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’” (Matthew 18:1ff)

A person with humility does not look down on others.  Humility in the Brit Hadashah is closely connected with the quality of “meekness.”  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  (Matthew 5:5 ESV)

While God resists those who are proud, He provides grace for the humble.  “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”  (James 4:6)

Primary in the Brit Hadashah is the conviction that one who has humility will not be overly concerned about his or her prestige.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)   “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16)  “Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge?” (2 Corinthians 11:7)

Sha’ul believed that quality relationships with other people, especially those who had erred spiritually, hinged on the presence of gentleness, meekness or humility (see Acts 20:19; 1 Corinthians 4:21; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25).

Both the Tanakh and the Brit Hadashah affirm that God will exalt those who are humble and bring low those who are proud (see Luke 1:52; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6).

The Greek world abhorred the quality of meekness or humility, but the Christian community believed these qualities were worthy (see 2 Corinthians 10:18; Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 4:2).

A humble man is often looked upon as a coward, a cringing, despicable, slavish type of person.  Many men fear humility.  They feel humility is a sign of weakness and will make them the object of contempt and abuse; causing them to be shunned and overlooked.  This is tragic:

  • A humble spirit is necessary for salvation. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 18:3-4)
  • God’s idea of humility is not weakness and cowardice.

God makes people strong.  God infuses a new spirit within a person that causes them to conquer all throughout life.  He does not want the person walking around in pride.  He wants the person to do what the definition says: to offer himself in a spirit of submissiveness and lowliness; not to act high-minded, proud, haughty, arrogant, or assertive.

Humility has the strength to control and discipline; and it does so at the right time.

  1. The humble person has a humble state of mind.
  1. The humble person has a strong state of mind.  It is not a weak mind that ignores and neglects evil and wrongdoing, abuse and suffering.
  • If someone is suffering, humility steps in to do what it can to help.
  • If evil is being done, humility does what it can to stop and correct it.
  • If evil is running rampant and indulging itself, humility actually strikes out in anger.
  1. The humble person has a strong self-control.  The humble person controls his spirit and mind.  He controls the lusts of his flesh.  He does not give way to ill-temper, retaliation, passion, indulgence, or license. (see James 1:21)

In summary, the humble man walks in a but strong state of mind; denies himself, giving utmost consideration to others.  He shows a control and righteous anger against injustice and evil.  A humble man forgives and lives for others because of what Yeshua has done for him.

In my next post, we will explore a concept related to the characteristic of Humility:  Submission and Surrender?

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references in this series will be from the New American Standard Bible (NASB ~ 1995 Update)

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How Polluted Is Your City?

As much as I hate to admit it, everything that Mark West says in this article about Chattanooga (my home town) is true. For example, he points out that Chattanooga was once considered the most polluted city in America – I remember those days when one couldn’t even see Lookout Mountain because of the brown smog that hung low over the city.

But it’s another kind of pollution that Mark describes in “Chattanooga: A Polluted City,” and that pollution is proving far more difficult to eradicate.

I love my city, and I’m happy to live here. I mean, seriously, Chattanooga is regularly listed as one of those beautiful places everyone one – especially the nature-loving folk – should visit at least once. In addition to the natural beauty, there’s the history, the southern culture, and the courteous people. Yet, a serious problem wafts through the streets, and it’s going to take a lot more than nice words and eco-friendly investments to solve.

Click on the above links and read my friend’s assessment of the situation. If you have any other suggestions, I’m sure he’ll be glad to hear. Just let him know I sent you 😉

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Humility ~ Part 2

This is Part 2 in a series on Humility by guest blogger Donald N. Norris.


In my last post, we began to explore the Godly characteristic of humility.  I made my confession that   I certainly don’t have much of a reputation for being humble.  In this post, we will look at the concept of humility from the pages of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

Humility in the Tanakh [1]

The Tanakh connects the quality of humility with Israel’s lowly experience as slaves in Egypt – a poor, afflicted, and suffering people.  And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us.” (Deuteronomy 26:6 emphasis added.) The Hebrew word translated as humility is similar to another Hebrew word meaning “to be afflicted.”  Humility was closely associated with individuals who were poor and afflicted (see 2 Samuel 22:28).

What God desires most is not outward sacrifices but a humble spirit.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Such a humble spirit shows itself in several ways:

  1. Recognition of one’s sinfulness before a Holy God. “Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
  2. Obedience to God. “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”  (Deuteronomy 8:2)
  3. Submission to God. “‘Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,’ declares the LORD.”  (2 Kings 22:19)
  4. “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.” (Psalm 25:9)

The Tanakh also promised blessings to those who were humble:

  • When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
  • “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
  • Good news. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.”  (Isaiah 61:1)  Yeshua quoted this verse in Luke 4:18.
  • “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” (Proverbs 3:34
  • “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” (Proverbs 15:33)

The experience of many kings indicated that those who humble themselves before God will be exalted (see 1 Kings 21:29; 2 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 32:26; 33:12, 19). Those who do not humble themselves before God will be afflicted (2 Chronicles 33:23; 36:12).

The prophet Zephaniah appealed to the “humble” of the land to seek the Lord.  “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3) He knew they were the ones who would listen to him and accept God’s message.

The pathway to revival is the way of humility.  If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

In my next post, we will explore the concept of humility in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament).

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references in this series will be from the New American Standard Bible (NASB ~ 1995 Update)

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Tongues and the Church Today


A Guest Post by: David Fuller (Non-Cessationist)

 

The gift of tongues in Acts is always associated with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The promise of the Father, baptism with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and references to the Holy Ghost being poured out or falling upon believers are terms used interchangeably in Scripture with one exception which R. A. Torrey notes: Baptized with the Holy Spirit, is nowhere used in the Bible of any experience but the first and suggests an initial or initiatory experience.(65) He suggests we therefore use this term only to describe the initial filling of the believer with the Holy Spirit.

This point is generally agreed upon even by those who reject tongues, since the New Testament clearly and repeatedly admonishes believers to be filled with the Spirit. The points of contention are whether the initial filling necessarily happens to every Christian at the moment of regeneration, and whether or not tongues should still be expected as a necessary sign of it. This debate necessarily narrows down to the purpose of speaking in tongues. Given Luke’s relatively cursory mention of this gift, one could ask what his purpose is in mentioning it at all?

Luke’s purpose in writing, as stated by himself in Luke 1:1-4, was to set down an orderly account of those prophesies concerning the Messiah and His church which had been fulfilled before their very eyes, in order to strengthen the faith of Theophilus. In Acts, he shows how the church fulfilled not only O.T. prophecy, but Christ’s commission as well. Since Jesus Himself, in referring to the enduement with power as the promise of the Father, as well as Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in 1 Cor. 14:21, each indicate that the gift of tongues is a fulfillment of O.T. prophecy concerning the church and the last days, Luke includes it in his account; documenting its part in the fulfillment of Christs commission as well. Thus, the fulfillment of prophecy and of Christs commission are the only two purposes for tongues with which Luke is concerned, since this is the focus of his writing. An extensive treatment of the purpose of tongues in collective worship or the spiritual life of the average believer of that day would be a departure from his point.

Also, since he is writing for Theophilus, not for us, he naturally would have excluded extensive information about subjects with which Theophilus would undoubtedly have been all-to-familiar, such as the structure and events of a typical early-church worship service.

We know from Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor. that apparently quite a number of the believers in Corinth spoke with tongues, as did Paul himself. That the Ephesian believers spoke with tongues is indicated by his admonition that they should pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18 cf. 1 Cor. 14:15). The fact that Luke mentions only three major instances of tongues, and relates them to the spread of the gospel to the major people groups, while neglecting their mention in ch.8 and the many other salvation accounts, does not mean they did not occur in these instances. Luke may have just been avoiding redundancy (especially in light of that days paper costs) and sticking to his purpose, which was to chronicle the fulfillment of prophecy and Christs commission.

Luke also chooses not to teach us of the Eucharist in Acts, so we base our understanding of it on Christs command and Paul’s teaching on the meaning of and procedure for observing it, given to the Corinthians because of their abuse of this ritual. Likewise, we must look elsewhere for detailed treatment of the gift of tongues; and we find it from the same sources. In Mark 16:17, Jesus states that tongues are a sign that will be manifested in those who believe. Luke leaves us wishing for the testimony of one who was there as to what part, if any, tongues played in the individuals spiritual life and collective worship at that time. Paul gives us exactly this, and again his most detailed treatment is directed toward those who were abusing it. Thank God for the Corinthians! Is it not comforting to see how God can use even our shortcomings to the benefit of His church?

What does Paul tell the Corinthians (and us) about the correct purpose and use of the gift of tongues? Citing Isaiah 28:11, he says that tongues function as a sign. Just as the strange tongue of the Assyrians was to be a sign to Ephraim of Gods judgment, so the gift of tongues in the N.T. served as a sign to the Jews of Gods involvement in those events as well. There is, however, a further purpose for tongues. Paul says the gift, when properly used, is intended to edify the individual and, when interpreted, the church body.

But how is this accomplished? What is the point, after all, of speaking a language even you yourself cannot understand? Paul answers this question in 1 Cor. 14:2, For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God. In verse 14, he states, For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth (emphasis mine) and continues in verse 15 with, I will pray with the spirit and, I will sing with the spirit. In verses 16 and 17 Paul indicates that tongues are used to bless and give thanks to God. Instead of being in the form of a message directed toward the church, which is always the case with prophecy, it is intended to be a form of worship and prayer. This worship and prayer interpreted generates participation on the part of other members of the body, and thus it becomes a means of edification equal to prophecy, In prophecy the edification springs from the Spirit-quickened Word, while in tongues and interpretation the edification springs from Spirit-quickened worship and prayer.(Brandt, 55).

The speakers in tongues in Acts 2:11 were proclaiming the wonderful works of God. In the house of Cornelius, they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.(Acts 10:46). In Acts 19:6, who were the speakers in tongues addressing? Paul, who witnessed the event, tells us that he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God. Furthermore, he encourages the Ephesians to pray in the Spirit(6:18), and Jude likewise tells us to build ourselves up in our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.

According , then, to both the record of Luke and Paul’s teaching, the gift of tongues serves two primary functions. It is a sign to the unbeliever of Divine presence and activity, and a means of building up the believer and the church through Spirit-inspired prayer and worship.

Although some contend that the gift of tongues was meant only for the early church, Scripture nowhere states that this is so. In fact, there are two quite strong statements to the contrary: Paul’s command in 1 Cor. 14:39 to forbid not to speak in tongues, and Peters statement in Acts 2:39, For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call (emphasis mine). Taken together with Christs statement in Mark 16:17, as well as the various admonitions to pray in the spirit throughout the N.T. , I see no scriptural reason for believing the gift tongues is not meant for believers throughout this church age.

Works Cited

Brandt, R.L. Tongues, the Greatest Gift?; Bridge Publishing, c.1981

Torrey, R.A. Baptism With The Holy Spirit; Revell, c.1897

Link to R. A. Torrey

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