Archive | August, 2011

When You Want to Die for Christ, But He Won’t Let You

You know what it feels like: you are on fire; you are ready, willing and able; you don’t need any more sermons on Rom 12:1. You are a living sacrifice. You have read Radical. You have read Crazy Love. You are ready to die. You are ready to die for Christ, the Gospel and whatever other mission God puts you on.

Wherever, whatever, however God, I am ready to sacrifice it all.

Problem: there is no altar. Well, not like you thought. If it exists, it does not exist in the glory of your perceptions. You pray continually for God to show you his direction. There has to be a place for me in his army.

Here’s what you do:

You decide to become a missionary. You talk to your wife and your family about quitting your job and becoming a full time missionary in Africa. Why Africa? Just because. You wife thinks you are nuts and your children don’t understand. All attempts to infect her with the desire to die have the opposite effect. But you are not about to question your calling. In your spiritual high, you place some distance between you and your family, believing that it is the Lord’s will. Discouragement has yet to set in.

Or maybe . . .

You decide to start a church. Your passions will be realized as you minister in your local community, transforming all those around you with the preaching—expository preaching—of the word of God. You are sick of the churches that would not know the Gospel if it hit them in the knee cap. You are going to be the lighthouse on a hill. You don’t really know what to do so you get on Microsoft Word and make a flier. You put a nice Bible graphic that you found from Google image search on the flier, along with the announcement of the new Bible study that is going to be held at your friend’s coffee shop.

The day comes. Hundreds of fliers have been handed out. Two people show. One is your wife. The other is a nice young girl who just broke up with her boyfriend and had nothing else to do that night. It’s past time for the Bible study to start and you look outside in hopes that someone else will show. Someone pulls up and leaves upon the realization that they might be the only ones there. You attempt to teach the Bible study, but the disappointment of teaching two people when you hoped for 30 to 40 takes the wind out of your sails. All you want to do is go home and cry.

Or maybe . . .

You decide to go to seminary, but don’t get accepted.

Or maybe . . .

You start with a small missions endeavor, but you don’t get the funds.

Or maybe . . .

You go to your pastor and tell him you will serve wherever, but, not only is he not as excited about your prospective involvement as you thought he would be, there is nothing for you to do. He says he will call you if something comes up. Nothing ever comes up.

Or maybe . . .

You start with a bang, but then it fizzles and no one is as anxious and excited as you are. You feel let down and discouraged.

What do you do when you try . . . I mean really try to die for Christ, but he won’t let you. What do you do when you are on the altar and you don’t die, but your are getting really sunburned?

This is to those of you who feel called to do something big for the Lord, but it never happens.

Don’t give up your zeal.  The first two illustrations given above are round about reenactments of my life. Someone has once said that the Christian life is a life of starting over—every morning! Don’t let let-downs discourage you. You may be let down, but God has not set you down. Remember, he is not setting you on a 100 meter dash, but on a long distance run—a long distance run. I love new Christians who are set on giving their lives up for the Lord. But I am so saddened when I see those who had such a zeal reenter their old life with great discouragement, wondering why the Lord did not use them. God will use you. God is using you. But he does not carve out flashes in the pan. He creates endurance. I know . . . He does not move as quickly as we like. Keep the zeal and passion, but let the Lord set the pace. This is the hardest thing to do. Continue Reading →

Why I Am/Not Charismatic: The Gift of Prophecy Response – C Michael Patton

The following is part of a discussion (not debate) between two friends, Sam Storms and C. Michael Patton, about the charismatic gifts of the Spirit. Sam is a Charismatic. Michael is not. If you have come in late, you can access the entire series here.

Sam,

Thanks much for detailing your argument in such a way. I know this is something you have to do often for people like me, so I pray this conversation is not redundant. While I am desperately committed to this remaining a discussion and not a debate, this is the first response in the series where I find we have significant points of disagreement. I pray you will bear with me while I respond. And please know that while my response will cover some major points of disagreement, I do love you and hold you in the highest regard, seeing you as a great mentor in my life.

Let’s begin with your Charles Spurgeon quote. It is very interesting and often used among charismatics. First, let me say this. My current position of “soft cessationist,” or more simply, “non-charismatic,” is not a position against prophecy. I know that some people are. Some believe that any prophecy given today puts the “closing” of the canon of Scripture in jeopardy. But as I expressed before, this argument is not strong. I have read a lot of Spurgeon. As a matter of fact, after my wife and I got married, we would read a sermon of Spurgeon every night. I am not kidding – every night! When I told a mentor/professor about this, he responded, “As a newlywed couple, can’t you find something better to do at night?!” Wisdom or folly? Who knows. But back to my point: In all my reading of Spurgeon, I would not dare to say he was a charismatic (and I know you would not either), even if he had a prophetic experience here and there. Why? Because, as we defined at the beginning, the key points we are arguing are that God wants gifts such as prophecy to be 1) continuing, 2) normative, and 3) actively sought out. Having some divine revelation a few times does not qualify as evidence of any of the three, in my opinion. Although I am open to correction here, I think the following quote, from a sermon called “Receiving the Holy Ghost” (#1790 Vol 30, Year 1884, pg. 386, Acts 19:2), evidences that Spurgeon was at least a soft cessationist. (This probably is better placed in our coming discussion about the history of the charismatic gifts, but since you brought Spurgeon into the discussion, I think this is proper):

You know, dear friends, when the Holy Spirit was given in the earliest ages, He showed His presence by certain miraculous signs. Some of those who received the Holy Spirit spake with tongues, others began to prophesy, and a third class received the gifts of healing. I am sure that if these powers were given now you would all be anxious to possess them. You would want to be healing or to be speaking in tongues, or to be working miracles by which you would benefit your fellow men and glorify God. Now be it never forgotten that those works of the Holy Spirit which are permanent must assuredly be of greater value than those which were transitory. We cannot suppose that the Holy Ghost brought forth the best wine at first and that His operations gradually deteriorated. It is a rule of the kingdom to keep the best wine to the last; and therefore, I conclude that you and I are not left to partake of the dregs, but that those gifts of the Holy Spirit which are at this time vouchsafed to the church of God are every way as valuable as those earlier miraculous gifts which are departed from us.

As well, when I look at Spurgeon’s first revelation, frankly, it seems to take a rather legalistic cultural bent.  He condemned a man for having his shop open on Sunday? To me this is not unlike the people who claim to have near death experiences and go meet God in heaven. Their description of heaven – streets of gold, gates of pearls, wings on people, etc. – are not biblical (in my opinion). Most of what they describe is nothing more than a representation of the unbiblical folk theology of their culture. I could be wrong here, but I tend to think Spurgeon’s culture believed that leaving your place of business open on Sunday was a terrible sin. However, Paul said let no one judge a person with regard to the Sabbath (Col. 2:6).

Concerning your third point, we agree in a very important way. You distinguish between prophecy and teaching God’s word. Many people will combine the two, believing they are essentially the same. Prophecy, as I said in my post, is supernatural and direct divine revelation that comes by various means.

You make a point to say prophecy is a “report” of divine revelation. I am fine with that – to a point. Where I can’t follow you right now is where you allow for the short-circuiting between the revelation and the report. You say, “prophecy is occasionally fallible.” That is a hard thing to wrestle with. Part of me says you are right. It is fallible. That is why God instructs us, in both the Old and New Testaments, to test the prophets (Deut 13:1-3; Deut 18:20-22; 1 Cor 14:32). Where I can’t follow you is when you say that a prophet can be wrong (i.e., deliver a false prophecy), yet this not be seen as sinful or destructive to the community of God. This is God’s word we are dealing with. Sam, you are in no way frivolous with God’s word. I know you well enough to see this. However, I don’t see how encouraging the church to embrace claims to divine revelation (contingent or not), which may or may not be from God, can be seen as anything other than frivolous. I can’t get over the idea that adopting this acceptance of failed prophecy is a dangerous carefree lack of seriousness concerning those who speak on behalf of the Creator of the universe. Continue Reading →

Online School of Theology: Starts Sept. 12th!

Have you always wanted to learn more about your faith? For whatever reason you haven’t been led to a traditional Seminary but you still want “meat and potatoes” training. Our 10-week School of Theology is designed just for you! Really, YOU can take a seminary class this Fall! It won’t kill your budget. You won’t have to quit your job and sell your house. Our next class: Introduction to Theology begins Monday nights from 8:15-9:00pm CST starting September 12th, 2011. Register Today

Quick Facts: 10-week Study
When: Starting September 12th
Course Cost (option 1): $219 for Tuition; 10 DVD’s, class bound Workbook, program text books (Grudem, Systematic Theology and Olson Mosaic of Christian Belief)
Course Cost (option 2): $189 for Tuition; 10 DVD’s, class bound Workbook
Course Cost (option 3): $100 for Tuition, watch videos online (or on iPhone/Touch/Pad), PDF Workbook.

School of Theology Entails:

  1. All students meet together Monday nights for a LIVE online classroom experience taught by C. Michael Patton, Th.M. (8:15-9pm CST Online).
  2. Students are required to do textbook reading, assignments and quizzes for the week.
  3. Students are tested twice during the ten week semester to help ensure learning.
  4. Students who successfully complete The Theology Program earn a Certificate which is accepted toward advance standing at many Bible Colleges and Seminaries.
  5. Live online classroom located here: www.reclaimingthemind.org/classroom

We would love to have you be part of the Fall 2011 School of Theology Classes.

Theology Unplugged: Why I Am/Not a Charismatic, Part 8

Join C. Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley, Sam Storms and J.J. Seid as they discuss issues surrounding spiritual gifts.

Be Careful With Theology Shifts

(Lisa Robinson)

It happens to varying degrees.  You are chugging along in your Christian walk, learning and growing.  Mainly, your convictions grow and become firm.   But then something happens to make you rethink your presuppositions or methodology.  You begin an inquiry into a different perspective to test the validity.   The convictions you believed were firm are starting to loosen their grip.  Your investigation yields an overturning of what you had come to accept as accurate.

This can be a good or bad thing depending upon the nature and/or extremity of the shifts.  If the process leads to unraveling of orthodoxy such as no longer believing in the deity of Christ, dismantling of the authority of scripture, denial of the Trinity, etc, then it is not good.  But on the other hand, the fruit of this kind of disruption can yield a change in theological convictions that are more consistent with the biblical and historic witness of Christianity.  Then there is everything in between from bibliology, soteriology, eschatology, ecclesiology, etc.

The concern when these kinds of shifts happen, is when we reject one tenet of belief, the rest in the paradigm might follow.   I have noted this especially happens with advancements in scholarship that encourage the re-examination of previously existing paradigms.   With the backing of sound arguments, hefty research and biblical proof-texting, challengers articulate valid or seemly valid reasons why some tenets, doctrines or paradigms need re-examining and even discarding.  When concepts are popularized, what ends up happening is a wholesale endorsement of everything the proponent advocates.

Needless to say, it is easy to create false dichotomies with theology shifts.  If  L M and N become X Y and Z when we create false dichotomies, it is impossible to have a combination of lets, say L M and Z.  But careful examination might yield just that.  Yet the tendency for a shift would be to reject L M and N outright and especially when advocates of positions we are gravitating towards encourage that we should do just that.  Continue Reading →

Top Ten Reasons the Dispensationalist Did NOT Cross the Road

10. They were not a part of the ‘crossing’ dispensation.

9. They thought that the other side was for Israel and this side was for the church.

8. Charles Ryrie was still on this side of the road, why cross?

7. It is pointless since Jesus is just going to bring them back after 7 years.

6. Like the OT prophets and the church age, they were unable to see the other side. Continue Reading →

Textual Problem Study: Romans 5:1

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

The Problem

Romans 5:1 is our next textual problem study. As will be the case most of the time in this series, this verse makes the list because it contains a variant that is both viable (it has a chance of representing the original) and significant (it changes the meaning to some degree).

Romans 5:1 reads in the NA27 (the standard Greek critical text of the New Testament):

Δικαιωθέντες οὖν ἐκ πίστεως εἰρήνην [ἔχομεν] πρὸς τὸν θεὸν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Therefore, having been justified by faith [we have] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Chri

Brackets have been added to show where the variant lies. As you can see, the NA27 has ἔχομεν (echomen) which is the first person plural present active indicative of ἔχώ (echo) meaning “we have”. This reads, “we have peace with God”.  But the earliest and most respected manuscripts (Aleph, B, C, D, K, L, 33, 81, 630, 1175, 1739, pm lat bo) have the subjunctive mood ἔχώμεν (echomen) meaning “Let us have”. See the difference? It is only the later manuscripts (Aleph1, B3, F, G, P, Y, 0220vid, 104, 365, 1241, 1505, 1506, 1739c, 1881, 2464, pm) that contain the reading opted for in NA27.

I would give a parallel list of the English translations, but every English translation that I know of opts for the indicative “we have”. There are variations, however, in some Greek translations. While all three eclectic texts (Greek texts that draw from all available manuscript evidence; USB4, NA27, SBL GNT) have the indicative, both Tischendorf NT (8th Ed; 1872) and Wescott and Hort (1881), who primarily used the great Alexandrian manuscripts (Aleph, B), have the subjunctive, “let us have”. As well, if I remember correctly Harold Hohner believed the subjunctive was original. Continue Reading →

Credo House: Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going

Tuesday night we held a special “Getting to Know Your Credo House”. During the session, we let people in on the history and mission of Credo House Ministries. Many people were unable to make it to the session so we recorded it. Here is the recording.

Donate to the mission of Credo House Ministries