Friday, July 21, 2006

More on Apostles

I skimmed the piece that Marc (comment on my previous post) provided the link to, specifically Chapter 35 "True Apostles Should Decide Doctrinal Matters". Here is a quote, "I believe that if the church would scrap an awful lot of their missionary concepts and go back to the Bible instead of trying to educate people to know the languages and to understand all the cross-cultural things and just major in the heart of the missionary that is sent out." Other than the fact that there is an “if” but not a “then” part in his writing here, he seems to be advocating for missionaries not to learn either the language of the people that we are going to see and evangelize or that we shouldn’t learn the biblical languages and just go with a heart for people. There are a myriad of problems that could come with this, but one danger is that we would be getting passionate people who don’t know the gospel and aren’t familiar or trained in the Word.

The title of the chapter is what caught my eye. He makes another comment, “Never, never, never! Hear me! I'd like to say "never" four hundred times to emphasize it - Never!! Never let anything come out of your mouth derogatory against anybody that has any sphere of influence that is attempting to preach the Word of God. It's important that we realize that the world sees us as one.” This is utterly shocking and horribly wrong even if the motivation is correct. If we follow this, we cannot denounce T.D. Jakes as a heretic , we cannot denounce Robert Schuler as a heretic, nor can we call out Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar for their “little gods” theology that they promote and teach because they use the name of Jesus and they have a sphere of influence.

Paul denounced people (whether they were teachers or laymen, they were known by the readers of his letters) who were using the name of Christ in their ministry distorting and opposing the truth of Christ (1 Timothy 1:19,20; 4:14,15). Also, one issue that I did not deal with in my article was the qualifications for an apostle as laid out in Acts 1 as basically someone who witnessed the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22). Modern day men cannot be apostles in the sense of the apostolic office of Peter, Paul, John, and the others in the New Testament because they didn’t see the resurrected Lord and were not taught directly by Him.

As for Mr. Ravenhill’s comments (I do think that I know you by another pseudonym), I think that there is a danger that we can fall into if we use Western culture to define Christianity. I do not think that this is what MacArthur does, though. His focus, and I believe that it is the right focus (whether or not you agree with his conclusions or not is a matter for another discussion), is that the Word of God is our only source of judging what we experience as being true or false. “But God's church is a global body not just centered in the west and the testimonies and experiences of believers outside of our educated western mind set has led me to reject my secessionist upbringing because it didn't fit with God's church universally.” We need to do all that we can to divorce ourselves from presuppositions that say either “miraculous gifts are for today” or “miraculous gifts aren’t for today” and search the scriptures to best understand things and then judge our experiences or stories in light of what the Word says. There are mystical experiences and miraculous type things that are associated with the devil too! I am not saying that people who believe in the prevalence of Gifts today are demonic or anything like that, but I am referring to how the false prophets in Pharaoh’s court copied most of the signs and wonders that Moses performed (Exodus 7:8-13). Mormons experience a genuine “burning in the bosom” to confirm what they believe, but what they believe is not in line with Scripture.

Bottom line, scripture is the final authority and all experience (mine included) need to be judged against that standard. If the Bible says that something that I genuinely experienced was not of the Spirit of God, I must hold fast to that Word and plead for understanding.

Glory to God! Let us seek Him through His revealed Word by the power of His Holy Spirit.

1 The Ministry of An Apostle by Clifford A. Rice p.87

2 Ibid. p. 86

3 See my article on Oneness Theology for more information.

4 Robert Schuler does not affirm that Christ is the only way – he says that the only sure way that he knows of to get to heaven is by naming the name of Jesus, but he leaves the door open to other ways. This is one small example of the horribly heretical teachings of Robert Schuler.

5 quote from Leonard Ravenhill’s comment to a previous article


Lawrence Melman said...

I was reading your article and you stated that scripture is the final authority not experience. I agree whole heatedly with your statement and I have a question about that. I am having trouble reconcling some things and wondering if you could clarify. If scripture is the basis of truth and not experience why then does our average church experience not differ from 1 Corinthians 14:26-39? It states that people should be speaking in tongues with interpreters all in order and taking turns and that when the prophets speak if God reveals something to someone else they should stop and let another speak. You stated that in 1 corinthins 13 that when that which is perfect has come prophecies that which is in part will cease or be done away with. In that context we shouldn't have any more languages (because tongues in just speaking in a foreign language you didn't know) no more prophecies (I have heard by some that the pastor preaching on Sunday is prophetic because they are declaring God's word) so we shouldn't have anymore preaching, but then we shouldn't have anymore knowledge or wisdom either and I guess that means we shouldnt learn anyting anymore and not be wise . Am I way off on this? Is there more biblical evidence for the ending of the gifts because that which is perfect (the bible has come) but that we still have knowledge and wisdom. We shouldn't have knowledge or wisdom (or need them like we don't need tongues or prophecy) because we have the bible according to 1 Corinthians 13. How do you reconcile all of that?

EJ said...

A very thoughtful comment/question. I will look into this and answer the questions that you have posed to the best of my ability as soon as I can.

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