Presentation on theme: "Spiritual Gifts Lesson 11: Spiritual Gifts The Elephant in the Room."— Presentation transcript:
Spiritual Gifts Lesson 11: Spiritual Gifts The Elephant in the Room
“We believe that some gifts of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues and miraculous healings were temporary. We believe that speaking in tongues was never the common or necessary sign of the baptism nor of the filling of the Spirit, and that the deliverance of the body from sickness or death awaits the consummation of our salvation in the resurrection (Acts 4:8, 31; Romans 8:23; 1 Cor. 13:8).”
I.Introduction A.My experience B.Why is this topic an important matter? 1. It has been the source of division 2. It will encourage or restrict the use of certain gifts 3. It could greatly contribute to evangelism
4.We see these gifts in other countries and contexts 5.It bears on our faith and relationship to the Holy Spirit 6.There are good people on both sides
II.A Brief Overview A.Pentecostalism B.The “Charismatic Movement” C.Notable exceptions (early Non- cessationists): 1.A. W. Tozer 2.Martyn Lloyd-Jones
“I agree with the words of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, preached in 1965: It is perfectly clear that in New Testament times, the gospel was authenticated in this way by signs, wonders and miracles of various characters and descriptions.... Was it only meant to be true of the early church?... The Scriptures never anywhere say that these things were only temporary – never! There is no such statement anywhere.” (John Piper, “Signs and Wonders, Then and Now”)
III.Caught in the middle A.Definition of Cessationists and Non- cessationists B.The Cessationist position 1.Rightly critical of excesses and abuses among charismatics in the realm of spiritual gifts 2.I’m encouraged by Dan Wallace’s challenge to Cessationists
3.Find Non-cessationist definition of prophecy very troubling 4.Nevertheless, I find Cessationist arguments less than compelling
C.Areas of agreement with Non- cessationists: 1.Cessationist arguments are less than compelling 2.It is difficult to know how to distinguish between “temporary” and “permanent” gifts – where do you draw the line? 3.Sign gifts are not just to accredit the apostles
4.Could these be the “last days”? 5.Signs and wonders reinforce the preaching of the gospel 6.Some Cessationists act like they doubt that God acts powerfully today through His Spirit 7.Are we inconsistent in our prayers for missionaries?
D. My problem with Non-cessationists regarding their definition of prophecy “... the gift of prophecy is a very different thing than the verbally inspired speech of the apostles and prophets who wrote Scripture. It is based on a spontaneous revelation from the Holy Spirit, but it is fallible and in need of sifting because our perception of the revelation and our thought about it and our delivery of it are all fallible.” (John Piper, “Why the Gift of Prophecy is Not the Usual Way of Knowing God’s Will”)
Piper on the Supremacy of Scripture: “Let me begin by affirming the finality and sufficiency of Scripture, the 66 books of the Bible. Nothing I say about today’s prophecies means that they have authority over our lives like Scripture does. Whatever prophecies are given today do not add to Scripture. They are tested by Scripture. Scripture is closed and final; it is a foundation, not a building in process.” (John Piper, “The Authority and Nature of the Gift of Prophecy”)
My Concerns: If “prophecies” today are to be tested by the Scriptures, which have supreme authority, then why would we not let these Scriptures define prophecy? Deuteronomy 13 Deuteronomy 18
There is much emphasis on the supremacy of Scripture, and assurances that this new kind of prophecy – a prophecy about which I cannot be certain, and which may well be flawed – does not take precedence over Scripture. Thus, I am told, this new “prophecy” can never replace, or revise or override the inspired revelation of the Scriptures. But if this is so, if the Scriptures are supreme, then why are they not regarded as supreme in the definition of prophecy which they give us?
It is clear that Piper himself recognizes problems with this new definition of prophecy: “Now I have already tipped my hand that I think Grudem is right about the meaning of New Testament prophecy. But I want to say here at the outset that even if he is wrong that this kind of thing is what New Testament prophecy was, the experience may still be valid, and we just should not call it the gift of prophecy.” (Using our gifts in Proportion to Our Faith, Part I – Oct. 10, 2004)
“We don’t need to agree on whether to call this experience “prophecy.” (John Piper, “Using our Gifts in Proportion to Our Faith, Part 1 – October 10, 2004) [Notice that this is one of Piper’s late lessons on “prophecy,” rather than one of his early (1990) messages – after more than 10 years of reflection]
If, as Paul works very hard to demonstrate, prophecy is the greatest gift, then why is a new, watered-down definition of prophesy so desirable? If, in the last days, prophecy will again occur, will it be the “new prophecy” of today, or will it be the “old fashioned prophecy” of the Bible?
Part of the uniqueness of the gift of prophecy is that it (unlike the other gifts) must be perfect (inspired and inerrant). If so, then isn’t the acceptance of a new definition of prophecy (which expects flaws) robbing this gift of its unique contribution?
IV.My most difficult problem in 1 Corinthians: I maintain the strictest, most conservative definition of prophecy, and yet the epistles (including 1 Corinthians) appear to deal with prophecy as though it were a common, everyday experience. How do I reconcile the “everyday” feel of prophecy in 1 Corinthians with the exclusive feel of prophecy in Deuteronomy 13 and 18, and even in the Book of Acts?
Solutions: The epistles were written before the canon of Scripture was closed or completed. The apostles were still living, and their authority was under attack. 1 Peter 4:10-11
V.Conclusion A.I don’t believe either view is totally correct B.Polarization has not been productive C.Be grateful that both sides have moved toward each other, and are talking graciously
D.To Non-cessationists 1.Let the Bible be the ultimate authority for defining spiritual gifts 2.Reject any definition which not only fails to square with Scripture, but in fact reverses Scripture. (If prophecy in the Bible must be without error, then don’t call something prophesy and then prepare me to expect error.) 3.Don’t water down spiritual gifts. 4.Insist the gifts be exercised biblically