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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

Do Not Quench the Spirit - Test Everything

Dr. Sam Storms once stated, "Many Christians are either woefully deficient in their knowledge of Scripture or noticeably devoid of any experience of God's power. The Lord never intended this for His people. We have all seen firsthand the joyless intellectual arrogance the absence of spiritual power can produce, as well as the fanatical emotional excess that comes from the lack of theological integrity."

Yesterday, here on the blog I made the point that there seems to be extremes both on the cessationist side and on the continualist side. Personally speaking, I am a continualist, but I would be very quick to state that I am much more comfortable with the stance that fellow continualists such as Dr. John Piper or Dr. Wayne Grudem take than say the "crazies" out there who seem to be the main voices on so called "Christian" television in America. I shudder inside to think that my non-Christian neighbor friends tune in to these television shows and conclude that this is the Christianity I represent. Many times I would have to say that I abhor what I see portrayed there probably as much as they would.

Having said that, I wonder just how cessationist my cessationist friends are. Some dismiss all inward impressions as being either an over-active imagination or worse, having its source in the demonic. They would never be open to the fact that God might speak to someone through a dream or guide through an inward leading of some sort.

I realise that there are vast dangers involved here because (generally) the people who speak about God leading them are not normally known for their discernment, or know enough Scripture to be able to have a biblical filter in place. These dangers however are not new. They were the same dangers prevalent at the time of the writing of the New Testament. In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul wrote, "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." (v. 19-22) All things should be tested by that which is theopneustos - the God breathed Scripture. All Scripture is God breathed. All claims to be a word from God certainly are not. That is why all things should be tested.

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October 26, 2010  |  Comments (25)   |  Permalink

Free will vs. blasphemy of the Holy Spirit

Visitor:

Free will vs. blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Please help me to understand how it is possible to blasphem against the Holy Spirit if man does not have free-will. ESV by Crossway notes at Luke 12:10?????????????

Response:
Apart from God's grace in Christ, no one believes the gospel. That man needs God's grace to believe (John 6:6:63-65) is itself proof that man has no free will. Left to himself he remains in bondage to sin.... Is He not? Ask yourself a simple question: Does the Bible teach that a person can come to faith in Christ apart from any work of the Holy Spirit? No, in his native, fallen, unregenerate state man will always choose to reject Christ. No one is coercing him to reject Christ, he does so voluntarily because his heart is corrupt and loves darkness. (John 3:19, 20)

You may ask, how can he be responsible then? Answer. Consider if a man borrowed $1 billion from the bank to finance a new company. Instead the man squandered the money in a week of wild living in Las Vegas. Is he responsible to repay the debt to the bank? Of course. Is he able to repay? No, he is bankrupt. So his inability to repay the bank does not alleviate him of his responsibility. Likewise God commands men everywhere to perfectly obey His commandments. Do they? no. Are they responsible to obey? Yes. So again inability does not alleviate responsibility. God likewise commands us to repent and believe the gospel? Can we do so apart from His Holy Spirit and grace ? No? Are we responsible to believe nonetheless? Yes. Our inability to believe is because, in Adam, we are sinners by nature and we continue to choose to sin. Unless God renews our heart to understand spiritual things we would never believe the gospel. (1 Cor 2:14).

So regarding your question about blaspheming the Holy Spirit. All those who reject the gospel, in the end, have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. They are completely responsible for their rejection of Christ (Whom the Holy Spirit gives witness). Furthermore, God is not obligated to save anyone ... and the greatest judgment is to leave them to their own so-called "free-will. So anyone who is saved can give God the glory for it was purely a work of His mercy and grace, in spite of ourselves. Praise the Lord.

Hope this helps
John H.

October 12, 2010  |  Comments (6)   |  Permalink

Is the Holy Spirit underemphasized in Evangelical and Reformed circles?

Dr. John Piper responds:

August 14, 2010  |  Comments (0)   |  Permalink

Sola Scriptura & the Gifts of the Spirit by Pastor John Samson

Question: Pastor John, How does the 'vocal' gifts of the Holy Spirit work with sola scriptura? Wouldn't the revelatory nature of those vocals gifts contradict this sola in any way? Or does it complement it?

As the lone fellow on the contributing team who can be described as being an essentially reformed, credo-baptist and charismatic, I guess I knew this question would be asked of me at some stage, especially when I write something on the subject of sola scriptura.

A whole book would need to be written to cover this question in a satisfactory way. One book that addresses this question from a similar perspective to my own would be Dr. Wayne Grudem's "The Gift of Prophecy." While pointing you to this resource, allow me to also give a very brief answer to your question by asking a further series of questions:

Question 1: Were the vocal gifts taking place in the early church a violation of sola scriptura?

I think we'd all agree that the answer would be a resounding "no." Paul would have put a stop to the use of the gifts had he viewed them as a violation of Scripture. Of course, the canon was not yet complete when Paul was writing 1 Corinthians 12-14, but certainly the functioning of the gifts did not violate Scripture - at least at that time - I am sure we'd all agree.

There were certainly abuses of the gifts going on - very much so in fact. What is interesting though is that Paul, when writing to the Corinthians, knowing of the abuse of the gifts, did not stop the use of the gifts, but instead directed their use. 1 Corinthians 14:39-40 says, "Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner."

Elsewhere he wrote: "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." - 1 Thess. 5:19-22

Paul allowed for the functioning of the gifts of the Spirit while still cautioning that everything should be extensively tested. What passed the test was to be accepted, but all things that did not were to be shunned.

Question 2: As quoted above, Paul wrote, "do not despise prophetic utterances." Why would there ever be a tendency to do this?

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February 13, 2006  |  Comments (7)   |  TrackBacks (1)  |  Permalink