Creator of the Indie Gospel network and one of it's contributing artists.
By Ken Rich, 2012-04-22
This article has been edited to fit my evolving understanding of the WOT scam.
Ostensibly WOT has a good purpose, and looks very respectable on the surface. However, in practice they are nothing more than a digital extortion racket. Wot's trolls attack a sites reputation with lies and slander, sending the owner on an stressful, time consuming, expensive quest to validate their site.
I am posting this here, because initially when I wrote WOT they directed me to their forum. The forum is a place where obnoxious, accusatory trolls attack your personal dignity, slander your character, and belittle your efforts to express the truth. Whatever I posted there kept getting deleted by their staff, so they simply wasted my time with aggravating nonsense.
After complaining repeatedly about lies and slander posted against this network, I was banned. This is typical of WOT, and this same experience is reported by thousands of others.
Google WOT SCAM and you will find plenty of evidence for their slanderous, libel, unconscionable defamation of legitimate sites. For example:
One of Indie Gospel's members, initially supported WOT financially, and trusted their rating system. They ended up having one of their own sites attacked. It was a Christian site with all text, and no links, but it was maligned as advertising and linking to bad sites. The slanderous attack had no basis in reality, and did not even attempt to look plausible. The same baseless accusation was made against an orphanage we host, which also did not have any ads on it.
This same site owner (a trusted member here), told me WOT was attacking our network. Sure enough, I checked and every single one of our sites was red lighted. They were scaring people away from us who might have otherwise been saved. This is totally unacceptable, infuriating, malicious, and evil.
I've worked too hard, for too long, with absolute integrity, to let such a thing stand, and I am quite frankly physically and emotionally ill over this.
Indie Gospel is a non-profit Christian social network. We spread the Gospel through music, promote worthy charities, and provide free Christian resources. We do good work all around the world.
We have a screening process which keeps out most would be spammers/scammers. We have admins who police the network, and we have a staff that can rectify any problems pointed out to us. I often punch 16 hour days with no pay (in fact with out of pocket costs) to run this Ministry, so you can imagine my distress at having it maligned.
If a valid problem was detected, pointed out, and we failed to act then and only then would there be grounds for WOT to trash us, or attempt to destroy the trust of our members and visitors. Instead they red lighted us based on lies and slander from biased WOT members.
WOT portrays itself as having a good purpose, but in practice is damaging legitimate sites, and even heroically good clean Christian websites. Why don't they target the hackers and pedophiles instead, and leave the good sites alone? That's easy to answer, there would be no money in that! Wot sells safety seals for over $700 a year.
I initially asked our members to go to WOT to rate us and leave comments. I appreciate the ones who have, but new member ratings are not worth anything in their system. So the members of Indie Gospel Artists who actually use and know this network , who have insider knowledge, and actual experience with the sites agenda and activities are not counted. HOW CONVENIENT .
Not only that, having our members join their system exposes them to the fraud, and feeds the beast. It's another facet of the scam which keeps perpetuating it.
I spent a full month jumping through WOT's hoops and trying to get their staff to delete lies and slander from their members SuperHero58 and Shazza . All of our sites except 2 went from red to green, but instead of banning those two WOT power members, they banned me instead for protesting their malicious, slanderous lies.
WOT has stepped on the wrong toes this time. Coming against this network and it's members, is coming against the Saints of God. It will not be tolerated Psalm 105:15 Do not touch my anointed ones...
I am in the process of gathering evidence and recruiting those who have been unfairly attacked and abused by WOT members. When the time is right, a lawsuit will proceed. WOT is breaking laws protecting against slander and defamation of character. They are ruining legitimate businesses and destroying peoples livelihoods, not to mention damaging Ministries and even orphanages.
Please contact me, if you wish to become involved in this lawsuit and put an end to WOT's tyranny. Our contact details are on our certified online business card at http://indiegospel.info , or simply e-mail below.
By Ken Rich, 2012-08-14
I recently had occasion to preach a sermon in Pakistan via Skype (with interpreter). I've adapted the sermon I wrote for a blog format (below).
S econd Coming of Christ
The music video above is called " The Lord is Come ". It is a song I wrote to try and express the tension between the wonderful hope, and the terrible judgment aspects of the apocalyptic scenario.
In the video, I also try to capture the imminence of Christ's return, by placing it in the here and now, and emphasizing speed and finality. I would like to explore this subject with you today.
The Second Coming of Christ is plagued by many false teachings. For instance, many people have tried to predict the date of Christ's return, only to be embarrassed as their predicted time came and went. The Bible clearly states in Matthew 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father...
Jesus quickly followed that statement with keep watch , because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" . We are not to have a casual attitude about his return or be in ignorance of it, we are to keep watch . There are signs we can look for, and we are not left in doubt or darkness about the manner of Christ's return. God's word is our guide.
Do we see these signs today? Daniel 12 says that at the time of the end " many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase ." Up until recently, horse and buggy were the fastest means of travel, and books contained mankind's accumulated knowledge.
Now we have men running to and fro in planes, trains, and automobiles. We even have space travel. We've gone from books to supercomputers, and man's knowledge is doubling at a logarithmic rate. It's staggering when you think about how fast knowledge is increasing in these last days.
In Matthew 24 , Jesus says that "nation will rise against nation", "there will be famines and earthquakes" and "many false prophets shall arise". There is no doubt that the frequency and severity of these types of events have increased dramatically in recent years. I don't need to spend time on this, it is in the news every day.
We are also told that "this gospel must be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations, and then the end will come." In the dark ages, the Catholic Church chained the word of God to Monastery walls and those who dared translate it into the common languages of the people were burned alive at the stake.
Now the Gospel travels at warp speed, bouncing off satellites, to reach the four corners of the earth. For example, I am in Canada, yet preached this message live in Pakistan via the Internet. In today's world, we have TV, radio, Churches, missionaries, books, leaflets, and Internet Ministries. We can see the Gospel going out to all the world, and doors are opening where no door existed before. Even in countries where persecution has historically been widespread and brutal, the Gospel is marching forward undaunted and unstoppable.
In Revelation 16:9 we see the sun given power to scorch people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
Did you know Greenland lost it's icecap in just a four-day period recently? Unprecedented heat waves are causing crops to dry up in America. All over the world heat records have fallen at an alarming rate, and power grids have collapsed under the extra demand. Is this man made global warming, or prophecy being fulfilled?
In Daniel 2 , a rock comes to hit the feet and smash an image that represents the last day kingdoms of men. That rock is Christ and we are living in the toenails of time. A study of this prophecy reveals that the 10 kingdoms represented by the toes have been here for some time now.
Please do not ignore the signs that are all around. Don't let yourself become a scoffer, or be carried away by the pleasures and cares of this world. Don't join the ranks of the foolish virgins in the parable of Matthew 25 who were unprepared. The consequences are far too grave.
Matthew 24:38-39 ...'For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.'
For those of us who are awake and keeping watch, what type of event should we be expecting? We see signs that Christ's return is imminent, but in what manner shall Christ return?
For one thing, it is clear that this will not be a secret event. Matthew 24:27 says, " For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. "
The Bible teaches that every eye will see him. Christ won't be in some secret chamber, and you won't have to look for him here or there. His return will be obvious and unmistakable to all people everywhere.
Matthew 24:30 " Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
Besides being obvious and unmistakable, the return of Christ will also be literal and physical, not symbolic, or only on a spiritual level.
Acts 1:9-11 t he angels said: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
Again, this will not be a hidden or secret event and it will be literal, not symbolic. Some teach that Christ returned (spiritually) in AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. This teaching is sometimes proposed by Preterists, but to be kind, it has inherent difficulties.
Besides being seen by all, and a literal physical event, Christ's return will be heard by all.
"We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
Notice that the dead in Christ shall rise first , then we shall be raptured away. Note the words we who are alive and remain. At the end of time, who is alive and remains to be translated? It is those believers who survived until the coming of Christ.
In Matthew 24:29 Christ himself says it will be “ Immediately after t he tribulation of those days... they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Let me ask you something. If every eye shall see him, if all the tribes of the earth will be mourning, if he comes with a shout and the trumpet of God to raise the dead , does that sound like a secret pre-trib rapture?
The Bible nowhere teaches a secret rapture for the Church followed by another rapture for the Jews who convert later, during the falsified tribulation scenario of futurism.
The idea of a secret rapture is b uilt on the mistranslation of a couple of verses, principally the famous “ thief in the night passage ”. However, if you read just a little further in this same passage, you find something interesting. Christ's coming will catch unbelievers by surprise, but not believers. We are given signs to watch for, and his appearance will not be as a thief in the night to us.
1 Thessalonians 5:4 - But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.
In a parallel passage, Peter confirms this has been taught and is known beforehand. Don't let deceit lead you astray.
2 Peter 3:17 - ... beloved, seeing ye know these things before , beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.
God has given us plenty of warning and a general time frame when these events will occur, but during the counter-reformation, a great deception was foisted upon Christianity. Around 1590 a Spanish Jesuit named Francisco Ribera developed Futurism, which has become wildly popular today.
Now it is even taught by conservative Evangelicals and is perhaps the only view of end-time prophecy you have been exposed to. It may surprise you to learn that what is being taught almost everywhere today, was rejected by Protestant scholars for centuries. That should set off some alarm bells, and cause you to question what you have been taught.
Futurism has popularized (among other errors), the idea that a secret rapture occurs before the tribulation. It has supplanted the Historicist interpretation of the Reformers, which was the predominate Protestant view for hundreds of years.
There is no time for me to develop this further but may I recommend a wonderful book titled " The Blessed Hope " by George Eldon Ladd. It will take you through the prophecies in minute detail. Ladd was a highly respected scholar and Professor of New Testament exegesis and theology at Fuller Theological Seminary.
To recap, let's be clear. Jesus is coming literally and personally. There is a rapture, even though that word is not in the Bible. It is a word which simply means we will be caught away to be with the Lord. However, it will not happen secretly and it will not happen before the tribulation. It happens after the tribulation at the last trump.
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump : for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1 Cor. 15:51-52)
We have already seen in 1 Thessalonians 4 it is Christ who returns with the trump of God and Matthew 24 , confirms this will happen after the tribulation.
Why is this important? Why has the master deceiver worked so hard to promote futurism. It has three devastating effects. First of all, it destroys the beautiful time prophecy of Daniel 9 which proves beyond all doubt that Christ is who he claimed to be.
It also destroys the time frame of prophecy by pushing most of the events of Revelation into the future. In reality, the events of Revelation describe the era from the Apostles down to our day and only a small portion of these events remain to be fulfilled.
Furthermore, futurism creates a smokescreen for the anti-Christ system to operate, since it has everyone scouting the horizon for a future anti-Christ. Meanwhile, the real anti-Christ flourishes in our own backyard.
This system martyred Christians by the millions when it reigned during the dark ages. It continues to promote doctrines of demons and pagan traditions in the guise of Christianity and is famous the world over for raping children behind its altars. Still, the worlds political leaders lend it power and credence, immunity from prosecution, even their respect and worship. They have been beguiled by the whore of Revelation 17-18.
As the final events of earth's history unfold and the plagues of God rain down, don't let confusion and deception over end time prophecy undermine your faith. If you belong to the Lord there is nothing to fear, even though a secret rapture does not precede the tribulation.
The devil would like to confuse and deceive you into being frightened, but the wrath of God is coming upon the wicked, not the righteous. Th e saints will not be harmed, just as the children of Israel were delivered when the plagues fell on Egypt. Like Noah and his family were delivered during the flood, or when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed but Lot was spared. There was no secret rapture to deliver God's people during those past tribulations, yet they were spared. Likewise, have faith that God can deliver you during the end time.
2 Peter 2 ...the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.
Tell me, is it the wheat or the tares who have something to fear at harvest time? It is the wicked who must fear the coming wrath of God.
Matt. 13: 30 " Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters (Angels): First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."
In this parable, does God not deal with the wicked before he gathers his children to his barn?
Has God's arm been shortened that he can no longer provide or protect? Do you believe we have a deliverer who can save you to the uttermost, no matter what the circumstances?
Acts 2:21 "And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Psalm 145:20 assures us, "The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy." Psalm 91:5-8 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
Choose this day whom you will serve and stand watch. For the people of God, this is a time for singing and rejoicing, not fear or confusion.
1 Chronicles 16:33 Then the trees of the forest will sing, they will sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
See the signs, recognize the time in which you live and rejoice. Luke 21:28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
If you are among the people of God, do not be alarmed at what is about to take place, remember that God's wrath will pass you by.
Isaiah 26:20 says, Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.
Revelation 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus
By Ken Rich, 2012-10-27
There are different causes of suffering, much of it is caused by sin. It is often horrific, senseless, and certainly not the will of God. Rather, it stems from the abuse of free will by created beings (angels or men) and results in judgment by God.
To understand why God PERMITS such things to happen, I recommend this article - Why Does God Allow Suffering? Below I will deal with a different kind of suffering, the kind that is CAUSED directly by God
The Bible is full of references where God causes hardship, suffering, sickness, and even death. Atheists and skeptics often use these verses to attack and ridicule Christians. Some don't know how to respond, so they ignore or downplay these sections of the Bible. Such passages seem irreconcilable with a God of love, but denial doesn't make them go away.
Others think they need be an " apologist " for God and go through considerable theological gymnastics, trying to defend their " warm and fuzzy " view of God. I think it's much easier to simply accept what scripture says and take God at his word.
For instance, consider the flood. Suffering and death on a worldwide scale, but God didn't just allow it, he says he caused it (Gen. 6:17). The whole human race, even the children, and babies wiped out except for one family.
How about burning the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24-25). Before you say that was Old Testament style justice, note that Peter says it is an example of what is going to happen again , but this time on a massive scale (2 Peter 2:6).
How about when God commanded Israel to slaughter entire people groups - including the women, children, and animals (1 Sam. 15:3). There is a word for that - genocide.
What about the plagues on Egypt? Old Testament again, but plagues from God will come again as revelation states, causing suffering, sickness, and death. It's an inconvenient truth for some, but the "slain of the LORD will be from one end of the earth to the other " (Jeremiah 25:33). Isaiah calls it his " strange act " (Isaiah 28:21). Strange behavior indeed for a God of love - or is it ?
Some reason that those people deserve it, they are evil, they are enemies (even the babies). Some proclaim that GOD would never do (or allow) anything bad to happen to a righteous person, only the wicked. The book of Job shows that to be an immature view, not in line with Scripture, and incompatible with our existential reality. In Job's case, it was actually because he was right with God, that God allowed Satan to bring calamity, loss, sickness, even the death of his children . Job suffered greatly in the test to prove his faith.
Our view is myopic, we don't see the " big picture " of what God is accomplishing in us, let alone in the realm of the angels. Having lost their position in heaven, the fallen angels have been confined here to the earth, but they are still active and at war. The book of Job lifts the curtain for a " peek " into what goes on behind the scenes. God has reasons for what he does (or allows), his actions only make sense in light of this revelation.
God makes the point (Job 38-40) that our minds are finite, our lifespans are limited, our perspective is narrow, his ways are above our ways and past finding out - we must trust and obey, even though we may not understand his actions or motives. There is an unseen world around us, and as Paul says we wrestle not against flesh and blood . Much of what occurs in our reality, must be framed in the context of a larger reality that is beyond the "ken" of man .
Theologians and philosophers frame this issue in terms of antecedent will versus consequent will. God would prefer to have us live in a garden of Eden, wallowing in eternal bliss. However, he created us with free will and we chose a path of sin and rebellion. He responds with a plan of salvation that involves faith, repentance, discipline, and a process of sanctification.
Some teachers deny that God would ever bring affliction, or that suffering can be good for the soul. They promise only health, wealth, sunshine, and lollipops, but what does the word of God say?
Psalm 119:67 " Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word."
Hebrews 12:10-11 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Consider God's discipline. A small boy may not understand why their Father disciplines them, or forces them to eat right and exercise, or doesn't allow them to go somewhere with their friends. Although the boy can't understand and resents his Father's discipline, it doesn't mean that his Father doesn't love him - correctly understood , it is evidence that he does love him.
We tend to forget that in response to the fall, God's desire is not for us to be spoiled and lavished with creature comforts. That's what the natural man wants but is it what God wants for us? He wants us to develop tried and tested faith, and proven character.
He cursed the ground for man's sake because in our existential sufferings we learn lessons the ease of the garden of Eden couldn't teach us. Show me someone who has had ease, comfort, prosperity, and health all their life, and I'll show you someone whose self-indulgence has forged the spiritual mettle of a marshmallow .
It's trials and tribulations that develop perseverance and proven character, not ease and luxury. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Most of us want the worldly treasures added on, but in seeking the Kingdom of God, also expect persecution, trials, tribulations, tests - we are told to expect them .
1 Peter 4:12-13: " Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you...
All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching and correcting, for training in righteousness, but " head knowledge " is not enough. God wants us to " live " our faith, to prove it by what we do , in good times and bad . He wants us to develop tried and tested faith that can stand strong in the face of adversity .
All the trees are green in summer, but when the cold blasts of winter come, only the evergreens are not left naked and ashamed . Anyone can be a "fair weather Christian" but when the storms of life come, only those who have truly built on the ROCK will still be standing.
The important thing to remember is that the trials and tribulations do not negate God's love, they prove it . He disciplines all those he LOVES - it's what some people term " tough love" . He cursed the ground for our sake, he prunes us, he purges us, he refines us, but all for our ultimate good. The trials come only for a season and exist for a reason. God is growing us up, sanctifying us, striving with us, purifying us.
Job's faith was tested and he was a better man because of it. The fact that God gave back double what was taken from him, was just an added bonus to the real benefit - faith tried in the furnace of affliction .
Isa. 48:10 Behold, I have refined you , but not as silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction .
This is a HARD TEACHING and some refuse to accept it. Some prefer smooth and pleasant words that " tickle their ears ". They heap up teachers who will paint a rosy picture, and give them a cosmic " Santa Claus " in place of God, who will give them everything they want, accept every behavior, and demand nothing difficult from them.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against comfort, abundance, and provision. I'm not saying we should live in squalor, suffer the indignities of poverty, accept ill health, or go live on a mountaintop. God wants to bless our finances, our health, our relationships, our circumstances. However, there is a greater blessing he is trying to produce in us, and we tend to stifle it with our worldly lusts.
For instance, God may want to bless you financially, but not if it's just going to corrupt you, or diminish your dependence on him. There is a blessing that brings all other blessings in its train, and God will go to great lengths to make sure you don't miss it. Like Job, he may deprive you of your worldly wealth, to test your faith, or to lead you to an even greater blessing.
James 2:5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
It is true that God is the giver of every good gift. It's our perception of what is good for us, and how God should provide these gifts, that may be lacking. Faith is good, but it needs to be refined in the furnace of affliction. Growth is good, but it comes with pruning. Correction is good, but it comes with discipline. Perseverance is good, but it comes through trials and tribulations. Promotion is good, but it is preceded by tests.
Physical health is good, but like the child who is upset when his Father forces him to eat vegetables (instead of junk food), and walk (not be driven) to the bus stop, we want spiritual health without the hardships that help produce it.
Consider the butterfly, it must go through a mighty and heartrending struggle to escape from its cocoon. If you open the cocoon to make it easier, it will never be strong enough to fly. In the same way, we need the struggles and hardships of our lives to strengthen us spiritually. Lack of faith traps us in a cocoon of helplessness, but our struggles strengthen us so that we can one day soar with spiritual power.
This is the place of ultimate blessing, that God would have us obtain. Like a refiner of silver, he holds us to the fire until he sees himself reflected in us. Then, when the dross is purged away, we are truly blessed and our passage through the flame seems but a light affliction, compared to the glory wrought in us. True riches, eternal blessings, pleasures at his right hand forevermore. The worldly treasures men seek, cannot compare.
For more study, here are a few articles from other Christian authors, which express some of the same concepts:
By Ken Rich, 2017-11-13
Why do people have a tendency to create a false dilemma out of so many issues? Often one side of an issue is so strongly emphasized that the other side becomes lost or is even seen as an opposing idea. Meanwhile, both sides are true and harmonize, so to reject one or the other is presenting a half-truth. This is often more deadly and dividing than a complete and total fabrication.
Let's take the role of the written Word in the life of a Christian. Some so strongly emphasize its role that they make an idol out of the Bible. They exchange a living relationship with the WORD (Christ), for " head knowledge " of the Word (scripture).
First off, this is not an attempted departure from the Reformation. Sola Scriptura is not a denial of other authorities governing Christian life and devotion. Rather, it simply demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God.
The reformers were quite right in denying Rome's assertion that that tradition was on par with scripture and an equally valid basis for doctrine. I do not argue for Prima Scriptura, I agree that scripture alone is authoritative in matters of doctrine.
However, tradition, experience, and reason all have a place in the Christian experience, as Wesley tried to articulate with the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Scholars may argue over what weight should be assigned to each but it is clear that a completely unbalanced view is dangerous.
The reformers rightly swung the pendulum away from Rome's heresy but is there a danger of it swinging too far? Where does Sola Scriptura end and Bibliolatry begin?
What I take issue with, is when some " teachers " seize upon the following verse and a few more like it, and in " splendid isolation " from the rest of scripture, dig a theological mass grave for themselves and their followers.
2 Timothy 3 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work...
Yes, it is absolutely true that scripture is and does all of these things, but does it say that scripture is all that is required. What about the following verse?
John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
It's as true today as it was for the Pharisees of old. Salvation is not in the book itself, it's in the person the book points to, and the book is not the only means at his disposal for dealing with men. After all, he is the creator of everything around us and great life lessons can also come by existential experience, as you personally work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
I'm talking about a " living relationship ", it's one thing to read scriptures and know " about " God, it's quite another to " know " God. The question is - in your daily life, in your day to day experiences, is your faith " authentic ", or just theoretical?
The point I am trying to make is that our faith is dead without actions (James 2:26), no matter how much " head knowledge " we have, it is useless and dead without existential expression. Our actions play a role in the perfecting of our faith. We build character as we react to tests, trials, opportunities, challenges, and " exercise " our faith. Our faith becomes purified and " authentic " by application of the word, not by hearing the word.
Mental assent to the truth of scripture is good, but one must not stop there. One must persevere through thick and thin, and have faith that endures amid the challenges of life. There is a need for these experiences, just as there is a need for doctrine.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever...
In this verse, is it scripture that produces the glory in us, or is it our present troubles (existential sufferings).
Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings , because we know that suffering produces perseverance ; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Is it the Word that produces the perseverance, or is it the suffering?
I could go on and on with dozens of verses that completely contradict the idea that scripture alone is the only means by which God works on men's hearts. It is absolutely authoritative in matters of doctrine, but not the only way God strives with men.
Suppose we have a rowboat with two oars. One is scripture and the other is the existential experience . By this I mean life experience such as trials, tests, challenges, overcoming, sufferings, victories, failures, etc.
Some theologians completely throw out one oar (existential experience) and can only go in circles, with a dead faith that has " head knowledge " only. No deeds, no trials, no tribulation, no tests to refine and prove its mettle.
On the other hand, a transcendentalist like Ralph Waldo Emerson makes the opposite mistake and throws out the other oar - scripture. Deprived of " special revelation " and " objective truth ", he is lost on a sea of subjective thought, going in circles of the opposite direction.
In actual fact, both oars together will allow one to row swiftly on a straight course to a personal relationship with God that is tried, tested, and true. This produces " authentic " faith, which is in harmony with and guided by scripture, but also existentially expressed and proven .
Consider Romans 2 - Even someone who has no knowledge of the Word is without excuse because there is " natural revelation " and what God requires is written on men's hearts - it's " innate ". The " special revelation " of the word is not the only way God reaches out to men.
Existential experience within the boundaries God has set, with the innate moral compass planted within, with the striving of his Spirit, is still limited without the authoritative guidance of the Word - that's true . It is best to have both working in unison. The Word and the merits of rationalism should not be ignored, downplayed, or rejected.
The opposite is also true. Without existential expression and internal witness, the Word does not produce a crop. As in the parable of the seed that fell on rocky soil, or shallow soil, only under certain conditions will the Word produce a crop.
Luke 8:15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop... Hmmmm... Where have we heard this word persevering before? What produces it?
It is completely right to uplift the Word but a word based faith is dead, untried, and untested, without actions to exercise and purify it within an existential framework. A " head knowledge " religion won't " cut it", there is no " authenticity" until faith is applied and tested.
On the other hand, faith that has been tried and tested in the furnace of affliction is like pure gold - it's authentic. That doesn't come by the Word alone, it comes by persevering through the sufferings and challenges born of existential experience.
Jeremiah 9:7 Th erefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: "See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?
Who is speaking here? It is the LORD Almighty who is doing the refining and testing. Why didn't he just give them more of " the Word " (doctrine), why does he decide to refine and test them instead?
The fact is, they already had the Scriptures, they had theoretical, knowledge-based faith. To purge them of their sin and purify their faith, he needed to have them exercise it. Again and again, in scripture we find God plunging his people into a harsh existential setting, that would challenge their faith.
Isaiah 48:10 I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering .
Some say - " If problems were what perfected us, then most Christians would have been perfected long ago and those who experienced the greatest problems would be the greatest Christians".
I could use the same logic and say that if the Word alone perfected us, God would have left us in the garden of Eden with a Bible, and we would all be perfect. He didn't, he kicked us out of Eden to learn some hard " life lessons ".
Besides this " natural revelation " of existential experience, he gave us his prophets and apostles, angels, his Son, his Spirit, and the written Word. God works on multiple fronts, in various ways - not just by the written Word. Scripture is authoritative in matters of doctrine, and a source of objective truth, yet it must be applied and experienced.
Faith must be tested and purified to be of any value. It is not a hearer of the word, but a doer of the word that is right with God. One can be a Bible scholar, in fact, a professor of theology with scriptures " coming out of their ears " but not " know " God, be born of love, or have any perfection of character. There are many examples, here is just one:
Bishop Raymond John Lahey had a Bachelor of Theology, a Licentiate in Theology (L.Th.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) but he was still caught lying to protect the pedophile Priests in his charge and was himself caught importing child pornography of the most graphic, horrendous, and torturous kind. Something more is required than rationally apprehending the Word, one must live the Word.
In conclusion, there is a reason why God allows trials of many kinds to enter your existential reality and test your faith. There is also a reason why he disciplines us when we stray, although it can be painful. The reason is - he LOVES us and wants the best for us, but the best gift does not come easily, or by simply having the Word.
James 1:2-15 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. .. Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial , because when he has stood the test , he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
For more study here is another article along these lines - http://www.globalchristians.org/articles/messiah/sufferjc.htm
By Ken Rich, 2012-11-06
I've dubbed it " The Sound of Hope " and it involves producing compilation Cd's with various artists, to fund the over 1,200 orphans in our growing Worthy Charities program. This program was recently featured in Equanimity Magazine .
Our charities are now also members of WAAOM , which provides a rigorous accountability process. Our Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is Teresa Ann Wiggins, who is also the president of WAAOM, so proper management of any funds collected is assured.
Official page is hopemusic.net
Please like us on Facebook
By Ken Rich, 2013-01-14
The Love Offering Tour
A huge project is being built into our network by our new marketing director Jacob Lawrence , who is also the COO of Conquer Entertainment . This will permanently enhance our mission to " win souls and feed kids ", since the touring circuit and infrastructure can be used again and again for future charity projects.
Submit a performance application, or songs, to " The Love Offering Tour ". Legendary producer Dennis J. D'Amico will be producing a compilation album from the submissions, so be sure to get your work reviewed.
The tour is scheduled to launch in California by late February, and fill venues all the way to the East coast. You don't need to be a music professional to assist this Ministry effort. If you would like to volunteer in some capacity, please join our group and get involved. We need organizers, promoters, venue operators, photographers, videographers, prayer warriors, etc.,
We will also sell our " in house " Cd compilation " The Sound of Hope " during the tour. Plans are to make this the first of many, to fund our over 1,200 orphans in our "Worthy Charities" program administered by WAAOM..
More information is linked above in Adobe PDF and PowerPoint formats. Contact, song submission, and performance applications are also on convenient buttons, plus you can grab a link to us widget for your website. Spread the word, the time has come to start promoting. Please get involved and help us conduct a mission of mercy through music Ministry.
By Ken Rich, 2013-04-23
May 10th at Crossroads Community Church in Yuba City at 7 PM. This is the launch of a coast to coast tour to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief.
There will be venues across the country, with many artists coming together in love to fill local food banks and help the needy. Please help by spreading the link, donating, or helping to organize a venue in your area - thanks.
By Ken Rich, 2013-10-24
There is a huge controversy shaking the institutional Churches and it has once again been brought to the forefront. One of the principle players in this " in house " debate is John MacArthur, the author of Charismatic Chaos and sponsor of the recent Strange Fire conference. He is not without his critics - here is a well written, downloadable PDF called A Response to Charismatic Chaos by Rich Nathan.
MacArthur is a rather strict cessationist and an " old school " proponent of Calvinism. Personally, I reject Calvin's cold determinism and identify more closely with the particular brand of Arminianism espoused by John Wesley. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the contributions of the Reformed tradition, and the sober minded sincerity of men like MacArthur. His style can be somewhat acrimonious and dogmatic, but I share his concerns.
While I disagree with his cessationist interpretation of several key scriptures, I can easily relate to many of MacArthur's criticisms of the foolishness, fakery, and false spirituality found in much of the charismatic movement. Some of it appears dangerous, having more in common with the Kundalini force of Eastern mysticism, than it does with gifts of the Spirit. I agree that it is wise (and Biblical) to " test the Spirits " - since pagans , and witches also manifest tongues and various ecstatic " experiences ".
In other words, just because something supernatural is taking place, does not necessarily mean it is "of" God. That being said, we also don't want to " limit" God. Part of the problem is that Christendom has put great emphasis on Christology, and ecclesiology, but pneumatology has been largely neglected. God is sovereign and can pour out his Spirit upon men if he chooses. In fact, according to scripture he has already done so.
Acts 2:17 - 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams."
Cessationists claim that what is being manifested by the over 500 million charismatic Christians in the world today, is at best fakery and at worst demonic. Continuists acknowledge there are counterfeits and charlatans at work, but the Spirit of the living God is still being poured out upon those whose hearts are open. What is the truth on this issue?
Proves Too Much
There is much fodder for cessationist cannons. They can point to many strange and (to be kind) questionable manifestations, such as the embarrassing saga of Todd Bentley , or the wicked Kansas City Prophets who were embraced by some of the most prominent continuists before they were exposed. Cessationists, rightly (in my opinion) question whether the howling hyenas of the Toronto blessing are filled with the Holy Spirit of God Almighty, or by something else? They see no discernment, testing the Spirits, or sound doctrine apprehended by a sober mind in such bedlam and chaos. Is God the author of confusion?
1 Cor. 14:33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints...
No one disputes these type of shocking events are taking place, but are they being used by MacArthur in an attempt to prove too much ? He doesn't confine the topic to cessationism. He makes sweeping generalizations from these aberrations, building an " ugly caricature" of the charismatic movement. Then he contrasts his traditional Reformed theology to this " strawman ", as if that somehow lends credence to his dogma. This is a false dichotomy, an appeal to extremes which employs reductio ad absurdum to insult the truth.
MacArthur says " By contrast , Reformed theology, sound doctrine, is not a haven for false teachers...", which is a great insult to Reformed Charismatics within his own camp. They are charismatic not because they are ignorant of scripture, or of traditional Calvinism, but because they can't deny what the Bible teaches and their existential experience confirms.
Moreover, his rhetoric is even more insulting to Arminians . He seems to forget that Arminius, Grotius, Laud, Wesley and many other brilliant and renowned theologians overturned the dogmas of Calvinism from scripture . Perhaps this short video will be helpful Why I'm Not a Calvinist .
I love our Calvinist brothers, and since they hosted the conference we must forgive their dogmatism in presenting Calvin as the " touchstone" of Christianity. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that honor belongs to another - Christ.
In the rather lengthy article which follows, cessationism is refuted and the acknowledged problems with the charismatic movement are put into proper perspective. In the process, MacArthur's deceptive " strawman " argument is skewered on the pitchfork of truth, it's innards exposed to the withering light of scrutiny.
Despite his overreach, I do appreciate the good talking points brought out by MacArthur's rhetoric. However, I find his cessationist exegesis of some of the relevant scriptures to be flawed. I must agree (for the most part) with Andrew Williams in his assessment.
In fact, I think that the division of the gifts such that the miraculous or " sign " gifts have ceased, including tongues, prophecy and healing, but the " normal " gifts like teaching carry on, is an imposed and artificial distinction based on bias, not sound exegesis. Many of the nuances, subtleties, and vagaries of the opposing positions are touched on here
For me, the key is that 1 Cor 1:7, 13:10 have the gifts continuing to the perfection obtained at the second coming of Christ, not the closing of the canon. Joel 2 28-29 places the gifts eschatologically in the last days, not limited to Pentecost but starting there. There is no getting around these facts, however the case for ecstatic tongues is textually very weak.
How weak? Early Pentecostals themselves believed that tongues were real earthly languages ( xenoglossia ) and not private prayer language, or "ecstatic" tongues. A new interpretation began to receive attention in the 19th century, but the traditional view still dominated until the mid 20th century. Eventually " categories " of tongues became accepted, accommodating " subjective experiences " with the type of glossolalia common among pagans. Biblical and historical support is strained, and some continuists reject ecstatic tongues as counterfeit , a repeat of the ancient Montanist heresy.
S.C. Todd of the Bible Missionary Society investigated eighteen Pentecostals who went to Japan, China, and India ‘expecting to preach to the natives in those countries in their own tongue,’ and found that by their own admission ‘in no single instance have [they] been able to do so.’ As these and other missionaries returned in disappointment and failure, Pentecostals were compelled to rethink their original view of speaking in tongues” (Robert Mapes Anderson, Vision of the Disinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism). The conclusion was soon reached that their “tongues" were not earthly languages but a “heavenly” or special prayer language - A Private Prayer Language ?
This video was produced by someone who grew up in the Assemblies of God and is well acquainted with tongues. He argues that the ecstatic tongues commonly practiced today are a counterfeit, but the true gift is legitimate, relevant, not for everyone, and produces real languages. This article by noted Christian author Ray C. Stedman presents a similar view.
In addition to accepting ecstatic tongues, Pentecostals also insist that ALL must speak in tongues as initial evidence of Spirit Baptism, though this is not currently accepted by most charismatics. It may come as a shock to some Pentecostals that Charles Fox Parham (the originator of this doctrine) believed in tongues as real languages ( xenoglossia ), and viewed the ecstatic type of tongues (glossolalia) widely practiced today as false, even demonic .
Hear this: three-fourths of the so-called Pentecosts in the world are counterfeits , the devil's imitation to deceive the poor earnest souls. . . . Many hundreds, in seeking Pentecost, were taught to yield to any force, as God would not permit them to be misled; under those conditions they were ripe for hypnotic influence . . . . Two-thirds of the people professing Pentecost are either hypnotized or spook-driven , being seized in the first place with a false spirit or coming under the control of one afterward. We cannot be too careful to try or test the spirits and any person unwilling to have their experience tested by going to God for themselves or with the brethren, reveal the fact that they are demon-controlled . . . . They plead the blood, and claim to be Jesus, giving messages, and imitate every gift of the Holy Spirit and Pentecostal tongues . Charles Parham, 1911 " The Everlasting Gospel " (55, 72, 120-121)
Could it be that continuationism is correct and desiring the gifts is commendable, but the radical changes made to the role and nature of tongues are ill-advised?
That is a vital question, but it is not the only one we should be asking. Are warnings of a false Kundalini spirit fear mongering, or some type of conspiracy theory? Is the charismatic movement a repeat of the ancient Montanist heresy? What about the numerous " anointed " charlatans that keep getting exposed? Can we allow subjective experience to drive our interpretation of scripture? At the very least, these questions should underscore our need to be cautious and discerning - were we not told to test the Spirits?
1 John 4:1 - Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God...
In any case, I must add my voice to the growing chorus of critics on both sides , bewailing the loathsome and repulsive prosperity Gospel . It is so vile and heretical as to be beneath the dignity of a critical response. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 condemns it, Matthew 6:19-34 as well, plus many other texts. Contrary to MacArthur's assertions, many leaders and groups within the continuist camp oppose it .
Why make millionaires out of greedy charlatans while innocent children starve to death? If you have the means, sow into pure religion rather than feed wolves. Here are some needy orphans who really do need your help - Change for Children
Disagreements on Interpretation
In the " Strange Fire " conference, Tom Pennington makes the clearest, most direct case for cessationism. Though logically laid out, his arguments are easily countered as not demonstrably Biblical. The short simple response of Andrew Williams destroys both his contentions and the foundation of the entire conference. Nevertheless, Pennington's point on ecstatic tongues vs real tongues is well taken, and Williams neatly sidestepped it.
Phil Johnson goes beyond Pennington's clearly stated but unconvincing position. He complains that he can't find the " baby in the bathwater ", and draws the wrong conclusion out of the murk instead.
Like MacArthur, much of what he says in criticism of the Charismatic movement is true, but he attacks the weakest points, uses the most extreme examples, and paints with too broad a brush. I agree that charlatans abound and there is widespread counterfeiting of gifts occurring, but does that preclude the genuine ?
His unworkable attempt to deny modern miracles, while simultaneously denying charges of deism, involves some interesting theological gymnastics. Like Pennington, he spends a great deal of time fishing with the " red herring " of primary usage. I agree that the eyewitness Apostles were indeed testified to with mighty signs and wonders, but that in no way limits the gifts to believers .
1 Corinthians 14:4,26 shows that the specific spiritual gifts being denied, were given to ordinary Christians (not just apostles) for the edification (or building up) of the Church. 1 Corinthians 1:7, 13:8-12 shows they will continue until the coming of the perfect which is the perfection obtained at the second coming of Christ (not the closing of the canon).
Johnson appeals to a need for precision of terms, but then uses providence as a sort of " weasel word ". Within Reformed Tradition itself there is no agreement on how to define the word miracle. The simple truth is lost in a maze of categories and layers of providence, all convoluted around a framework of predestination.
He mixes in some valid points about fakery and frauds but after all his rationalizing and categorizing is over, the miraculous is buried beneath the skirts of providence, paradoxically acknowledged and denied by his sophistry. Modern miracles are conceded as a technical possibility under the category of rare extraordinary providences, but denied as an experiential reality, or as a continuation of God pouring out his Spirit to edify the Church.
Slippery semantics notwithstanding, nothing can extradite a cessationist from the dilemma that God is still immanent, still miraculously answers the prayers of the faithful, and still bestows spiritual gifts to edify and build up the body of Christ until he returns.
1 Corinthians 1:7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I would agree with Johnson that miracles are no where near as routine and commonplace as the shenanigans in Charismatic circles. There are certainly tares among the wheat, shamelessly counterfeiting signs and wonders to draw huge followings after themselves. Nevertheless, God's arm has not been shortened, and there is no excuse for rank unbelief in the truly miraculous happening in the here and now.
On the topic of worship music, MacArthur shoots himself in the foot and sticks the other one in his mouth. He promotes anachronistic hymns and pipe organ music as pious and reverent, while sanctimoniously condemning contemporary styles as unfit, irreverent, even dangerous. This is a biased unbiblical position, which is totally SHREDDED in a free e-book entitled In Defense of Contemporary Christian Music .
Think about it! His introduction to the conference involves God striking down those who offer improper worship, using Lev. 9,10 as an example. I agree, God is deadly serious about proper worship. In fact, he also struck Uzzah down in 1 Chron. 13:9 for simply touching the Ark . So, as MacArthur suggests we should ask the question - what musical worship style does God accept?
In answer, was God displeased or did he strike anyone down for their loud and joyous musical merrymaking which obviously employed strong rhythm and even dance - around that very same Ark ?
2 Samuel 6:5 And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals ... And David danced before the LORD with all his might.
Perhaps in claiming the Word as his final authority, MacArthur should have the integrity to incorporate scriptures like 2 Samuel 6:5 (not to mention Psalm 149, 150, and dozens more) into his theological perspective. Staid, somber, and rhythmless, does not equate to reverent in the Bible. Rhythmic and danceable does not equate to evil in the Bible. God is sovereign and can decide for himself what is acceptable, scripture is far from silent on the subject .
Wackos vs Brainos
MacArthur also points to " wackos " in the continuist camp, mired in gross sin and suffering from lack of scholarship. He makes the Todd Bentleys of the charismatic movement representative of the whole, such that they become a " strawman " to knock down 500 million confessed Christians. Personally, I find that to be an offensive and fallacious form of ad hominem attack.
To illustrate the pejorative nature of this unsavoury tactic, one only has to examine the intellectuals with solid degrees in theology and great ecclesiastical standing, who are often worse than the " wackos " (not that the Reformed tree doesn't have it's share of nuts). Someone may have D.D. behind their name, possess a great depth of Scriptural knowledge, be well spoken and well dressed in a dark suit or flowing robes, but does that mean they are born of love, have correct doctrine, or are even remotely moral? Not according to the sorted history of the Church, or to recent revelations in the modern media.
Bishop Raymond John Lahey had a Bachelor of Theology (B.Th), a Licentiate in Theology (L.Th.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). He graduated magna cum laude (with honors - above average). He served as a Professor of Religious studies, and head of the department. He had a distinguished ecclesiastical career with many postings, including chancellor of a top ranked University. Despite the letters behind his name, and his scholastic knowledge of Scripture, this man was caught lying to protect the pedophile Priests in his charge and was himself caught importing child pornography of the most graphic, horrendous, and torturous kind .
Obviously, s omething more is required than just rationally apprehending the Word , one must be in a saving relationship with the one the Word points to - Jesus. This involves being born again by the Spirit of God who does indeed give gifts, the greatest of which is love.
1 John 4:7-8 Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
Although the abuses of the Catholic clergy are legion and infamous, Protestant Ministers are often guilty of the same crimes, though well studied and holding respected positions in their various ecclesiastical institutions. In my country (Canada) the Catholic, Anglican, and United Churches would ALL be bankrupt if the government did not pay off the abuse claims against them, generated by the long list of horrors perpetrated against helpless native children at r esidential schools .
To listen to MacArthur and Phil Johnson , one would think the perpetrators were all charismatic and ignorant. Perhaps they should look in the Reformed closet for skeletons, starting with Calvin who was no angel as the Jews and anabaptists can attest. Why limit their search engine to only find deviants in the " enemy " camp, this small study below provides a view that isn't colored by their bias and deception.
Of the accused clergy, 75 were Catholic priests (39.5%) and 111 were Protestant ministers (58%). (Also charged were 1 Mormon clergyman, 1 occult minister and 2 cult ministers.) Protestant cases involved equal numbers of mainstream and fundamentalist/evangelical denominations . Clergy Who Molest
A Boat Needs Both Oars
The sad and disgusting state of affairs in the Churches today serves as a cautionary tale, but don't let revulsion or reaction lead to extreme positions. Perhaps this analogy will illustrate the basic problem. A boat needs both oars working in unison to travel straight and true, throw one away and you are apt to row in circles.
Experience and intuition should complement, not replace, supplant, or contradict the objective truth of God's special revelation - the Bible. At the same time, doctrine should not violate conscience, or thwart a living relationship with God. If it does, it is false dogma not sound doctrine . Consider the words of Christ.
John 4:24 - God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
For instance, It would be a great mistake to follow the transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson in limiting oneself to individualism and the natural revelation described in Romans 2. Granted, history is replete with wars and inquisitions where false religious dogma was enforced to the violation of God given conscience. However, God's word is true and he gave it for a reason - we can't throw it away because of how it's been abused. The natural witness of the inner man is important, valid, and God given, but it should not be the only oar in your boat. The objective truth of scripture keeps one from becoming lost on a sea of subjective thought.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Many highly trained Churchmen err in the opposite direction, and throw away the other oar. They view inner revelation as inherently unreliable and a potential lure away from the " truths" of dogmatic religion. They give no ear to the voice of God in their hearts, having only a dead intellectual understanding of scripture. Well studied and credentialed religious academics, but bereft of relationship.
We need the Holy Spirit and his gifts. HE is our teacher - the one who wrote the book is not limited to the book. He speaks to us generally through creation and directly to our conscience. Even the heathen (who have no scripture) have no escape from God. What he requires is written on their hearts , their own thoughts defending and accusing them (Romans 2:14-15). How much more so those who diligently seek God and are receptive to his Spirit?
1 John 2:27 But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you , so you don't need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true (John 14:26, 1John 3:24, 1 Cor. 2 10-16, Col 1:9).
All scripture is God breathed and useful in making one wise to the way of salvation and obedience. It is the final authority on doctrine and sufficient to guide us, but book learning should lead to and inform ( not replace ), a personal experiential relationship with God through the Ministry of the Spirit.
Romans 8:9 ...the Spirit of God lives in you . And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ .
Listen to this short clip from John MacArthur and you will realize that he has only one oar in his boat . He makes the Bible the SOLE authority and source of revelation, but Sola Scriptura doesn't deny other sources it only subordinates them to scripture. There is a huge difference.
The Spirit inspired the scriptures and MacArthur is absolutely right that we should study them. They are truth, they are authoritative, they do have a sanctifying effect, we should internalize them, they do speak to us, we should share them, but he leaves out the most important thing - we should do what they say .
Knowledge of scripture is not an end in and of itself - they point us to Jesus. We must choose to let Christ into our hearts for real , not just as a theoretical abstraction of intellect. Christ didn't just leave us a book, he left us his Spirit. We must partake of the divine nature, there is a synergism which must take place and it is more than just studying scripture. We must be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14).
1 Cor. 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you , which ye have of God...
Ironically, the book itself tells us that, but some are forever studying and never coming to a knowledge of truth . In that short clip, as in many of his diatribes, MacArthur calls upon his " strawman " to deceptively mischaracterize Charismatics as Biblically illiterate. Meanwhile, they apparently know scripture better than he does, because they seek the Spirit of God and his gifts as the book says we should .
Luke 11:9-13 Ask and it will be given...how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
1 Cor. 14:12 Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit , try to excel in those that build up the church .
The Rise of Bibliolatry
There are currently over 40,000 denominations who disagree over doctrine. Men have argued, fought, and killed over the meaning of scripture for centuries. Why are there so many interpretations when there is only one Spirit?
Long ago, the Catholic Church elevated it's teaching authority over scripture They claimed that their Magisterium had to interpret it for us, usurping the Spirit's role as teacher. When Protestants broke away, they rightly upheld scripture over tradition, but neglected to restore the Ministry of the Spirit to it's rightful place.
Cursory acknowledgment was given, but in their great rush to defend the sufficiency of scripture, the role of the Spirit in illuminating scripture was an afterthought at best. "Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word" (Westminster Confession of faith, 6:6).
The Reformation left us a wealth of sermons, creeds, and treatises defending the sufficiency of scripture but today they are often misapplied and misunderstood. Originally written to defend against the traditions of Rome, they are now used by some against the Holy Spirit. They think the Spirit's ministry was confined to inspiring the book and is now over. No longer does he speak through nature, or experience, or relationship, or strive with men's hearts. Contact with God has been reduced to a rationalist understanding of scripture.
Guidance from God through dreams, visions, prophetic words, words of knowledge and wisdom are rejected outright, as a knee-jerk reaction to the counterfeits of charlatans. Fear of receiving a false Spirit has led to exclusion of the true Spirit. Illumination of scripture becomes impossible, and multiplied disagreements among dead religionists abound.
This downloadable PDF by J.P. Moreland Ph.D., Th.M., explains how Bibliolatry has become entrenched in Evangelical Christianity. He is one of the few scholars seeing the issue clearly and raising the alarm. To be fair, here is a defense against the charge of Bibliolatry by John MacArthur .
MacArthur once again evokes his " strawman " and argues from extremes. He grudgingly concedes to the need for illumination and indwelling, albeit in the most diminished sense possible. He admits he has never really felt the presence of God, and sees the Spirit as a one time permanent deposit that is static, unchanging, and imperceptible, rather than a person we have a dynamic living relationship with.
We receive the Spirit when we enter into a saving relationship with God, but what of all the verses that explain the nature of this relationship? Whether one believes in a secondary baptism of the Spirit, or being filled and refilled, it is evident that the relationship is not static. God is seeking us, but are we pursuing him, yielding to him, limiting him, or excluding him? Here is a downloadable PDF that explains - We have as much of God as we actually want ~ A.W. Tozer
It is up to us to let him in (Rev. 3:20). We must ask for the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). We can quench (1 Thess. 5:19), we can grieve (Eph. 4:30), we can resist (Acts 7:51), we can blaspheme (Mark 3:29), or we can be willingly led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14). The synergy created by our desiring, yielding, and cooperating is the key to life in the Spirit. We can be FILLED (Eph. 5:18) and unlike the barrenness of MacArthur's self imposed desolation, the Spirit's presence IS known by those who are joined to Him.
Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
If the Spiri t lives in you , HE can lead you into a right understanding of the book, since HE inspired it. If you make the book the only oar in your boat, you are doomed to go in circles that lead nowhere, lost on an endless sea of dead religion .
1 Corinthians 2:14 - But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.
Sufficiency of scripture doesn't mean the book is sufficient to save you, it's only sufficient to guide you into a spiritual relationship with the one who can save you - Jesus Christ. His words to the Pharisees are just as relevant today as they were then:
John 5:39-40 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that BY THEM you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify ABOUT ME , yet you refuse to come TO ME to have life.
A Question of Balance
Let's get down to where the rubber meets the road . Most Christians would agree that there is a great danger to abandoning oneself to sensationalism, subjective experiences, and untested Spirits. On the other hand, the Spirit of God is real and the objective truth of scripture should not be only intellectualized, such that there is no experiential relationship with God. The Spirit of God must live in us , such that we are born of his indwelling presence. This rebirth is no less than supernatural, experiential, and miraculous.
The debate is not so much about continuationism vs cessationism, as it is about the influence of rationalism and supranaturalism on the interpretation of scripture. Which philosophical and linguistic hermeneutics are considered to be applicable, what interpretive formula is to be applied. How can bias born of preconceived notions be prevented from coloring the exegesis brought to the table by each camp.
Most Protestants (including me), believe in Sola Scriptura which does not deny other authorities but demands that all other authorities are subordinate to, and are to be corrected by, the written word of God. However, as in the Wesleyan Quadrilateral , some (lesser) weight has to be given to reason, tradition, and experience.
It's this balance that is at issue . Reformed Protestants are quick to point out the danger of Prima Scriptura (and I agree), but they are seemingly oblivious to Bibliolatry. Scripture is the final authority, but we are not to make an idol out of our Bible such that it replaces a relationship with God. The Enlightenment gave rationalism a prominent place at the table, but we must not become fettered by chains of reason. Tradition shouldn't be undervalued, it bears the witness of history. Personal experience cannot be dismissed, as it validates the Biblical promises of God as realized and present in the life of a believer.
To know God is to be born of love which is a mystical, supernatural experience. Like the wind in the trees, it's something hard to pin down with words or logic. At some point, we must acknowledge the limits of rationalism and stop trying to catch time in a bottle. God transcends our understanding, his ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33).
Moreover, it is the immanence of God that is being denied by cessationists, almost to the point of becoming deists (though they deny this). The rationalism of the enlightenment (while beneficial in many respects), swung the pendulum too far, leaving no room for mystery and no possibility for the truly miraculous. Like the people of Christ's hometown, cessationists don't have faith to experience the miraculous. They have no expectancy of God pouring out his power, even though he stands in their midst.
What About the Gifts?
Does the Spirit of God still give gifts? Yes, different ones to different members of the body as he sees fit . In fact, we are to desire the better gifts such as prophecy, and use them to edify the body. Paul's question - do all speak in tongues, carries it's own answer - no. Are these tongues real languages? They were on the day of Pentecost when they were first poured out.
The case for ecstatic tongues, or a private prayer language, is (to be generous) textually very weak. To be fair, that interpretation can be found here , a refutation can be found here (decide for yourself). In any case, no one should be " babbling " in Church with no interpreter, that is expressly forbidden.
It must be acknowledged that sincere Christians, genuinely seeking God are speaking in ecstatic tongues, but so are known charlatans . Moreover, Voodoo practitioners, Buddhist and Shinto priests, Muslim dervishes, Indian fakirs, witches, spiritualists, and Hindu gurus can also speak with ecstatic tongues . Spastic movements, shaking, energy, ecstasy, laughter, love, miracles, and healings are also associated with their manifestations.
In light of these facts, it seems unwise to allow these subjective experiences to influence our interpretation of scripture. On the other hand, we can't rule out the genuine , just because there are counterfeits. So, where does that leave us? This video below from Pastor Tim Conway attempts to address that question.
The ecstatic tongues controversy is as old as Montanism , and has flared up again and again over the centuries . The arguments have grown increasingly sophisticated but the underlying tension remains unresolved. We are right to desire spiritual gifts, but at the same time we must test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John 4:1). The Bible warns that convincing signs and wonders will be used in an attempt to deceive in the last days.
"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders ; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Matt. 24:24 [Mark 13:22; Luke 21:8]
So, are the gifts really for today? Yes, but given as HE sees fit, in HIS timing, according to HIS will, to fit HIS plan. In longing for them, don't throw caution to the wind and accept counterfeits - test the spirits . The genuine gifts are given to build up the body, not for individuals to draw attention to self, authenticate false doctrines (or teachers), or to replace orderly edifying Church services, with the babbling spasmodic ecstasies of paganism.
Avoid the extremes on this issue as in so many others. Rather than become polarized and create a false controversy where none should exist, we should attempt to integrate the objective truth of sound doctrine , with a personal born again experience , whereby God's Spirit indwells, gifts, guides, empowers, sanctifies, and most importantly imparts love. After all, if it does not become natural for us to love, then we have missed the boat entirely and our faith is in vain - no matter what theological position we hold on these issues.
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 If I s peak with the tongues of men and of angels , but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge ; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.