Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A shocking message

Paul amazingly, shockingly and radically announced that he (a Jew!) was convinced as a Christian (in Christ) that “nothing is unclean of itself, unless you think it is unclean” (Rom. 14:14). “All things [talking of food] are clean” (v. 20). Paul has obviously reversed the laws of Leviticus 11 ...

As a holy apostle speaking for the Messiah who commissioned him on the Damascus Road, Paul is authorized to explain the Torah of the Messiah, which is not just a repeat of Moses. The Law which was added 430 years later (Gal. 3:17) through Moses was a temporary guide and thus it may be truly said that “Jesus abolished the law of commandments in decrees” (Eph. 2:15). This part of the Torah in the letter was the dividing wall which kept Jews at arm’s length from [the] “unclean” [nations] ... But in the new body of the Church ... issues of calendar and foods are not to be issues of concern. The “weak” were urged by Paul to move forward to maturity, to follow Paul who was not weak (see Rom. 14:1-5). And the strong were to wait patiently till we all come to a point of unity. This will happen when Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians and especially 2 Corinthians 3 are taken in fully and not tailored to fit a preconception.

At present a historical falsehood prevails in some quarters by which a new celebration on the 8th day, the resurrection day (not a transferred Sabbath), is said to have originated with Constantine! On the contrary, it is well known that meeting on the 8th day was current among Christians long before the days of Constantine. Just read the earlier “church fathers” for this information. Constantine merely legislated in favor of what had long been the Christian custom — to celebrate the New Covenant event of the Sunday resurrection of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 speaks of “every Sunday,” and Luke clearly did not think that the church met on the Sabbath when he expressly says that the Christians met “on the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7). He has in mind the resurrection on that day (Luke 24:21).

The Sabbath of the fourth commandment must not be taken in isolation but in connection with the single shadow trio of observances, so listed not less than 12 times in the Hebrew Bible. In Paul’s mind too the “feasts, new moons and Sabbath day” are a unit not to be split up. The history of [Christianity] ... is littered with attempts to forget Colossians 2:16-17 and to make of the weekly Sabbath something much greater than the new moons. This is to suppress those 12 “trio texts” in the OT and the mind of Jesus-in-Paul in Colossians 2:16-17. In effect: “Let no one tell you to abandon the reality of Christ for the shadow which is now superseded.” The shadow in question is the trio of “annual feasts, new moons and weekly Sabbath” (the plural in the Greek is found often in the Bible and for technical language reasons refers to the single Saturday Sabbath, as for example in Ex. 20:8 in the LXX).

In Colossians 2:16-17 Paul is certainly not talking about physical sacrifices offered on those days! One could not anyway offer a sacrifice in Colosse. It had to be done in Jerusalem. The shadow for Paul is the Jewish calendar ...

(An excerpt from 'Focus on the Kingdom', November, 2010, by Anthony Buzzard).

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Baptismal Regeneration?

The Christ commanded his original disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel about the Kingdom (Mk 16:15) and those who believed the Gospel were to be baptized (Mt 28:19). Among others, baptism symbolizes the believer's identification with the Christ in his death, burial and resurrection: "we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead...we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4).
Unfortunately, various innovations were gradually introduced regarding baptism: that one must be baptized to be saved; indeed, that baptism itself saves even when administered to infants. This became known as the doctrine of baptismal regeneration. Most Protestants holding these beliefs today are not aware that they originated with the Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages.

The Council of Trent (1545-63) stated that while Christ "merited for us justification by His most holy passion...the instrumental cause [of justification/regeneration] is the sacrament of baptism....If anyone says that baptism is...not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema."1 Vatican II (1962-65) reconfirms all of Trent2 and reiterates the necessity of baptism for salvation,3 as does the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church released by the Vatican in 1993: "Baptism is necessary for salvation...the Church does not know of any [other] means...that assures entry into eternal beatitude...." 4

Trent anathematizes all who deny that "the merit of Jesus Christ is infants by the sacrament of baptism" or who deny that by baptism "the guilt of original sin is remitted...." 5 Today's Code of Canon Law (Canon 849) declares that those baptized are thereby "freed from their sins, are reborn as children of God and... incorporated in the Church." Canon 204 states, "The Christian faithful are those who...have been incorporated in Christ through baptism" and are thereby members of the one, true Catholic Church.6

For centuries before the Reformation, baptismal regeneration was rejected by Non-Catholics whom the Roman Catholic Church therefore persecuted, tortured and slaughtered by the millions. Non-Catholics taught from Scripture that baptism was only for those who had believed the gospel: "teach all nations... baptizing them [who have believed]" (Mt 28:19); "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:41); "What doth hinder me to be baptized?... If thou believest [in Jesus] with all thine heart, thou mayest" (Acts 8:35-37). Infants can't believe in Jesus.

Consider Cornelius's household: they heard the gospel, believed it and were baptized. That there were no infants baptized is also clear, for they had all gathered "to hear all things that are commanded thee of God" (Acts 10:33). "The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard [and, obviously, understood and believed] the word [about the Kingdom]" (v 44); and they spoke with tongues (v 46). That they had "received the Holy Ghost" (v 47) convinced Peter that they were saved. Therefore, he baptized them (v 48).

Nor can infant baptism be supported from the case of the Philippian jailor who "was baptized, he and all his" (Acts 16:33). Again there were no infants present because Paul and Silas preached the gospel "to all that were in his house" (v 32), and "all his house" believed (v 34) and were then baptized.

The early Reformers such as Martin Luther were Catholics who, unfortunately, retained some Catholic dogmas, among them baptismal regeneration and infant baptism. These teachings are still held by some Protestant denominations today. The issue is a serious one. If baptism is essential for regeneration, then to reject that teaching is to be damned!

When Paul reminded the Corinthians of the essential ingredients of the gospel which he preached and by which they had been saved, he made no mention of baptism (1 Cor 15:1-4). In fact, he distinguished between the gospel and baptism: "Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel ..." (1 Cor 1:17). He hadn't baptized most of the Corinthians, couldn't remember whom he had baptized, and was thankful that it had been very few (1 Cor 1:14-16)—a strange attitude if baptism is essential to regeneration! Yet without baptizing them, Paul declared that he was their father in the faith: "in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel" (1 Cor 4:15).

Then what about Mark 16:16: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved"? 
First of all, this verse does not say that baptism regenerates. Secondly true belief leads to baptism. He who believes wants to follow the commandments of the Christ and thus submit to baptism if possible. However, not all has the possibility of being baptized, like the thief on the cross. On the other hand, a rejection of being baptized, would only show unbelief, IE and unwillingness to follow the commandments of the Christ.

Yes, but Romans 6:4 states, "We are buried with [Jesus Christ] by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead... even so we also should walk in newness of life." That Paul is speaking of the spiritual reality baptism symbolizes, is clear, for he says that through baptism "our old man [sinful life] is crucified with him [Jesus Christ], that the body of sin might be destroyed." As a consequence, he urges believers to "reckon" themselves "to be dead indeed unto sin... Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body" (vv 6-13).

Paul uses similar language concerning himself when he says, "I am crucified with Christ" (Gal 2:20). He is obviously speaking of that same symbolic "baptism" by which a believer have died and been risen with the Christ and have thus passed with him through death into resurrection life. If a believer were literally dead to sin, then he wouldn't need to "reckon" it true or live the new life by faith; he would automatically never sin again. That a Christian may sin shows that water baptism doesn't effect a literal crucifixion with Christ. It portrays a symbolic baptism into the Christ which the believer must live by faith.

Significantly, though Paul baptized a few, Christ himself never baptized anyone in water (Jn 4:2)—very odd if water baptism regenerates. Yes, Christ said a man must be "born [from above] of water and of the Spirit" to be saved (Jn 3:5), but it is unwarranted to assume that "water" here means baptism in water. The Christ wants to "sanctify and cleanse [his church] with the washing of water by the word [of the gospel]" (Eph 5:25-27). Jesus said, "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken" (Jn 15:3). Like Christ, Paul put water and the Spirit together, referring to the "washing of regeneration" and linking it with the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Ti 3:5). A person is born from above by the holy spirit, by the word, the gospel of God, which is sometimes called "water" because of its cleansing power. As Peter said, we are "born again... by the word of God" (1 Pt 1:23).

It was obviously the symbolic cleansing of baptism which Peter communicated to his Jewish audience in his Pentecost sermon: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). It is clear that it is not baptism in itself that saves, but that it offered a ceremonial cleansing uniquely applicable to his hebrew hearers who were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 2:36). To be baptized was to be identified before the fanatical Jews of Jerusalem with this hated Jesus Christ, as their passover lamb. Their baptism had a high cost, showing their belief in Jesus being their Christ, it costed them their family and friends and endangered their life. Thus for an Israelite to be publicly baptized at that time was to "wash away [their] sins" (Acts 22:16), as Ananias told Saul.

"The gospel of Christ [about the Kingdom of God] ... is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth [it]" (Rom 1:16). To preach baptismal regeneration is to preach another gospel that cannot regenerate.

1 H. J. Schroeder, trans., The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent (Tan Books, 1978), 33, 53.
2 Vatican Council II, The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P., (Costello Publishing Company, 1988), rev. ed., 412.
3 Ibid, 365.
4 Catechism of the Catholic Church (The Wanderer Press, 1994), 224, 320.
5 Trent, 22, 23, 54.
6 Code of Canon Law (Paulist Press, 1985), 122, 614.

Original by Hunt, Dave , The Berean Call - March 1st, 1995

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Did Jesus think he was God?


Did Jesus think he was God? In order to answer this question, let’s take a look at the words of Christ to see what he said on the subject. He said, “My Father is greater than all” (John 10:29). “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). If the Father is greater than His Son, could Jesus be equal to God? Jesus took it a little farther when he said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself” (John 5:19). The very source of Jesus’ authority was from the Father (Matthew 28:18) not his own nature. In fact on one occasion, Jesus denied that he was God: “And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone’” (Mark 10:18). Jesus never referred to himself as God or a member of the Trinity. He knows exactly who he is—the Son of God.
The traditional view of Christ is that he is God in the flesh - he always existed as God - and one day, without ceasing from being God, also became man. Let’s test this idea against the testimony of Scripture. Consider the following:

If Jesus is God then …

How could he have a beginning (Matthew 1:18, Romans 1:3) when God has always existed (Isaiah 43:13)?

How could he keep “increasing in wisdom” (Luke 2:52) when God's “understanding is infinite” (Psalms 147:5)?

Why did he say, “I can do nothing on my own initiative” (John 5:30) while God “can do all things” (Job 42:2)?

Why did he spend “the whole night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12) when there is never a time when God prays, but only receives prayer from others?

How could he learn obedience and become perfect (Hebrews 5:8 and 9), when God invented obedience and is already perfect (Matthew 5:48)?

Why doesn’t he know the day and hour when he will return, and yet his Father, God, does know (Matthew 24:36)?

Why didn’t he know who touched him (Mark 5:30), when God knows everything (Isaiah 46:10)?

How could he be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1), when “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13)?

How could he die (Philippians 2:8), if God “alone possesses immortality” (I Timothy 6:16)?

Why should he be in subjection to the Father for all eternity (I Corinthians 15:28)?

Why was he asleep on the cushion (Mark 4:38) when God never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4)?

Jesus was very clear on his relationship to God. He said, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my new name” (Revelation 3:12). Jesus has a God! He said to Mary, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God” (John 20:17). Mary and Jesus had the same God, the Father.

Jesus' own words do not seem to support the belief of most churches. We must allow Scripture to be our only source for truth.

Jesus never said that he was God or the second member of the Trinity. But if Jesus is not God, then how can he save? Salvation depends on believing that Jesus is the Son of God, not God the Son! In fact, when Jesus prayed to the Father he said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Eternal life depends on knowing God the Father and believing Jesus to be the sent Christ.

Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and the greatest man to walk the face of the earth. He is the King, the Messiah, and Lord. He is the highest exalted person in the universe next to his Father. He perfectly submitted to and obeyed his Father’s will. He said, “I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself Who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak ... therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me” (John 12:49 and 50). Jesus is a great example and a model man for all of humanity.

Jesus came with the purpose of preaching the gospel of God’s coming Kingdom (Luke 4:43). After completing his ministry of preaching, he died on the cross as an atonement for the world. God raised him from the dead on the third day, which proved to all that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of God (Romans 1:4). Forty days later he ascended to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God.

God is not a man, that He should lie, nor the son of man, that He should repent” (Numbers 23:19).

I will not execute My fierce anger … for I am God and not man ...” (Hosea 11:9).

... For God is greater than man” (Job 33:12)

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him ...” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

There is one body and one spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; One Lord [Jesus], one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Original by Living Hope International Ministries

One God - Only the Father is God

Jesus knew that this was his last time with the disciples before he would be taken into custody. He prayed just before he made his way across the Kidron Valley to the Garden of Gethsemene. The disciples listened earnestly; they were probably still in shock because Jesus had just washed their feet. As he prayed he did not look down, instead he looked up to the Father. In the beginning of his prayer, he made an extraordinary statement about eternal life. He said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). According to this verse, there are two who must be known: the only true God, and Jesus Christ. Jesus considered the Father to be the only God and he considered himself to be distinct from that only God. This simple truth is elevated to the highest degree when he prefaced the statement with, “This is eternal life ...” That is to say, eternal life depends on one's understanding of God and His Son.

In addition, Paul the apostle was inspired by God to write along the same lines in his first letter to Timothy.

I Timothy 2:3-6 NASB
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

There are two closely linked desires of God listed: 1) for all to be saved, and 2) for all to come to know the truth. In verse four “the truth” does not refer to all true things in general but a very specific truth. The next two verses explain “the truth” that God desires all men to know. The first ingredient is that there is only one God. The second is that the man Christ Jesus is the one mediator between the one God and men. The third is that Jesus gave himself a ransom for all at the right time. There is no confusion between Jesus and God; they are fully distinct in nature and in function. According to the greeting of this letter (I Timothy 1:2), God is the Father, and Jesus Christ is Lord. Just a few verses earlier then where we are now, it says that the only God is immortal. (In the word "immortal," the prefix, im, means not; and mortal means can die; thus immortal means cannot die.) However, the third ingredient of "the truth" is that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all. In order for Jesus to die, he must be mortal. Therefore, we conclude that the one God (the Father) is completely distinct from the one man (Christ Jesus). It is as important to recognize this distinction, as it is to understand that Christ gave himself as a ransom for all.

One God
(the Father)
is completely
distinct from
the one man
(Christ Jesus)

A third text that offers clarity on this issue can be found in I Corinthians. The context concerns idolatry and eating the foods that are sacrificed to idols. Paul recognizes that there are many who are called gods.

I Corinthians 8:6 NASB
Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

This text leaves no wiggle room for complicated definitions of God. He is the Father Who created all things. He is the source from which everything, including Jesus, originated. He is the one God and Jesus is the one Lord.

There are many other places in the New Testament that speak of God as the Father. Consider the following scriptures: John 1:18; 4:23 and 24; 6:27; 8:41 and 42, 54; 20:17; Romans 1:7; 15:6; I Corinthians 1:3; 8:6; 15:24; II Corinthians 1:2 and 3; 11:31; Galatians 1:1,3 and 4; Ephesians 1:2 and 3, 17; 4:6; 5:20; 6:23; Philippians 1:2; 2:11; 4:20; Colossians 1:2 and 3; 3:17; I Thessalonians 1:1, 3; 3:13; II Thessalonians 1:1 and 2; 2:16; I Timothy 1:2; II Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3; James 3:9; I Peter 1:2 and 3; II Peter 1:17; II John 1:3; Jude 1:1; Revelation 1:5 & 6.

The overwhelming weight of Scripture teaches that only the Father is God. He is the awesome Creator of everything in existence. He is the most powerful Being in the universe. He has no equal, as even Jesus confessed (John 10:29; 14:28). He is called the "one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:6 NASB). About two thousand years ago, He brought into existence His perfect Son who would save Israel from destruction. Jesus, the perfectly obedient one, followed God’s plan flawlessly.

Original by Sean Finnegan

Devoted Charismatic to the Third Way - Speaking in tounges

1958 was the year. The year I was born, that is. Born into this world to a lower middle class Catholic family, in small-town Nebraska, USA.

About twelve years later, I was born into another world. No, I did not die and get reincarnated somewhere. I'm talking “in a figure” this time. This time I was born into the world of Charismaticism and fanaticism (under the leadership and influence of my parents).

As part of my indoctrination into this new world, I was taught that getting filled with or baptised in the Holy Spirit was the next step in walking with God, after getting 'saved'. And the evidence that you had arrived and were baptised was 'speaking in tongues.' Speaking in tongues was supposed to be a supernatural ability that was imparted by the Spirit that gave you, essentially, a hotline to heaven.

If we move on down the road another twelve years, we find that I am born yet again! This time into the world of high profile Charismatic 'ministry.' I’ve moved my family to Tulsa, Oklahoma (USA) to begin working for "Dave Roberson Ministries." Dave Roberson was a highly anointed/gifted (or so it seemed) and charismatic (in both senses) healing and teaching evangelist that I highly esteemed, whose teaching centred around 'tongues' as the pivotal and all important spiritual gift.

Dave attributed both his anointed healing and teaching ministry to tongues. According to him, ‘tongues' was a well from which you could draw nearly all other things spiritual. It was the key to spiritual edification. It was the key to understanding the mysteries of God. It was the key to building yourself up on your most holy faith. It was the key to health and prosperity. It was the doorway to the other 'gifts.' It was the key to power in ministry. It was the key to the miraculous, both in your personal life and ministry. It was, as I said, virtually everything, literally. It was perfect, Spirit-inspired prayer. When you prayed in tongues, you were praying God's perfect will for your life. By turning yourself over to the Holy Spirit through praying in tongues, you could rest assured that you were not praying in unbelief or in any way contrary to God's will. You could rest assured that all of your prayers would be answered, because the Holy Spirit knew perfectly the mind of the Father, and He would inspire you to pray in perfect accordance with it. Of course, all of this led to perfect peace. What more could a person ask for than for God’s perfect will for your life?

Besides all of these personal benefits that could be derived from praying in tongues, tongues was also the most effective way to pray for and make intercession for others. Again, the Holy Spirit knew best what the needs of others were, and you could trust Him not to pray amiss.

Well, being the devout and hungry (and incredibly naive and insecure) disciple that I was - that is, hungry for health, wealth, power, and all the rest of God's material blessings - I prayed in tongues all the time. I prayed in tongues when I walked, when I sat, when I worked, and when I played. I prayed in tongues so much that my wife would sometimes tell me in the morning that she heard me praying in tongues while I slept. Like the Apostle Paul, I prayed/spoke in tongues “more than ye all.”

When I could, I would combine it with fasting, because, according to Dave, the combination of the two (praying in tongues and fasting) was the ultimate in releasing your faith and mortifying your flesh. It was the ultimate combination for drawing close to God.

Again, I was very naïve and gullible, as you can well tell by now. So naïve that I never questioned any of this, and never in a million years dreamed that any of it would prove to be anything but true. I was sold on it, lock, stock, and barrel.

Let’s move down the road another five years. By now I've become very close with Dave. I've travelled extensively with him. I've served as his personal travelling companion. I've been his personal confidant. I’m involved in managing the affairs of the ministry.

But in spite of my closeness with Dave, a crisis develops. I become fed up with certain things going on around the ministry – namely the way certain people behaved - and I call it quits. That was a bold move, because I had nowhere else to turn. I had no degree, no skill, and no savings. I had nothing. And I had a family to support. But I figured (again, naively so) that I could go home and just begin praying in tongues and fasting and God would take care of it all. I thought to myself, "Why put up with all this nonsense, when I can go home and pray (in tongues) and fast until God gives shows up and gives me my own ministry?!"

So that's what I did. I literally went home and began 'praying' and fasting. I threw myself totally into it, and hung the entire welfare of myself and my family on it. Again, we had no savings to speak of, nor any other source of livelihood. I expected God to show up and do something miraculous in our lives.

Three weeks later (that's right, I said "weeks"), the only thing that I could see that was being accomplished was that I was starving myself to death. I went from ~150 lbs. down to 125 lbs. I was skin and bone! I looked like something out of Auschwitz. God hadn't showed up like I had expected him to (apparently He wasn't too impressed) and I started to get desperate.

In my desperation, I somewhat left off ‘praying in tongues’ and cried out to the Lord. I started turning to my Bible more, and praying *intelligently* (Is there really any other way??) I read much from the book of Psalms, and cried like David: "I loooong for Your courts, O Lord! HELP ME!"

Somehow the Lord began to get through to me. He began to open my eyes (with my cooperation) and reveal to me my wicked (selfish) heart and intent. I began to see how selfish and proud I was. I began to see my motives. I wanted the anointing, sure, but because of ALL THE FAME AND FORTUNE THAT WENT WITH IT! I was basically (trying) to use God as a means to serve my own selfish ends (rather than serving Him as an end.) Wow! How I had deceived myself into thinking I was something spiritual! (But I had plenty of help. Most everything I had ever been taught *assisted* me in my self-deception. My doctrinal diet up to that point only bred selfishness and greed, rather than mortifying it as good doctrine is supposed to do.)

At this point, I would like to introduce an excerpt from Robert Ringer that George Otis quotes in his book "The God They Never Knew":

"Simple reasoning tells you that you must regard the interests of others in order to obtain your objectives. Fellow human beings represent potential values to you in business or personal relationships, and the rational individual understands that to harvest those values he must be willing to fill certain needs of others. In this way, the most rationally selfish individual is also the most 'giving' person." (Robert J. Ringer, Looking Out For #1, quoted by George Otis, Jr., in "The God They Never Knew.")

If anything describes me up to this point in my life, this is it. Oh yeah, outwardly I was a nice, hardworking person. But inwardly, I was as selfish as the day is long. And when the Lord revealed this to me, I began to writhe in mental anguish and pain - in remorse, regret, and sorrow.

And it wasn't something I wanted to pass quickly. It wasn't a thing where I just wanted to nonchalantly say "Lord, I've sinned, forgive me," and move on. No, this was serious business, for a change. I saw how I had grieved and offended God, and how I had sought to use Him, and I wanted Him to know how deeply sorry I was. I wanted the ugliness of my sin to weigh upon my mind, until I was absolutely sick of myself, and of the way I had been living. I wanted to see sin, and particularly *my* sin, the way God saw *my* sin. I wanted His thoughts to fasten hard upon my mind, so that sin would become the stench to me that it was to Him, to the end that I would cease to indulge in it. I also wanted to contemplate my just desert for my sin.

It is hard for me to recall how long I was in this state of mind, I want to say it was a couple of days, but I'm not sure. At any rate, it all culminated with me finding myself at the foot of the cross, repenting of my sins, and giving my life to God, through Jesus Christ. It is sad to say, but I cannot recall [because I don't think it ever happened] anyone ever bringing me face to face with my sins like this before - in all my years of Charismania. On the contrary, I was made to believe that I was a child of God simply because I "spoke in tongues." What a horrible doctrine. It could well have landed me in hell, though I would not have had anyone to blame but myself. I had deceived *myself.* Anyway, back to the story...

At this point (that is, at the point where I have genuinely repented and placed my faith in Christ) something wonderful happened. I felt like the Holy Spirit descended upon me like a mother hen. "He shall cover thee with His feathers." Ps. 91. So much of what I had been reading about in Psalms, so many of the expressions David used to describe his relationship with God, just came to life, and meant something to me. "A day in His courts is better than a thousand without!" "I'd rather be a doorkeeper in his courts than dwell in the tents of wickedness at ease!" "The name of the Lord is a strong tower." He is a "refuge" and a "fortress," "my rock," "my God, in whom I place my trust."

For the first time in my life I knew what the "peace that passes all understanding" was. The most perfect peace, the most settling and comforting peace, just enveloped me like a cloud, and went everywhere I went.

And for the first time in my life I felt like a child.

Up until this point, my life had been constantly filled with either worries about the future or regrets about the past. I never had the peace of mind to enjoy the moment at present. I never knew what it meant to "stop and smell the roses." I was always striving, always competing, and always wishing. Now, for the first time in my life, I was a child (HIS child), a contented child, with a Father that I knew loved me, and would take absolute care of me. All my insecurities, all my fears, all my wishful thinking about what might have been, evaporated. I was at peace, and content, because I was completely surrendered to Him. There was nothing else I needed. My Father was it. He was all I needed and longed for. Nothing in this world would ever satisfy again.

The love of God was shed abroad in my heart and filled my soul. I was in love with everyone. Love just oozed out of me for others. I even found that I couldn't look at a pretty woman with lustful thoughts! The thought of doing such was just simply abhorrent to me. I could only look with love and goodwill.

I could go on about all the changes that took place in me, but as this is already going to be long, I will move on. Let me just add this: as a result of, and in the midst of, this spiritual awakening, I found myself in a most wonderful place of fellowship with God. I could now go to prayer and experience the most wonderful time of *intelligent* communion with Him. I could close my eyes anywhere at anytime, direct my attention toward Him, and enter into this wonderful fellowship. If I got too busy, and found myself weak at heart, I would simply get alone, and begin to wait upon Him. I would allow my thought processes to slow down/unwind and gradually focus upon Him, and then as I began to express my heart and mind to Him He would respond. He would quicken my heart afresh with His love, and I would become strengthened and refreshed. (Like David says, "His mercies are new every morning.") He would also quicken my thoughts with wisdom and understanding when I had questions and problems to deal with.

After this spiritual awakening and transformation took place, I was given the opportunity to go back to work for Dave's ministry. I took it, and I was very grateful for it, because as I said previously, I didn't have any other means of providing for my family. I made peace with the person I had problems with, and everything was hunky dory. Though I knew the ministry had its problems, I felt that with God's help, we could more than deal with them. (Little did I know what the next two years would bring.)

At this point, let me just stop and say that I still believed wholeheartedly in Dave's teaching and doctrine. I still believed that "praying in tongues" was this unique, God-ordained means to spiritual edification. But, my recent experiences with God so deeply and profoundly affected me, that slowly and almost subconsciously, I started re-evaluating everything. It seemed to me as if my mind had literally woken up as a result of the transforming presence and peace of God.

So here's what happened over the course of the next two years: My coming back to work coincided with Dave deciding to rent a local facility so he could start having regular local services (as opposed to being on the road constantly), as well as regular "intercessory prayer meetings." He called the place "The Prayer Center." Dave designated certain nights of the week as prayer nights, and then began preaching on a couple of the other nights, in order to exhort whoever came to also come and pray. He wanted to build a group of intercessory prayer warriors. Prayer night consisted of simply coming and "pray in tongues" for a couple hours.

Well, as I attempted to participate in these prayer meetings, and "pray in tongues," I found myself feeling like I was "getting no where." So I began to resort to simply expressing (albeit silently and to myself) my thoughts to God intelligently (again, is there any other way?!), and whenever I did, I would once again find myself in this place of sweet fellowship that I had recently grown accustomed to, and so enjoyed. When I "prayed in tongues" it was like speaking to a wall, but when I prayed normally, I experienced real wonderful fellowship.

To make a long story short, this "conflict" (that now existed between my doctrine and my experience) caused me to want to go back to the Bible and see for myself what it had to say about "tongues," and about this doctrine of "praying in tongues for personal edification.” For two years I read and reread (a thousand times) those passages (IN CONTEXT), asking God to illuminate me, and give me understanding on what they meant. Again, never in a million years did I imagine that such a thing would happen, but at the end of those two years, my thoughts culminated in the conclusion that Dave's pet doctrine wasn't taught anywhere in the Bible!

That conclusion had serious potential consequences for my life. How could I continue to work for and support the ministry, given I was now at such odds doctrinally? How would I support my family if I quit? I had a choice. I could choose to compromise, or I could choose to be a man of principle and truth. Which one was it going to be?

Hey! I had a highly esteemed position. I was Dave's direct/personal assistant and confidant. I was his associate pastor. I was one of the administrators. I was responsible for the counselling duties of the pastoral ministry (Dave's "prayer center" evolved into a church by this point). I set my own hours. I was paid well. I had a new Caravan and house. I had prestige. In short, I had it ALL (from a worldly standpoint), in my view. And I could have kept it all, if only I had maintained my previous position on tongues.

Frankly, compromise wasn't even an option in my mind. I didn’t think twice about it. I wanted right standing with God more than anything. I didn't care if I had to eat off the street. I didn't care if I ate at all! I wanted peace with God, and I wanted to keep that peace. I knew that I had to leave, and that I was never coming back, because this time, I was leaving for doctrinal reasons, and matters of conscience, and not for emotional reasons. (Of course, in Dave's eyes, and everyone else's, I was committing the unpardonable sin. “What?! Deny tongues?? That's tantamount to denying the Holy Spirit! What's the matter with you?! Are you NUTS?!")

Here I was then, with a wife and 4 children (we now have 6), and no means of supporting them. What was I to do? I had no other training, I knew no trade, I had no degree!

Well, how we survived is not the story I want to tell right now. (To make a long story short, God took care of us. We went through some lean and humble times, but God still took care of us. The heart transformation I had gone through had put a foundation under my life and prepared me to go through hard times.) What I want to do now is back up and retrace the progression of my thinking that took place over the previous two years, and that led to my renunciation of Charismatic ‘tongues’ doctrine, and to confessing that I had been deceived for the last twenty years!

Here we go.

One of the first things that grabbed my newly revived thinking mind was, if everything I’m being told about ‘tongues’ is true, and if praying in the Spirit is indeed synonymous with ‘praying in tongues,’ why would anyone ever want to pray in any other way?? Why take the risk of praying carnally? (Okay, perhaps in obedience to other portions of Scripture we will pray “with our understanding” on occasion, but we will certainly minimize this. After all, we don’t want our minds to get in the way of the Holy Spirit!) That seemed like the logical outworking of ‘tongues’ doctrine to me at the time. But that didn’t jive with my recent experiences, and it meant doing away with the means of this wonderful spiritual fellowship I had obtained with God. Something just wasn’t right.

The next thing that stood out to me was that, as I read through these chapters afresh (chapters 12 through 14 of 1st Corinthians), was that Paul says "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." (1Co 13:1 KJV) In other words, I am just making noise, if I speak in tongues without love.

This did away (in my mind at that time) with the idea I had been taught that you could pray in tongues at anytime, even when you had fallen back into sin and your love for God had grown cold, and the Holy Ghost would “edify” you and help you “mortify the flesh.” (One of Dave’s favourite verses was Romans 8:13: “but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Of course, the way that the Holy Spirit did this was through praying in tongues!)

This verse, verse 1 of chapter 13, started me to thinking that the ‘tongues’ people were practicing weren’t always inspired by the Spirit, because I knew, first-hand, people who were speaking in tongues and living in serious sin at the same time. How could the Spirit inspire tongues that amounted to nothing more than sounding brass, or tinkling cymbals? Well, you can imagine my answer - He couldn’t. I reasoned that the Holy Ghost wasn’t one to waste words. I mean, if He expects us to give account for “every idle word," surely He wasn’t going to engage in idle words Himself. “What is good for the goose is good for the gander." If there was no benefit to the words, if it was only idle speech, the Holy Ghost wasn’t involved in it. So the first (reluctant) step I took was to conclude that all ‘tongues’ were not genuine tongues. (The reasoning that got me to that point may not have been entirely coherent, but that was my conclusion nonetheless, and it was a good one.) IOW, “all that glittered was not gold.” That was a big step. That was a huge step. But I didn’t care. At this point, I was more hungry for truth than I was interested in being right. (That is an attribute that will characterize every true Christian.)

The logical progression from here was to ask, “Okay, if all tongues are not genuine tongues, then how does a person distinguish between the two? What is the distinguishing characteristic of genuine tongues? What makes Charismatic or Pentecostal tongues different from say, Mormon tongues?”

You know what? No one could answer me. The best answer anyone could give was to say that they relied upon a feeling they had when they first spoke in tongues. They knew it was God because they weren’t thinking about it (tongues) at the time, and this feeling just came over them. (So it had to be God.) Others said they were thinking about it, even seeking it, and they just knew it was God because they felt impressed to speak. “Wow”, I said to myself! “It’s now all about feelings! How is this any different than the world’s system of philosophy?” Well, I kept reading, hoping I would find the answer in the Scriptures.

The next thing that stood out to me was the whole context of chapter 14th. The context was one in which Paul was bringing CORRECTION. He was not giving positive instructions to the church here regarding a doctrine of prayer in an unknown-to-self-and-others language. He was not constructing an overt doctrine of private prayer in unintelligible-to-self-and-others ‘tongues.’ Private prayer was not the subject. He was correcting disorder in the public assembly of the church.

This reinforced my earlier conclusion that all tongues were not inspired. If the tongues that were spoken in the church at Corinth were out of order, they could not have been directly inspired of the Spirit. Can the Spirit inspire something that is out of order?

I then had to ask myself, what was the nature of these Corinthian tongues? Were they pagan tongues (some pagan groups speak in gibberish just like modern tongues-speakers do), as some are wont to say? This couldn't be, because I had to believe that if they were, Paul would have flatly condemned them. Paul would not have allowed a pagan ritual to go on in the Christian church. And since he approved of them as long as an interpreter was present they could not have been pagan or demonic tongues. What could they have been then?

The next thing I noticed was that I couldn't find where Paul made the common distinction that Pentecostals/Charismatics make today that some tongues are for private prayer only, while others are for public use (to be interpreted).

I backed up (to chapter 12) and began reading more of the context. I got wide-eyed over Paul's analogy with the human body. The whole body is not an eye or a hand or an ear. If it were - if it were all one member (that is, if everyone had the same gift), where would the body be?! I saw that the body of Christ was a body composed of different members, just like the human body is, and that every member has as different gift or purpose or function!

“For as the body is one, and hath many (different) members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.”

“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one (the same) member, where were the body? But now are they many (different) members, yet but one body.”

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular (that is, differing).”

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts DIFFERING according to the grace that is given to us…”

And all these differing gifts and functions work together for the building up of the whole body. The individual gifts are put in the body for the sake of the common good (that is, the good of all), not for themselves.

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.”

(“Hmmm”, I said. “This doesn’t seem to be leaving room for the doctrine of a so-called gift of tongues for personal/private use.” I know, I know, some could make the argument that if you are personally edified, then you are more capable of being a blessing to the body at large. But the text suggests that the gift itself is directly beneficial to the body.)

As I continued reading (over many months) I found Paul asking the rhetorical question in verse 30 of chapter 12: "Do all speak with tongues?" The obvious answer was NO!! (“What?! This contradicts everything I'd been taught! What does he mean by implying that not everyone speaks in tongues?! How dare he!”)

Modern Pentecostals and Charismatics are wont to say that Paul was only speaking of those who are called to speak in tongues in public here. Yes, I agree, that is obviously what Paul is talking about here - public ministry. But I could not find where Paul made the distinction between tongues for public use (or ministry), and tongues for private use. I could not find anywhere where Paul qualifies/modifies his statement and says, "however all DO speak in tongues in private prayer" (or, “all do – or should – have the gift of tongues for private prayer.”) It just isn't there. NOWHERE does Paul (or any other NT writer) establish a doctrine of praying privately in a new, unknown, and unintelligible-to-self-and-others 'tongue' – for anyone.

I continued reading - and praying (intelligently), desperately wanting to grasp (understand) the nature of these tongues that Paul was talking about, and the meaning of certain statements made by Paul in chapter 14 that have been historically used to teach the modern doctrine.

Somewhere in my transition (I’m not sure where exactly), I was confronted with the Pentecostal/Charismatic (hereafter known as PC’s) definition of “spirit”. PC’s define “spirit” as some kind of irrational ethereal essence, or aspect of our being, apart from our minds, that the Holy Ghost communicates ‘tongues’ to, and that the Holy Ghost ‘edifies.’ Where they get this from I don’t know. Why I accepted it I don’t know. Probably because so much of what I thought about God at that time didn’t make any sense, and I just thought it was the nature of religion to not make any sense. (How wrong I was. Christianity is the most reasonable thing on earth. Anyway, back to the concept of ‘spirit’;)

The spirit refers to the inner, immaterial, ultimate, rational, moral, conscious self. The spirit is inherently all of these things. It is the very thing that makes man the creature created in God’s image that he is. The spirit is the seat of his intelligence and personality. It is that which gives his mind its existence. There is no such thing as a communication channel apart from the mind.

Spirit is often used synonymously/interchangeably with 'soul' or 'heart.' To 'pray' or 'speak', with the spirit, or in the Spirit, is not to pray mindlessly or unintelligently. It is the exact opposite! Look at God. He is a spirit - He is THE Spirit - and He is the most rational and intelligent Being in the universe. He is pure reason and intelligence. And He never acts unintelligible to Himself.

Consider 1 Corinthians 2:11:

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

My spirit knows my thoughts. When my spirit prays, it is me (consciously and intelligently) praying. I know what my spirit is praying because my spirit is me (with all my rational faculties.)

Likewise, the Spirit of God knows God's thoughts. Again, God is a spirit, He is pure spirit, and He is not mindless. There is no separating His mind from the rest of His being.

Prayer is never represented in the Bible as being mindless. (That defies the definition of prayer. Prayer is communion with God. How do we have communion apart from our minds?) It always proceeds from the spirit (or heart), which is inherently part of the intelligent and rational/moral nature of man. Simply uttering words does not constitute prayer (let alone uttering unintelligible sounds). If it did, I could tape myself praying, and then I would replay it over and over, so that I could pray more.

To be in the Spirit - to walk after the Spirit - is not to bypass or set aside the mind. It is to *use* the mind properly. It is to walk with our minds under the influence of, and in subjection to, the Spirit of God. (God commands us to *use* the mind – and to love Him *with* all our mind, not to set it aside.) So it is with prayer in the Spirit. Prayer in the Spirit is prayer conducted under the influence to, and in subjection to, the Holy Spirit.

To pray or walk in the Spirit is to think upon those things that are of the Spirit. Modern charismatic "tongues" (wrongly so-called) do not give the mind anything to think upon. It is gibberish.

Here is some commentary from other sources on the soul vs. spirit issue:

From the book _Why We Believe_, by James H. Jauncey:

"What is the soul?":
"Immortality depends on the existence of the soul. Fortunately, there is no problem about this. The soul is simply the name we give to the nonmaterial part of ourselves and in this sense is synonymous with ‘spirit.’
“Since both these terms are used with different meanings in different contexts in the Bible, we have to be careful. ‘Soul’ can refer to life or the emotions as well as to the nonmaterial element of being. ‘Spirit’ can refer to attitude of mind or force of will, and it often is used like our word ‘ghost.’
“Because Jesus referred to the twofold division of man (body and soul), and Paul spoke of a threefold division (body, soul, and spirit), some have suggested that a contradiction exists. But there is no contradiction. Such classifications are for convenience of teaching only and were not intended to be absolute divisions in being.
“There is no doubt that there is a nonmaterial part of me, my personality, loves, hopes, fears, culture, my mind. There is an essential ‘me’ that has persisted through a lifetime of bodily change. We cannot define how this is related to my body, or my body to it, but it is there. When we give this a name, it is ‘soul,’ or ‘spirit.’
“The question of whether I have a soul or am a soul is academic. Both can be true, depending on how we view it. Since there is a nonmaterial element in me I can say I have it, but since this is the only permanent part of me, I am it. The immortality of the soul actually means the immortality of me."

d. Is there a deliberate and significant difference between soul and spirit here [Heb. 4:12]?
i. There is a distinction; "The New Testament use of pneuma for the human spirit focuses on the spiritual aspect of man, i.e. his life in relation to God, whereas psyche refers to man's life irrespective of his spiritual experience, i.e. his life in relation to himself, his emotions and thought. There is a strong antithesis between the two in the theology of Paul." (Guthrie)
ii. However, in this passage, "Attempts to explain [these terms] on any psychological basis are futile. The form of expression is poetical, and signifies that the word penetrates to the inmost recesses of our spiritual being as a sword cuts through the joints and marrow of the body." (Vincent)

Here are some more of my own thoughts:

The words spirit, soul, heart, and mind all have a semantic range. Some have a wider one, others have a narrower one. On occasion, they may be used synonymously. At other times, one may be used over another to place an emphasis on a particular aspect/facet of man.

Based upon a study of the Bible, the words may mean:

mind: thoughts, intellect, rational capacity of man
soul: whole PERSONality of man complete with thoughts, feelings, will, intelligent/rational capacity, etc
spirit: either synonymous with "soul,’, or used as a reference to disposition, or disembodied being
heart: center of man's moral structure, complete with will, intellect and affections

Dealing with this erroneous Charismatic definition of ‘spirit’ was a major factor in dispelling the fog surrounding many of Paul’s statements in chapter 14.

Moving on.

Another problem that became apparent and that I had to deal with was the way PC’s defined the operation of the body (the church) and the individual ‘gifts of the Spirit.’ According to them, all of the “gifts of the Spirit” were supernatural gifts.

It was suggested to me by a friend that perhaps this wasn’t the case. Perhaps all of the ‘gifts’ weren’t supernatural, at least in the same sense. I looked into this, and lo and behold, the testimony of Scripture seemed to bear this out. (The fact that working of miracles was listed as a distinct gift in chapter 12 seemed to imply that some of the things that go on in the body towards the edification and growth of itself (the ‘whole’) are not miraculous, again, at least in the same sense.

Peter references “gifts” of “speaking” and “ministering,” in chapter 4 of his epistle. Paul references “gifts” of “teaching,” “exhorting,” “giving,” “ruling,” and “showing mercy” in Romans chapter 12. Are “exhorting,” “teaching,” and “giving” all miraculous gifts? (Other examples could be given from the Old Testament, of gifts/talents God specifically says that He places within people – gifts/talents that are not normally considered ‘miraculous.’)

Why, we could just look at the company that Paul puts “diversities of tongues” in at the end of chapter 12: “helps” and “governments.” Do we normally consider these ‘supernatural gifts of the Spirit’? It’s the company that Paul puts “diversities of tongues” in though, as important gifts and functions in the body of Christ!

Even the 14th chapter lends itself to the idea that the tongues Paul is speaking of are naturally learned human languages. Look at verses 20 through 22 where Paul refers to the tongues of the enemies of the Israelites. (Actually, the chapter doesn’t just ‘lend itself,’ the meaning here is obvious. And with such an obvious definition of tongues right within the very chapter in question, what right do we have to equivocate on the term?)

These enemies came, with their 'foreign' tongues, against the Israelites as God's means of judgment for their sins. And their tongues were obviously not supernatural. They were their own normal, natural, homegrown, native tongues.

You also find Paul telling the members of the church who spoke in tongues that they needed to find an interpreter or keep quiet. Now tell me, if the Holy Spirit was the direct initiator of these tongues, would he (Paul) have to tell the church to find an interpreter for the Holy Spirit? Wouldn’t the Holy Spirit know it? Wouldn't the Holy Spirit know if an interpreter was present? Wouldn’t the Holy Spirit know if He was going to give the interpretation to someone? (Better yet, if the Holy Spirit wanted to communicate with the whole congregation, and He was in the business of doling out new languages, why did He go the long route? Why didn’t He just inspire the message in a known tongue to begin with? I know, I know, some would argue that the Holy Spirit may have reasons for doing it that way that we can’t see, like wanting people to exercise their faith, but still, it doesn’t make any sense to me.)

No, a careful look at the entire chapter - with a view towards giving Paul (not to mention the Holy Spirit that inspired him) enough respect that what he said was consistent, logical, and intelligent - and the only conclusion that makes sense out of the chapter, as a whole, is that Paul was addressing people who were speaking out in their native tongues, tongues that no one else understood.

I will demonstrate that in a moment, by taking a look at the chapter, verse by verse. But let me say a few more things first.

Consider the multilingual nature of the Gentile nations as a whole. Wouldn't just the natural ability to speak more than one language be of considerable value and go along way towards building up the body of Christ - because it would mean the gospel could be preached to more people? Wasn't one of the reasons (if not the main reason) that Paul was chosen as an apostle (THEE apostle – to the humongous population of Gentiles) because he was so naturally well educated and knew the Scriptures? (Why didn’t God use some miraculous means, instead of natural means?) Who did God use to write most of the letters of the New Testament? Wasn’t it the naturally educated Paul, who naturally spoke Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, and who knows how many other languages, or was it one of the uneducated fishermen?

If tongues is the supernatural gift that everyone claims that it is, how come you never hear or read of anyone ever actually having been endowed with supernatural abilities in this regard, for the purpose of serious evangelism? From the early church fathers on down to the present, we hear of nothing of the kind. It seems to me, given God's desire to evangelise the world, that if this was really the gift that it is claimed to be, that someone (at least one person) would have stood out down through the ages, as an example and testimony to such a gift. However, we find no such testimony.

On the contrary, we find testimony of early Pentecostals who thought they could supernaturally speak in the languages of other nations coming back disappointed.

Frankly, I think the church has missed the boat to a very large extent when it comes to understanding Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 12-14 on spiritual things.

First of all, I think we tend to hold a simplistic definition of 'church'. We tend to think of the 'church' as a local congregation within four walls, when actually, the one true church is composed of all true Christians who are both presently living, and have ever lived (and ever will live.)
“Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named." (Ephesians 3:15)

Every true Christian presently in heaven or on earth is part of the church.

So when Paul says: "And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues,” he is talking about the church AT LARGE. He is not saying that God puts all of these different “gifts,” “ministries,” and “operations” in every local church. They may not even all exist on earth at one time. Take the apostles for instance. I don't think we have apostles in every generation. The apostles were the foundation for the church (see verse below). When you build a house, do you (re)lay the foundation at every stage of it's development?
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;" (Ephesians 2:19-20).

Why did the Corinthian church look to distant Paul as an apostle if they had their own resident apostles?

Even though we may not have “workers of miracles” or “apostles” with us today (speaking hypothetically), we, as a church, still benefit from the effects of ministries of this nature in the past, just as we still benefit from the signs and wonders that God wrought among the Egyptians through Moses. We still benefit from the ministry of the Apostle Paul, in a BIG way.

Since the time of Christ, the church has benefited wonderfully from those with the ability to speak and translate/interpret other languages. Where would we be today without these natural gifts? Jesus certainly didn’t speak in English. (I’ll say more on this point about all the ‘gifts’ being supernatural down below.)

Another misconception commonly held about this portion of Scripture is that Paul provided a conclusive list of all the “gifts of the Spirit.” That wasn’t Paul's point. What about all the “gifts” I mentioned above that we find in Romans 12 and 1 Peter 4? What about Ephesians 4 and the gifts/offices/ministries of “evangelist” and “pastor”?

Paul's point was simply to show that diversity exists in the body, and to impress upon those he was writing that all gifts, and ministries, and operations, were important to the church, and needed to be used in a way that edified the church.

Another thing that is overlooked is the fact that Paul does not just list 'gifts' in chapter 12. Paul does not say, "now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren..." The word ‘gifts’ is not in the original. It was inserted by the translators. Twice elsewhere, the word that is translated 'spiritual' here, is translated “spiritual THINGS.” I think that would have been a better rendering here (though I confess that I am no Greek scholar. Nonetheless...) Paul is talking about spiritual THINGS. He is talking about the spiritual operation of the church.

Paul says, "I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb (unspeaking) idols, even as ye were led" (1 Cor 12:2). The implication is that the Spirit of God has something to SAY, something meaningful to say (not gibberish, gibberish is as bad as the dumb unspeaking idols). The Spirit also “works,” unlike the dumb, dead, inanimate idols of their past. The Holy Spirit uses different means, methods and ministries to get the Word of God out, but it is ultimately the Word of God that we live by, and are edified by.

Paul goes on to explicitly say that there are "diversities of gifts,” (v. 4) "differences of administrations,” (v. 5) and "diversities of operations." (v. 6) Why have we overlooked "administrations" and "operations"?

"Administrations" comes from the word from which we get our word 'deacon.’ It refers to service or ministry. It is the same word used over in Acts 6 in reference to the ministry of the seven spiritual men “of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.” Are you going to tell me that that ministry wasn’t a manifestation of the Spirit??

“Operations" refers to a “working.”

So what do we have? We have Paul saying, in paraphrase, that there are different kinds (varieties) of gifts, different kinds of service or ministry, and different ways of working (or different ways that God works). So who's to say that "diversities of tongues" is necessarily a “gift.” Does the Bible explicitly say that anywhere?

It could simply be a kind of ministry or service. Are not "helps" and "governments" types of service or ministry (that is, 'administrations', as opposed to 'gifts')? Aren’t the offices of “apostle” and “prophet” also ministries, or ‘administrations,’ as opposed to gifts? Again, these ‘ministries’ are the company that Paul lists ‘diversities of tongues’ with near the end of chapter 12. How about “teachers”? Do we normally think of teachers as a supernatural gift?

Can the body of Christ (the church) survive on only the miraculous/supernatural? Isn't it comprised of a combination of miraculous and natural operations and/or ministries? The apostles sure thought so, in Acts 6 when they commanded the people to “look ye out among you seven men” to attend to the “daily ministration.” “Differences of administration” – again, the same Greek word from 1 Cor. 12! They considered this ‘administration’ an important, and yes, even a ‘spiritual thing,’ seeing as how they stipulated that the men had to be full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom.

I contend that the living, breathing, functioning body of Christ IS composed of many different members (and gifts) – both natural and supernatural. I also contend that “varieties/diversities of tongues” simply refers to the exercise of diversities of tongues by certain people that God sets in the church – for the church’s good (not anyone’s personal benefit). It is a ministry (or an ‘operation’ or service) that builds the body of Christ by helping to bridge the gap between people of different languages. So also with the interpretation of tongues.

The undisputed facts are:
“The international ancient trading city of Corinth had a very unusual location -- on the slender isthmus in Central Greece, between the two much larger land-masses of Northern Greece and Southern Greece, and also between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas to the west and the Aegean Sea to the east. Corinth's location there was thus similar to that of Panama City in the new world --on the thin waist of Central America, between the two great continents of North America and South America, and also between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

“In the international trading centre of Panama City today, at least twenty different languages are regularly spoken. So too in ancient Corinth. There, none of those various foreign languages was to be spoken during worship in the Corinthian Church --unless translated. If so used, those foreign languages were always to be translated into the Corinthian dialect -- so that all present could understand the message concerned.

“According to the earliest extant comments -- those of the 185 A.D. Irenaeus and the 190 A.D. Clement of Alexandria -- the Corinthians tongues were clearly linguistic (and therefore not ecstatic). So too Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianze, Gregory of Nyssa, Basil, Hilary, Jerome, Chrysostom, Epiphanius, Augustine, Theodoret, Vincent, Leo, and Gregory the Great. Likewise Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. So too Matthew Henry, Lange, Plumptre, Meyer, Alford, Buswell, E.J. Young, Morton H. Smith, Robert Reymond, Richard Gaffin, Leonard Coppes, and Francis Nigel Lee. Indeed, even some (Neo-)Pentecostalists themselves -- such as Harald Bredesen, Carl Brumback, Howard Carter, David J. DuPlessis, Donald Gee, Harold Horton and Oral Roberts -- also concede this point.”

By Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee,
Queensland Presbyterian Theological Hall,
Brisbane, Australia, May 1990.
Tongues at Corinth: Languages, not Ecstasies!

So my brethren, where does this leave us? (I have no comment on the rest of the chapter.) Where is this modern doctrine of gibberish-speaking ('speaking' in public OR 'praying' in private) with 'words" (so-called) that we don't understand?! Where I ask?! It's just not in the Bible.

The truth is, the PC doctrine of modern ‘tongues’ (gibberish) is a hoax, a deception of the devil, designed to make us think we have something spiritual when we do not, designed to give us false comfort, and make us spin our wheels in fruitlessness, while true inspiration from the Spirit awaits us.

The doctrine is a feel-good doctrine. It makes us feel good about our (supposed) relationship with God. It gives us a sense of security that we are somehow in contact with Him - especially when we sin (!!!!! - How terrible that we should find someway to feel good when we sin!).

By Robert J Borer

More about the third way

Shaming the head (1 Corinthians 11:3-7)

Part 1 

1 Corinthians 11:4-6 lists three “shames” and verse 7 lists two glories. Two of these shames and glories relate directly back to the “head” and one shame relates to the person themselves. Let’s find out about the contrasting “shames” and “glories” because they are vital to understanding this difficult passage.

1 Corinthians 11:4 says:
“Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head.”

“Every man” refers back to verse 3 where Paul said that Christ is the head of “every man”. Since Christ is the one who is the head of “every man”, Christ is the one who is shamed when men wear a head covering during the time that they are praying or prophesying. Notice that it isn’t just anytime that a man wears a head covering that Christ is shamed. It is only during the time that he is praying or prophesying.

Why would Christ be shamed if a man prays and prophesies with a head covering on his head? The reason is found in both the historical meaning of the head covering and also in Paul’s reference to honor in verse 7. John Lightfoot a Hebrew Scholar (1602-1675 AD) explains the historical reason for the head covering during worship and prayer. For the Jews, the covering symbolized their unworthiness to look upon God because it symbolized the shame of their sin. Are we unworthy to look upon God and are we to wear something that symbolizes the shame of our sin? Paul says no way. In 1 Corinthians 11:7, Paul says:

“For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God…”

The reason is simple – we are to reflect the glory of God not the shame of our sin. Jesus died in our place to cleanse us and to reconcile us to God. If men continue to wear the sign of the shame of their sin, they are disregarding Christ who died to take away that shame. Keeping a sign of the shame of our sin during worship shames Christ because it puts the emphasis on our sinful condition instead of our restored position in Christ. A man who wears a symbol of the shame of his sin shames Christ by holding onto a symbol of what was done away with in Christ when he should be bringing honor to Christ by reflecting the glory of his and head which is Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says:

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Our purpose is to reflect the glory of the Lord, not hold onto the shame that has been removed in Christ. Reflecting the glory of the Lord brings Jesus honor and “every man” is to bring honor to their “head”.

Part 2

Before we talked about how Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 11 that the head covering shamed Christ. This post will discuss why a woman without her head covering shamed her head. Let’s start again with 1 Corinthians 11:4, 5 -

Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.

Paul has identified the man’s head as Christ and the man who had his head covered during his praying and prophesying shamed Christ. Paul also identified the woman’s head was the man. When she prayed and prophesied with her head uncovered she shamed her head which is her husband (verse 3). Paul doesn’t say why going without a head covering shamed the woman’s husband since the Corinthians would have understood the cultural reason. However we need to do some research to find out why a husband would experience shame when his wife exposed her head in public.

Both the Greek women and the Jewish women wore head coverings in that day but the Jewish women had a stricter standard that punished them if they were caught without their head covering. John Lightfoot gives us a glimpse into the mindset of the Jewish culture of that day. Lightfoot was a Hebrew Scholar who lived from 1602 to 1675 and during his day there was a revival of the study of the Hebrew Bible as well as other Jewish works. Lightfoot’s scholarly writings produced several volumes called “Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica”. In these volumes Lightfoot discusses the reasons why married women wore the head covering.

On page 231 of Vol. 4 Lightfoot writes

“It was the custom of the women and that prescribed them under severe canons, that they should not go abroad but with their face veiled. If a woman do these things, she transgresseth the Jewish law; if she go out into the street, or into an open porch, and there be not a veil upon her as upon all women…”

On a woman’s wedding day she was required to veil herself. The Jewish law was that women who were married were required to cover their hair. The Talmud interprets this custom as a sign of a woman’s shame – guilt for Eve’s sin. Lightfoot elaborates:

“And they fetched the shame of the woman thence that she first brought sin into the world.”

That was their view – that the woman brought sin into the world and her veiling at her marriage was a sign of shame, because they said the woman led the man into sin. The Talmud said that as a result of Eve’s curse women must go about covered as mourners. In the Jewish culture when a woman got married, from that day on she was under compulsion to veil herself and if found in public without her veil, the Talmud prescribed strict consequences.

If she was found without the veil in public her husband could divorce her without payment of her dowry. Without her dowry she would be destitute.

The Talmud explains the reason for the shame of a uncovered head. The husband considered the hair on a woman’s head to be part of her sexuality so the public viewing of her hair was a great shame.

“Some rabbis considered the exposure of a married woman’s hair to the exposure of her private parts since they felt that a woman’s hair could be used for erotic excitement. They forbid the reciting of any blessings in the presence of a bare headed woman.”

Lightfoot goes on to explain that although women wore a veil in public, they unveiled for worship.

“But however women were veiled in the streets, yet when they resorted unto holy service they took off their veils and exposed their naked faces; and that not out of lightness, but out of religion.” Vol. 4 pg 231

Wouldn’t this have shamed their husbands by exposing their hair publicly? No, because no man would have seen them because in the synagogue the women were kept separate. Lightfoot continues:

“…that women should sit by themselves, divided from the men, where they might hear and see what is done in the synagogue, yet they themselves remain out of sight…when the women therefore did thus meet apart, it is no wonder if they took off the veils from their faces, when they were now out of sight of men, and the cause of their veiling being removed, which indeed was that they might not be seen by men.”

So the veiling was a sign of shame before men but worshipping before God she was to go with a bare face.

In Paul’s writings we find that Christians are meant to reflect the glory of God. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with unveiled face, beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Men and women were both meant to reflect the glory of God and both were to come with unveiled face before in worship. Yet for those Jewish women whose husbands were not yet saved and who had not yet come to understand the glorious liberty we have in Christ, these women were in a predicament. The problem came when Christians met in homes where the men and women were together. If a Jewish woman whose husband was not a Christian found out that she had unveiled in public, he could divorce her, often at the insistence of his family for her public shame.

Paul could not tell her that she needed to unveil in worship in the Christian congregation because that would have infringed on many of their marriages. So although men were forbidden to wear the veil of shame and must pray and prophesy in public without a head covering, women were allowed to make a choice when they prayed and prophesied. Next post we will discuss more about the woman’s choice and the third reason for shame that might require a woman to veil.

But for now let’s talk about the culture that promoted the cultural sign of shame. Paul in this passage rejects the cultural sign of shame. Instead Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:7 –

“For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”

Do you see that? The woman is the GLORY of man. As his glory she brings him honor. As his glory she needs to be uncovered so she can shine forth his glory. Just as the man is to shine forth the glory of God, so she is to be allowed to shine forth the glory of man. Do you see that Paul is dispelling the myth that the woman is the shame of the man? Do you see that Paul is dispelling the myth that the woman is to be hidden and kept away from the congregation and hidden and kept away from men? Paul is telling the men that the woman, his wife, is to be his glory. He is not to be ashamed of her. She is not his competitor, she is not to reflect shame - she is to be his glory!

What a marvelous freeing word from Paul! Paul hasn’t used this passage to say that women are not in the image of God nor is he saying that they are not the glory of God. He is comparing one glory with another glory. The Corinthians should be able to see that the man is God’s glory and as God’s glory he is not to be covered. Men are to be uncovered in worship in order to shine forth God’s glory. In the same way they are to see that the woman in the very same way is the husband’s glory. As the husband’s glory she is not to be covered instead she is to shine forth the man’s glory. As the glory of the man, the glory is to be barefaced and he is to be proud of her not ashamed. The culture had taught them that the woman was not the man’s glory, but Paul’s correction changed all that. Now they knew that God intended the woman to be the outshining glory of the man!

Have you ever wondered why Christian women do not wear head coverings? Now you know.

Part 3

Continuing our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, we come to verse 6:

For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.
We have already discussed that the cultural view of women’s hair coverings is “covered” in verse 5. We have also seen that Paul takes a non-traditional view of women by telling the men that his wife is his glory. Paul reveals that the tradition of women being covered is not God’s way of dealing with glory. Glory is meant to be shown or revealed and not covered up. Just as a man reveals God’s glory and is not to cover his head, so a woman reveals the glory of man and she too should be uncovered.

Women whose husbands are Christians and who understand the women’s freedom in Christ to reveal the glory of the Lord just as men reveal the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18) will have no reason to insist their wives cover themselves because of man’s tradition. So Paul says that “if a woman does not cover her head” then “let her also have her hair cut off”. Here Paul is talking about a woman’s freedom to have her hair cut. Is it wrong for a woman to get a hair cut? Is it wrong for her to have short hair? Paul says the tradition of not cutting one’s hair is in the same category as the tradition that women must wear a head covering.

The woman is her husband’s glory and as such she should be free from the tradition of having to cover her head. Covering the head symbolized both modesty and shame. See part 2 about what the culture thought was the woman’s shame. Once a woman is free from the tradition of covering her head, she is also free from the tradition that a woman must have long hair. She may cut her hair and this act is not breaking God’s law. This tradition is not God’s tradition. Why is that? We know that God does not forbid a woman to have her hair cut because God had regulations for a Nazirite vow that required men and women to grow their hair out when they took the vow and then later when the vow was finished, both men and women were required to shave their hair off. So if God required the woman who takes this vow to shave her hair off, then it could not be against God’s law for her to cut her hair.

If a Jewish woman who had become a Christian wanted to take a Nazirite vow, when the vow was finished, she would be required by God to shave off her hair. If a woman who had shaved off her hair was in the congregation without a head covering, she may experience shame because she had no hair. Paul made allowance for this last “shame” and he said that if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut or her hair shaved off, then she was allowed to cover her head if she had a bald head or her hair had not yet grown out. Paul gives her permission to cover her head by saying “let her cover her head”. Paul never demands that she cover, he just gives her a choice to cover.

The rules for the Nazirite vow are in Numbers chapter 6.

Numbers 6:2 Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,
Numbers 6:5 All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.
Numbers 6:13 Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting.
Numbers 6:18 The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings.
The man or woman who had taken a Nazirite vow was required to shave off their hair and put it on the fire as a sacrifice. Both men and women then who had taken this vow would be bald. Men would not experience shame from being bald, but many women would experience shame from their baldness.

Paul allows a woman who has a bald head and who would experience shame because of her bald head to cover her head with a head covering. Paul has given two reasons for shame in chapter 11 that a woman may want to continue to wear a head covering. The first reason was that she may bring her non-Christian husband shame if she is caught in public without her head covering, since he may divorce her for defying the cultural tradition of the head covering.

The second reason that a woman may be covered is because of her own shame. If she was bald or if her hair had not yet fully grown out after she had taken a Nazirite vow, Paul allows her to cover her head. Paul gives a woman permission to veil because of two possible kinds of shame, but Paul never gives the man permission to veil since the culture of the day did not bring shame to a man who had a bald head and the only cultural reason for a man’s head covering shamed Christ.

Paul’s purpose in the discussion of the head covering is to bring Christians to a biblical view of our reflected glory and to discard the faulty cultural view of shame. Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 the importance of the unveiled face:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
While some have seen 1 Corinthians 11 as a mandate for women to wear the veil, a close inspection of the passage shows that Paul is advocating the exact opposite. He is not upholding man’s tradition, but blowing that tradition out of the water. Paul shows that it is God’s will that glory is to be uncovered not hidden, and man’s tradition of forcing the woman to be covered because her uncovering shamed him, is the complete opposite of what God teaches. The woman is the man’s glory not his shame. And as the man’s glory she is to be revealed not hidden.

by Cheryl Schatz
Jun 17th, 2007