Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

June 22, 2007

Gratitude

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 8:49 pm

I am grateful for being forced to examine even closer what happened 28 years ago.(Although I am not too thrilled that things turned personal and drifted off topic as far as it did). These pressures to question my own evaluation have been good because issues are being brought up that are squeezing the fine bits of pulp through an even smaller mesh.

For example, I wondered whether I should even be doing this questioning. But now upon further review born from reflection driven by responses, I see it as mandatory. You’ll remember that I mentioned that I am analytical. By saying this I may have given the impression that this is just a quirk of my makeup. And that most people who may not be so analytical would rightly be excused from going through such mental strains to arrive at what exactly may have happened in such as scenario as mine. I assert that it is incumbent upon us to arrive at some conclusion as to what may have transpired or what didn’t transpire.

I will answer the question of 1) why this is so and 2) how to go about doing this analysis.

The reason this must be done is that experiences are not what forms our theology. To allow one’s experience to sit in the chair of primacy over our faith and practice is to say no to the sola scriptura principle. So, for example, something dramatic or life-changing happens to a person and he then concludes without further ado that this must be the so-called ‘born-again’ experience. However, scripture must be brought into play to determine if regeneration is even an experience (in the sense we have been talking about) at all. To allow experience to be the dominant factor in our knowledge of reality, to say that the ultimate arbiter of truth is experience is to be an empiricist. This is not the Christian way.

However, I now must clarify an important point about this questioning or analyzing. The crux of the matter is how one goes about questioning and analyzing. A bare questioning or analyzing would fall prey to the same problems inherent in just letting a bare experience stand on its own merit. To place our reason in the chair of primacy over our faith and practice is no safer a guide for coming to the knowledge of the truth than to allow our experiences to dictate to us what truth is. The simple reason for this is that we are fallen creatures. To allow our reason to function in a magisterial way is essentially to say to God that we know better, or well enough – while we go astray every one to his own way. The proper way to use our God given gift of reason is in a ministerial fashion. It serves us as a tool, if you will, in our study of God’s word. So, when God says “Come let us reason together”, his reasoning is different from ours. His is magisterial. Ours is ministerial. He is saying don’t let your reasoning sail off on its own. It must be done in accordance with his reasoning – namely via his word to us.

My experience in 1979 was a direct violation of this principle. I was presenting myself, or better, my own reasoning capacity as one ready to handle his reasoned truth on a one-to-one basis. I see that now as foolish and a denial of sola scriptura.

Next entry will cover “if you have seen me you have seen the father”, the “Damascus road” and “has God really said?” – all three of which were brought out as objections to my previous writeup.

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32 Comments »

  1. There is much unsaid in your post. Could you be more specific about your experiences, and explain again how you were violating the proper use of reason? I didn’t follow all of that.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 23, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  2. How am I going to challenge an experience? How am I going to interpret or exegete an experience of my own? The answer is that I must use my mind. But that presupposes that my mind is reliable itself. As a Christian I must exegete my own mind. How do I do that? By making my own rational mind stand up to what God has said in scripture.

    Now, in my altar (front and center) experience wherein I subjected God to deal with my own mind in a one-to-one fashion, I was presupposing that my mind was cut from the same cloth as God’s mind and that a transference of knowledge could happen directly. Scripture disallows that. Scripture is God’s accommodating his knowledge to us. It is the only way his knowledge is made accessible to us.

    Note that by begging God to reveal himself to me, I am presupposing his existence. So, I was not asking him to prove his existence to myself.

    Everything about that experience was out of line, starting first of all by my getting up from my seat in a worship service and finishing by barging into God’s chambers without the covering of Christ. How can I conclude anything else?

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 25, 2007 @ 5:34 pm

  3. In the first paragraph – I just want to be clear – are you saying that you have to judge what your 5 senses tell you against Scripture? In other words, are you saying that when you have perceived something, you must first see if Scripture says that it’s possible to perceive it? Or perhaps you are saying that if you perceive something “spiritually” with like a spiritual 6th sense or something, then you need to bounce THAT off of Scripture? Because I mean, I feel like I can trust my eyes to portray what is in their field of vision without having to check Scripture first. Although, I guess if I claim to have seen Jesus in the flesh sitting on my back porch, hanging out drinking a margarita, perhaps I need to question my eyes. But I get the feeling that you’re talking about spiritual perception, so to speak. So like when someone says, “I just felt Jesus speaking to me, and telling me that everything would be ok”, etc, you’re saying that you need to bounce THIS off of Scripture. Is that right? So in this example, what we would do is ask if the Bible says that it’s possible to “feel Jesus speaking” to us. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that the Bible doesn’t tell us that this happens. Let’s say we become convinced that the Bible doesn’t speak of this, even though it speaks of prophets hearing the voice of God, or seeing a vision or having a dream or something like that. Then you’re saying that what we need to do is recognize that our perception was a false one because not biblical? Perhaps that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that we have “perceived” something that we really haven’t? Do you think the Bible says that we have more than 5 senses, or no?

    Also, can you explain the phrase, “I subjected God to deal with my own mind in a one-to-one fashion” please? I think I know what you mean by it, but I’m not sure.

    And in your last paragraph, do you mean to say that standing in a worship service is wrong? I know that’s not what you’re saying, because there are times we stand in our worship service, but I guess I want to understand what you mean here. Also, what do you mean by “barging into God’s chambers without the covering of Christ”? Are you saying that you weren’t a Christian at the time? What chambers are you talking about? Do you mean like behind the veil or something? How could you even go there without Christ? Is that possible?

    I can probably give a fairly accurate guess about how you’ll respond to these questions, but you know what they say when you assume. So I’d like to see what you’ll say. Also, I suspect some of your other readers will appreciate these answers too.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 25, 2007 @ 8:55 pm

  4. It is late so I will answer the easy one. By getting up from my seat I meant I stood up and walked to the front.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 25, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  5. Have you ever wondered why you have been given an analytical mind? Have you ever wished that you didn’t need to know the why’s and how’s of life? I see the benefits of having the ability to dissect something down to it’s original state whether it be scripture, a program, a problem etc… that indeed is a blessing. What I have also come to realize is that the analytical mind when it comes to spiritual matters or faith matters can actually become a stumbling block. Even in the brightest mind one cannot even begin to comprehend just who God is. It’s not possible. Some may understand bits and pieces of who He is but no one will ever understand completely. Now who are the one’s that understand bits and pieces of who He is? Well, I can tell you that it goes beyond intellectual lines. God is no respecter of man. Anyone that can even begin to understand God’s love, grace, mercy etc.. can only understand because God has chosen to reveal Himself to man. The problem with having a mindset of trying to conquer the question of “who God is”, is the more you come to understand who He is the more you realize how much you don’t know about Him. He’s so much bigger than us. This causes complete humility. You want me to show you a man that knows bits and pieces of who God is and I will show you a completly humble man. I ask God to reveal himself to me everyday. This is not wrong. This isn’t to feed my ego but it’s a genuine desire to know Him more. Again the more I know him the more humble I become. The more I realize how much I don’t know about him. I look at people who God has hand picked in my life, people that I look up to who are faithful men and women of God and what I don’t see are people who “have God figured out”, better yet they are some of the most humble people I know. This works against our own logics,or what makes sense to us. Am I suggesting to discontinue the study of scripture? Absolutely Not. Actually I suggest the opposite, study scripture more, apply it more, just change your mindset to I will never completly understand God or His ways. This is where the most analytical mind can find rest.

    Now, how does God reveal himself to us? I believe he does it through whatever means he wants to. If God is the same yesterday, today and forever it would be silly of me to say that He doesn’t perform miracles today. How can I say that? What grounds do I have to make such a statement? None. The Bible shows us many different ways He communicates to His people. Why would He all of a sudden stop using these methods of communication? How much do miracles make sense to even the non analytical mind? None. That’s why they are miracles. Only God can do that. I sometimes forget when reading His word that He is still alive today and that He sent His Holy Spirit to be with me. That is bad I know but it’s the truth.I thank God for His written word to help remind me of these truths. That is exactly why I don’t go just by my feelings. Have I felt the Holy Spirit touch my life? Absolutely. How can I say absolutely, you may ask? Because I know me and I’m not capable of comforting myself when I need comfort. I’m not smart enough to provide money the way He has provided for me. I would have tried to come up with ways to make money that make sense to me. I have learned about faith and what I learned about faith is that I don’t have very much.

    Comment by Alex — June 26, 2007 @ 9:47 am

  6. Alex,

    You said:
    “The Bible shows us many different ways He communicates to His people. Why would He all of a sudden stop using these methods of communication?”

    Heb 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
    Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

    Alex, if you don’t understand how this passage of Scripture directly and in no uncertain terms answers your question clearly and concisely, let me know, and I’ll be happy to explain it to you. It seems pretty obvious to me, but I’m not you. I don’t want to insult your intelligence.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 26, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

  7. In the first paragraph – I just want to be clear – are you saying that you have to judge what your 5 senses tell you against Scripture? In other words, are you saying that when you have perceived something, you must first see if Scripture says that it’s possible to perceive it? Or perhaps you are saying that if you perceive something “spiritually” with like a spiritual 6th sense or something, then you need to bounce THAT off of Scripture?

    This is a tough one to answer because of the nature of what we are talking about. I am not saying “I see a tree. But can I trust my sense of sight? I’d better bounce it off scripture. Or I just had a root canal and it hurts. But just to be sure I’d better bounce it off scripture”. I am saying that the experience I had, I felt, though. But there was “no visible means of support” so to speak. This feeling had no apparent physical source. It wasn’t in the nature of “Jesus is telling me” or “God told me” either. There was zero information involved.
    So, do you want me to describe it further?
    Actually, what needs to be brought out is that there were actually two experiences. It’s only the first one that I have been addressing with this post. This is the mystical moment that defies description and is what I am compelled to subject to scripture. I assigned a great deal of cash value to that experience, being convinced formerly that it was God revealing himself to me. Now I find that scripture doesn’t support that possibility.
    As for this

    Also, can you explain the phrase, “I subjected God to deal with my own mind in a one-to-one fashion” please? I think I know what you mean by it, but I’m not sure.

    I am saying this. I reckoned that my own rational mind was constituted in such a way that God’s direct revelation via some kind of mind-meld would be something I could handle. I wasn’t aware that scripture (Jesus Christ) is God’s revelation accommodated to my crippled fallen mind. Basically I exhibited a lazy selfish lack of faith. I said before that 10 years of drugs and 10 years of false pseudo-mysticism set me up for this altar call move.
    Finally

    Also, what do you mean by “barging into God’s chambers without the covering of Christ”? Are you saying that you weren’t a Christian at the time? What chambers are you talking about? Do you mean like behind the veil or something? How could you even go there without Christ? Is that possible?

    This is a good question. Yes. I was a Christian – if by that you mean I professed belief in Christ. But the actual “altar call” deal was, through ignorance or bad teaching or whatever was done without a conscious appeal to Christ in any sense. The “chamber” idea is certainly metaphorical since it is impossible to actually stand before God – proven by the fact that I am still alive. There was a time, of course, when going behind that veil would have been possible and fatal. So, yeah, you could look at the metaphor that way if you wanted to.
    I hope these answers help. Probably they fall short a bit, since mostly I am groping about trying to figure this out. But, I was there, and I am sticking to my story and my need to subject it to scripture.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 26, 2007 @ 7:21 pm

  8. Bruce, thanks for those answer. Of course, as a baby bird who begins chirping again as soon as it has gobbled down its food, I too, while I have been somewhat satisfied, am ready for more.

    You said:
    “This is the mystical moment that defies description and is what I am compelled to subject to scripture. I assigned a great deal of cash value to that experience, being convinced formerly that it was God revealing himself to me. Now I find that scripture doesn’t support that possibility.”

    On the one hand, there is this experience that you cannot describe, other than to say that it was mystical. On the other hand, you say that Scripture doesn’t support the possibility of that kind of experience. What I’m not following is how you can judge an experience that cannot be quantified against Scripture. What I mean is, if you are to judge something against Scripture, don’t you first have to understand what that thing is, at least to an extent, before you can determine what Scripture may or may not say about it? So how can you cite Scripture or lack thereof that either supports or doesn’t support something that cannot be explained?

    You said:
    “I reckoned that my own rational mind was constituted in such a way that God’s direct revelation via some kind of mind-meld would be something I could handle. I wasn’t aware that scripture (Jesus Christ) is God’s revelation accommodated to my crippled fallen mind. Basically I exhibited a lazy selfish lack of faith.”

    Now it sounds like you are beginning to possibly put into words that which you said could not be put into words, at least precisely or in any kind of satisfying way. So here are my questions. You say first that you assumed that your mind was constituted in a certain way so as to be handle direct revelation. The implication is that your mind is NOT constituted in such a way as to be able to handle direct revelation, and you attribute your error to a lack of faith. But what I want to know is what you mean by direct revelation, because certainly Moses spoke to God (in the person of the pre-incarnate Son) face to face. While I recognize that Moses’ brain is somewhat different from your brain, I’m not sure that the difference is significant enough to say that he could handle directly speaking to God while you can’t. So I don’t think that you mean that God cannot speak to you directly because of some limitation of your finite, human mind. I think what you mean is that you cannot handle a univocal revelation from God, because you are finite, because you are human. In other words, you mean that you cannot know God as God knows himself. For example, we cannot really comprehend the concept of infinity. When we think of infinity, we just think of a big number. We can’t really comprehend a complete lack of limitation. Since this is the case, we cannot really comprehend God as he comprehends himself. We can say that he’s infinite, but we can’t really, really understand that fact. We can say that God transcends time, and is thus eternal, but we don’t really understand what that means, because we are not eternal but temporal, and as such our minds are temporal and cannot process the notion of eternity, not really anyway.

    This does not mean, of course, that we cannot know anything about God at all. After all, we can know that he is eternal. We just can’t understand what that means in the same way that God understands it (univocal). That doesn’t mean that when we say that God is eternal that what we have said has no meaning (equivocal). Rather we are somewhere in between univocal knowledge of God and equivocal knowledge of God, which we call analogical. I’m not sure if this is exactly what Alex had in mind in his above post or not.

    But what I think applies to my previous question is this notion of a “mind-meld” that you bring up. This, I take it, is one way of beginning to characterize the mystical experiences you spoke of. By “mind-meld” I take you to mean that God would somehow transfer knowledge of himself to you apart from the mediation of your senses. You would just suddenly know. This would be sort of like a premonition or some kind of psychic experience then, right? By premonition, I mean like when a mother is away from her children, and somehow she gets the idea that her kids are in trouble, but she has no reason why she thinks it, yet is still convinced of it. By psychic I mean sort of the same thing, except in the case of the psychic, they are claiming some ability of some spiritual perception. They “see” what is taking place somehow, and only then do they know it. Premonitions, by contrast, don’t involve some kind of “seeing”, but suddenly the person just knows something, seemingly for no reason at all. I think by “mind-meld” you probably mean what I’m calling a premonition, but I think you also mean to deny what I’m calling a psychic spiritual perception. Of course, clarification on this point is hereby requested.

    But you go on to say that you assumed that you could handle this. By saying this, are you saying that it is possible to have a premonition type revelation from God, but you weren’t able to handle it? Or are you saying that such a thing is not possible, due to the constitution of your finite nature – because such a thing would be univocal necessarily – and that therefore the impossibility of any human to be able to process that kind of information makes such a thing impossible?

    And when you say that it’s all due to a lack of faith, I take it to mean that if you had only had faith in the truthfulness of Scripture, and in the sufficiency of Scripture, you wouldn’t have longed for something OTHER than Scripture. Please elaborate if you will.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 26, 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  9. On the one hand, there is this experience that you cannot describe, other than to say that it was mystical. On the other hand, you say that Scripture doesn’t support the possibility of that kind of experience.

    To clarify, I am not saying that scripture doesn’t support the possibility of that kind of experience, I am saying that scripture doesn’t support the conclusions or assessments I made having had that experience and having invited that experience.

    Your section on Moses is valid except that I believe that God only showed Moses his back-side as a way of indicating that we can’t handle a univocal revelation. It has to be accommodated for us. Of course, as an ignorant drug user steeped in mystical writings, I had no problems expecting that God would cater to my begging for God-like knowledge.

    I don’t know about the psychic premonition stuff. But I can tell you this: the sermon title that day back in 1979 was “A Visitation from God”. I was highly induced to expect some kind of mystical encounter at the altar. I voiced my desire in the form of asking for God to reveal himself. So, yes in a way I was asking for some kind of “seeing” experience.

    Regarding faith, note that I said that I exhibited a lack of faith. That was a criticism of my need for unmediated revelation, not an accounting for why I couldn’t handle direct revelation. I hope I didn’t give that impression by what I wrote. Far from it. My creatureliness is why I can’t handle direct revelation, not my lack of faith. So, your summary

    And when you say that it’s all due to a lack of faith, I take it to mean that if you had only had faith in the truthfulness of Scripture, and in the sufficiency of Scripture, you wouldn’t have longed for something OTHER than Scripture.

    is quite accurate.

    My whole original post was an appeal to the idea that God is qualitatively different from all of creation and that there is no transference of knowledge possible outside of that which is mediated through the Word of God which is Jesus Christ. I also said that even in heaven (whatever that is) we will not have access to such knowledge of God.

    I definitely get the idea that I am not making myself very clear. Sorry.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 26, 2007 @ 8:59 pm

  10. Well, I think you’re clear enough. You can’t guess at what people want to know more about. You have to wait till they ask.

    Thanks for the responses. Now I’m on top of what you are saying.

    Now I’d like to know more about this: “scripture doesn’t support the conclusions or assessments I made having had that experience and having invited that experience.”

    What conclusions, what assessments? Inquiring minds want to know! Hehehe…

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 26, 2007 @ 9:45 pm

  11. As I made my way through this post and subsequent comments there was one main question that was brewing in my mind but I could not think of how to articulate it. Then, seemingly out of no where, Echo came in and said almost exactly what I wanted to say…

    “What I’m not following is how you
    can judge an experience that cannot be quantified against Scripture. What I mean is, if you are to judge something against Scripture, don’t you first have to understand what that thing is, at least to an extent, before you can determine what Scripture may or may not say about it? So how can you cite Scripture or lack thereof that either supports or doesn’t support something that cannot be explained?”

    It seems from your post and comments that you
    A) Had an experience
    B) Believed in this experience
    C) Were driven by this experience
    D) Testified about this experience/taught it to others

    Now what came in between D and…
    E) Are convinced that the (A) experience was false and are now seeking to comprehend what it *could* have been that you experienced.

    Echo’s comment dove at the heart of my question. “how can you judge an experience that cannot be quantified against Scripture…” But I would add to that question (by scripture). Of course you are saying that you have now realized that any “revelation” outside of the written word is not true revelation. And yet, your experience (like it or not) has been used by God to bring you and your entire household to faith.

    You may just throw everything under a nice blanket and say “hooray for the sovereignty of God” which isn’t objectionable, but also doesn’t answer the main question.

    Main question…
    Was my experience a revelation of God or not?

    I say it was. I say it was God’s mercy that even though you came selfishly, presumptuously and with false motives, God still divinely, through the mediation of Christ decided to answer you. He didn’t answer you as you desired, but he did answer you. You may have interpreted the experience then differently as you do now, but it doesn’t at any point make it less God. The only certain fact that you would have to say that it isn’t/wasn’t God is if it led you into a false gospel, a salvation by works. Now you may at this point say, “exactly, thats what it did, I began to seek salvation by works.” But did you really? I have heard the gospel preached thousands of times in similar ways to what you describe having happened so long ago, and though at times I, in my mind,and my imagination and my hearing, may have indeed heard “if you just do this you will be saved” strange as it may seem I now realize that wasn’t what was being spoken, but rather what I was hearing.

    How now, is today different than that day? As long as your experience is being filtered though your brain, your frame of reference is always going to go back to what is most current with you.

    “what must we DO to be saved?”

    it is always the initial sin nature to seek salvation through a method of works. Always.

    The answer is to not work.

    Contrary to our own human reasoning, our own brain filter; salvation does not, cannot, will not ever come through any form of work. But God is sure gracious to respond to our calling out to him.

    “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. That’s what happened to you. You called he answered. Christ answered.

    You perceived it one way, but that’s not necessarily how it was, that was just your then present frame or reference telling you what was happening.

    Now you perceive it another way, but that’s not necessarily how it was, that’s just you current frame of reference telling you what happened.

    Comment by danielbalc — June 27, 2007 @ 8:36 am

  12. Echo,

    Re: Hebrews 1:1-2

    Seems to be specifically referring to the prophecies concerning Christ. If you use this argument to say that prophecies do not exist and he no longer communicates through dreams or even supernatural stuff like visitations from angels than please tell me what you do with the following verses.

    Acts 2:16-19

    16but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:
    17’AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,’ God says,
    ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND;
    AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY,
    AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS,
    AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS;
    18EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN,
    I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT
    And they shall prophesy.
    19’AND I WILL GRANT WONDERS IN THE SKY ABOVE
    AND SIGNS ON THE EARTH BELOW,
    BLOOD, AND FIRE, AND VAPOR OF SMOKE.

    While your at it go ahead and give me your opinions on what Paul may have been talking about in the following verses:

    ITim 1:17-19

    17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

    18This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,

    19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.

    and this: I Tim 4:14

    14Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.

    I Cor. 14:6

    6But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?

    God’s constantly communicating with us in the same ways He has always communicated. I’m pretty sure we just aren’t listening.

    Echo, don’t let the those that abuse the gifts of the Spirit cause you to run from them or deny them.

    I Thessalonians 5:19-22

    19Do not quench the Spirit;

    20do not despise prophetic utterances.

    21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;

    22abstain from every form of evil.

    I would encourage you to do as Paul encourages us all to do and that is to “examine everything carefully.”

    If you get a chance have Bruce tell you the story about his angelic visit on Interstate 8 here in San Diego.

    Comment by Alex — June 27, 2007 @ 8:56 am

  13. Alex,

    You asked for my opinion on a number of verses, but you are not really looking for my opinion. You asked a question, I showed you how Scripture answered it decisively. You came back with a denial of the very obvious meaning of the passage I quoted, and then threw a bunch of passages at me, as if I had never read them before, and could only react with shock and dismay when I saw them, because I certainly would have no idea how to explain them or interpret them, and so obviously, I’d simply rather cut them out of my bible. You are essentially accusing me of denying that passages of Scripture are the Word of God, since in your estimation I obviously don’t believe in them, I don’t believe what is written in them.

    However, after your denial of the very obvious meaning of Heb 1:1-2, it is no surprise to me that you would assume I was doing the same thing. I have written extensively on my views of cessation. EXTENSIVELY. And you have been a part of those conversations. You write as if none of that has ever happened or something. I have written extensively on Rube’s blog, Daniel’s blog, and Albino’s blog, ad nauseum.

    For those who are observing this conversation, here it is in a nutshell. God speaks to us through his written Word. None of his written Word is superfluous, extraneous, or in any other way unnecessary. It’s all necessary. We couldn’t do without all of it. God desired us to have his full revelation, which we now have in the completed canon of the New Testament. But in the apostolic era, when the NT was still being written, they did not have the fullness of the revelation from God in written form. So they needed apostles and prophets and all sorts of things in order to hear and understand the Word about Jesus Christ. So when it says that in the last days the Spirit will be poured out, I say that even in the book of Acts where that is quoted it is being quoted as something that is being fulfilled right then and there. You could argue that it is still being fulfilled today, but it isn’t. The pouring out of the Spirit accompanied the completion of God’s revelation. We still have the Spirit today, but he doesn’t act in the same ways. Today he acts on our hearts in conjunction with the preaching of the Word. It may be less than extraordinary, but that’s what God has given us. In the same way, the simple ceremony of the Lord’s Supper too is rather simple and plain, and not very exciting, especially when compared to the golden splendor of the temple and the incense and the smell of the barbeque, and all the wonderful things. Today the church is marked with a greater simplicity, yet with a far greater efficacy. The means through which God speaks to us today seem simpler and not that exciting, but he speaks more clearly than ever before, that we might have a greater understanding of him than ever before. So we don’t need these miraculous signs and wonders anymore, because we have something better: it’s small enough to fit in your hand, it’s covered in leather, and we read it all the time. On Sunday mornings, it is opened before the people of God, and the man of God, his chosen vessel, stands before the people of God and speaks to them from it, helping them to understand it, that they might be effected by it. When we go to bed and when we arise, what is written in it is on our minds because it is in our hearts, dwelling in us richly. It speaks of the wisdom, justice and mercy of God, it glorifies him and magnifies him and tells us who he is, and what he is like. It tells us the story of Jesus Christ, about how he is the Son of God come down from heaven, God incarnate, the Word made flesh, of how he suffered and died for our salvation, how he was buried and really, truly was dead – and then it tells us the greatest thing that has ever been told in the history of the world: it tells us how the grave could not hold him, for he has raised from the dead. But it does not merely tell us that he raised from the dead, it said that he is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and that his kingdom shall have no end. But it doesn’t even stop there, for you see it tells us how to interpret these events, what they mean for us; and it doesn’t speak with the mere authority of men on these matters, but the authority of God himself, who inspired the words and put them in the hearts and minds of those who wrote them by his Spirit. And it tells us what the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means for us and to us, and how we should respond. It explains to us how to interpret what is written on its pages, all of its pages, and we begin to see how Jesus Christ has been at the center and focus of it all from the very beginning, for in the beginning was the Word, and it explains what this all means, telling us of the mystery of Christ in us, how we shall not all sleep, but how we shall all be changed, raised incorruptible, since Christ has been raised from the dead. It tells us how we should respond to these truths, and what our lives will be like if we do respond properly, and how that all comes about through the work of the Holy Spirit within us, who drives us to faith in Christ and increases our hope and sanctifies our hearts more and more everyday, replacing our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. And it tells us of how Christ will come again, how the new heavens and the new earth will come down from heaven, even as Christ himself came down from heaven. Indeed, there is nothing concerning our salvation or the greatness of God and what he has done and will yet do that is not told to us in the holy Scriptures. We have everything we need right there. We have assurance of salvation, knowledge of God, comfort, warnings, everything.

    We have no need of miraculous signs and wonders to assure us that he loves us. We have the Word of God, and it is enough. But it is not as though we are settling, as though we are forcing ourselves to be satisfied with something that doesn’t truly satisfy, as a man who has been consigned to bread and water might. But in the Scriptures, we don’t have bread and water, we have bread and wine, because he came to give us life, and not just life, but life more abundantly. And who is he who came? The WORD of God. In the WORD of God, we have life and that more abundantly. Searching outside the Word for life is simply, as Bruce says here, a lack of faith in the WORD. You are saying that the WORD isn’t enough, you need something beyond it.

    Let us remember the words of God to Paul, when Paul begged him to take away the thorn in his flesh: “My grace is sufficient for you.” So the thorn remained, yet Paul rejoiced. His grace is sufficient, if we would only learn how to appreciate it and understand it. For he has poured a veritable bucket of grace over our heads and soaked us in it, and it has no end. And all this through his wonderful Word. Seek the Word. These words are our very life.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 27, 2007 @ 1:03 pm

  14. Echo, Hebrews 1: 1-3 which you have used to show us why we no longer need prophecies, dreams, angelic visits, visions and the such is not at all what this passage in context is referring to. The writer of Hebrews is showing how Christ is greater, greater than the prophets and angels. This is not proof text to say that God no longer communicates with us by dreams, visions, prophicies etc.. You should know that, Right? I guess that’s the danger with Scripture interpretations though, to only see what our carnal, sinful minds want to see. I’m not advocating that the gift of prophecy hasn’t been abused because it has. When the prophetic word contradicts Scripture it is false. Again, that is why it is important that we do what Paul urges us to do, “examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good”. I will remind you once again that the Scriptures I shared with you in the above comments are just that, Scriptures. The Scriptures don’t have to answer to you. You must answer to Scripture. I’m not going to sit here and argue with you when you continually turn a deaf ear to Scriptures that happen to not fit into your beliefs.

    BTW, I wasn’t completely positive that you were a cessationist until now. Thank you for the confirmation. I was actually hoping you weren’t going to confirm cessationalist beliefs because I was really looking forward to hearing your “spin” on these specific verses. Go ahead and hide under that umbrella, it will keep you from having to answer to MANY verses in the Bible.

    Comment by Alex — June 27, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

  15. It’s showing that Christ is not just greater than angels, but greater than visions and prophesies too. He is God’s self revelation made flesh. He is the FULL revelation from God to man. In Christ, God’s self revelation finds completion. That’s why we don’t need these other things anymore. We required the apostles to give us inspired records of the Christ events, as well as give us interpretations of those events, and to show us how the OT had been predicting it all along. They also laid the foundation of the church. All that has come to an end with the death of the apostles.

    That’s not hiding under an umbrella, it’s actually a very legitimate theological position. In fact, it is only in the last 100-200 years that anyone in the church has thought otherwise. So I don’t know why saying the same thing that the church has been saying for 2000 years is hiding under an umbrella and running away from interpreting Scripture. That doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 27, 2007 @ 4:05 pm

  16. D. First

    your experience (like it or not) has been used by God to bring you and your entire household to faith.

    No sir. You gotta re-read the original post. I already stated that I made a profession of faith in my teenage years. And as for my entire household, that certainly is false.

    Second

    God still divinely, through the mediation of Christ decided to answer you

    You got this wrong too. I am the one that needs a mediator not God. I had no mediator whatsoever in my “begging”. None.

    Third,

    The only certain fact that you would have to say that it isn’t/wasn’t God is if it led you into a false gospel, a salvation by works. Now you may at this point say, “exactly, thats what it did, I began to seek salvation by works.” But did you really? I have heard the gospel preached thousands of times in similar ways to what you describe having happened so long ago, and though at times I, in my mind,and my imagination and my hearing, may have indeed heard “if you just do this you will be saved” strange as it may seem I now realize that wasn’t what was being spoken, but rather what I was hearing.

    I have no idea what you are talking about, but in any case whatever it is, it is a rabbit trail.

    Fourth,

    “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. That’s what happened to you. You called he answered. Christ answered.

    This too is wrong. I’ve stated repeatedly that Christ was not present in my request in any way shape or form. Or maybe you don’t believe that Jesus is Lord.

    Fifth,

    You perceived it one way, but that’s not necessarily how it was, that was just your then present frame or reference telling you what was happening.

    Now you perceive it another way, but that’s not necessarily how it was, that’s just your current frame of reference telling you what happened.

    Bingo!! You still are batting quite a few percentage points below Kouzmanoff, though. Back then my “frame of reference” as you put it was my rational mind. Now, my frame of reference is scripture.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 27, 2007 @ 5:31 pm

  17. Just happened to stumble on your blog. Interesting. It seems to me that mainly what you are saying is that back in 79 you were like a child and approached God out of ignorance or even arrogance and now when you look back you see the childishness of your ways (I Cor 13:11). You thought you were doing the mediating, but in hindsight you see see that that was ridiculous and unbelievably presumptive, something like a 3 year old kid who really thought he could wrestle down his 260 lb father.

    But in one way or another, isn’t that really every Christian’s story? Receiving the kingdom “like a child” (Mark 10:13) surely doesnt require having a ThD under your belt first… The great thing is that God in his mercy accepts us as we are, even in our foolishness or with our gross misconceptions of Him.

    Comment by apasserby — June 27, 2007 @ 7:40 pm

  18. apasserby: You seem to get it here. Except that part of my story is that God is not like a 260 pound father to a three year old. (You might have to back up a post or two to get that thesis). There is an infinite qualitative distinction between God and his creation. We are not just some thread in a huge bolt of cloth. God is not part of creation. And we are not part of God. Hence he had to come down to us clothed in human flesh via the incarnation of his Son to make any reconciliation possible.

    Interestingly, I did receive the kingdom. Not just like a child, but as a child. I was a believer from near infancy. It’s just that my pilgrim’s progress has suffered many detours and regressions.

    Anyhoo, welcome and come back anytime.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 27, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

  19. Sure, agree, but ny human analogy to God is by definition going to be an infinitely incomplete one. Still God uses them Himself many times in scripture (Our Father, The Lord is My Shepherd, The Kingdom is like …) so they must have merit. I suppose its so we can even begin to have an inkling of Himself.

    Comment by apasserby — June 27, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  20. Echo was here…

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 28, 2007 @ 12:45 am

  21. apasserby: I think you have shifted from the qualitative difference in God’s being versus ours to how it is that we can know anything about God. Here you are correctly bringing in the word analogy to indicate that God gives us not a one-to-one mind meld kind of exact complete knowledge of himself but he gives us what he is like analogically in Scripture. With this I agree. My attempt for knowledge or revelation was a lazy attempt to skirt scripture.

    Comment by Bruce S. — June 28, 2007 @ 7:01 am

  22. Absolutely. His ways arent our ways and without those analogies we couldnt even begin to understand any facet of His glory. I think we need to be careful, though, not to boast in our _great_ understanding now. Even though we might have a deeper understanding now than when we were a “child”, we still only know in part (and an infinitesimally small part at that). I’d wager that when can “know even as we are known”, we will look back at all our systematic theology, dogma, etc and say: “what presumptiveness, what arrogance”.

    Comment by apasserby — June 28, 2007 @ 8:00 am

  23. Bruce, it’s very difficult to communicate through this medium isn’t it? Let me put it this way, When Paul spoke to the Athenians in Acts 17 he said this to them….

    “24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone–an image made by man’s design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

    When i read your story I see you like an Athenian “talking about and listening to the latest ideas”. Then I see you being induced into this church (BMT) and hearing something and wanting something but not knowing how to approach. Nevertheless you followed a form and pattern that you thought then was right. You are now saying your motivation, attitude, approach, everything, was wrong ALL wrong.

    Perhaps you see yourself then as an Athenian seeking God through idolatry. I don’t know.

    But this is what I see, In verse 27 “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”

    I think you reached out. I think it was God moving you to reach out. Your mind hadn’t yet comprehended why or the proper way to reach out, but it was still motivated by God. You might may or may not have recognized Christs involvement in that moment at that time, but surely he was involved. I don’t know any other possible explanation. Do you? You write the post like you are looking for an explanation but every time one is presented you deny it. So surely you must know what it was since you know what it wasn’t. If you know what it was then explain that. But from where I’m sitting I think it was God. I think it was the initial comprehension of just a bit of salvation. Yeah, yeah I know you claim to have made a confession of faith in your teenage years,so maybe it wasn’t “initial” but it was a glimpse, a revelation similar to what Paul prayed for the Ephesians (1:17 ff). Perhaps someone had been praying for you, “God give Bruce the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know you better.” And God did.

    Comment by danielbalc — June 28, 2007 @ 8:02 am

  24. I don’t know who the passerby is, but I like him (or her).

    Comment by danielbalc — June 28, 2007 @ 8:04 am

  25. Re: 22

    Our understanding of God is only in part. But our theology derived from Scripture, is not based on arrogance or presumption, but on God’s self revelation. Sure, our understanding of it is tainted with sin, as is everything else; but it sounds like you, apasserby, are trying to say that systematic theology is somehow necessarily wrong and evil, just because it is evil people doing it. If that’s your contention, then you would be forgetting that we have two things which make it a good and noble task. 1) Scripture, and 2) the Spirit. We have God’s Word and God’s Spirit. It’s ok to put our trust in HIM that he will guide us into his truth through his Word and Spirit. Hey, this side of glory our understanding will fall short of what it could be. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to know him more and more as he teaches us.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 29, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

  26. Daniel,

    23

    I think you’re missing Bruce’s point. He’s saying this was not the right way. Whether there was some tiny measure of faith in it, and whether God was merciful to him is not the point. It is not the right way.

    You seem to be saying that those who worship idols, even though they are wrong, are still reaching out to God somehow, and God honors that.

    I’m not sure if that’s what you’re saying. If it isn’t, please say so. If it is what you’re saying, you might want to rethink that. Even Muslims are reaching out to God. So are Hindus and Buddhists. God doesn’t honor that because they aren’t reaching out to him through Christ. End of story. This is Bruce’s point.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 29, 2007 @ 7:23 pm

  27. But if Bruce wants to distance himself from this interpretation, I’ll understand.

    Comment by gospelordeath — June 29, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

  28. Re 25. I certainly didn’t intend to imply that systematic theology is somehow evil. Clearly study of scripture is a good thing and, not that it matters, but I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said here. I only mentioned the bit about our partial knowledge because pride can come cloaked in lots of ways, even ones that seem super-spritual.

    Comment by apasserby — June 30, 2007 @ 7:00 am

  29. God took note of Cornelius’ prayers even when not directed through Christ.

    Comment by Albino Hayford — June 30, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

  30. Albino,

    Are you actually trying to say that we don’t need to approach God exclusively through the mediation of Christ? It seems like that’s what you’re trying to get at. I hope I’ve misunderstood somehow.

    Comment by gospelordeath — July 5, 2007 @ 3:50 pm

  31. Nope. No salvation outside of Christ. But God did see Cornelius’ offerings and did hear his prayers BEFORE he was born-again. Hmmmmm…

    Comment by Albino Hayford — July 7, 2007 @ 11:43 am

  32. I totally fail to see the relevance here. I have no idea what point you’re making. Maybe I’m the only one, though, that fails to see your point. Perhaps you could make it more explicit, or maybe someone else who does understand the point can explain it to me.

    Comment by gospelordeath — July 7, 2007 @ 11:28 pm


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