Sunday, August 28, 2011

MacArthur's prophecy: The coming reversal of the Reformed Revival

In this interview, Pastor John MacArthur predicts the coming demise of the "New Calvinism," a prediction that I concur.

Actions have consequences. The idea that a mere profession of right doctrine alone is enough is idealogical Gnosticism. If one's profession does not lead to the corresponding right actions (orthopraxy), it shows that one's profession is false and the one making the profession to be a liar. The consequences of compromise will become evident in due time, and the collapse of the movement in which one has poured out his life energy into is one highly probable consequence.

Piper's compromise of the Gospel through his association with Rick Warren is probably the most prominent action which MacArthur recounted, the inviting of Federal Vision heretic Douglas Wilson at the DG 09 conference being another of them. Piper is obviously free to ignore his critics and attack them as being unChrist-like, but ultimately it matters not what we or him thinks is "biblical," but what God actually and objectively commands in His Word. And judgment begins in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). The fallout from these actions may not be perceivable at first, but the dishonor it brings to God, the stumbling of believers, and the possible falling away of other professing Christians will be evident in due time. Keller's denial of the plain reading of Gen. 1 and thus denial of the Creation account is another such compromise which will reap the whirlwind in due time.

The philosopher George Santayana once said that those who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it. The episode that most parallels this resurgence of Calvinism is the Welsh revival of 1904-1905. That revival failed because of its rank revivalism and lack of a focus on the Bible and biblical truths. Likewise, if the teachings of Scripture are redefined, affirmed in the head but denied in practice, or ignored, while these people are busy attacking "watchbloggers," this recent revival will be like the 1904-1905 Welsh revival, and die out accordingly.

God WILL not bless activities that are contrary to His commands. When will men start realizing this: God is God not a vending machine to dispense "purpose," "joy," "peace," "a feeling of God's glory" etc as and when we desire them? Instead of all this triumphalism, repent and weep! Stop all the noise about being "missional," "contextualizing the Gospel," "fulfilling the Great Commission etc" while you are blaspheming God's truth all the while you play at doing church.

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?
“I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
I will not look upon them.
Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

(Amos 5: 18-24)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Babel, the Curse of Confusion, and the Blessing of Discord

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth. (Gen. 11:1-9)

The confusion of the world's languages at Babel is the biblical answer to the origin of the various language families present on this world. At Babel, God came down and altered the languages of the people there, thus causing confusion as men cannot understand each other, and through this halting the construction of the Tower of Babel (most probably a ziggurat). The Tower of Babel was supposed to function as the symbol of Man's unity and might, but God turned the rebellion on its head by making the tower into a symbol of disunity and judgment.

It has often been said that Babel was a curse upon Man because of his rebellion against God, and in this light Pentecost with the speaking of tongues is a type of the eschaton where the curse of confusion caused by the creation of languages has been reversed. At Babel, God confused the language of men, while at Pentecost God caused the Apostles and those with them to praise God in other languages. At Babel, communication was lost; at Pentecost, communication was made. Disunity results from the judgment of God at Babel; Unity in the Gospel is the fruit of the power and blessing of God at Pentecost. The comparison between Babel and Pentecost is very clear. God at Pentecost shows us that He is in the process of saving us and reversing the curses placed upon us and the world, a process which is here in part now but will be complete at the Eschaton.

Yet, there is another lesson for us at Babel. Babel shows us not only the judgment of God but also the mercy of God.

As we can see, Mankind at Babel were united in their rebellion against God. It was their common language and thus culture that allowed such unity to be achieved. A united rebellious humanity was what existed just prior to the Flood and was its cause. Rebellion and wickedness had to be judged, and God in the antediluvian world did it by a universal flood over the whole earth. At Babel, God faced a similar scenario. Instead of destroying all mankind however, God judged them differently. By confusing the languages, God ensured that Mankind cannot be united again in their rebellion against Him, except at the end of time (Rev. 20:8-9). Instead, conflict between ethnic groups and nations will occupy the attention of Man. Attempts at unification like those done by Emperor Qin Shihuang of China caused much death and suffering, and even such attempts were limited in their ability to truly create one common language and culture even within the realm ruled by the king or emperor.

The severe mercy of God at Babel can be seen in this: by creating multiple languages, Mankind is no more united in their pride and rebellion against God. The judgment of Man was averted for a time. As nations worry over the intentions of their neighbors and wars between nations occur, the world takes its [rebellious] eyes off God in order to deal with the more pressing existential concerns of the tribes and nations. Morally, the separation limits the degrading effects of sin. Antediluvian men were of one language and culture, and therefore wickedness will continue to grow and infect and destroy the culture. Post-Babel, the degrading effects of wickedness in one society will be relatively limited to that society, and the judgment of God when it falls will see the destruction of that society by another less wicked than it. We can see such a principle functioning in the destruction of the Canaanites as nations and as a people in Joshua's conquest of Canaan. By turning nation against nation, and peoples against peoples, the wickedness of Man is checked over and over again by God's intervention and judgment.

The blessing of discord from Babel consists in this: That because of Babel, 1) mankind is preoccupied with many things and thus find less time to rage against God (and His people), 2) immorality is checked by the rise and fall of nations as foreordained and instituted by God.

So while we are sad about the discord in this world, we should realize that the discord in the world serves the great purposes of God for the ultimate blessing of His people. For if discord totally ceased, unregenerate humanity will with one voice turn against God and His people. Already, despite the discord caused by Babel, the nations of the world are persecuting Christians. Imagine what would happen if they were all united against God and Christ?

So while saddened at the human suffering due to discord, we must realize that it works for our good as well. That is also why an inefficient executive branch of government is spiritually better for us than a strong government. Nazi Germany after all had probably one of the strongest government of the 20th century, and we knew what happened to true Christians under that regime.

Fellow saints, let us therefore see the curse of Babel as a blessing to us, for all things work together for our good (Rom. 8:28). Let us thank God for the presence of discord so that we can live in peace and continue to work for the growth and proclamation of the Gospel. Amen.

Book Review: The Westminster Confession of Faith and the Cessation of Special Revelation

I have recently read a very interesting historical theology book on the views of the Westminster Confession and the Westminster divines with regards to the issue of the Gifts of the Spirit, with an eye to that of prophecy. Seeing that this is indeed an important topic, I have done a review of the book here. An excerpt:

What was the view of the Westminster divines with regards to the continuation or cessation of the sign gifts, and especially the gift of prophecy? As the Charismatic movement continues on unabated, such questions with regards to the continuation or cessation of the sign gifts throughout history are looked at. The traditional view has been that the sign-gifts have ceased after the time of the Apostles. Charismatics who insist on the continuation of the sign gifts have to address this historical view. Either they agree that the sign-gifts have ceased in history but blame the cessation on the apostasy of the church, or they must try to find continuation of the sign gifts throughout history and as such dispute the traditional position that the gifts have indeed ceased. In this light, this reviewer has heard both arguments attempted. The first one however does not seem plausible in light of Jesus' promise that the gates of hell with not prevail against the Church (Mt. 16:18). True, the Reformation did happen, but the Reformation was the attempted reformation of the church not its revolution. The Reformers were totally unlike the Radical Anabaptists who insist on overthrowing the Church entirely to create a new one altogether. Only after Trent anathemized the Gospel did the Roman Catholic Church officially cut themselves off from Christ, for as we see from Scriptures, wickedness while serious does not immediately destroy the church (as in the case of the Corinthians, although persistent unrepentance does) but heresy immediately does (as in the case of the Galatians).

In his book, Garnet Howard Milne focused on the narrower scope of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), the Westminster Divines and their view(s) concerning special revelation and prophecy. The book thus is a historical study of the primary sources, being mustered to show forth that the majority view of the Westminster Divines and the Puritans after them was that Special Revelation and thus prophecy has ceased.

[continue]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mark Driscoll and one practical problem with continuationism

Mark Driscoll's recent hack job on cessationists have seen his pronouncements on the topic scrutinized to a greater degree. Over at Pyromanics, Phil Johnson has written an excellent post on this very troubling aspect of Driscoll's ministry.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Charismatic misue of 1 Cor. 14:1

[continued from here]

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1)

In the argument for some form of continuationism, Charismatics have insisted that their view is the "natural" reading of the biblical texts. They point to texts such as 1 Cor. 14:1 and assert that the cessationist reading of the text would negate its meaning to "not desire the spiritual gifts." However, is that really the case?

The cessationist counter-argument is that texts must be read in context. When read in context, cessationists CAN and DO indeed agree that we should earnestly desire the spiritual gifts. In this light, does Paul's exhortation to desire the spiritual gifts lead one to conclude that one must desire the gift of tongues, of foretelling prophecy, miracles and others like them? I would contend not.

HERMENEUTICS

There are many ways to arrange and understand the biblical material, many of which are not legitimate. For example, one can create the idea of a "central dogma" and assert that all the biblical material must be interpreted through such a controlling dogma. Non-reformed biblical theologians tend towards atomism, as texts from various authors are read in isolation and interpreted according to perceived deconstructed and reconstructed interests of the authors, perhaps based upon new findings in secular fields like Second Temple Judaism for example. Thus, such "biblical theologians" have many disparate and even contradictory "biblical theologies," where the "theology of Paul" is one thing, and the "theology of Peter" another, which are all of course different from the "theology of Q."

When it comes to reading texts, cessationists and continuationists differ. Continuationists tend to read the biblical text as a flat immanent text. Therefore, they demand biblical proofs for the cessation of the sign-gifts since it is obvious that the text of Scripture teaches the existence of the sign-gifts. There are of course many shades of cessationists around, but my position is that reading Scripture redemptive-historically would show the fallacy of the basic continuationist premise that places the burden of proof on cessationists to prove the continuation of the sign-gifts.

Reading the Scriptures redemptive-historically means we read the Scriptures as the story of God's progressive revelation of Himself and His works. It presupposes, as Reformed biblical theology does, that Scripture is a contiguous whole and is not actually disparate works of Man. In other words, systematics in the area of prolegomena is the basis for proper reading of the Scriptures. This should not surprise us since the manner of reading the Scriptures are to be derived from the Scriptures themselves. As the Westminster Confession of Faith states,

The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly (2 Peter 1:20-21, Acts 15:15-16).

—WCF, Paragraph 1, Section IX

When we read the Scriptures redemptive-historically, we recognize that the Spirit works differently in different times according to how God desires to reveal Himself at that period of redemptive history. For example, God did not appear as a cloud by day and and a pillar of fire by night to anyone else in history except the Israelites during their 40 years in the wilderness. While God appeared as a man to many people in history like Abraham, Jacob, Gideon etc, God did not do so to Isaiah or Ezekiel or to any of the Israelites during that time. Instead, Isaiah and Ezekiel saw theophanies of God; visions of God in His glory at a level tolerable for finite sinners without killing them.

THE TEXT

As Heb. 1:1-2 teaches, revelation can be roughly divided into two periods: the period before Christ, and the period pertaining to Christ. In former times, God has revealed Himself in various ways, but now God reveals Himself in His Son, and thus the Eternal Word codified His revelation to us in the Scriptures, the enscripturated Logos.

It has been mentioned that the New Testament era, while indeed differing in how God works, do teach the presence and practice of the sign-gifts. That, however, is not a problem for us. For when we read Scriptures redemptive-historically, we realize that the revelation and gifts of God are always given for a purpose and a time. With the final revelation of Christ, that period of redemptive-history has passed with the establishment of the Church as the Apostles passed away. Now 2000 years later, we live in another period of redemptive-history and we are to take that into account as we exegete the passages of Scripture for contemporary applications on our part.

Therefore, how should we interpret 1 Cor. 14:1? We can see that Paul's first letter to the Corinthians deal with the mess that the Corinthians have created. The immature Corinthians have caused no end of problems for Paul to address. In 1 Cor. 12-14, Paul's addresses the Corinthian believers' abuse of their spiritual gifts in much detail. After establishing the primacy of faith, hope and love, and chief among them love, Paul goes on to use these as criteria to evaluate and establish the ways of how the Corinthians' spiritual gifts should be publicly used in the church.

In asking the Corinthians to "earnestly desire the spiritual gifts," Paul therefore is calling on the Corinthians to desire the spiritual gifts for the sake of proper usage in the building up of the church. As he remarks later, "since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church" (1 Cor. 14:12). The thrust of Paul's teaching here therefore is for the Corinthian believers to re-direct their desire for greater gift and manifestations of the Spirit into those gifts which are in fact actually greater and which benefits the church, instead of their carnal desire for an appearance of power.

Thus, the text in its context teaches us that the Corinthians are to desire the greater gifts which edify the church, especially the gifts of prophecy which was especially needed in the Corinthian church at that time. Such is the plain teaching of the text of Scripture. But for us in our contemporary context we will have to translate the teaching of the text from their time to ours. The principle of course remains the same. In their period of redemptive history, the greater gifts are those like prophecy and, to a lesser extent, tongues, and the other sign gifts. In our period of redemptive history however, things have changed. We are not in the same position as the Corinthian church. We have the complete Word of God in the Scriptures and the establishment of the foundations of the church (Eph. 2:20). Therefore, the spiritual gifts that are greater which we are to desire are similarly different. For example, one very important spiritual gift that the Church currently needs is the gift of discernment. Therefore, we should earnestly desire this gift for the edification of the Church.

Cessationists therefore do believe, teach and preach the text of 1 Cor. 14, without altering the text of Scripture. We do believe that Christians are to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts. Where we differ from the Continuationists is that we believe that (1) the Holy Spirit gives gifts as He wishes for His purposes — a certain gift does not always continue being given throughout time (i.e. nobody has Samson's gift of extreme strength now), and (2) we are not in the same period of redemptive history as the apostolic church was. Therefore, keeping in mind the place we occupy in redemptive history, and knowing the purposes of God in the giving of gifts, we apply this text analogously and ask for the spiritual gifts that are required to edify the Church for our time.

1 Cor. 14:1 therefore is NOT a charismatic proof-text. It does not prove continuationism, neither does it prove that we should seek the sign-gifts. When we read the verse using biblical redemptive-historical hermeneutics, we understand the text in context and learn how to apply it properly to our context. 1 Cor. 14:1 thus is a cessationist verse so to speak, which is misused by Charismatics with faulty hermeneutics and a deficient understanding of redemptive history. May we stand firm in the biblical truths which is held by the majority of the Church and not capitulate to the lights and sounds of the Charismatic shows, of which many are in the same state as the Corinthian believers who desire the mere appearance of power more than the reality of true power given by the Spirit, seen in events such as the so-called Toronto Blessing of John Wimber and the Lakeland "revival" by Todd Bentley.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reprobation as serving the purpose of election

For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. (Is. 43: 3-4)

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. ... What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? (Rom. 9:17-18, 22-24)

I was asked to share the Word in this Wednesday's Homegroup, and the passage that I have chosen was Mt. 15: 21-28, the case of the Syrophoenician woman. More specifically, I shared on Jesus' harsh and apparently unloving attitude towards the woman, which seems to smack of racism, even calling her a "dog."

What is behind this apparently racist attitude that Jesus displayed here? As we see the passage in light of Scripture, we can see that Jesus is teaching us a lesson: namely, that Jesus loves only His people, and that before the Cross, Gentiles are God's enemies. God does in fact hates those who are not His, and the division between the two cities — the City of God wherein God loves the elect, and the City of Man wherein God hates the reprobates. The hatred of God against those who are not His people extends through the Scriptures from Cain down to the end of time, whereby God's wrath will be finally poured out upon all who do not believe in Him in them being thrown into the Lake of Fire.

This is where we begin. Christ (and God) loves His people, and hates those who are not His people. The elect who are His people God loves and saves, while the reprobates God actively allows to remain in their rebellion and sin.

This is where the amazing truths of the Gospel and God's love is manifested in redemptive history. Election and reprobation is true, yet in the New Covenant God does an amazing act. Previously the people of God were limited mostly to the Jews, and those who desire to be saved have to become Jews. That is why Peter had difficulty accepting Cornelius since, although Cornelius was a God-fearer, he was not a Jewish proselyte. Through the Gospel and the historic dawning of the New Covenant, God magnifies His name through changing the (ethnic) bounds of the covenant. By His death on the Cross, Christ reconciled His enemies to Himself. Such reconciliation is manifested most amazingly in God's salvation of the "stinking dogs" — the Gentiles. Those who typologically are the eternal enemies of God's people, the seed of the serpent, have now been accepted into the Kingdom of God. As it is written,

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.(Eph. 2:11-13)

Through the New Covenant, God manifests His abundant mercy in saving His enemies. And in order for it to be totally of grace, God hardened the Israelites unto destruction, as Scripture states:

What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, as it is written,

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”

And David says,

“Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.”

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.

...

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

...

For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. (Rom. 11:7-11, 17-22, 30-32)

According to God's wisdom, the majority of Israelites (especially of that generation) were hardened in order for the Gospel to go out to the Gentiles. "For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all" (Rom. 11:32). In order for it to be shown to be all of grace, God reprobates for the most part the Jews as a group, so that in the end no one can boast of their ethnicity or their status as the covenant people.

Therefore, God through the manifestation of His sovereign plan manifests His wisdom and mercy in saving those who were formerly considered hopeless, without God in the world (Eph. 2:12). Covenantally and typologically considered reprobates, just like the Syrophoenician woman, we (who for the most part are not Jews) not only do not deserve the love and salvation of God, we are dogs and vermin, considered fit only to be fuel for the fires of hell.

BUT, and this is a big "but," God's mercy is manifested in this: in salvation of those who were covenantally and typologically reprobates, God's mercy and grace is magnified. The great reversal comes with the soteric reprobation of those covenantally elect and the soteric election of those covenantally reprobate, as seen in the Parable of the Tenants (Mt. 21:33-44). Indeed, behold the severity and mercy of God (Rom. 11: 22), glorified in the manifestation of His great love and great mercy to us.

Finally, let us realize this awe-ful truth. We often like to identify with the heroes of the faith, and that is good. Yet we oftentimes fail to consider that the "losers" in the Bible are men too. Pharaoh and his great army died, in order that God might be glorified in the salvation of the Israelites from Egypt. The great majority of the Jews died as reprobates, in order for the Gospel to go out to the Gentiles. This is a terrible truth indeed: Men are reprobated and they died apart from Christ to burn in hell forever, just so that we might be saved. As stated earlier in Is. 43:3-4, Christ's love for His elect is manifested in giving men in exchange for us. As Rom. 9:17, 22-24 teaches, the redemptive-historical purpose of God in reprobation is to serve the purpose of calling the elect unto salvation.

As we wrap this study up, I would like us to meditate on these truths. Let us see the great mercy of God to us. Let us marvel at God's grace towards us. We are dogs, vermin, cut off from God and the way of salvation, cut of from the fellowship with God and the encouragement of the saints. Utterly undeserving, yet Christ loved us and saved us. Poor and sick we come, yet God clothed us with royal robes we do not even begin to deserve. Not only that, but for our sakes, other men are rejected and condemned to hell, in order that we might be saved. Do we not rejoice in the grace of God? Do we not weep at the cost of our salvation, not only in us causing the death of Jesus in order for our sins to be paid in full, but also that in the manner and means of our salvation God reprobates some to show His mercy on us?

Truly, behold the love and mercy of God; His severity and kindness to us.

The devolution of the FOP, and why no Bible-believing Christian should continue to attend it

Just recently last weekend in Singapore (5th-6th Aug 2011), the annual Festival of Praise (FOP) event happened. The FOP is an annual event created to express Christian unity and foster reconciliation and synergy in the various Christian churches and denominations in Singapore, which is done through the instrument of combined [contemporary] praise and worship of members in churches in Singapore, and the outward expressions of unity between Christian pastors of different churches and denominations. Originally an Anglican event, the founder of FOP Rev. Dr. Canon James Wong seems to have left the Anglican Church and is now serving in various capacities in Charismatic circles, being currently on the board of Tung Ling Bible School.

I have been to the FOP since the late 1990s, especially remembering the hype surrounding 2000 where there were previously given (failed, and thus false) prophecies of multitudes of people turning to Christ. Since then, I have not gone to the FOP event as I deemed it too hyped up and the public speaking of "tongues" was very stumbling to me, not to mention the ridiculously high volume level of the event itself. Later, when the LORD in 2003 opened my eyes to His truths in His Word and rejuvenated my soul, I threw out most of my previously held [charismatic] views as they were the teachings which caused my soul to shrivel and my spiritual growth to be stunted in the first place.

My last attended FOP event was FOP2006, as I was curious to find out what has happened to the FOP since the last time I went for it. That event was terrible, with a total violation of the Regulative Principle (and maybe even the Normative Principle) of Worship, and outrageously heretical teachings by so-called "Apostle" Ed Silvoso. I have blogged about it previously here and here. From then on, I regarded FOP events not only as being a waste of time, but a violation of Scripture. The embrace of heretics of course does not help their reputation at all.

Fast forward to the year 2011, in which I did not go for the FOP event. This year's speaker was John Bevere. While I did not go for the event, some people I know of went for it, and I have heard that some of them were outraged by what they saw during the event.

In a seemingly public Facebook note (the contents of which I do not necessarily endorse), a person by the name of "James Kuan" commented as follows:

To be honest i was really shocked when they said take up your wallets, lift it up and pray to be wealthier and call it a blessing. We really need the spirit to discern such things because it might seem alright and ok but isnt ...

While saddening, this development in the FOP does not shock or surprise me. After all, they had Ed Silvoso on for 2006, Phil Pringle on for 2007, and Che Ahn for 2010. Whoever the "pastor" is who blasphemed God by this abominable action, his action is part and parcel of charismaniac Word-faith and Third Wave pseudo-biblical nonsense.

This brings me to my main point: Given the devolution of the FOP from a reasonably orthodox event into an event where heresy is regularly celebrated, no Bible-believing Christian should ever continue to go for that event. Upon what biblical basis can someone continue to go for an event which blasphemes the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and distorts and maligns His Word? None! Rather,

Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:17-18)

The FOP is an abomination to God, and it stinks in His sight. When the Gospel is being compromised into a teaching of health, wealth and prosperity, then Ichabod has been already written on the door. As it is written,

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1: 8-9)

The capitulation of the FOP event organizers into heresy is plain for all to see. It is "another gospel" indeed, and it does not save. Christians are well-advised to avoid any association with this event, and to call on the event organizers to repent of their compromise of the Gospel with the leaven of "another gospel," which is not another like it but a repudiation of the Gospel itself. Amen.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Rick Warren and John Piper: A Video

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here is a video contrasting the teachings of John Piper and Rick Warren, which makes Piper's compromise of the Gospel even more astonishing

[HT: Apprising Ministries]

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Heb. 1 and the cessation of signs and revelation

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 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 (Heb. 1:1-2)

Πολυμερῶς καὶ πολυτρόπως πάλαι ὁ θεὸς λαλήσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἐν τοῖς προφήταις ἐπ᾽ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ, ὃν ἔθηκεν κληρονόμον πάντων, δι᾽ οὗ καὶ ἐποίησεν τοὺς αἰῶνας (Heb 1:1-2 BGT)

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased (Heb. 1:1-2). — The Westminster Confession of Faith 1646, Chapter I, Paragraph I

Cessationism has fallen on hard times in many areas of the church. This is very unfortunate however, as the very basics of the Reformed faith is predicated on an important truth taught by Scripture itself - the cessation of extra-biblical revelation itself.

Heb. 1:1-2 is probably the strongest passage on the issue, which is incidentally also the proof-text for the last part of the Westminster Confession Chapter I, Paragraph I. As Heb. 1:1-2 states, God has spoken to us now in His Son. God's revelation in Christ is the final revelation which abrogates all previous means of revelation which includes dreams, visions, revelation through the mouths of prophets etc. All of the diverse means of revelation found in the Old Testament have now disappeared with the revelation in God's Son Jesus Christ.

Therefore, all such "sign-gifts" have ceased, having being part of the inferior things that are passing away. No more should we expect God to communicate His will to us through dreams and visions and signs. The Son has come, so why should we go back to the types and shadows of the Old Covenant?

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Heb. 8:13)

The Charismatics by their lust after signs and wonders and the sign-gifts are turning towards these things that are passing away. Instead of seeing the sign gifts as those given for a season, they assume that they know why the Spirit gives the gifts He does give, instead of seeking the wisdom of the Spirit in knowing why He gives what He gives when He does give them. They turn the Holy Spirit into a spiritual vending machine where we are warned not to "grieve the Spirit" and thus "seek the greater gifts," yet all of such is done with no concern at all over the true intent and purposes of the Holy Spirit, as if the Holy Spirit must work the same way as He did worked in Corinth 2000 years ago.

Scripture however has the final say. In THESE LAST DAYS, God has spoken to us in His Son. NOT in dreams and visions and prophecies falsely-called. Not in "words of knowledge," "impressions from the Spirit," or the latest "apostle" in town. We would do well to heed the final Word of Scripture than to pay heed to the wisdom of the "spiritual men" with their "words from God."

So why do I call myself a Cessationist? I do so because it is better to obey God than the subjective claims of men. As Luther said about the Anabaptist Thomas Müntzer, we shouldn't trust such men even if they have swallowed the Holy Spirit "feathers and all." Let God be true, and every man a liar. Amen.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Frank Turk, and "Internet Apologists"

Frank Turk has written a 3-part "open letter" to apologist Dr. James White (Part 1, 2, 3), bascially being a continuation of his attack on 'watchbloggers'. As it is probably expected, the first 2 parts are a waste of time for everyone involved, with only the 3rd part being somewhat substantive.

As one reads Turk's open letter, the same issues come up over and over again. Who after all is for "people who are heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power"? The issue is always of Turk's application of what he teaches that is the issue.

The Church is sick. That there are unaccountable half-baked "apologists" going around is a fact. But what is the solution? Is Turk's solution of attacking "watchbloggers" and "internet apologists" even worth considering at all? What does it accomplish except to create an extra "Turk party" of "watchers of watchbloggers," continued antagonism and multitude of hurt souls who require care rather than harsh rebuke?

THAT is the issue, and has always been the issue, an issue that Turk it seems is blind to. Since Turk is especially adamant on keeping things at the local church level, when will he obey his own advice?