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Joel,

It appears after reading your letters that you are experience orientated. I’m not convinced Scripture supports your experiences but convinced you base doctrine on experiences. You wrote,

>>Southern Baptist doctrine is dispensational/cessational (this also includes the works of counterfeit miracles also) , but sometimes I would say inteligible words out of nowhere and they would happen. This happened more often than not, and no one had any answers to explain how this could happen except just coincidence.<<

Sorry to doubt you but I read about bizarre stories all the time from all in sundry (not necessarily Christians either). If I believed everything what a fool I would be. But I say this, God has no intention of giving miraculous GIFTS to any Christian today. Nor has He since the apostles. Also, your experiences of ‘words the come true’ could be explained many ways, prove nothing, or have nothing to do with what you imagine. Even planted in your mind by people you listen to. Pentecostals feed on such stories in their services.

>>As I began to hear, more and more about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, I began to read with my eyes open and watch for it in the scriptures. I start to see compelling evidence in the scriptures that the very well may be for today. I have no one to talk to about this, so I just continue bumping along.<<

What ‘compelling evidence in the scriptures’? God gives gifts, the fruit of the Spirit love, peace, joy, but not the miraculous and revelation sign gifts given before the completed NT. Where is the Biblical evidence miraculous gifts didn't cease with the completion of the NT? If they didn't cease where does Scripture say, I should seek a 'Baptism of the Spirit'? The real test of spirituality is not having 'gifts' but walking in Christian love [1 Jn.3]. I find plenty of love, joy and peace among the Christians I know but they are not miracle mongers.

Paul said they "will pass away" [1 Cor.13., an early epistle] but when he writes his later epistles, Ephesians and Romans and discusses " gifts" of the Spirit at length, there’s no mention of the miraculous gifts. In fact, the writer of Hebrews [a later book] regards miracles as past [Heb.2:3-4]. By then, apostolic authority and the apostolic message needed no further confirmation. Before the first century ended, the entire NT had been written and was circulating through the churches. The revelatory gifts had ceased to serve any purpose. And when the apostolic age ended with the death of the Apostle John, the signs that identified the apostles had already become moot [cf 2 Cor.12:12].

The fact remains since the canon of Scripture was completed no genuine revival or orthodox movement has ever been led by people whose authority is based in any way on private revelations of God. Many groups have claimed to receive new revelation but all of them have been fanatical, heretical cultic or fraudulent. You need to seriously consider the parallel between cults and the modern charismatic movement.

>>while I was in the shower I prayed - "Lord, I really want to know you, I give you all that I am and want to worship you with all I have tonight at church." That was the first time I had ever asked in prayer anything like that of God.<<

Those who really want to know the Lord must begin with His Word. Growth and knowing the Lord does not happen via an emotional, happy feely experience at church, one Sunday night.

>>To this point, I had never lifted my hands during a worship service- as I began to sing, I felt something like I had never felt before. My hands went up over my head, with the strong sensation that petrol had been pour all over me and I had been touch with a match. I felt like I was consumed by a raging fire- the more I sang the stronger it got. This went on for the entire period of music - 30-45 minutes. Then distinctly through the strong buring sensation I felt a presense hug me from head to toe, so much closer than my own mother could give me, I felt this intense love-suddenly I knew It was Jesus who was hugging. He had answered my prayer from earlier in the day, He taught me how to worship and give all of me to him….this is just still just the beginning of my experinces with God, I have had stuff happen to me and people I have prayed for that I can't account for in any rational way other than God still operates the same as he did 2000 years ago.<<

This is just classic Pentecostalism, nothing special or different. While you describe your experiences that way, (you may not realize) some describe their Pentecostal experiences as - rolling on the floor, out of control, screaming, shouting, uncontrollable laughter, vomiting, nudity, going to the toilet, smashing chairs, kicking holes in the wall, etc. And yes, these people are all insistent ‘it was Jesus’ or the ‘Holy Spirit.’ And they all quote Scripture and boast of a new wonderful ‘joy’, peace, miracles, "love" from Jesus they 'never felt before'. And, they are at pains to convince everyone God authenticates all this weird unbiblical stuff by miracles. Yes, the more weird the better they like it. And (they say) God gives them thousands miracles pouring down from heaven all over them, as if God is extremely pleased with all this weird stuff and wants everyone to 'get it'.

If only people would realize that while God does not change, His plans and purposes have changed many times. Just because an apostle would not be hurt by poison (Mk.16) doesn’t mean this is God’s promise till the end of the age.

Regards
Mark


Hi Joel,

>>If miracles are no longer important to the gospel presentation of the later books- why does Paul mention this in Romans? Rom15:19 by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.<<

I was originally saying that the miracles, signs and wonders had began to vanish away before the NT was complete and that is obvious from ‘the later books’ of the NT. Rom.15:19 also proves my point. Note how Paul refers to the signs and wonders in the past tense.

Signs and wonders which God gave confirmed Paul as he "
proclaimed the gospel" message. They were needed during that limited time so God gave them for that purpose. God doesn't give anyone today miracle gifts in confirmation as they proclaim "the gospel". Since God has already confirmed His Word with signs and miracles He now expects us to believe it. He doesn't ask us to believe the claims of modern day miracle workers, but only His Word and its message.

>>From what Paul goes on to say it would appear the he is in the Balkans at this writing of this letter; the former location of the country of Illyricum. True he does use past tense in his proclamation, but I don’t see how that would validate it being 20 years earlier or completed 2 days earlier if he is writing from the location he mentions last.<<

The reason for drawing your attention to the 'past tense' 2 Cor.13:13 Heb.2:3-4 Mk.16:20 (also Rom.15:19) was to show that scripture indicates a change was taking place regarding the miraculous gifts. They didn't cease suddenly on a certain day but gradually. During the course of the formation of the NT (Also proven by the fact the early church fathers testify to their vanishing away).

In 1 Cor.13:11 Paul describes the miracle/sign gifts as the baby ways of the church. When the church became more mature in the faith, the childhood ways “vanished” away. It wasn’t until the completion of the NT that the signs gifts were not needed. The gift of apostleship also ceased with the passing of last apostle. Once the foundation of the church was laid no other foundation was needed - “ And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph.2:20)


>>I find this to be true of Hebrews 2:3-4, where miracles could be done the up very point of the penning of the book and still be referred to in the past tense. I can’t accept this as an addition proof that miracles ceased years before- It could be only a day later when the text is written- Making your claim that the later books prove the miracles, prophecy, etc. as ceased, a rather shaky point.<<

But Hebrews 2:3-4 is proof that the signs and wonders ceased. It says …. how shall we (Hebrews) escape? (by) neglecting (this) salvation which having “at the first” been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us (the Hebrews) “by them that heard” (Christ’s disciples). How was it confirmed? By “God bearing them witness with signs and wonders”. That’s too clear to mistake.

The miracles were only for a limited season. Eg, the gift of tongues was a sign to the unbelieving Jewish nation that God was changing His plans about Judaism to Christianity (1 Cor 14:21-22). Tongues were prophesied for that very reason. Isa.28:11 “ For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people ”. But for all that “ they would not hear ” (Isa.28:12). “ This people ” were the Jewish people. They expected Christ to deliver them from the Romans who had controlled their land. They waited for the Messiah and His Kingdom.

But the King was crucified, the Kingdom postponed they ‘ would not hear ’. So when the apostles came preaching the gospel of Christ’s death, resurrection, sins forgiven and grace (not law) the Jews naturally regarded this contrary to God’s law as recorded in their scriptures. So God gave signs. Paul writes to the Jews at the sea-port of Corinth,

'In the Law it is written: "Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me," says the Lord. Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers ”. (1 Cor.14:21-22)

So tongues were a sign to the unbelieving Jewish people, not for Christians. Tongues had a meaning for them they didn’t have for anyone else. Today there is no need for such signs, both Jew and Gentile come to Christ the same way, both must have faith (without miraculous signs). So as the church became more Gentile ‘tongues’ were not needed and ceased to have a purpose and so were withdrawn.


>>Which brings up your contention from 1 Cor 13. 1 Cor. 13:8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. Following your logic about prophesy and tongues ceasing with the original apostles, this directly implies that knowledge has past away. I doubt we could be having these discussions if this were true; we would know as we are fully known-end of the passage. When are the last days? Did they cease with the canonization of the NT?<<

It's not ordinary 'knowledge' in its widest sense that is referred to in '1 Cor.13'. The 'knowledge' we have now, we carry into eternity with us. It does not cease at any time.

The gifts spoken of in 1 Cor.13 are miraculous and revelatory gifts (ie tongues, word of knowledge, prophecy). Paul's subject is illumination in 1 Cor.13:8-13. He says [vs 8] three of the miraculous gifts will vanish away, and then explains when, and how, and why.

The "when" is answered immediately in vs.10 "When that which is perfect is come" "That which is in part" are gifts of Prophecy and Knowledge, "For we know in part, and we prophecy in part." The part illumination gives away to "that which is perfect." The gifts provided the early Church that which was later provided by the NT. When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, the only part of the NT in existence was 1 & 2 Thess. The early Church was at a disadvantage, so God gave the miraculous gifts to enable the assimilation of the NT truth [so readily available to us]. They were "in part" compared with the "perfection" of the completed Scriptures we have. So when the perfect came, the part was done away.

The expression in verse 12 explains ‘why’ the Miraculous Gifts cease. "Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known." See the comparison? The word "know" and "known" is the rarely used emphatic verb "epiginosko" meaning "To know upon some mark - to recognize-to become fully acquainted with."

"That which is Perfect" the Bible, is the revelation of Christ who is Himself, the Living Word of God. The miraculous gifts of the Early Church were fruitful in providing a part-knowledge of Him. But it was only part knowledge and it would vanish away. "Now" when Paul wrote, they had this Part Knowledge of Him. But "when that which is perfect is come" then they would be able to fully recognize and be acquainted with Him. He is the Head of the Body and He knows each member. When "that which is perfect is come" then the members will be able to know Him fully, as He Himself knows the members.

When Paul says, "I shall know even as I am known," that doesn’t mean that we shall share His Omniscience. But as He knows us, our character, name, life and purposes, hopes and desires, so we also may fully know His Character, Name, Life, Purposes, Hopes, Desires, Power, Grace, Love and Glory. What a wonderful revelation of Christ God's Word is! How full is "that which is perfect" of Him!


>>Joel 2:28-32 "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. I clearly see here that God will pour out his Spirit on everyone. With what would be referred to as the gift in the NT – Peter quotes this in Acts, but has this entire scripture been completed? I see the act of God as pouring out over the entire last days here, to deny that would imply that we have past the “last days” and Paul warned: 2 Thes 2:1-2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. I would say we are quickly approaching this day though, by the signs of lawlessness gripping the US.<<

But with the Spirit’s coming people didn’t roll on the floor, make animal noises, burst into uncontrollable laughter, speak in gibberish as they do today. Also tongues are not mentioned in Joel’s prophecy. And much of the prophecy is not yet fulfilled. The ‘sun turned to darkness’ the ‘moon into blood’ the ‘dreadful day of the Lord’. So in Acts there was a limited fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.

But the Holy Spirit is given to all born again Christians, millions of whom have never spoken in the modern day gibberish (you call tongues). They don’t promote so-called supernatural miracle gifts, so Joel’s prophecy doesn’t apply the way you use it. Re. Visions. Apostles had credentials or qualifications. One was that had to have seen the resurrected Lord (Ac.1:22 2 Cor.12:12 Lk.6:13). The 'last' person Jesus appeared to was Paul 1 Cor.15:5-9. Jesus is not appearing to people today or it makes a lie out of 1 Cor.15:8.

Further more, Roman Catholics, Episcopalian’s Jesuits and Mormons all speak in tongues. Is this your idea of ‘on everyone’?

Regards,
Mark.

"...when Paul stood before Nero the era of miracles had closed, The miracles of Acts 28:8-9 are chronologically the last on record, and the later Epistles are wholly silent respecting them" (p.171 'The Silence of God'. R. Anderson 1897)


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