Category Archives: John Piper

Jaws

By Marv

I see a screen in front of me. On it I see sin being committed. I know the details because the details are right there before my eyes–fellow believers acting in shameful and disgusting ways.

No this isn’t some kind of visionary experince–just the internet. You can have the same experience too, if you think you can stand it–by clicking on this link and reading Phil Johnson’s cyber-slander of Mark Driscoll. If you are so inclined you can join in the all-you-can eat sin-fest offered there. The waters are nicely chummed, and the jaws have not been idle.

I hadn’t planned to do a Pyromaniac hat trick (DP, FT, and now PJ), but the guys are on an anti-Continuationist tear–and are at it still, each of the Pyros seemingly trying to outdo the other in their Cesso fervor. I can’t even keep up with ’em.

This one’s all about a five minute video, clipped and edited from an hour-long message on Spiritual Warfare presented in Februrary 2008, and specifically posted on Youtube by Phil Johnson, for the purpose of inflaming opposition to Driscoll. To ensure that viewers will treat it as scandalous, he qualifies the video as “extremely disturbing” and entitles his post, “Pornographic Divination.” In case his subtlety is lost on you, he is accusing his brother of a double abomination. Nice.

The center piece of the video is surely a one-minute description of what Driscoll presents as a visionary experience through which he had detailed knowledge of a woman’s unconfessed sin. Evidently the woman, along with her husband, had consulted Driscoll in regard to a spiritual problem, and because he believed the incident left a significant foothold for demonic oppression, he confronted her with the facts of the matter.

Now whether or not Driscoll leaves himself open to criticism over this story, Johnson’s labeling of the incident either as “pornographic” or “divination” is wicked–many times more sleazy than the putative scandal he attempt to construct from Driscoll’s words. And the subsequent comment thread once again demonstrates the power of a little blood in the water. “Fish are friends not food,” chanted the twelve-stepping sharks. Remember the ichthys? Identifying a brother in Christ. They’re not food either, chum.

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. (Gal. 5:15)

It is difficult to know which part shocks Johnson more: the “pornographic” or the “divination,” but given his blitzkrieg of Cessationist postings of late, I’d venture to say the latter. He explains his objections in six bullet points, which I will address one at a time:

1. Johnson calls what Driscoll is doing “soothsaying.” Thus he puts Driscoll’s acts in the same category as a fortune teller consulting Tarot cards or a crystal ball, despite the fact that Driscoll is not “fortune telling” but in the main incident identifying a sin ten years in the past. Note that at this point it is not a matter of the specific content of Driscoll’s purported visions, but the mode of them. In this his aim is rather wide of the mark, since the activity which Driscoll is at least claiming to be engaged in falls within the clear Biblical description of prophecy:

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all,the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. (1 Cor. 14:24-25)

If pointing out specific sins, even sexual sins, through revelation by the Holy Spirit is “soothsaying,” Johnson indicts even our Lord:

Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. (John 4:17-19).

That the revelation behind prophecy can be through a visual experience is also perfectly Biblical, as on a large scale, the book of Revelation shows us.

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Rev. 1:1-3)

As does, on a smaller scale, Jesus’ vision of Nathanial.

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” (John 1:48-50).

Johnson objects as well to Driscoll’s using the term “discernment” in regard to this activity, and he cites a couple of verses on “discernment” to show Driscoll guilty of “bad teaching,” saying that the Biblical “gift of discernment” is quite different from this. But what Driscoll is actually referring to is “discernment of spirits,” which he abbreviates simply “discernment.” Recall that this talk is over an hour long, and the clip is five minutes of this. There is certainly “discernment” which has nothing to do with evil spirits, but this does not negate the validity of discernment of Spirits.

Part of the confusion here is that the clip really is torn from context. The message is about “Spiritual Warfare,” dealing with demons who are oppressing people. This is where “discernment of spirits” comes in, and why Driscoll specifically deals with a past unconfessed sin. The aspect of “discernment of spirits” that is involved is determining why a person may be susceptible to demonic oppression. And the revelation that Driscoll refers to serves that function.

Whether the particular instances Driscoll cites are genuine or not, the practices he is teaching about in this video, discernment of spirits, revelation from the Holy Spirit, confronting another regarding sin, have a high Scriptural pedigree, the kind of actions engaged in by Christ and the apostles. Johnson’s charge is thus slanderous at best and perhaps even blaspemous.

2. Johnson next impugns Driscoll for his statement that in perceiving the Spirit’s revelation, he does not always see, hear, or understand clearly. This is based on the wholly spurious but frequently asserted notion that spoken prophecy in Bible times was inerrant as the Scriptures are. Deut. 18:15-22 is often cited as support that at least Old Testament prophecy was inerrant. Actually, the passage teaches precisely the opposite: while God’s revelation to the prophet is perfect, the prophecy spoken is subject to the prophet (1 Cor. 14:32). It ought to exactly equal to the Lord’s revelation, but it might not be. A prophet’s speech is not guaranteed as the Scriptures are. They have to be tested. This is exactly what Paul counsels in both 1 Thes. 5:20-21 and 1 Cor. 14:29. (Since I wrote this, Sam Storm’s excellent post on the subject has now appeared, and makes much the same point.)

One speaking on the basis of revelation, such as Driscoll describes ought therefore to voice conclusions tentatively. And this is precisely what he says he does in the video. He clearly states he does not “know” the details to be factual, but thinks they are. He then advises the person to verify the facts.

Incredibly, Johnson accuses Driscoll of accusing people of serious sins–on the basis of imperfect knowledge. Of course, Johnson does not claim perfect knowledge of Driscoll’s actions. If he contacted him directly prior to posting his screed, he does not indicate it. At least Driscoll advises verification. Johnson just forges ahead based on his own prejudice, and blasts the man before a potential audience of every living man, woman and child in the world.

3. Johnson criticized Driscoll for mentioning graphic details. Once again, he is evidently referring to the one minute section about the woman’s affair. “Salacious details” is the term Johnson uses. He does indicate the man “climbed on top,” but beyond this the details include hair and eye color, type of bedspread, and approximate year. It is about as “salacious” as your average PG movie love scene. By contrast, due to all the blood-letting, Johnson’s post and comment stream have to be at least PG-13.

He may have a point though, that this level of detail is unnecessary. Driscoll’s point, I take it, was to show that visionary revelation may be quite specific and accurate. Neither the video nor Johnson’s post tells us whether Driscoll’s description was accurate. Cessationists are wont to complain of contemporary prophecy and “words of knowledge” as being vague and insipid. Or else the putative prophet is merely engaged in cold reading. One of Johnson’s colleagues, Dan Phillips recently wagged that arguing for Continuationism was “self-refuting” since genuinely miraculous results ought to speak for themselves. So when a prophecy is vague many Cessationists complain of lack of verifiable detail. When it is anything but vague, it contains unnecessary information. If it turns out to be correct, it is a good guess. If it is beyond the power of a good guess… could it be Satan?

4. Evidently it is, Johnson suggests, because the Holy Spirit’s eyes are too holy to look on sin. Clearly, the least sin is perfectly abhorrent to the Godhead, and God cannot look on sin approvingly. But remember that the Spirit is sent to “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” (John 16:8). Are we to imagine that sexual sin is beyond His ken, or more repugnant than pride, malice, and strife? He empowers prophecy to reveal the secrets of the heart (1 Cor. 14:24). And, O gentle reader, if you are a believer, He indwells you. And you Mr. Johnson. Who will say that living in such places as your heart and mine He has not been witness to much more sordid spectacles?

Anyway, the Spirit of God, having inspired passages such as Genesis 19:30-38, Genesis 38, and others, can handle revealing the mundane sins of the flesh. (Again, since I wrote this I have another fine place to link to on the “lurid and crude passages of Scripture.” )

5. Johnson further reveals his prejudice in characterizing Driscoll’s statement as “whacko fringe,” cleverly changed to “whacko mainstream.” What? Is he encountering a ten-story Jesus? Is it about Christ’s face on a tortilla? What exactly is “whacko” about revealing the secrets of the heart through the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God and calling sinners to repentence?

What then passes Johnson’s imprimatur for a Continuationist? Muttering in tongues in one’s closet? A little prayer, a little oil? Saying pretty please to demons?

Johnson then rounds up some of the usual suspects, such as Toronto or Paul Cain, matters he seems to understand poorly–despite some curiously strong opinions–in order to besmirch his “theological betters” as his ilk would put it, such as Wayne Grudem, John Piper, Jack Deere, and Sam Storms.

6. Finally, calls Continuationism a “leaky Canon” and Continuationists loose cannons. Frankly, this shows him clueless, as Spirit-empowered ministry is no threat to the Canon or Scripture. He seriously misunderstands Sola Scriptura.

And while any contemporary ministry is weakened through the failings of the feeble human being engaged in it, Spiritual Warfare, discernment of spirits, prophecy and such are not unique in this, but are under the authority and scrutiny of Scripture. But so is theo-blogging.

And among the six yea seven things the Lord hates and are an abomination to him is “one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:19) (Ah, here‘s a nice link to Proverbs.)

In short the characterization of this short video as “extremely disturbing” or “pornographic” or in any way scandalous is seriously contrived, distorted, overblown.

Are there, though, any points of concern or question? Sure. Not for censure of Driscoll as an “out of control” charismaniac. I do get the impression such a conclusion is a “consummation devoutly to be wished.” So that this nigh-on four year old snippet can be puffed into a full-blown scandal, then well done thou good and faithful. Driscoll is an outspoken, and I have to say at least at times well-spoken advocate for Spirit-empowered ministry. He’s also (more than) a little “in your face,” having qualified hard cessationists at least as “worldly.” (Insert gasp here.) The Pyroids don’t seem to have taken this lying down. Naturally their recent flurry of post after post of anti-Continuationist lather is entirely unrelated to any hurt feelings over Driscoll’s mean and nasty name calling.

But the short video can serve as a springboard for instruction, not on whether or not to engage in Spirit-empowered ministry—that is a given—given by our Lord, but in how to go about it. What guidelines can we draw? This can be done by asking questions. Driscoll has no need for me to defend him. Indeed I know very little about him. I have not followed him at all, but have been positively impressed by some things he has said.

Still, this video opens the door to some questions, which might invite criticism in a few areas. So I will address the questions to him, that I would wish to ask if meeting in person. Not as an accusation, but as assistance in keeping the edges of the iron sharp and clean. And what I think may be good counsel to anyone in such a situation.

1. Have you resisted the temptation to be awesome? It was not always clear, since I don’t really know you, that you were not reveling at least a little in an image as one of the “big guys.” As you know, this has no place in this kind of ministry. So watch over your heart and guard it from pride in your abilities. Paul needed a thorn in the flesh to keep him from pride because of the visions. Will that be necessary in your case?

2.I don’t agree with your critics that what you related was “pornographic,” but at the same time, you have to be on guard against corrupted revelation. Visionary experience operates, I would suppose, on the same mental “equipment” as imagination, just as revelatory dreams operate in the space where normal dreams occur. I don’t absolutely know this of course, but if any bits of your own imagination—not to mention fantasy—can break off, as it were, and get mixed in with the revelatory content, you have to detect this and guard against it. I can’t tell you whether this has occurred. But a number of your viewers not only suspect this, but are convinced it is nothing but your imagination. Consider guarding against any misunderstanding—much less correct understanding—which would give opponents cause to blaspheme.

3.Do you consider that receiving revelation about someone is different from permission to share it with that person? In your story about the woman, the circumstances were not quite clear to me. I would be concerned about sharing that kind of material to or about a person in front of others, particularly the person’s spouse. I’m not sure from your sketchy account how the sequence of events transpired. It is to be hoped that such things are done with discretion, dignity, and tact. This five-minute clip did not go into discretion, dignity, and tact. Perhaps you do later in the presentation.

4. Dealing with issues of abuse and other instances when the subject was a child, it is important not to suggest or implant alien ideas that might be false but taken as reality, whether or not confirmed by the subject later. Again, this bit of video does not dwell on how you did, or on how one ought to go about this very delicate matter. Perhaps you do later. If not consider doing so in the future.

None of us is free from sin, and even our best efforts are tainted with our sinfulness. The Scripture tells us even our righteousnesses are as “filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). And if I were to spell out in “lurid” detail what that phrase actually means, I might be the next victim of the feeding frenzy.

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On Balance

By Marv

Once the Babylonians were finished with Jerusalem, no temple remained to perform the sacrifices prescribed in the Law. But the elders of the people, taking the Scriptures wherever they went, continued to teach the Word, and this tradition continued for centuries, well after a rebuilt temple allowed resumption of sacrifices. The restored priest class, the sacrifice-makers, hugged close to the places of power, even during times of foreign hegemony–which was most of the time. Their circle, named for one Zadok (or Tsadok), became known as the Tsedukim, Greco-Latino-Anglicized as “Sadducees.” Such, in large measure, were the priests

By contrast, the teachers continued in parallel, with concentrated attention to the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Less prone to cozy up to the Syrians, Egyptians, Romans–whatever invader happened to be in charge at the moment–many of these stressed the set-apart-ness that the Law demanded. These Separatists, Perushim, we call the “Pharisees.”

The society in which Jesus was born was rife with factions, of which the above were only two. Each side was imbalanced: the Sadducees had the cultus, but were weak on the Word, accepting only the Penteteuch, and rejecting doctrines such as the existence of angels and the resurrection. The Pharisees, by contrast, offered solidity of doctrine, but were for the most part outsiders to the functions of the Temple.

Yet, I think each group can be said to have found itself with a particular calling, the Sadducees to maintaining the worship system, sacrifices and Temple; and the Pharisees to rigorous study of and adherence to the Scriptures. That each side did so imperfectly–very imperfectly–is evident from the gospels, in which Jesus Christ–their long awaited Messiah–met with pretty much equal resistance from the two factions. But imperfect–failing though they were–Jesus affirmed their ongoing places of responsibility under God:

The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. (Matt. 23:2)

“See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” (Mark 1:44)

In the final analysis each of these is to be evaluated, not by how balanced each is, but by how faithful each is to its calling, to the particular gift given as God wills. A balance there was, however, in the form of a bipartisan chamber, the Council, known to us by its Greek name for “seated-together” synedrion, the Sanhedrin. Together in this body, the differing emphases of the priests and the teachers found equilibrium, balance.

  • Calling, gifting calls for zeal and faithfulness.
  • Body is for balance, for completeness, for interaction.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Cor. 12:12)

Note Paul says “Christ.” But he is talking about the Church. Who can doubt that Jesus Christ represents perfect balance in roles: Prophet, Priest, King? And in His works: Teacher, Prophet, Healer, Giver, Comforter.

We now have inherited His name, as a body, “Christ” as the apostle calls us. And we have inherited his roles:

And God has appointed in the church first apostles*, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues**. (1 Cor. 12:28)

(**Apostles, I take to be generalists. **Tongues, I take it came in with Pentecost.)

Now we can count on the Spirit of God to keep the Body of Christ well-balanced since He  “apportions to each one individually as he wills” (v. 11). It’s when we scoop a bit out of this well-blended mixture and place it in a particular time and a particular place–a local church–that unequal distribution may occur. I don’t think the various gifts land in one-to-one correspondence with people, due to the way Paul encourages us to pursue prophecy or pray for interpretation of tongues. But it is apparent that excelling in use causes people to fall into characteristic roles: “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers…” (Acts 13:1)

Human nature leads us to value these gifts or roles unequally. Otherwise Paul would not have to admonish us: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’ (1 Cor. 12:21). We can’t, but we do.  Strength in gifting tends to have a magnetic effect; for example, a strong teacher attracts many who appreciate strong teaching.

The result is little body-lets with distorted features: one little local body of Christ has whopping great feet perhaps, and puny hands. Another Dumbo ears but tiny mouth. Imbalanced bodies; history is rife with these, maybe more the rule than the exception, and this disequalibrium is one souce of sectarian division.

Something along these lines happened, I suggest, about the turn of the twentieth century. Two different callings arose–distinct but not incompatible. Those responding to the call acted with zeal and with faithfulness–albeit imperfectly. What was lacking was balance, since, while there was some overlap, the two callings attracted followings that each tended to undervalue the other, discount the other’s legitimacy and–being disunited–fell into imbalance. In short, each said to the other “I have no need of you.”

Taking a cue from Acts 13:1, I’m going to call these two camps “Teachers” and “Prophets.” For those inclined to quibble, note I do put quotes around them. I don’t mean these terms in any absolute sense.

The “Teachers” responded to the call to contend for the Bible and the essential doctrines it teaches against a growing threat from Higher Criticism and theological liberalism.

The “Prophets” saw that a major truth of apostolic Christianity lay neglected after centuries of Church history, the power ministry through the Holy Spirit, and “spiritual gifts.”

In parallel courses, the “Teachers” produced The Fundamentals–giving rise to the label Fundamentalist. The “Prophets” saw the development of a Pentecostal movement. Again, these streams are not without admixture. For example, Pentecostals might well affirm the declarations of The Fundamentals.

Interestingly also, each one, about midcentury, fired off a kind of second stage: Charismatics and Evangelicals. Once again, I don’t wish to draw too sharp a distinction. Many Charismatics would be well cast as Evangelicals. But still two distinct lines of heritage are clearly discernable, and in many ways each of the streams tended to distance itself from the other.

My own heritage has been on the “Teacher” side, and I think I can speak with greater freedom in regard to the activities on this side of the divide. Take B.B. Warfield for example: his book The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible is a diligent and faithful defense of the Scriptures. On the other hand, his Counterfeit Miracles, laying a foundation for Cessationism, may have been intended also as support of a strong Bibliology, but uses–I suggest–a dubious Biblical argument to do it.

But the main point I want to make is this: it has become common for the “Teacher” side to characterize the “Prophet” side as imbalanced. And indeed much evidence may be given that this is the case. This charge by “my side” is regrettable for at least two reasons: first, I submit that the “Teacher” camp is also imbalanced, though perhaps in a less noisy way. Second, and more important, due to the way the Spirit has arranged the Body, my calling an opposing camp “unbalanced” may revert the responsibility back to me.

Consider two children playing on a see-saw. When one goes up, the other goes down. When that one goes up, the first goes down. It is a study in balance. Now say kid A decides to jump off, leaving kid B to fall to the ground with a thud. How meaningful is it for kid A to accuse kid B of being “imbalanced.”

If the Pentecostal/Charismatic wing of the 20th Century Church can fairly be called imbalanced–and it can–whose fault is this? Let me submit–quite irenically–from the “Teacher” stream of heritage, a main cause for it has been the “Teacher”-side invention of Cessationism–and the consequent absence of much of the Body’s stong teacher gifting from that “other” side.

I don’t mean to suggest that the “Prophets” have been teacher-less. Not at all, but all the energy that has gone into building and maintaining the (in my opinion) unbiblical position of Cessationism, could have been better spent in helping guide the stream of Pentecostalism/Charismaticism into more Biblically and theologically appropriate directions.

This is why what we see occuring toward the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first is so encouraging. Individuals began to arise with heritage in both streams–or coming from one learned to embrace the other. Figures such as John Wimber have been key in this regard. What was once considered an oddity, Calvinist Contintuationists such as Sam Storms, C.J. Mahaney or John Piper, are now becoming more and more common.

It is not completely clear what labels to use, if we must use labels. Some have, I think mis-characterized this union of streams as a hybridization, and it may be tempting to imagine clever terms, such as “evangematic.” But I think it is better to see some in the Church now re-reading our Bibles, welcoming the whole counsel of God, not reacting to our brothers and sisters’ failings, and taking seriously our call to pursue our giftings with zeal and faithfulness, in a way that takes seriously “our” need of “them” and “their” need of “us,” trusting God’s Spirit and God’s word to bring us into balance.

The White Dove Inn

By Marv

Three theobros, friends, colleagues, agreeing on much, differing on some things, sitting around the studio in relaxed but intelligent banter–joined together with joy, but for a serious purpose. And the podcast is ours to enjoy, to learn, to be edified by. It’s great stuff. I keep thinking though–all it needs is Rod Rosenbladt periodically saying “That’s HUGE!!!”

(If you don’t have a clue what I am talking about check out this other worthy audio theofest.)

C. Michael Patton, dean or some such title of Credo House ministries is the indefatiguable superblogger of Parchment and Pen. I admit I came for Daniel Wallace, but I stayed for CMP. Within the last couple of years he has bared his soul more than a bit, particularly with regard to his contemplation of the subject of “spiritual gifts.” In a series of eight posts he explained “Why I am not  Charismatic.” Readers of To Be Continued will be familiar with it, as with our point by point response.

Back he comes, and not alone. For a new round the venerable Sam Storms partners with CMP to provide a balancing continuationist perspective. The whole shebang starts off with this podcast, featuring Michael, Sam, and a third voice Tim Kimberley. Three DTS-grad Okies. Now that’s balance, I must say (being an Oklahoma-born DTS grad myself).

Listen to the podcast, part of their Theology Unplugged series as a bit of an intro to the discussion. The meat will be the blog posts, however, and we already have the first two: an opening salvo by Patton “Why I am/not Charismatic: My Story,” not to be confused with Storms’ “Why I am/not Charismatic: My Story.”

First course: appetizers. We digest so you don’t have to.

First C. Michael Patton’s Story:

1. Raised in non- even anti-Charismatic soil (DTS-grad pastor) Michael experienced plenty to leave a foul taste in his mouth: a church split over “the gifts,” repulsive silliness and downright abuse, embarrassing excess at a pal’s church. Charismatics behaving badly: barking, flopping, issuing inane and insipid “words,” sealed the deal.

2. MacArthurism (“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Charismatic party?”) loaded him with Bible-based proofs to match his mood.

3. So how did a guy like him end up at a place like UBSS, which he describes as a”Third Wave” Bible college? Open prophesying, unabashing tonguing, their name was Legion, for they were many. But with Grudem as the Systematic Theology? Harvard, Westminster, Cambridge, ETS pres, Calvinist–and Charismatic. Does not compute.

4. Since then voice after voice with theological and Biblical heft have articulated and explained a cogent, coherent Continuationist understanding: Fee, Mahaney, Piper, Moreland… (Time provented him from mentioning Scott & Marv apparently…)

5. Where is he now? Standing on the edge of the chasm–the Cessationist side, underwhelmed by the arguments that keep him there, but not able (willing) to make the leap to the greener grass on the other side.

6. It is a consummation devoutly to be wished, however. With loved ones who really, really needed healing–this one is personal.

And now for Sam Storms’ story:

1. Dallas Seminary and Believer’s Chapel: meat-lovers’ milieu both, and where folk not only think, but know the Charismatic wing is full of wingnuts. Now that’s a solid foundation for a future of Cessationism.

2. It was in Oklahoma where the wind came sweeping down the plain. While pastoring in Ardmore, he read D.A. Carson, and his Cessationist pseudo-foundation crumbled under his feet.

3. He came to the realization that the Bible taught Continuationism, but he remained embarrassed by the unsophisticated, overly emotional, underly intellectual crew he’d have to associate himself with if he went with the Bible instead of his background.

4. Yet he took the plunge. Preaching through Acts, and presenting a doctrinal study on the Spirit, he led his church not only in reading about the “stuff” but doing it. Somehow he managed the paradigm shift in his congregation without the whole thing blowing up in his face.

5. Catching up with Jack Deere, whom he had known at DTS, and who had made a similar journey, Sam was renewed in the gift of tongues he had known but came to disdain two decades earlier. He eventually found himself ministering at Kansas City Fellowship for seven years–more than a small step for a man from Believer’s Chapel.

6. After a brief stint teaching at Wheaton, he returned to KC and started Enjoying God Ministries. Today he is a pastor in OKC, where, like someone else, he spends his time proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

We are in for a remarkable discussion, with these two. Topics foreshadowed in the podcast include:

  • Terminology: Charismatic vs. Continuationist.
  • History: Through the centuries and three “waves” in the twentieth century.
  • Distinction from Faith Movement and Prosperity Theology.
  • What about the lingo: “sign gifts,” “normative”?
  • How serious should we take things: accepting? practicing? pursuing?

John Piper on Spiritual Gifts

by Scott

Yesterday, John Piper posted an article of interest at his blog, Desiring God. He starts about by reminding us of nine different points to remember about spiritual gifts:

1. God wants us to know about spiritual gifts.

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed” (1 Corinthians 12:1).

2. Objective truths about Jesus govern subjective spiritual experiences.

“No one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).

3. Different Christians have different spiritual powers given to them by the Holy Spirit.

“There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4).

4. For example, these different spiritual powers include the following:

“Wisdom . . . knowledge . . . faith  . . . healing . . . miracles . . . prophecy . . . ability to distinguish between spirits  . . . tongues . . . interpretation of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).

5. The Spirit of God is sovereign over when and to whom he gives such powers.

“All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

6. The aim of all the gifts is the common good of the church.

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7).

7. The variety of gifts is like the variety of our body parts, such as eye and ear, hand and foot.

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:14).

8. Therefore, if a spiritual power is not used, it’s like the human body not hearing.

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? (1 Corinthians 12:17).

9. Therefore, we should avail ourselves of the spiritual powers God gives us through others.

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21).

But then Piper looks to specifically connect these truths with the reality of unanswered prayer. He lists some realities of why our prayers might go unanswered, yet he then shares some thoughts on a reason we may have never considered:

But here is a reason we may not think of very often. God may intend to give us the blessing we long for not directly in answer to prayer, but indirectly in answer to prayer—through the spiritual gifting of another believer. And the reason we don’t receive the blessing is that we don’t avail ourselves of the power God intends to channel through the gifts of his people.

Yes, the gifts of God are given for ‘the common good’ (1 Corinthians 12:7) and for building up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:26). Paul even challenges us to ‘strive to excel in building up the church’ (1 Corinthians 14:12).

So, whatever the gift, let us build one another up, and who knows, as Piper points out, that ministry expression through the spiritual gift might just be the answer to our petitions before God.