Category Archives: Sam Storms

“Charismatics are wrong ‘cuz it never happened to me” …and Other Stupid Statements. (Response to CMP, part 3)

By Marv

This post is part of a series responding to C. Michael Patton’s eight-part series at Parchment and PenWhy I am Not Charismatic,” which is also conveniently available for download as a single e-book here. This is in response to part three.

Michael,

First, please don’t take the title too seriously.  It is, as you might suspect, an hommage to your own provocatively titled series, last seen here.  Besides, you start your part three by admitting that its argument is (a) not a very good one and yet (b) one that works for you.

I appreciate the irony though.  In certain circles it is Self-Evident Truth that Continuationists (a) follow experience over Scripture, and (b) are doing that “evil and adulterous generation” sign-seeking thing (Matt. 12:39; 16:4).  Yet here you tell us, first, that while the preponderance of Scriptural evidence backs Continuationism, you remain a Cessationist due to your experience.  Then, second, you demand a sign, failing which, you remain a (de facto) Cessationist.  It’s refreshing, to say the least.

With that introduction, here are a few thoughts on your part three.

1.  You are “open” Biblically and theologically to Continuationism.

The other day I heard somebody on the radio giving the usual condescending admonition to Continuationists always to give Scripture priority over experience.  This same guy kept making reference to “the four sign gifts.”  It was the first time I’d heard these given a definite number.  (Does that mean tongues has ceased but interpretation of tongues continues?)  I’d really like for him to put his money where his mouth is and show me the Bible passage teaching “the four sign gifts.”

Be that as it may, of course Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith and practice.  Michael, you pointed out some strong Biblical support for Continuationism in your part two.  As Scott has observed, you did seem to leave out Christ’s own teaching on the eve of his crucifixion (John 14-16).  This, I submit, is the place to start, and really leaves no doubt that the Father’s plan, the Lord’s instruction, and the believer’s expectation should be:

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

So, Michael, if the Bible teaches something, if Christ teaches something, what kind of response is it to be “open” to it?  Try saying, “I’m open to that salvation-by-grace-through-faith thing, but I’ve never had a genuine gospel experience.”  The apostle Paul tells us to: “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:1) I mean, you don’t suppose “be open to” is an adequate translation of zeloute here?

What I am trying to say, Michael, is that as far as you’ve come from your previous self-confessed bias against Continuationism, if the Bible supports it, then why not move beyond “openness”?  Your lack of experience, I suggest, is in part due to lack of conviction that the Bible really teaches this.  What you see depends on what you expect to see.

POLICE INSPECTOR: “By George! How ever did you see that?”
HOLMES:  “Because I looked for it.”

2. Your expectations.

So what are you looking for, Michael?  May I suggest, based on some of your remarks, that you may have spent some time barking up the wrong proverbial tree?

First, as odd as it seems there is a whole preconceived notion about just what a “gift” is that may need rethinking.  You remark:  “I have never witnessed anything that would lead me to believe that someone has, as their gift to the body of Christ, any of the particular gifts…”  Well, if by this you mean some kind of at-will wonder-worker, I don’t think this has ever been the case. 

The concept of “gifts” is a reference to the fact that the works of Jesus, done by the Body of Christ, are distributed among the members.  These are first of all gifts given by the Lord to us, not our gifts to the Body.  Second, I don’t think the Bible teaches us it was like a team of spiritual X-men:  X has the power of prophecy, Y has the power of healing, Z has the power of tongues.  Based on what Paul says, on a given day any believer may give a prophecy, though not all will (1 Cor. 14:26, 31).  It may have been that some people particularly excelled in a particular gift, and so may be associated with it, but I think it is fallacious to understand a rigid one-for-one correspondence.

Second, in regard to prophecy, you refer to “the surrendering of my mind.”  I don’t think that is what New Testament prophecy calls for.  Paul says prophecy gives “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3).  It may instantly resonate with someone (1 Cor. 14:24-25) or else is to be weighed (v. 29). 

As far as requiring a “sign” is concerned, well first, I thought you considered prophecy a “sign gift.”  Isn’t it already a sign, then?  “prophecy is [a sign] not for unbelievers but for believers,” Paul says (1 Cor. 14:22). 

Besides, with all the New Testament teaching on prophecy, and the clear “democratization” of prophecy in Acts 2, you go to Moses for the example of how things are to be done?  Deut. 34:10 states: “And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”  It might be nice if all who prophesied lived up to Moses example, but I wouldn’t expect this.  Is this really reasonable?

Also (and I just love it when Cessationists tell Continuationists how spiritual gifts ought to work) you opine:

If someone claims to speak on behalf of God—if someone claims to have a prophetic gift—you have every right and obligation to demand an attesting sign. As well, if you think you are a prophet—if you sincerely believe that God has called you to such a ministry—you need to tell God that you cannot do so without such a sign.

Okaaay, kids, always remember to talk back to God.  Umm, Michael,  in the first place, you draw on the example of Moses, whose demand for authenticating sign was not so much a sign of faith, as of reluctance, hesitation, doubt.  God had already given him His word to proclaim, and Moses hemmed and hawed until he ran out of excuses.  Go and do thou likewise?  So say you, Michael?

Second, this whole thing isn’t about anyone’s claim to have this or that gift.  It’s about believers being the Body of Christ, and God giving His words and doing His works through us, as he did through Jesus (John 14:10).   

Furthermore, it isn’t only prophets who speak on behalf of God.  Teachers, such as yourself do. 

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God.  (1 Pet. 4:10-11)

 

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor. 5:20)

 

Are pastors, teachers, and evangelists also to demand from God a sign, since they too speak on behalf of God?  Well, the good news is, we don’t need to demand, because God has always planned to co-testify as we deliver His message (Heb. 2:4).

In regard to what you say about healing, again, I think you are under a misconception to imagine a “gift of healing” as attached permanently to a particular person.  This is not necessarily what we as Continuationists are saying.  Moreover, your conceptually separating  praying for healing from “gifts of healings” is also missing the point.

But you knew I would say this, didn’t you.  And you head this response off at the pass.  You are told “that’s not the way it works.”  And, of course, you, a Cessationist–never seen it–know better:

If you say, “It’s not like that. God simply uses me sometimes to heal. I never know when he is going to and when he will deny such a request.” I would say that we are simply talking past each other. In my estimation, you do not have the gift of healing. You, like everyone else, simply have the ability to pray for healing, leaving the answer in the hands of God.

 

I agree about the talking past each other here, but, Michael, let me say gently, it might behoove you back up, hold your preconceived notions loosely, and listen to that perspective–there just might be something to learn.

When you begin to learn, you first do not even know what you do not know.  Some things need to be unlearned before learning can take place.

3.  The learning curve.

I don’t say that, or write these posts, claiming vast amounts of knowledge.  Only, it is really is a strange thing when Cessationists are sure they know more about spiritual gifts than Continuationists.  You point out how others aren’t doing it right.  Their prophecy is banal.  Their prayer for healing and any subsequent answers to prayer is not “the gift.”  Well, I agree that the Continuationist side may not be doing everything quite right.  Yet they are believing the Lord’s instructions, and doing something, and mixed results are better than no results. 

The church today largely has to rediscover what has been forgotten.  As with any practice, there is a learning curve.  At one time, these were passed on.  Jesus instructed His disciples how to minister in power, and they taught others.  Well, we haven’t got that now, I grant you. And I am not for an instant suggesting that contemporary Continuationists are infallible guides.  Still, how wise is it to completely disregard these?

So where are we to begin today? To recover what the Scripture teaches but generations have not really practiced?  You begin with the Scriptures, of course.  You begin by being convinced from Scripture that the works that Jesus did ought to be in evidence in the church today. 

But what does this look like?  Prophecy, for example.  How do you do it?  How do you know when it is happening?  Does it feel like something?  Does the prophesier hear a voice?  Audibly?  Inaudibly?  How do you really know it’s God?

I submit, Michael, you won’t know the answers by sitting on the sidelines.  There is hit and miss here, trial and error.  Does that seem little too messy?  Well, what are we supposed to do?  Don’t like the whole glass-half-empty thing?  The Cessationist answer seems to be “I don’t see any New-Testament quality miracles,” so out it all goes. 

What about half full?  How about getting in there and helping?  Don’t quite like the way things look in the Pentecostal, Charismatic, Third-wave, whole Continuationist world? So many of the Bible-scholar, teacher types have retreated into Cessationism, and left others to fend without them.  Is there a lack of balance in Continationism?  Whose fault is that?  Those who are in the game or those who are not?  For my money, I’d point a finger or two at the armchair quarterbacks.

4.  Get in the game.

So what we’re talking about here is you’ve never had a “genuine charismatic experience.”  Well, okay, you used to go to a “third-wave” college.  These days, do you ever put yourself in an environment where you might just have such an experience?

I was going to point out, if you were not already aware, that you have a fabulous opportunity in Sam Storms having moved to Oklahoma City.  Then of course I saw here that he’s now on Theology Unplugged.  Okay, so you two have met.

Still, my point is Credo House is what, 3-1/2 miles from Bridgeway Church?  Dr. Storms is, as you know, top notch in Bible exposition and theology.  And I doubt you can find a better go-to-guy for Continuationism–in these United States, anyway.  I believe Dr. Storms was not in town when you wrote this series last year.  So okay.  Now, however, you have no excuse.

Should We Pursue Spiritual Gifts? – Sam Storms

I thought this was an excellent video in which Sam Storms answers this question: If we believe in the continuation of all spiritual gifts, should we pursue them?

The Case For Continuationism (Part 2) – Sam Storms

Here is the second and final article from guest poster, Sam Storms, head of Enjoying God Ministries. The first article consisted of twelve bad reasons for being a cessationist. This post now concerns the positive (biblical and theological) perspective of being a continuationist. Both of these posts were originally posted at Sam’s ministry website here.

12 Good Reasons for Being a Continuationist

1. The first good reason for being a continuationist is the 12 bad reasons for being a cessationist.

2. A second good reason for being a continuationist is the consistent, indeed pervasive, and altogether positive presence throughout the NT of all spiritual gifts.

3. A third good reason for being a continuationist is the extensive NT evidence of the operation of so-called miraculous gifts among Christians who are not apostles. In other words, numerous non-apostolic men and women, young and old, across the breadth of the Roman Empire consistently exercised these gifts of the Spirit (and Stephen and Philip ministered in the power of signs and wonders).

4. A fourth good reason for being a continuationist is the explicit and oft-repeated purpose of the charismata: namely, the edification of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7; 14:3,26).

5. The fifth good reason for being a continuationist is the fundamental continuity or spiritually organic relationship between the church in Acts and the church in subsequent centuries.

6. Very much related to the fifth point, a sixth good reason for being a continuationist is because of what Peter (Luke) says in Acts 2 concerning the operation of so-called miraculous gifts as characteristic of the New Covenant age of the Church.

7. The seventh good reason for being a continuationist is 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.

8. The eighth good reason for being a continuationist is Ephesians 4:11-13.

9. A ninth good reason for being a continuationist is the description in Revelation 11 of the ministry of the Two Witnesses.

10. A tenth good reason for being a continuationist is because the Holy Spirit in Christ is the Holy Spirit in Christians. We are indwelt, anointed, filled, and empowered by the same Spirit as was Jesus. His ministry is (with certain obvious limitations) the model for our ministry (cf. Acts 10:38).

11. An eleventh reason to be a continuationist is the absence of any explicit or implicit notion that we should view spiritual gifts any differently than we do other NT practices and ministries that are portrayed as essential for the life and well-being of the Church.

12. The twelfth and final good reason for being a continuationist is the testimony throughout most of church history concerning the operation of the miraculous gifts of the Spirit.

[Although it is technically not a reason or argument for being a continuationist like the previous twelve, I cannot ignore personal experience. The fact is that I’ve seen all spiritual gifts in operation, tested and confirmed them, and experienced them first-hand on countless occasions. As stated, this is less a reason to become a continuationist and more a confirmation (although not an infallible one) of the validity of that decision. Experience, in isolation from the biblical text, proves little. But experience must be noted, especially if it illustrates or embodies what we see in the biblical text.]

The Case For Continuationism – Sam Storms

As we have noted in our About page, part of our desire is to regularly post articles by guest authors. Well, here is our first post from Sam Storms, head of Enjoying God Ministries. Sam has given us permission to post these next two articles, which can originally be found here.

The first article will deal with reasons why one should not be a cessationist and the second article will deal with the reasons why one should be a continuationist.

12 Bad Reasons for Being a Cessationist

1. The first bad reason for being a cessationist is an appeal to 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 on the assumption that the “perfect” is something other or less than the fullness of the eternal state ushered in at the second coming of Jesus Christ.

2. Another bad or illegitimate reason for being a cessationist is the belief that signs and wonders as well as certain spiritual gifts served only to confirm or authenticate the original company of apostles and that when the apostles passed away so also did the gifts.

a) No biblical text ever says that signs and wonders or spiritual gifts of a particular sort authenticated the apostles. Signs and wonders authenticated Jesus and the apostolic message about him. If signs and wonders were designed exclusively to authenticate apostles, why were non-apostolic believers (such as Philip and Stephen) empowered to perform them?

b) This is a good reason for being a cessationist only if you can demonstrate that authentication or attestation of the apostolic message was the sole and exclusive purpose of such displays of divine power. However, nowhere in the NT is the purpose/function of the miraculous or the charismata reduced to that of attestation.

3. A third bad reason for being a cessationist is the belief that since we now have the completed canon of Scripture we no longer need the operation of so-called miraculous gifts.

4. A fourth bad reason for being a cessationist is the belief that to embrace the validity of all spiritual gifts today requires that one embrace classical Pentecostalism and its belief in Spirit-baptism as separate from and subsequent to conversion, as well as their doctrine that speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of having experienced this Spirit-baptism.

5. Another bad reason for being a cessationist is the idea that if one spiritual gift, such as apostleship, has ceased to be operative in the church that other, and perhaps all, miraculous gifts have ceased to be operative in the church.

6. A sixth bad reason for being a cessationist is the fear that to acknowledge the validity today of revelatory gifts such as prophecy and word of knowledge would necessarily undermine the finality and sufficiency of Holy Scripture.

7. A seventh bad reason for being a cessationist is the appeal to Ephesians 2:20 on the assumption that revelatory gifts such as prophecy were uniquely linked to the apostles and therefore designed to function only during the so-called foundational period in the early church.

8. An eighth bad reason for being a cessationist is the argument that since we typically don’t see today miracles or gifts equal in quality/intensity to those in the ministries of Jesus and the Apostles, God doesn’t intend for any miraculous gifts of a lesser quality/intensity to operate in the church among ordinary Christians (but cf. 1 Cor. 12-14; Rom. 12; 1 Thess. 5:19-22; James 5).

9. A ninth bad reason for being a cessationist is the so-called “cluster” argument.

[Note from Scott: I believe the ‘cluster’ argument referred to here is that miracles and other such gifts seem to ‘cluster’ around greater revelatory events. Since such great revelatory events no longer exist due to Christ’s coming and that we now have the full canon of Scripture, such miracles and gifts should not be expected.]

10. A tenth bad reason for being a cessationist is the appeal to the alleged absence of miraculous gifts in church history subsequent to the first century.

11. Eleventh, it is a bad reason to be a cessationist because of the absence of good experiences with spiritual gifts and the often fanatical excess of certain TV evangelists and some of those involved in the Word of Faith or Prosperity Gospel movements (as well as the anti-intellectualism often found in those movements).

12. Finally, a twelfth bad reason for being a Cessationist is fear of what embracing continuationism might entail for your life personally and the well-being of your church corporately.

The next post will look at 12 good reasons for being a continuationist.