Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Top Ten Posts at To Be Continued

by Scott

So Marv and I have been writing and interacting on this blog for about 9 months now. I think we are still looking to stay true to the intent and purpose of the blog. Simply stated, our goal is to put forth a solid biblical, theological and historical case for continuationism, or the continuation of all gifts of the Spirit until Christ returns.

Of course, Marv and I don’t see eye to eye on every detail. But we see that as a plus. Two guys, very different, very different in other areas of theology, but working together to testify to the reality that the same Spirit that was active in biblical times is also active today in those exact same ways.

So, after 9 months of posting, here are the top 10 posts from To Be Continued based upon the calculation of ‘hits’ from the WordPress statistics.

1. Book Review of Jack Deere’s Suprised by the Power of the Spirit. A solid book both theologically and practically on the continuance of gifts. Deere has a powerful testimony of how he came into the things of the Spirit.

2. The Author Page. Hey, people want to know how these two nuts are posting articles.

3. The Charismata in Church History. Though many people think the major workings of the Spirit began to die out soon into the second century, here are many quotes from early church fathers noting the activity of God’s Spirit in things like prophecy and healings.

4. Book Review of Roger Stronstad’s The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. A wonderful, theological, yet shorter, treatise giving a survey of Luke’s pneumatology from both his Gospel and Acts. I believe Stronstad will challenge us with things we never saw in Luke’s 2-volume work.

5. The About Page. People want to know what this blog is all about.

6. Our PDF Document Interacting with Michael Patton. Michael Patton wrote a series entitled ‘Why I’m Not a Charismatic’ (here is the PDF document). Marv and I decided to interact with that series. Actually, I recently updated the PDF document to include our two series together in more of a free-flowing dialogue between Michael’s series and our series.

7. The Case for Continuationism by Sam Storms. Storms is from Enjoying God Ministries and in this specific post, we note his 12 bad reasons for being a cessationist.

8. An Example of Hearing God’s Voice. Here, I simply give an example from John Eldredge’s book, Love & War, in which he shares a specific time when he heard God speak to him. It’s important to hear real stories from real people with both feet on the ground. It helps encourage us that we can hear God’s voice and it doesn’t have to be spooky.

9. The Best Continuationist Essay Ever Written by a Cessationist. This is an article by Vern Poythress, who is a cessationist himself, but gives quite good arguments for continuationism.

10. Book Review of Ken Berding’s What Are Spiritual Gifts. Berding challenges the typical ‘conventional’ view about spiritual gifts. I wouldn’t agree with every nuance, but I love his challenge to what I also believe is a very wrong understanding about spiritual gifts in much of the church.

God’s Empowering Presence – Resource

by Scott

I believe very much that, for any true student of theology wanting to grow in their pnuematological understanding, especially for all continuationists, then an extremely solid resource to own is Gordon Fee’s work, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul. Fee, himself is a New Testament scholar and professor emeritus from Regents College in Vancouver, Canada. He is also an ordained minister in the Assembly of God church. You can read more of his credentials here.

Nevertheless, this book is a treatise unlike many others, standing in at just over 900 pages long. So I would say this is more a study resource, rather than a bed-time read.

What is truly unique about the book is that it analyses every single mention of the Holy Spirit and his work within the letters of Paul. Fee doesn’t start with Romans (as that is the first Pauline letter in our NT canon), but rather with 1 Thessalonians, which is considered one of Paul’s early letters. He then moves on to 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Titus and, finally, 2 Timothy.

The last 100 pages or so deal with important theological topics on the Holy Spirit including such themes as the Spirit as eschatological fulfilment, the Spirit as God’s personal presence, the soteriological Spirit, the Spirit and the people of God, and then answering what all of this Pauline pneumatology means (which includes touching on Old Testament and intertestamental pneumatology). And, of course, there is an extended bibliography.

You can see that some of this work implements his writings from other works, like his commentary on 1 Corinthians or his work, Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God.

The only pneumatological resource that could be considered better is if an author took up the challenge of providing commentary on every verse in the New Testament that speaks of the Holy Spirit and His activity. Maybe it’s out there, or maybe it will be released one day. But I suppose that would be at least a 2-volume work weighing in at a 1500+ page length.

Seven Reasons Why I Believe the Gifts of the Spirit Still Exist Today

by Scott

This post has come out of my recent comment to Marv’s recent article, He Has Spoken Through His Son.

If it came down to why I believe all gifts of God, including those in 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4:11, still exist today, I think I could summarise it in seven specific points. So here they are:

1) God is an actual living, personal being

Almost every Christian would uphold this statement. God is a personal being and He is living. And, so, one would only expect a living, personal being to be a communicator, a speaker. This is not so much a biblical argument in which I want to specifically quote a few passages here and there (though I know we could). But it is simply a theological deduction from reading the entirety of Scripture.

Living, personal beings are communicators in so many ways. And with God Himself being a living, personal being, what else could one expect from Him? Thus, He will continue to communicate, speak, reveal, unveil, illuminate, until all things are completed. Well, and then He will keep speaking to those enjoying the blessing of the new heavens and new earth!

2) Christ is a charismatic prophet and so is his body

When I use the word charismatic, I mean it in the sense that Roger Stronstad defined it in his work, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke (which I review here):

I use the term “charismatic” in a functional and dynamic sense. By “charismatic” I mean God’s gift of His Spirit to His servants, either individually or collectively, to anoint, empower, or inspire them for divine service. (p13)

And, as the living Word, Christ was the greatest Prophet to ever exist (as I share more here at my personal blog). There has been none like him who spoke and revealed the Father, for he taught us that whoever has seen him has seen the Father (John 14:9).

Therefore, if Christ is the great charismatic prophet, then by nature, his body is to follow in his footsteps. The body follows the head. It’s part and parcel to our calling in Christ. It doesn’t mean that everyone is particularly marked out as a prophet today. Of course not. But, via the Holy Spirit’s indwelling and empowering, Christ expects his body to get on with completing that which he initiated. Christ is still continuing that which he began to do and teach (Acts 1:1). Thus, we are now not only a priesthood of all believers, but also a prophethood of all believers.

3) The Spirit continues the same work of Christ

This really connects with the former point, but it is the Spirit that is the main one to continue the work of Christ. It is the Spirit that comes to indwell and empower the people of God here and now. We are the vehicle by which Christ continues his work via his Spirit.

I know this sounds like the A, B, C’s of pneumatology (doctrine of the Holy Spirit). But when one reads the pervading teaching about the Spirit of God throughout the Scripture, and especially noting the heightened teaching and activity in the NT, one receives the overwhelming sense that the Spirit that was sent at Pentecost was to continue acting in accordance with his nature as recorded in the OT and NT until that final parousia-return. Again, the basics on pneumatology, but the same Spirit that was actively at work in the first century was to continue to indwell and empower the body of Christ for the past 1900 years and counting.

4) The positive affirmation in Scripture that such gifts would continue

I share much more here for you to read on this, but suffice it to say that there are actual Scripture passages teaching that such works and gifts would continue. In the article I have linked to, I specifically take time to look at these four positive Scriptural affirmations: John 14:12; Acts 2:17-18; 1 Corinthians 13:8-12; and Ephesians 4:11-16.

There are plenty more one could look at and consider, but those are a very solid starting point as to specific passages.

5) Faulty exegesis of the normal passages brought up by cessationists

By no means do I want to sound arrogant, but there are the ‘usual suspects’ brought up by cessationists as pointers to why certain gifts (or ‘sign gifts’) would cease once the full testimony of the gospel and new covenant was finished in the completed canon of NT Scripture. While I uphold the importance and authority of the Bible, I strongly believe none of Scripture points to the ceasing of any gifts prior to the parousia-return of Christ.

Four very often quoted passages are 1 Corinthians 13:8-12; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 1:1-2; and Hebrews 2:3-4. I have spent some time considering these passages in this article. So rather than dealing with them in depth here, you can follow the link and read my thoughts.

As a side point, it is also quite interesting to note that phrases like ‘word of the Lord’, ‘word of God’, or ‘word’ do not always refer to the graphe written Scripture. God spoke His word and always has spoken His word. Again, it’s part and parcel to be a living, personal being that desires to communicate with those He created. But here are some examples where the above mentioned phrases are not referring to Scripture:

  • Word of God – Luke 3:2
  • Word of God – Acts 4:31
  • Word of God – Acts 6:7
  • Word of God – Acts 12:24
  • Word of the Lord – Acts 13:44, 48-49
  • Word of the Lord – Acts 19:20
  • Word of the Lord – 1 Thess 1:8
  • The are countless times the word ‘word’ arises and does not refer to Scripture

6) The amount of times God actually spoke through and used those who were not prophets or apostles

Here is a smattering of examples just from the New Testament:

  • Stephen (Acts 6:8)
  • Philip (Acts 8:4-7)
  • Ananias (Acts 9:17-18)
  • The 120 believers at Pentecost (Acts 2:4)
  • Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:46)
  • Agabus (Acts 11:37-38; 21:10-11)
  • The Ephesian disciples (Acts 19:6)
  • The Galatian believers (Gal 3:5)
  • The Corinthian believers (1 Cor 14)

This should give us courage who are not actually apostles or prophets. God wants to utilise His people in such ‘charismatic’ activities since He has been doing such from the beginning.

7) The great testimony of the charismata in church history

I have already written on this topic before, as you can see here. But suffice it to say, there are plenty of examples of God, by His Spirit amongst His people, speaking and acting out the charismata as found in 1 Corinthians 12.

And, a great resource to look at would be The Century of the Holy Spirit: 100 Years of Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal by Vinson Synan. He takes time to chronicle what has happened over the past 100 years or so with the rise of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements. In today’s world, it is highly probable that there are some 500 million believers associating themselves with either Pentecostal, charismatic or neo-charismatic churches. And the accounts of God’s activity by His Spirit continue on into the 21st century.

So, suffice it to say, I find it extremely hard to argue for the cessation, or ceasing, of the gifts of the Spirit. For me, there is an overwhelming biblical, theological and historical positive case for the continuation of such.

Preaching Series on Gifts of the Spirit

by Scott

Starting this Sunday at Cornerstone, I plan to begin a preaching series on the gifts of the Spirit. As I have shared much recently (here, here and here), God has been re-emphasising his power to me – the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of the kingdom of God and the power of the gospel to change lives (amongst other emphases on His power). And, I have specifically been spending time preaching on the power of the Holy Spirit. You can listen to two of my most recent sermons: Acts 1:1-8 here and Acts 2:1-21 here.

Thus, after spending this time with Cornerstone looking at the reality of the power of the Spirit in both Acts 1 and 2, I believe it is now right in God to move on to specifically addressing the gifts of the Spirit. This will be an exciting time for the church, as they have never had any specific previous teaching on the Holy Spirit and His gifts. The past month has already been very stirring as we held two conferences – VMI and Fast Forward – and have been focusing on the power of God, especially the power of the Spirit. But this will be helpful, meaty and practical in seeing our local church body move forward into the things God has planned for us.

Though the church has never been antagonistic to the Holy Spirit and His gifts, and many come from backgrounds that allow for all gifts of the Spirit to be active, as I mentioned, the church had not had any specific teaching on the Holy Spirit’s gifts and, thus, not actively looking to practise these gifts in their gatherings and lives. But, with the recent connection of the church with Lifelink International, and with my arrival to oversee the church as of the summer of 2008, we have been purposeful to move towards an emphasis on the work of the Spirit and His gifts. It has taken us a while to get there, but now with a little (or BIG) push out of the nest by God, it is time to specifically dive into such an amazing reality.

But, we have had tasters of His gifts, no doubt. There have been times when prophecy has come forth (though some might not have realised it was such). And I have done teaching on the continuance of all five (or four) ministries mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-13: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers (you can see the 4-part series here). And, just two weeks ago, we had an evening of seeking God together, mainly to hear from Him and speak forth what we believed God was stirring and saying. And, lo and behold, we had some prophecy, as well as others stepping out by praying aloud, sharing Scriptures, etc. It was truly beautiful and stirring!

So, I look forward to jumping into that all-important text in Corinthians on gifts of the Spirit, beginning with 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:

1Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3Therefore I want you to understand that 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.

4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

There is a lot one could address just in that text, but we will take it week by week. We will also have visitors in to speak on some Sundays, so my specific series might be put on hold here and there. But that is fine by me. They will bring the word of the Lord into our church regardless.

And I also look forward to a time of training in hearing God and prophesying next Saturday morning, 11 September. God continues to blow upon the embers of our heart and I can only expect there will be more blowing in the weeks to come.

So, stay tuned to our podcast if you would like to hear some teachings on the gifts of the Spirit (rather than read, though I might post some articles as well in the weeks to come). I will also post links to the teachings here at To Be Continued.

The Power of the Spirit (Acts 2)

by Scott

Acts 2 presents a paradigm shift in the way the body of Christ will function forever. The paradigm shift for the people of God would mirror that of the Messiah, Jesus Himself. And that is very important in Luke’s account of early church history as found in Acts. What happened in Acts parallels what happened to Jesus in Luke’s presentation in his Gospel.

As one theologian notes:

In the structure of Luke-Acts, the Pentecost narrative stands in the same relationship to the Acts as the infancy-inauguration narratives do to the Gospel. In the Gospel of Luke these narratives not only introduce the motifs which define the mission of Jesus, but they also show that Jesus will execute His mission in the power of the Holy Spirit. In a similar manner, the Pentecost narrative introduces both the future mission of the disciples and the complementary empowering of the Spirit. (Roger Stronstad, The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke, p49)

And so, in Acts 2, we find the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:5:

for John baptised with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.

It is this paradigm shift event of Pentecost which thrusts forward the walking out of the thesis statement of Acts 1:8:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

The Spirit poured out means just this – an empowered people! When they were baptised with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5) or filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4) or clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49), it gave them the power to be witnesses. Simply put, they could not have been the witnesses Jesus intended had they not been empowered, baptised, filled and clothed with the Spirit of God. We might have a theology that allows otherwise. But that theology fails knowing the reality of what Luke teaches us in Acts 1 and 2.

Thus, with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the first followers of Christ were not given a ministry of maintaining the status quo. Far from it! They were given power to be His witnesses!

As I said in a recent post, what if Acts 1:8 had said this:

But you will receive the ability to maintain the status quo when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Good grief, I am glad it does not say that. Though we so easily fall into the trap of carrying out such a ministry. Oh, so easily. I know. I’ve been there.

But rather the Spirit was sent and given as a gift to empower God’s people so that they might continue the works of Jesus as witnesses in all the earth. That was my major point in this recent article. This would allow for the whole Christ to be known in the whole earth.

Not only were all of God’s people an empowered community, but they were also a prophetic community.

What do I mean by this phrase – prophetic community? Well, let me break it down a little more.

First off, the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, that is, all God’s people irrespective of gender or age. That, in and of itself, was quite a paradigm shift to the general nature of the old covenant, though we had little intimations that this would one day be a reality in the new covenant. That is why we read these words in Acts 2:17-18:

17 And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.

The Spirit given to all groups and all types of people. And what is the fruit of the outpouring of the Spirit of God? Go back and read these two verses. They shall prophesy! That is what these two verses emphasise as the by-product of the Spirit coming on all of God’s people.

And this makes quite a lot of sense when we realise that Jesus was the great prophet. Yes, more than a prophet. But still a prophet nonetheless, and a prophet par excellence. And He sent the Spirit to continue His exact same ministry in the earth today. The Spirit is the Spirit of prophecy, if anything else. And this is the same Spirit that indwells and empowers all of God’s people. Thus, we have a prophetic community.

Yes, I believe God gifts specific people as prophets and with prophetic gifts. But there is a sense in which the whole body of Christ carries a prophetic measure. And this measure should affect all areas of life, not just when we are used in the gift of prophecy. This affects right across every action, every word, every mindset, every thought, every attitude. Our whole lives are to be a prophetic pointer towards Christ.

Still, when we read 1 Corinthians 14, it seems in particular that prophecy, along with tongues, are the two most readily available gifts to the body of Christ. And tongues can function like prophecy when there is an interpretation of the public message in tongues (see 1 Corinthians 14:5). But we see Paul’s passion for the prophetic body of Christ with these words:

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

This was a statement to the church at Corinth. Not just a special group of prophets. Roger Stronstad articulately expresses this amazing reality in another of his books, The Prophethood of All Believers:

Jesus completed his redemptive ministry by giving orders to his disciples by the Holy Spirit about their imminent Spirit-baptism and empowering (Acts 1.2, 5, 8). Having ascended to heaven he then poured out the Spirit upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2.33). He thereby transferred the anointing and empowering Spirit from himself to them, just as the Lord had earlier transferred the Spirit from Moses to the 70 elders, from Saul to David, and from Elijah to Elisha. By this act of transferring the Spirit to his disciples, Jesus, the Spirit-anointed prophet, makes his disciples a community of Spirit-baptized prophets. This fulfils an ancient oracle of the prophet Joel about a future age of restoration and blessing when the entire nation or community of God’s people, irrespective of age, gender or social status, would have the Spirit poured out upon them. Thus, on the day of Pentecost Jesus inaugurated the prophethood of all believers. (p71)

And, so, with the pouring out of the Spirit on God’s people, we also have the prophetic community. We cannot get away from our nature as Spirit-indwelt and Spirit-empowered people. We are a community of prophets. These are the things I preached this past Sunday at Cornerstone. If you are interested, you can listen to the message by clicking on the audio icon below. Or you can download from our podcast site or iTunes.