May 2012

Monthly Archive

What About the Gift of Healing?

Posted by on 31 May 2012 | Tagged as: Healing

It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.

1 Cor. 12:10-11

Dear My Brother in Christ:

Thank you for your email and for your willingness to discuss theological ideas with which you disagree. This freedom to understand our theological differences under the umbrella of inerrant scripture is one of the pleasures that I enjoyed about our common seminary experience.

Concerning your statement, “If you, or I, or someone we knew had the gift of healing and did not go to that hospital and heal all those sick boys and girls, what kind of monsters would we be?” Your concern is a real and common objection to the operation of the gift of healing today. Allow me to speak to your concerns.

We all long for the second return of Christ when suffering and sickness will be no more and the innocent will no longer suffer tragedy. Presently, we experience the now and not yet of the Kingdom of God, a foretaste of heaven, but not the kingdom’s full realization. The Kingdom is an advance sample of what life will be like when dwelling in God’s exquisite presence in heaven. In this life, the people of God will experience freedom from sickness and deliverance from oppression, but deliverance from all suffering will not occur until the second coming of Christ. Therefore, we eagerly anticipate Satan’s total overthrown and the complete restoration of this fallen world.

I would take exception to your idea that Charismatics claim to possess the gift of healing. We do not possess the gifts of the Spirit: the Spirit possesses us. When God, the Holy Spirit, sovereignly chooses to heal through the spiritual gifts, then and only then, will a man or woman be healed (1 Cor. 12:11). The gift of healing is not something we own. Only God, the Holy Spirit, can heal physical sicknesses and he alone chooses through whom he will operate.

I have prayed for hundreds of individuals through the years: some were instantaneously healed, and some were gradually healed, and some were not healed at all, but all who asked for prayer experienced God’s love and grace. Again, the timing and nature of God’s healing work is his sovereign choice.

Numerous times, Peter walked through the Temple gate and passed a crippled beggar, but on that particular day Peter was filled with faith and for the glory of God touched that broken man and he stood up and walked (Acts 3:6). No doubt other sick people were begging at that very gate on that very day, but God choose to heal only that one man on that particular day.

A few years ago, I prayed for woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer. We prayed on Saturday night before her anticipated surgery on Monday. Before the surgery, the doctors took one final X-ray before her procedure. When they did, the cancer was no longer apparent. She was medically verified as healed.

However, I prayed many hours for a friend, just a teenager, who was suffering from lymphoma. Despite all our prayers, the situation worsened. She passed away. Why God chooses to heal some while allowing others to pass is not a question I can answer. I do know that in the light of eternity, we will know that God was good and loving to both the healed and the needy. By his love and grace, the Lord had something greater for us and them (Heb. 11:39-40).

You stated, “Since there were no hospitals like we have today, all the sick were at home.” I beg to differ. In John five, Jesus visits the Pool of Bethesda. Scripture says that, “Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches (v. 4). Jesus heals one man and one man only-the invalid who had lain there thirty-eighty years.  There is no indication that anyone else was healed at that location.

Bethesda was an ill-equipped and ill-informed hospital compared to today’s standards. However, Jesus entered that ancient excuse for a hospital and healed only one individual.  Jesus said, “I assure you, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does” (John 5:19). Evidently, the Father by his sovereign choice only desired to heal one person in that hospital on that day.

I will be the first to admit that there are many charlatans among us masquerading as divine healers. However, we cannot abandon the practice of praying for the sick even though some are abusing and misusing its practice (1 Thes. 5:19-22). When praying for the sick, I prefer the model that John Wimber of the Vineyard Movement developed: an off-the-stage, away from the cameras, unpretentious prayer ministry for the sick and needy.

In summary, believers do not possess the gift of healing: we are dependent on the Spirit’s enablement. Jesus did not clean out hospitals, but only obeyed his Father’s will when choosing who and when to heal. The timing of the healing dynamic is God’s and God’s perfect timing alone. Healing is an outgrowth of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom will not be fully established in this world till Christ’s second coming (Rev. 11:15).

May God use you, my friend, to advance his kingdom and proclaim his most gracious gospel.

Christus Victor,

Fr. Glenn

 

The Filling of the Spirit

Posted by on 26 May 2012 | Tagged as: Holy Spirit, Keswick Convention

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Eph. 5:18–20 NLT

The filling of the Holy Spirit is a state of being totally overwhelmed in the presence of Jesus Christ both within and without. To be “filled” for the believer means that he or she is under the controlling influence of the Spirit: the believer is motivated, encouraged, and directed by God.

“Being filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18) refers to God’s presence fully saturating the believer’s heart, soul, mind, and spirit. A “filled” Christian walks in union and communion with God. An individual who is filled with the Spirit is dominated in their person by the Spirit’s presence being a description how they live and love (Luke 4:1; Acts 6:3-5, 7:55, 11:24). The filling of the Spirit is to be a life lived in God’s presence.

The infilling of the Holy Spirit is not confined to a one time experience at conversion or just a singular dramatic encounter occurring later in the Christian life. The infilling of the Spirit is a crisis, a one-time encounter, and a process, an on-going experience: sometimes described as one baptism and many fillings.

The filling of the Spirit should be a moment by moment experience of the constant, conscious presence of Christ.  “Being constantly filled,” with the Holy Spirit is freedom to enjoy Christ and his presence on a daily, if not, hourly, and even possibly, minute-by minute basis. The filling of the Spirit is described by the Apostle Paul as a daily “walking in the Spirit” or a “keeping in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). The Lord desires something better for us; a continual abiding in the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9) as we perform the daily tasks of life.

The promise of the Spirit is not for great or exceptional Christians, but for any Christian who yields himself to God. Paul addressed everyday Christian believers at Ephesus: husband, wife, parent, child, master, slave. He encouraged all to live lives full of the divine Holy Spirit, full from within.

What this command to be filled with the Spirit meant in Ephesus, it means in England, it means to the one who is writing these words in his study at Cambridge, and to his brother in Christ who reads them, wherever and whenever God has bid him dwell.

H. C. G. Moule quoted in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 158.

A Prayer for Pentecost Sunday

Posted by on 24 May 2012 | Tagged as: Holy Spirit, Oswald Chambers

 

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

John 20:22 ESV

O’ Heavenly Father, the Triune God of grace, be pleased to visit us this day with the personal presence and power of your Holy Spirit. Renew the day of Pentecost in our midst, may there come a powerful downfall of holy fire and a wonderful uprising of heavenly wind.

Wash away the impurity of our sins that we might worship your Holy Name in sincerity and truth. Let the oil of your presence bathe our wounds with love that we may be healed of our inward waywardness. Come and set us free from besetting sins that we might serve you in purity and holiness. Fill us afresh that our hearts might burn with the living flame of love.

Let your family likeness be found in us, O’ Lord. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

The business of faith is to convert Truth into reality. What do you really believe? take time and catalogue it up; are you converting your belief into reality? You say, “I believe God has sanctified me”—does your actual life prove He has? “I believe God has baptised me with the Holy Ghost”—why? Because you had cold shivers and visions and marvellous times of prayer? The proof that we are baptised with the Holy Ghost is that we bear a strong family likeness to Jesus, and men take knowledge of us, as they did of the disciples after Pentecost, that we have been with Jesus, they recognise the family likeness at once.

Oswald Chambers, Conformed to His Image (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1996).

 

 

Grow in Grace

Posted by on 23 May 2012 | Tagged as: God's Grace, Sinclair Ferguson

Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:18 NLT

Grace is a person, Jesus, living his life in and through you and me. Grace empowers us to live a righteous and holy life (2 Co. 9:8, 2 Cor. 12:1-10, Titus 2:11-14). Grace is God’s heart extending itself towards us as he initiates in us the ability to overcome our weaknesses, failures, and inadequacies. Jesus in us empowers us to obey scripture, love people, and serve God. Therefore, grace is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. The foremost characteristic of living by grace is trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. This trust frees us to enjoy God’s adequacy in the midst of our overwhelming struggles and troubling inconsistencies. Grace is a present reality for children of the burning heart, we find Christ ready and available in this moment. As a result, we are enabled to say, “no” to unrighteousness and “yes” to holiness. Everyday, we can grow in the grace of Christ as we learn to hold steady in his presence.

When the New Testament speaks about the fullness of grace which we find in Christ, it does not mean only forgiveness, pardon and justification. Christ has done much more for us. He died for us, but he also lived for us. Now he has sent his own Spirit to us so that we might draw on his strength. He grew in grace, and when we draw on his power we shall likewise grow in grace.

Sinclair B. Ferguson, Grow in Grace (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth Trust, 1989), 10

Charismata (Spiritual Gifts)

Posted by on 22 May 2012 | Tagged as: Charismatic Movement, Holy Spirit, Michael Ramsey, Spiritual Gifts

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts (Greek: charismata). Use them well to serve one another.

1 Peter 4:10 NLT

We need supernatural power to fight and win a supernatural war, therefore the Father gives us spiritual tools and grace-filled weapons for the battle–the spiritual gifts. These weapons are concrete expressions of grace, charismata, which enable and empower every believer to do the words and perform the works of Jesus. The word explains the reason for the works and the works demonstrate the power of the word.

It is not enough to believe in the spiritual gifts or even occasionally participate in their practice; we must intensely hunger for their manifestation. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “eagerly desire the spiritual gifts” (1 Cor. 14:1). The phrase “seek not, forbid not” concerning the gifts of the Spirit is an unbiblical aphorism (1 Cor. 1:7, 12:31, 14:39; Heb. 2:3-4).

But while indeed the Church’s sacramental and apostolic order witnesses to the historical givenness of gospel and Church, there is need to remember the continuing lively action of the Spirit whereby alone the believers are Christ’s body. The many charismata shared among the Church’s members are not personal qualities or possessions so much as constant actions of the Spirit in which the liveliness of God touches human lives.

Michael Ramsey, Holy Spirit: A Biblical Study (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1977), 127-128.

He Never Stayed Aloof

Posted by on 15 May 2012 | Tagged as: Incarnation, John Stott

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Heb.4:15

“How do I know that God loves me and that he even cares about about my pain, suffering, and trials?’ This question has been asked of me many times over the years by many a hurting soul. My pastoral work takes me in and among the grieving, discouraged, and stricken on a constant basis. They often struggle with doubts over God’s love and care in the midst of their unexpected loss and sudden tragedies.

I remind the hurting that we know that God loves us for he did not remain aloof in heaven. God does not look at our pain from a distance and send us “well wishes.” No, God the Father sent his Son to take on our human flesh, saturate himself in our struggles, and bear our pain. God the Son entered our fallen, tragic world and experienced all our suffering while bearing our sin and shame.

Jesus came among us “miserable failures” to display, reveal, and release the love of God in our lives. God never stayed aloof.

The Son of God did not stay in the safe immunity of his heaven, remote from human sin and tragedy. He actually entered our world. He emptied himself of his glory and humbled himself to serve. He took our nature, lived our life, endured our temptations, experienced our sorrows, felt our hurts, bore our sins and died our death. He penetrated deeply into our humanness. He never stayed aloof from the people he might have been expected to avoid.

He made friends with the dropouts of society. He even touched untouchables. He could not have become more one with us than he did. It was the total identification of love . . . Yet when Christ identified with us, he did not surrender or in any way alter his own identity. For in becoming one of us, he yet remained himself. He became human, but without ceasing to be God.

Now he sends us into the world, as the Father sent him into the world. In other words, our mission is to be modeled on his. Indeed, all authentic mission is incarnational mission. It demands identification without loss of identity. It means entering other people’s worlds, as he entered ours, though without compromising our Christian convictions, values or standards.

John Stott, The Contemporary Christian (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 357.

No Innocent Parties

Posted by on 12 May 2012 | Tagged as: Lesslie Newbigin, Sin, The Cross

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

Rom. 3:10-12

Our sin is pervasive. Pervasive in the sense that sin has affected our hearts, wills, minds, emotions, and even our physical body. Our attitude and actions motivate us to selfishness and pride. Every aspect of our lives has been marred and scarred by sin. Our bondage is so great that we cannot do anything to deliver ourselves. The effect of our sin is complete: there is nothing we can do to please God.

However, we are still valued in God’s eyes:  we are never insignificant and worthless in his eyes. How do we know?  Even while we were God’s enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:10). Even in the midst of our fallenness, the blessed Trinity reached out to you and me in love and mercy. Christ’s Cross defeats the pain, bondage, frustration, and tragedy of our sin.

Before the cross of Jesus there are no innocent parties. The cross is not for some and against others. It is the place where all are guilty and all are forgiven.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1989), 151

The Cross as Victory Won

Posted by on 11 May 2012 | Tagged as: John Stott, The Cross

This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Acts 2:23-24

The Cross was not a defeat for Jesus, a terrible mistake when circumstances with the Romans and the Jews got out of control. Good Friday is not a memorial service for an erstwhile savior, who failed to complete his mission. Our reflections on the Cross are not just musings on a historical event that have no impact for us today. The Cross was not a tragedy, or an accident, or just a two-thousand year old story.

The Cross was Christ’s goal from the very beginning. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). The Cross defeated Satan and all his works. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col. 2:15). The Cross was God’s intention, the desire of Savior who intended to die in our place for our sin.” He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).

The Cross is triumph over all the enemies of our soul and the resurrection declares to the world that Jesus is Lord. “He [Jesus Christ] is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us” (Rev. 1:5). The Cross is our victory and the resurrection is God’s bullhorn to the world that our Lord Jesus Christ has triumphed.

We are not to regard the cross as defeat and the resurrection as victory. Rather, the cross was the victory won, and the resurrection the victory endorsed, proclaimed and demonstrated.

John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP, 1986), 235.

HT: Langham Partnership

The Power of Grace

Posted by on 09 May 2012 | Tagged as: God's Grace, Jerry Bridges

He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Titus 2:14 NLT

Grace is not an ethereal force that blesses us with benefits when we perform random acts of kindness. Grace is not an excuse for passivity–God does it all and I do nothing. Grace is not a sort of generalized blessing when I have done what I can, then God comes through for me.

Grace is Jesus being the desire, ability, and power in us to respond to every life situation according to the will of God. [DeVern Fromke, Life’s Ultimate Privilege (Cloverdale, Ind.: Sure Foundation, 1986), 118.] Jesus is our desire for he works in us a hunger for holiness. Jesus is our ability for he enables us to make godly decisions and choices. Jesus is our power for he strengthens us to overcome the world and its influence, the flesh and its passions, and sin and its inbred bondages. Grace is all of him in all of us to do his will all the time.

True grace always produces vigilance rather than complacency; it always produces perseverance rather than indolence.

Jerry Bridges

Grace: Power Not to Sin

Posted by on 08 May 2012 | Tagged as: God's Grace, Keswick Convention

Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!

Rom. 6:14-15 NLT

Grace is not the freedom to sin, but the freedom not to sin. Grace is a mighty force: Jesus in us freely bestowing to us his power for victory over sin. Jesus being grace is available at any time, in any place, and for any situation to strengthen us to walk apart from the selfishness and destructiveness of sin (2 Cor. 9:8). Grace comes and quenches our sinful desires and extinguishes our immoral passions.

I believe there is not a single desire of the heart that is known to a man to exist, which may not be completely quenched by the grace of God that is given us through Jesus Christ, if that appetite or desire or taste be contrary to the mind or will of God.

I believe the grace of God is able so to put forward the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, so to exhibit the beauty of the Savior, so to attract the heart and the will and the feelings of a man, that he can look up into the face of the Lord Jesus as the sweetest and all-absorbing thing, so that the man has no room for naughty appetite or desire.

H.W. Webb-Peploe, “Grace,” in Keswick’s Authentic Voice, ed., Herbert Stevenson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1959), 146.

Next Page »