Cessation of the Charismata? Yes and no.

Pentecostés. Óleo sobre lienzo, 275 × 127 cm. ...
An artistic view of Pentecost

I was asked in private mail in YouTube this week if I am a cessationist when it comes to the Charismata, or spiritual gifts such as glossolalia, healings, prophesyings, etc, as outlined in parts of the New Testament. A cessationist would argue that these gifts were for a certain period and then were withdrawn.

I am not sure I would say that I entirely am a cessationist, in that I believe in the sovereignty of God at all times and that God is able to make people speak in tongues or be healed today just as much as He was in apostolic times. The fact however remains that God does not always deal with His people in the same way at all times. When the people of God were led through the wilderness, God led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He gave them manna and quails to eat. When they arrived at the promised land there was no pillar of cloud, no pillar of fire, no manna and no quails unless people went and hunted for quails in the way they would today. So are we cessationist about the pillar of cloud? It’s a mere question of fact that it did indeed cease once it was no longer required and the Bible makes no attempt to cover that up. Therefore we see that particular miracles accompany particular historic events.
Once we entered into the fourth century and the Church was broadly established throughout the Roman Empire and beyond and gaining in popularity, the force of faith and the Gospel only were God’s will to carry the message forward. We don’t see much of the Apostolic Charismata applying to that period. Maybe that’s because they were no longer needed, and maybe they were only withdrawn because the Church sold out at that time to venality and carnal worliness, putting political power and Satan’s agenda before the claims of Christ and the Gospel for 1260 years, as prophesied in the Book of Daniel.

From the time of Constantine until Napoleon the true Church was engulfed by a political Church infiltrated heavily by Satan which nevertheless had many fine believers in it, and during the Reformation amazing things happened all by force of faith without much in the way of accompanying miracles or a charismatic movement.

Believers were put to death by the Roman false church in vast numbers for their proper Biblical faith, and yet none of this was accompanied by the outpourings which accompanied the Charismatic Revival.

After Napoleon, the way the battle worked changed a lot. Now the major seat of Satan was not the Holy Roman Empire invested in the Catholic Church anymore – Napoleon took back that political worldly role of the Catholic Church and handed it over to the New World Order – nation states in the main run by Freemasons and given the semblance of democracies even though their real nature was to enslave men and women as never before. From Bonaparte until the beginning of Tribulation we can trace this penultimate period of human history.

This modern period is hallmarked by the following:

1. Unparalleled numbers of people living on the planet, in fact probably over 90% of people who ever lived have had part of their lives in this period.
2. The sharp rise of secularism and the ubiquitous acceptance of the theory of evolution, and other connecting ideas all serving to undermine the view of a Creator.
3. Unheard of technologies enabling a free market of ideas and debate
4. A situation where those who believe the Gospel are able to communicate more easily than ever before with the world, so that now the Gospel has virtually been made available to every tribe and nation
5. Israel has been restored to something like its original place.
6. The world has increasingly crystallised into three camps, Gog and Magog (China and her allies vs America and the EU and other allies) and Ishmael (Islam) in between.
7. Christianity has splintered into more denominations than ever before and there are an equally large number of counterfeit sects which try to look like Christian denominations.
In the middle of this period the Charismata started to be an issue, with some people needing this boost to their faith rather than the pure faith arguments of the Reformation period. However there is little to compare the work of the Church in this period than in the pre-Constantine period.
At the same time Pentecostalist believers have contained a number of fine Christians who have done great things for the Kingdom. One only needs to look at the amazing growth of the Gospel in China to see their crowning achievement.  They have also spawned more than their fair share of weirdos, charlatans and sects. That may not be a damning indictment as we know that the closer any group of believers is to being on the ball and really making an impact, the more Satan will attack that group, and deflecting onto additional revelations, wierd doctrines, venal practices and political divisions are all weapons in his armoury against Churches that make a difference. So-called Churches than make no impact for the Gospel are, on the other hand, largely left to get on with it or actively assisted by the evil one.

“By their fruits ye shall know them” says the Lord. This doesn’t mean that the evidence of satanic attack on part of Christianity should be regarded as bad fruit. The healthiest fruit is the most attractive for worms. The question is, what is the underlying fruit that is being attacked by the worms? Is it spiritual fruit, or spiritual gifts without real spiritual fruit?

I still say that the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, etc, as set out in Scripture should be any Christian’s priority. If a person can demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit, then nobody should dare deny that persons Baptism in the Holy Spirit. It should be clear enough – how can a person who demonstrates the fruit of the spirit not be with the Holy Spirit? How can a person say they have had the Baptism in the Holy Spirit if they have not the fruits of the Spirit, even when months or years have gone by since they claimed such a Baptism? If a person lacks the fruit of the Spirit but seeks to make up the lack of them by fooling others and primarily themselves into thinking that they can speak with tongues of angels, then I’m sorry, but they need to do a heart audit and think again.

Nevertheless, a time is no doubt coming when the Spirit will be poured out again as at Pentecost. Joel 2.28 and Acts 2.17 which quotes it talks about this outpouring of the Spirit. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” and therefore Joel is likened to what is happening in Acts. However the following verses go on to outline the end of the world scenario, which we now know did not happen in the first few hundred years after the Death and Resurrection of our Lord, although disciples at the time expected it, and were intended to expect it.

I see a lot of the outpouring in Acts and which is in evidence in the Churches to whom Paul writes his Epistles as being a help in Evangelisation – and it surely was as people understood these languages as if they were being spoken to in their own languages. (This of course is not the case in most Pentecostal and other Evangelical churches today – the fact above all other I dare suggest, that leads to many serious-minded Christians who came to faith in Pentecostalism gradually transferring to other churches instead, which happens a lot.) But I also beyond that see them as a renewal of the Joel prophesy, a reminder and more information for us as to what will happen in the last days. I do like what the authors of the Left Behind books have made of the Tongues issue and other spiritual gifts – they show them as being revised in the last days and that is expressis verbis told to us in Acts 2.17ff and the Joel passage. They clearly refer to the end-times period. This is a period which has not started yet, but since all the pre-requisites for the starting of this period are now pretty much in place, and the pace of preparation of the coming Antichrist in this world is is palpably quickening from one week’s end to the next at this time, we can say with confidence that this is the penultimate period, and it is not long now before you really will see New Testament style miracles, unless of course the Church is first raptured in which case it will be only those coming to faith who were left behind who will witness them. And since I think that this planet has not seen the last of the true miraculous charismata, I can’t really call myself a cessationist.

However I do call myself a person who urges faith without the need for miracles, discretion in how we publish abroad the miracles which God does give us (the better we keep these secrets the more we will have of them, as it’s God’s will still for this time that the preaching of the Gospel not be accompanied by miracles in the main, but that He himself grants the holy gift of faith by the pure preaching of the word, nevertheless He is very merciful in alleviating the distresses of believers and answering prayers for them that have understanding…) and most of all in examining ourselves first and foremost for Spiritual fruit, and only after a satisfactory answer to that question (a rare event anyway) to worry about the advanced issue of Spiritual gifts.

 

Come thou fount of every blessing

Playout date: 22 October 2006
Camera: Logitech Webcam
Post Production: Windows Movie Maker – slight use
Location: Home
Other people featured: None
Genre: Hymn
Music used: Cyberhymnal.net’s arrangement of hymn tune “Hyfrydol
Languages used: English
Animals featured: None

The beautiful hymn by Robert Robinson, this time sung to the tune Hyfrydol.

I did both voices, the melody and the bass part. Can you work out which is the one I’m singing on the video?

An interesting story about this hymn, courtesy of cyberhymnal.org where I also got the midi (this is allowed by them, by the way, as long as you credit, which I am doing)

Robert Robinson had a difficult time with his faith in the latter part of his life, having been converted at 17 and having written this and other hymns as a young man. The story is told of how one day, he en­count­ered a wo­man who was stu­dy­ing a hymn­al, and she asked how he liked the hymn she was hum­ming. In tears, he re­plied, “Madam, I am the poor un­hap­py man who wrote that hymn ma­ny years ago, and I would give a thou­sand worlds, if I had them, to en­joy the feel­ings I had then.”

A Psalm of Christ

Jesus is Alpha and Jesus is Omega
Jesus is Allah and Jesus is Jehovah

Our Jehovah-Jireh, our Ebenezer, our Emmanuel
He is the sacrifice and He the temple

King, Prophet, Priest, Advocate, Brother, Friend
Jesus is the Beginning and Jesus is the End

He is All in All, All things made by and for Him
There is none like Him nor beside nor before Him

Both our Creator and Kinsman Redeemer
Second Adam who came before the first

There is now other Name given, a Name above every Name
That at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow.

And so He is Baruch Hashem Adonai to whom we bow
At head and knee, saying the Amidah.

The Vine, the Door, The Way, The Truth The Life,
Living Bread, Water of Life, and Wine cup, saying LaChaim

The Lion of the Tribe of Judah, and Lamb of God
In Him the lion lies next to the lamb.

Son of David, Branch of Jesse, Seed of Abraham
In whom all the nations of the earth are blessed

Offspring of Eve whose heel bruises the Serpent’s Head,
Son of True God with no Achilles’ heel

How lovely on the Mountain shall be the feet of Him
On the Mount of Olives when it cleaves in twain!

And the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of Christ
As the waters cover the sea. For He is God.

Almighty, all-sufficient all-in-all God,
With the Father and the Holy Spirit, Blessed for ever.

Amen.

For richer, for poorer…

St Augustine's Commentary on THE SERMON ON THE...
Image by Fergal of Claddagh

God tries our faith in different ways. For one person, He wants to know, ‘will this person stay faithful to Me if he is poor?’ and for another the question is more ‘will this person stay faithful to Me if he is rich?’.

In this life, poverty isn’t really poverty and richness isn’t really richness. Both our riches and our poverty are transient and will pass away. They are not illusionary, but to the Christian they may as well be. Neither riches nor poverty, neither sickness nor health are issues to get carried away by. To be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is to be rich beyond measure, and to be the richest in hell is to be poor beyond pity.

So seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Sinning as a Christian? Aren’t Christians beyond sinning now?

Cover of "Singin' in the Rain (Two-Disc S...
Sinning in the Reign?

In repentance, we define sin as a failure. This is a change of mind and heart (a ‘metanoia’ as repentance is in Greek) because before our repentance we would not have acknowledged our sins as failures before God. The same thoughts and activities would have been a normal part of our day and would not have bothered us.

Let us now take an instance of such failure, such as getting annoyed and saying a filthy word, because something bad has happened and before we could control ourselves out came the word. An unrepentant person will regard that as perfectly justifiable although in order to show breeding if they are in company they may show some embarrassment at it, or try not to do it, but if they were alone an unrepentant person wouldn’t give it a second thought.

A penitent person, a believer, even if he was alone and nobody heard his cuss word, will know that in that moment he failed.

There are now two opposite and equally wrong things the believer can then do with this failure.

The first is to bagatellize it and not earnestly strive to do better the next time, to make out that it was no sin and nothing to be upset about. This is a wrong approach and to use grace to justify poor discipleship is decried in scripture. However, there are those who think they have no sin any more as Christians precisely because they have unfortunately taught themselves to ignore these slip-ups, and forget that a mere cuss-word like that would be enough to damn someone for eternity even if they had no other sin, even if they only thought it and managed not even to say it, but it was there in their heads, tarnishing their holiness.

The second error is to get into such despair over the failure to be perfect when God has said “be ye perfect, as I am perfect” that they begin to doubt their salvation over it. They need to remember that Jesus warned the believers that the flesh is weak and that Paul warned us that we could not do as well as we wanted to. The flesh, or the world, or the devil may have provoked the sin of the cuss word, but it is mainly the whisperings of the devil in our ears that because we did that sin, and are not as good as we should be, that we are not God’s own and might as well give up.

Between these opposites is the correct attitude of acknowledging the sin and admitting it was a sin to God, asking for His forgiveness, knowing that it is given that very instant as promised, expressing gratitude to God for the forgiveness Jesus earned and granted for us, and getting back on the programme with more care to avoid that sin in the future, as we know that God wants better for us and from us than that.