February 23, 2010

The Continuance of the Gifts of the Spirit

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Israel’s Divine Healer

Kingdom Triangle

Surprised by the Power of the Spirit

Who’s Afraid of the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts

God’s Empowering Presence

Gift and Giver

28 Comments
  1. Wonderful show!

    Without the gifts of the Spirit, how could the body of Christ ever witness to the unbelievers? Denial of the Spirit is surely a sign of spiritual deadness and separateness from God. Yet there are a few churches whose dogma would try to make God’s power seem null and void in our day. They seem to fulfill Paul’s rather prophetic description in his letter to Timothy, (2.Tim. 3:1-5)

    “1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. ” NIV

    Some of these proponents may also seem to be reasonable, rational, realistic, and mild-mannered…and so lukewarm as to have no real spiritual life…!

  2. Dr Brown, really loved the show and God spoke to me through it with a timely word.

    With regard to the previous night’s show, I have to differ slightly from some of the comments. Plainly Pat Robinson’s position was untenable, but I did think you made it hard for him to finish expressing it and I could understand his frustration in that regard, even as I disagreed vicerally and intellectually with his opinion.

    God bless,

    Steve

  3. Steve,

    I think it wasnt worth allowing him to finish for several reasons. Dr. Brown wasnt trying to be mean but had to interupt because 1) its Dr. Brown’s radio show 2) Pat continued to “dance around” in his response to Dr. Brown’s question 3) Pat’s usage of the original language and commentaries were extremely flawed, especially when you attempt to challenge Dr. Brown who studied several languages for many years 4) Pat lacked some etiquette in his response.

    There is probably more but overall, Pat did not want to come under Dr. Browns terms so he chose to leave.

  4. Ben,

    I think the flaws were plain. However, let the guy finish the point he was trying to make and *then* dismantle it. It would have made for a more gracious debate and ‘listenable’ program. I think Pat’s etiquette deteriorated because Dr B wouldn’t let him get his point out, and frankly they both seemed to be as keen to interrupt each other. The fact that I was on Dr Brown’s ‘side’ in the discussion didn’t remove a slight discomfort at the way PB was cut off in his attempts to complete his statement.

    Just my opinion, and I speak as a fan, but I think it would have been more fruitful to let him complete his point and then take it apart as patently ill-founded.

    God bless,

    Steve

  5. I think a moderator would have helped, but that is hardly possible on such a short show. I basically agree with Steve W. as to how the show went.

    I agree with Dr. Browns stance on the subject.

    Pat has a point that in some cases lexicons and Bible dictionaries can become commentaries. It is difficult for any of us, even those that spend their whole lives producing lexicons, to see things outside of our world view or doctrinal mindset. I liked Dr. Browns approach to studing what the scripture means…without the study books first… on his knees.

    I think this subject demonstrates the true proverb, “People usually believe what they want to believe.” Or they believe what the people that they hang out with believe.” It is hard to think outside the box…really hard when we get in and close the flaps.

    I think this has taught us all to try to keep one flap open.

    Shalom

  6. I agree with Steve and Bo. I’m a fervent continuist and supporter of Dr. Brown, but I feel that Pat could have been afforded a bit more courtesy even with his “dead wrong” comments etc…

  7. Thanks, guys, for the comments.

    For the record: 1) I gave Pat the promised time to lay out his argument but he kept taking too long to finish it up. 2) The argument itself was utterly tenuous and I already answered it (knowing where he was going; I explained that the partial knowledge is replaced by the complete knowledge when Jesus returns), so to eat up more precious time beating the same dead horse wasn’t going to fly. 3) Once he accused me of lying after all his emails to me about how he would operate in a thoroughly Christian tenor (I’m referring to the “surprised” exchange), he crossed a line, and although I was willing to have him on for the rest of the show, he refused to come back on unless he could finish his original argument. This was not going to happen.

    I had concerns that he might not be a worthy debater for the subject, and proved true. Hopefully, next time we’ll have someone who is more radio friendly.

  8. Thanks for pointing out, Dr. Brown, that we are in the “Era of the Holy Spirit,” something which resonates as true to me, but which I’d never heard of. It is clear to me that the Holy Spirit is certainly working in a dynamic way all around the globe.

    No one can or will deny that faith often plays a huge role in whether or not these gifts manifest. We can see in Matthew 13:58 and Mark 6:5 that the people’s lack of trust amazed Jesus, and was the reason He would not do many miracles there in his hometown.

    If without faith it is impossible to please God, then the record would show that we can’t expect spiritual gifts to manifest without first pleasing Him with our trust. There may be instances when God chooses to dramatically alter a person’s perception by manifesting something which will build faith in that person; I know this from some personal experience and it’s also in the Biblical record (Yochanan 4:48: “Yeshua answered, “Unless you people see signs and miracles, you simply will not trust!”) and we have a common expression today, “Seeing is believing.” We also have come to expect “scientific proof” that is “reproduceable” in order to accept something as valid, part of our current mainstream mindset. But revelation by the Spirit still happens to people, and if more dynamic things are happening in other parts of the globe, where this mindset has not totally pervaded, this would suggest (to me at least) a definite relationship between this modern lack of “faith” and whether He chooses to bestow His gifts…

  9. Ruth,

    I think u hit the nail on head of the argument. Skepticism is praised as a virtue in the post modern mind. This is the legacy of the so-called enlightenment which further darkened the minds of many.

    Faith in Messiah’s power is needed by both those through whim the miracles are wrought as well as those who are the recipients of God’s mercy when he heals or raises the dead.

  10. Rob,

    It seems there has actually somewhat of a reformed revival or resurgence in the U.S. in recent times and many of those at the helm of the reformed resurgence are charismatics. C.J. Mahenney, John Piper and Mark Driscoll to name a few all hold that the gifts of the Spirit are still available for the Body of Messiah today. Its actually very interesting to see this move of the Spirit across “denominational” lines. The Spirit is leading the church of Messiah!!:-)

  11. Rob S wrote:

    “Great job. I just wanted to let you know that you have a Reformed fan on this topic……me!
    If anyone were interested in reading a positive Reformed view on the gifts of the Spirit, I would suggest picking up Sam Storms’ book:”

    There are a few theological determinists who are not Cessationists (in my experience and observation most of them hold to some form of cessationism) such as Sam Storms whom Rob S. refers to, and C. J. Mahaney and the Sovereign Grace group.

    Question for you Rob.

    Theological determinists believe that everything is predetermined by God and that we do not have free will as ordinarily understood (i.e. also technically called libertarian free will), so if that is true: then why does God predetermine for theological determinists to be divided (and sometimes in very acrimonious and divisive ways), on doctrinal issues??? There are many examples of this (c.f. the Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists differences on baptism; the Supralapsarians versus the Infralapsarians on the decrees; Cessationists versus non-Cessationists regarding gifts; Amillennial versus Premillenial versus Postmillennial on the millennium; Lutheran, Reformed and Zwinglian views on communion; etc. etc. etc.)

    Robert

  12. Dr. Brown,
    I have only been listening to your show since your debate with James White. Until now I have held to the cessationist view. I am now considering the possibility that the gifts do indeed continue. Yet every time I try to consider that possibility, alarms go off in my mind: I spent 15 years in a cult where miracles were used to testify to the truth of the teaching. It was Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s group. It was only due to finally reading and then clinging tenaciously to the truth in the Bible that I and in turn my husband and kids could get the courage to leave. It all came down to doctrine: I finally discovered that Rev. Moon’s doctrine was false. I had to completely disregard my subjective experiences and those of the Rev. Moon and the goup and cling to the bare Word.
    Then after a few months of being on my own spiritually, I found a church where there were English speakers (I live in Japan) and I went there and asked to be baptized. I had no idea about denominations at that time, I just knew I had to be baptized. It turns out that was a church that believed in the continuation of the gifts – but some of it was so blatantly unauthentic and downright scary – I came away from that with a feeling of “I will NEVER be gullible again!” and shut the door to any kind of experiential Christian life. I just wanted the facts. No feelings, no frills.
    It’s been years since that time, and I find myself willing to consider I have “thrown the baby out with the bathwater” . However, it is so hard to get through the fear that this will all lead to confusion at best, self-deception at worst.
    Do any of your books deal with that kind of situation? Do you have any advice?

  13. Kate,

    Thank God for freedom from that cult! I rejoice with you that He delivered you from such a dangerous deception.

    On the links to this show, I referenced a few books that would be especially useful. I would encourage you to read Jack Deere’s Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, since he came out of a strong cessationist background as a Dallas Theological Seminary professor. You should also look at Craig Keener’s Gift and Giver, since Craig is one of the world’s top NT scholars and is deeply committed to Scripture.

    Also, if you email our website (hit Contact on the AskDrBrown homepage) I’ll gladly send you a copy of The Revival Answer Book as a gift (just give us your contact info there and mention this post), since it deals with the question of deception.

    The bottom line is this: 1) As followers of Jesus, we are not looking for miracles to confirm our experience but rather to glorify God and to edify the Body and to touch the lost.

    2) All prophecies must be tested by the written Word. That alone is our infallible guide.

    3) If we ask our Heavenly Father for bread — for whatever He wants to give us so we can more effectively serve Him — He won’t give us a stone.

    4) The power of the Spirit is necessary for world evangelism!

  14. Kate,

    One more thing: Rev. Moon was a false Messiah, but because of that you didn’t reject the true Messiah, right? The same should be true about false gifts and miracles! Don’t reject the true because of the false.

  15. This was a great show. I’ve never been a cessationist but I didn’t realise how biblically weak is the cessationist view. It would be good to have a proper debate with someone who can better represent the cessationist position than Pat Donahue who turned out to be a bit of an embarrassment.

  16. I would seriousy like to know what happens in a Cessationist church when someone gets sick? Do they pray for each other, or are these gifts no longer needed because the perfect has come?

  17. Hello Bill,

    You asked:

    “I would seriously like to know what happens in a Cessationist church when someone gets sick? Do they pray for each other, or are these gifts no longer needed because the perfect has come?”

    I can answer that one for you. At one time I attended a Cessationist church, so I know their theology inside out. They would pray for people believing that God can sovereignly choose to heal the person or not heal the person (which is true). They also made a distinction in order to justify their theology: between the **gift of healing** which they believed occurred in the apostolic period in order to authenticate the gospel, but is no longer present. And **sovereign healings by God** which can still occur today.

    There are some serious problems with this distinction/theology however.

    First, the bible does not make this distinction. It is not an exegetically derived conclusion. It is contrived by Cessationists and then **read into the bible** (much like theological determinists contrive the idea that everything is predetermined and then read that into the bible when “interpreting”).

    Second, when Paul gives the partial listing of gifts in 1 Cor. 12:4-10, it does not say singular, **the** gift of healing in 12:9. No, it is plural and says, the **gifts of healings**. So this manifestation of the Spirit is **broader** than just one person with an ability to heal. If that is true then the **gifts of healings** would include sovereign healings by God, the actions of a doctor, etc. Anything in which the Spirit manifests healing through a person to another person would be one of these **gifts**.

    Robert

  18. Hello Ewan,

    You wrote:

    “This was a great show. I’ve never been a cessationist but I didn’t realise how biblically weak is the cessationist view. It would be good to have a proper debate with someone who can better represent the cessationist position than Pat Donahue who turned out to be a bit of an embarrassment.”

    My suggestion would be Sam Waldron. He has worked hard on presenting the Cessationist position and if he were “debated” I believe the discussion would be much more civil and profitable.

    He would still be wrong though! 🙂

    Robert

  19. Hello Kate,

    “I have only been listening to your show since your debate with James White. Until now I have held to the cessationist view. I am now considering the possibility that the gifts do indeed continue.”

    And as you consider that possibility do so through the grid of what scripture says about the gifts.

    “Yet every time I try to consider that possibility, alarms go off in my mind: I spent 15 years in a cult where miracles were used to testify to the truth of the teaching. It was Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s group. It was only due to finally reading and then clinging tenaciously to the truth in the Bible that I and in turn my husband and kids could get the courage to leave. It all came down to doctrine: I finally discovered that Rev. Moon’s doctrine was false. I had to completely disregard my subjective experiences and those of the Rev. Moon and the group and cling to the bare Word.”

    What you share here Kate is exactly what we all need to be doing with any ministry or any alleged manifestation of the Spirit, as you put it: “It was only due to finally reading and then clinging tenaciously to the truth in the Bible.”

    In the bible a group of believers were commended for how they responded to the APOSTLE Paul’s teaching. They were in the city of Berea and Paul says that even though he himself was an apostle, a person with the Spirit and clearly manifesting genuine spiritual gifts and biblical teaching. Paul says they STILL CHECKED OUT THE WORD AND TESTED WHAT HE WAS SAYING BY THE WORD. That is always what we should all be doing, evaluating and testing everything by the Word.

    People such as yourself with a background in non-Christian cults know this even better than other Christians. And regarding discernment and knowing the truth and spotting the false and the counterfeit. I have heard that bank tellers in the past in order to be able to know real and genuine money versus counterfeit bills, would start first with getting to know the truth. Feel real money, smell it, look at it, spend time getting to know it so well that when the counterfeit would come they would know the difference. Well I believe that states an important spiritual principle: get to know God and His Word so well first, and then when the counterfeit and the false come you will be able to discern it.

    “Then after a few months of being on my own spiritually, I found a church where there were English speakers (I live in Japan) and I went there and asked to be baptized. I had no idea about denominations at that time, I just knew I had to be baptized. It turns out that was a church that believed in the continuation of the gifts – but some of it was so blatantly unauthentic and downright scary – I came away from that with a feeling of “I will NEVER be gullible again!” and shut the door to any kind of experiential Christian life. I just wanted the facts. No feelings, no frills.”

    Sad that you were hurt by your experience but also sad that you went to an extreme in response: “and shut the door to any kind of experiential Christian life. I just wanted the facts. No feelings, no frills.” I say extreme because while there are false teachings out there, false experiences out there: at the same time God made us to be capable of emotions and feelings as well as being capable of rational thought and dealing with facts. Ideally as Christians our facts come from scripture and what God is doing and our experiences and feelings also come from our understanding of scripture and what God is doing. In other words the proper Christian life will be a balanced one in which there is room for BOTH the facts and the emotions/feelings.

    “It’s been years since that time, and I find myself willing to consider I have “thrown the baby out with the bathwater” . However, it is so hard to get through the fear that this will all lead to confusion at best, self-deception at worst.

    Do any of your books deal with that kind of situation? Do you have any advice?”

    It is good to see that you want to be careful not to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” as we are to be open to whatever God has for us. It is also quite understandable because of your past experience how you would be reluctant, fearful, and desiring to avoid self-deception. In addition to what Dr. Brown suggested and his own books. A friend of mine has done a lot of work in the area of spiritual deception and discernment. His name is Neil Anderson and he has written a lot of things that would be helpful for you. In particular you should find an inexpensive paperback called THE BONDAGE BREAKER. That book will really help you deal with your past experience and give you some very good instruction in the area of discernment.

    Hope that helps,

    Robert

  20. Robert,

    Thanks. That was the answer I anticipated. And yes, it does seem a bit contrived, in light if the fact that elsewhere, in the bible, where prayer and healing is addressed, it does not seem to qualify the instructions with something like this:

    If you are sick before the last period in the bible is written do ____. However, if you get sick after the perfect has come, do this_____.

    Should the completed bible actually represent the “perfect” which “has come,” one would think this would be a little clearer, since under this scenario, one would expect things to be a little clearer, i.e. “face-to-face.”

    However we are left with a lot of confusion. Shoud we go to the elders? What if one of those elders had faith for healing (i.e. the gift of healing”)? What if someone’s shadow fell opn us on the way to the elders. OK, I’m being silly, but you should get my point.

    You see, I don’t think anyone who legitimately has faith for healing thinks, or claims that he/she is doing the healing. It has always been God, and always will be God- who heals out of compassion. And his compassion will never end, not even when the perfect has come.

    To be certain, it is rather simplistic to state – “We have the bible, we don’t need the gifts.” Until you need healing.

    Anyhjow, the argument can proceed to absurdity. Which is complete unnecessary when one realizes that “the perfecet is come” refers to Jesus and his second coming.

    Maranatha!

    -Bill

  21. Thank you Dr. Brown and also Robert for your comments. It is all very, very helpful to me. There is a lot for me to think about and reexamine in the light of what I am learning. I think being in a cult for so many years (from when I got out of high school) taught me to think in extremes. I look forward to a more balanced Christian life from now, with the help of God.

  22. Mwiya:

    Amen to the Resurgence. John Piper is my pastor, FYI 🙂

    Robert:

    The Line of Fire recently finished a whole slew of broadcasts dealing with Calvinism–which I imagine is the theological determinism you are referring to. As for the reason why there isn’t perfection of unity in the body of Christ (or any other area for that matter), your guess is as good as mine. Calvinists don’t believe that God is arbitrary or simplistic in His decree, so everything under the sun plays its part in His ultimate plan; whether natural or supernatural, painful or comforting, etc.

  23. Rob S wrote:

    “The Line of Fire recently finished a whole slew of broadcasts dealing with Calvinism–which I imagine is the theological determinism you are referring to.”

    Yes, I call it theological determinism because there are different versions of determinism. Some claim our actions are necessitated by our brains so we have no choice but must do what we do. Others claim it is the laws of nature plus environmental factors that necessitate our actions. The form of Calvinism that claims that God predetermines all events is thus a **theological** form of exhaustive determinism. As with all other forms of determinism it is false and contrary to scripture.

    “As for the reason why there isn’t perfection of unity in the body of Christ (or any other area for that matter), your guess is as good as mine.”

    I asked the question because theological determinism if consistent must believe that God predetermines all of this confusion and division and animosity between professing believers “for His glory”. That does not make sense and is clearly false.

    And it is not a guess as to the correct explanation.

    No, there is a much simpler explanation for these acrimonious divisions and “doctrinal wars”: people are freely choosing to sin. It is people’s freely chosen sinful actions that causes these divisions, causes the heated and hostile “discussions”.

    “Calvinists don’t believe that God is arbitrary or simplistic in His decree, so everything under the sun plays its part in His ultimate plan; whether natural or supernatural, painful or comforting, etc.”

    That is the “party line”, 🙂 the slogan of the theological determinist. And yet when we look at what is really happening in the world (including professing Christians), when we look at people’s behavior (especially their sinful actions) the better explanation is that people often are choosing freely to do what they do. And when they sin, whether against unbelievers or against each other, they do so not because their every action/sin was predetermined to occur by God. But because they have free will as ordinarily understood and they use this capacity both to do the right thing as well as to do the wrong thing.

    Robert

  24. I agree that Steve is not a gifted debater but I feel that Dr. Brown was not being completely fair in dealing with him.

    Listening to the debate and hearing Dr. Brown request Donahue not to interrupt him while he himself interrupts was somewhat ironic.

    And also saying that Patrick was not dealing with Dr Brown in an Christian tenor is somewhat unfair.

    I know Dr. Brown you must retain order on the show but give preference to him, understanding he is a weaker brother.

    That show was definitely not edifying to the body and had sin written all over it.

  25. Seems to be a concern that Dr. Brown was not quite gentle enough to P.D.. P.D. was not doing so well, but really faltered under D.B.’s interruptions. With at least 4 people looking for a humble admission from D.B., I wonder if He would take these to heart instead of justifying his position.

    Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

  26. Bryan and Big Tex,

    I’m always happy to humble myself and ask for constructive input from friends and foes alike all time. Thanks for your loving exhortation!

    I have taken prayerful consideration of your words and should I agree with your viewpoint, I will joyfully humble myself without hesitation.

    Blessings on you!

  27. Dr. Brown, I am glad that you take the words of admonishment seriously 🙂 You are a true brother in the Lord and loved by many!

    Btw, Robert Park, by the grace of God, was released from North Korea about a month ago. Thanks for recognizing him on your show once again.

    Thanks you for having this show!

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