Cessationism under the biblical spotlight
Part 4 (last) in a series
By Philip L. Powell
in which he asks the question: Can the moderate Cessationist and the moderate Pentecostal reach agreement over spiritual gifts?(An article with the above title was first published as an addendum in the book entitled Gathering the Faithful Remnant © 2002 CWM pages 355-397.)Believing that this might prove to be a major issue confronting part of the church in our time, the author sent an earlier draft of this series by email to a number of prominent Christian leaders from both the cessationist and non-cessationist camps, with an invitation for their comments. A number responded and some of the responses have been incorporated. However Philip Powell accepts full responsibility for what is published in the entire series recognizing that his will not be the final word on the topic. The intent is to open the subject and give a reasonably comprehensive overview. Your comments are very welcome.
Parts 1, 2 & 3 were published in CETF #49, 50, 51 & 52 and can be viewed at: www.cwm.org.au
What is the gift of Speaking with Tongues?
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them divided tongues like fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance - Acts 2:1-4.
Those in the upper room—the context suggests all 120, not just the 12 Apostles—spoke forth what the Holy Spirit gave them to articulate. They did not know what to expect. It would be much better if people, who seek the fullness or baptism of the Holy Spirit today didn't know either. Pentecostal specialists, who first instruct, then suggest what to articulate, actually degrade the experience to a humanistic and psychological level. This is the result of an undue and unbiblical emphasis on speaking in tongues. What was a sovereign act of God has been reduced to a human manipulation where men count scalps. How many have 'come through?' is all too frequent a question on the lips of Pentecostal seekers. Speaking in tongues, not the mighty baptism in the Holy Spirit, has become the focus and pursuit of many. In Acts 1:8 Jesus promised ability (dunamis) to bear witness even to the point of being martyrs (Greek martus = witness) not some initial evidence of speaking with tongues. Nonetheless they did (all of them) speak in tongues so what was it or what is it?
And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear every man in our own tongue we were born with? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, what does this mean? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine - Acts 2:4-13.
The “other”, Greek “heteros” (Strong 2087) (= other than one's own) “tongues”, Greek “glossa” (Strong 1100) (= languages or dialects) of verse 4 is paralleled by “our tongues” of verse 11. Those identified in verses 1 to 4 spoke in identifiable languages, which were recognised by a number of foreign visitors at Jerusalem and not learned or previously known by those who spoke.Some of their audience did not understand the languages spoken or what was happening. The scoffers dismissed it all as the conduct of drunkards, not because there was any suggestion of conduct associated with drunken behaviour, but simply because they didn't understand the languages nor what was happening. Each spoke in an unknown tongue.Six times in 1st Corinthians chapter 14 the King James Version (KJV) translates the word glossa by “unknown tongue” – cf. 2, 4, 13, 14, 19 and 27 (with “unknown” in italics in the KJV – i.e. inserted by the translators). The fact that there is no Greek equivalent for the English “unknown” does not destroy the significance of the words chosen by the KJV translators. The context of each verse listed above implies that the language or dialect spoken was unknown to the person speaking and to the body of the Church unless what was said was interpreted. In fairness when Pentecostals use the word unknown in this context they do not imply that it is not a valid language that was spoken, as some Cessationists have falsely claimed.Pentecostal scholar and commentator, Dr. Gordon Fee writes concerning 1st Corinthians 13:1,
'Tongues of men' would then refer to human speech, inspired by the Spirit but unknown to the speaker; 'tongues of angels' would reflect an understanding that the tongues - speaker was communicating in the dialect(s) of heaven. The unknown tongue is a valid language that will be known and spoken somewhere – on earth or in heaven.
In fairness, even though I disagree with the use of the expression ecstatic utterance, in respect of speaking in tongues, it does not imply meaningless babble. It simply expresses the attitude and expression of the joy of the person speaking.On account of the bizarre, outrageous, and totally absurd claims and conduct of some of my former Pentecostal colleagues and friends, I have, at times, longed to be able to find an explanation for speaking in tongues other than the one which I was taught within the Pentecostal camp, but I can't. The idea that speaking in tongues is simply a linguistic ability just makes nonsense of what Paul says and teaches. It also contradicts what happened on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2. Both apply speaking in tongues to an act of the Holy Spirit, which superseded human knowledge and intelligence:
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance - Acts 2:4.For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but unto God: for no man understands him; but in the spirit he speaks mysteries – 1 Cor. 14:2.
There are four major incidents in the book of Acts where we are told about the Holy Spirit filling, falling upon or being received by “the people” – Acts 2, 8, 10 and 19. On three of these occasions speaking in tongues is directly identified. Cessationists say that each is a sort of corporate baptism or initiating – the first of the Jews, the second of the Samaritans, the third of the Gentiles and the fourth a special case. This is an extra biblical explanation or a dispensational interpretation. There is no basis in Scripture itself for the conclusion. It is theologically and logically unacceptable. If there is a need for a corporate baptism of different ethnic groups, which is highly questionable, it still does not account for the Special Case of Acts 19. Some say that in the case of the latter we have a group of people who were not Christians but simply followers of John Baptist. But verse 1 denies this. The word “disciple”, unless it is otherwise previously qualified, is consistently applied to Christ's followers in the four Gospel narratives and the book of Acts. Consistency demands that it means and implies here what it does elsewhere. The issue in question is not whether these men were followers of Christ but whether they had heard about the Holy Spirit, which then raised the issue of baptism. The question remains – if the idea of corporate baptism by the Spirit is a valid one then why the special case?The only other case that features in Scripture is that of Saul of Tarsus who became Paul the apostle -
Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, who appeared to you in the way as you came, has sent me, that you may receive your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit” - Acts 9:17.
Interestingly and to contradict those Cessationists who argue that the filling of the Holy Spirit referred to here was a reference to Saul's conversion, Ananias calls him “brother” and makes no reference to his pending conversion, regeneration or new birth, but simply to his receiving sight and being filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul's unconditional submission to the Lordship of Christ (Acts 9:6) makes it very clear that he was converted on the road to Damascus (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:3) and then later filled or baptised into the Holy Spirit and into water. Later he says to the Corinthians,
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than all of you – 1 Cor. 14:18.
So of the five cases mentioned in Scripture – there are no others – there are four incidents of speaking in tongues either at the time or subsequently. The one exception is Acts 8, where quite obviously there was some dramatic and immediate supernatural sign that the believers had received the Holy Spirit, seeing Simon the sorcerer offered money for the power to impart the Holy Spirit. We do not know what it was and should not argue from silence either for or against tongues. We do know that Simon had witnessed miracles performed by Philip and that he did not make the same offer to him that he later made to Peter and John. So what he saw and/or heard when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit was obviously quite remarkable and Simon expected similar displays when others received the Holy Spirit.The question remains for us to answer: “Why did God choose speaking in tongues?” Paul applies the prophecy contained in Isaiah 28:11-12 to the New Testament (NT) practice of speaking in tongues – cf. 1 Corinthians 14:21, and gives one reason for tongues speaking viz. “a sign to unbelievers” (1st Corinthians 14:22). This is what happened on the day of Pentecost and it became at least in part a fulfilment of what Isaiah said would happen. However, the force of Paul's words, being in the present tense and the local Church setting, is that the sign would be ongoing, but only in a selective way.
Brethren, do not be children in understanding: but in malice be children, but in understanding be men. In the law it is written, ”With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, says the Lord”. So then tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that do not believe: but prophesying serves not for them that do not believe, but for those who believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are uninstructed, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad – 1 Cor. 14:20-23.
Paul is not condemning tongues speaking. He is correcting the abuse of it in the local Church and regulating its function to the edification of the body. That it is a sign to the unbeliever remains a truth established by testimony (Acts chapter 2) and by doctrine (Paul's teaching). To depart from this is to depart from the Sola Scriptura principle.
Let all things be done for edification. If any man speaks in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and in succession; and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God” – 1 Cor. 14:26-28.
We may deduce another reason why God chose tongues from the biblical teaching of James who tells us that no-one is capable of controlling his tongue i.e. his speech (James chapter 3). What happened at Pentecost and in the house of Cornelius and at Ephesus and to Paul and the Corinthian tongues speaking believers – all of these are clearly established historic incidents – were displays of divine ability to control what no man or woman is able to control unaided by the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost God tamed the human tongue and caused men and women to speak forth the praises of God in languages which they had never learned, thus by-passing the one faculty which tends to make us arrogant and proud – our intellect. Could there be any greater reason why God would choose tongues?However, having said all that, there are two important things to emphasise:
1) God does not arbitrarily overrule man's will, so the control, which is illustrated in the gift of speaking in tongues, is not a permanent feature in respect of human behaviour. It was as the Holy Spirit gave them to articulate at Pentecost and it is as the Holy Spirit “distributes as He wills” in respect of all of the gifts (manifestations) of the Holy Spirit; and2) It is unbiblical to seek tongues per se. We should seek the Baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit and there's the rub and what I consider to be a major contributing factor to much of the error that has crept into the Pentecostal and charismatic movements. Many Pentecostals have become “tongues” seekers instead of being seekers after God and the mighty Baptism into the Holy Spirit.
A Brief Historic Survey
John Wesley (1703-1791), who with his brother Charles saw the start of the great worldwide Methodist movement and who clearly was a continuist was regularly in dispute with another minister called Dr Middleton who was equally clearly a cessationist. There are a number of variable reports of their disputes that Wesley refers to in his writings e.g. Works, 10:55-56. A summary of Middleton's claim and Wesley's response is as follows:
After the apostolic times there is not, in all history, one instance either well attested, or even maintained, of any particular person who had ever exercised that gift [tongues], or pretended to exercise it in any age or country whatever.
In his Works Vol 5 page 744 John Wesley (JW) answered Middleton in the following statement:
Sir, your memory fails you again … It has been heard more than once, no further off than the valleys of Dauphiny.
In another famous quote JW puts his finger on the reason why God in His sovereignty may allow a non-permanent cessation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit:
The causes of their decline was not as has been vulgarly supposed because there was no more need for them … the real cause was: the love of many, almost all Christians so called, was waxed cold, because the Christians had only a dead form left.
As I was writing this piece, I received a copy of Edmund Hamer Broadbent's (1861-1945) magnificent book, The Pilgrim Church, which I first encountered when studying at the AoG Commonwealth Bible College (CBC) in Brisbane, (1957-1959), the city where we returned to live (June 2000). It has been re- published by Gospel Folio Press, PO Box 2041, Grand Rapids, MI 49501, USA and contains a Foreword by Dave Hunt. It gives the enthralling record of the faithful remnant Church as distinct from the structured (organised) false Christendom, which masquerades as the Church. While Broadbent focuses on the persecutions, not the incidents of supernaturalism of Church history, but nonetheless he provides convincing evidence of God at work through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Writing of Christ's declared intention for His Church, the author records,
Each of these consists of those disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who, in the place where they live, gather together in His Name. To such the presence of the Lord in their midst is promised and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given in different ways through all the members (Matt. 18. 20; 1 Cor. 12.7).Each of these churches stands in direct relationship to the Lord and draws its authority from Him and is responsible to Him (Rev. 2 and 3). There is no suggestion that one church should control another or that any organised union of churches should exist, but an intimate personal fellowship unites them (Acts 15.36).The chief business of the churches is to make known throughout the world the Gospel or Glad Tidings of Salvation. This the Lord commanded before His ascension, promising to give the Holy Spirit as the power in which it should be accomplished (Acts 1. 8).Events in the history of the churches in the time of the Apostles have been selected and recorded in the Book of the Acts in such a way as to provide a permanent pattern for the churches. Departure from this pattern has had disastrous consequences, and all revival and restoration have been due to some return to the pattern and principles contained in the Scriptures.
Elsewhere he writes,
The practice of founding churches where any, however few, believed, gave permanence to the work, and as each church was taught from the first its direct dependence on the Holy Spirit and responsibility to Christ, it became a centre for propagating the Word of Life.The growth of a clerical system under the domination of the bishops, who in turn were ruled by "Metropolitans" controlling extensive territories, substituted a human organisation and religious forms for the power and working of the Holy Spirit and the guidance of the Scriptures in the separate churches.
In Phrygia, Montanus began to teach (156 A.D.), he and those with him protesting against the prevailing laxity in the relations of the Church to the world. Some among them claimed to have special manifestations of the Spirit, in particular two women, Prisca and Maxilla. The persecution ordered by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (177 A.D.) quickened the expectation of the Lord's coming and the spiritual aspirations of the believers. The Montanists hoped to raise up congregations that should return to primitive piety, live as those waiting for the Lord's return and, especially, give to the Holy Spirit His rightful place in the Church.
At this point we should acknowledge the possibility of bias and prejudice. I am reminded of the statement made by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis to the effect that we are all biased so we might as well choose the bias with which we are biased. We all read history in the light of our particular mindset.Montanists are viewed by many as heretics, but as Broadbent shows there were several expressions of the movement both within and outside of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). There are only 16 extant sayings that are directly attributed to Montanists. We thus in the main perceive the movement through the eyes of their opponents. The only literature that we have on them comes from Eusebius of Caesarea, Epiphanius of Salamis, some of which may be biased. The indication is that the movement was erratic. The earliest group may have started in the Spirit and like so many present day Pentecostals and charismatics ended in the smoke of confusion and uncorrected excesses, which inevitably express themselves in false doctrine.A Montanist group predicted the second coming , with the New Jerusalem descending on Phrygia. This presents us with another interesting parallel between what happened historically and what is happening today. Both the Montanists and the Kingdom Now people adopt false teaching about the End Times and the Return of Christ.Our only point in referring to the Montanists, and to some other groups, is to produce historic evidence for our basic biblical premise. We do not in any way endorse the excesses of Toronto and Pensacola, which undoubtedly parallel the heresies of some of the Montanists. There is nothing new under the sun.IRENAEUS (AD 115-202), pupil of Polycarp, who was a student of John the apostle wrote:
In like manner do we also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to the light for the general benefit the hidden things of men and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostles term spiritual.
JUSTIN MARTYR (AD 100-165) wrote:
It is possible now to see among us women and men who possess gifts of the Spirit of God.
TERTULLIAN (AD 160-220) – invited the heretic Marcion, who was his contemporary, to produce among his followers anything similar to that which was evident among orthodox Christians:
Let him exhibit prophets such as have spoken, not by human sense but with the spirit of God, such as have predicted things to come, and have manifest the secrets of the heart; let him produce a psalm, a vision, a prayer, only let it be by the Spirit in an ecstasy, that is in a rapture, whenever an interpretation of tongues has occurred to him.
PACHOMIUS (AD 292-348). In his book Lives of the Saints ((first published in four volumes, London, 1756-1759) A Butler refers to Pachomius, who after seasons of prayer was able to speak, under the power of the Holy Spirit, the Greek and Latin languages, which he had never learned.
MARTIN LUTHER (AD 1483-1546) In a letter to one of his followers (1545)
When you depart lay your hands upon the man again and say, 'These signs shall follow them that believe; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.'
There is the possibility of a double meaning in some of the above. However, taking the evidence as a whole one is forced to the conclusion that throughout history there can be discovered incidents, remote at times, but nonetheless there, which prove beyond reasonable doubt that the supernatural manifestations of the power and presence of God through the gifts of the Spirit have occurred and recurred among God's people under God's providence.
Thr Convenaters and Puritans
Alexander Peden was a Scottish minister who was ejected from his ministry charge in 1662. His farewell sermon lasted until midnight! He became a field preacher and had all sorts of experiences where he just escaped arrest through a prophetic word, which warned him of where to go or where not to go.A strict cessationist would have some trouble with his biography, written by John C. Johnston, entitled Alexander Peden: The Prophet of the Covenant (Mourne Missionary Trust, 1988). The book is full of prophetic words, which happened to Peden all through his career.Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) was a Christian Scottish writer in the seventeenth century, who saw no conflict between an authoritative Bible and the Almighty God giving divine revelation to people outside of the Bible. He records how this has happened through the history of the church.[ED. In the following quotation we have retained the quaint old English spelling and when clarity is desired have inserted the modern equivalent in brackets.]
There is a revelation of some particular men, who have foretold things to come, even since the ceasing of the Canon of the Lord, as John Husse [John Hus], Wickeliefe [Wycliffe], Luther, have foretold things to come and they certainely fell out, and in our nation of Scotland, M. George Wishart foretold that Cardinall Beaton should not come out alive at the Gate of the Castle of St. Andrews, but that he should dye [die] a shamefull death, and he was hanged over the window that he did look out at, when he saw the man of God burnt. M. Knox prophesied of the hanging of the Lord of Grange, M. Ioh Davidson uttered prophecies, knowne [know] to many of the kingdome [kingdom], diverse Holy and mortified preachers in England have done the like. . .
Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) was the prominent Baptist preacher in England during the 19th century, who wrote of a
sermon at Exeter Hall in which he suddenly broke off from his subject, and pointing in a certain direction, said, “Young man, those gloves you are wearing have not been paid for: you have stolen them from your employer.” At the close of the service, a young man, looking very pale and greatly agitated, came to the room, which was used as a vestry, and begged for a private interview with Spurgeon. On being admitted, he placed a pair of gloves upon the table, and tearfully said, “It's the first time I have robbed my master, and I will never do it again. You won't expose me, sir, will you? It would kill my mother if she heard that I had become a thief"
On another occasion while he was preaching, Spurgeon said there was a man in the gallery who had a bottle of gin in his pocket. This not only startled the man in the gallery who had the gin, but it also led to his conversion. Spurgeon gives further examples of his prophetic ministry:
While preaching in the hall, on one occasion, I deliberately pointed to a man in the midst of the crowd, and said, “There is a man sitting there, who is a shoemaker; he keeps his shop open on Sundays, it was open last Sabbath morning, he took nine pence, and there was four pence profit out of it; his soul is sold to Satan for four pence!” A city missionary, when going his rounds, met with this man, and seeing that he was reading one of my sermons, he asked the question, “Do you know Mr. Spurgeon?” “Yes,” replied the man “I have every reason to know him, I have been to hear him; and under his preaching, by God's grace I have become a new creature in Christ Jesus. Shall I tell you how it happened? I went to the Music Hall, and took my seat in the middle of the place: Mr Spurgeon looked at me as if he knew me, and in his sermon he pointed to me, and told the congregation that I was a shoemaker, and that I kept my shop open on Sundays; and I did, sir. I should not have minded that; but he also said that I took nine pence the Sunday before, and that there was four pence profit; but how he should know that, I could not tell. Then it struck me that it was God who had spoken to my soul through him, so I shut up my shop the next Sunday. At first, I was afraid to go again to hear him, lest he should tell the people more about me; but afterwards I went, and the Lord met with me, and saved my soul."
How does Spurgeon explain this prophetic ministry?
I could tell as many as a dozen similar cases in which I pointed at somebody in the hall without having the slightest knowledge of the person, or any idea that what I said was right, except that I believed I was moved by the Spirit to say it; and so striking has been my description that the persons have gone away, and said to their friends, “Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did; beyond a doubt, he must have been sent of God to my soul, or else he could not have described me so exactly.” And not only so, but I have known many instances in which the thoughts of men have been revealed from the pulpit. I have sometimes seen persons nudge their neighbours with their elbow, because they had got a smart hit, and they have been heard to say, when they were going out, “The preacher told us just what we said to one another when we went in at the door."
Os Guinness – author and social critic born September 30, 1941
Speaking once at Essex University, I saw sitting in the front row a strange-looking girl with an odd expression on her face. Remembering an incident the previous night when a radical had tried to disrupt the lecture, I spoke on but also prayed silently that she would create no trouble. She remained quiet the whole evening but came up as soon as it was finished with a very troubled look and asked me what spell I had cast to keep her quiet. She told me she was part of a spiritist circle in the South of England and that the spirits had ordered her to travel to Essex, where she had never been before, to disrupt a series of lectures beginning that week. The curious sequel to this was that when I arrived back in Switzerland someone else in the community, far from a fanciful visionary, asked me what had happened in the Essex lectures. Praying for them one morning, she had seen in a vision, as real as waking reality, the lecture hall and the strange girl about to disrupt the meeting. Having prayed for her, she was convinced that nothing had happened, but she wondered if it was just her imagination. The presence of a Christian praying in the power of the Holy Spirit is always enough to render the occult inoperable.
19th and 20th Centuries
Contrary to what is generally perceived, modern classic Pentecostalism finds its roots not at the beginning of the 20th Century at Azusa Street, Los Angeles but in the revival towards the end of the previous century. Men such as Charles Finney, Dwight L Moody and R A Torrey stirred the hearts of many towards God. There are reports particularly during the ministry of Moody of peoplespeaking in tongues. For example the American evangelist in 1873 conducted a campaign in Sunderland, England. Robert Boyd was a journalist who visited the services and reported:
When I got to the rooms of the YMCA I found the meeting on fire. The young men were speaking in tongues and prophesying. What on earth did it mean? Only that Moody had been addressing them that afternoon.
In addition to these documented claims I recall reading a report of the following comment by F B Myer when he visited the Baltic provinces of Russia:
It is very remarkable at a time when the Lutheran Church of this land has lost its evangelistic fervour …. The gift of tongues is heard quite often in the meetings ...
I do not have the source document to hand, but am certain I have read it and I note that Joseph Chambers refers to the same comment. In addition one has to take into account the impact of the Welsh revival of 1904 upon Pentecostalism. Jesse Penn Lewis in her classic War on the Saints points to excesses and counterfeits, which seem to always accompany true revivals. But the thing about the early Pentecostals is that they quickly discerned the false. My late father told me how he stood against a man in Cardiff who sought platform position at their new Pentecostal Church and how God showed him up as a spiritualist medium. One night God led Dad through the streets of Cardiff to a hall where the man in question was performing a séance.The early Pentecostals were people with discernment who quickly purged out the excesses and the counterfeit. Sadly this no longer applies in respect of many of their modern counterparts.Classic Pentecostals agree with moderate Cessationists that some of the events associated with Methodist minister Charles Parham and Holiness preacher W J Seymour surrounding the Topeka Bible College and Azusa Stable revival in Los Angeles were not biblical. Where they differ is regarding the perceived impact of Parham and Seymour, who in reality had limited effect upon what happened in the eventual spread of the revival. I and my Pentecostal forebears would strongly contend that British Pentecostalism developed out of the Welsh revival not from Azusa Street.What occurred in Wales and later in England, Scotland and Ireland impacted upon Scandinavia, Europe and far away India and Australia with a feedback into the USA helping to bring a balance with a strong emphasis on biblical doctrine. A similar return to a sound biblical basis is called for today, especially with the disturbing spread of the so called “Emerging Church” which latest information now includes Rick Warren with his notorious Purpose Driven heresies.
Corrie ten Boom (April 15, 1892 – April 15, 1983)The Nazis sent this godly Dutch woman to a concentration camp for protecting Jews. She tells of an incredible supernatural happening in the prison:
The vitamin bottle was continuing to produce drops. It scarcely seemed possible, so small a bottle, so many doses a day. Now, in addition to Betsie, a dozen others on our pier were taking it. My instinct was always to hoard it—Betsie was growing so very weak! But others were ill as well. It was hard to say no to eyes that burned with fever, hands that shook with chill. I tried to save it for the very weakest—but even these soon numbered fifteen, twenty, twenty-five...
And still every time I tilted the little bottle, a drop appeared at the tip of the glass stopper. It just couldn't be! I held it up to the light, trying to see how much was left, but the dark brown glass was too thick to see through.“There was a woman in the Bible,” Betsie said, “whose oil jar was never empty.” She turned to it in the Book of Kings, the story of the poor widow of Zarephath who gave Elijah a room in her home:The jar of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of Jehovah which he spoke by Elijah.Well -- but -- wonderful things happened all through the Bible. It was one thing to believe that such things were possible thousands of years ago, another to have it happen now, to us, this very day. And yet it happened, this day, and the next, and the next, until an awed little group of spectators stood around watching the drops fall onto the daily rations of bread.However, as soon as more vitamins became available from the hospital, this supernatural source ceased. Corrie explains:That night, no matter how long I held it upside down, or how hard I shook it, not another drop appeared.
I feel that I may have laboured the topic somewhat and yet at the same time I sense that there are areas that have not been fully covered. Many on both sides—Cessationists and Classic Pentecostals—have opposed the bizarre displays and doctrines of what has been variously calledThe Toronto- Pensacola, Revival Now and River Revival movements. Some of us have stood shoulder to shoulder in our opposing the frightening ecumenical drift towards Rome.My purpose in writing this article and in re- publishing it as a series in CETF is to try to build a bridge across which some will walk to join forces in our mutual efforts to earnestly “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.” You may not agree with me on all points, but what I have presented is honestly believed and I think it is biblically based. Further I think Church history supports the view that I have presented.Sola Scriptura – and let us all recognise and remember that it's,
Not by might, nor by power but by MY Spirit says the Lord of hosts – Zech. 4:6.
God bless you,