Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Source of Joy

If you want Jesus' joy to remain in you, and if you want your joy to be full - do these things:

JOHN 15:1-11

1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

That's the key - ahead of relationships, bodily exercize and worldly success.

Must Tongues Always Be a Tongue of Men?

Jesus said believers will speak in "new" tongues - not just "other" tongues.

Paul implied the possibility that believers could speak in "the tongues of men and of angels".

Paul mentioned the gift of "divers kinds" of tongues.

A tongue was to be "interpreted" - not "judged" as in the case of prophecy.

If a tongue was always a tongue of man, you would think the Holy Spirit would usually give believers utterance in a tongue that was known, rather than unknown, by visitors in the congregation. But instead it was often the case that tongues were unknown by anyone in a congregation and therefore needed interpretation.

If a tongue was always a tongue of man, you wouldn't think the supernatural gift of "the interpretation of tongues" would be needed by the church. If that were the case, it would have been more of a sign to unbelievers if instead of placing the gift of the interpretation of tongues in the church, that a natural-speaker of the tongue would be required and sought who could in turn verify and interpret the tongue.

But instead, God elected to place in the church the supernatural gift of the interpretation of tongues - probably because very often no natural-speakers of the tongues would be available.

Interpreting a tongue through the gift of the Spirit requires the services of an already-convinced believer, to interpret a tongue which neither he nor anyone else present - believer or unbeliever - can understand, to give an interpretation which no-one - believer or unbeliever - can really verify was an accurate translation or not. Yet this is the way God planned it.

Thoughts on I Corinthians 13 - Have Tongues Ceased?

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Evidently the potential was there that a believer could speak with the tongues of men and of angels, just as the potential was there that a believer could prophecy, have faith, bestow all his goods to feed the poor, or give his body to be burned.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

The time to which Paul referred here could not have been the time when Apostolic literature was canonized because knowledge didn't vanish away with that event - rather, it was grouped-together into the New Testament.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

When knowledge is no longer imperfect. When prophesying is no longer needed.

This can't refer to the time when the apostolic writings were canonized - because that event brought no extra knowledge - it merely canonized existing knowledge.

If that event constituted "that which is perfect" then prophesying should have ceased - but the New Testament indicates the existence of prophecy right up until the time of the end (Revelation "thou must prophesy..."; also the two witnesses).

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

The canonization of New Testament literature did not cause Paul to see face to face, nor any believer to see face to face. Nor did it cause Paul nor any believer to know even as also He was known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Faith is still here. Hope is still here. Charity is still here. Therefore that which is perfect has not come yet. Therefore neither have tongues ceased.

"That which is perfect" refers to the Coming of the Lord, or to being in the presence of the Lord.

Romans 13:6,7 Ethical and Unethical Taxation

6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

I'm not saying a government shouldn't charge tax. Taxation is consistent with the Biblical ethics of private property; freedom of choice; and reward for labour (Government officers being rewarded for the labour of their service to the people).

However we have a situation today where many Christians seem to think they are upholding Christlike values by voting for a political party whose ideology of taxation goes beyond those ethics to the point where they claim that it's the people, the poor, and the State who actually own rights to a DISPROPORTIONATE amount of the money in your pocket just because of your wealth.

That's not what Paul taught.

Being able to properly distinguishing Christian duty and generosity from the unsustainable ideology of socialism/communism should help believers to elect a Christlike representative at the polls.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Thoughts on I Corinthians 14

1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

If the sole purpose for which the gift of tongues was given was so that unbelieving foreigners could hear their own language and become convinced, then it could never have happened that "no man understandeth him".

A tongue was not invalidated just because no man understood it. In such cases he who spoke in an unknown tongue was nevertheless regarded as genuinely speaking to God.

3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

There was still a purpose and a benefit even when a tongue was unknown - but the benefit was personal, not public.

5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

Speaking in tongues was something that any believer could potentially do, or else Paul wouldn't have desired it for all of them.

6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.

10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Paul's issue was not with their zeal, nor with the genuineness of their gifts - but merely with the most profitable manner of expressing the gifts.

13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

There was nothing invalid with the tongues being spoken - only that there was a greater corporate benefit to be had by interpreting the tongues.

14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

Tongues were able to be used for prayer, not only for a public sign.

Praying in an unknown tongue exercised one's spirit, rather than one's mind. (Man is spirit, soul and body - Thessalonians).

15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Paul said, "I will" - that was an act of volition - he could speak in tongues at will.

The choice was the speaker's whether or not he exercised his spirit or his understanding in prayer.

Speaking in tongues was able to be employed not only as a sign - but also for all the purposes for which singing could be employed.

16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

To "bless" was another purpose for which speaking in tongues could be employed. The uses of speaking in tongues were not limited to it's purpose as a sign.

17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

Speaking, praying, singing or blessing were all activities that could be done validly in tongues even when the tongue was unknown.

"...verily thou givest thanks well..."
meant that performing such activities in an unknwon tongue was regarded as good, acceptable and perfect as a personal activity, despite being unbeneficial to the public if performed in public.

18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

Not only in public, but also privately. There was a private use for speaking, praying, singing or blessing in tongues - the purpose of tongues was not limited to being a public sign only.

19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.

22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

How could tongues ever be a sign to unbelievers if unbelievers were shielded from hearing tongues? It was okay to let unbelievers hear tongues.

23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

"...the whole church...come together into one place..."
That does not describe merely a mid-week meeting, or a once-in-a-year camp-meeting - it described the main, regular gathering of the church. There was a place for the regular manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit during the principal gathering of the local church!

"...will they not say that ye are mad?"
Evidently the tongues were often unknown, or else if all spake with tongues and unbelievers came in, they wouldn't say they were mad, but instead, they would all hear their own language and be amazed, like what happened on the Day of Pentecost.

Obviously it was not often the case even in the early church that unbelievers heard tongue-speakers in their own languages, like what happened on the Day of Pentecost. It was more common that tongues were unknown and that interpretation was required.

It would have been mad for everyone in a gathering to think any benefit could have been derived through addressing the whole gathering in unknown tongues. If a group carried-on doing that, of course visitors could rightly have questioned their mental health. Nevertheless Paul never denied the validity of the tongues per se - only the manner in which the gift was being expressed.

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

There was nothing wrong with the tongues - only that the objective should be corporate edification, not personal edification - unless it was spoken privately.

27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

It seems that tongues were more often than not unknown - because here Paul seems to assume that an interpreter would usually be required. If the purpose of tongues was always so that foreign unbelieving visitors could hear their own language, then there would never have been a need for the supernatural gift of "the interpretation of tongues" (I Cor.12: ).

28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

The tongue was no less valid despite no-one understanding it - or else Paul would not have encouraged the speaker of such tongues to continue speaking to himself and to God.

Speaking to yourself and to God in tongues was a valid use of speaking in tongues. The usefulness of tongues was not limited to being a public sign.

29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

Notice that while a prophecy could be judged, a tongue could be interpreted but not judged, demonstrating that the tongue was indeed unknown.

30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

Legalism vs Antinomianism

Jesus wasn't against sin-management - He was against twisting the Law to allow your sin, as the Pharisees were doing. Jesus' commandment was love - loving God and your neighbour. Loving God meant to keep His Law. Loving your neighbour meant to treat them in accordance with God's Law. Love is the fulfilling of the Law. The new commandment is an old commandment fulfilled by a new impartation of Divine ability.

What You Perceive You Receive - Russell Evans

Pastor Russell Evans tweeted recently:

"What you perceive you receive. So don't let deception rob you from kingdom reception".

Correct Attitude Towards Eschatology

A friend of mine made the following comment about eschatology and the Book of Revelation:

"If Revelations is open to interpretation because of its prophetic nature then no-one can claim their theory is more right than others. But if someone says this is right and everybody else is wrong then they are wrong in attitude."

I would add that preachers should therefore think twice before asserting a dogma of their own.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Do You Have a Problem With Tongues?

I totally sympathize with the importance of waiting until we feel right in our faith and conscience about any spiritual practice - such as speaking in tongues - before proceeding. God is gentle, not abusive. He cares more for our conscience than the issue of tongues. So I hope this is nothing but helpful.

If it was the case that the purpose for speaking in tongues was exclusively so that foreigners in a meeting could hear their own language, then there would never have been a case where, “…no man understandeth him...” (I Cor. 14:2); no-one should ever have needed to “…pray that he may interpret” (verse 13); the gift of the “interpretation of tongues” should never have been needed in the church (I Cor. 12:10); and the circumstances which I Cor.14 was written to address could never even have existed.

Tongues were more-often-that-not unknown it seems - for Paul seemed to imply that the need for tongues to be interpreted in the church would be usual (I Cor. 14:27).

Despite tongues often being unknown, Paul conceded that a believer who had spoken in an [unknown] tongue (I Cor.14:2, 18), or prayed in the tongue (verses 2 & 14), or sang in the tongue (verse 15) or blessed in the tongue (verse 16) had nevertheless done so validly (verse 17).

Seeing tongues were usually unknown, a believer’s better options therefore were to: either pray that he may interpret (verse 13), or else speak privately to himself and to God (verse 28) - the former benefiting the church, due to having been made understandable (verse 5); the latter benefiting himself, despite not being understandable (verse 4).

But either way, the tongue itself was valid despite being unknown. Functionally therefore it didn’t matter that the tongues were often unknown. Speaking in tongues fulfilled a purpose even despite being unknown.

After all, Jesus had foretold that believers would “speak with new tongues” (Mark 16:17); Paul mentioned the gift of “[divers] kinds of tongues” (I Cor.12:10); and Paul even seemed to imply the potential for a believer to “speak with the tongues of men and of angels” (I Cor. 13:1).

Paul said that faith, hope, love, prophecies, tongues, and imperfect knowledge would remain until "that which is perfect has come". Could this really have happened sometime between the second century (when Iranaeus said tongues were still being spoken) and the fourth century (by which time Augustine was claiming that tongues had ceased)?

Well Paul had said, "...then shall I know [perfectly] even as I am known". Paul was no longer alive by the second century - so how could it have come to pass then that Paul would know perfectly at the time when that which is perfect would come? But Paul will be present in the resurrection!

Does anyone today have perfect knowledge? Has prophecy failed? Is faith no longer required? Is hope already fulfilled? Then "that which is perfect" has not come yet. Tongues hasn't ceased either.

(Besides, we don't know that there weren't ANY who spoke in tongues during Augustine's time. There may have been some, whom Augustine didn't now about.

But even if there were none who spoke in tongues, that doesn't necessarily become a basis for doctrine. The doctrine of justification by faith wasn't being taught widely during the Middle Ages either, but that didn't mean God had removed it permanently - God later restored the doctrine of justification, as He did the practice of speaking with tongues.

Scripture is the only basis for doctrine - not history, not post-Apostolic authors. If we claim that Paul's instructions about tongues in I Cor.14 are no longer relevant to the presentday church, then as much we may say we oppose dispensationalism, we are actually believing in two different dispensations for the church.

And if we in the present-day church are in a different dispensation to the early church, then the Bible should say, "The church is built [not only on] the foundation of the apostles and prophets...[but also on the foundation of the church-fathers]". - if it is the case that it is the conclusions of the church-fathers and not the instructions of Paul to the Corinthians in chapter fourteen that speak directly to the present-day church. In which case, the church-fathers should have foundational authority over the present-day church to interpret and apply the writings of the Epistles, and to instruct the present-day church - if tongues has ceased). Which is erroneous. There is only one church - one dispensation of the church - and the writings of the Apostles retain their authority and relevance during the entire church age. Therefore faith, hope, love, prophecies and tongues remain, while we are still growing in knowledge, awaiting for that which is perfect to come.

Those are my lay-person's thoughts. I could also speak about my own experiences with tongues. But this will suffice for now. Hope it helps.

And like I said at the beginning, it's everyone's peace of conscience that God cares about above all.

Love and blessings to you.

Single Cause vs Single Vision - Brian Houston

Pastor Brian Houston tweeted this yesterday:

"Leaders goal: To unite a team around a single CAUSE, rather than trying to unite their individual VISIONS!"

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Did the Mark of the Beast Have to Be Literal & Physical?

I just had a thought about the mark of the beast, for further study.

John saw another 'beast' 'marking' people with the 'name' or 'number' of the 'beast', and forbidding those not 'marked' from buying or selling.

Could it be that this 'mark' was never to necessarily be a literal mark? or was it to be a physical mark?

The 'beast' who gave the 'mark' wasn't literally a 'beast' - so why should we be dogmatic that the 'mark' he was to give should be literal and physical?

The 'beast' whose 'name' and 'number' the other 'beast' 'marked' people with was not a literal beast either - so why should the 'mark' bearing his 'name' or 'number' be literal and physical?

When a metephorical 'beast' gives a 'mark' - chances are the 'mark' is just as metaphorical as the 'beast' who gave it.

If the 'mark' didn't need to be fulfilled literally and physically, it might have meant simply that careful notice and discrimination was to be made by the 'little horn' between those who worshipped the 'beast' and those who refused.

And in that case, a potential fulfillment of the prophecy is no longer limited to circumstances where a literal, physical mark was used, or shall be used. So long as it can be demonstrated that careful discrimination of some form was made between those who worshipped the 'beast' and those who refused - so that those known to have not worshipped the beast were not allowed to buy or sell - then it could suffice as a potential fulfillment of that particular criteria under this prophecy.

Or maybe it has to be literal and physical.

Just a thought! [For further study]

Dealing With Demons

Brother Hagin shared a story once. When he was a young Pastor, he used to hold deliverance meetings. He said he saw every kind of demonic manifestation you could ever want to see - and some you DIDN'T want to see. But after a while, he noticed no-one's life was getting changed.

So eventually he canceled the deliverance meetings and decided instead to start teaching the Word. In a short period of time he noticed the same people changing and growing-up in the Lord!

That's an interesting story because it shows that regardless of whether or not demons may be oppressing a believer's life, our first approach should be to minister the Word - and then only deal directly with a demon if the Holy Spirit leads us to through a manifestation of the gift of the discerning of spirits. Hearing and acting on Jesus' Word is often all that many believers need!

Definition of 'Generation' - by Bobbie Houston

Bobbie Houston tweeted this tonight:

"A generation is 'everyone drawing breath at the same time''s EVERYONE IN THE MIX, ON THE PAGE, IN THE RACE!"

Cashless Society - Is it in the Bible?

In Brisbane at IKEA (a European company) you can't use cash at most check-outs.

I think it's a great idea - it eliminates the possibility that thieves or staff can steal cash. It reduces the need for staff - because customers swipe their own cards without needing to exchange cash with a staff-person. And staff are not required to do the banking.

When I went there and bought my light-bulbs, lamp-shade and table - and swiped my card to buy it - I didn't feel like I was worshipping a system. The whole process was purely a commercial exercize.

And I noticed that none of the shoppers at IKEA needed to be convinced to shop there by miracles performed through the Dragon's power!

Cashless shopping has nothing to do with worship - even if there is a wallet-chip, sim-card, barcode or plastic card involved. The whole process was clean and efficient!

The Bible doesn't clearly prophesy a cashless society - but if it did, all of the world's gold and silver reserves and all personal jewellery items would have to be confiscated before it could work. Otherwise people could continue to use their gold, silver and jewellery to buy and sell.

People in Europe, Israel, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Australia, the Pacific and the Americas are nowhere near ready to start handing-over all their precious metals and gemstones just so a truly cashless society can be implemented.

So either the mark of the beast meant something else - or the end might not be just around the corner yet.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Observations on Rev.13; & 6:6

Someone wrote to me:

"You are an indoctrinated person, you have the same spirit as those who believe tongues is not for today because you tear people to pieces and it makes you feel good in the name of truth of course (not you that religious devil in you). You must love this I have had so much fun slapping that religious devil and you still come back for more. You are wrong about Rev.6:6".

I replied:

"If it is a religious devil making me question end-timers, then how come I can use Scripture to run rings around people who don't believe in tongues? The heart that enables me to see the relevance of tongues for today in Scripture, is the same heart that enables me to see what I am seeing in the Book of Revelation."

To which he replied:

"Run rings around hey".

And I replied:

"I don't know anyone who believes tongues are not for today who can wield Scripture on the topic as effectively as I can. Not a single one of them! I can run rings around all of them, in Scripture knowledge, in logic, in wit, and in experience, on the topic [of tongues being relevant today].

When it comes to the Book of Revelation, I've made no attempt to assert any particular interpretation - my only goal so far has been to observe accurately what the text actually says without imposing any interpretation on it.

So how can you say I'm wrong about Rev.6:6? I haven't interpreted it or applied it. All I've said is that John saw a vision of weighing scales and he heard a voice which indicated that one Grecian Measure of wheat was soon to sell for for the exhorbitant price of one Roman Denarius of cash.

No-one can argue with me on that. That is exactly what John saw and heard in a vision. I haven't said anything more or less than that.

Now, if you are going to turn around and say:

"Yes, John John saw a pair of weighing scales, but he didn't mean a pair of weighing scales - he really meant electronic scales such as are used in markets today"; or

"Yes, John heard a Grecian Measure of wheat, but he didn't mean a Grecian measure of wheat - he really meant an American bushel of wheat"; or

"Yes, John heard a Roman Denarius, but he didn't mean a Roman Denarius - he really meant the Euro"; or

"Yes, John heard one Denarius, but he didn't mean one Denarius - he really meant the minimum wage in the 21st century for a day's unskilled labour"; or

"Yes, John heard about cash being exchanged, but he didn't really mean cash will be exchanged - we believe we will have a cashless society, so he must have meant something else"; or

"Yes, John described details which applied in the Roman Empire during the early centuries of the Church, but he didn't mean it - he really meant the European Union in the 21st century";

If that's what you are going to say, then you are not merely observing what the text says - you are actually interpreting what you believe the text means.

And if you are going to say that it means something different to what it says, then you should be ready with proof."

To which he replied:

"Are you a scholar in Greek? You call yourself an expert yet 6:6 is not trying to point out the currency of the time but economic distress - so the emphasis is not on the currency. How could have John interpreted modern technology? Why say things like you apply logic? You did interpret 6:6 in you explanation of chap 13."

And I said:

"I don't think ANY lay-person should claim to be a BETTER scholar in Greek than the 47 scholars who produced the KJV in 1611! But I do own two Greek New Testaments plus several other books on New Testament Greek which I have been studying for 30 years. And both my parents studied the elements of New Testament Greek for two years full-time before they were married - so ever since I was a child I was brought-up in a home-environment where New Testament Greek was often discussed.

In Revelation 6:6 we have the words χοίνικες which is the Greek Measure, and δηναρίου which is the Roman Denarius. All six of the most popular Greek manuscripts use the same two Greek words. Even the Latin Vulgate translates the two words directly.

There were other Greek words available at the time to describe coinage, such as the word στατῆρα (Four-Drachma coin). So the choice of the word δηναρίου (Denarius) in Rev.6:6 was very specific and deliberate.

What I have observed therefore about Rev.6:6 is this: John foresaw a day in which a χοίνικες (Grecian Measure) of wheat would be weighed using a pair of balances and sold for exactly a δηναρίου (One Roman Denarius coin). And John was compelled to inform the seven churches in Turkey about this and to tell them that it was to happen shortly in their future.

That's not an interpretation! That is black ink on white paper. Six different Greek manuscripts! Now YOU have said that the "emphasis is not on the currency" - that's an interpretation.

It is YOU who is altering details in the verse - I am saying nothing more nor less than what the verse says. You have the right to interpret the verse, because Revelation is after all a book of symbols - but you need to be able to prove your interpretation.

Here again is what the verse SAYS (without interpreting it):

Sometime in the near future, said John to the seven churches in Turkey, a Grecian Measure of wheat, weighed using a pair of balances, would cost a whole One Roman Denarius Coin.

That's what it says! Now go ahead and interpret it, add details, subtract details, assert details, deny details - but be ready to prove it! And make sure you remain loyal to what it actually SAYS instead of changing details to suit a PREDECIDED view. (Remember what the Book of Revelation warns about readers who add to or take-away from ANY of the WORDS (details) of the prophecy of this book!!)

John Wesley in his famous, standard commentary explained that the deliberate and specific use of the two Greek words used in this verse means that the prophecy must have been fulfilled in a place and time where the specific currency and system of measurement were still current.

But even if the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled in our future, my point was that it demonstrates the use of coinage. It doesn't show a cashless society. That's what the verse SAYS - without imposing an interpretation on it.

It isn't possible to establish the case for a belief in a future cashless society based on Rev.6:6 alone. If you are going to believe in a future cashless society, you will have to find a basis for it elsewhere. Rev.6:6 simply doesn't provide that basis.

Which brings us to Rev.13. Again, I have not interpreted it - I've merely observed what it ACTUALLY SAYS. What I observed is:

The little horn sought to cause the world to worship the beast and the statue of the beast. So the little horn had two strategies to achieve this:

1) he performed miracles through the power of the Dragon to deceive the world into worshipping the beast and the statue of the beast; and

2) he MARKED everyone who worshipped the beast and his statue with the beast's NAME or NUMBER - and anyone who turned-up to buy or sell who had not worshipped the beast nor his statue nor been marked with his name or number, was NOT ALLOWED to buy or sell.

I've merely observed what the text says. I have not interpreted it. I observed the following:

The text tells us that the mark was simply a mark. It doesn't tell us that the mark had any functionality. It was a mark.

The text tells us what people were marked with. They were marked with the beast's name or number. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. The beast's name or number.

The text tells us that without being marked with the beast's name or number, people would not be allowed to buy or sell. The text did not say that there will be a cashless society. The text did not say that those who were marked would use the mark to buy and sell instead of using cash. It just said that those who were not marked with the beast's name or number were not allowed to buy or sell.

The text tells us that EVERYONE who was marked had worshipped the statue of the beast.

Those are merely observations - it's not an interpretation. Now if you are going to turn around and tell me, "Yes, but the mark is not a mark, it's really a chip"; and "Yes, but the mark is not the beast's name or number, it's a chip"; and "Yes, but the mark is not a mark, it's really a replacement for cash"; and "Yes, but people don't really worship a statue, it's something else" - well it takes a lot of extra-Biblical imagination that isn't actually in the text of Scripture to say that.

The text itself does not say any of those things. That's a massive INTERPRETATION. The text doesn't mention a cashless society - it just says that unless men had worshipped the beast and his statue and been marked with his name or number, they wouldn't be allowed to buy or sell. And Rev.6:6 prophesied that the Roman Denarius coinage would be used. That's what it SAYS.

If you are going to add from it, take away from it, interpret it, claim that the emphasis is on something else, that's fine - but prove it."

Predestination is Not the Same as Determinism

"Predestination is not the same as determinism" ~ William Stanley

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Rev.13:17 - Was the Mark of the Beast Something Functional or Was it Only a Mark?

The Bible doesn't say that the mark of the beast will be something physically functional that will literally enable citizens to buy or sell, like a mircrochip. It was only a mark. A mark doesn't have any functionality in and of itself. The only thing that has functionality in regard to a mark is any laws that may be enacted in its regard. The Bible just meant that citizens were not allowed to buy and sell if they were found not to be marked. And the mark was said to be the beast's name or number.

The sentence, "...that no man might buy or sell..." (Rev.13:17) referred to a legal edict - it is not a scientific/technological explanation.

It described a law that accompanied the mark - it doesn't describe a technological function of the mark.

It was only a mark - it isn't something functional.

The mark was the beast's name or number.

That's how John Wesley and other standard commentators understood it.

It requires a lot of extra-Biblical imagination to say a micropchip is the mark of the beast.

Must Tongues Always be Known Tongues?

The following is part of a reply I sent to a YouTube viewer who claimed that tongues, to be valid, must always be a tongue that is known to someone in the audience or a tongue that we know for sure is known by a people-group somewhere in the world.

My reply explains that we don't always need to know whether or not our tongue happens to be known by a particular people-group somewhere in the world in order to regard our tongue as valid.

"I would just like to say first of all that it is typically anti-Pentecostals - and not Pentecostals themselves - who make an issue out of the subject of tongues. A lot of critics of the Pentecostal movement claim that Pentecostals emphasize tongues too much. But I've belonged to a Pentecostal church for 30 years and never heard a single sermon about speaking in tongues. On the other hand I know of non-Pentecostal churches that have preached about tongues [against tongues] several times! Our church focuses, as it should, on Jesus Christ, His Word, living a holy life, walking in love, soul-winnin, worldwide missions and the poor - like any evangelical church.

I would also like to say that anti-Pentecostals who think Pentecostals believe tongues is necessary for salvation are miscomprehending Pentecostal beliefs. Pentecostal churches do not believe that speaking in tongues is necessary for salvation. They only believe that speaking in tongues can edify a believer.

Although of course I would love for you to experience the edification that comes by speaking in tongues, the basis for my fellowship with you has nothing to do with whether or not you speak in tongues - our fellowship is based on the blood of Jesus Christ cleansing us from all sin.

Therefore when I come across a person has has issues with speaking in tongues, I think little of it - I'm happy to allow them to do their own journey with God on that topic, preferring rather to fellowship with him along the lines of our mutual faith in Jesus.

But seeing you are desirous of making an issue out of it, I am willing to spend a little time responding to you. I hope anything I say can be helpful to you.

The first thing I would like to say is that whatever we believe, it must be based on Scripture. I think a system of thought is quite weak if the only way we can prove it from the Bible is by claiming that we can improve on the translation of a particular Greek word done by the 47 scholars who translated the King James Bible.

I'm not saying there is never any merit in looking at the breadth of meaning to some Greek words - I'm only saying that our beliefs ought to be able to be substantiated by direct Scriptures and by more obvious case-studies in the Bible, rather than by an argument over the meaning of a Greek word. Let's use all of those approaches, but don't rely on a dispute over a translation alone.

I think the choice made by the KJV scholars to translate the Greek word in I Cor.13:1 as "though" already carries the meaning of "if" anyway. That seems obvious when we come to verse three, where Paul said, "...and though I give my body to be burned..." We know Paul hadn't given his body to be burned - so he obviously meant "if".

So it isn't necessary to argue over the translation of the Greek word in order to see that Paul meant, "...IF I give my body to be burned..." That meaning is made obvious by the Scripture itself without needing to dispute with the KJV's 47 scholars!

So then, the word "though" already carries the meaning of "if". But notice that means that all of the items Paul proceeds to describe are distinct possibilities. Not that Paul had personally experienced all of them (because as I pointed-out above, we know Paul hadn't given his body to be burned yet) but it does mean that the potential was there to do all of those things.

A believer CAN give his body to be burned, although not every believer has this forced upon him by his persecutors; a believer CAN bestow all his goods to feed the poor, although not every believer is in circumstances where this is called-for; a believer CAN exercize such a level of faith that he can remove mountains, although not everyone has this gift; a believer CAN have prophecy, but not every believer has the gift of prophecy; and a believer CAN speak with the tongues of men and of angels, potentially - although not all believers have done so.

Paul wouldn't have said "though" [or, "if"] if the thing was NEVER a possibility or if it could never have applied to any of his readers. Therefore speaking with tongues of men and of angels was a possibility - just as it was a possibility that some believers may have to give their body to be burned (and many during the Middle Ages did have to give their bodies to be burned). Paul didn't say that speaking with tongues of men and of angels was an impossibility.

Consider this: when Paul addressed the situation in the church in Corinth, notice that although Paul advised the church-members to stop their practice of addressing the congregation in tongues without interpreting, that Paul never questioned the validity of the tongues that had been spoken. Paul's only concern was that the gift of tongues wasn't being expressed sensibly. But in Paul's mind there was nothing illegitimate about the tongues themselves.

This is borne-out by the fact that Paul said that if there was no interpreter present, the tongue-speaker should instead speak his tongues to God or to himself rather than address the church in tongues. The validity of the person's tongues was not disputed - only the manner in which it was being expressed was in question.

That shows that a believer's tongues can be valid even if it is not a language that happens to be known by anyone present at the time. Perhaps the believer shouldn't address the church, in such instances, unless an interpreter is present - but it doesn't mean his tongues weren't real.

Many anti-Pentecostals today miss that point. They mistakenly believe that in order to be valid, a tongue must always happen to be the language of someone in the audience. But at Corinth, believers were speaking validly in tongues yet no-one in the congregation was understanding them. In such instances there is still a valid use for tongues - and that is to speak to God and to himself. Tongues does not always have to be a language that is known to anyone present.

Paul said the same thing about his own tongues. He said he spoke with tongues more than them all [to God, and to himself privately], yet in the church he would rather not speak 10,000 words that no-one understood. Notice that tongues does not always happen to be in a language that is known to anyone present. That doesn't make the tongue invalid. It just means that the person should speak it to God and to himself rather than address the church in that tongue.

Obviously it didn't always happen that everyone in the audience was always enabled to understand a tongue, like what happened in Acts 2. Very often, no-one understood a tongue. If that wasn't the case, there would never have been a need for the gift of the interpretation of tongues. And if that wasn't the case, Paul would never have needed to tell the Corinthians to sometimes speak their tongue privately instead of publicly. Tongues were very often not understood by anyone present. Paul called it an unknown tongue.

In Biblical cases where an unknown tongue was being spoken, the Bible does not say that the tongue was always a known tongue somewhere else in the world. It could have been - or it might not have been. Jesus did mention new tongues; and Paul did mention tongues of angels; and he also mentioned tongues of men. The Bible mentions diverse tongues.

Acts 2 didn't set a precedent for the way tongues was always to happen throughout the rest of the Bible. In the Bible, in the early church, it didn't always happen the same way it happened in Acts 2. Very often it happened that no-one in the audience were enabled to understand it.

I've seen it happen the way it happened in Acts 2. It was a sign and a wonder and people were made believers as a result. But even in the Bible, tongues were not always meant to be a sign to unbelievers. In cases where the tongue is unknown, Paul said to continue speaking it to God and to yourself. In such cases the tongue is still valid and purposeful. And in such cases the Bible did not say that the tongue was always a tongue of man.

There is a valid use for unknown tongues even though we may not be able to say whether it is a tongue of men or of angels or a new tongue. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself and he talks mysteries to God."

Rev,13:17 - What Was the Mark of the Beast?

" one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name..."

The mark of the beast was probably the beast's name or number [the ruler's name or number], received as a mark on a person's right hand or forehead - as an act of worship.

Getting a person's name or number marked on one's right hand or forehead didn't necessarily require modern technology such as a microchip implant!

Using DEUTERONOMY 28 over your life and family - by Rodney Howard-Browne

I read this Post by Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne today:


I listen diligently and pay attention to the voice of the Lord my God.
I am watchful to do all His commandments, which He commands me this day.
Therefore, the Lord my God is setting me high above all the nations of the earth
All these blessings are coming upon me and overtaking me
because I heed the voice of the Lord my God:
I am blessed in the city and blessed in the field.
The fruit of my body is blessed and the fruit of my ground is blessed and so is the fruit of my beasts, the increase of my cattle and the young of my flock.
My basket is blessed and so is my kneading trough.
I am blessed when I come in and blessed when I go out.
The Lord is causing my enemies, who rise up against me, to be defeated before my face.
They may come out against me one way, but they will flee before me seven ways.
The Lord is commanding the blessing upon me in my storehouse and in all that I undertake.
The Lord my God is blessing me in the land, which He has given me.
The Lord is establishing me as a person holy to Himself, as He has promised me, because I am faithful to keep the commandments of the Lord my God and walk in His ways.
All the people of the earth see that I am called by the Name of the Lord and that His hand is upon me, and they are afraid of me.
The Lord is making me to have a surplus of prosperity, through the fruit of my body, of my livestock, and of my ground, in the land which the Lord promised to give me.
The Lord is opening to me His good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to my land in its season and to bless all the work of my hands.
Therefore I will lend to many nations, but I will not borrow.
The Lord is making me the head and not the tail.
I am above only and not beneath.
I am blessed today and every day, because I heed the commandments of the Lord my God, which He commands me this day and I am watchful to do them.
I will not turn aside from any of the words, which He commands me this day—to the right or to the left—to go after other gods to serve them.
I am abundantly blessed, because I serve the Lord my God with joyfulness of mind and heart, in gratitude for the abundance of all with which He has blessed me.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 and 47"

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

New Cartoon

Adjusted version from yesterday's
Click for larger image

Monday, 21 June 2010

Saturday, 19 June 2010


This morning Pastor Richard preached about the effect of a healthy self-image.

We tend to live-up to the image that we have of ourselves. A negative self-image comes from negative experiences, negative thinking and life's disappointments. When we believe negative things that have been said about us, we tend to fulfill everything negative that we think about ourself. But when a certain young person was told he had a high IQ, all of a sudden he started achieving high things - just because he believed what he was told about himself.

"As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he".

"Love your neighbour as yourself", Jesus commanded.

You are loved, and we believe great things of you.

The Promises Are Yours

ISAIAH 60:14,15
14 The sons of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.

7 For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.

These promises are made to you.

"But I sinned - I'm the one who was in the wrong - I deserve the way I'm being treated - my own wrong-doing contributed to these circumstances that have come upon me," you may say.

That may be true - but the promises are still made to you.

These promises were made to Israel not because they were worthy - they were deserving of judgment - but God promised them mercy in their latter end.

The Gospel is founded on promises that were made not to a nation that had a flawless track-record ever since God brought them up out of Egypt - the Gospel is based on promises that were made to a nation that was about to go into a deserved captivity because they had backslidden. Restoration of a believer who made mistakes even after being saved is therefore already built-in to the very DNA of the promises on which the Gospel which he first heard is based on.

God doesn't promise to bless you because you deserved to be blessed - He promises to bless you despite the fact that you deserved not to be blessed. That's the Gospel! That's the promises of the Prophets!

Learning to Discern the Lord's Voice

I asked a friend tonight about how to discern or what to do when you hear what seems to be a leading of the Holy Spirit, but it's not easy to do, or you're not sure if it was really Him and not just your own mind demanding something of you. My friend replied:

"Is God, a God who demands our effort.... my answer would be yes to a certain extent, the other part is knowing that it's okay to say I'm not sure I can do that, or this..... He asks us to be obedient, to trust Him, to trust that His expectations of what He wants for us to achieve, there is no pressure, or stress, there is no fear where God's will, vision or purpose is concerned... He asks for faith, even if we put in a little, or a big effort, we can never disappoint Him.... He gives us His Holy Spirit to enable us to do great exploits, but the rest of the effort is really His.....Jesus was moved by passion, He was and is moved by Love. He will also disciple/teach you in/for such a time, until He knows you are confident enough, He knows you can do all things for He gives you the strength to do so."

Again, my friend said:

"If it's something you don't genuinely want to do, don't allow yourself, or the enemy to make you feel guilty....because the Holy Spirit doesn't force you to do anything unwillingly. to attempt something that appears to be impossible, is something that needs to be left with a God, who is the only one who can make it a reality....human logic never really fitted into God's possibilities, or His Vision/purpose. if you can discern that there are area's within yourself, that maybe you Haven't allowed God access to, then maybe you need to let Him have full control, open up those parts of you that He wants to give you freedom. Liberty."

Friday, 18 June 2010

I Peter 1:2 Election or Salvation, Which Comes First?

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

The "election" mentioned in the above verse is not the cause of the sanctification of the Spirit, the obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ - rather, we who have the sanctification of the Spirit, the obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ are called "elect" because of having experienced such things.

We are called "elect" according to and through (or, in [YLT]) those experiences.

I Peter 1:2 - What it Means to Be 'Elect'

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father...

It means you are one of those who has made the response to the Gospel which God predetermined would be the doorway through which His grace could be received.

Imagine it this way. Imagine if parents were planning a wedding for their son. "Who shall we invite?" they ask each other. They decide to send-out invitations, and they decide that whoever responds to the invitation will be the people whom they will accept at the wedding feast. So they send-out their invitations. Some people who receive the invitation choose not to come. But those who do could be considered the "elect" - because the parents decided ahead of time that it would be those who accept the invitation whom they would welcome at the feast.

Or imagine it this way. A sporting event is being planned to take place in the city of Melbourne. The organizers desire that everyone in Australia who wants to may come and be a spectator - but they also realize that not everyone will desire to come. So they decide to issue tickets, and they decide that whoever goes to a Ticketek outlet and buys a ticket, will be welcomed to the event. They imagine ahead of time how many people might be likely to respond, and they determine that Melbourne's largest sporting arena should be sufficient to seat them all. The tickets go out to Ticketek offices all over Australia. About 100,000 tickets are sold, as expected.

When the day of the event happens, you could say that those spectators who had purchased tickets and came to the event were the "elect" - even though anyone in Australia who wanted to could have been amongst their number. They are the "elect" in the sense that the organizers planned ahead of time that it would be this way - that although anyone in Australia who wanted to could come, not everyone would desire to, and those who did would buy a ticket, as prescribed.

Although the invitation potentially was more general, only 100,000 responded in the way elected by the organizers and by Ticketek. The organizers had these "elect" in mind when they planned the venue and ticket sales.

In the same way, God has sent the invitation to salvation to all mankind. He has determined that the appropriate response to the invitation is faith. In His mind, He foresees all who will respond in faith. When they respond, He calls them the elect.

They are elect not because He limited who can respond - but because He elected that faith would be the key.

The Gifts of Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues

28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly
teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

Notice that each of the gifts listed in the above Scripture are public ministries. In this Post I want to draw our attention to the last ministry gift listed: the public ministry of tongues and interpretation.

As a public ministry in the church, diversities of tongues was considered by Paul to be important enough to list it along with the roles in the church of apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, then gifts of healings [evangelists], helps [deacons], and governments [pastors/elders].

Like the other offices listed above, God “hath set [or appointed] some [some members] in the church” to function publicly using the gifts of tongues and interpretation.

Tongues as a Distinct Public Function

Throughout I Corinthians 12-14, Paul is primarily dealing with tongues as it is used in a distinct public ministry, rather than discussing how the individual believer can or cannot use tongues in his prayer-life for his own private benefit. Each of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in I Corinthians 12:7-10 are dealt with as public manifestations of the Spirit during a church gathering.

Paul’s whole discussion about the gifts is in the context of what takes place, “when the whole church be come together into one place” (14:23). So when our opening text continues on to say, “do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (verse 29), this is not to imply that some believers will never be meant to speak with tongues ever at all. (All believers today who are baptized with the Holy Spirit may pray with tongues, just as in every account in bible days. Praying in tongues is personally edifying, and is to be encouraged.) Rather, Paul is simply explaining that during any given church meeting, all of us will not need to have the same ministry function. To some it will be given by the Spirit to address the church with tongues and interpretation.

Now let’s consider another verse which also deals specifically with tongues as a ministry in the church.

27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

The above advice (limiting the number of speakers to two, or at the most three, and then only when an interpreter is present) clearly is specific to the use of tongues as a ministry to the church – otherwise we make it inconsistent with occurrences within the Book of Acts.

For example, have you ever wondered why Peter never insisted that only two, or at the most three, be allowed to speak with tongues, at Cornelius’ household? and why he never insisted that they keep silence unless someone interpreted?

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word”, and he “heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” (Acts 10:44,46).

We know this was no small gathering, because it says that Peter went in to the house, “and found MANY that were come together” (verse 27).

What's more, they even interrupted Peter's sermon while they spoke in tongues, for we are told that, “WHILE PETER YET SPAKE these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word” (verse 44).

At Ephesus, Paul didn’t insist on any such protocol or guidelines either. After baptizing certain disciples, we are told, “when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve” (Acts 19:6,7).

It is scriptural to have meetings like that, where the Holy Spirit falls and many speak with tongues at the same time, or everyone prophesies, or sees visions, or are filled with joy - even if no interpreter is present. We've seen meetings where all of this has happened – meetings just like the Pentecostal outpouring in Acts chapter two!

(If it’s been a while since you were in that type of meeting, you could plan such a meeting. Make it happen - like Smith Wigglesworth who said, “If the Holy Ghost doesn't move, I move the Holy Ghost”).

When Paul gave this advice then, clearly he was offering guidelines concerning the specific function of speaking with tongues as a ministry to address an intent audience in the church. By the time Paul wrote this, the Corinthian church had been established long enough for a variety of ministries to become recognized among them. So it had now become necessary for Paul to address the manner in which these gifts were expressed in public.

When it came to the public use of tongues, Paul’s advice to the members exercising this particular gift was: There's not a lot of point for all of you to stand up and hold the floor, drawing everyone’s attention to yourself, to address the congregation with an unknown tongue, since no one understands you. Better to just have two or three of you speak, then let the interpreter speak as well, after you’ve had your say.

The guiding principle of all public ministry to the church, which Paul urged them to keep in mind was, “Let all things be done unto edifying” (14:26).

It’s obvious to anyone that a person needn’t bother holding the floor to address an entire congregation in an unknown tongue – unless someone interprets. It simply wouldn’t be edifying.

However, it’s an entirely different situation if the Holy Spirit is being poured out and everyone begins speaking with tongues, like they did in Cornelius’ house, and at Ephesus, and in Acts chapter two. In such a case, no-one is holding the floor as such; everyone is being filled with the Spirit; and in fact everyone is edified – even without an interpreter.

We can have meetings today like they had in the Book of Acts. It isn’t unscriptural for a congregation to sing or pray together in tongues, because when done in unison, it isn’t obtrusive. Actually this is still decent and orderly.

But when tongues is used for the purpose of addressing a congregation, it is only natural then that someone should interpret, if we are to apply the advice, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (I Cor.14:40). So it is evident that Paul was talking about circumstances where tongues were being used very specifically in a public ministry function.

Making Room for the Gift

I have been a witness to the powerful effect this gift can have in the church and in the community, when it’s given its rightful place alongside the other offices in the church.

In one meeting, the Holy Spirit impressed upon a pastor that before he gave his sermon, he was to speak with tongues, and then a certain brother would interpret.

So he proceeded to speak with tongues, and then stepped down off the stage and handed the microphone to the brother to give the interpretation.

“Come and be healed. Be healed spiritually and emotionally...says the Lord.”

That was a fairly simple message, but what the Pastor did next allowed God to manifest His power to meet the needs of the people that day.

Without any further ado, the pastor led the congregation to respond by inviting people forward who needed to receive healing.

The power of the Holy Spirit manifested with many healings, and one person was delivered from an evil spirit. Needless to say, everybody was eager to hear what the pastor had to preach on after that!

That night, it was the public ministry of tongues and interpretation, coupled with the way the pastor made room for the congregation to respond, that opened-up the way for God to do what He wanted to do in the meeting – things which hadn’t otherwise been planned.

In another church where I was a guest, when I stood to the pulpit to preach—instead I began to speak with tongues. It went on and on, and I wondered when it was ever going to stop. Finally the interpretation began to flow—and I just continued preaching along the same theme as the interpretation. As a result, several were touched by the Holy Spirit with tears, repentance and reconciliation, and some were filled with the Holy Spirit and with joy.

Afterwards one of the elders of the church told me, “This is exactly what we needed.” God knows what a church needs—and sometimes it’s different to what we have in mind.

On that occasion, it was again the gift of tongues and interpretation that inspired the sermon which God wanted to be spoken in the meeting.

Smith Wigglesworth often interjected his sermons with tongues, then he’d interpret them, pouring forth heavenly revelation to the congregation.

Once during another series of meetings, I witnessed how speaking with tongues can begin to reach even the outside community.

When I stood to preach this particular Sunday morning, the anointing was so heavy that I couldn’t preach. Instead, I preached in tongues, and God used someone else to interpret. All over the building there were tears of repentance, people being reconciled, and people getting filled with the Spirit and speaking with tongues, without anybody even laying hands on them.

During that series of meetings, one person claimed he heard about a dozen young people speaking Indonesian; an overseas visitor claimed she heard a remote Chinese dialect; and another person heard his own Maranaw dialect, as people spoke in tongues. This was a sign and a wonder to them.

Many became so drunk, they spoke in tongues for days afterwards. One such girl was still speaking with tongues when she got to school on Monday. “Why haven’t you ever told me you can speak Chinese?” her teacher scolded her. So she asked God for her own language back, so she could explain. When she preached to them, the whole class fell under the power. She prophesied over them. Demons came out of many. They got up off the floor saying with tears, “What have we got to do to be saved?”

This continued for days so that classes couldn’t continue. The Principal called her parents to the school, asking them to sign an affidavit that they would forbid their daughter to preach the Gospel anymore at school, or else risk seeing her expelled. But the more their daughter tried to keep order, the more her fellow students thronged her classroom seeking prayer. Even a TV news camera crew turned-up wanting to interview her. But she didn’t want to attract any more attention to herself.

Then she thought of a way she could see the work of God continue, without attracting any more attention. She could lay her hands on her friends, imparting the anointing to them, so they could be used to spread the work of the Spirit. Everywhere her friends went, they now carried the same anointing, and the work of the Holy Spirit spread to other schools and universities. I visited one lecture hall where the whole contingent was flat on their backs under the power of God. Hundreds began coming to the church.

Notice that it was the phenomenon of speaking with other tongues that sparked this move of God in the community. Paul said, “Tongues are a sign…to them that believe not”. (I’ve always wondered how tongues will ever become a sign to unbelievers, if we never let unbelievers hear them!)

How Tongues Can Open Up a Meeting

The seemingly little gift of tongues can actually have great effect in a church and community, if we let it. To begin with, we need to admit that we need this public office of tongues in our meetings, and we ought to earnestly desire it. Then we need to be practical about giving tongues its place, either during worship, or during the Word. Then so much can be gained or lost, depending on how widely we respond to it. Sometimes instead of just moving-on with the program after an interpretation or prophecy has been given, the meeting leader could consider whether the word is meant to shape the rest of the meeting - and if so, allow time for the congregation to respond and to see the Holy Spirit move. In this way, the interpretation of tongues can have the effect of being much more than simply a word during a meeting. At times it can open up the whole meeting, or even start a whole work of God in the community, as the stories above illustrate.

Altar calls, instead of being the end of a meeting, can become the beginning of the next phase of the meeting. I have observed, after people pick themselves up off the floor and return to their seats, that quite often two people will remain under the power of God. Shortly, one of them will stand and begin to speak in tongues while the other interprets. Then they may begin laying hands on the congregation, usually with a message of repentance and of the need to preach the Gospel because of the soon return of the Lord. All of this would have been missed, if we’d assumed the altar call was the end of the meeting.

In another use of diversities of tongues, brother Hagin would sometimes speak in tongues while his wife would interpret – as a means of giving “counseling” to someone who had come for help.

Interpreting tongues can also be useful in one’s private prayer-life, as a means of obtaining guidance and revelation from the Lord.

When we become practical about giving the Holy Spirit room to do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, through whomever He wants—then we will witness the full place and power that He has ordained for His gifts in the church.

Who May Have This Ministry?

“I would that ye all spake with tongues” (I Cor.14:5), said Paul.

This ministry is not limited to members who also hold another office in the church. Anyone may desire it!

Proofs that Jesus is God

I PETER 1:11
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify...

Christ is Jesus who suffered. The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets of old. It was the Spirit of God who was in the prophets. If Christ was merely a created being such as an angel, his spirit would not have dwelt in the prophets of old, for which of the angels was ever said to indwell a prophet or any man? And if Christ was merely an angel, his spirit would not have been equated with the Holy Ghost - the very Spirit of God!

"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (II Peter 1:21).

6 ...he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

To "believe on", with the kind of promise here mentioned, is an action which only God deserves and a benefit which only God can give.

9 ...him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Christ brought us into his marvellous light. Only God is light. There are angels "of light" that is, of God's light - the light being God, not the angels' own. But here the light is said to belong to the very One who called us out of darkness, that is, Christ.

"I am the light of the world" (John 8:12).

Jesus didn't merely have the light, or bear witness to the light - He is the light. God is light.

I PETER 2:13
13 ...for the Lord's sake...

Jesus is Lord. The Lord is God. Jesus is God.

"And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God" (I Kings 18:39).

I PETER 2:16
16 the servants of God...

First-century Christians believed that Jesus is God. Peter referred to first century Christians as the servants of God. Peter would not have referred to them as the servants of God unless he knew it to be true that Jesus is God.

They could "glorify God in the day of visitation" only if their confessions of Christ as God were truly "good works" (verse 12).

The suffering which they endured with conscience to Christ was said to be with conscience toward God (verse 19).

The whole passage equates serving Christ (as the first century-believers were doing) with serving and being acceptable to God and being in the sight of God of great price and as "well doing" (verses 2:11- 3:18).

I PETER 2:25
25 ...the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Jesus is the good Shepherd. The Shepherd is the Lord. The Lord is the creator. The creator is God. Jesus is God.

"Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture" - Psalm 100:3.

"I am the good shepherd..." (John 10:11).

I PETER 3:16
16 ...your good conversation in Christ.

Believers are in Christ. How could they be "in" a mere man who had died? How could they be "in" a mere created being such as an angel? But God could dwell in them, and they in God. Christ is God.

I PETER 3:18
18 ...the just for the unjust...

Jesus is just. Only God is just. Jesus is God.

I PETER 3:22
22 Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God...

To be on the right hand of God was understood to be equated with divinity, as illustrated by the Scriptures quoted below. No angel or man was ever exalted to the right hand of God. Jesus is God.

"Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord" (Acts 7:56,57).

"And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth" (Luke 22:66-71).

"But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?" (Hebrews 1:13).

"...The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool..." (Mark 12:36).

I PETER 3:22
22 ...angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him.

All beings were made subject to Him, Jesus. He is hereby distinguished from mere angels, authorities and powers. He is exalted to the right hand of God. He is divine. Jesus is God.

I PETER 4:11
11 ...that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ...

The Christian message about Jesus Christ was said to be the oracle of God; the Christian ministry said to be done with the ability of God - and the whole was said to glorify God. Peter told the believers that the sufferings which they were enduring because of their belief that Christ is God, glorified God. The believers were called "the flock of God". Therefore Christ is understood to be intrinsically divine. Jesus is God.

6 I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel:

The Gospel is the grace of Christ. Other Scriptures call it the grace of God. Therefore Christ is equated with God.

"...grace of God..." (I Peter 4:10).

And only God is gracious. Christ is said to be gracious. Therefore Jesus is God.

16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: GOD was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

God was manifest in the flesh. Who was manifest in the flesh? GOD was, speaking of Jesus. Of whom can it be said that He was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory? This is true only of Jesus. And yet the verse says GOD was. Therefore Jesus is GOD.

According to the flow of the verse, who was justified in the Spirit? GOD was. Who was seen of angels? GOD was. Who was preached unto the Gentiles? GOD was. Who was believed on in the world? GOD was. Who was received up into glory? GOD was. The subject of the entire verse never changes - it continues to be GOD throughout. And yet all these incidences are true only of JESUS - they were fulfilled by, and only by, Jesus - whom the context calls GOD. Therefore Jesus is GOD.

Manifest in the flesh. If that's all that the verse said about GOD, some could try to make it mean that God was merely manifesting Himself in the life of a human being by means of an anointing, similar to the way in which Old Testament prophets experienced the Holy Spirit coming upon them. But the remainder of the list includes items which make no other interpretation possible except that Jesus is GOD.

When Old Testament saints were filled with the Spirit of God, the Scripture never used terminology as strong as "GOD was manifest in the flesh." To say, "GOD was manifest in the flesh" is far higher than to speak of the Spirit coming upon or filling a person. GOD Himself was manifested in the flesh, in a physical body, as the person of Jesus - His wonderful person! "In Whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily." Jesus is GOD.

JOHN 1:1-14
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...

The Word was both with God and was God. The Word is Jesus. Therefore Jesus is God.

2 The same was in the beginning with God...

Since He was already in the beginning with God, He stands with God outside of creation, and transcends creation. He was not a created being. To be with God, in the beginning, makes Him equal with God.

3 All things were made by him...

He - the Word, Jesus - made all things. Only God can make all things.

...and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Nothing exists that Jesus did not make. Therefore Jesus is not a created being, such as an angel. He is greater than the angels, for He Himself made the angels. It also means that God did not create Jesus, or else Jesus must have made Himself.

4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Only Jesus had power to lay down His life and to take it up again. Only Jesus has power to have life in Himself and to give life to all who come to Him. Only Jesus will raise us all back to life at the last day. And that life is the light of all men.

10 ...the world was made by him...

Angels don't have creative power - only God does. Therefore Jesus is God.

11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

If He were a mere man, or even an angel, it could not be said of Him that He came unto His own. Israel specifically and mankind generally belongs only to the Creator. Israel belonged only to God. Therefore Jesus is God.

12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name...

Who can give power to become sons of God but God alone? Whose Name alone can give power to become sons of God, simply by believing on His Name? Only God. If believing on a certain person's name is the vehicle through which we can be given the power to become the sons of God, then that certain person must be God. Therefore Jesus' Name is declared to be God. Jesus is God.

14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...

That's Jesus. The Word is a person - Jesus. The Word, the Life, the Light - these didn't just come into some random person such as a prophet - these are the person - Jesus. The physical person who walked amongst the disciples was not merely a man who contained God, and the Word, and the life and the light - He was said to be the Word, He was the Life, He was the Light and He was God. And this was the state of things even before He was born, for He made all things. Jesus is the Light, the Life, the Word - Jesus is God.

...(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father)...

Peter, James and John were eyewitnesses of His glory, on the mount of transfiguration. What type of glory? The glory that was unique to the Son of God. This was not a glory shared by any archangel nor by any man. It was the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.

In what sense was Jesus the only begotten of the Father? In one sense, it means that Jesus was the only person Who, as to His physical body, was begotten by God. Adam was made, not born; and the angels also were made, not born. All of us were born, but through the will of an earthly father and through the will of the flesh, not through God. Jesus alone was born through the will of the Father alone. In that sense, as to His physical body, Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. That makes Him the Son of God. That makes Him divine. There never was nor ever shall be any other Who is God come in the flesh. Only Jesus. There was and only ever shall be one virgin birth. Adam is called the son of God, but he was made, not begotten. Some people believe the angels are also referred to as the sons of God, but they also were made, not begotten. We are also called sons of God, and we also have been begotten: "Of His own will begat He us" - but it is only our spirit that has been born again. Only Jesus was physically begotten of the Father.

But there is another sense in which Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, quite aside from His physical birth. The term only begotten has a broader meaning than what we may think. The Bible calls Isaac, the son of Abraham, "...his only begotten son..." yet we know Abraham already had another son, Ishamael; and later he had other sons too. Abraham eventually had several sons, but Isaac was unique in that only he was born by promise, the only-born of Sarah. So the broad meaning of the term only begotten may be qualified by the context. The Tyndale Translation, 1534 Version translates the Greek word μονογενης υιος as "only son" where the KJV renders it "only begotten son" (John 3:16). The LXX translates the same Greek word in Psalm 25:16 as desolate, meaning, alone. So the meaning is that the disciples beheld Jesus' glory, the glory that was unique to the Son of God and He alone. God has but one Son who is of one substance with the Father and who has the glory of that uniqueness. That is the unique glory which the disciples beheld in Jesus, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father. I myself have seen a vision of the glory of Jesus. And I can testify that He is, "...full of grace and truth."

It is Not of Him That Willeth...But of God

Salvation comes from God. It comes from God, through faith.

The fact that Gentiles were getting saved by faith, and also that some Jews were missing-out because of unbelief was a scenario that had been foreseen by the Prophets. It was by FAITH - not by nationality - that a person stood. Therefore the Roman believers shouldn't gloat over Israelis, because of their new privilege with God. Nor should they think Jews could no longer be saved. Nor should they think God's promises to Jews had somehow failed. God hard fore-ordained that salvation would be by grace through faith. Therefore the Gentile believers also should fear.

The background to Paul's statement is that many Jews in the first century were missing out on the personal experience of salvation that had been promised to them by the Prophets, while a predominantly Gentile church was emerging. Consequently many Roman believers may have been confused, as if God's promises to Israelites through the Prophets had somehow failed. Others might have been at risk of taking their new position with God too lighheartedly.

Paul's objective therefore was to explain the manner of God's dealings with both Jews and Gentiles, in order to prevent the Gentiles from becoming conceited. Paul explained that the Prophets had foreseen all along that Gentile believers would be included as heirs of the promises regarding salvation. He explained that the Prophets also foresaw that unbelieving Jews would also miss-out on experiencing the personal salvation promised by the Prophets, despite their Jewishness. Paul explained that inheriting the promises hinged on faith, not on nationality - exactly as the Prophets had foretold. He explained that seeing an individual stands or falls by his faith, it is therefore possible for a Jewish person to be saved if he starts believing, and it is also vital for Gentiles not to become conceited but to fear, seeing it is only by faith that they stand.

That was the flow of Paul's argument - and then he summarizes it like this: "So then it (the scenario that was unfolding in the first century - the salvation of both Jews and Gentiles by faith, and the exclusion of unbelievers even if they were Jewish) - this scenario is from God, it's the way the Prophets foresaw it - you don't stand because of anything special that you Gentile believers at Rome or anyone else has over and above Israelites, other than your faith". So be not highminded, but fear.

So it doesn't have as much to do with unconditional election, irresistable grace or perseverance of saints as we've thought! That pretty-much eliminates the Calvinist vs Arminian question, doesn't it!

God in His sovereignty mercifully fore-ordained that FAITH - not nationality - would be the requirement for receiving the promises spoken by the Prophets, and the rest would miss-out. No-one planned such a wonderful thing other than God. No-one willed it or worked to pay for such a plan. It came from God's mercy alone. But it also came from His severity - unbelievers miss out. Therefore Gentile believers shouldn't gloat over Israelis in their new privilege with God. They shouldn't think it's impossible for a Jew to be saved. They shouldn't think God's promises had failed. It's all by grace, through faith. Therefore fear.

It's not saying what the hyper-Calvinists are saying. Am I right?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Is the Nuclearization of Iran/Worldwide Islamization the End of the World?

Not necessarily.

Many are claiming that Iran's attempts at nuclearization, and the growth of Islam around the world are sure signs that Christ must return in our generation. I think Christ COULD return at anytime - but He doesn't necessarily have to return in our generation even if there is an Islamization of the world.

Approximately 500 years ago Africa was steeped in witchcraft. Much of Europe was under suni Islamic Ottoman rule. Western Europe was steeped in Catholicism. All of Asia, Australia, the Pacific and the Americas were steeped in witchcraft and idolatry. True Christians were being put to death everywhere, even in Western Europe. Even in England a man was ordered by the king to be burnt to death for the crime of translating the Bible into English! A third of the world's population died within 5 months, of the Black Death. Some of the world's worst ever earthquakes were recorded during that time. America didn't exist. Freedom didn't exist anywhere - not anywhere! But Christ didn't come back. Instead, a reformation movement was slowly rising. It required the blood of martyrs, but a change came.

God could do it again - God could revive society again - even if Islam takes over for several centuries. So God could wait several centuries and then raise up another reformation, another great awakening. It isn't a sign that He HAS TO come back just because things go back to what they were like 500 years ago.

Modern Israel isn't a sign that He must come back in our generation. He allowed Israel to be wiped out once before (in AD70), yet it wasn't the end. So even if Israel gets wiped out again, it COULD BE the end - but it might not be. There are still more Jews living outside of Israel than in Israel. So a few centuries later there could be another regathering. Or we could see the end in our generation. Nobody knows. Or, at least I don't know.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Predestination and Israel's Future - Another Look

I woke up this morning with a thought about Paul's statement:

16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

The meaning of the verse all hinges on what is meant by "it".

"It is not of him that willeth..."

What is not of him that willeth?

I think the answer could be that it was the plan that even a Gentile could be saved by faith and that even a Jew could miss-out because of unbelief, and that an unsaved Jew could end-up being brought to the Lord through a saved Gentile .

That plan - that outcome - was from God's mercy, not from any individual's (Jew or Gentile's) own will or works.

Even the very availability of salvation - to any individual Jew or Gentile - is not something that was made available from the individual's own will or works - it is from God - and through faith.

The background to the statement was that some believers in Rome may have been feeling confused by the apparent failure of God's promises to Israel; and some may have been at risk of taking-for-granted their new privilege with God.

So Paul sought to explain that the availability to Gentile believers of a personal experience of salvation, and also the fact that unbelieving Jews were being excluded from that experience - were both God's doing, not man's. It was consistent with both God's character and also with prophetic Scriptures, that things were turning-out that way.

In order to prevent highmindedness amongst the Gentile believers at Rome (Romans 11: 20 - "Be not highminded, but fear") Paul sought to show that it was God Himself (not man's will or work) who allowed the presentday scenario - the scenario that all who believed (even if they were Gentiles) were experiencing personal salvation (God's promises), while all who did not believe (even if they were Jews) were not experiencing personal salvation (God's promises as spoken by the Prophets).

It was God's mercy which was allowing individual Gentiles to be experiencing salvation through faith, just as as much as it was God's doing that individual Jews who did not believe were not experiencing that salvation spoken-of by the Prophets.

Both were God's doing - both were consistent with His character, and with Biblical precedent, and with Biblical prophecy - therefore none of the Gentile believers at Rome should entertain the idea that God had reneged on His promises to Jewish people (Romans 11:1,2), nor entertain the idea that their new privilege with God was due to anything special that they may have possessed other than their faith (Romans 11:20-23).

So "it" refers to the scenario - the provision - the dispensation that receiving God's promises (the prophesied salvation) all hinged on faith, irrespective of whether the person was Jew or Gentile, having nothing at all to do with man's will or work. This outcome was consistent with God's own character, with His dealings in Scripture, and with statements by the Prophets.

It was God - independent of anything man could will or do - who determined that mercy would be shown to faith while severity would be shown to unbelief - irrespective of whether the person was Jewish or Gentile.

That appears to be what "it" meant.

The above also sheds new light on the next verses, which say:

"For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob..."

Notice it says, "and so..." not "and then...". So it's probably NOT meant to be an end-times prediction about a nationwide revival in Israel after the times of the Gentiles is up. No. It was probably a continuation of Paul's line of thought about the manner in which the Prophets were fulfilled, the manner in which both Jews and Gentiles could get saved, which is, through faith.

It probably meant in effect: "...and what I [Paul] have just finished saying to you [in previous verses and chapters (about Gentile believers experiencing salvation and unbelieving Jews missing-out, and about Jews being led to the Lord through Gentile believers] explains the manner by which any Jewish person must [and can] now be saved, the outcome that was hinted-at by the Prophets..."

If so, then the verse is not necessary a strong proof text for the type of fanstastic futurist eschatology that exists today in regard to Israel in end-times.

Instead, the whole idea was to prevent Gentile believers at Rome from settling on the lees of their own conceited misunderstanding of the Israel/Gentile issue.