Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Sometimes God Has More

Sometimes God has more for us in our meetings than we think.

He might want to fill everyone with the Spirit, and with joy.

But then once He's filled us, He might want to use someone to bring a different manifestation.

Last Monday night a guest speaker had a tent meeting. He didn't use any background music, so the crowd was not hindered from receiving from God, and many were on the floor laughing in the spirit. It was good.

I said to one of my friends sitting in our seats that after almost everyone else gets up off the floor there will likely be a few who will remain on the floor - and that if we allow it, God will likely use one of those to minister something to the congregation. And I pointed-out exactly who I felt that person could be.

Then the preacher left while everyone else was still on the floor. People started getting up off the floor and returned to their seats. Others in the congregation began leaving. But the person I'd pointed out, and a number of others, were still on the floor.

I was longing to see us allow the meeting to go to the next level, like I've seen in other places when we allowed it. But after some time one of the guys started to put some music on. Rather than be resigned to a less-than-optimal meeting, this time I went up to him, "What are you doing?"

He said he was putting some music on.

"I don't think we need it," I said.

"Righto", he said.

Then I said to one of the remaining leaders that if we think what we were seeing happen so far is the peak, then it will be - but if we're willing, it can just be the start of another level - and God can take us there.

"For example," I said, "God might use someone like her," and I pointed to the person on the floor who I'd been sensing the Lord might use, "to bring something from the Spirit for the whole congregation. It could be a totally different type of manifestation."

"Yes it comes in waves. We can wait for the next wave, or we can go", he said.

I asked him if the microphone was still turned on. He brought the mic. to me, but I just pointed at the woman on the floor.

I don't even know who she was. So he put the microphone up to her, and she started singing in the spirit. It was a song of worship and thanks to Jesus. Then it became a song of intercession for the lost on the Gold Coast. Part of it was likely an interpretation of tongues. 

That was something we wouldn't have seen happen if we'd put the music on. I think everyone likely sensed the beauty of it. Some people sensed the gravity of it.

Then he asked if I had anything else. I said no except I sensed something about someone on the other side of the congregation, someone wearing tan-coloured shorts.

I just waited on the Holy Spirit, others carried on enjoying the Lord. Then I sensed the Holy Spirit impress on my heart that it looked like that was it (that was the extent of what the congregation wanted) for tonight.

So the meeting ended. But a few people over the other side lingered. I could see one of them had tan-coloured shorts on.  So I went to him, and I sensed I should pray for him for healing. I told him, and he nodded - so I laid hands on him for healing.

Every one else left the tent, and for a long time only he, his wife and one other person remained, praying for him. I prayed for a while, then left them there.

I felt content that we did go a little bit further into something this time - even though it can still go much wider than what we saw, if only the congregation stays for it, and if only they sense the gravity of it.

In other meetings I've seen two people at the end stand up and speak in tongues and interpret; I've seen one or two go around and lay hands on everyone; I've seen a wave of deliverance from demons come into a room; I've seen laughter turn to repentance and weeping - then back to laughter again; I've see tongues poured out on thecongregation, and interpretation; I've seen visions poured out, and people sharing their visions and prophesying.

Congregation-wide laighter in the spirit isn't an end in itself - it's only the beginning of a deeper level in the Spirit we can still go to. The joy can be but the precursor of other manifestations of the Spirit in the meeting and in the life of the church. And there can even come an overspreading of the Spirit into the unsaved community around us.

We only have to allow it.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Cessationists and Personal Relationship

Yes for some of them it seems Christian maturity is gaged by how expertly a person can wield his definition of terms framed by post-Apostolic, extra-Biblical, non-canonical writers.

Be glad that the dominion once swayed by some such Theonomists was deconstructed and regressed in the last millennium to the point they can no longer impose the death penalty for heresy!

The Five Solas - plus...


Romans 9-11 discusses specific issues of concern to the first-century believers at Rome - and the question which students of Arminius and Calvin debated centuries later was not one of those concerns!

To fail to identify the issues which Paul's statements in those chapters were designed to address, and instead make his statements about a topic which became a popular issue many centuries later, would be a bit like reading instructions in a recipe book about how to avoid a flat cake, and trying to apply the instructions to the question, "How to avoid a flat tyre".

It would be like a baseball landing on a football field in midplay.

Atheists' Question

"If there is a God, why do the innocent suffer?"

That very question demonstrates God is!

Without God, there are no absolutes, and therefore there are no "innocent" - so what's your question!

The Gospel says the Innocent suffered to redeem the guilty, so that the guilty could be made innocent.

Thursday, 26 March 2015


A Statesman is someone who works longterm for the common good of the State ahead of any short-term self-interest.

The Church on earth needs ministers with that heart!

How to Always Succeed in Prayer

The Bible says to pray with all prayer. All prayer means there is more than one type of prayer. For example, there is: the prayer of faith; consecration; committal; petition; intercession; agreement; worship (praise, thanksgiving); praying with an unknown tongue; and group prayer.

The rules that govern one type of prayer won't necessarily work with another type of prayer.

When we learn the rules which govern each type of prayer, our prayer-life won't be such a hit-or-miss affair. We won't be left in the dark concerning God's will and what we can expect to achieve through our prayer.

("The Art of Intercession" by Kenneth E. Hagin, is a good resource on this.)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


The precision of mind, and articulateness of speech, with which you can can point out exactly what's wrong with someone are truly astounding - but what's more noble is to walk in love.

"Love covers a multitude of sins".


You don't need to say, "At 2am in the morning": am means in the morning.

Bunya Mountains - Red Belly Black Snake

Saw a red-bellied black snake, a few metres from the track, at the Bunya Mountains - in February 2015. 


Tweets which link to a Facebook Post. It takes effort to click the link and wait for it to load. Often the linked-to Facebook Post is longer than can be displayed without having to click "continue" and again wait for it to load - plus your eyes have to try to find the position in the text where you were up to. That's a lot of clicking and waiting. And I'm probably already Following you on Facebook anyway.

Tweets which link to an Instagram Post. More clicking and waiting. And pictures in Instagram can't be pinched and enlarged like they can if you'd just used Twit-pic. Many of your Twitter Followers probably also have an Instagram account and already follow yours.

So here's an idea: use Twitter for tweets - 140-character tweets. Then we'll actually have a reason to Follow you on Twitter.

Monday, 23 March 2015

On the Definition of the Coming of the Lord in the Olivet Discourse

Be Magnanimous

Instead of resenting the support one ministry gets, support it - and present other ministries for support also. 

Lifestyle Choice

I've chosen the lifestyle which hopes fully in, and prioritises attaining to, the resurrection of the dead - the high call of God in Christ Jesus.

Being heavenly-minded has made men of the highest earthly good.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Large Family

I've never seen a mother of a large family who didn't look happier for it - and children in a large family seem happier too.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

God Did It

God gave the only sacrifice harder to sacrifice that one's self - one's only begotten son! 

Friday, 20 March 2015

How to Be Led by the Spirit of God

God mainly leads us INTERNALLY, through the:

1. Inner witness
2. Still small voice
3. Authoritative voice

Sometimes He also confirms His internal guidance EXTERNALLY, through:

Visions, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, dreams, an audible voice, circumstances and other external phenomena such as a talking donkey, or a wet or dry fleece, or the sound of rustling in the leaves of a mulberry tree, etc).

But God's usual ways of guiding us are internal - and the most usual way is the INNER WITNESS. 

An inner perception. An inner knowing. The peace of God.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Now to Have Better Meetings

The Holy Spirit has gifts which He likes to bring to your church services:

Words of wisdom; words of knowledge; faith; gifts of healing; the working of miracles; prophecy; discerning of spirits; divers kinds of tongues and the interpretation of tongues (see I Cor.12:7-11).

You can see these gifts expressed in your meetings!

One night after our home-meeting was finished, every one else was having their supper - but I felt dissatisfied. I felt that in Bible-times they saw better things happen in their meetings.

Someone saw me staring, and she asked me, "Do you have a [prophetic] word for me?"

I said, "No - but do you want one?"

I felt so hungry for the expression of the Spirit that I determined to ask God to give me a prophecy for her.

So the two of us began to pray together, and straightaway the Holy Spirit inspired me with some special words to say to her. She felt so encouraged! And I started to feel my hunger satisfied.

Pretty soon every one who was having their supper joined us. We all prayed for each other, one at a time - and the Holy Spirit gave to each of us visions or prophetic words to share with every one. Even some people who had never received such a gift from the Holy Spirit before received and expressed it. It surprised even themselves! (Only one person in the group did not say anything.)

By the end of it everyone felt so encouraged - and so satisfied with being used by the Lord. 

We found that once we deliberately gave time for the expression of the Holy Spirit, the meeting was really only just beginning - even though officially it had actually just finished.

Imagine how much blessing we would have missed that night if we had not deliberately asked for and made room for the Holy Spirit!

You can see the wonderful gifts of the Holy Spirit received and expressed in your meetings by asking for it then deliberately making room for it - even if you've never received such a gift from the Holy Spirit before!

The Gospel isn't Anti-Semitic

I once heard an interview with Gary DeMar. I felt it was far from anti-Semitic, and it enhanced the Gospel thrillingly. So great! I can't say enough how excellently I felt it brought-out the Gospel.

I feel some others though in other circles perhaps might be taking ideas a little off track, when they have difficulty answering why Messiah must minister in Israel first, why the Gospel had to be to the Jews first. It wasn't mere happenstance: prophecy and covenant required it.  

The Apostles seemed to treat that as obvious: Messianic promises concerning Israel HAD to be fulfilled in Israel for Israelis first.

It's just that they saw the promises not as delayed but as fulfilled through Jesus and through the Gospel-scheme, in Israel first of all of necessity - and afterwards also among Gentiles.

They didn't see the need for any future scheme for Israel other than the Gospel.

But neither were they blind to the fact that it all had to start in Israel among Israelis first - for covenantal and prophetic reasons.

I think someone's in a ditch on the opposite side of the road to the ditch Dispensationalists are in, if he can't concede that at all.

So there was due process by which the offer of salvation and the emergence of the Church came about: Jews first, THEN Gentiles - it didn't bypass Israel.

I'd also add that the hope of the future coming of the Lord and resurrection seems to have continued as an integral component of the scheme of things by which the Apostles considered Messianic promises concerning Israel to have been fulfilled.

It was just that they saw Jesus - and Jesus only - as the way - as the door to that future glory. No other future scheme would be required: the Gospel wasn't a mere parenthesis. To the Apostles, the Gospel was the very scheme that had been prophesied - to Jews first, and then Gentiles afterwards also began inheriting the promises - in Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham, making one new man. But the still-future coming and resurrection is part of that Gospel-scheme.

The Gospel is the best means to salvation God had for Israel, for anyone. So anything that brings our full focus back onto the Gospel isn't anti-Semitic - the Gospel is still the best hope of all nations, including of modern Israelis.

Choosing the Will of God

When you come home at night with your spirit doing cartwheels for joy, you know you've done the will of God.

When your spirit is content - not necessarily your emotions, nor your flesh, but your spirit - you know you've done the will of God.

When you sense the Holy Spirit in your spirit congratulating your choices.

Wider Ministry

The more you can submit (get along with people), the more you can (have the opportunity to) minister to others.

The more people you can submit to (get along with), the more people you can have the opportunity to minister to.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Does Israel = Christ?

Prophecies which were about Messiah were fulfilled by the Messiah.

Prophecies which were about all nations are fulfilled in the Church of all nations.

Prophecies which were about Israel were fulfilled in Israel.

Prophecies which were about the Temple were fulfilled in the Temple.

Prophecies which were about Levitical worship were fulfilled by Levitical worship.

There was a difference between a historical event - which could be a type; and a predictive prophecy - which required an exact historical fulfilment. Not all predictive prophecies were symbols. 

God's original promise to Abraham to bless all nations (without distinction) through Christ came about through due process - to the Jews first, and then to Gentiles.

Gentile believers experienced the promised-salvation as well as Jewish believers, not instead of Jewish believers - and Jews first, followed by Gentiles next. 

Bible-prophecy was quite deliberate in its use of terms and identities, and the Apostles always adhered to those terms and identities in defending the emergence of the Church.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Continuation of Covenant?

In Contract Law you can't have two contracts covering the same thing at the same time.

The bringing-in of a new contract implies the old contract is over - completely over.

Even if the new contract includes many of the same clauses as the old contract, that does not mean the old contract has continued - it's still a whole new contract, and the old contract is annulled completely.

In that case what continues is not the old contract, not even part of the old contract - what continues is the nature of the Person who wrote the contracts.

God's nature is love. Therefore love is the fulfilling of the underlying ethics of either contract.

But the new contract is what achieved that outcome, not the old, because it is the new contract which recreated believing Israelites after God's own nature, then Gentiles also became participants in the same contract, forming one new man, thus fulfilling prophecies given about all nations before Israel ever became a nation and before the first contract was even given.

End-Time Terms and Pronouns

No matter how you interpret terms and pronouns in Bible-passages relevant to the coming of Messiah and His Kingdom,  you have to deal with the fact that all such passages connected the ultimate hope - the future resurrection - with that Day.

You also have to deal with the fact that Matthew 25 is part of the same discourse as chapter 24 - it's not a separate discussion. And it describes people of all nations being judged - eternally - not just in a poitical way.

Both of those things did not happen at the Ascension, nor on the Day of Pentecost, nor during the lifetime of Caiaphas nor his cohorts, nor at the death of Nero, nor in AD70 or thereabouts - but we know both of those things will happen at the judgment following the resurrection when the Lord comes.

Power To Tread On Snakes

"The poison of asps is under their lips" (Romans 3:13).

"So many times in this world the poison of asps is under the lips of so many people - and it stings like the sting of an asp.

What are you talking about? I'm talking about backbiting. I'm talking about tailbearing. I'm talking about slandering.

I've been in the ministry - I'm in my 63rd year - this coming August the eighth I will have completed 63 years in the ministry. In all of these 63 years no-one has ever heard me criticise anybody. You've never heard me talk about anybody. They may talk about me, but I pray for 'em. Amen.

But you know, backbiting and tailbearing and slandering and all of those things may sting like an asp - but you've got the power to tread on it.

See I just walk on over it - just walk on over.

I told folks years ago - 25 years ago I said it, and I'm still saying it - if they told on me that I killed my grandma, I'm not even a gonna deny it - I'm just gonna keep shouting and praising God and go on with the Lord. Let 'em say what they want to say.

Thank God for victory!"

- Kenneth E. Hagin
16th February 1997

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Coming Kingdom

One Second Coming

Instead of saying there have been many "comings" of the Lord, as many preterists say, could we instead say there shall be one future second coming and kingdom - inaugurated at the cross, with an undeterminably long period in-between (a period in which the length of time itself is not really of the essence)?

In my mind I'm exploring the possibility that Christ's "coming" in the NT could have a meaning which always (in each NT passage) includes the concept of Christ's second and ultimate coming to earth, rather than ever (in any NT passage) having an exclusively first-century meaning.

Concluding that the NT has a unified concept of Christ's second coming (rather than multiple concepts, some of them applying exclusively to the first-century) would I suppose depend on whether the descriptions surrounding the use of the term "coming" in each passage can or must mutually apply to each other passage.

For example, Paul always seems to connect Christ's coming with the theme of the Church's ultimate hope (which we understand to be the resurrection). Can or must the theme of the resurrection apply in each other passage mentioning Christ's coming?

Consider the passage involving Caiaphas. It is not known whether Caiaphas and his cohorts saw the ascension - it's almost certain Caiaphas did not see AD70. But we do know with certainty that all of them will see the coming of the Lord when they are resurrected to face judgment on the last day. So the fact they died before seeing that Day is not really of the essence - because their judgment is already set.

So it seems to work to super-impose the concept of a future coming (including the concept of the resurrection) onto the passage involving Caiaphas (even though the passage does not explicitly mention the concept of the resurrection). It's quite easy to make that super-imposition onto the passage if we actually believe in a future resurrection.

On the other hand, to exclude the concept of a future coming and resurrection from the passage requires some gymnastics with terms in the passage itself in order to make sense of the passage, in my mind. (It requires playing around with the meaning of words like "you", "ye", see", "coming" and "on the clouds".) It requires giving different meanings to the same terms from one passage to another. It requires treating pronouns and their scope differently from one passage to another.

It seems the Apostles constantly had to work at explaining the apparent delay between the Kingdom's inauguration and its consummation. The concept of the resurrection was their key to unifying both concepts.

So with the concept of a future resurrection in mind, could we can understand Christ's coming and Kingdom as follows:

Jesus indeed inaugurated the Kingdom at the cross - thereafter He indeed ascended into into His glory - there was indeed an outpouring on the Day of Pentecost and onwards - there was indeed the fulfilment in the first century of everything He (and Daniel) had predicted with regard to the Temple and Judaea - and there shall yet come the Day of His coming, His second appearing, when every eye shall see Him, and the dead shall be raised, some to life, others to damnation, when the world shall end, and there shall be new heavens and a new earth wherein only righteousness shall dwell.

The Kingdom Now/Not Yet.

'Inaugurated Eschatology'.

Not multiple "comings" meaning one thing in one passage and something else in another with some applying exclusively to this person's lifetime, another exclusively to the first century, another to the future - but one second coming - with the delay being explainable by the fact that God's promises will not come to pass without this thing called the resurrection.

Paul was willing to be judged on his siding with the resurrection-camp!

The resurrection was at the crux of how he explained the seeming anomalies in his message of the Kingdom.

It does say He will appear the second time - not multiple times in multiple ways - but simply the second time.

Peter said the Prophets foretold that Christ would suffer then enter into His glory - what was little understood, the Apostles said, was that the heavens must receive Him until the time of His second coming.

Whether or not a person dies prior to seeing the promised coming and Kingdom is therefore not of the essence. That principle applies to all of us - including Caiaphas.

The length of time that will span between the destruction of the Temple and the Lord's coming is also not of the essence - intrinsically, covenantally, spiritually speaking. And no-one not even the son of man knew how long that delay must be.

What is of the essence during the interim is that we believe, and look for Him, and that we witness unto Jesus among all nations in the power of the Spirit.

Still weighing it all up...

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Caiaphas Likely Never Saw AD70


June 10.

Rome Times morning paper headlines: 

"Nero is Dead".

In church newsletters the following Sunday:

"The brightness of the Lord's coming has occurred!"

The long-awaited coming of the Kingdom - in power and great glory.

(32 years AFTER the death of Caiaphas the high priest; the destruction of the Temple and fall of Jerusalem still two YEARS in the future; possibly some three decades AFTER the expiration of Daniel's 70th week; further historical persecutions still to follow.)

But don't let anyone suggest there might be more to the blessed hope than that!



Do things that last

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

That Wicked

That Wicked shall be destroyed with the brightness of the Lord's coming (II Thess.2:8).

Does that necessarily mean that Wicked must be alive and remain when the Lord comes? As futurists assert.

Or that the coming of the Lord was to occur while that Wicked was alive and remained? As Preterists assert.

Paul always discussed the coming of the Lord in connection with the still-future hope of the Church - the resurrection. Always!

And it's not only the living but also the dead who will be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ at His appearing and Kingdom (II Tim.4:1).

There is to come a resurrection not only of life but also of damnation (John 5:29).

So whether or not the coming of the Lord coincided with that Wicked's natural lifetime is not really of the essence.

Destruction is coming to all the wicked, not only to the living but also to the dead (Romans 2:9).

Knowing the terror of the Lord, the apostles persuaded men (II Cor.5:11) - not only men in Judaea who might be affected by the events of AD70 - and it did not matter whether or not a man would be alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, because he will face judgment nonetheless, when the Lord comes.

So does the destruction of that Wicked by the brightness of the Lord's coming (II Thess.2:8) really establish the Preterist definition of the "coming of the Lord"?

Or conversely does it necessarily establish the futurist identity of that Wicked?

The New Testament dealt both with things which were to come to pass in the first-century, and also with the still-future coming of the Lord and the resurrection, sometimes in the same context.

Did that really mean everything is now past? or conversely that everything is still future?

Couldn't it just mean that the events of the first century showed that the last days were already inaugurated - and that the consummation of all things (the coming of the Lord) is still to come at a time when no-one knows?

That scheme after all is the overall message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Paul on Defining the Coming of the Lord

Paul used precisely the same terminology as other New Testament writers to discuss the "coming of the Lord": "the day of the Lord"; "trumpet"; and "the end".

Paul linked the coming of the Lord with the resurrection - which, unless you are a full-preterist, is still future.

It would be odd therefore if all the other inspired writers had a different event in mind to Paul, such as AD70 alone.

Restoration of tbe Kingdom to Israel

Speaking of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, Jesus said it is not for us to know the times nor seasons.

They knew it was the time to receive the Holy Spirit - for the  Lord had told them to wait for it at Jerusalem. So the Holy Spirit was not the restoration.

They also knew an approximate timeframe for the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem - for they had Daniel's and Jesus' stated timeframe for that. So the replacement of the polity of Israel in AD70 was not the restoration.

Because no-one was to know the timing for that!

The restoration really is the second coming. No-one knows when it will be. Only the true Israel shall see it, with Gentile believers also, without distinction.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Matthew 24

It seems possible to me that Jesus discussed both AD70 events and His (still-future) coming, in the Olivet discourse. Not even He knew how much time must lapse between the two.

I don't think I believe in a double-fulfilment in future of those parts which have already been fulfilled in the first century though. If His coming is still future, then I think it ought to be possible to more-or-less differentiate between first-century events and His still-future coming, in the Olivet discourse.

If Jesus didn't discuss BOTH themes in the Olivet Discourse, then aside from full-preterism or popular futurism, the only other alternative would be to say that Paul used identical terminology to the Gospels (terms like "coming" and "trumpet") while meaning something different. Which to me is still awkward.

If it's true that Jesus discussed both AD70 events AND His still-future coming in the Olivet Discourse, then it could mean that the intrinsic nature of the days isn't going to change much during the interim timespan. That might have implications with regards to the Post-Millennial outlook. The forecast could be more a-Millennial.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Number of Tongues Speakers

I said three "utterances" in tongues to cover both possibilities. (I figured that if Paul meant three speakers, then that would involve three utterances anyway - so saying three "utterances" rather than three speakers covers both possibilities without taking a side between the translation options. It wasn't necessary to my purpose in this Post to take a side on that.)

As for reconciling Paul's instructions with the Book of Acts, I don't think the Holy Spirit would inspire something to happen early in the Church, only to inspire instructions to be written against that very thing later in the history of the Church. So since the Holy Spirit inspired more than three people to speak with tongues on one occasion, it follows that He wouldn't be against it on another occasion if the circumstances were the same.

I therefore conclude that Paul's advice to the Corinthians to limit utterances in tongues to two or three, must have been with different circumstances in mind than the circumstances in the upper room (and the circumstances at Cornelius' house, and at Ephesus).

I don't see why God would approve of an unlimited number of utterances in tongues during an evangelistic event, only to restrict it to two or three during a Church event. Is God less interested in speaking to His people supernaturally than He is to unbelieving people? Is it any harder to listen to more than three speakers in church than it is out on the streets?

If God approves of everyone prophesying one by one, so long as the prophecies are intermitted by one judging in every three, as you have suggested, why would He then disapprove of more than one cycle of three utterances in tongues followed by interpretation, seeing tongues with interpretation is equal to prophecy in its ability to edify a congregation?

Paul didn't seem to decry "if all speak with tongues" any more than he decried that "ye may all prophecy one by one" - his only concern seemed to be that it be interpreted or judged.

So if Paul allowed any number of prophecies, then it's conceivable he also allowed any number of utterances in tongues - so long as it was interpreted.

But no matter whether Paul allowed more than three with one interpreting, or limited it to three, we still have some reconciling to do with the Book of Acts - because in the Book of Acts it doesn't state that the three-to-one ratio of speakers to interpreter/judge took place.

Perhaps it's helpful to see that at Corinth, speakers were standing up, holding the floor, addressing the congregation, and expecting the congregation's undivided attention - while in the instances in the Book of Acts, no-one was addressing the congregation per se, no-one was holding the floor as such, no-one was being obtrusive, no-one was drawing the congregation's undivided attention to himself, rather everyone was being filled with the Spirit and speaking with tongues.

If an unbeliever is going to think a group of tongues-speakers are mad just because of the fact of speaking with unknown tongues, then he's going to think they're mad no matter whether fewer than three or the whole group are speaking with unknown tongues. So limiting the number of speakers to three can't avoid an unbeliever thinking they're mad, if it was the fact of speaking in an unknown tongue alone that was the issue.

Perhaps the issue was simply that the Corinthians were taking turns at addressing the congregation in unknown tongues, one by one, week after week, without any thought to whether anyone got anything out of it. Anyone with common sense would question the sense in that!

But on other circumstances when no-one was actually addressing the congregation, but instead everyone was being filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues, in those instances there was never any concern that unbelievers might think they were mad - rather, that very phenomenon itself was a sign to everyone who witnessed it.

In Jerusalem that phenomenon resulted in 3000 getting saved. In Cornelius' household it resulted in Peter understanding that God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. At Ephesus it confirmed the Gospel as the completion of John the Baptist's message. Never in those circumstances was anyone concerned that there had been more than three utterances in tongues - there was no mention of the three-to-one ratio involving an interpreter/judge - because no-one was holding the floor as such.

Paul's advice to the Corinthians was really quite practical: there was no point them addressing a congregation if the congregation didn't understand. But as for praying in tongues - and as for circumstances where everyone is speaking with tongues together without anyone actually addressing the congregation - then it was likely fine - if the Book of Acts is any example to us at all.

So if the leader of a prayer meeting says, "Lets's all spend a moment praying in tongues to God", unbelievers wouldn't necessarily think that action lacked common sense, provided their issue wasn't with the phenomenon of tongues itself irrespective of how many were speaking it.

Or if the Holy Spirit falls on a meeting and everyone begins speaking with tongues, unbelievers' first thought wouldn't be that these people lacked common courtesy.

But if everyone is lecturing to an audience in unknown tongues without anyone understanding, then unbelievers would straightaway think that action lacked common sense and courtesy.

Comparing the incidences in Acts with the circumstances at Corinth is a bit like comparing the protocol among spectators in a basketball arena with the protocol of lecturers in a lecture hall.

In a basket ball stadium it doesn't matter that the spectators are all carrying on conversations in different languages all at the same time. But in a lecture hall it would lack common sense and courtesy if lecturers take the podium and continuously spoke in unknown languages without ever using a translator.

Does that explanation work?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Denominational Mood

I think some Christians' view of the Gospel is in some respects still flavored by the prevailing political environment in which their particular denomination was formed.

For example I reckon I can almost tell whether a preacher on TV comes from a former Confederate State, just by the mood with which he presents the Gospel.

Sometimes I've listened to the mood with which members of a particular denomination discuss Christian things, and I've felt like telling them, "Relax. It's okay. This is 21st Century Australia. You're not seen as a Dissenter".

Whole denominations seem to have retained the mood of their particular denomination's political struggle in Europe centuries ago, then unknowingly they impose that mood onto the way they understand and present the Gospel message itself today.

It also seems to affect the mood with which they respond to those who don't yet understand every detail precisely as they think they should.

For example some constantly present the Gospel with an us-against-them mood - you hear tones of defensiveness, aggression and protest in their delivery, even though they're presenting good news, even though no-one is disagreeing with them, or if they are no-one is threatening to imprison them for it. Yet the mood persists. Some can be quite volatile in the way they react to those who don't understand as they do.

I think I perceive this sometimes in believers from southern States; or in denominations with Scottish origins; or Dissenter origins; or Theonomist origins.

It's like a spirit that affected the founder of a denomination or of a theology can carry down from its founder - and even affects whole nations and history for centuries.

Meanwhile other denominations and entire nations have retained a far more docile outlook, some even err on the side of being too sociable at the expense of good theology and evangelicalism - and the reasons for it can sometimes be traced all the way back to the political environment in which their particular denomination or theology was forged. Or to the spirit of their founder.

Compare an evangelical Anglican church-worker with a Bible-thumping Bible-Belt fundamentalist, for example. Their denominations' former political climates had a lot to do with the mood that still prevails today.

Chinese believers can perceive a Bible-passage quite differently to the way believers in Beverley Hills perceive the same passage.

It's possible for us all to be unaware of what spirit is influencing us - even when we think we are defending the truth; even when we think we have a Scriptural basis. Jesus told His disciples of this.

So it might pay to consider whether we are perceiving the Gospel in truth; whether we are presenting the Gospel as the good news that it is - and whether we respond to others in a way that becomes the good news.

Our particular theology or denomination or family or culture might not necessarily always perceive nor express the true and good fragrance of the Gospel in all its intended beauty and power.

Tongues Weren't for Preaching

Those who were speaking in tongues had already heard the Word, received it, and believed it.

The sign of speaking with tongues followed those (those who had already heard and believed the Word).

So the Word came first.

The sign which followed was a sign to the unbelievers who heard it. It got their attention. But it did not inform them what they must do.

Peter still had to preach the Word. And then they got baptised.

So tongues was not for the purpose of preaching the Gospel - or else Peter would not have needed to preach the Gospel as well.

Tongues, and preaching the Gospel, are two separate things.


In I Cor.14 Paul was addressing the Corinthians' habit of everyone lecturing the church in unknown languages with no interpretation. No-one was understanding anything.

But when the Holy Spirit falls and everyone gets filled, no-one is actually addressing the congregation. They're all getting filled, all speaking with tongues, at once. It doesn't happen everyday. And that's fine. It's not a lecture. 

Otherwise we set Paul off against the Book of Acts.

Israel in Prophecy

In Old Testament prophecy, the prophets said 'gentiles' when they meant Gentiles, and they meant Israel when they said 'Israel'.

Through that order and process, God made one new man where there is no longer any covenantal or spiritual distinction.

But that end-result came about through the historical fulfilment in Israel of God's promises for Israel first, then after that through the fulfilment among Gentiles of God's promises for Gentiles.

If we don't distinctly see that due-process, then there really was no need for Messiah to have ministered in Israel first, nor even to have been born in the line of David and of Abraham at all. But because those details were important, it narrowed down the criteria of the Messiah - and Jesus alone fulfilled all the criteria - spiritually, physically, geographically, chronologically - in every point!

This due process takes away nothing from the truth that only true Israelis in Israel fully experienced the promise; takes away nothing from the truth that Gentiles also experience it; takes away nothing from the truth that one new man was created as a result. 

All Speak With Tongues

Last night Pakistan played Zimbabwe in cricket in Brisbane. The spectators included crowds of many nations. Conversations were going on in many languages, all at once, all around the stadium, all night. And no-one thought anyone was mad.

But if you walk in on a lecture in a lecture-room, and see every lecturer who holds the floor lecturing in a different unknown language, one after the other, with no interpretation at any point, and this was going on week after week, pretty soon you would question the common sense not only of the faculty but also of those in the audience!

Similarly what was going on at Corinth wasn't helpful - but what occurred in the upper room in Jerusalem, and at Cornelius' household, and at Ephesus, and when the Holy Spirit fell on the Church again as at the beginning, where there were more than three utterances in tongues - was fine because no-one was holding the floor per se, addressing the congregation as such, and expecting undivided attention. It was a general outpouring of the Spirit.

But at Corinth people were addressing the congregation. That's pointless unless it's understood - that's common sense.

So if we're not actually addressing a congregation, it's fine to have moments where everyone gets filled with the Spirit and speaks with tongues. This very thing impressed unbelievers once before to the effect that 3000 got saved! 

It can happen again.