Monday, November 7, 2011

Is Cessationism the fruit of Deism and Atheism? A Reformed-Charismatic’s response to Mark Driscoll (…as well as his critics)

1. What’s all the fuss about?

   At a Resurgence conference held in Orlando, Florida this year on the topic of “Our Fathers, Our Future”. Speakers included Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, R.C. Sproul, Tullian Tchividjian and others.
   Of particular note was a message delivered by Driscoll entitled “4 Points of the Movement”[i] wherein he examined four common features among those associated with the recent resurgence of Reformed theology:

1. Calvinistic Theology
2. Complementarianism
3. Spirit-filled living
4. Missional Ministry

What has created a furor throughout the Internet has been Driscoll’s comments on the third point:

   While it is public knowledge that Mark Driscoll is, in his own words, a “Charismatic with a seat-belt”, the above clip has landed Driscoll in hot water from those that actually do hold to a cessationist position. While some have taken the time to respond to Driscoll’s comments sensibly and objectively, others have simply seen this as an opportunity to attempt to discredit both Driscoll’s person and ministry, while at the same time seeking to use this to level criticism at those who embrace continuationism.

   Let me say off the bat that I have been a follower of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church for quite some time, and have been blessed by the depth of teaching that has come forth. I have also – unlike many of the critics – had the opportunity of seeing Mark Driscoll preach in person, and also have the privilege of meeting him afterwards where I was able to ask him questions relating to church ministry and outreach.[ii]

   The purpose of this article is to:
1. Clarify Mark Driscoll’s stance on Continuatinist theology
2. Address the responses and concerns of the critics
3. Examine how this may impact the wider body of Christ


2. A primer on Continuationist Theology

   At first you may be thinking “Why do we need a primer? Why not just jump into what Driscoll believes?”
   When dealing with the nature of continuationist theology, it is important that we realize that we are not dealing a single, unified movement within Christendom. While “Charismatic” may be used to denote anyone and everyone who affirms the continuation of the miraculous spiritual gifts of the New Testament, within the confines of such an umbrella, one will find a plethora of conflicting views and opinions, that the obvious question is “Why do I start?”   
   Without acknowledging the differences and similarities between the following streams of continuationist theology, one risks stereotyping, misinformation and the unnecessary appeals to strawman fallacies.

2.1 Pentecostalism

   Pentecostalism as a movement does not have a single founder per se, but rather is the outhrowth of several ministries that arose within the Wesleyen Holiness movement of the late 19th century and early 20th. The Holiness preachers were known for their bold evangelistic ministries, calls to piety and the need for sanctified living.
   Many nonetheless attribute the “dawn” of Pentecostalism to the ministry of William Seymour and the Asuza Street Revival which began in Los Angeles during 1906, though similar revivals were also occurring simultaneously in Wales under Evan Roberts; in Britain with the Salvation Army under General William Booth, and also the missionary movements spreading throughout south-east asia.
   Born in 1870, William Seymour was born into an African-American slave family in Louisiana. As a young man, he became a student at a newly formed Bible College based in Houston, Texas in 1905 under the direction of Charles Parnham, a prominent Wesleyan-Holiness minister. Although Seymour was granted admission into Parnham’s college, the practice of racial segregation at that time (of which Parnham was an unabashed endorser) prohibited Seymour from sitting in on lectures and classes with his fellow students. At best, all Seymour could do was sit outside the classroom and eavesdrop.[iii]  
   After completing his studies, Seymour moved to Los Angeles, California to begin ministry as an evangelist. Basing his ministry in a small chapel located on Azusa Street, Seymour begun to conduct revival meetings. It was in these meetings that congregants who were deep in prayer started to voice unintelligible utterances. It was Seymour’s belief that these utterances were in fact the glossia, or Tongues, that came upon the believers during the feast of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts.
   These Tongues, Seymour taught, was the outward evidence of the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” – subsequent to regeneration, the Holy Spirit empowers a believer with the Spiritual Gifts necessary for ministry and witness. Soon, testimonies of these Tongues, as well as prophecies and miraculous healings were filling the headlines of American news media.[iv]

   The concept of a “Second Blessing” of the Holy Spirit subsequent to conversion was by no means a new idea. Drawing from the teachings of John Wesley, the Holiness preachers taught that there was available for believers an empowering grace for the purpose of Total Sanctification, after which a believer was free to fulfill their calling to ministry. Consider the following testimony from R.A. Torrey regarding his experiences with evangelist D.L. Moody:

The seventh thing that was the secret of why God used D. L. Moody was that he had a very definite enduement with power from on High, a very clear and definite baptism with the Holy Ghost. Moody knew he had "the baptism with the Holy Ghost"; he had no doubt about it. In his early days he was a great hustler; he had a tremendous desire to do something, but he had no real power. He worked very largely in the energy of the flesh.
But there were two humble Free Methodist women who used to come over to his meetings in the Y.M.C.A. One was "Auntie Cook" and the other, Mrs. Snow. (I think her name was not Snow at that time.) These two women would come to Mr. Moody at the close of his meetings and say: "We are praying for you." Finally, Mr. Moody became somewhat nettled and said to them one night: "Why are you praying for me? Why don't you pray for the unsaved?" They replied: "We are praying that you may get the power." Mr. Moody did not know what that meant, but he got to thinking about it, and then went to these women and said: "I wish you would tell me what you mean"; and they told him about the definite baptism with the Holy Ghost. Then he asked that he might pray with them and not they merely pray for him.
 Auntie Cook once told me of the intense fervor with which Mr. Moody prayed on that occasion. She told me in words that I scarcely dare repeat, though I have never forgotten them. And he not only prayed with them, but he also prayed alone.  
      Not long after, one day on his way to England, he was walking up Wall Street in New York; (Mr. Moody very seldom told this and I almost hesitate to tell it) and in the midst of the bustle and hurry of that city his prayer was answered; the power of God fell upon him as he walked up the street and he had to hurry off to the house of a friend and ask that he might have a room by himself, and in that room he stayed alone for hours; and the Holy Ghost came upon him, filling his soul with such joy that at last he had to ask God to withhold His hand, lest he die on the spot from very joy. He went out from that place with the power of the Holy Ghost upon him, and when he got to London (partly through the prayers of a bedridden saint in Mr. Lessey's church), the power of God wrought through him mightily in North London, and hundreds were added to the churches; and that was what led to his being invited over to the wonderful campaign that followed in later years.

Time and again Mr. Moody would come to me and say: "Torrey, I want you to preach on the baptism with the Holy Ghost." I do not know how many times he asked me to speak on that subject. Once, when I had been invited to preach in the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York (invited at Mr. Moody's suggestion; had it not been for his suggestion the invitation would never have been extended to me), just before I started for New York, Mr. Moody drove up to my house and said: "Torrey, they want you to preach at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. It is a great big church, cost a million dollars to build it." Then he continued: "Torrey, I just want to ask one thing of you. I want to tell you what to preach about. You will preach that sermon of yours on 'Ten Reasons Why I Believe the Bible to Be the Word of God' and your sermon on 'The Baptism With the Holy Ghost.'"
Time and again, when a call came to me to go off to some church, he would come up to me and say: "Now, Torrey, be sure and preach on the baptism with the Holy Ghost." I do not know how many times he said that to me. Once I asked him: "Mr. Moody, don't you think I have any sermons but those two: 'Ten Reasons Why I Believe the Bible to Be the Word of God' and 'The Baptism With the Holy Ghost'?" "Never mind that," he replied, "you give them those two sermons.”
Once he had some teachers at Northfield -- fine men, all of them, but they did not believe in a definite baptism with the Holy Ghost for the individual. They believed that every child of God was baptized with the Holy Ghost, and they did not believe in any special baptism with the Holy Ghost for the individual. Mr. Moody came to me and said: "Torrey, will you come up to my house after the meeting tonight and I will get those men to come, and I want you to talk this thing out with them."
Of course, I very readily consented, and Mr. Moody and I talked for a long time, but they did not altogether see eye to eye with us. And when they went, Mr. Moody signaled me to remain for a few moments. Mr. Moody sat there with his chin on his breast, as he so often sat when he was in deep thought; then he looked up and said: "Oh, why will they split hairs? Why don't they see that this is just the one thing that they themselves need? They are good teachers, they are wonderful teachers, and I am so glad to have them here; but why will they not see that the baptism with the Holy Ghost is just the one touch that they themselves need?"
I shall never forget the eighth of July, 1894, to my dying day. It was the closing day of the Northfield Students' Conference -- the gathering of the students from the eastern colleges. Mr. Moody had asked me to preach on Saturday night and Sunday morning on the baptism with the Holy Ghost. On Saturday night I had spoken about, "The Baptism With the Holy Ghost: What It Is; What It Does; the Need of It and the Possibility of It." On Sunday morning I spoke on "The Baptism With the Holy Spirit: How to Get It." It was just exactly twelve o'clock when I finished my morning sermon, and I took out my watch and said: "Mr. Moody has invited us all to go up to the mountain at three o'clock this afternoon to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. It is three hours to three o'clock. Some of you cannot wait three hours. You do not need to wait. Go to your rooms; go out into the woods; go to your tent; go anywhere where you can get alone with God and have this matter out with Him."
At three o’clock, we all gathered in front of Mr. Moody's mother's house (she was then still living), and then began to pass down the lane, through the gate, up on the mountainside. There were four hundred and fifty-six of us in all; I know the number because Paul Moody counted us as we passed through the gate.
After a while Mr. Moody said: "I don't think we need to go any further; let us sit down here." We sat down on stumps and logs and on the ground. Mr. Moody said: "Have any of you students anything to say?" I think about seventy-five of them arose, one after the other, and said: "Mr. Moody, I could not wait till three o'clock; I have been alone with God since the morning service, and I believe I have a right to say that I have been baptized with the Holy Spirit."
     When these testimonies were over, Mr. Moody said: "Young men, I can't see any reason why we shouldn't kneel down here right now and ask God that the Holy Ghost may fall upon us just as definitely as He fell upon the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. Let us pray." And we did pray, there on the mountainside. As we had gone up the mountainside heavy clouds had been gathering, and just as we began to pray, those clouds broke and the raindrops began to fall through the overhanging pines. But there was another cloud that had been gathering over Northfield for ten days, a cloud big with the mercy and grace and power of God; and as we began to pray, our prayers seemed to pierce that cloud and the Holy Ghost fell upon us. Men and women, that is what we all need: the Baptism with the Holy Ghost.[v]
   William Seymour’s revival meetings at Azusa Street lasted from 1906-1910. During this time, Seymour attracted the criticism of the wider Body of Christ throughout the United States not just for his claims that the charismata were alive and active in Los Angeles, but for his other positions such as racial equality, progressive sanctification (as opposed to total as taught by the Holiness preachers), an egalitarian view of gender roles in ministry and a Pre-Millennial eschatology favoring a Pre-Tribulation view of the rapture. Some of Seymour’s critics dismissed the revival as nothing more than sheer emotionalism. Others went as far as to label the manifestations as nothing short of demonic counterfeits.

   The Azusa Street Revival in turn spawned several new movements and denominations including Foursquare, Church of God in Christ and The Assemblies of God. Today, the Assemblies of Go is one of the largest protestant denominations in the USA (The Southern Baptist Convention coming second).   

   The faith statement of the AOG General Assembly is quite detailed with regards to its doctrine, both in terms of primary essentials as well as secondary distinctives with many scripture proofs used to support each point.[vi] These statements are summarized in the “Statement of Fundamental Truths”

1. The Bible is inspired by God and is "the infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct".

2. There is only one true God who exists as a Trinity.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God and, as the second person of the Trinity, is God.

4. Man was created good by God but was separated from God through
original sin.

Salvation "is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ".

6. There are two
ordinances. Believer's baptism by immersion is a declaration to the world of the believer's faith in Christ.
Lord's Supper is a symbolic remembrance of Christ's suffering and death.

Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a separate and subsequent experience following conversion. Spirit baptism brings empowerment to live an overcoming Christian life and to be an effective witness.

Speaking in tongues is the initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Sanctification is "an act of separation from that which is evil, and of dedication unto God". It occurs when the believer identifies with, and has faith in, Christ in his death and resurrection. It is understood to be a process in that it requires continual yielding to the Holy Spirit.

10. The
Church's mission is to seek and save all who are lost in sin; the Church is the Body of Christ and consists of all people who accept Christ, regardless of Christian denomination.

11. Divinely called and scripturally-ordained
ministers serve the Church.

Divine healing of the sick is provided for in the atonement.

13. The "imminent and blessed hope" of the Church is its
rapture preceding the bodily return of Christ to earth.

14. The rapture of the Church will be followed by the visible return of Christ and his reign on earth for a thousand years.

15. There will be a
final judgment and eternal damnation for the "wicked dead".

16. There will be future new
heavens and a new earth "wherein dwelleth righteousness".[vii]

Statements 1-6 are easily recognizable as consistent with orthodox, historic Christianity. Statements 7-9 and 12 deal with Pentecostal pneumatology while 13-16 are eschatological.

   Prominent Pentecostals include:
- Smith Wigglesworth (1859-1947)
- Kevin Conner (1927-)
- David Wilkerson (1931-2011)
- Pat Boone (1934-)
- Jack Hayford (1934-)
- Chuck Norris (1940-)
- Dolly Parton (1946-)
- Wayne Cordeiro (1952-)
- Denzel Washington (1954-)
- Geoff Bullock (1955-)
- John Bevere (1959-)
- Darlene Zschech (1965-)
- Judah Smith (1978-)

2.2 The Charismatic Renewal

   The Azusa Street revival, as well as it’s sister movements in Wales, as well as the advent of the Salvation Army brought to the 20th Century Church a renewed enthusiasm, especially when much of the church was going down the proverbial drain.
   The practice of Literary and Higher Criticism in seminaries and universities throughout the world led the Bible to be seen by professing “Christian” scholars not as the infallible, inerrant and inspired Word of God, but rather as a human work to be reviewed, scrutinized and critiqued as one would any other writing. To the Liberals, Christianity was in dire need of rescue from it’s worst enemy and hindrance to progression: itself. The Liberals south to cleanse the Christian faith from “outdated”, “superstitious” beliefs such as the miraculous, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the literal 6-day creation, et al; in favor for a worldview consistent with the growing social trends and customs. To contend otherwise was tantamount to intellectual suicide.
   This was a complete antithesis of true evangelicalism, which was distinguished by

- The Need for conversion as a personal experience for the individual
- Active commitment to personal evangelism
- High regard for Biblical authority
- High regard for the Person and Work of Jesus Christ

   In spite of this, evangelicalism wasn’t planning on going down without a fight. A few committed ministers were committed to refuting the Liberals, and affirming the fundamentals of the Christian faith. In popular media, the term “Fundamentalist” is often used as a by-word to denote anyone who will utilize a religious label with the intent of harmful extremism; Fundamentalism as a movement however, was not about extremes per se, but rather, the affirmation of essentials.  

   Not only did [Charles] Darwin’s understanding of natural selection undermine God’s role in creation and providence, but new approaches to the study of ancient texts also raised doubts about the divine character of the Bible. If Darwin’s study of the various mechanisms of nature that might account for the variety of species seemed to make God unnecessary for the beginning and preservation of the natural world, so too did the examination of the Bible’s literary and historical qualities tend to play down the necessity of divine inspiration for the composition of Scripture. In both cases, the problems raised by evolutionary theory and by higher criticism, which emphasized the natural, or human, aspects of human and biblical origins, meant that the divine contribution either to creation or the inspiration of the Bible became marginal or even doubtful. Instead of God creating man and woman by divine fiat, and instead of the Holy Spirit inspiring the prophets and apostles to write the canonical texts, the new scholarship in biology and biblical studies taught that science could explain the uniqueness of man or the Bible on grounds that were observable or quantifiable — as any good science did.
   These intellectual challenges, aided and abetted by new academic institutions such as the research university and graduate programs that generated specialized scholarship, were important factors that would eventually pull Protestants into rival camps. On the one side, the modernists attempted to accommodate the new science so that the churches would not look like obstacles to progress and the advance of knowledge. The way modernists embraced the new ideas was to downplay the supernatural and miraculous aspects of Christianity as matters that were peripheral to the faith’s ethical and spiritual core. In effect, modernists attempted to naturalize Christianity so that it would not conflict with the new science and the social progress it appeared to beckon.
   On the other side, fundamentalists dug in their heels (rightly so) on the supernatural and miraculous character of Christianity and especially the person and work of Christ. Practically any list of the so‑called fundamentals, the list of essential doctrines from which fundamentalists took their name, featured the virgin birth, miraculous deeds, vicarious death, and resurrection of Christ, along with affirmations of the inerrancy of the Bible because of its divine authorship, as well as the miraculous nature of regeneration or the new birth.[viii]

   The Fundamentalist movement gave evangelicalism the necessary sustenance for orthodoxy to stay alive in such challenging times. It also saw the rise of new ministries such as the publication of Christianity Today under editor J.I. Packer and the thousands led to Christ via the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

   At first, the relationship between Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism was shaky at best. Maintaning the cessationist position of mainstream prostestantism from the past centuries, many within early 20th Century Fundamentalism saw the Pentecostals’ emphasis on the experiential, as well as the exercise of relevatory gifts such as tongues and prophecy as a compromise to the authority of Scripture. The Pentecostals on the other hand, while by no means disagreeing with the Fundamentalists’ passion to contend for the essential convictions of the Christian faith, felt that Fundamentalism was at risk of becoming dry and legalistic. 

   In spite of this conflict, there were nonetheless those from both evangelicalism and Pentecostalism who were asking the question as to whether the two movements were indeed mutually exclusive, or whether a middle ground could be achieved incorporating both he evangelicals’ commitment to affirming the essential convictions of biblical Christianity, while also allowing for the experiential elements of Pentecostalism, notably the return of the charismata

   Towards the sixties and seventies, such mergers did indeed arise; most notably in the form of The Calvary Chapel movement under Chuck Smith, and The Vineyard under John Wimber.

   At its beginning, Calvary Chapel operated as a cross-cultural missions organization that bridged the "generation gap" as it existed during the Vietnam War period. Calvary Chapel was a hub of the "Jesus People" phenomenon that existed at that time and was featured in Time Magazine for its success among "hippies" and young people; one of the most popularly known converts being musician Keith Green:

Doctrinally, Calvary Chapel is Dispensational in eschatology, Arminian in view of salvation, while placing a strong emphasis in verse-by-verse expository preaching. In addition to Chuck Smith, prominent Calvary Chapel pastors include Chuck Missler and evangelist Greg Laurie:

The first Vineyard Church started when Kenn Gulliksen brought together two Bible studies, both meeting at the houses of singer/songwriters:
Larry Norman and Chuck Girard. In early 1975, thirteen groups met at the Beverley Hills Women's club.
In 1977,
John Wimber, an evangelical pastor and teacher on church growth, founded a Calvary Chapel in Yorba Linda, California.
   In addition to emphasizing the operation of the charismata within the local church, Wimber also started to emphasize the need for “Power Evangelism”, that is, gospel presentation enriched with tangible signs and wonders which would point unbelievers to the reality of God. Wimber writes:

Modern humanists – those who embrace secularism, self-reliance, materialism and rationalism – no longer believe it is possible to arrive to arrive rationally at objective moral and spiritual truth. Ironically, there are are many rational inconsistancies in the way humanists think. For example, while believing in consistent, closed material universe that may be understood only by scientific enquiry, at the same time they hold relativistic assumptions about religion and morality. Beliving that “whatever you belive is okay for you” assumes a plurality of maral systems. In that regard most secularists hold to an internally inconsistent worlview
   This accounts for the current growth in many western societies of philosophies developed from aspects of Eastern and New Age thought, e.g, Transcendental Meditation. On the surfance, interest in these philosophies seems to contradict what one would expect from a humanistic worldview, but most modern humanists are not rigously rational. They frequently acknowledge there is a spiritual or moral world that lies outside the rational, which can only be known through personal experience. Even the most rationalistic, humanistic people seem to recognize intuitively that there is more to human existence than the material, the rational, the scientific. People everywhere – even Westerners conditioned to believe there is nothing beyond what scientists tell us – feel the need to reach out for something more, something beyond the rational, something spiritual. This gives rise to people getting involved in the New Age outside of Christianity, and in charismatic experiences within.[ix]  

Wimber's teaching on healing and the ministry of the Holy Spirit eventually led to conflict with Calvary Chapel. In a meeting with Calvary Chapel leaders, it was suggested that Wimber's church stop using the Calvary name and affiliate with Gulliksen's Vineyard movement. In 1982, Wimber's church changed its name to the Anaheim Vineyard Christian Fellowship. Gulliksen turned over the churches in under his oversight to Wimber, beginning his leadership of the Vineyard movement.
   Vineyard is not a denomination per se, hence many of it’s early  leaders came from a diverse range of theological backgrounds including arminians and calvinists, dispensationalists and covenentors. Indeed, most of such leaders were actually pastors from conservative evangelical backgrounds.
   Vineyard also contributed greatly to Contemporary Christian Music. The older Pentecostal Churches were known for having choirs that sang an assortment of hymns and lively praise choruses. With Vineyard on the other hand, “Charismatic” quickly became a worship style in it’s own right:

In addition to these new movements, the belief in the continuation of the spiritual gifts also began to cross into already existing denomination branches who previously would have been at odds with Pentecostalism over half a century earlier such as the Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Seventh-Day Adventists and even sectors of Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. The Charismatic Renewal marked a new ecumenicism in the Body of Christ.
   While many of the “Charismatics” looked upon Pentecostalism as a forerunning predecessor, not all necessarily agreed with Pentecostal doctrine such as William Seymour’s eschatology nor his belief in the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as a secondary experience subsequent to conversion. According to Sam Storms, a Reformed-Baptist who was one of John Wimber’s early students:

There are three fundamental elements in the classical view:
First, there is the doctrine of subsequence. Spirit-baptism is always subsequent to and therefore distinct from conversion. The time intervening between the two events may be momentary or conceivably years (nine years, for example, in the case of Paula).
Second, there is an emphasis on conditions. Depending on whom you read the conditions on which spirit-baptism is suspended may include repentance, confession, faith, prayers, waiting (“tarrying”), seeking, yielding, etc. The obvious danger here is in dividing the Christian life in such a way that salvation becomes a gift to the sinner whereas the fullness of the Spirit becomes a reward to the saint. But all is of grace. All comes with Christ.
Third, they emphasize the doctrine of initial evidence. The initial and physical evidence of having been baptized in the Spirit is speaking in tongues. If one has not spoken in tongues, one has not been baptized in the Spirit.[x]

Storms’ personal view on the subject however, is not that of classic Pentecostalism:

   The view that I will contend is that Spirit-baptism is a metaphor a metaphor that describes what happens when one becomes a Christian. However, this does not preclude multiple, subsequent experiences of the Spirit’s activity. After conversion of the Spirit may yet “come” with varying degrees of intensity, wherein the Christian is “pverwhelmed”, “empowered”, or in some sense  “endued”. This release of new power, this manifestation of the Spirit’s intimate presence, is most likely to be identified with what the New Testament calls the “filling” of the Spirit.
   Key to this interpretation is 1 Corinthians 12:3, “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – Whether Jew or Greek, Slave or Free – and were given one Spirit to drink.” There are a number of reasons for understanding this text as descriptive of the conversion experience of all Christians.
1) If the text describes te experience of only some believers, those who lack this second blessing do not belong to the body of Christ.
2) The context of 1 Corinthians 12 militates against the doctrine of subsequence. The idea of a Spirit-Baptized elite would have plyed irectly into the hands of those who were causing division in Corinth. Paul emphasizes here the common experience of the Holy Spiritfor everyone, not what one group has that another does not (note the emphatic “we were all”).
3) Some insist that the preposition eis does not mean that Spirit-baptism incorporates one “into” the body of Christ. Rather, eis, means something like “with a view of beniffetting” or “for the sake of”; the idea being that Spirit-baptism prepares them for service/ministry to the body in which they had previously been placed by faith in Christ. Grammatically speaking, had this been Paul’s intent, he would have probably used another preposition that more clearly expresses the idea (e.g., heneka, “for the sake of”, or hyper with the genitive, “in behalf of, for the sake of”).

Pentecostal scholar Douglas Oss counters:

[Sam] Storms states that there is no imperative in the New Testament for believers to be Baptized in the Holy Spirit. Consider what Pentecostals say about the interpretation of Luke-Acts and Paul. First, the narrative genre expresses imperatives different than a letter. What is meant in Acts 1:6-8 when Jesus tells the disciples that the fulfillment of [John] the Baptist’s prophecy is looming on the horizon, and that they should wait in Jerusalem until they receive “power” (dunamis) when the holy Spirit comes upon them? And what theology is communicated through the fulfillment of this promise throughout the remainder of Acts? Is this not the narratological equivalent of an imperative? Remember Peter’s sermon, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord will call” (Acts 2:39). Second, Luke must be allowed to explain redemptive-historical fulfillment in his own terms without importing theology from Paul and unnaturally imposing it on Luke-Acts. Harmonization must come after divinely ordained diversities are understand, and Luke’s agenda emphasizes the Spirit’s charismatic power.
   To put an epistolary language test to a narrative is hermeneutically unsound.

While many use the term “neo-pentecostalism” synonymously with “Charismatic”, such is actually a misnomer given the differing views within the Charismatic Movement(s) itself.  

Notable figures in the Charismatic Renewal include:
- Chuck Smith (1927-)
- Carter Conlon
- Chuck Missler
- Phil Pringle
- John Wimber
- Greg Laurie
- Jim Cymbala

2.3 Word of Faith

   Within Christian media Word of Faith (aka “Prosperity Gospel”) is perhaps the most popularized form of Christianity, making it’s way into televangelism, books, and radio. While Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Renewal affirmed and contended for orthodox, historic Christianity, the Word of Faith movement stretches (and even denies) the core doctrines that serve as the foundation of such orthodoxy.

   Word of Faith teaching holds that God wants his people to be financially prosperous, as well as have good health, good marriages and relationships, and to live generally prosperous lives.

   As the name "Word of Faith" implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than in whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts. A favorite expression in the Word Faith movement is "positive confession." It refers to the Word Faith teaching that your words will create, they have creative power. They say, "What you say you create!" So if you believe it strongly enough to speak it, you'll create it. You will create your riches. You will create your health. You will get out of your wheel chair. It determines everything that happens to you they say. Your confessions, based upon your faith in faith, will bring things to pass, and God has to act because it is a law. “Speak faith to your wallet! Speak faith into your marriage! Speak faith into your mortgage! And let God bless you abundantly!” Faith, according to Word Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; it is not belief in revealed revelation in the Scripture. Faith is a formula by which you manipulate the universe, by which you manipulate things.
   Similarly, “negative confession” which puts too much focus and energy into thinks that are negative can only bring about the opposite of the wealth, health and prosperity, that is, poverty, sickness and hurt. In other words, you don't want to say the wrong words or pray the wrong prayers, because it might happen.

   Word of Faith teaches that God empowers his people (blesses them) to achieve the promises that are contained in the Bible. Because of this, suffering does not come from God, but rather, from Satan and/or one’s personal sin. Additionally, if someone is not experiencing prosperity, it is because they have given Satan authority over their lives. God is not able to do anything at all unless the person invites Him to.

   Perhaps where Word of Faith gets most of it’s attention is the highly publicized healing ministries of adherents such as Benny Hinn:

   According to Baptist evangelist Justin Peters, The Word of Faith movement owes it’s existence not so much to Pentecostalism, but rather to metaphysical cults like Mary Baker-Eadie’s Christian Science and Phineas Quimby’s New Thought; these cults are known for their utilization of secular psychology, New Age teaching and the emphasis on self-realization. These cultic teachings, Peters claims, combined with Pseudo-Christian terminology, led to the birth of what we know as Word of Faith Movement.
   Perhaps where Word of Faith differs from both classic Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Renewal is it’s elevation of human authority and the lowering of God’s sovereignty:

Prominent members of the Word of Faith Movement include:
- Esseck W. Kenyon (1867-1948)
- Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003)
- Jimmy Swaggart (1935-)
- Kenneth Copeland (1936-)
- Joyce Meyer (1942-)
- Benny Hinn (1952-)
- Creflo Dollar (1962-)
- Joel Osteen (1963-)

2.4 The Third Wave (aka The New Apostolic Reformation)

C. Peter Wagner, former professor for Church Growth at Fuller seminary, identified three “Waves” that permeated the twentieth century
1st Wave – Pentecostalism via the Azusa Street Revival
2nd Wave – The Charismatic Renewal
3rd Wave – The New Apostolic Reformation

Whereas the Pentecostals emphasized the present-day operation of the miraculous spiritual gifts for the church’s edification, Wagner and other Third Wavers taught upon the church to reinstate the “5-fold ministry” offices for the church’s foundation.

11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors[a] and teachers,[b] 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,[c] to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ
Ephesians 4:11-13

Leading Third Wavers will say that for the most of church history, the church’s leadership and identity has been determined (others will even say “Hijacked”) by the offices of Pastors and Teachers. Hence, if the church is to truly fulfill it’s mission, it must also allow and raise up those with the prophetic and apostolic gifts. Rather than leading a single local church, contemporary apostles can oversee several congregations, if not entire denominations and movements with the authority to begin new churches missionally, as well as appoint and commission church leadership.[xiii]
   C. Peter Wagner defines the gift of Apostleship as:

[The Gift of Apostle is] the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume and to exercise divinely imparted authority in order to establish the foundational government of an assigned sphere of ministry within the Church. An apostle hears from the Holy Spirit and sets things in order accordingly for the Church’s health, growth, maturity and outreach.[xiv]

   Another key feature of The Third Wave/New Apostolic Reformation is it’s eschatology. While pentecostals such as the Assemblies of God churches have been known for teaching a Pre-millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture view of the end-times, Third Wavers by comparison adhere to a strong post-Millennialism.
   Kris Valloton from Bethel Church in Redding, California writes in his book Heavy Rain:

   The goal of my book is not to give you another chart to argue over or to enter into a theological debate on the various views of end-time prophecy. I simply want to challenge your thinking. I want you to be aware that, like it or not, your eschatological core values could be affecting your ministry, and more importantly, your legacy.
   We owe it to our children's children's children to have the courage to question old paradigms that could rob hope from the coming generations. Hope is the seedbed that faith grows in, and faith is what Jesus is looking for when He returns to the planet: "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8).
   Bill Johnson says, "To think that things are going to get worse and worse in the last days takes no faith." What is more, desiring Jesus to return now relegates billions of people to hell. Peter understood this when he said, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). It's so important that we put on the mind of Christ and do not let our circumstances dictate our stances. Every time we react to the world's condition instead of responding in faith, we find ourselves under the circumstances. A lot of bad doctrine comes out of a sense of powerless Christianity. We tend to spiritualize our dysfunction, mask our fears and excuse our inability to see greater works happen through our lives.
   I am personally on an eschatological journey. I feel like Abram when he first met God. The Lord told him to leave his country and journey to a land He would show him (see Genesis 12:1). Abram didn't know where he was going; he just knew where he couldn't stay. I know I can't stay in the end-time theology that is stealing my children's future, instilling fear as a primary motivation for serving the Father and undermining the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.
   Even though I am not sure where I am going, I have decided to allow a few simple core values to determine my eschatological journey. First, I will not let mystical passages that have been debated for centuries undermine the clear commands, promises and prophecies we have from the Lord Himself, many of which I have already discussed at length in this book. Second, I will not embrace an end-time view that diminishes hope, promotes fear or re-arms the same devil that Jesus disarmed on the cross (see Colossians 2:13-15).
   The book of Revelation was written to be the revelation of Jesus Christ, not the revelation of the Antichrist (see Revelation 1:1). The book of Revelation was penned in a prophetic style common to the mystics and it is, therefore, prone to subjectivity. I won't allow its interpretation to promote powerless Christianity. The command that has been passed down from generation to generation with growing momentum is to destroy the works of the devil (see 1 John 3:8). It remains true in every epoch season in life that when we submit to God.

This Eschatology, with it’s emphasis on seeing the church as rising in triumph during the latter days rather than undergo tribulation has caused those within the New Apostolic Reformation to take a pro-active stance on issues such as politics (by way of the so-called “Religious Right”) and social justice:

This theology taught by the New Apostolic Movement, known as Dominionism, teaches that in order to see the Kingdom of God made manifest culminating in the return of Christ (note:  postmillennial eschatology), the church must make a leading upon all sectors of society, namely Arts/entertainment, education, science, politics, religion and business.

Perhaps even more controversial is not so much the political and social agenda of the New Apostolic Reformation outside the church, but rather the manifestations that occur within:

Rodney Howard-Browne, a missionary born in South Africa, came with his family to Tampa Bay, Florida to plant a church and conduct revival meetings. A notable feature of these meetings was the phenomenon of “Holy Laughter” – during worship and prayer, congregants would find themselves overwhelmed with ecstatic joy, culminating in fits of uncontrollable laughter.
   Howard-Browne’s ministry caught the attention of Word of Faith Ministers such as Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland, as well as affiliates of the Vineyard Movement such as Randy Clark and John Arnott.
   In 1994 at their church just outside of Toronto Airport, Canada, Vineyard pastors John and Carol Arnott started their own revival meetings based on their own visits to meetings led by Rodney Howard-Browne and Randy Clark. Within months, what was a fledging church of one hundred and twenty congregants quickly grew to a thousand.
   In addition to “Holy Laughter”, the “Toronto Blessing”, as it came to be commonly known as, was also marked by other manifestations such as convulsions, animal noises and even effects often linked to physical drunkenness:

   The Toronto Blessing soon started to appear in other churches throughout the world. It even made it’s way to Springfield:

The bizarre nature of the manifestations caused many to immediately question whether this was indeed a legitimate revival. The Vineyard Movement itself was left in a state of disarray; many felt that both the Toronto Blessing as well as the teachings of the Third Wave were compromising the movement’s evangelical foundations. Others received the phenomenon with open arms.

   Eventually, due to pressures arising from the spontaneous and at times uncontrollable nature of the spiritual climates brought about by the Toronto blessing, in 1996 John Wimber announced that Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship would no longer belong to the Vineyard Movement on the charge that the Toronto Blessing had brought into the churches an overemphasis on spiritual experience, as opposed to the clear teachings of the Scripture as God’s authoritative and inerrant Word.[xv]

Prominent Third Wavers include:
- C. Peter Wagner
- Che Ahn
- Cindy jacobs
- Mike Bickle
- Bill Johnson
- Dutch Sheets
- Lou Engle
- Sarah Palin

2.5 “Shades of Grey”

As we can see, Continuationism in the 20th Century has taken several forms. While “Charismatic” may be used to denote all continuationists’ who affirm the use and availability of the charismata today, it could be said that the internal differences at times far outweigh the commonalities.
   Even among differing continuationists, one will find pastors from one stream having one hand open to accept another, while at the same time using the opposite to keep the remaining different streams at bay. Consider the following clip from the late David Wilkerson (originally from AOG) where he shares his thoughts on the Toronto blessing:

Hence, to praise or condemn continuationist theology overall just by looking at only one of the above streams will not provide a logical and objective assessment without having to resort to stereotypes and strawman fallacies. Any assessment of a Christian’s pneumatology must therefore be done at the level of the individual himself.

4. What Driscoll Believes about Spiritual Gifts

The following are from transcripts of Mark Driscoll’s sermons, primarily his series “1 Corinthians – Christians Gone Wild”

(NOTE: Points of distinction which I feel are exclusive to Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church will be underlined in bold for sake of emphasis).

What it means to be “Spirit-filled”

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

   Some of you may have come from or Pentecostal backgrounds, and the Pentecostal position is similar to the charismatic position in that it believes that all the gifts are in operation, the tongues, prophesy, healing, and miracles with this exception – that some Christians have the Holy Spirit and some don’t and that the only way you know you have the Holy Spirit is if you speak in tongues, and that tongues is essentially the evidence of having the Holy Spirit, which is not true.
   We’ll look at it today, but Paul says – or God says, I should say, through Paul – that God gives gifts to each person as he determines and that we don’t all have the same gifts. You’ll see this in the coming weeks, and that we won’t call you to speak in tongues. We will get into this in further weeks – but we do believe that tongues exist today and about 20 percent of the elders in this church have the gift of tongues. Right, they’re tongues speakers. And then, some of us don’t. I don’t.
   And I was arguing with a Pentecostal friend of mine – he’s a good guy – but he said, “It’s too bad you don’t have the Holy Spirit.”
   I was like, “Really? Uh, thanks Barnabas, that’s such an encouragement. That’s wonderful.” I said, “You know, it really stinks I don’t have the Holy Spirit, because I got the kinda job that seems like I would need him.” So I asked this guy, I said, “Well how did I get convicted of sin? How did I have I changed heart, a renewed mind, a love for Jesus, an understanding of scripture, and the ability to serve God, without the Holy Spirit?”
   He said, “I don’t know.”
   I do! I have the Holy Spirit. You know, and a bad attitude, now. You receive the Holy Spirit at conversion. That’s what it means to be a Christian, right? The Holy Spirit comes in, Ephesians 1 says and it is at the moment of salvation, you’re baptized, sealed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit changes your heart. He redirects your will toward the purposes of God. He convicts you of sin. He instructs you in Scripture. He gives you a deep, abiding love for Jesus. You can’t be a Christian without the Holy Spirit. You can’t be a Christian on your own power, on your own strength, on your own merit. It’s by the grace and empowerment of God that you become a Christian.
   So our position is that if you are a Christian, you have the Holy Spirit and that the Holy Spirit is not exclusively evidenced by the speaking in tongues. Some people will speak in tongues, other people will have other kinds of gifts and they’ll have other kinds of gifts and they’ll have other kinds of ministries and God has handed these out to us just as he has determined.
   So, if you are now ready, we will move forward, but, to summarize: we’re not cessationists, we’re not charismaniac, we’re not Pentecostal, though we love them, and they love Jesus and that’s cool – we’re just a Bible believing, sort of conservative charismatic with a seat belt church.
   That’s where we’re at, okay?[xvi]

Gift of Wisdom

   Here’s the gift of wisdom.
   I’ll read the definition that I made for you. The gift of wisdom is the ability to have insight into people and situations that is not obvious to the average person, combined with an understanding of what to do and how to do it. You people are intensely practical. You read the Bible? What are you gonna do?
   “I don’t know.”
   “Well, let me help ya”. Right?
   You don’t know what to do with your money?
   “Let’s put a plan together.”
   You don’t know how to manage your life?
   “Let’s put a schedule together.”
   You don’t know how to do ministry?
   “Let’s talk about that.”
   You don’t know what to do with that midget demon kid?
   “Let me tell you what to do. Spank him-“
   I’m just kidding! I’m just seeing if you’re still awake.  
   It is the ability to not only see, but also apply the principles of God’s word to the practical matters of life by the what Ephesians 1:17 calls the spirit of wisdom. So the Holy Spirit comes in you and he makes you wise. You have wisdom. Now wisdom is the ability to take the principles of God’s word and practically apply them to the decisions of life. It’s knowing what to do, how to live your life. What do I do with food, money and sex and friendship and marriage and kids and power and – it takes wisdom to figure all of that out. And you can’t live your life without wisdom. And some of you don’t have wisdom in certain areas, and so there are people that God gives the gift of wisdom to, and we get to go to them for help and council and insight and they’re huge gifts to us to help us figure out how do I take what I know to be true in the Bible and live it in my life, practically, what does this mean?
   James 1:5 says “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who give in abundance without finding fault”. I pray that prayer all the time. Every time I do counseling, I open up with that prayer. God give me wisdom. I wanna know what questions to ask. I wanna know what issues to examine in this person’s life. I wanna know what Scriptures to use. I wanna know what principles to share. I wanna know what applications to advise so this person could have a good life, marked by wisdom, not a tragic life, marked by folly.
   It goes on, the general make up. These people often have the ability to synthesize Biblical truth and apply it to people’s lives so that they make good choices and avoid foolish mistakes. These people make good life coaches, counselors, consultants, right?   
   These are the kind of people that you can go to them and they start asking the right questions and they pull out the right information and they say, “Well have you tried this? Have you done that? Have you read this? Have you studied this book of the Bible? Have you prayed about this? Have you talked to this person? Have you made this plan?”
   You’re like, “I haven’t done any of that. Why not?”
   You don’t have this gift, man. But they do and they love you and they’re there to help you. These people are great life coaches. These people are great counselors.
   You go to them, saying, “Okay, here’s the deal. This is where my life’s going. I’m making some foolish decisions. It’s really getting bad. I don’t know how to fix it, what do I do?”
   And they tell you, “Well, here’s what you do and here’s what you do,” and you know, [snaps fingers]. That is wise counsel. That’ll work, thank you.
   And they’re great consultants. They can walk into ministries and into businesses and organizations and a concert of get the lay of the land and figure out all of the systems, policies, procedures, leadership, and the budget, and then they ask the right questions, and they can help to bring foolishness and mistakes and error out and then correct it with wise counsel.
   Where do we see this in the life of Jesus? Will we see it, a lot, in the life of Jesus. I’ll give you some examples. In Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 40 through 52, we are told that Jesus was “filled with wisdom” as a little boy, and that as he grew, he grew, the Bible says, in the wisdom. Jesus was wise. It goes on to say that in his day, the scholars, the older, learned men, looked at this young boy, Jesus and it says they were amazed at his learning. That could not believe what they heard this little boy, Jesus, say. He is wise. Where did that wisdom come from? The Holy Spirit.
   1 Corinthians 1:24 and 30 says that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of wisdom and that Jesus Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit. The spirit of wisdom and Jesus was wise, even from youth. It goes on to say in Mark 6:3 that crowds who heard Jesus teach said, “Where did this man get his wisdom,” right? He doesn’t sound like anybody else we’ve ever heard. He makes perfect sense. He takes the most complicated parts of our life and he applies the Bible to them and he helps us figure out how to live our life according to God’s wisdom and avoid folly.
   And Matthew 14:2, Jesus says that he is wiser than Solomon, who up until that point, was the wisest man who ever lived. And in Luke 21:15, Jesus says, “I will give you words of wisdom.” That Jesus is wise and that Jesus gives wisdom and that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of wisdom. That’s why like James 1:5 says if you lack wisdom, ask for wisdom. Ask Jesus and the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and if you have that gift, you are such a gift. You can really help people.
   Some of you know the joy of this already. People come up to you and they say, “Look. Can I talk to you about something? This is a wreck and I don’t know what to do.”
   You say, “Well, I do. Have you looked at this part of the Bible? Have you prayed? Have you talked to these people? Have you considered doing this?”
   How do you know that? That was the Holy Spirit. That was the Holy Spirit giving me wisdom for you because God loves you. And what a joy that is to give wisdom to people. To help them. I mean so many people live their lives full of foolish decisions and tragic consequences. People with the gift of wisdom help us avoid that kind of life.
   Biblically, here’s some character studies for you. I’ve got this in your notes. You want to look at the life of Joshua, the life of Solomon and the life of Daniel. If you have the gift of wisdom, one of the best things you can do, in addition to studying the life of Jesus, is to look at Salomon. Look at Joshua. Look at Daniel. Do a Biblical study. Take some time, saying, “How did they get wisdom? How did they use wisdom? How did they serve and help other people? And how was wisdom that God gave them a part of their ministry and what can I learn from that?” It’s good to study your Bible and see people with the same gifts that you have.
   Do you have this gift?
   Here’s some questions. When studying God’s word, do you find that you discover the meaning and its implications before other people do? You’re in a Bible study group, you’re in a community group here at Mars Hill Church and everybody’s sitting there and they read the verse and everybody’s like, “Huh?” then they all look at you and you’re like, “Da da da da!”
   Everybody’s like, “That’s it!”
   The spirit of God teaches you the Bible and everybody’s like, “That’s what it meant. Thank you very much. Next!” And people just look to you to tell them what does that mean?
   “Well here’s what it means.”
   “What do I do about that?”
   Get real practical. When you read the wisdom books, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job, James – they’re really practical. They’re about money and sex and power and finances and kids and your tongue and your job. They’re really practical. People with the gift of wisdom tend to be really practical. They read the Bible and they practically, they know what to do.  
   Additionally, do you have this gift? Do you seem to understand things about God’s word that other believers with the same background and experience don’t seem to know?
   Talk to other people and you say, “Well, I was reading the Bible and here’s what it means and I think this applies to.”
   They’re like, “How did you know? I just read that. I didn’t get that. It didn’t make any sense to me.”
   You say, “well, the Holy Spirit’s given me this gift of wisdom and he loves you and this is what he wants you to know.”
   Thirdly, are you able to apply Biblical truth in a practical way that helps, counsels others to make good life choices? I’ve already talked about that a little bit. But when people come to you, do you say, “Well, let’s open the Bible and here’s what it says and here’s what it means and here’s what God has for you to do”?
   And people walk away going, “Thanks. That’s it.” And they’re freed up from their folly to live a new life.
   Do you get frustrated when people make foolish decisions and damage their quality of life because you know what they should’ve done instead? “She marries him? What? No! They shoulda called. Shoulda called. She should’ve called. No! You’re kidding? They ran off to Vegas? Aaah! He can’t read. He doesn’t have pants.”   
   You know? “They had to take the bus because he’s got a DUI and can’t drive. What? No. That’s not wise.”
   You see people raising their kids totally wrong. And the kids are just not doing good. You’re like, “Man, that, that saddens me because they just keep making the same foolish mistake, raising that kid. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
   Whatever it is. People are making bad business decisions over and over and over and they keep getting themselves further into debt. You think, “Man, that was foolish. You know, God’s word has some principles that really woulda helped there and coulda kept ‘em outta that trouble and man, if they just woulda come to me, I coulda prayed with them and we could have Bible studied and I coulda given ‘em some help and I coulda pointed ‘em to the right books and websites and I coulda helped ‘em make a plan and they didn’t need to go that way.”
   People with the gift of wisdom, what bothers them is folly. They just can’t stand to see it, because it hurts people’s lives and God has so much wisdom to give that there’s no excuse to live a foolish life when so much wisdom is available.
   And additionally, another few final questions. Do you find that when people have important life decisions to make, they come to you for prayer and Biblical counsel?
   They just come up to you, “Do you think I should marry that person?”
   “Do you think I should take this job?”
   “I was thinking about getting this degree in college. What do you think about that?”
   “I’m thinking about studying a book of the Bible. Where do you think I should start?”
   “I was reading this book. Do you think that’s a good book?”
   “I was thinking about dating this person. Do you think that’s a good idea?”
   “I was thinking about starting this company. What do you think about that?”
   “I’m having trouble in my marriage and here’s what’s going on. What do you think I should do?”
   And these people are wise and they don’t flaunt it. I mean, they don’t all have t-shirts that say, “Wise.”
   You’re like, “Oh, good. Nice to know. I’m gonna run some stuff by ya.”
   These are just people who have influence because of their wisdom and these are the people in this church that people just go to them. We have people in this church that spend many hours, every week, meeting with people. They don’t have an official ministry but people know them and they go to them because they have the gift of wisdom and it’s a wonderful gift.
   And then lastly, do you find that when you counsel people that God this Holy Spirit gives you wisdom to share with them from Scripture that they except as God’s truth to them through you.
   How many a few have been meeting with somebody, and you’ll start talking, and you’re like, “That was brilliant. I don’t know where that came from. I never even thought of that before. That was fun. That was cool.”
   That was God, right? That was God. I mean, sometimes in counseling appointments, I’ll say things and people’ll be like, “How did you know that?”
   I’m like, “I didn’t ‘til just a second ago.” That was God. You know? That was God. And some of you know when God is working through you and speaking through you and others hear it and they know it was God and it benefits their life.
   Here’s where you fit in Mars Hill Church if you have this gift of wisdom. You should be a community group leader. Community groups are in homes, Bible studies, dinner, friendship that meet together. There’s over a hundred of ‘em all throughout the Puget Sound region. And many of them just take my sermon and then talk about, “So what does this mean for us, practically. What questions do you have? How do we apply God’s word to our life?”  
   If you have this gift, you could be a great community group leader. People that get together, you could say – you could ask the right questions, draw people out, give them the counsel, give them advice, give them wisdom, help them figure out how God’s word applies to their life.
   Some of you could train under the elders and be a Biblical counselor. Actually meet with people and help them and serve them and counsel them.
   Some of you, as well, could lead recovery groups. We have grace groups for those who were sexually abused. Those who were addicted to pornography. Those who have drug or alcohol addictions. Women who have had abortions. We have all of these care, nurture groups meeting and people with the gift of wisdom are the most beneficial to the those groups. People come in and they say, “Okay, now let’s talk about how you got into this place and let’s figure that out. Okay, now let’s talk about what God’s word says, and how to get you out of this place. Now let’s talk about how to reorganize your life so you don’t fall back into those foolish patterns.”
   And wisdom helps direct people toward a whole new life. If you have the gift of wisdom, you’re a great blessing and benefit to Mars Hill.[xvii]

Word of Knowledge

   This is the geek gift.
   If you’re a geek for Jesus, this is you, right? Here’s the definition of the, the gift of knowledge. The gift of knowledge is the ability to research, remember, and make effective use a variety of information on a number of diverse subjects. You are in information freak. You love websites and books and magazine that’s the and more books and more magazines and more websites and information in classes and you love to study and you love to learn things and when the guy shows up, you weep because you’re so happy. “He’s here again. Ah, Jesus loves me. That’s another book.” If you get a book by a dead guy, you dance a jig. “It’s a dead guy book. It’s a dead guy book.” You love the books by the dead guys. If you get a out-of-print book, you show all your friends, right? “It’s a out-of-print book. You can’t even get this one.” Now they think you’re crazy, and you are, but you’re happy because you got a out-of-print book. “Got a out-of-print book. I love books. I don’t even believe in the rapture, but if it does happen, I’m gonna grab my bookshelves and take ‘em with me. That’s how much I love my books. I love books.”
   I – you know – and how many of you are just information geeks? You’re like, “Oh, those are statistics! Those are statistics! Thank you Jesus! Those are statistics!” You’re so happy when you see statistics and footnotes.
   Some of you don’t know this. The little print on the bottom of the page is called a footnote. The footnote has additional information. Go, footnote! Yay, footnote! We love the footnotes. And if there’s an appendix in the back of the book where the latest other books that they think you should read, we love that. “We love that so – there’s more books on this subject! Yes!” and you love to learn. 
   You geek out. You like to read. For those of you who don’t have this gift, this is your hell. Somebody hands you a big book, if you’re like, “There are no pictures. I like to eat. I got the gift of hospitality. That’s a big book.”
   I like big books and I cannot lie. I loved big books. These people love to study, right? You get a day off. “What are you gonna do today?”
   “I’m gonna study.”
   Everybody else is like, “Study? What? You are crazy. Study?”
   They love to learn. They’re not content with surface level knowledge of topics, meaning when you read a book on the subject, you go, “I know there’s other perspectives. I need to get more books. I need to look at all the perspectives.”
   This is what I do. Like on 1 Corinthians – I’ve got a stack of books taller than me and all the different views and perspectives and all the different interpretations and I’m looking at all of them, just because I can.
   I’m such a geek, I have a library that has actual rows of shelves, like the public library, with books on both sides and they actually have the Library of Congress catalog number on them, scanned into my computer with a searchable database by time, by author, by date, by subject matter, by title, by appendices, it’s wonderful!   
   It’s great. And I just sit there – I have a 13-foot desk, like the Starship Enterprise. And I just sit there and there’s books everywhere. And it smells like books. And in my house, I got books. And in my bedroom, I got books. And in my living room, I got books. And on the back of every toilet, I got books. Just in case I need one because I don’t like to be more than arm’s length away from a book. I carry books with me all the time in a satchel. I carry books in my car, right? I’m that guy. Freakish and weird. But I love books. I get hundreds of books a year. All to myself.
   If you have the gift of knowledge, you’re a geek. This is what you like. Welcome to Mars Hill. I love you too. These people are compelled to conduct their research, compile their findings so that others can benefit from their long hours of study. People with this spiritual gift love God with all their mind. You love God with all – you’re a researcher. You’re a geek. You’re an information junkie. I subscribe to like 30 magazines, 4 newspapers. I’m online all the time. I literally buy and read hundreds of books a year. I love to study, love to study, makes me happy.
   How ‘bout the life of Jesus? Jesus was a rabbi, he was an Old Testament teacher. Jesus had committed whole sections of Scripture to memory. That’s why when he shows up, he just starts talking Bible, because it’s just in his mind and it’s in his heart. He just loves Scripture and he is all about Scripture. If you have the gift of knowledge and you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, since the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible to be read, the Holy Spirit is gonna inspire you to memorize Scripture. You’re gonna love your Bible.
   Some of you are Bible freaks and geeks. You can’t get enough. I’m with you. I have never memorized a verse of Scripture in my life. I read it. I remember it. Thousands of verses. I’ll read books, I remember whole paragraphs. I could take a book I read 15 years ago, I could tell you the publisher, I could tell you the author, I could tell you where they went to school, I could tell their theological persuasion, I could tell you the outline of every major chapter, and I could give you the highlights quoted verbatim off the top of my head. I am a Google for Christ. I just remember stuff and so, like, I’ll be teaching you guys and verses’ll come to mind and quotes will come to mind and authors will come to mind and boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. I love that. My wife says it’s not so good when we’re fighting, because I remember everything. But its visibility to retain information and then to recall it and to share it so that other people can know it and it’s so – it’s so delightful to do that. That’s why I love my job, quite frankly.
   Jesus, though, rebuked the scholars in his day. He said, “You diligently study the Scriptures thinking that in them, you’ll find eternal life, but you fail to recognize that these are the Scriptures that testify about me.” John 5:39.
   So the whole point of study is what? Love of Jesus. You can memorize the whole Bible. You can get more degrees than Fahrenheit but if you don’t love Jesus, you kinda miss the whole point. The whole point of all study and knowledge is the love of Jesus through science and through medicine and through law and through philosophy and through history and through theology. What does this reveal about God? What does this tell me about Jesus? That’s how you study.
   Ezra, Solomon and Timothy are good character studies for you in the Bible to say, “Who else had this gift?” Learn from them.
   Do you have this gift? Do you love to study? Do you have a good memory that retains and compiles lots of information? Have you – have others frequently pointed out your ability to know and understand God’s word?
   Do people come up to you, say, “What do transubstantiation and consubstantiation mean?”
   You go, “Ooo! I know! Glad you asked.”
   “What does it say in the Greek text?”
   You’re like, “Oh, oh, oh, oh! This is a good moment for me. I’ll tell ya.”
   You love it when people come up and ask Bible questions. Okay? And you’re not arrogant about it, you’re excited to tell them because you’re excited about Scripture and you want them to have the truth, too.
   Do you – do people often come to you with difficult problems and questions from the Bible, seeking your insight because they know you’ll have an answer? Okay? And studying God’s word, you found that new insights and understanding on difficult subjects come easily to you.
   People get confused on all kinds of big doctrines. You’re like, “Oop, nope. Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da. Boom. There we go. Connected all the verses, here’s what it means, that’s where it is.”
   And everybody goes, “Ah, thanks, man. I was just totally confused. That makes sense.”
   And lastly, are you frustrated when you hear bad teaching from someone who has not done their homework?
   You’re going, “That’s not what the Greek text says. That’s the wrong cross reference. That’s not what that-” you know and some of you are real neatniks. I mean, you’re real neatniks, right? We’re in the most literate and the most educated city in America and so the gift of knowledge is possessed by many of you and, and you love research and when research is not done well, you get very, very frustrated, right because that wasn’t accurate. You didn’t do your homework. And I know, because you email me. Thank you. It makes me better. Seriously. The people with the gift of knowledge make teachers better because they continually show where we all make mistakes and help us to improve.
   If you have this gift, where do you fit in Mars Hill? Well, if you can write, we’ll actually put you to work researching, writing curriculum, writing theological responses. We have a theological response team. People send us tons of questions and they like to answer them, which is great. Maybe – if you don’t have the gift – if you have the gift of teaching, you can be teaching classes and teaching community groups and you could be a person who is actually instructing others, which’d be great. Use all that knowledge God has given you.
   Some people that aren’t great in teaching or writing, they’re just great researchers. They work under some of the elders and they do research projects for us. I’ve got an assistant, she’s a deacon named Crystal who is a brilliant gal who loves to study and research and copy edit and footnote and we work together on a lot of theological projects. She’s just a gem. And there, there are positions like that at Mars Hill, formally and informally.
   And we have one guy, Zack Hubert, he is possibly the geek of geeks in Mars Hill Church. I love him. He’s in the elder candidating process. He works a job and in his free time, he built something – a website called It’s a full Greek website that’ll translate your English Bible into Greek and the Greek into English with all of the cross-references and parallel translations and all of the syntax, mood, tense of the verbs, the whole thing. He built it in his free time. No, he didn’t go to public school. I mean, that’s a big deal and you think about it, you go, how many of you, on your day off, would be like, “I’m gonna build a Greek website so people can do lexical studies all across the world for free.” One of you, in the whole world thought that. His name is Zach and he’s the gift of knowledge and he loves to study and use his technological skills to share it so we can all do intense Greek Bible study.
   That’s the gift of knowledge.[xviii]

Gift of Faith

   The gift of faith is the ability to envision what needs to be done and to trust God to accomplish it, even though it seems impossible to most people, okay?
   Some people look at something and say, “That’ll never happen. That’s impossible.”
   People with the gift of faith, they’re like, “Oh, God could do that, totally.”
   The people with the gift of faith continually have the theme from Rocky rattling around in their head, right?
   “It can happen! We can do anything. God is big. God is in charge. Go, God! Yay, God!”
   These are the cheerleaders for Jesus. These people trust. They have faith. They believe and they have hope. These are people who have hope, man. When it looks bad, it doesn’t matter. God could still show up. These people live with hope. How many of you love these people? How many of you find them a wee bit annoying, right? It depends on how they use their gift.  
   Here’s their general makeup. Those with the gift of faith trust God in difficult, even impossible situations when others are ready to give up.
   “That’s it; I’m giving up on this marriage.”
   “No wait! God could still do something.”
   “My kid’ll never love Jesus. They’ve walked away forever.”
   “Oh, come on. Hang in there. It’s the second quarter. The game’s not over. Trust the Lord. We still got some time on the clock. Let’s wait and see what God does.” These people are often visionaries who dream big, pray big and attempt big things for Jesus.”
   Right, they believe that the sky is the limit, that the impossible is possible. That if God is in the equation, nothing – nothing – is too big, too hard, to beyond the power of God.
   These people tend to be optimistic, hopeful, persevering, change-oriented and future-focused. There is more to do. There are more people to love. There are more lives to be changed. There is more ground to be taken for the Kingdom. There are more ministries to be started. There are more churches to be planted. There are more people to pray for.
   They’re all about change and the future and they tend have a holy discontent saying, “You know what, God’s done good. God could do more. God wants to do more. Let’s keep going.”
   Additionally, these people, if they don’t meet someone with the gift of administration, they are a wreck, right? Because they got big plans and really no plans at all, right?
   I mean, these people are like, “Let’s feed everybody, go!”
   You’re like, “Well, we need a plan.”
   “Oh, come on, don’t you trust the Lord?”
   “We do.”
   “Where’s that dude with the gift of administration? We gotta get him over here and he’s gonna help get a plan. We need somebody with Excel, right, to help straighten this out.”
   And so this is where the gifts work together. The gift of faith is great, particularly if it’s with the gift of leadership, but you better have somebody with the gift of administration.
   How many of you are married to this person? They are the gift of faith and you are the gift of administration, right – or as we call it in my house, the gas and the brake. These people tend to be very convincing about the truth of Scripture because they themselves are so convinced of the truth and the power of God and his word. These people believe the Bible and their faith is in the character of God and in the promises of God’s word and these people are convinced that the Bible is true, it’s real, it’s trustworthy, it’s God’s word and if he says he loves you, he loves you. If he says you’re forgiven, you’re forgiven.
   Some of you are chuckling, you’re going, “That’s me.” Welcome to Mars Hill. Right now the cool thing about people with faith is you people who have this gift, you are hugely encouraging to people who are struggling, who are doubting, who are wavering in their faith, right? You are the people who, when everything goes bad, they call you because they are losing faith and they need to borrow yours, right? You’re like the battery that jump starts everybody else, right? Everybody else’s spiritual battery’s getting low and boom! You just can restart people because you have faith. You trust.
   And it’s not blind, naïve optimism, it’s, “I know the character of God. I know the word of God. I’ve seen God show up. I’ve seen God do the unexpected. I’ve seen God come through. I know we’re down by 74 points and there’s 3 seconds on the clock. But the Holy Ghost is here. It could happen!” You know? It’s that kind of just enthusiastic belief that leads to hope that gets people to dream, that gets people to move, that gets people to act because things could be different, because God is on his throne.
   How about in the life of Jesus?
   We tie this all to Jesus because every gift is supposed to do the ministry of Jesus, so we look to Jesus and say, “Well how did he do this?”
   Jesus’ whole life, in one sense, could be summarized as faith. Right, he just trusted. Romans says that anything that does not proceed from faith is sin. So one of the definitions of sin is you don’t trust God. You don’t believe in his word. You don’t believe in his character. And Jesus never sinned. So that would mean that everything Jesus did proceeded from faith. He trusted God, the Father’s character and God the Father’s words in the Old Testament and he absolutely, continually, lived in obedience, not doubting – continued to trust – even when times are hard.
   You think about it. I mean, one of the greatest acts of faith that I think of in the ministry of the Lord Jesus – as he was being murdered, put to death, crucified – remember what he said? “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
   What is that?
   That’s an act of faith. As his body went into the grave, Jesus was dead but he died trusting, knowing that he would be raised from death. I mean that is unbelievable faith. To trust your whole life, as Jesus did, in the promises and the character of God and to give yourself to God at the moment of your death trusting for your own resurrection when to that point, no one had ever been resurrected. And Jesus knew that God the Father and God the Spirit would snatch him out of the grave and that he would be vindicated and resurrected.
   And Jesus says crazy things. Like he looks at his disciples, right, and says, “Go make disciples of all the nations of the earth.” See, we read that and we say, “Well, yeah, sure.”
   These are 12 dudes. One’s got a reversible jersey, is on the other team, so there’s actually 11, right? And he looks at these 11 dudes and says, “Go tell the world – all the nations of the earth – let ‘em know about me.”
   You say, “How’s that gonna – no roads, no airplanes, no Internet, no cell phone. How are we gonna go tell everybody?”
   And you know what, today, billions of people, across the whole globe, know about, love, worship Jesus. He trusted that the knowledge of his person and work needed to get out and that it would. He just trusted that it would. That God the Father and God the Spirit would ensure that this indeed occurred. How about in the Bible?
   Other people in the Bible and I want you to take the notes and if you have this gift, I want you to get your Bible out when you get home and start studying people with your gift and say, “Hm. How did they cultivate, nurture, grow in their gift, use their gift?”
   You know, “How did they serve other people? What can I learn from their life?”
   Here’s some examples. Paul says in Acts 27, right? And Paul’s always getting beat up, thrown in prison, kicked around – I mean the guy is just always taking a beating – and he says in the 27th Chapter of Acts, as he’s ready to be arrested, thrown in jail, you know, maybe killed, he says this, “I have faith in God.”
   I have faith in God. He just trusts that he’s in God’s plan. He’s in God’s will and God’s gonna figure it out, one way or another.
   Stephen, we’re told in Acts Chapter 6, Verse 5 – the early church deacon, it says that he was a man “full of faith,” and he was a man full of faith. Do you remember what was going on with Stephen?
   They were murdering him.
   Throwing rocks at him.
   I mean, they call it stoning, right? So, everybody picks up rocks and they’re all throwing them at Stephen and he is bleeding, he is hurting, he is dying. How many of you at that point would preach the Gospel, hoping that your enemies would meet Jesus and see you in Heaven?
   Ha ha, right? One of you.
   And you’re lying, right? Now, if it were me, I have a pretty good – you know, I have a pretty good right arm. Half the rocks would return to their sender. That – I would go down like a relief pitcher, coming in from right field. It’d be like, “Here’s your rock and here’s your rock.” I mean I would take somebody with me. That’s what I’m saying.
   And here’s what Stephen does – a man full of faith – he tells ‘em, “Don’t you know Jesus? Jesus is God. He lived without sin. He was promised in the Old Testament. He died on a cross. He rose three days later.” You know, he starts preaching to ‘em about Jesus. He was a man full of faith. He didn’t care if he was dying; he knew he was going to Heaven. No need to stress and he wanted them to know about Jesus, too, and meet him in Heaven.
   That’s faith!
   And who was there? A young man named Saul who was overseeing the murder of Stephen. A few chapters later, he becomes a Christian. He changes his name to Paul, you may have heard of him, and I believe one of the reasons that he was compelled toward Christianity was because of the witness and the prayers of, of this great church deacon, Stephen, who had faith in Jesus, who preached the love of Jesus and prayed for his enemies.
   Paul had to be definitely affected by that. A man with so much faith. A man with so much faith. Also, too, Jesus’ mother, Mary, was a woman of faith, right? I mean her whole life is a life of faith. Right, how many of you ladies, after seeing this series of miracles. First, she’s a virgin. Miracle, right? First miracle, she’s a virgin.
   Second miracle – that was funny – second miracle, God comes to her through an angel and says, what? “You’re gonna get pregnant but you’re still gonna be a virgin and you’re gonna give birth to a boy and he’ll be God.”
   And what does she say?
   And then she sings a song. How many teenage girls, that’s how they’d respond?  
    Angel shows up, “You’re gonna have a baby. Don’t worry; you’ll still be a virgin.”
   You’re like, “What am I gonna tell my mom?”
   I mean, you know, there’s all these kinda issues.
   “I got a fiancé.” “Oh, he’ll be cool. We’ll send an angel to him, too.” “Okay, good. I’ll sing a song, now.” I mean, this is faith. She trusts that she’s gonna get pregnant as a virgin and give birth to God and as a teenage girl, feed God, raise God and her husband’ll be okay with that and her mom and dad’ll be okay with that. I mean, this is a woman of great faith, though she’s a teenage girl.
   And for those of you have the gift of faith, probably the best chapter of the Bible for you to really drill down on is Hebrews, Chapter 11. It’s the whole chapter of faith on all of these people in the Bible who had tremendous gift of faith. They trusted God and they trusted his word and they trusted his character. Do you have this gift? Here are some questions. Do you view obstacles as opportunities to trust God for the impossible? Somebody says, “That’s impossible,” you’re like; “Cool, then we’re doing it.” Right? When somebody says, “That’ll never work,” you know, “That person’ll never become a Christian.” “Aw, come on! You never know. I seen people worse than them get saved. I saw you get saved. You know? It could happen.” “Ah, my marriage is falling apart.” “Lemme tell ya a story. I know ten marriages that are worse than yours and God did amazing things. Don’t give up hope. Hang in there. Pray. Wait on the Lord. You never know. You never know.”
   Do you find yourself frequently boasting about the power of God and what you’ve seen him do? When God shows up and cool things happen, do you see people that don’t have a lot of faith and tell them, “You’ll never guess what, this happened and this happened and this happened and God showed up in this person’s life and knew somebody who was going through what you were going through and I believe that God wants to do that with you, too.”
   Thirdly, do you get motivated by new ministries? Some of these people are sort of prone to get bored quick.
   All right, “Oh new church? Cool. New ministry? Cool. New people? New ideas? New concepts? New vision? Yes! It can happen. I wanna be on the ground floor. I’m gonna take the risk for God. I wanna see it get done.”
   Do you find yourself feeling opposed to anyone who expresses that something cannot be done or accomplished? This is me.  
   People are goin,’ like, “That can’t happen.”
   “Cool, we’re doing it twice, then, just to prove you wrong. That’s what we’re gonna do.” Right?
   I mean, people, “You can’t start a church.”
   Sure you can. Right?
   “You can’t have a bunch of young people.”
   “Sure you can!”
   “You can’t get young men to go to church.”
   “Sure you can. Yell at ‘em! They’ll come.”
   You know, “Anything could happen. Anything could happen.”
   And are you that kinda person, when somebody says, “God can’t do that,” you say, “No, I don’t wanna hear that. Now, now God may not do that, but don’t say he can’t. You freak me out. Don’t like those words, like can’t and won’t.” Right? Those four-letter words. We don’t use those. We’re Christians. We use like, “Yes Lord Jesus, get ‘er done.” That’s what we say! We believe it could happen.
   Number five – do you find other Christians coming to you when they face a seemingly overwhelming trial or task?
   Right, when people are like, “I got cancer.”
   “Oh my gosh, my kid walked away from the Lord.”
   “I lost my job.”
   “I’m having a hard time.”
   They come to you – because they want you to have faith and if you have faith that God can and God will show up. That God does love them and that things aren’t over, then they start to have hope and faith too and they borrow yours for a while. They borrow your faith.
   And then lastly, do you have an effective prayer ministry? Do you have an effective prayer ministry with many wonderful answers to prayers that were impossible from the human point of view? If you have the gift of faith, you like to pray and you may even keep a journal or a running mental note of – oop! Check, answered. Check, answered. Check, answered – and you love to pray and you love to see God answer prayers and you believe that God answers prayers and you know that your prayer ministry is effective ‘cause you see God show up. Not that you’re the boss telling him what to do, but you’re humbly asking and he’s a gracious father who likes to take care of his kids.[xix]


   Here we go. You’re all thinking, “Oh, that guy in a white suit’s got that gift.”
   No. That’s not necessarily the evidence of the gift is a white suit and a jet. The definition of the gift of healing is the ability to call on God to heal the sick through supernatural means for the purpose of revealing God. So that means that you pray for somebody and God heals them. You don’t heal them, right, but God heals them and you are the person who gets the blessing of interceding and prayer for them and it’s interesting because people do believe in healing and even Time Magazine did a feature cover article on healing a few years ago. Said, “Science finds God,” because all these doctors are saying, “We don’t know. People are getting healed. Prayer seems to do something. We can’t understand or explain it and we do believe in healing.” And sometimes, doctors don’t know what to do with it, so they make up words like, “spontaneous remission.” Which means, “I don’t know. He’s all better. I don’t know, you know? They’re fine. Co-pay’s gone but praise God.” You know, I mean, it – that, that God heals people. Okay?
   Now, again, the problem with this gift is it has either been misused or it has been claimed by people who don’t have it, right? There are people who say they have this gift and they prey on the weak and the elderly and those who are hurting and dying and suffering. Some of the worst examples are on television. I mean, a few years ago, there was an expose of a TV preacher who said he had the gift of healing and he told all these people, “I can heal you if I pray for you and all you need to do is send me a check and a letter, explaining what you want me to pray for. I’ll cash the check. I’ll pray for you. God’ll heal you. I promise. Send your money.”  
   Well, money rolls in from these grandmas who are shut-ins and these people who are sick and have cancer and they did an exposé. They showed this con man, people in his ministry would rip open the letter, take out the check and throw the letter in the dump. Just throw it in the garbage can, never prayed for anybody. He said that is the most disgusting, despicable thing in the world. There is a special place in hell for guys like that. Right, that take grandma’s money and don’t even read the letter to pray for her and they’re just charlatans, taking advantage of hurting people.   
   That’s disgusting.
   And we all just object to that. That’s just horrible. To take advantage of somebody like that. But that does not negate the fact that there are legitimate gifts and ministries of healing. Okay, there are and just because a gift has been misused doesn’t mean we throw it out, it means we use it rightly. In the same way, there are people that have done terrible things with a Bible. It doesn’t mean the Bible’s bad. It means they used it wrong. So we don’t punt on the Bible, we use it rightly. We don’t punt on healing, we use it rightly.
   Those with the gift of healing trust that God can heal the sick and pray in faith for the physical restoration of those in need. These people see healing as a sign that God uses to reveal his power to people so that many will come to believe in Jesus. The point of healings is not just that people would be physically well, but they would be completely well – mind, body, emotion. That their mental state, their emotional state, their physical state, their spiritual state would all be restored to health. All right, so the point is to point to Jesus. The point of the healing is to reveal Jesus and his ability as great physician to heal the whole person.
   Furthermore, people with this gift don’t see someone healed every time they ask God. I’ve got some verses there, but healing is what God decides to do. Someone with the gift of healing can’t just run around healing everybody. They can ask and God answers and sometimes he answers affirmatively and he, in fact, does heal.
   How about Jesus’ ministry? Did he have a healing ministry? He really did. I’ll read some verses. Matthew 4:23 through 24 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness,” I mean that’s a gift right there. Every disease and sickness.
   There was nothing that was not – under the lordship and the authority of Jesus insofar as sickness and injury and illness was concerned. “News about him spread all over Syria,” right, word got out – this guy heals people, “and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.” He healed them. Right, blind people saw. Lame people walked. Deaf people heard. Dying people were restored. A few dead people came back. That’s a healing gift and Jesus had it.
   Matthew 9:35 says it this way, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Every disease and sickness. Jesus had a ministry of healing. As Christians, some of us will have a ministry of healing.
   Other people in the Bible that had this gift, for your further study – Matthew 10:1 says that Jesus gave the ministry of healing to his disciples. Additionally, there were more disciples in Luke 10:8 and 9, 70 in all, and they were given the ministry of healing. Peter, in Acts 5, is exercising a healing ministry. Paul has occasions where he sees people healed in his ministry and today,
   James 5 says that this is a ministry of pastors or elders in churches. Says is anyone sick, let ‘em go to the church elders, the pastors. They will anoint the person with oil, symbolizing the Holy Spirit and they’ll pray for them in faith that God can heal them and God answers prayer and some will be healed. So today, this is not some obscure ministry. This is even something that we as pastors and elders in this church – we pray for the sick and by God’s grace, we have seen people healed and we praise God for that.
   We praise God for that.
   And so with this, however, sadly, there are many common errors regarding the gift or the ministry of healing. I’ll hit some of them to clarify our position.
   Some say that healings ceased in the first century; that they didn’t exist thereafter; that this happened in the early church and it’s not for us. Well, we say God is the same yesterday, today and forever. God doesn’t change. People’s needs don’t change and additionally, there’s nowhere in Scripture that says that healing will stop, right? They infer it from one section in 1 Corinthians 13, we’ll get to in a few weeks, but there is no evidence in Scripture that healing was just for, you know, 70 years or 100 years. There’s no evidence of that whatsoever.
   Furthermore, it doesn’t hold up, historically because church fathers in the second and third century attest to people with healing ministries and people who were healed. So that position that healing stopped – it doesn’t hold up Biblically, it doesn’t hold up historically, it’s not a tenable position. The only reason that some people gravitate toward it is they’ve seen this gift misused or seen people fake having the gift and take advantage of vulnerable people who are struggling but that doesn’t negate the real gift. It just means we need to be wise and reject the counterfeits.
   Secondly, just because someone says they’re healed doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re under the ministry of a healer. What I mean by this is that when you go to a lot of these sort of miracle crusades and you see the craziness on TV, what happens is people came up – come up on stage and they say, “You know, I had cancer and now it’s gone,” and “I was blind and now I could see.” And they tell you all this stuff and everybody’s crying and the band whips you into a frenzy and they take 27 offerings and, you know, the guy gets a new Rolex and praise be to Baal and that’s the way the thing goes down. You hear I’m a little jaded on this but when it goes down that way, you gotta ask, “Is everyone up there giving a testimony credible?” See, we don’t wanna just hear that a healing is testified, we wanna see that a healing is verified. Meaning if you were going to the doctor and they said you had cancer and then they prayed for you, and God healed you, go back to the doctor and have the doctor verify that you don’t have cancer.
   And this is where a lot of healers fall down. They’ll have testifying but not verifying of possible healings and for us, we wanna see it verified. We don’t wanna just hear a story, because they’ve shown in some of these cases that the people giving the testimonies are faking it and they’re in on a cut of the offering and it’s one big scam to take advantage of hurting people, which is disgusting.
   Some, also, would say, “Well it needs to happen in the church service,” and I would say there is nowhere in the Bible that the gift of healing is exercised in a church service. It’s not. Doesn’t mean it’s a sin, but it doesn’t mean it’s common. It doesn’t mean it’s to be done. Right, we’ll pray for you after the service. We’ll do that, we do that every week. Elders will pray for the sick in this church.
   We’ll send people to visit with you in the hospital and pray for you. We’ll schedule meetings to pray for you. We don’t mind praying for you. Your community group and that’s where you should be, will pray for you. We don’t mind praying for people. We’ll pray but not everything gets done on the stage on a Sunday. The Sunday gathering is for the worship of God, the partaking of communion, and the teaching of the Bible. We’ll get into that a little bit further in 1 Corinthians 14, but those are the primary purposes of the corporate assembly of God’s people in the church. So we don’t do healing services. Healing happens and we pray for the sick, but the best place to do that isn’t in a church service and the New Testament gives no evidence that that was ever the case.
   And then some come along and say, “Well, you know, if you’re really a Christian, you don’t need medical insurance, you don’t need a doctor, because you know, God’s a healer and Jesus is the great physician. Hallelujah! You won’t get sick, praise the Lord!”
   And we say that’s nonsense.
   And they’ll say, “No, no, no! Read the book of Acts. In the book of Acts, people get healed. You don’t need a doctor, you need the Holy Ghost!”
   You with me? “Who wrote the book of Acts?”
    “A doctor!”
   I hate to point out the obvious. To read the book written by the doctor to say you don’t need a doctor – that’s not real sharp, right? That’s not the best logic. Luke was a doctor. He wrote the Gospel of Luke, he wrote the book of Acts. He’s the great historian of the New Testament. He’s a doctor and the point of his teaching is not that you don’t need a doctor, right? I mean this is crazy talk. And part of Luke’s ministry is sometimes traveling with Paul and other times to go do medical ministry.
   All right, so here’s what we believe. Go to your doctor and pray to the great physician, right? Do both. Right, we believe in doctors. Sometimes God works through doctors. We believe that and God also sometimes does the supernatural as the great physician and just works divinely and heals you and we’re – praise be to God for that, too. Whatever God decides to do, we’re down with that and we support that. Go to a doctor. Don’t be so silly as to think you don’t need a doctor. There was a case in the news just in the last week or two where a kid died of a common illness that coulda been cured from an antibiotic but his parents wouldn’t take him to the doctor because they thought in so doing, they wouldn’t be demonstrating faith in Jesus. What? No, go see the doctor. Go see the doctor.
   And some say if you love God and you’re filled with the Holy Ghost, you’ll never get sick, right? And it comes under and usually, too, they’ll also say you’re gonna be rich. Right, so we call it prosperity doctrine. Name it, claim it. Blab it, grab it. You know health and wealth, right?
   These are the banners that this junk flies under. And they’ll say things like, “If you’re filled with the Holy Ghost and you really trust the Lord, you’ll never get sick. Your faith will make you well.”
   That’s a disgusting doctrine. It’s despicable. I knew one meathead, his wife got cancer. He taught this doctrine. If you get sick, it’s because you don’t have enough faith, you have unbelief. You’re a godless person because godly people don’t get sick. And then his wife got diagnosed with cancer and this guy had a choice. He had a choice to either change his doctrine, which was horrible, or rebuke his wife on her deathbed as a godless woman who lacked the faith to be healed. And he rebuked his wife.
   You say, “Is that what Jesus wants?” Jesus wants you to go to your wife’s deathbed as she’s breathing her last with cancer and point the finger at her and say, ‘Oh ye of little faith.’”
   What? What in the – how do you get the idea that you’ll never get sick and you’ll always be rich when you worship a homeless guy who got murdered? Like, how do you get there? I don’t understand that, right? We worship a suffering homeless guy and we’re promised that we’ll be rich and never sick? What? I don’t understand. And we reject that position because in the Bible are there people who do love God who are filled with the Holy Spirit. People who have unbelievable love for Jesus and they’re sick. Yeah, yeah, it’s true.
   I’ll give you some examples. Epaphroditus, Philippians 2, he loved the Lord and he was sick. Timothy – 1 Timothy 5:23 – he was sick.
   I had one, sorta health preacher tell me, “Well, he didn’t have enough faith.” Dude, we have two books of the Bible named after the guy. He’s on the team, right? Like, if he doesn’t have enough faith, we’re jacked, all right? That’s my point. If Timothy isn’t close enough to God and God writes two letters to him, me and Hank are in serious trouble, right? Of course Timothy had faith. He was still sick, Trophimus, 2 Timothy 4:20, he was sick – and how about Paul?
   Did Paul have the gift of healing? Did he see people healed? Yeah.
   Was he sick?
   You think people made fun of him for that? I’m sure they did, right? Paul was sick.
   I’ll give you some examples. It’s – a lot of his letters, he’s like, “Pray for me, I’m sick. I don’t feel so good.” Right? And by the way, I healed so-and-so. You’re like, “Wha- that musta been a bummer,” right? Like, you and you and you – healed. Me? Dang it! You know? 1 Corinthians 2:3, 2 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:5, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Galatians 4:13. Paul keeps saying, “I’m sick.”
   And again, I had one crazy preacher tell me, “Paul didn’t have enough faith.” I’m like, Paul? Paul wrote half the New Testament. Like, if Paul doesn’t have enough faith, we’re all doomed! Like, you know, Paul did belong to Jesus, you know, and it’s just silly. It’s just silly to say that it’s our faith and not God’s grace that heals us and that God must heal us or that God can’t heal us. God can heal. God does heal. God doesn’t have to heal. God’s God. He gets to do what he wants.
   How about this. Do you have this gift?
   Well how about this – do you have a deep compassion for people who are sick? You hear that somebody’s sick or got hurt or got diagnosed with something terrible and your heart just breaks. You are just emotionally connected. You wanna call them, email them, pray for them, go visit them. You just – you, you’re just drawn to those who are sick.
   Do you have a deep conviction that God can heal anybody? All right, you believe that God could heal people and so you have hope and it maybe that it’s even tied to the gift of faith. Do you enjoy praying for people who are sick? You know, some people are freaked out by sick people. They don’t like to go to hospitals. They don’t need – like be around sick people. If you have the gift of healing, you’re drawn to people who are sick and hurting. You’re drawn to hospitals. You’re drawn to those who are suffering. It doesn’t repel you, it compels you toward them.
   Have you seen God heal someone? Boy, if so, that fired you up to pray even more, didn’t it? And when God heals someone, are you so excited ‘cause it shows the power and the majesty of Jesus and the goodness of Jesus and the hope is that more people will hear about Jesus because of that healing. And do you long for the coming of God’s kingdom? When there’ll be no more curse, no more sickness, no more sin, no more death and everyone will be healed. And you love it when God’s kingdom breaks into this world and somebody’s healed and you really long for that day when we all get our final healing.
   Now let me say this – I’ve seen people healed. I’ve seen people who had demonic affliction, that gave them physical injury and when we dealt with the demonic oppression, then they were healed, right? Their panic attacks went away, their mood changed, their multiple personality disorder went away, their – they changed, right? What they had was demonic oppression. Sometimes it’s supernatural imposing itself in a negative way on the physical.
   We’ve also seen people who have been healed. And I’ll tell you the first person that ever thought actually had this gift was someone early on in the years of Mars Hill and they told me about their gift – and this made so much sense to me – they said, “I think I have the gift of healing, Pastor Mark.”
   I said, “Well, explain it to me because I’m a skeptic and I’ve heard all kinds of nonsense. I believe it exists but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it for real.”
   And they said, “I love to pray for the sick and oftentimes when I pray, God heals them.”
   I said, “Well how do you do this?”
   They said, “I don’t like anybody to know, because I don’t want lots of attention, don’t wanna be a rock star. I don’t want an arena. I don’t wanna be on TV.” They said, “I love kids.” This was actually an older woman. She said, “I love kids.” She said, “I go to hospitals. I go to hospitals and I visit either children’s hospitals or I visit the children’s wing of hospitals. And I go from room to room and I talk to kids about Jesus and I pray for them. And I tell them that if they get better, it’s because Jesus loves them.”
   And I thought, you know what, if you really did have that gift, that’s probably how you’d use it, right? Not white suit, new jet, 27 offerings and some exposé on Dateline. It probably wouldn’t go that way.
   She said, also, she said, “I love to pray for people who are burn victims.”
   I thought, you know, how many people wanna go to the burn ward, right? You talk about a horrifying place, the burn ward.
   She said, “I like to go to the burn ward and pray for burn victims and I pray for their healing. And some get healed and many have met Jesus.”
   And I thought, you know what, that sounds like a legitimate gift to me. Right, this is not a scam artist. This is – this is – this is a real gracious, humble, quiet use of the gift.
    So we believe the gift exists. We don’t believe that everyone who says they have it has it unless it’s verified. And we don’t believe that we are to just embrace all people who declare themselves to be healers. At the same time, we do not negate the fact that healing is for today, that God gives the gift to some people and he does answer their prayers and he can and does heal people and we don’t want to dismiss them because a few con men ruin it for the rest of us.[xx]


<insert miraculous grace video>

   This one gets funky, too.
   The gift of miracles is in 1 Corinthians 12:9 and is the ability to call on God to do supernatural acts to reveal his power. Miracles are where God shows up in some extraordinary way and you can’t account for it, it’s just God.
   And I’ve heard people say, “Oh, I’ve never seen one.” That’s because they don’t happen very often. Miracles are, by definition, things that don’t happen very often. If they happen all the time, we call ‘em Tuesday, right? Not miracle. Tuesday. It’s far out of Heaven day. Woo hoo! You know it’s unusual, right?
   “Oh, the sea parted! Look at that, must be Tuesday.”
   No, these things are unusual. They don’t happen all the time

   People with the gift of miracles see God show up in extraordinary ways, from little daily events, to major public displays. Examples from the Bible include seeing demons cast out of people. That’s a supernatural act of power. Nature obeying God’s authority and the dead being raised.
   Some of you say, “Do you believe dead people could be raised?”
   Sure I do. Not a lot. Right, Jesus rose and what does it say? That other people rose, too. It can happen. It does. Have I seen it?
   I don’t think so but it could happen. God can do anything God wants to do.
   Obviously, as I say these things are uncommon, do not happen regularly, otherwise they would not be viewed as miraculous but rather commonplace. People with this gift are not to chase signs and wonders but they do expect signs and wonders and miracles to follow God’s people.
   Here’s our position. We do not chase signs, wonders and miracles. We don’t go to crazy crusades and the healing guy and the snake handling church and the, and the guy, who for $ 29.95 will get rid of your gout. We don’t, we don’t chase all that kinda nonsense. We chase Jesus, right? We wanna follow Jesus, love Jesus, obey Jesus, get close to Jesus and we believe that as we pursue Jesus, we don’t follow miracles but we do believe that miracles follow us. To give evidence that we’re going in the right direction. To encourage others to continue to follow us toward Jesus.
   How about Jesus’ ministry? Did Jesus’ ministry include the miraculous? It sure did. John, Chapter 20, Verses 30 and 31 says, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, were are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” It says that Jesus did so many miracles, that we don’t even have a complete record of them in the Bible, there was just so many but the ones in the Bible were hand-selected to prove that Jesus is God.
   So the point of miracles is to be – a series of signs that point to Jesus as God. So the point of the miracle is still to get people to Jesus. I want you to see that. Want you to see that. Additionally, in Acts 2:22, we are told that “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited to God, by you – by God to you, rather – by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” So God the father did miracles, signs and wonders through Jesus and today, as we continue as Christians in Jesus’ wake and ministry, sometimes God shows up and does miracles, signs and wonders through us, too.
   Here are some of Jesus’ miracles. He commanded nature. You know, there’s a storm. “Knock it off!” No more storm. That’s cool, right?
   Jesus walked on water. I mean that’s unbelievable. Imagine this – Seafair Hydro Weekend, everybody’s out on the log boom and you’re just walking along, “Hey guys! Howya doin’?” On Lake Washington, right? They’ll be like, “Where does he go to church? We’re going there.” You know, you know, he’s walking up –that’s a miracle.
   How about this one – he turns water into wine. That’s hard, right? Yeah, take 100 gallons of water and turn it into really good wine. That was his first miracle.
   How about this one – Jesus brings back guys from death like Lazarus. That’s a neat miracle.
   How about this one – Jesus’ miracle of taking a little boy’s lunch and feeding 5,00 men plus the women and children, maybe 20,000 people. He fed ‘em with a Lunchable. Right? This little boy, “Mommy, I’m going to see Jesus.” She gives him a Hebrew Lunchable. “Here’s a Lunchable, son.” So he gets his little Hebrew Lunchable, he goes to see the Lord Jesus, he looks around, “Jesus, there’s 20,000 people, you’ve been preaching all day. You’re worse than Pastor Mark. They’re hungry. They need something to eat.”
   And Jesus says, “Cool, thank you son,” and he fed 20,000 people with a Lunchable.
   And the Bible says in there was 12 baskets because each of his disciples then had a take home, right? A to-go bag, right? A Hebrew to-go bag. That’s a miracle. That’s a miracle. And so Jesus’ ministry had all kinds of miracles.
   How about biblically? Other people have it? Yeah. It says in Acts 2:43 that the Apostles did, “many miraculous signs.” All pointing to Jesus. Stephen, we’re told in Acts 6:8 did “great miracles.”
   Paul, we are told in Acts 19 did extraordinary miracles in Ephesus. Also, Paul cast demons out of people in Acts 16. You say, you believe in demons? Yeah, we’ll get to that in a minute. We do. We don’t like ‘em, right? People say, “What’s your position on demons?” We’re against them. You know, we believe in them and we don’t like them.
   And there was a guy in Acts 13, he was a demonic-inspired sorcerer who was messing up the ministry and so God blinded the guy and a miracle was done by God. And in the Bible, too, if you wanna see guys who have miracles around ‘em, look at Moses. Tons of miracles around Moses. I mean, it starts with a bush talking to him. The next thing you know, you know, there’s frogs everywhere. I mean, it – there’s a lot of miracles around Moses. You go to Elijah and Elisha, tons of miracles. Fire down from heaven, right? I mean, there’s miracles around these three people’s ministries and lives.
   Here’s some common errors regarding the gift of miracles. One, people who use this gift wrongly exalt themselves instead of God. And that’s what – they say, “I’m anointed. I have the power of God.”
   The worst I’ve ever seen was a guy who said, “And now Holy Spirit, I command you,” what? The Holy Spirit’s God. He’s not, you know, an errand boy to go do what you tell him. You know, this arrogant puffing up with pride to the degree where, “I have the gift and I tell the Holy Spirit what to do and he obeys me.” Hoo hoo! Boy, oh boy I hope, I hope, I hope you have some fireproof underwear for the end, you know? I mean, it’s just gonna be terrible for you. Thinking you’re God, bossing the Holy Spirit around, that’s crazy talk. Right, any time you use it to exalt yourself – “I’m the Lord’s anointed. I do miracles. I speak for the,” Oh, no you don’t.
   Jesus talks about these guys. They come to him at the end and they say, “Lord, Lord, didn’t we do miracles in your name?” What does he say? I don’t know who you are. You’re going to hell. “We had a great ministry!” Well, it’s over now. You didn’t – you did not exalt me. You didn’t serve me. You were just doing it for your own thing.
   Some people too, say, “You know that it’s a mighty man or woman of God if they have a miracle or if miracles surround them, because that shows that God’s anointed them.”
   No it doesn’t.
   I’ll prove it to you. Just because miracles are part of someone’s ministry does not mean that they are superior to other religious leaders in any way. I’ll prove it to you. Jesus says, in Matthew’s Gospel – that no one is greater than whom? John the Baptizer. Jesus says, there’s never been anybody born that’s greater than John the Baptizer. John, Chapter 10, Verse 41, Jesus also says John the Baptizer never performed a miracle. Do you know that? Right, would you look at John the Baptizer and say, “Well, there’s a second-class servant of God. There’s a man who we don’t know if God was with him, because we never saw a miracle.”
   Those who would say, “I should get a crusade. Everybody should come follow me. I got some miracles.” That doesn’t mean anything. Do you love Jesus? Do you have sound doctrine? Are you serving the Lord? Jesus says, “Nobody’s greater than John,” and John never did a miracle. All right, the gift of miracles doesn’t make you a superior servant or child of God. It just doesn’t. It’s one of the gifts. It’s one of the ways to serve. We praise God for it but those who would make it the litmus test for spiritual maturity and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit have erred grievously.
   Other errors that are common. Jesus says in Luke 11:29, “A wicked, adulterous generation seeks for a sign.” Some people just want power, not Jesus. They want miracles, not Jesus. They want the supernatural, not Jesus. They want the paranormal, not Jesus. They wanna be clairvoyant. They wanna read people’s minds. They wanna see the future, they want all – and Jesus says, “That’s just wicked.”
   We don’t seek signs, we seek God. We don’t chase signs and wonders. They follow us as we follow Jesus. And some of you say, “But I’m not a Christian, but Pastor Mark, I would become a Christian if I saw a miracle.” You know what? That’s not true, either. There are people who saw Jesus walk on water, Jesus feed thousands with a little boy’s lunch, saw Jesus turn water into wine, saw Jesus resurrect from death – the greatest miracle in all of history – men like Judas Iscariot. And because their hearts were hard, the truth came to them like bullet off a rock and just deflected itself away, never penetrated so that they would know and love Jesus. It’s not so much about how many miracles you see, but it is more about the receptivity of your heart and mind to the truth. The Bible is filled with more than enough evidence and more than enough eyewitness testimony about the miracles of Jesus and those must be sufficient.
   Do you have this gift? Do you truly believe that God can do the impossible? Miracles can happen. That person could get saved. That person could get healed. That church could be planted. That country could be reached. That marriage could be saved. You know, that, that demon could be cast. Anything could happen.
   Do you believe that God is the God of the supernatural, the miraculous, the unexplained. Secondly, when you read of the many miracles in the Bible, you’re encouraged because you love seeing God show off in a way that can’t be ignored. Right, are you the person, when you read the Bible, you gravitate toward the miracles, right? “Woo! Fire outta Heaven! Yes! I love that! Woo! Walkin’ on water! Yes! Love that! Jetskiing 1.0. Love that!” You know, you love the miracles. My sons love the miracles. “Daddy, tell me ‘bout the dead guy who came back and stunk.” Right, they love that stuff. In the King James, it says that Lazarus stinketh. They love that! Right, and some of you love the miracle stories in the Bible. You just love those. You read those, you remember those, they stick with you. You pray for those things to happen, maybe this is your gift.
   Have you seen someone freed of demonic oppression? Right, they were demonized, oppressed or internally influenced and God delivered them and they were changed and it was a miracle.
   Have you seen God perform miracles? Have you ever seen one? When you see or hear of a miracle, is your faith increased? You’re like, “Yes! I know God could do that. He did it! That’s awesome. I trust him and I believe in him. I gotta tell everybody so they believe too.” And do you use stories of God’s miracles to help prove to others that Jesus is God?
   Some of you with the gift of miracles, when you’re arguing for Jesus, people are like, “I don’t believe in Jesus.”
   “You have to, man. He rose from the dead. How do you explain that? How do you get a dead guy outta the grave? You know where Buddha’s at? He’s in the grave. You know where Mohammad’s at? He’s in the grave. You know where Jesus is at? Alive and well. What are you gonna do with that?”
   You’re the miracle people. You love to argue for the miracles.
   “Jesus fed people. Jesus walked on water. Jesus healed people. Jesus rose from the dead. What are you gonna do with that?” And you argue for your faith from the miracles because for you, that’s such convincing evidence.
   Some say, “Well, I’ve never seen a miracle.” I tell you what. I’ve seen some. I’ve seen unbelievable acts of God, but I tell you one of the coolest miracles – and maybe you don’t agree with me – but I think Mars Hill’s a miracle. I mean we’re in the least churched city in America. There’s more dogs than Christians, right? There’s nowhere to park. You know? And you’re here. It’s crazy. And it’s hot. It’s really hot. Like I shoulda preached on hell and used this as an illustration. It’s hot in here all summer, right?
   And everybody said, “It can’t be done and people won’t come to church,” and you know what? People are becoming Christians. Last week, 63 people got baptized at Mars Hill. Sixty-three. You know what it is, 63 miracles, that’s what that is. You know, and some people say, “Oh that’s not a miracle they became Christian,”
   Oh it’s a miracle when somebody becomes a Christian. See, they say, “Oh, God parted the sea.” Well, the sea’s not nearly as stubborn as people. When the sea obeys God, I go, “I see that.”
   When somebody obeys God, “That’s a miracle. That’s unbelievable,” Because people are stubborn, man. To see people become Christians. To see people be saved by God, repent of sin and love Jesus and have new lives and to have a completely different eternally destiny – that’s a miracle. So we see it all the time and some of the miracles sometimes are just seeing lives changed by God, miraculously. I mean, I’ve seen people who were divorced get remarried because they became Christians and changed.
   That’s a miracle. That doesn’t happen apart from God.


   So we’ll start with tongues and when your Bible uses the word “tongues,” it means, literally, languages. The Greek word – I won’t get into all of the different Greek words that I’ll be using tonight but this Greek word that’s translated “tongues” in the English translation actually means languages – and so there are various languages, right?
   If you go to Mexico, people speak Spanish.
   If you go to Korea, people speak Korean.
   If you go to Quebec, they’re speaking French.
   If you go to Texas, they’re speaking redneck.
   If you go to, you go to, you know, South Central, they’re speaking Snoop shizzle.
   If you go to Heaven, there’s apparently, as well, a Heavenly language that God and the angels use to communicate and there’s a Heavenly language there as well.
   And so when we’re speaking of tongues, we’re speaking of languages – various earthly languages, as well as the Heavenly language spoken by God and the angels – and when it comes to the gift of tongues, the first thing I wanna say is that we reject two extreme positions.
   One is the Pentecostal position, which essentially states that everyone can and should speak in tongues. We reject that because not everyone can or should speak in tongues. It says in Romans 12:6 that we each have different gifts. So not everybody’s gonna have the same gift – we have different gifts. Some of you speak in tongues, some of you don’t. We have different gifts.
   In 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12, I think it was around Verse 11, he said that God the Holy Spirit sovereignly distributes spiritual gifts as he determines. You can’t pick your gift and I can’t give you a gift.
   Some traditions will tell you if you come forward and I’m the anointed preacher, I whack you on the noggin’, you get the Holy Ghost, you speak in tongues and I could just sorta give it away like, you know, coupons, but it doesn’t work that way because I can’t give gifts, the Holy Spirit gives gifts. You can’t pick your gift.
   God the Holy Spirit chooses your gift and he chose for us to have different gifts. So some speak in tongues and some do not and Paul asked this question rhetorically at the end of Chapter 12 in Verses 29 and 30, where he asks this rhetorical question, Is everybody an apostle?” and the answer is, well no. And then he asks, “Well, does everybody speak in tongues?” and the answer is, well no, not everybody but some do. Some do.
   Now, the other extreme position is called the cessationist position. The cessationist’s position says that no one should speak in tongues and that tongues are essentially not for today. We reject both of these. One saying that God can’t have anybody speak in tongues and one saying that God must let every Christian speak in tongues and we believe that tongues, like all other gifts, are given to some people but not all people.
   And so in this church, you do have pastors – this may surprise some of you – who have the gift of tongues. Actually, I didn’t know it, I took an informal poll among our 15 pastors, and 3 of them speak in tongues, about 20 percent of your pastors here have the gift of tongues. I don’t. I don’t have the Heavenly language and I don’t have that gift, okay? So I don’t speak from experience on the gift of tongues.
   When it comes to tongues, however, there are three different ways that the New Testament speaks of the expression of the gift of tongues, okay? And the reason I tell you this is that one of the great errors, theologically, is reductionism. Reductionism is this. It’s not saying something is against the Bible, it’s simply not saying everything that the Bible says. Okay? So when we come to an issue, if the Bible has ten things to say, we want to look at all ten of those things. Reductionism is saying we look at one of those things and we ignore the rest, right? And that’s not lying, but it’s also not full truthfulness and so we want full truthfulness when it comes to issues. If the Bible has three things to say about tongues, we want to look at all three, not just one.
   And so, I’ll give you a big college word. What we wanna be in our theology is something that the theologians call multiperspectival. Big word, especially for a guy who went to public school. But I want you to make you feel like you got your money’s worth. So I’ll give you another big word, multiperspectival. I’ll say it again, because it’s fun. Multiperspectival – and what we mean by that is that if the Bible has a lot of things to say on an issue, we want to look at all the things the Bible has to say on that issue so that we’re being thorough. We’re looking at all the perspectives that the Bible has to give us.
   And so, when it comes to tongues, the three perspectives, the three expressions that I want you to be aware of are these. The first expression of the gift of tongues is simply this. It is a prayer language, right? And again, I don’t have this gift. I’ve never manifested this gift, but those who do and love Jesus that are friends of mine tell me that they’ll be, for example, at home praying and they’ll be praying in English and then they will slip into the Heavenly language. The language, apparently, of God and the angels and they’re praying in that language. It’s a language that is unknown to them and it’s a miraculous, supernatural capacity that God gives them to speak in the Heavenly language, to have a private prayer time, that connects them to the Lord in a very powerful way, from what they have told me, so that they have this prayer ministry of intercession.
   Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 14:14 where he says, “I pray in a tongue.” I’ve heard some people say, “I don’t believe there’s praying in tongues.” Paul says, “I pray in a tongue. I pray in tongues.” So, part of the expression of the gift of tongues is a private prayer language whereby you are not even altogether sure of what it is you are praying but you are connecting with God, speaking the Heavenly language and it’s this miraculous, supernatural prayer language that God gives you. And I know, especially in this service, there are people who have this gift and they would say, “Yeah, that’s what I do. I pray in tongues. I have a prayer language of tongues.” And we would say, “Yes, that is one of the ways in which the gift expresses itself,” and we would embrace that.
   The second expression of the gift is a missionary gift where you meet someone and you don’t speak their language and they don’t speak yours and God wants you to tell them about Jesus and then God gives you the supernatural ability to speak their language, right?
   And again, I’ll have to use an example from someone that I know who does love the Lord and is very mature and so I trust them. They said that they went on a mission trip to a country where they didn’t speak the language, which to me in the first place, that sorta – I don’t know why you’d go on a mission trip if you can’t speak the language. I mean, that’s like, I’m the lifeguard who can’t swim. Like, well, couldn’t somebody else do that? They went to this country and they didn’t speak the language and they met some people and they were trying to tell them about Jesus and the people didn’t speak English and they didn’t speak their language and they were very frustrated. They tried to explain it in English and then they started speaking those people’s native language and those people got saved and gave their lives to Jesus.
   That is the missionary ability to speak a known earthly language, not the heavenly language, otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to communicate with them.
   We see this demonstrated in Acts, Chapter 2 at the day of Pentecost. There was this huge party celebration feast, festival. All these people get together from lots of towns and lots of cities and lots of cultures and backgrounds and they’re all together for this huge celebration and then God the Holy Spirit drops, literally, on his servants on the Christian leaders in that day and they start preaching about Jesus to the different groups of people in their own language and their own dialect, right? I mean, this is an unbelievable ability. It’s one thing to just pick up a new language, instantaneously, but then to pick up the dialect – meaning if you’re speaking to a Canadian guy, you drop a lotta As and if you’re talking to a shizzle, you know, Snoop fan, all of a sudden everything’s got a “izzle” on the end. You’re just totally into not only the language, but the dialect. Talking to a guy from Texas and it’s “y’all and Jay-sus,” it’s like that, right? And so all of a sudden, they’re speaking – and, you know, in general, these are common people that are doing this and everybody’s looking at it saying, “These guys are blue-collar guys. How do they know our language? When did they pick up linguistics and sub-cultural euphemisms and Southern drawls? I mean where did these guys get that? It’s a miracle.” And they’re telling us about Jesus. And it says on that day, 3,000 people gave their lives to Jesus and got saved. That’s the supernatural ministry of being able to speak an earthly language that you otherwise have no ability to do so because you do not know it. Not only the language, but the subset, the dialect, the colloquialism to most effectively communicate to people that you otherwise would not be enabled to do so.
   And then the third is a revelatory language. Okay, let me explain this to you. Let’s say there is a king in another kingdom and he doesn’t speak our language and we don’t speak his but he wants to say something to us. So he sends an ambassador to speak on his behalf and then we would need to get a translator or an interpreter to translate or interpret what the ambassador said so that we, in English, could understand what the king from the other nation had to say to us. This is exactly what happens, for example, at a United Nations meeting, right? A king sends a delegate and then there’s an interpreter or translator to make it known to others who are there that don’t share the language.
   Well, God is a king and in his kingdom, he speaks Heavenese, or whatever it is. He’s got his own language there and so when he wants to speak to us, we don’t speak Heavenese and so what God does, he chooses a Christian to be that ambassador with the gift of tongues and then they speak the Heavenly language – but now we need an interpreter or a translator; someone with that gift that’s listed in 1 Corinthians 12:10, the gift of interpretation or translation to then translate that into English so then we know what, you know, the King Jesus has to say to us, his loyal subjects.
   And those are the multiperspectival views of tongues. It’s a private prayer language. It’s also the ability sometimes to speak to someone in a known earthly language and sometimes it’s the ability to speak the Heavenly language, oftentimes accompanied with the gift of interpretation so that that can be made known in a known earthly language so we, who are listening, then know what is being said. That’s tongues. That’s just the definition. We’ll get into the use of it in a few mo


   I believe that there is the Old Testament office of Prophet, which is limited to a handful and closed, and then there is the ongoing spiritual giftedness and ministry of prophecy that is subservient to and under, nonetheless like, though, the Old Testament gift of the prophet.
   So let me explain this to you. First, let me explain to you the Old Testament office of prophet. When we’re talking Old Testament prophet, we’re talking a two-fold ministry. One, they hear from God; God reveals his truth to them, speaks to them, and then their second ministry is to communicate that to the masses. Some were speaking prophets. Some were writing prophets and some were both and when we think of Old Testament prophets, we’re talking Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. We’re talking about the guys who gave us the Old Testament and these are, literally, the spokesmen, the amplifiers, the mouthpieces as it were, for God and God wants to speak and he speaks through them to the masses. And when they speak, they speak with the highest authority.
   Gerhard Von Rad, he’s an Old Testament scholar, he’s gone through and counted up the number of times that the phrase “thus sayeth the Lord” appears in the Old Testament and he says that it appears 221 times in reference to an Old Testament prophet. So an Old Testament prophet says, “thus sayeth the Lord,” that’s what it says in the King James, and I think that just sounds so cool.
   Some of your translation will say, “God says,” but that’s not nearly as cool. “Thus sayeth the Lord” is the King James way of saying the prophet speaks on behalf of God and when the prophets spoke on behalf of God, they were giving us Bible, they were highest authority, they were speaking for God and you were supposed to repent of sin and return to God and that was the primary ministry of the prophet. They spoke and wrote for God. They were the mouthpiece of God on the earth and they gave us the Old Testament Scriptures.
   That being said, I want to warn you that there are also false apostles and prophets. Jesus, John and Paul in the New Testament all say that false prophets always rise up in every generation. They lie and try to lead people astray. I want you to know that there are false prophets.
   I’ll give you two examples. Mormonism was founded by one. A guy named Joseph Smith says, “I’m a prophet of God.” We’ll look at it in a moment but he doesn’t meet the qualifications of the prophet of God. What he says doesn’t agree with the Bible. What he says doesn’t point to the Jesus of the Bible. Islam is founded by the self-proclaimed prophet, Muhammad. We don’t believe that Muhammad was a prophet. We believe Muhammad was a false prophet because he doesn’t agree with the rest of the Bible and he doesn’t point to the Jesus of the Bible. Therefore, that’s a false prophet. And so we are Christians, not Muslims and there is a great difference because they believe that Muhammad is the last and greatest prophet, even superior to Jesus. We don’t believe anyone is superior to Jesus, especially a false prophet.
   And so how do you know whether or not someone is a real prophet or a false prophet? Because if you follow a false prophet, you’ll join a false religion, you’ll worship a false god and you can end up on Hell for that. See, I tell you this because I want you all to be discerning and not end up in some cult or some weird whack-job religion.
   So you gotta get your prophets straight.
   The two places in the Old Testament that are clearest – there are many others – but that are clearest on what constitutes a true versus a false prophet are Deuteronomy, Chapter 13; Deuteronomy, Chapter 18; both written by the great prophet, Moses. In Deuteronomy 13, a couple of the things that he says is that a false prophet can do false miracles. So just because somebody has power or can heal people or does signs, wonders and miracles, do not automatically assume that they are stamped with God’s approval because we see, for example, in the days of Moses that it was the Egyptian pharaoh who had his magicians who were doing signs, wonders and miracles falsely. It says in Thessalonians that Satan will do counterfeit signs, wonders and miracles in an effort to even deceive the elect. So just because someone has signs, wonders, miracles, supernatural power – they heal somebody, they do something miraculous – that does not mean they automatically are stamped with God’s approval. They may be working through demonic power and authority, not divine power and authority.
   Secondly, they will point – Deuteronomy 13 says – to false gods, right? They’re not gonna point you to the Jesus of the Bible and even if they use the name Jesus, they use it like 2 Corinthians 11 says, it’s another Jesus. All right, it’s another gospel. It’s another Holy Spirit. It’s a whole ‘nother set of teaching. Mormonism does not believe that Jesus Christ is eternal God who became a man. Believes that Jesus Christ is essentially the brother of Lucifer and a created man, who’s not eternal God. That’s a different Jesus. That’s a false prophet. Muhammad does not believe that Jesus Christ is God. He doesn’t believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose for our sins. That’s a false prophet. It doesn’t point to the Jesus of the Bible.
   Now what happened in the Old Testament, according to Deuteronomy 13 is, if you were a false prophet who pointed away from the Jesus of the Bible, what did they do to you? They killed you. The consequence for false prophecy is becoming metaphysically challenged. That is what happens to false prophets. That’s why you don’t get repeat offenders, right? You’re like, “I was a false prophet. Just once.” That’s all you get. Swing, miss, you’re out. No three strikes. You’re done, right?
   And see, this is where, in our day when you got these whackjobs on TV, predicting the end of the world. “I’m a prophet. I got a prophecy.” It’s like, “Hey, if you think you’re equal to the Bible, great. Then if you make a mistake, we whack you.” I mean, that settles a lot of the you know, “Oops, I didn’t – I made a mistake.”
   No, prophets don’t make mistakes like that. When you read the Old Testament, there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of prophecies that all come true in excruciatingly accurate detail. Many of them surrounding the person and work of Jesus. Born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem. As a little boy, goes to the temple that was destroyed in 70 AD and no longer exists. Rides into town on a donkey. Is betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver. Is hung on a cross. Is crucified between two thieves and then he rises from death. I mean, these are incredible prophecies. Not to mention the fact he’d be born of a virgin. I mean the Bible is incredibly accurate 100 percent of the time with the prophecies that it gives and if you are a true prophet of God, in the Biblical sense of the Old Testament, your requirement is to bat a thousand.
   Which leads me to Deuteronomy 18. The qualification there for a real prophet is two-fold. One, they are consistent with the prior revelation of the prophets, the Old Testament Scriptures. Anybody who comes along and disagrees with the Bible, they’re a false prophet. Secondly, they are always accurate 100 percent of the time and if not, again, in Deuteronomy 18 and the old covenant, you could put them to death if they were not.
   So what we’re saying is there are real prophets, there are false prophets. Real prophets love Jesus. Real prophets repent of sin. Real prophets tell the truth. Real prophets aren’t for hire, out to the highest bidder. Real prophets point to the Jesus of the Bible. Real prophets agree with Scripture and real prophets bat a thousand. Those are some of the requirements that the Bible gives for a real prophet.
   False prophets – whole ‘nother story. That means even if you get a guy like Nostradamus, who had a few right, we seem to think. If he didn’t bat a thousand, he’s still a false prophet because true prophets bat a thousand. These are some of the ways we can distinguish between a true prophet and a false prophet, you know, real worship of the real God and counterfeit religion and counterfeit cults and the occult and such.
   Another way we could distinguish as Christians is John 7:17. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would live in Christians and he would give us discernment to know what was from God and what wasn’t and so part of what we have going for us is we have the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit saying, “Well, that agrees with the Bible and that honors Jesus,” or “No that doesn’t. That can’t be from God.” And the Holy Spirit helps us to distinguish these things.
   So in conclusion, let me put these two together. Ephesians 2:20 says that the church is built on the cornerstone of the Lord Jesus Christ and the foundation of which is laid is the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles. Those are the people who give us the 66 books of the Christian canon of the Bible, right? These are the people who either wrote, spoke or were eyewitnesses to and gave the report for the books of the Bible, okay?
   And so what he’s staying is this, in Ephesians 2:20, he’s saying that the Old Testament and the New Testament come from the capital-P Prophets and the capital-A Apostles. Either they said it. They wrote it. They saw it. They confirmed it. They’ve testified to it. They’ve authenticated the truth and therefore once we have that foundation laid, we don’t have prophets and apostles in that same sense. Meaning today there will not be a prophet that rises up and gives us new books of the Bible to throw in at the end. The canon is closed. The Bible is established. It is now our highest authority and we test everything by the Bible and it is the metaphorical Supreme Court of highest authority.
   How does this work with prophecy? Well, what that means is that the New Testament gift of prophecy is less authoritative than the Old Testament prophets were because we take what is said by potential prophets today and we test it by the Bible because they are under the Bible.
Give you two examples. In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul says; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Meaning somebody comes in, says, “I have a prophecy,” you go, “Oh man. Another wingnut? What is – is happy hour over? Are they out again?”
   You know, I mean, “Here they come, they got a word from God,” you know, “Blah, blah, blah.”
   I mean you can – if you’re from more of an extreme charismaniac shake-and-bake background, you may be just so prophesied out. You know, you’ve heard the end of the world is coming 27 times. You know, you bought all the canned goods, bottled water. Nope, swing and a miss. Next.
   You know, you’re saying, “Okay, enough already. Stop predicting the end of the world. Stop predicting the floods, the earthquake, that we’ll all get BMWs, that Angelina Jolie’ll have a crush on me. Knock it off. I don’t wanna hear any more stuff. Just – none of it’s ever gonna happen.”
   Right? Especially the Angelina Jolie part, right, it’s just never gonna happen. “Don’t get my hopes up. Don’t get my fears up. Just leave me alone.”
If you’ve been around an abuse of prophecy, you might treat prophecies with contempt. Like, “All right, look. I’ve had enough. Enough of that.”
   He says, don’t treat prophecies with contempt but here’s what he does say. Test all things. Reject that which is evil. Cling to that which is good. Meaning if somebody says they got a prophecy? Test it.
   Now that’s different than the Old Testament prophets because they were highest authority, thus sayeth the Lord. New Testament, the gift of prophecy is under the authority of the Old Testament prophets and we check it, we test it by the Bible. Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 14. We’ll look at it next week. The second half of the chapter, he says, if someone has a prophecy, they don’t automatically get to go up in front of the church and get a mic and say, “I prophesy the end of the world! I prophesy this, that and the other thing. What they do is they meet with the leaders of the church – here it would be the elders, the pastors – they tell us what their prophecy is. We check it. If it’s true, then we share it with you. If not, then we don’t. We’ve had all kinds of people who had prophecies.
   So far, we haven’t had any of them that we thought were Biblical. That’s why you don’t hear about them. We don’t just put a mic up and have, like, you know, open mic, you know American Idol prophet night. Everybody give it a shot, you know, and if it comes true, then you go to the next round, you know what I mean? It doesn’t go like that. You get tested. You get checked because in the New Testament, the prophet isn’t the highest authority, the pastors are and if somebody says they have a prophetic word, then the pastors check that and they check it by the Bible because that is the highest authority. So the highest authority is the Bible. The pastors and leaders of the church are under the authority of the Bible and any potential prophetic word needs to be tested by the leaders through the Bible to confirm whether or not it’s true and if not, it’s to be rejected.
   So, what is prophecy then? Well, I believe, like tongues, there are three expressions of prophecy that the New Testament speaks of.
   The first is proclaiming the word of God. It is essentially preaching. It’s what I do for a living. It’s taking the word of God and by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming it as truth so that people would repent of sin and trust in Jesus. It’s a preaching function. This is the broadest and most general – and most generous – use of the concept of prophecy. I’ll give you some references. 1 Corinthians 14:4 says that prophecy “edifies the church,” right, if I do my job right and I teach the Bible well, then the whole church is edified – and my prophecy is not some new word from God, new book of the Bible, it’s just taking the words of the Bible and explaining them so we have understanding. 1 Corinthians 14:6 and 7 speak of a prophecy or a word of instruction. So it links prophecy with teaching or word of instruction as synonyms. Thereby, in this sense, the prophecy is teaching the Bible. It’s the word of instruction. That’s preaching and teaching. That’s what I do. And then in 1 Corinthians 14:24 and 25, it says that preaching the Bible, prophesying the truth that is already in Scripture, will allow non-Christians to come in, learn about Jesus, recognize they’re sinful and get saved. Right, that’s not you know, predicting the end of the world, that’s teaching the Bible so that people would meet Jesus. So in the broadest sense, the most generous sense, prophesying today includes the ministry of preaching God’s word as truth.
   The second use of the gift is where it gets a little more controversial and that is foretelling the future and when I say, “prophecy,” most of you probably think that. At the time of its writing, 25 percent of your Bible, roughly, was prophetic in nature, predicting some future event, many and most of them surrounding the person and work of Jesus Christ. He’s the centerpiece of prophecy and he is our prophet. He is the one who speaks for God. Now, when it comes to prophecy, there are times when God has, for a church like ours or a group of people that are assembled, a word for them and it’s telling them about some future event that they need to be knowledgeable of so that they can be prepared. 1 Corinthians 14:6 speaks of revelation or knowledge or prophecy. It puts those things together. The prophecy is the revelation of some future knowledge that would otherwise be unknown. The reason that God could tell us the future is that God has perfect knowledge: past, present and future of all things. There’s some heresies and false teachings today. One is like open theism and process theology that will tell you that God doesn’t know the future. Well, that’s curious, because in Isaiah, he keeps saying, “I’m not like any other God, I know the future. I know the end from the beginning.” One of the things that God says makes him most clearly revealed as God is his knowledge of the future, which is why God has a lot of prophecy in the Bible to indicate to us that he is sovereign over all of human history and he knows everything, including the future. And since God knows the future, he can reveal the future to us so that we can be prepared for it.
   I’ll give you an example of this, from your Bible. There’s a guy named Agabus in Acts, Chapter 11, Verses 28 and 29 and he goes to the Christians in that day and he tells them – and it says he’s a prophet. He says I come with a message from God and God says there’s a famine coming. You know, does that seem like something that God’s people would need to know? Yeah. Meaning, Get ready. People are gonna starve to death, right? Get ready to feed your family and get ready to love your neighbors and to care for other people, too. So the prophet Agabus, in Acts 11:28 and 29 is raised up by God. God speaks to him and says there’s a famine coming, go tell the Christians. He’s a Godly man, loves Jesus, good character. He’s in agreement with Scripture. He’s doctrinally sound. He’s tested and approved by the leaders in the church and he steps up and says there’s a famine coming and you know what? There was. He prophesied a famine.
   Now, I’m hesitant to tell you that I’ve got this gift because most people who say that are total wingnuts, which maybe I am, which would explain a ton. And when I say that, I know I have the prophetic teaching, preaching proclamation aspect, but there are times in my ministry where I’ve had this future revelation knowledge thing going on – where I know the future and proclaim it to a group of people.
    I’ll tell you one. It was the weirdest day. It was years ago. I was at a young pastors’ conference and they bring out the speakers and bring you out on the stage and everybody gets a chance to teach and there’s like, I don’t know, maybe a thousand young pastors. This big organization, led by this prominent young teacher, preacher guy, and I was supposed to speak at lunch, which is not the best slot. Everybody’s eating.
   This is not, you know, you’re the third opening band before the headliner, that kinda gig and so I’m like, “Oh great. I get to teach the Bible while everyone is eating. I’m sure this will be, just be life-changing for everyone over dessert.”
   And so I got up and I was planning on teaching the book of Ephesians on the reconciling power of the Gospel to bring diverse people groups together in Jesus Christ, and I went to do my teaching up front.
   I thought, “Well, I better open in prayer,” so I start praying, “Dear Jesus,” next thing I know, I start prophesying. Unexpectedly, over lunch, at a pastor’s conference and God told me that some of the key leaders in this conference that was hosting me and paid for my hotel and flight and honorarium had ongoing, unrepentant sexual sin. That the other leaders in the ministry knew of it and wouldn’t do anything about it and that God was frustrated because there was a disqualified leader leading the thing and he wanted me to publicly declare it and repent for him in public on the stage, during lunch, in my prayer time, at a pastor’s conference with the guys who write the check.
So, I start praying and I’m like, “I’m sorry that there’s sexual sin and perversion and disqualification – that the leaders will not address this issue and I know judgment is against the organization and I know you will expose the evildo-” I go off.
    I kept my eyes closed, because I’m thinking, “If they chuck stuff, I don’t even wanna see it coming,” you know? I’m like, “Oh, man! Where is this coming from?” and I’m flowing and going and I’m like, “Oh, man. I hope this is the Ghost. I hope this is real.”
   So I’m going with this. I go for about 15, 20 minutes in a prayer, right? And I finally open my eyes, “Amen,” everybody’s still got their food on their fork, like – at first they’re like, “This is a weird skit,” and then they’re like, “This is really weird,” you know? And a pastor’s magazine wrote it up as a prophetic moment. I said, “Amen,” and I just didn’t know what to do, so I just walked away.
   I just left. Yeah. See you later. So I just leave. I walk off the stage and the guy who’s on the stage side, who runs the ministry – he’s the headliner, he’s the emcee, this is his organization. I just was like, “I’m sorry, dude. You know, I didn’t,” – and he gets the mic and he comes out and he’s trying to pick up the mess, because they got, like a half-hour left on the schedule they gotta fill. So he’s like, “Blah, blah, blah.” He sounds like the teacher from Peanuts. He’s not saying anything. He doesn’t know what to say.
   Less than a year later, it gets exposed that he was the guy who was an absolute sex addict, out of control, disqualified from ministry. People knew and weren’t doing anything about it. I prophesied against that guy and then he got fired and he got exposed and I haven’t gotten any invitations back, but I felt like that was a prophetic moment, that I wasn’t looking for. I wasn’t trying to – I was just gonna, “Hey, let’s go to Ephesians and talk about nice Jesus.” Next thing I know, I’m running for the airport, you know? And sometimes, that’s the way the prophetic word works.
   You don’t walk in, “Hi, I’m a prophet.”
   You don’t elect yourself to be a prophet. If you read the Old Testament, the prophets end up getting killed and they cry a lot, so this isn’t what you, you know coach your kids to grow up and be, you know?
   “Hey, you could be a prophet.”
   They’re like, “I don’t wanna be that. I want the gift of helps. People like them,” you know, I mean this is – this is a weird gift.
   And sometimes it’s not revelation of future knowledge to a group like this. Sometimes it’s just to an individual. That’s why a lot of prophecy shouldn’t even happen in the church, it’s a personal one-on-one word, word of knowledge or wisdom or revelation – some other traditions will call it – but it’s a personal word from God through someone with a gift of prophecy to an individual.
   Again, Agabus is a good illustration of this. The prophet in Acts 21:10 and 11. God gives him a word on how Paul is gonna die. So he goes to Paul and says, “Paul, I know how you’re gonna die and he tells him, here’s how you’re gonna die.” That’s a personal word from God through the prophet Agabus to Paul.
   And again, I’ve had this. The first time I did it, it freaked me out. I was on a national radio show taking calls from all around the country for three hours on Saturday night. I was hosting the show because the usual host was on vacation, so I’m taking calls, talking about Jesus, answering Bible questions, having a good time. This guy calls in. I don’t remember his name. We’ll call him Hank, because I don’t remember his name. We’ll call him Hank.
   Hank calls in from Ohio – I think it was Cleveland – and Hank just goes off on his church. “I hate my church. The music stinks. The pastor stinks. Everything stinks. I hate going to church. I hate being there. Pastors stink. You stink. Everything stinks.”
   And I just – I couldn’t believe it. I said, “Hank, here’s the problem. You don’t like going to church because you’re cheating on your wife and you’re running around being just a totally out of control sexual deviant and you’re committing adultery and when you go to church, you feel convicted. That’s why you don’t like the church. It’s a good church and the pastor loves Jesus and he’s preaching the Bible and you feel guilty when you’re there because you’re there with your wife. Don’t blame it on the church, repent of your sin, otherwise God might kill you.”
   Right? And this is Hank in Ohio. And I remember looking at the mic going, “Oh, man! I never met Hank. I don’t know Hank.”
   These are my first words to Hank and I’m like, “That just went across the whole country right there.” I’m going, “Man, I hope that was God, not the taquito I ate for dinner, you know, that, that right there could get me in some serious trouble,” and it gets really quiet and I’m trying to figure out how to save this and then Hank goes, “How did you know I was cheating on my wife?”
   I said, “Dude, that’s God. You better knock it off. Better knock it off.” You know? But you don’t – I – you don’t look for this stuff. Sometimes God just gives you something and you roll with it.
   I had another one, when we were over at the old building. The church was just starting to grow. We had a couple services and I remember I did one of the morning services and I was getting ready to do the other one and this Asian family walks in and they all look exhausted and they’re all tired and the kids are kinda falling asleep on mom and she looks tired and dad’s there and he says, “I – we need to meet with you right now.”
   I said, “I can’t meet right now, dude. I just got done with one service. I’m doing another service. I don’t do meetings right now. I just got, like, a little bit of time between the services.”
   He says, “God told us to come to you. We need the word from a prophet.”
   I was like, “Well, if you find one, you know, tell him I said ‘Hi!’ and send him over. I got stuff I wanna ask him, too. I don’t got anything for you, man. I’m not the prophet.”
   He says, “No, God said you’re the prophet and you have the word for us.” I said, “Well, where are you from?” He said, “We drove all night from Canada.” Apparently there are no prophets in Canada, so they had to come down. I said, “Okay.” I said, “You drove all night?” He said, “We drove all night,” from somewhere up in central Canada. I said, “Okay, so that explains why you all look so tired. You’ve been in the car all night.” So I didn’t know anything about this guy. I said, “Well, I’ll meet with you for a few minutes, pray for you. I mean, least I could do, you drove all night with your family.
   Sat them on the couch. Prayed. Looked at them. Then went off on this whole rant.
   I said, “Look, the church you’re in is a Godless church. They have a hard heart. Some of the leaders have hidden, unconfessed, unrepentant sin. They are just not participating with God. God needs to judge those leaders, remove them, cleanse and purify the church, then if they are repentant, he will grow it. If not, he will shut it down. You’re in the same situation as Revelation 2 and 3. You, however, keep holding on to the church, trying to salvage it and save it and make it work because you’re being proud and you think that it’s a reflection of you. It’s not a reflection of you, it’s a reflection of Jesus. You need to get out of the way. Quit your job. Jesus has another job for you at this other church. You take that job. He’ll bless you there. Get out of the way. Let him deal with this church. That’s what his word is to you. You’re a pastor, right?”
   I mean, I didn’t know. I gave him this whole thing and I’m like, “Are you a pastor?”
   He’s like, “Yeah.”
   I was like, “Then that’s what it is.”
   So – and he gives me a big hug. He says, “Okay. That’s what we’ve been wrestling with. We didn’t – I want to leave but I didn’t know if it was me or the Lord that was moving me on and I needed confirmation.” His wife’s crying. Gives me a big hug.
   She says, “In my heart, I knew that’s what God had for us, but I didn’t wanna tell my husband because I wanted him to hear from God. Thank you so much.” I pray for them. They go home and I see them a few years later at a conference.
   He said, “Everything happened just like you said. I’m at the other church. We’re happy. It’s growing. God’s blessing it. Massive sin came out in the leadership of the other church. They now are in the process of either repenting or not and the church is gonna live or die. It’s teetering on the edge, just like you said.”
   I’m like, “Okey dokie. Okay.” You know, I don’t understand this all the time.
   Okay, but what I’m saying is, I don’t believe I write books of the Bible. I don’t. I don’t believe I’m equal to the Bible. I’m not. I don’t believe that everything I say should be taken as true. I believe it should be tested by the leaders of the church and I believe it should be tested by the word of God. But I do believe that there can be prophecy insofar as preaching, general sense. Or a word about the future. Foretelling for a people or sometimes a personal word to an individual that God would have to speak to them to warn them of sin they are in and to compel them to turn from it and to come to Jesus. That’s tongues, prophecy defined.

Discerning of Spirits

   So 1 Corinthians 12:10. This is one of my gifts. I don’t talk about it a lot, because it freaks people out. The spiritual gift of discernment is the ability to quickly perceive whether people, things, ideas, events are from God or Satan. You’re the person something happens, they’ll be like, “Oh my gosh! That was a supernatural event,” and you’re like, “Was that God or Satan?” Right? Was that God or – you don’t just immediately go to joy. You go to test and approve, right? I’m there with you, man.   
   I’ll tell you how those of us with this gift work. We know that there is God, who made human beings and angels. Some of the angels obeyed God and remain angels. Some disobeyed God and became demons. And they mimic and copy and counterfeit everything that God does. They’re not equal to God, they’re made by God – God’s eternal, they’re created. The leader of the demons is Satan. We believe that.
   Okay, some of you are going, “Oh come on, I went to college.”
    I went to college, too, and grad school and I believe in demons. Okay? I believe in demons. And angels and God.
   And here’s how it works. There’s God and Satan. Again, I’m not saying Satan is equal to God, but this is – this is how the conflict is set up. God has angels, Satan has demons. God tells truth, Satan tells lies. God has teachers, Satan has false teachers. God has Apostles who lead ministries and plant churches and the Bible says that Satan has false Apostles. The Bible says that – that the point of those who serve and follow Jesus is humility and faith in Jesus and Satan’s whole goal is to get us puffed up with self-sufficiency and pride. Also known as self-esteem, which is demonic. And as well, those of us who have this gift know that the results are heaven or hell and that to get us there, God often does do miracles and signs and wonders and healings but Satan will do counterfeit signs, wonders and miracles, even healings- 2 Thessalonians says, to attempt to even deceive Christians.
   Some of you say, “Come on.”
   No, I’m serious. See, Satan doesn’t come up to you and say, “Hi, I’m Satan. Would you like to believe lies, be in a cult and go to hell?”
   That’s not a great sales pitch.
   He will come up to you and say, “Would you like to have self-esteem? Would you like to have a spiritual power? Would you like to see into the spirit world? Would you like a miracle or a healing? Would you like a religion that told you you’re smart and right and everything you believe is true and you need to just love yourself and not God?”
   And people sign up for that by the millions. And those of us who have the gift of discernment, we know that not everything is from God. Not everything is true. Not everything is biblical. Not everything is about Jesus. Not everything leads to God’s glory. Not everything leads to God’s kingdom. There are counterfeits. There are copies out there to lead people astray and discernment is the ability to distinguish – is this Satan or God? Is this – is this lie or truth? Is this a counterfeit sign, wonder and miracle or a real sign, wonder and miracle that points to Jesus? Is this a false teacher who’s using the Bible but using it like Satan did when he fought Jesus? Or is this a real teacher, who teaches the Bible rightly and exalts Jesus?
   See one of the reasons I always talk about Jesus is that’s the only way you can really grow in discernment – is being clear about Jesus and connecting everything to Jesus and that’s how we stay out of sin and error and the darkness and the demonic is by sticking close to Jesus.
   So let me ask you this. Did Jesus have discernment? He did. Satan comes to him in Matthew 4 and he says, “You’re Satan.” He knows who he is. See, that’s important. Do you know that Satan and demons are coming to people in Seattle right now and Seattle has zero discernment.
   “I saw an angel!”
   Was it an angel or a demon?
   “What’s the difference?”
   Big difference.
   “Well, I’m into spirituality.”
   Which spirits are you following?
   “Does it matter?”
   Yes. Some are demons.
   “Well, I believe in God.”
   Which God?
   “Does it matter?”
   Yes, there’s only one God and then there’s demons who pretend to be gods – you don’t wanna worship a demon. It does matter.
   “Well, I’m praying.”
   Great, who are you praying to?
   “I don’t know.”
   You should. Right, before you pick up the number, dial and talk about all the important things, you should make sure you know who you’re calling.
   In Seattle it’s – the thought is – you know, “who cares about the Bible. There’s all kinda books. Who cares about God. There’s all kinda gods. Who cares about religion. There’s all kinda religions. As long as it works for you.”
   That is demonic. Because when you die, it doesn’t work and that’s when you really need it. Right? I mean this is Seattle. We believe in Jesus and the Bible and heaven and hell and that sin is the problem and that Jesus is the answer, and that Satan and demons don’t want you to believe that. They want you to be religious and spiritual, which is where demons hide and false teachers hide – in religion and spirituality.
   Jesus could tell when Satan was at work. He looks at Peter and says, “Peter, Satan has asked to sift you as weak, but I’ll pray for you.” He tells Peter, you better watch out, he’s coming to get you. You better, you better keep your game face on, kid. It’s gonna be hard. He also knows when someone is speaking words that are inspired of Satan, not of God. He looks at Peter elsewhere and says “Get behind me, Satan.”   
   Biblically, John, Paul, Peter, the disciples all demonstrate the gift of discernment.
I’ll give you some examples. This is one of my gifts, okay? Some of you that’s manifest itself theologically. You can hear a teacher and two minutes in, you’re like, “He’s a heretic. [sniffs] I’m a bloodhound for Christ. [sniffs] I smell it coming. That’s a bad teacher right there. He quoted a verse but he quoted it wrong. He didn’t quote the other half and [sniffs] oh! Smells like a Jehovah’s Witness. You know, I know it.” 
 You could tell teaching.
   You start reading a book and you’re reading it and you’re like, “Nope, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no! This is wrong, that’s not what the Bible says. That’s not pointing to Jesus. That’s wrong.”
   Your friends are like, “Well, I think it’s a good book.”
   You’re like, “No it’s not. For this reason, that reason-”
   Because you saw- you could tell good teacher, bad teacher, true doctrine, false doctrine. You have theological discernment. You can just clean it all up, right?
   How many of you, your friends come to you, say, “Is this a good book? Is this a good author? Is that a good teacher?” Because they know you got the gift of discernment.
   It also manifests itself with people. You can read people. People come up and you can read their mail.
   Some people think, “Oh, you’re just a jerk. You’re judgmental. You’re mean-spirited.”
   But then two, three weeks later, you’re right. Right? “Oh, don’t talk to her. She’s an adulteress.” Right?
    Dude’s looking at his wife, like, “Uh, how do you know?”
   I just know. A month later, comes out, she is. Right? People with the gift of discernment, sometimes they read people’s mail. They get a cue on people way before anybody else does. A miracle happens. Something supernatural happens.
   They say, “Oh, was that God or Satan? I don’t know.” The person with the gift of discernment knows. They know whether it was God or Satan.
   I’ll give you some weird examples. I, I love this gift but I’ll be honest with you, this gift is exceedingly hard at times because sometimes God will give me discernment to see beyond what’s visible, to know what’s going on behind the scenes, spiritually and sometimes, for me, God speaks to me.
   Sometimes I get visions and I see things. I don’t talk about this a lot. I’ll give you some examples. There was a gal I was talking to, I was hearing voices. She was under demonic oppression. “You’re fat. You’re stupid. You’re an idiot. God doesn’t love you. Your husband doesn’t love you. You should kill yourself. You should die.”   
   She’s hearing all of this in third person. So it’s accusation. Revelation 12:10, “Satan is the accuser of the children of God. He accuses them day and night.” She’s getting all these accusations and she’s suicidal. They put her on multiple different medications, saying it’s physical, hormonal. I meet with her. I think it’s definitely spiritual.
   So I say, “Well, I don’t know what’s going on. Let me pray for you.”
   She’s with her husband. She’s a nice gal, loves Jesus, loves her husband. They have a good marriage. I couldn’t understand where this was all coming from. Where are these voices coming from. It’s not Jesus and it’s not her, so it must be the enemy because only the enemy wants to come to kill and steal and destroy and Jesus comes to give life. So I start praying for her and I pray with my eyes open and it’s like I’m watching a film. It’s literally as I’m watching a film. And I see her on the changing table as about a two-year-old little girl and her dad is changing her diaper and sexually assaults her as a little girl. And some evil spirit that was connected to her father then transferred to her and has been on her since and then came to her as a comforting spirit, as an invisible friend as a little girl and had been with her all this time.
   And was the one that was a demon pretending to be a friend that was giving her these accusations that she was audibly hearing, thinking that she was depressed, suicidal and, and possibly bipolar. And I know people have real medical problems, real mental problems, real emotional problems, real hormonal problems but she had a real spiritual problem.
   And I said, “You know, I just saw this film. Your daddy did something horrible to you and something evil came on you and it’s been with you ever since and it is what is speaking to you.”
   She just starts bawling. She says, “My daddy loves Jesus. We’re very, very close. He would never do that to me, Pastor Mark.”
   I said, “Go ask your daddy.”
   She comes back, she said, “He did it. How did you know?”
   I said, “Look, I don’t know. God knows. And all I see is what’s going on and God wanted us to know what was behind all of this, so he made it known. I don’t understand.”
   So we prayed and got rid of that and she got rid of her medication. She’s happy. She’s doing fine. Totally transformed woman. Life’s better. Life’s better.
   I had it on another occasion where I’m talking to a gal and she was struggling with depression and voices and demonic attack and I, I prayed for her with my eyes open and I saw her out on a date with a guy and I saw how tall he was and the color of his hair and his necklace and his coat and his clothing and he bought her a drink and he slipped something in her drink and he took her home and I could see the room, the colors of the wall and where the bed was and the décor and the necklace he was wearing and he raped her, repeatedly, and the guy was demonized and something evil came upon her and had been tormenting her ever since.
   And I said, “Did you go out with this guy? Did he look like this and was his bedroom like this and were the color of the walls like this and was he wearing a necklace like this and he took off his black leather jacket,” and I see the whole thing.
   I said, “Because I just watched you get raped. Did that happen?”
   “Well that’s where your problems started.”
   “How did you know?”
   “Look, I don’t know.”
   That’s discernment.
   And sometimes, it’s personal. I was in a counseling meeting with a young couple one time and I prayed for them because they were having marital trouble and I saw him, the night before, throw her up against a wall – again, like watching a film – grab her by the throat and beat her and tell her that if she told me, he might kill her.
   And I looked at him and I said, “Dude, last night – did you throw your wife against the wall, grab her by the throat, slam her head up against the wall, smack her around and tell her if she told me that you’d hurt her even worse, maybe even kill her?”
   He bowed up, got all angry, he said, “Yeah, did she tell you?”
   I said, “No, Jesus did,” you know and, and the guy was a wife-beater. Now they came in and told me they were having marital difficulties. She wasn’t gonna say anything, she wasn’t gonna say anything but the gift of discernment allows you to get behind the story to get the real story to deal with the real problem. That being that this guy’s a wife-beater.
   And sometimes it comes off just like being a mean-spirited jerk and I’m still working on what to do with that part of it. I’ll give you one example. I was brought as a consultant for some ministry leaders and pastors – this was some years ago – and we’re sitting in a living room of this well-known author’s house. There’s maybe 20 or 30 of us and this is the opening session and they’re asking me questions and I’m thinking, “Oh, this is fun. This is fine. No problem. Cool, I’ll answer your questions.”
   First question, a guy that I don’t know asks me—I’d heard about this guy, but I never met him – and I met this guy at this thing and we’re talking and so then, he asks this question. He says, “You know, you got a lotta young people going to Mars Hill. How can I get young people to come to our church? What do you think the secret is?”
   And I looked at him and I said, “I won’t tell you because you’re a false teacher and you’re a false prophet and you’re committing adultery on your wife and you’re an alcoholic and you don’t love the Lord and you don’t know the Lord is gonna judge you. He’s gonna take down your ministry and the last thing he wants me to do is help you get more people.”
   Okay? And I was like, “I hope that was the Lord. I hope that was the Lord.”
   This is like the first 15 minutes of the meeting. I’m supposed to be there for three days.
   “Next question?”
   You know? Everybody’s like, “No, that’s cool. We’re fine. No more questions,” you know?
   And this guy got all angry and just bowed up and cussed me out and you know what, within a year, he’d been exposed for having ongoing, multi-year sexual adulterous relationship with his secretary. He was an alcoholic. Got checked into a multi-month rehab stint and is no longer in ministry. I go, I don’t know. Right, I mean, I don’t know how this always works to be honest with you and sometimes you can come off as mean-spirited, judgmental.
   “You just met that person, how do you know what they’re like?”
   Look. I’m not telling you I’m batting 1,000 but I’m telling you, I see something you don’t see and I think I know where this is gonna go. And this is one of the painful parts of my ministry. Right, I don’t wanna see kids get molested. I don’t wanna see women get raped and beaten. I don’t – I don’t wanna see guys sleeping with their secretary but sometimes, like a film, I get to see stuff and I believe that is one of the expressions of the gift of discernment.
   Do you have this gift? Do you feel a special responsibility to protect the truth of Scripture by exposing false teachers? Do you make swift evaluation of people? That some people think is premature but in time, you nailed it and it was God? Do you have a solid understanding of Scripture, love the Bible and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit?
   You better know your Bible, you’re gonna use this gift. Are you keenly aware of moral sin and doctrinal heresy? “That person’s a false teacher. There’s something funky there.”
   Can you read a book, here a teacher and almost immediately uncover any false teaching and do you have an ongoing sense when there is demonic presence or activity around you or in people’s lives that the enemy is at work and needs to be exposed – darkness brought into the light?
   This is part of the ministry. To guard the church, to protect the church from false teachers, from false miracle workers, from sinners who are unrepentant, from evildoers. It’s a gift to protect the whole church.

Help(s) and Service

   So you help people by serving them. 1 Peter 4 says that some of us serve and do our ministry with our mouths of teaching encouragement. Some of us use our hands. Those are the gifts of helps and service. They’re the people who like to use their hands, right? They think of ministry, they don’t, they don’t wanna speak, they wanna serve. They wanna serve. And so, here is the definition. The gift of helps or service is the ability to joyfully – the key is joyfully.
   Some of you serve, but it’s reluctantly, right? You’re not happy servers. You’re unhappy servers. You work joyfully alongside other people and help them complete their tasks. They like to work behind the scenes.
   Some of you are like, “I don’t wanna be up front. Help me – let me get behind the scenes. Let me, lemme do my thing. I don’t wanna be up front.”
   They tend to find joy in helping alleviate the burdens and responsibility of others. They usually have an attitude of humility, sacrifice and they’re always looking for people who need help, right?
   Now you know you don’t have the gift of helps or service. Let me tell you how you – maybe you know you don’t have it, right? Like, let’s say for example, somebody comes up to you and says, “Could you help me?” and you go, “Pffft, of course not.” You probably don’t have this gift, right? If you’re coming out of the grocery store and grandma trips and the groceries go flying all over the parking lot, and you step over them, like, “What a mess! Can’t you pick this up?” You probably don’t have the gift of helps and service or Jesus in your life anyway, okay? Some people just –they’re just not big on helping, right? Some of you had this dad. I understand.
   How about this? These people have a serving attitude, loyalty. They’re attentive to detail and they function well in positions of assistant leadership and coming alongside of those who do lead.
   Now how about Jesus? Did Jesus have the gift of serving or service or helps? Yeah, Jesus said, “I didn’t come to be served but to serve.” He says that in Matthew. He says in Luke, he says, “I am among you as one who serves.” And in places like John 13, you get vignettes of Jesus’ ministry where he’s washing his disciples feet. I mean, here’s God doing the lowliest job. I mean today, it’s still the lowliest job. Right? I mean, how many of you, for a living, would wanna wash people’s feet. I mean that is a lowly job of a slave and Jesus did it. Those of you with the gift of serving and helps, you esteem serving as a good thing because you think, “Well, Jesus served. I’ll serve. Jesus, you know, did menial tasks. I’ll take out the trash and do the dishes. That’s what Jesus did and I love Jesus and if it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”
   Now in the Bible, when it goes to studying those with this gift, which is another thing to do in addition to looking at the ministry of Jesus, oftentimes the names of those who are good servants and helpers aren’t listed, because they’re working behind the scenes, they’re not up front but there are some people, like in Romans 16. Phoebe, Priscilla, Aquila, Tryphena, Tryphosa are mentioned as great servants. John Mark in Acts 13:5 is a servant and also, in the church, those who are deacons, 1 Timothy 3, beginning around Verse 8 or 9, if memory serves me correct, speaks of deacons, which are official leaders in the church, men and women, who are great servants who serve and help and they, they minister to the church with their hands, doing the work of the ministry with their hands. And we have some, I think maybe 70 deacons and Mars Hill right now. Men and women who love Jesus and are deacons and if you’re interested in deacons or pastors, which I’ll deal with in a few moments, on your way out, you can grab a little book called Church Leadership and it explains deacons and it explains pastors and elders and women in ministry and that’ll be online at in about a week as well as a .pdf you can download. I think it’s like 50, 60 pages of theological work I put together for you to help explain deacons and elders and these kinda things. We have deacons in the church who are great servants and they sometimes have a full-time job here just doing that as their ministry.
   Now, if you have the gifts of helps or service, you’re like a utility player on a baseball team. Any of you guys play baseball? In baseball, there’s always a guy on the team who’s the utility guy. He could play all the infield positions – third base, shortstop, second base. He could play first base. He can catch a little bit and if need be, in a total blowout, he can come in and pitch. And he comes to the ballpark with seven gloves and a good attitude, right? That’s this gift.
   These are the people who show up and say, “What do you need? I’ll do anything. I just wanna be on the team and I like to help and serve. I don’t care. Whatever you need, that’s what I’m willing to do.”
   My wife has this gift. She’ll help and serve. She just likes to serve. I didn’t know this when we first got married. I’m like, “Well what’s your gift? What’s your ministry? What do you wanna do? What’s on yours?”
   She goes, “I don’t care. My gift is service.”
   I was like, “Oh! So you’ll do whatever needs to be done?”
   “Are you cool with that?”
   “Yeah, it makes me happy.”
   Hm. I apparently don’t have that gift. She does. We’re different that way.
   So, do you enjoy helping others become effective in their work?
   Do words like “assistant” make you encouraged, right? You don’t mind coming alongside and helping somebody? That was actually my wife’s job before we started the church and we had five kids – now she’s mom – but she was the assistant to the president of one of the major media outlets here in Seattle. She was an assistant because she had gifts in helps and service and she was great at it. Do you like to labor behind the scenes? When someone is doing a job poorly, is your first instinct to criticize or help?
   Some of us are like, “Man, that was terrible, what’d you do that for?” and others of us with the gifts of helps and service say, “Hey, it looks like you’re struggling. Could I help you?” It’s just a totally different response to the same need.
   Do you like to work in a supportive capacity? Do you hear of someone who has needs and your first instinct is to go help? And here’s the bottom line – do you have a hard time saying no? Servants and helpers, they volunteer for everything, right?   
   There’s some of you, it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, you sign up for it. All of it. We’re gonna do seven services in three locations. At your service.
   You’re like, “No dude, look. You’re not like Jesus.” You gotta pick a place, right? You gotta pick a place to be and sometimes the best thing to do is be careful not to commit yourself to everything but to prayerfully think through what it is God would have you do and being married to someone with the gift of service and helps – here’s another thing I’ve learned – you like to serve but you don’t like to be served. You’re the giver, not the receiver.
   So if somebody comes up and says, “Here, let me help you.” “No, no, no, no, no! That’s my job.”
   And maybe you’re married to this person as well.
   Gifts of helps and service. We need to be careful that we don’t abuse and take advantage of these people because sometimes they’ll do things that we should be doing and sometimes we can dump things on them and not be gracious, which is a sin. Now at Mars Hill, there is an infinite number of places that if you like to serve, we can put you to work. Right now we’re working on buildings, construction, there is a million things, right? Just to pull off our services on Sundays between security, janitorial, ushers, greeters, sound, light, video, parking, children’s ministry, information desk – it takes over 1,000 volunteers, unpaid, serving on Sundays just to pull off Sunday services. Unbelievable number of people.[xxv]


   Here’s the gift of administration. The God-given ability to give direction, to make decisions for efficient operation, accomplishment and goals. It is a natural talent. It’s also a supernatural gift and here is the bottom line of those of you who have the gift of administration. You’re probably diagnosed mild obsessive-compulsive disorder. You love highlighters and sticky notes and files and you are a bit of neatnik and your favorite verse is 1 Corinthians 14:40 where everything is to be done in an orderly fashion. You love that. That’s your life verse. You have that tattooed on your calf and occasionally you look at it when you’re sitting in your cubicle.
   Those with the gift of administration have a keen eye for detail. They like to organize and here it is, man. You love to just bring order out of chaos, right? Did Jesus have this gift? He sure did. He organized his ministry, chose the 12, appointed 70, appointed 120. He told them to go out two by two. He appointed the team of three for his closest leaders. He sent them out on tasks. He gave them job descriptions and orders and Jesus managed the finances of his ministry and Jesus was a guy who had the gift of administration.
   How about biblically? Joseph has it. At the end of Genesis, he administrates the whole nation of Egypt. That’s a huge administrative capacity. There’s a guy named Jethro in Exodus 18 who had this gift. Moses is just holding court all day and everybody’s waiting to meet with Moses. Jethro comes and says, “You need to have a different plan, different layers of leadership. You need to have other courts where cases are tried. You need to raise up essentially other judges and he puts together a whole administrative plan. He’s a great administrative consultant for Moses. That’s one of his gifts. Titus 1:5 says that Titus is sent as well to churches to bring order and to cause structure to come into existence.
   Do you have this gift? When things are poorly organized, do you freak out? “It’s disorganized! It’s a total mess!”
   You’re the person you can’t go on vacation ‘til you’ve cleaned your whole house – which we don’t understand because there’s no one there, right? You’re the person, you can’t go to bed unless all the dishes are cleaned and all the laundry’s out of the dryer, “Because it’s not done yet! It’s a total mess. Everything’s a total wreck.”
   Now I kinda have this, too. This is one of my gifts in mild form. I am a neatnik freak, kinda, right? Like, I have my schedule all laid out to 2009. I do. Makes me happy. I’m starting to schedule events up to 2009. This week I finished up the preaching schedule – every verse and topic – through 2007, into 2008. I’m so happy. I have all my clothes organized. Short sleeve, long sleeve, solids, prints, stripes, right? Some of you are like this. I like all my shoes organized. All my books are Library of Congress cataloged, searchable, database in my private, personal library that no one gets to touch because those are my friends and you don’t wanna lose your friends, you need to keep ‘em organized, your books.
   I told my administrative assistant, A.J., I said, “Dude, you get 500 emails, don’t send me 500 emails. I get one email a day with 500 questions. I want one email a day. Nice and tidy. Makes me happy. I got rid of voicemail. Pray about that. That’ll change your whole life right there because I was never done. Somebody’d always leave some more work to do. Now, they can’t. And so I – I’m all about being organized. I like being organized. Makes me happy.
   You know, I saw one person in this gift with Mars Hill, it was a wife, and she definitely has this gift and I was overhearing her at a party not too long ago, just gushing with great enthusiasm about her labelmaker.
   She was like, “Oh, it’s awesome!” So she has like, all the kids’ toys in bins with labels, “Barbies,” “G.I. Joes,” “Weapons.” Everything’s organized and she has shelves for her kids, “Monday,” “Tuesday,” “Wednesday,” “Thursday,” and so every week, she puts their clothing out for each day, right?
   You’re the people who organize your spice rack.
   “Where’s paprika?”
   “It’s in the middle. That’s where the P is.”
   You know? You’re tidy. Some of you are real tidy and she loves her labelmaker. You got to her house, there’s a label on everything. And she’s just “Click click, click, click, Oh I love this thing.” You could tell who her husband is, he’s got a big label,    “Husband.” Everything is organized, okay?
   How about – do you like to bring order out of chaos? Do you naturally organize? Do you have a schedule? Some of you are like, “I go to work. I come home. I drink beer. I go to bed. I go to work.” I guess I could hit “repeat” every day indefinitely on the Outlook but I don’t think I need to schedule that. Well, maybe you need to pray about doing more, so you actually need a schedule, right? Some of you know what I’m talking about. Some of you now have a schedule, right? Some of you have a budget. This is where people plan to spend their money, by the way, for those of you that are new to the concept of a budget. And these are people who naturally like to organize. You, also, too, you love to go Office Max and Office Depot. This is you, right? You’re just walking around. They come up – do you need something? No, I think I got most of it but I was just wondering if there was any new stuff and I’m just looking. Right? I mean, you just like that stuff.
   “Ooh, spreadsheets, charts, graphs, budgets, software, new computers. Oh this is wonderful. Those are colored files. Ooh.”
   You know? “And they have small ones and big ones for legal-size. Brilliant.” Right? You dig this stuff, right? You dig this. You love a tidy desk.
   Efficiency, promptness matters. This is your gift. At Mars Hill, we could use a billion or a bajillion administrators. When we go to 4 campuses, 7 services, 100 church plants, going a million directions. It’s the administrators that keep us out of jail. Right, that’s the first job of an administrator. Every time we hire someone with the gift of administration, I always say, “Hi, my name’s pastor Mark, please keep me out of jail.” That’s always my first request, right? Make sure you read the fine print. Would get an attorney. We have a CPA. We get an external audit, that we keep good records of everything. That we are all keeping the law with our counseling. The administrators keep track of all the details. We have people who come in and volunteered during the week for data entry and information support and technology and all of these kind of things. We have wedding coordinators that help organize everybody’s weddings because they have the gift of administration. I mean there’s almost an infinite need for this gift at our church because it undergirds and enables all of the other gifts to effectively operate. And that’s primarily within the church.[xxvi]


Contemporary Apostleship

   And when I say apostles, some of you come from freaky, nut-job backgrounds and you already start thinking, “Oh my gosh, that’s a guy in the white suit who comes into the church, takes 27 offerings, yells at everybody, and bosses people around.” That’s not what we’re talking about. And I believe there’s a lot of confusion around the gift of apostle because there’s a failure to distinguish between the office of the apostle and the gift of the apostle.
   So I’ll tell you about the office of the apostle first. First of all, these were 12 men, hand selected by Jesus, and that number 12 was set and established, not to be added to in any way. That’s why, throughout the Gospels and in the book of Revelation, it keeps saying the 12, the 12, the 12, the 12, the 12. This number 12 is established, just like the 12 tribes of Israel in the Old Testament, there are the 12 disciples or apostles in the New Testament.
   Now additionally, what we know of these 12 is that they were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life and ministry. They saw him do miracles and walk on water and feed people and heal people. They also saw him die and they saw him resurrect from death. So, when one of them, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, murdered himself – he committed suicide – I don’t know if you remember – he hung himself and his intestines spilled out like a piñata when he did that – that’s my translation – Judas the Piñata – when Judas the Piñata was done with his life and his intestines burst forth, and they had to replace him because they needed to have 12 on that particular team of apostles, and so they had two criteria to replace him and they said, “Well, we need to find somebody who is an eyewitness to Jesus’ life and ministry and an eyewitness to the resurrection of Jesus.” Those were the two qualifications of the replacement for Judas in Acts Chapter 1.
   So they chose a man named Mathias who was a godly man. He replaced Judas as the 12th apostle, the 12th disciple. The Bible also says in places like Corinthians, and it says as well in Hebrews, that the apostles were accompanied by signs, wonders, and miracles. You could read this throughout the book of Acts. There’s a few other places where it says that they were accompanied by signs, wanders, in miracles.
   So, to summarize, these guys were hand-selected by Jesus; witnessed his life, death, burial, and resurrection; had signs and wonders accompany them, and they wrote the Bible, right? That’s why in Acts 2, we see that the early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, right? They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles, which we now know as the New Testament, because they were the eyewitnesses to the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ministry of Jesus. And that’s what you see in places like 1 John, where he says, “That which we’ve seen with our eyes, heard with our ears, and touched with our hands,” all about Jesus. That’s what we’re talking about, we were there. We were there.
   So let me ask you this. Do apostles, in that sense therefore, exist today?
   Well, the answer’s no.
   It was set number of 12. None of us was hand-picked by Jesus. None of us was alive when he was alive to see his life, death, burial. None of us was there for his resurrection, and we don’t have the same the signs, wonders, and miracles accompanying us as they did, their handkerchiefs healing people and such, and also, none of us gets to write a book of the Bible because – we’re not authors of the Bible because we weren’t eyewitnesses. So, in that sense, there is no apostle today but there is a gift of apostle. That’s why other people in the New Testament are called apostles, like Barnabas, in Acts 14, Apollos, 1 Corinthians 4 Andronicus and Junias, Romans 16, James Galatians 1, Silas and Timothy in 1 Thessalonians 1 and 2.
   Other people are said to be doing apostolic ministry. They’re doing the ministry of an apostle. They’re not holding the office of an apostle. Let me explain this to you. An apostle literally means one who is sent on a mission. So when I say somebody is sent on a mission, what immediately comes to mind? A missionary. That’s exactly what we’re talking about. An apostle simply means one who is sent on a mission. It’s by definition, the missionary. This is the missionary gift, okay? And I believe – as I’ve studied the Bible on this issue for years – that the apostolic gift works itself out in three ways.
   One, you can minister cross-culturally. You can go to different countries, learn the language, learn the food, learn the culture and share the love of Jesus with people that are from a different culture.
   This also works itself out in different subcultures. Some of you have friends from all kinds of groups. You can hang out with indie rockers and hip-hoppers and old and young and rich and poor and black and white and urban, rural, suburban, and you can fit in with all kinds of groups. You can get to know them, observe how their subculture works and their lingo and just fit right in, love them, share the love of Jesus. That’s a cross-cultural missionary capacity. Secondly, it’s a church planting ability. Now, depending upon who’s statistics you believe, roughly 80 percent of those who go to begin a new church fail and I believe the reason is that they’re good pastors but they’re not good apostles. A pastor’s one who comes into an existing church to love the people that are there, to care for the building that’s there – you know, to continue the ministry that already exists. An apostle, a church planter in that sense, starts with nothing.
   We started Mars Hill, there were no people, no money, no computer, no phone, no building, nothing. All right, the church planner is the one who starts from nothing, which is totally different than taking on a pre-existing ministry. And thirdly, it’s the ability to be raised up by God. To be a pastor to pastors and to be a movement leader, who oversees and influences a large network of pastors – and those are the three aspects. Cross-cultural ministry gifting, church-planting ability, and the ability to pastor pastors as a movement leader. These people often have many gifts, like evangelism, teaching, leadership, faith, exhortation, and are motivated by new tasks.
   How does this relate to Jesus? As I said, everything needs to relate to Jesus. Well, Hebrews, Chapter 3, Verse 1 says that Jesus Christ is our great apostle. He calls Jesus our apostle, right? And so Jesus is the one who literally crosses cultural barriers, right? Jesus reaches out to all the people of the earth, every nation, language, tribe, tongue, culture, subculture. Jesus is cross-cultural. Jesus is global in his love for the whole world. He is reaching out as we speak to people from diverse backgrounds from across the globe. He also, too, is the church planter. Every church that is faithful is planted by Jesus.
   Mars Hill Church was planted by Jesus. Myself and some others, we were privileged to be in at the beginning of this church but ultimately, if Jesus hadn’t arisen from death and saved people and gifted people and pulled this thing together, this church doesn’t exist. And then thirdly, he is the pastor of pastors. 1 Peter 5 says that chief shepherd, which means senior pastor. That’s why I don’t use the word “senior pastor” because I believe senior pastor is Jesus and all the other pastors work under Jesus and are supposed to do what he says and follow in his example.
   So in that way, Jesus is the apostle who works across cultural barriers, plants churches and pastors pastors. And then those of us with a gift of apostle, we work under Jesus doing the same thing. Trying to reach into new cultures and subcultures; trying to help start new churches; trying to pastor other pastors.
   Biblically, there are people who obviously come to mind with this gift and it’s good for you to look at them, if you feel that this may be a gift that God has given you. Paul is one of the most clear. On nine occasions in his New Testament letters, he opens up by saying, “Hi, my name is Paul, I’m an apostle.” Right, he just says it over and over. I mean, he’s the guy at the church picnic with his you know, nametag on, “Hi, I’m Paul the Apostle.” I mean, he just – he identifies himself as Paul the apostle. Peter has this gift as well, as well as do some other people that I’ve mentioned in your notes.
   Now, some of you may still be reticent because you’ve seen this abused and let me say this – that false teachers and cult leaders and heretics – they love to use the word apostle, right? They’ll say things like, “I don’t go to any church, I’m an apostle,” right? Or, “You need to do what I say because I’m an apostle,” meaning I’m just – I have as much authority as the Bible. And some people will actually act as if they have the same authority as the eyewitnesses to Jesus, the apostles who wrote the New Testament.
   They don’t.
   The Bible tells us that such people are false apostles. False apostles. The Bible also speaks of – through Paul in 2 Corinthians – that they are delusional, “super apostles.” He’s mocking them, okay? So when the Bible says that there’s false apostles, there are. Just because somebody says they’re an apostle doesn’t mean they are. All right, they may be a cult leader who’s pretending to be equal in authority to the Bible, abusing spiritual power and leading people astray. So you have to be very discerning in dealing with people who claim to have these gifts.
   So how about you?
   Can you minister effectively cross-culturally? How many of you love to go overseas, you’re thinking about relocating to another country? Even in our own city that is very tribal and fragmented. You can work with different people groups. Are you called to plant a church, right? How many of you young dudes feel like God has called you to plant a church, right? There’s a bunch of you here at Mars Hill. We celebrate that.
   We love church planting but what you need to do is apply to Acts 29 Network, which is our church planning network that we run out of here, out of Mars Hill, and it’s We’ll run you through a full assessment to see if you have the gift of apostle and God’s calling on your life. Right, if your church plant doesn’t make it, you will be in serious trouble. It’ll be very, very, very hard for you and your family to endure that kind of failure and we want to spare you of that. And we are into church planting. We have planted many churches through the Acts 29 Network, this church gives ten percent of all of its money to church planting. This year, we will give about $700,000.00 to church planting. We take 10 percent of everything that comes in and we use it for church planting.
   We have a full assessment process to evaluate if people have the gift, calling and character and doctrine to qualify. We then send them out to plant. We give them money and people as we are able. We build strategic partnerships with denominations and other churches and in just the last few years, over 100 churches in the U.S. have been planted and now we’re planting additional churches overseas as well. We run boot camps all across the country where we bring in potential church planters and assess them and this is part of my ministry outside of Mars Hill. I preside over that organization. I would just encourage you, if you feel called to plant a church, we celebrate that but make sure that you go through a rigorous examination to make sure that you’re ready and that you’re called and that you’re able to succeed at it and this is desperately needed in Seattle. We are among the least-churched cities in the United States of America. You hear me say the statistics all the time where there are more dogs than Christians in our city and furthermore, more people are moving here.   
   Remember Greg Nichols recently said that he intends to have the urban population of Seattle grow by 60 percent by the year 2040, which means we need hundreds of new churches in Seattle and we need at least 1,000 churches spread out around the country that are church planning churches and that’s what we intend to do.

Some things to note:

1. Mark Driscoll openly disagrees with the Pentecostal position wherein The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is an experience subsequent to conversion evidenced by the gift of tongues.

2. He admits to embracing a multiperspectival interpretation of 1 Corinthians 12-14, thus allowing different gifts to have multiple definitions and resulting applications rather than just one single purpose and use.

3. He openly denounces – and outright ridicules – Word of Faith theology.

4. While affirming the continuation of the miraculous and revelatory gifts, Mars Hill’s guidelines for the operation of such are highly strict – perhaps arguably being far more rigid in nature and practice than the average charismatic church may give credit for.

While many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches may have prayer for healing, “spontaneous worship” and the sharing of prophetic words as a normal part of the Sunday worship service, such does not seem to be the case at any of Mars Hill’s numerous services throughout the wider Seattle region.

If anything, the operation of the gifts at Mars Hill seems to be of a more “closed door” nature.

5. When preaching on the subject of spiritual gifts, Mark Driscoll never once cites other continuationist pastors and teachers to back up his doctrine. Rather he preaches straight from the given text, while also giving testimonies from his own pastoral experiences as well as that of Mars Hill Church.

5. Is Driscoll right about Cessationism?

Let’s take another look at Driscoll’s comment:

   So we believe in lower lesser courts of authority and we leave room for the miraculous work of the holy spirit. Now some of you will have resistance to this and let me tell you why, this will be very controversial, it may be because you are worldly.
   Cessationism is worldliness.
   Let me explain it to you, you've got Renee Descartes "Cogito ergo sum", I think therefore I am. In an effort to defend Christianity from some of its critics, he begins with his epistemological presupposition: "Where will I start? I think therefore I am". So the two founding, if you look at this like a Jenga game, the first two pieces that get laid down in something called the modernistic enlightenment project, individualism and rationalism. "I think", that's in "I'm an individual and my mind, my brain, the three pounds of me between my ears", that is the essence of what it means to posses the "Imago dei", to bear the image and likeness of God.
   Out of that what invariably comes is the modern enlightenment project, based upon individualism and rationalism. Now, out of this comes as well skepticism, after a while you start reading in the Bible, "Jesus walked on water?". You start becoming skeptical of supernatural claims. So it's like William Barclay comes along "well maybe he's walking along the shore of the water and it look like he was walking on the water", we're trying to find ways to explain away what the Bible says plainly. Because it doesn't fit cleanly within a modernistic, rationalistic uh paradigm of thinking. So in that way Christians start thinking more like Hume than C.S. Lewis. Alright?
   Hume is really the modern rationalistic thinker who set in motion opposition to the supernatural, to the miraculous. So it starts with rationalism, individualism as part of modernism, this leads to skepticism, right? If there is a God, then God created the world, and to use the language of Al Pacino in the devil's advocate, he's now an absentee landlord, and that he's left us here and he's governing life as we know it by a set of laws; but he's so sovereign that he's gone, he's not transcendent and imminent, just gone. What happens then is the assumption is made that none of these natural laws can be violated, therefore the supernatural is impossible if not unlikely.
   This plays itself out in three ways: Number one, there's atheism. There is no God, there is no supernatural, there is nothing beyond the physical material world that can be objectively tested and retested according to scientific methodology. There is a vestige of modernism that tries to accommodate the spiritual aspect and it becomes deism. Where there is a God but this "god" is not involved in our world, he doesn't break in and violate natural law; the supernatural is not possible. This is Thomas Jefferson who sits down on the white house with a set of scissors and cuts all of the miracles out of the bible and publishes something called The Philosophy of Jesus Christ. This includes Unitarians, this includes very liberal mainline so called Christian denominations who are basically deists. There is a god, he is far away, doesn't have anything to do with us and the miracles can all be explained away, they are primitive, superstition, myths, misunderstandings.
   So it goes to Atheism, Deism - and this will be controversial - Cessationism.
   Now you know why I haven't said this publicly, I'm not sure i have a helmet big enough to deal with it, I'm gonna get battered a lot. But I believe that a result of modernistic worldliness in Christian form is hard cessationism. And that is saying: God could do a miracle but He doesn't and He won''t, but He could. So within that God's not really speaking, God's not really working and the supernatural gifts are not in operation; Healing, revelation, speaking in tongues, those kinds of things they are over in the God­used­to box. Even though I was reading this book that said he was the same yesterday, today and forever.
   And so their argument even comes down to 1st Corinthians 13 which gets turned into origami, right? When the perfect comes the imperfect disappears, we'll see him face to face, the perfect is Jesus. The perfect is Jesus. But then what happens is, to defend this sort of modernistic rationalistic, cessationistic position, we throw up the craziest cooks in the charismatic camp and say well you don't want that do ya? uh no, no we don't. If it's nothing or that it's a real coin flip, cause neither is the real win.
   So again, let me say this, it's also that the charismatic kooks have really ruined it for the rest of us, and prosperity theology has made it even worst. Because now that charismatic theology and pentecostal theology has largely associated itself with get-­rich-­quick schemes and greed, and the love of mammon, it really puts us in a position where those of us who love the Bible and say miracles happen.
   And, and they'll make weird arguments too like "there is no evidence of miracles in the early church". There are, alright? Pastor Justin Holcomb and I are working on a book on this and gone through all the early church fathers, and yeah the supernatural continued there was no breaking period, you've all been duh, you know, sort of lied to I think and the research has not been done well.
   But we don't want sort of a prosperity theology, we also dont want a theology that undermines my second point, complementarian ecclesiology. And what really gets off lying is when spiritual gifts are emphasized over spiritual fruit. There is a difference between spiritual giftedness and spiritual maturity. You could say "I'm a prophet", you are a immature, selfish, goofy prophet, alright? So you just can't pull out the prophet, you know, t-­
shirt and walk around telling people what to do. Because in addition to spiritual gifts we believe in spiritual fruits, spiritual character, we also believe in spiritual authority. And so the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets, and even those who believe they have something from the lord, its tested and approved by the elders of the church. So again, the spirit-­ filled is under the complementarian. Which is ultimately under the reformed theology.   
   Somebody says they've experienced something, seen something, got a revelation of something, if the elders disagree the answer is no and if its not in-­
line with Christ-­centered, God-­exalting, biblical theology then it's to be rejected. But we are not to treat prophesies with what? contempt. Certain theological systems by definition do. And we know there will be false prophets and false teachers and false apostles. The Bible tells us that its not just shepherds and sheep, there is also wolves. Which requires elders in the church godly, qualified, competent, capable, biblical, humble male leaders to be the umpires making the decisions on these issues, and how the gifts are practiced in the church.
   So what I would like to argue for is spirit-­filled theology and i think this helps us get away from modernistic rationalistic thinking. Again in addition to cessationism, charismatic theology suffers from some of the same errors of modernism, right?. Functional cessationism is really about the mind, but functional charismatic theology is really about the heart. One is really about what you think, the other is about what you feel. And what happens in that is that wrongly held charismatic and pentecostal, and even continuationistic theology, it becomes incredibly self-­centered, it's about my gift, my experience, my word, my contribution, my authority. What we're talking about in the spirit-­filled theology is different. let me explain to you what I mean by this.
   Right now I'm half way through preaching the entire book of Luke, it's gonna take a few years. And Luke is a prequel and the book of Acts is a sequel. Both written by Luke, this historian and medical doctor, who's traveling companion perhaps position to and friends with the apostle Paul. And Luke as you know was funded I believe by Theophilus, a wealthy and affluent benefactor and he permits uh Luke to take the time to go interview the eye-­witnesses and to put together under the ministry of the Holy Spirit a perfect, inerrant, accounting of the life of Jesus in Luke and the ministry of his people in the book of acts, prequel and sequel. And I see this is biblical theology and I've said this before so if you've heard it I apologize, um but the way I see it is this, there's a lot of supernatural miraculous ministry happening around the birth of Jesus. Elizabeth becomes pregnant, an angel shows up to speak to her husband Zechariah. Uh additionally Mary is enabled to conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit, an angel shows up to articulate this to Joseph. There's a lot of supernatural, angelic, Holy Spirit work around the birth of Jesus.
   Jesus is born, and then we see him grow up, he grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with men and God. And then this significant event happens at the baptism of Jesus Christ. And at the Baptism of Jesus, you all know the story, the entire trinitarian God of the Bible is present. God the Father speaks from Heaven, God the Son is brought up out of the water and God the Holy Spirit descends upon the Jesus in the form of a dove and this is the public declaration, inauguration of the ministry of Jesus and this is God's way of saying He's the one. "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased". He hadn't been preaching, teaching, healing yet, he hadn't died, and risen, and atoned for the sin of the world.
   Jesus was the beloved son of God, the second member of the trinity from eternity past. And God the Father says, He's the one, He's the one. And then in one of the other gospels, I think its mark's gospel. As this baptismal account of Jesus is told, there is an interesting additional piece that Mark contributes, and that is, that the Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus in this continuing, ongoing, uh ministerial capacity; so that we are to see that Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit, empowered by the Holy Spirit, enabled by the Holy Spirit and this is exactly what Luke says.
   As you keep reading, the gospel of Luke it says Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit out of the wilderness. That Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, that he keeps coming back to remind us of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Jesus.
   Now I don't want too get too far down this theological rabbit trail, but the question is often posed, how did Jesus do his ministry life on the earth? His you know, hypostatic union, one person two natures: fully man, fully God. We believe that, we believe that. But the question is, how does Jesus cast out demons? how does Jesus perform miracles? How does Jesus preach and teach with authority?
   Some will say "well he did that as God".
   Jesus on the earth was continually God, unceasingly God. But, they make a caveat, sometimes he works out of his deity, out of his divinity. For example, when he forgives sin. That's actually the accusation that's made "Jesus how can you forgive sin? only God can comitt[sic] sin", I mean, the psalmist said it rightly "against you only lord God have I sinned". We've sinned against God, God's the one that needs to forgive us, when Jesus forgives someone he's doing the work of God. But Jesus we're told in the Hebrews was also tempted. We know that Jesus also suffered. And he wasn't just faking it, he did so fully human. And this is, this is one of those great mysteries of our faith, fully God fully man. Jesus really did suffer, He really was tempted, even though he never did sin. And on occasion he worked out of his divinity but he never did so to benefit himself. He did sort of benefit others but not himself. He lived as we live. Hungry, tempted, criticized, suffering, bleeding, dying. How did he do it? I would submit to you that he did not lose his divinity, he retained it fully. But he didn't continually avail himself to the full use of His divine attributes. let me give you an example: God is omnipresent in the incarnation, Jesus was in a place; God is immutable and unchanging, Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and favor with men and God; God doesn't learn anything He's all knowing and omniscient, Jesus in humbling himself becoming a man he learned as we learn, we see him studying with the other leaders at the temple for example.   
   So how did He do it? He did it by the power of the Holy Spirit. Philippians 2 talks about Jesus, verses 5 through 11 Jesus humbling himself, talking upon the form of a servant, and by the power of the Holy Spirit living his life.
   Here's what it means to be Spirit-­
filled: it means to live a life patterned after Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Where we get in trouble with charismatic and pentecostal theology is we lift up the Holy man of God, the anointed man. If his name is not Jesus, it's the wrong man. It's the wrong man. Jesus is the perfect man, Jesus is the God-­man. Right? Jesus is the Savior, he's also the example. He saves us from sin, sends us the Holy Spirit, so we might live a life patterned after his. This is a life of courage and humility. It's a life of courage that it's willing to do as Jesus did, be fully committed to the mission of God and a ministry and a life of humility. It's not our power that compels us, and it's not our glory that we long for.
   Now what this allows us to do is have a Christ-­centered, spirit-­filled theology. And as you read the storyline of Luke it then goes to acts; And as you go to the book of Acts, uh, Luke this master story-­ teller, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he shows the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus Christ in our place for our sins as our penal substitute savior, believe all of it, gladly. And then Jesus says you need to go tell people about what I've done. You need to be my witnesses, you need to go get this good news out. But he says don't go just yet, first wait for the Holy Spirit. And then we see the Holy Spirit descending on the church on the day of Pentecost just as the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at the day of his baptism. Now this is not an accident. Luke, I would say ultimately the Holy Spirit through Luke, is showing us that Jesus' life and ministry was done by the Holy Spirit, the Church's ministry is supposed to continue and be sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit. They were doing the ministry of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God and it's communal not individual. The Holy Spirit descends upon the church, empowering and enabling the church for mission. To be spirit-­filled is to be like Jesus together on mission. That's what it means to be Spirit-­filled.  
   Now if you explain this to your people, say "I want you to be Spirit-­filled…"  
   They're like "uhh you're freaking me out."
   "…like Jesus!" OK that sounds great.
   You see the difference? otherwise what happens in pentecostal theology and charismatic theology is sometimes the cross is really secondary and the day of Pentecost is really the big deal. And what happens on the day of Pentecost is that the work of the cross is applied by the power of the Spirit. So it's not a greater event, its the application of the greatest event: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.
   That allows us to be cross-­
centered , Christ-­centered, mission-­focused, Spirit-­filled. That's what we mean by a Spirit-­filled theology. This includes as well, and I'll say this briefly, an understanding that as you are filled with the Holy Spirit as God's people and community under authority on mission, you will encounter the demonic. Reformed guys don't know what to do with the demons. We don' t know. We say things like, we're against them. That's basically, that's basically our demonology. We don't like them. OK great! that's a good place to start. But we don't know what to do with the demonic, we don't know what to do with people who are oppressed. We don't know what to do with people who are suicidal. We don't know what to do with people who are believing habitual lies and accusations and condemnations. We struggle with the demonic. And so what happens in the reformed world it's all the flesh and the world, we don't know what to do with the devil, to use Martin Luther's distinction between those three sources of Spiritual opposition. So one of the areas that is sort of culminating and ruminating is what does it really mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
   And as we're on mission and we see people who don't just have just theological or just psychological problems, they've got Spiritual problems. What do we do? Does the Bible have anything for them and this is what we see in the life and ministry of Jesus and the early church as God's people.
are filled with the Spirit on mission like Jesus they have demonic opposition and it's real and some of you church planters don't believe that.
   You just think if I call people to repent of sin and preach the Bible it's gonna go great. It will and there will be great opposition. You really do have an enemy, the words warfare and battle in the Bible are not an overstatement. It's real. So Reformed theology, complementarian relationships, Spirit-­
filled lives; I feel inclined to say one thing too, tomorrow I'm going to unpack all the teams on this, but you reformed guys especially you who are more Presbyterian, you tend to ignore the Holy Spirit and attribute everything the Spirit does to the gospel. "The gospel has power, the gospel saves, the gospel, the gospel, the gospel" only if applied by the Holy Spirit. And so you can't just talk about everything the gospel does, because apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, people are blind, hard-­hearted, deaf, resistant, stubborn, totally depraved. So be careful you're not always just saying the gospel, the gospel, the gospel, make sure to teach your people the gospel with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. [xxvii]

Let’s unpack this:

Is Cessationism a Product of Modernism?

   Mark Driscoll initially starts with Rene Descartes and the advent of modernism as the source of cessationism – that is, the Englightenment, with it’s emphasis on the ability of the human mind, unaided by supernatural influences or knowledge, is sufficient for man to comprehend and guide his own identity as he deems it. Under such thinking, reason trumps faith and man’s empirical knowledge deafen God’s own voice spoken through his word.
   When one adopts such a worldview, confidence in the supernatural power of God – both providentially, as well as miraculously – is radically strained. On one hand, the need for the extraordinary is minimised, on the other, when such things do occur, the first response is to look for “a logical explanation”.
   But is that what cessationists really believe?  
   Firstly, the notion cessationism as a theology is an Enlightenment-Era invention fails as the belief in the cessation of the miraculous spiritual gifts surely predates the philosophy of Descartes (more about this later).
   Secondly, in the words of many a cessationist, such is nothing further from the truth as to what they actually believe. Nathan Busenitz clarifies:

1. Cessationism is not anti-supernatural, nor does it deny the possibility of miracles.
When it comes to understanding the cessationist position, the question is notCan God still do miracles in the world today? Cessationists would be quick to acknowledge that God can act at any time in any way He chooses. Along these lines, John MacArthur explains:

            Miracles in the Bible [primarily] occurred in three major periods of time.  The time of Moses 
            and Joshua, the time of Elijah and Elisha, and the time of Christ and the apostles.  . . . And it is
            during those three brief periods of time and those alone that miracles proliferated; that 
            miracles were the norm; that miracles were in abundance. Now God can interject Himself
            into the human stream supernaturally anytime He wants.  We’re not limiting Him.
            We’re simply saying that He has chosen to limit Himself to a great degree to those three 
            periods of time. 

Cessationism then does not deny the reality that God can do whatever He wants whenever He wants (Psalm 115:3). It does not put God into a box or limit His sovereign prerogative.
   But it does acknowledge that there was something unique and special about the age of miracles and miracle-workers that defined the ministries of Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Christ and His apostles. Moreover, it recognizes the seemingly obvious fact that those kinds of miracles (like parting the sea, stopping the rain, raising the dead, walking on water, or instantly healing the lame and the blind) are not occurring today.

   Thus, cessationists conclude that:
The apostolic age was marvelously unique and it ended.  And what happened then is not the normal thing for every Christian.  The normal thing for every Christian is to study the Word of God, which is able to make us wise and perfect.  [It] is to live by faith and not by sight. (Ibid.)
But can God still do extraordinary things in the world today? Certainly He can, if He chooses to do so. In fact, every time a sinner’s eyes are opened to the gospel, and a new life in Christ is created, it is nothing short of a miracle.
In his helpful book, To Be Continued?, Samuel Waldron aptly expresses the cessationist position this way (on p. 102):

          I am not denying by all this that there are miracles in the world today in the broader sense of  supernatural occurrences and extraordinary providences. I am only saying that there are no miracles in the stricter sense [of] miracle-workers performing miraculous signs to attest the redemptive revelation they bring from God. Though God has never locked Himself out of His world and is still at liberty to do as He pleases, when He pleases, how He pleases, and where He pleases, He has made it clear that the progress of redemptive revelation attested by miraculous signs done by miracle-workers has been brought to conclusion in the revelation  embodied in our New Testaments.

So, the question is not: Can God still do miracles?
Rather, the definitive question is this: Are the miraculous gifts of the New Testament still in operation in the church today–such that what was the norm in the days of Christ and the apostles ought to be expected today?
To that, all cessationists would answer “no.

2. Cessationism is not founded on one’s interpretation of “the perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10
For that matter, it seems there are almost as many views of “the perfect” among cessationist scholars as there are commentators who write about 1 Corinthians 13:8–13. Space in this article does not permit a full investigation into each of these, but rather a cursory explanation of the major positions.

 The Different Views

Some (such as F.F. Bruce) argue that love itself is the perfect. Thus when the fullness of love comes, the Corinthians will put away their childish desires.

Some (such as B.B. Warfield) contend that the completed canon of Scripture is the perfect. Scripture is described as “perfect” in James 1:25, a text in which the same word for “mirror” (as in v. 12) is found (in James 1:23). Thus partial revelation is done away when the full revelation of Scripture comes.

Some (such as Robert Thomas) contend that the mature church is the perfect. This view is primarily based on the illustration of verse 11 and on the close connection between this passage and Eph. 4:11–13. The exact timing of the church’s “maturity” is unknown, though it is closely associated with the completion of the canon, and the end of the apostolic era (cf. Eph. 2:20).

Some (such as Thomas Edgar) see the believer’s entrance into the presence of Christ (at the moment of death) as the perfect. This view accounts for the personal aspect of Paul’s statement in verse 12. Paul personally experienced full knowledge when he entered Christ’s presence at his death (cf. 2 Cor. 5:8).

Some (such as Richard Gaffin) see the return of Christ (and the end of this age) as the perfect. This is also the view of most continuationists. Thus, when Christ comes back (as delineated in chapter 15), the partial revelation we know now will be made complete.

Some (such as John MacArthur) view the eternal state (in a general sense) as the perfect. This explanation interprets the neuter of to teleion as a reference to a general state of events and not a personal return of Christ. This view overlaps with both numbers 4 and 5 above in that, according to this view: “For Christians the eternal state begins either at death, when they go to be with the Lord, or at the rapture, when the Lord takes His own to be with Himself” (John MacArthur, First Corinthians, p. 366).

Of these views, I personally find the last three more convincing than the first three. This is primarily due (I will confess) to the testimony of church history. Dr. Gary Shogren, after doing an in-depth study of some 169 patristic references to this passage, concludes that the church fathers overwhelmingly saw the perfect in terms of something beyond this life (most normally associating it with the return of Christ, or with seeing Christ in heaven). Even John Chrysostom (who was clearly a cessationist) saw it this way. While not authoritative, such historical evidence is difficult to dismiss.
In any case, my point here is simply this: The interpreter can take any of the above positions, and still remain a cessationist. In fact, there are cessationists who hold to each of the positions listed above (as the names I’ve listed indicate).
Thus, Anthony Thiselton notes in his commentary on this passage: “The one important point to make here is that few or none of the serious ‘cessationist’ arguments depends on a specific exegesis of 1 Cor 13:8–11. . . .  These verses should not be used as a polemic for either side in this debate” (NIGTC, pp. 1063–64).

3. Cessationism is not an attack on the Person or work of the Holy Spirit.
In fact, just the opposite is true. Cessationists are motivated by a desire to see the Holy Spirit glorified. They are concerned that, by redefining the gifts, the continuationist position cheapens the remarkable nature of those gifts, lessening the truly miraculous working of the Spirit in the earliest stages of the church.
Cessationists are convinced that, by redefining healing, the charismatic position presents a bad testimony to the watching world when the sick are not healed. By redefining tongues, the charismatic position promotes a type of nonsensical gibberish that runs contrary to anything we know about the biblical gift. By redefining prophecy, the charismatic position lends credence to those who would claim to speak the very words of God and yet speak error.
This, then, is the primary concern of cessationists: that the honor of the Triune God and His Word be exalted—and that it not be cheapened by watered-down substitutes.
And how do we know if something is authentic or not? By comparing it to the written testimony of Scripture. Does going to the Bible to define the gifts mean that we are bypassing the Holy Spirit? Quite the contrary. When we search the Scriptures, we are going to the testimony of the Holy Spirit Himself to discover what He has revealed about the gifts that He bestowed.
As a cessationist, I love the Holy Spirit. I would never want to do anything to discredit His work, diminish His attributes, or downplay His ministry. Nor would I ever want to miss out on anything He is doing in the church today. And I’m not the only cessationist who feels this way.
Because we love the Holy Spirit we are thankful to God for the Spirit’s amazing and ongoing work in the body of Christ. His works of regenerating, indwelling, baptizing, sealing, assuring, illuminating, convicting, comforting, confirming, filling, and enabling are all indispensable aspects of His ministry.
Because we love the Holy Spirit we are motivated to study the Scriptures that He inspired to learn how to walk in a manner worthy, being characterized by His fruit. We long to be filled by Him (Eph. 5:18), which begins by being indwelt with His Word, which is the Word of Christ (Col. 3:16–17), and being equipped with His sword, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17).
Finally, it is because we love the Holy Spirit that we long to rightly represent Him, to understand and appreciate His purposes (as He has revealed them in His Word), and to align ourselves with what He is doing in this world. This more than anything else gives us reason to study the issue of charismatic gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7-11). Our goal in this study has to be more than mere doctrinal correctness. Our motivation must be to gain a more accurate understanding of the Spirit’s work—such that we might better yield ourselves to Him in service to Christ for the glory of God.[xxviii]

Hence, Driscoll’s attributing of cessationism to be a product of Enlightenment-era rationalism which manifests itself as either deism or atheism is misleading based on how the cessationists themselves explain their theology.

   But is Driscoll still referring to a legitimate theological problem within the church?
   Had Driscoll said:

So it goes to Atheism, Deism - and this will be controversial - Liberalism

His indictment would have been more than apt, and he would be just in rebuking those who while professing to embrace the Christian faith otherwise – in the name of limited, human reason – go out of their way to keep the word, the holiness, the power and the Grace of God out of their lives as much as possible. The Apostle Peter spoke of those within the church who are nothing more than False professors [of faith]” who while being able to outwardly walk the talk, go out of their way to “secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves” (2 Peter 2:1).
   Consider the following clip from Craig Groeschel:

   What about the testimony of the early church fathers? On this point, I am in eager expectation of what Driscoll and Justin Holcomb’s book will cite in this area, as this tends to be an important fulcrum upon which the cessation/continuation debate can go either way.
So what did the leaders of the church in the first few centuries after Christ’s death and resurrection have to say about the charismata?

“For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence you ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your nation have been transferred to us.
   And just as there were false prophets contemporaneous with your holy prophets, so are there now many false teachers amongst us, of whom our Lord forewarned us to beware; so that in no respect are we deficient, since we know that He foreknew all that would happen to us after His resurrection from the dead and ascension to heaven. For He said we would be put to death, and hated for His name’s sake; and that many false prophets and false Christs would appear in His name, and deceive many: and so has it come about. For many have taught godless, blasphemous, and unholy doctrines, forging them in His name; have taught, too, and even yet are teaching, those things which proceed from the unclean spirit of the devil, and which were put into their hearts.
   Therefore we are most anxious that you be persuaded not to be misled by such persons, since we know that every one who can speak the truth, and yet speaks it not, shall be judged by God, as God testified by Ezekiel, when He said, ‘I have made thee a watchman to the house of Judah. If the sinner sin, and thou warn him not, he himself shall die in his sin; but his blood will I require at thine hand. But if thou warn him, thou shalt be innocent.’
   And on this account we are, through fear, very earnest in desiring to converse [with men] according to the Scriptures, but not from love of money, or of glory, or of pleasure. For no man can convict us of any of these [vices]. No more do we wish to live like the rulers of your people, whom God reproaches when He says, ‘Your rulers are companions of thieves, lovers of bribes, followers of the rewards.’
[2] Now, if you know certain amongst us to be of this sort, do not for their sakes blaspheme the Scriptures and Christ, and do not assiduously strive to give falsified interpretations.”
Justin Martyr (b. 100-165 A.D.), “Dialogue with Trypho”, LXXXII

"Those who are in truth His disciples, receiving grace from Him, do in His name perform [miracles], so as to promote the welfare of other men, according to the gift which each one has received from Him. For some do certainly and truly drive out devils, so that those who have thus been cleansed from evil spirits frequently both believe [in Christ], and join themselves to the Church. Others have foreknowledge of things to come: they see visions, and utter prophetic expressions. Others still, heal the sick by laying their hands upon them, and they are made whole. Yea, moreover, as I have said, the dead even have been raised up, and remained among us for many years…. The name of our Lord Jesus Christ even now confers benefits [upon men], and cures thoroughly and effectively all who anywhere believe on Him. "
Irenaeus, “Against Heresies”, book 2, chapter 32 (180 A.D.)

"In like manner do we also hear many brethren in the church who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light, for the general benefit, the hidden things of men and declare the mysteries of God, who also the apostles term spiritual."
Iraneus, "Against Heresies", Book V, vi, (180 A.D)

 Now was absolutely fulfilled that promise of the Spirit which was given by the word of Joel: "In the last days will I pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and their sons and their daughters shall prophesy; and upon my servants and upon my handmaids will I pour out of my Spirit."
Since, then, the Creator promised the gift of His Spirit in the latter days; and since Christ has in these last days appeared as the dispenser of spiritual gifts (as the apostle says, "When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son;" and again, "This I say, brethren, that the time is short"), it evidently follows in connection with this prediction of the last days, that this gift of the Spirit belongs to Him who is the Christ of the predicters.
Now compare the Spirit's specific graces, as they are described by the apostle, and promised by the prophet Isaiah. "To one is given," says he, "by the Spirit the word of wisdom;" this we see at once is what Isaiah declared to be "the spirit of wisdom." "To another, the word of knowledge;" this will be "the (prophet's) spirit of understanding and counsel." "To another, faith by the same Spirit;" this will be "the spirit of religion and the fear of the Lord." "To another, the gifts of healing, and to another the working of miracles;" this will be "the spirit of might." "To another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues;" this will be "the spirit of knowledge."
See how the apostle agrees with the prophet both in making the distribution of the one Spirit, and in interpreting His special graces. This, too, I may confidently say: he who has likened the unity of our body throughout its manifold and divers members to the compacting together of the various gifts of the Spirit, shows also that there is but one Lord of the human body and of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit, (according to the apostle's showing,) meant not that the service of these gifts should be in the body, nor did He place them in the human body); and on the subject of the superiority of love above all these gifts, He even taught the apostle that it was the chief commandment, just as Christ has shown it to be: "Thou shalt love the Lord with all thine heart and soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thine own self." When he mentions the fact that "it is written in the law," how that the Creator would speak with other tongues and other lips, whilst confirming indeed the gift of tongues by such a mention, he yet cannot be thought to have affirmed that the gift was that of another god by his reference to the Creator's prediction.
In precisely the same manner, when enjoining on women silence in the church, that they speak not for the mere sake of learning (although that even they have the right of prophesying, he has already shown when he covers the woman that prophesies with a veil), he goes to the law for his sanction that woman should be under obedience. Now this law, let me say once for all, he ought to have made no other acquaintance with, than to destroy it. But that we may now leave the subject of spiritual gifts, facts themselves will be enough to prove which of us acts rashly in claiming them for his God, and whether it is possible that they are opposed to our side, even if the Creator promised them for His Christ who is not yet revealed, as being destined only for the Jews, to have their operations in His time, in His Christ, and among His people.
Let Marcion then exhibit, as gifts of his god, some prophets, such as have not spoken by human sense, but with the Spirit of God, such as have both predicted things to come, and have made manifest the secrets of the heart; let him produce a psalm, a vision, a prayer--only let it be by the Spirit, in an ecstasy, that is, in a rapture, whenever an interpretation of tongues has occurred to him; let him show to me also, that any woman of boastful tongue in his community has ever prophesied from amongst those specially holy sisters of his. Now all these signs (of spiritual gifts) are forthcoming from my side without any difficulty, and they agree, too, with the rules, and the dispensations, and the instructions of the Creator; therefore without doubt the Christ, and the Spirit, and the apostle, belong severally to my God. Here, then, is my frank avowal for any one who cares to require it.
Tertullian, “Against Marcion”,  Book 5, Section 8 (208? A.D.)

Celsus next proceeds to say, that the system of doctrine, viz., Judaism, upon which Christianity depends, was barbarous in its origin.  And with an appearance of fairness, he does not reproach Christianity because of its origin among barbarians, but gives the latter credit for their ability in discovering (such) doctrines.  To this, however, he adds the statement, that the Greeks are more skilful than any others in judging, establishing, and reducing to practice the discoveries of barbarous nations.  Now this is our answer to his allegations, and our defence of the truths contained in Christianity, that if any one were to come from the study of Grecian opinions and usages to the Gospel, he would not only decide that its doctrines were true, but would by practice establish their truth, and supply whatever seemed wanting, from a Grecian point of view, to their demonstration, and thus confirm the truth of Christianity.  We have to say, moreover, that the Gospel has a demonstration of its own, more divine than any established by Grecian dialectics.  And this diviner method is called by the apostle the “manifestation of the Spirit and of power:” of “the Spirit,” on account of the prophecies, which are sufficient to produce faith in any one who reads them, especially in those things which relate to Christ; and of “power,” because of the signs and wonders which we must believe to have been performed, both on many other grounds, and on this, that traces of them are still preserved among those who regulate their lives by the precepts of the Gospel.
Origin, “Contra Celsus” (248 A.D.)

This whole place [speaking about 1 Corinthians 12] is very obscure: but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur but now no longer take place.
John Chrysostom (344–407), Homilies on 1 Corinthians, 36.7

In former times those who accepted the divine preaching and who were baptized for their salvation were given visible signs of the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in them. Some spoke in tongues which they did not know and which nobody had taught them, while others performed miracles or prophesied. The Corinthians also did these things, but they did not use the gifts as they should have done. They were more interested in showing off than in using them for the edification of the church. . . . Even in our time grace is given to those who are deemed worthy of holy baptism, but it may not take the same form as it did in those days.
Theodoret of Cyrus (393–466 A.D.), Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 240, 43

Initially, St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430) clearly affirmed cessation:

In the earliest times, the Holy Spirit fell upon them that believe and they spoke with tongues, which they had not learned, as the Spirit gave them utterance. These were signs adapted to the time. For there was this betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues [languages] to show that the gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a sign, and it passed away.
Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, 6.10

In the seventh chapter of City of God on the other hand, Augustine goes to some length to describe second-hand accounts of the miraculous in his own time:

   There, too, by the same martyr, two men, one a citizen, the other a stranger, were cured of gout; but while the citizen was absolutely cured, the stranger was only informed what he should apply when the pain returned; and when he followed this advice, the pain was at once relieved.
   Audurus is the name of an estate, where there is a church that contains a memorial shrine of the martyr Stephen. It happened that, as a little boy was playing in the court, the oxen drawing a wagon went out of the track and crushed him with the wheel, so that immediately he seemed at his last gasp. His mother snatched him up, and laid him at the shrine, and not only did he revive, but also appeared uninjured.
   A religious female, who lived at Caspalium, a neighboring estate, when she was so ill as to be despaired of, had her dress brought to this shrine, but before it was brought back she was gone. However, her parents wrapped her corpse in the dress, and, her breath returning, she became quite well.
   At Hippo a Syrian called Bassus was praying at the relics of the same martyr for his daughter, who was dangerously ill. He too had brought her dress with him to the shrine. But as he prayed, behold, his servants ran from the house to tell him she was dead. His friends, however, intercepted them, and forbade them to tell him, lest he should bewail her in public. And when he had returned to his house, which was already ringing with the lamentations of his family, and had thrown on his daughter’s body the dress he was carrying, she was restored to life.
   There, too, the son of a man, Irenæus, one of our tax-gatherers, took ill and died. And while his body was lying lifeless, and the last rites were being prepared, amidst the weeping and mourning of all, one of the friends who were consoling the father suggested that the body should be anointed with the oil of the same martyr. It was done, and he revived.
   Likewise Eleusinus, a man of tribunitian rank among us, laid his infant son, who had died, on the shrine of the martyr, which is in the suburb where he lived, and, after prayer, which he poured out there with many tears, he took up his child alive.
   What am I to do?
   I am so pressed by the promise of finishing this work, that I cannot record all the miracles I know; and doubtless several of our adherents, when they read what I have narrated, will regret that I have omitted so many which they, as well as I, certainly know. Even now I beg these persons to excuse me, and to consider how long it would take me to relate all those miracles, which the necessity of finishing the work I have undertaken forces me to omit. For were I to be silent of all others, and to record exclusively the miracles of healing which were wrought in the district of Calama and of Hippo by means of this martyr—I mean the most glorious Stephen—they would fill many volumes; and yet all even of these could not be collected, but only those of which narratives have been written for public recital. For when I saw, in our own times, frequent signs of the presence of divine powers similar to those which had been given of old, I desired that narratives might be written, judging that the multitude should not remain ignorant of these things. It is not yet two years since these relics were first brought to Hippo-regius, and though many of the miracles which have been wrought by it have not, as I have the most certain means of knowing, been recorded, those which have been published amount to almost seventy at the hour at which I write. But at Calama, where these relics have been for a longer time, and where more of the miracles were narrated for public information, there are incomparably more.
City of God, 7.8

So can the Early Church Fathers be used as an evidence for the Cessation or Continuation of the charismata? If would seem that at first, belief in continuation seems to diminish over time, though Augustine’s accounts suggests at least the possibility that the church of his time was readily accepting towards such phenomenon, albeit it being considerably rare.

   Thirdly, Driscoll is just as quick to level a volley at the faults of charismatic and pentecostal theology, namely, the pitfall that by emphasising the experiential over the cerebral when it comes to tangible manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s power one risks falling into excess, self-centredness, individualism, and even greed.

   In my previous article on the teachings of NAR affiliate Bill Johnson from Bethel Church in Redding, California, one thing that seemed to consistently stand out both in my preliminary research as well as feedback from Bethel sympathizers afterwards was another child of modernistic thinking that stands back-to-back with rationalism: Existentialism. Right and wrong is not determined by appeals to logic or overarching axioms, but rather all things are to be measured by experiential value. Existentialism elevates individual experience and personal choice, minimizing or ruling out absolute standards of truth, goodness, morality, and such things. We might accurately characterize existentialism as the abandonment of objectivity. Existentialism is inherently anti-intellectual, against reason, irrational.

   Last yet foremost, Driscoll ascribes the definition of “Spirit-filled” and “Spirit-led” not upon Christians who exercise the charismata, but rather, back to Jesus Christ himself: his life, his ministry, his example and teaching.

6. What the critics are saying

“Throw a rock into a pack of dogs, and the one that yells is the one that got hit.”
- Anonymous

   Within days of the publication of Driscoll’s message online, cessationists throughout the blogosphere were quick to respond with their own objections and criticisms – some with the humility demonstrated by Nathan Busenitz’s above article, others vicious in tone.
   In an open letter to Driscoll, Frank Turk wrote on the TeamPyro  blog:

   Now, Pastor Mark: where to start? I'll be excited to read your book when Justin Taylor has approved it for publication as I am dying to see the historical evidence for the continuation of the gifts in the first 3 centuries of the church when it cannot be found in any of the primary sources for that period. You say elsewhere in the talk that you have it, and I'm looking forward to you showing us your evidence.  When guys like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tatian, Clement, and Tertullian don't mention it at all, and they are framing the first post-biblical case for Christianity, and they can't possibly have modernistic, rationalistic, individualistic Enlightenment biases because it's 14 centuries too early for that, I hope you have something more than self-confidence and a winning smirk to carry the day.
   To the rest of this, I'm really just agog.  On Twitter, to your defenders there, I have said it plainly: who exactly are you talking about?  Given the time and the tone you have committed to this topic -- giving it as much time in front of this group as you gave to both Reformed theology and Compementarian roles for men and women combined -- one must think it's a rampant pathology.  In all seriousness, you wave-off the too-numerous-to-count Prosperity crowd and the barking-dog Pentecostals, but you call out standard-issue presbyterians as if they are the ones making the church look like a geek show.  You make a point to name the Presbys as a class at the end of this section, and you make it clear that while you mention "hard" cessationists, you mean anyone who doesn't have a prophet in his church.  So my off-the-cuff reaction to this stuff is, "You must mean someone: name two men who believe this stuff as you have framed it."  Maybe you mean Warfield and Machen?
   I myself have been uncharacteristically-cagey in naming names when it comes to my campaign against watchbloggers and bad apologists, but it's funny: when I spell it out, people know exactly who I am talking about.  The right people take offense.  Some of them self-immolate and make my hobby more like reporting than commentary.  But in this case -- that is, your case -- I can't think of anyone who believes what you have recounted here, even among the three of us at TeamPyro.   
   None of us, for example, believes "God could do a miracle but He doesn't and He won't, but He could."  We all believe in the efficacy of prayer, the gifting of the believer for service, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the work of sanctification, and the acts of God in providence.  For the record, we also believe in the local church and its work as a light on a lampstand which is not because it is full of such swell people.  We believe in John 13-15, and in 1 Cor 12-14 -- and we can point to the exegesis of guys like
John Calvin and Augustine of Hippo as pre-modernists who believe what we believe literally over and against what you say you believe.
   But, of course, like the gents who come before you in this debate, conceding that to the cessationist view is out of the question.  It is either all or nothing, and to say that there are things which all believers can and will experience because God is the God of the living without saying that prophecy, tongues and specific gifts like apostolic healing and authority is somehow not reckoned as a choice.  What sets you apart, of course, is that you say that if the church doesn't have functional Jesus(es) in it, it's just atheism.
So here's the formal response to your video, in the form of affirmations and denials.

I affirm that Reformation theology requires the personal action of God the Holy Spirit for the life of the Church.

I affirm that miracles happen today. No sense in prayer and believing in a sovereign God if he's not going to ever be sovereign, right?

I affirm that God is utterly capable of, and completely willing, to demonstrate "signs and wonders" at any time, in any place, according to his good pleasure and for his great purpose.

I affirm the real presence of the Holy Spirit in the church of Jesus Christ as Jesus said He would be present in John 13-15.

I affirm that the normative working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church begins with conviction of sin and regeneration, and continues through sanctification, and through the outworking of personal gifts (e.g. -
Gal 5:22-23, 1 Cor 13:4-7) for the edification of the (local) church.

I affirm the uniqueness of the office of apostle in the founding of the church.

I affirm that leadership in the church is a task wholly-empowered by the Holy Spirit to men meeting the scriptural qualifications, and that the objectives of this leadership are wholly-defined by the Holy Spirit explicitly through Scripture and implicitly as the gifts of leaders are applied to a real people in a local church.
I deny that this work necessarily includes speaking in tongues (as in Acts 2 as well as in so-called "private prayer langauges"), healing the sick or raising the dead by explicit command, prophecy in the sense that Isaiah and John the Baptist were prophets, or any other "sign-and-wonder"-like exhibition. That is: I deny that these actions are necessary for the post-apostolic church to function as God intended.

I deny that there is any man alive today who is gifted to perform miracles as Christ and the Apostles where gifted to perform miracles.

I deny that this activity is common, normative, necessary, or in the best interest of God's people to been seen as common, normative and/or necessary. God in fact warns us against seeking signs rather than the thing signified repeatedly in the OT and NT.

I deny that this means that all believers or even all local churches will be equipped with apostles called and equipped as the 12 and Paul were called and equipped. A telling example is the role of apostles in delivering Scripture to the church.

I deny that explicitly-supernatural outworkings, or events the Bible calls "signs and wonders" (e.g. -
Acts 2:1-11, Acts 3:3-7, Acts 5:1-11, Acts 9:32-35, etc.) are either normative or necessary for the on-going life of the church.

I deny the necessity of apostles for the on-going life of the church.

I deny that church leadership is like business leadership -- that is, a system of techniques that have outcomes measurable by secular metrics of success -- and further deny that merely-competant management processes yield the fruit of the Holy Spirit

Off the bat, if Frank Turk in his above list of affirmations and denials is attempting to say “This is what I [and thus cessationists] believe in contrast to what Continuationists [and hence Mark Driscoll] believe”, he fails on the grounds that
1) Not all continuationists will necessarily affirm what Mr. Turk has put in his “I deny” column
2) Mark Driscoll’s position as outlined earlier certainly doesn’t match the profile which Turk is trying to create – a profile that if anything is more reliant upon an appeal to stereotypes rather than what I’ve outlined as the differing streams of continuationist thought. If anything, if one were to rightly go by Driscoll’s 1st Corinthian series as the basis for his theology regarding spiritual gifts, much of what Driscoll believes would have to fit more into Turk’s affirmations rather than his denials.

   Approximately one week later, Phil Johnson from Grace Community Church (of which John Macarthur in senior minister) published on the TeamPyro blog an article entitled “Pornographic Divination” in response to the following clip taken from a series of lectures Driscoll did on the subject of Satan, Demons and Spiritual Warfare:

Phil Johnson writes:

In a post last week, I pointed out that the preposterous claims, unhinged behavior, and spiritual quackery that are so prominent at the charismatic movement's lunatic fringe are by no means limited to the outer edges. Goofiness and gullibility are necessary byproducts of a belief system that fails to take seriously the principle of sola Scriptura and its ramifications (i.e., the authority and sufficiency of Scripture).
   Here's a sample of the kind of thing I was referring to: The video below features Mark Driscoll, claiming the Holy Spirit regularly gives him graphic visions showing acts of rape, fornicators in flagrante delicto, and sexual child molesters in the very act. WARNING: This is an extremely disturbing video, for multiple reasons:
  • This is bad teaching. The biblical "Gift of discernment" has nothing to do with soothsaying and everything to do with maturity, clear understanding, the ability to make wise and careful distinctions, and (especially) skill in differentiating between holy and profane, clean and unclean, truth and falsehood (Ezekiel 44:23; Hebrews 5:14).
  • The counsel Driscoll gives is bad counsel. If by his own admission Driscoll's divinations are not "a hundred percent always right," he has no business accusing people of serious sins—including felony crimes—based on what he "sees" in his own imagination. Much less should he encourage his congregants to dream that they have such an ability and urge them to "use that gift."
  • The salacious details he recounts are totally unnecessary. They serve only to reinforce the concern some of us have raised: Why does Driscoll have such a fixation with obscene subject matter, ribald stories, and racy talk? The smutty particulars regarding a counselee's tryst in a cheap hotel are not merely unnecessary; "it is disgraceful even to speak of [such] things" (Ephesians 5:12).
  • For that same reason (among others), these yarns aren't even believable. The Holy Spirit's own eyes are too pure to behold evil, and He cannot look on wickedness (Habakkuk 1:13). So why would He display pornographic visions to Mark Driscoll, whose mind and mouth are already too lewd anyway?
  • This proves that cessationists' concerns are not far-fetched. Reformed charismatics frequently complain that it's unfair for cessationists not to expressly exempt them when we criticize the eccentricities of the wacko fringe mainstream of the larger charismatic movement. But Reformed charismatics themselves aren't careful to distance themselves from charismatic nuttiness. John Piper was openly intrigued with the Toronto Blessing when it was at its peak. (If he ever denounced it as a fraud, I never heard or read where he stated that fact publicly.) Wayne Grudem to this day endorses Jack Deere's Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, despite the way Deere lionizes Paul Cain. Sam Storms aligned himself with the Kansas City Prophets' cult for almost a decade. I can't imagine how anyone holding Grudem's view of modern prophecy could possibly repudiate what Driscoll insists he has experienced. Does anyone really expect a thoughtful analysis or critique of Driscoll's view of the "gift of discernment" (much less a collective repudiation of this kind of pornographic divination) from Reformed charismatics? I certainly don't.
  • Thus we see that the leaky-canon view leaves the church exposed—not only to the whimsy of hyperactive imaginations, but (as we see here) to the defiling influence of an impure mind as well[xxix]

   Reading Johnson’s post, his intentions are quite clear in seeking to discredit continuationism, even going as far as to take those such as John Piper, C.J. Mahaney and Wayne Grudem who while affirming it with expressions of caution and placing them in the same box as “charismania”. Similar reasoning can be found in John Macarthur’s Charismatic Chaos – while raising genuine concerns such as whether Continuationism presents a threat to orthodox Christian doctrines such as the authority and innerancy of scripture in addition to the heresies preached by the Word of Faith movement, Macarthur does at times commit the fallacy of Affirming the Consequent when it comes to the similarities and differences among the varying streams of continuationist thinking by taking the faults of one branch and using it to indict the whole with one stroke.
   Secondly, the Spiritual Warfare series from which the clip is taken is dated to have been published during February 2008. Why is Johnson bringing this up now all of a sudden, three years later? Why didn’t he write about the video three years ago when it first came out? Obviously, much has happened in both the life of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church between 2008-2011. The membership has grown numerically, church plants have been commissioned, leaders ordained, new services started in the Seattle region. Is digging through the archives really the best way to discredit a present issue?

   Phil Johnson proof texts Ezekiel 44:23 and Hebrews 5:14 to say that Driscoll’s “spiritual discernment” is not the Biblical form of discernment. In context however, Ezekiel 44:23 is dealing not with general Christian disciplines, but rather instructions for the Levitical priesthood under the ceremonial Law:

15 “But cthe Levitical priests, cthe sons of Zadok, who kept athe charge of my sanctuary rwhen the people of Israel went astray from me, shall come near to me dto minister to me. And they shall stand before me to offer me ethe fat and the blood, declares the Lord God. 16 They shall enter my sanctuary, and they shall approach fmy table, to minister to me, and they shall keep my charge.
17 When they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear glinen garments. They shall have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court, and within. 18 They shall have linen turbans on their heads, and linen undergarments around their waists. They shall not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat. 19 And when they go out into the outer court to the people, they shall put off the garments in which they have been ministering hand lay them in the holy chambers. And ithey shall put on other garments, jlest they transmit holiness to the people with their garments. 20 kThey shall not shave their heads or llet their locks grow long; they shall surely trim the hair of their heads.
21 mNo priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. 22 nThey shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman, but only virgins of the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest.
23 oThey shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and oshow them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.
24 pIn a dispute, they shall act as judges, and they shall judge it according to my judgments. They shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts, and qthey shall keep my Sabbaths holy. 25 rThey shall not defile themselves by going near to a dead person. However, for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister they may defile themselves. 26 sAfter he has become clean, they shall count seven days for him. 27 And on the day that he goes into the Holy Place, tinto the inner court, to minister in the Holy Place, uhe shall offer his sin offering, declares the Lord God.

Hebrews 5:14 deals with Christians who are stunted in their growth, hence holding them back in understanding the deeper things of God:

11 About this we have much to say, and it is chard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again dthe basic principles of the oracles of God. You need emilk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is fa child. 14 But solid food is for gthe mature, for those who have their powers hof discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

So what is the “Spiritual Gift of Discernment”? Is it something all Christians cultivate as a result of “maturity, clear understanding, the ability to make wise and careful distinctions, and (especially) skill in differentiating between holy and profane, clean and unclean, truth and falsehood”, or is it a special charis that God gives to some? John Macarthur himself says:

   It may have even functioned in a very spiritual way, not just an earthly way, but a very supernatural way that God actually gave them insight to know that this was a demon spirit. They may have had that ability because we know, for example, you remember in Acts 16 that a woman came down to where Paul and Silas were and this woman said of Paul and Silas those very familiar words, "These men are the servants of the Most High God who show unto us the way of salvation." Now was that true? Absolutely true. Paul and Silas were the servants of the Most High God and they were showing us the way of salvation. That was absolutely true. But Paul knew it was coming from a demon spirit that was living in that girl. And remember, after listening to it for a while, he cast the demon out because he knew the subtlety of it was a demon spirit was speaking the truth so that people would embrace this girl and once they embraced her as one who spoke the truth, believing that she was speaking the truth of God, then would she speak lies to them and they would unwittingly receive them.
   So it was necessary for Paul by God's grace to have discernment to know what was really going on. In the early church then both to discern truth from error and a true spirit from a false spirit, apparently God gave some the ability to discern. They were the watchdogs, the patrol, the guard, the sentinel for the church.
   Now the question comes, does this gift still exist? Or was it only for that time? Well there's nothing in the Scripture to indicate that it has ceased its existence. There is nothing at all said about it. We have no reason to assume then that it has ceased. I feel comfortable in saying I have no problem letting the gift continue to exist in the church and take on a different kind of operational mode, to function in a different way. Today it can still be used in some people's lives to protect the church from error. There are some people in the church that God just gives the ability to discern.[xxx]
(emphasis added)

Johnson continues:

If by his own admission Driscoll's divinations are not "a hundred percent always right," he has no business accusing people of serious sins—including felony crimes—based on what he "sees" in his own imagination. Much less should he encourage his congregants to dream that they have such an ability and urge them to "use that gift."

However, in the video itself, Driscoll’s tone when addressing the counselee is not so much accusatory, but rather inquisitional: rather than launch a direct assault, he will first say what he saw, than proceed to ask before making the judgment. 

   Phil Johnson continues:

   The salacious details he recounts are totally unnecessary. They serve only to reinforce the concern some of us have raised: Why does Driscoll have such a fixation with obscene subject matter, ribald stories, and racy talk? The smutty particulars regarding a counselee's tryst in a cheap hotel are not merely unnecessary; "it is disgraceful even to speak of [such] things" (Ephesians 5:12).
   For that same reason (among others), these yarns aren't even believable. The Holy Spirit's own eyes are too pure to behold evil, and He cannot look on wickedness (Habakkuk 1:13). So why would He display pornographic visions to Mark Driscoll, whose mind and mouth are already too lewd anyway?

Are there occasions in Scripture where men of God are called to preach against sexual sin in detail? Indeed there are:

The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. 4 You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God. 5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.
6 “ ‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord.
7 “ ‘Do not dishonor your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; do not have relations with her.
8 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.
9 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in the same home or elsewhere.
10 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter; that would dishonor you.
11 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with the daughter of your father’s wife, born to your father; she is your sister.
12 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister; she is your father’s close relative.
13 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s close relative.
14 “ ‘Do not dishonor your father’s brother by approaching his wife to have sexual relations; she is your aunt.
15 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; do not have relations with her.
16 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would dishonor your brother.
17 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter; they are her close relatives. That is wickedness.
18 “ ‘Do not take your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sexual relations with her while your wife is living.
19 “ ‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.
20 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.
21 “ ‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificeda to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.
22 “ ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.
23 “ ‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
24 “ ‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things
Leviticus 18:1-27 (NIV)

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.
1 The LORD sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, 3 but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.
 4 “Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
 7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. 9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
 11 “This is what the LORD says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
   Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for[a] the LORD, the son born to you will die.”
 15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.
2 Samuel 11:26-12:15

At times God will bring his active wrath upon instances of sexual sin:

And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah’s firstborn, swas wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death.
Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to tyour brother’s wife and uperform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.”
But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother’s wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and he put him to death also.
Genesis 38:6-10

There are also occasions where descriptions of sexual acts are given as to compare the sin of God’s elect people:

 1The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. 3 They played the whore in Egypt; they played the whore in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms[a] handled. 4Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.
 5"Oholah played the whore while she was mine, and she lusted after her lovers the Assyrians, warriors 6clothed in purple, governors and commanders, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. 7She bestowed her whoring upon them, the choicest men of Assyria all of them, and she defiled herself with all the idols of everyone after whom she lusted. 8She did not give up her whoring that she had begun in Egypt; for in her youth men had lain with her and handled her virgin bosom and poured out their whoring lust upon her. 9Therefore I delivered her into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians, after whom she lusted. 10 These uncovered her nakedness; they seized her sons and her daughters; and as for her, they killed her with the sword; and she became a byword among women, when judgment had been executed on her.
 11 "Her sister Oholibah saw this, and she became more corrupt than her sister[b] in her lust and in her whoring, which was worse than that of her sister. 12She lusted after the Assyrians, governors and commanders, warriors clothed in full armor, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. 13And I saw that she was defiled; they both took the same way. 14But she carried her whoring further. She saw men portrayed on the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, 15wearing belts on their waists, with flowing turbans on their heads, all of them having the appearance of officers, a likeness of Babylonians whose native land was Chaldea. 16When she saw them, she lusted after them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoring lust. And after she was defiled by them, she turned from them in disgust. 18When she carried on her whoring so openly and flaunted her nakedness, I turned in disgust from her, as I had turned in disgust from her sister. 19Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt 20and lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. 21Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed[c] your young breasts."

Ezekiel 23:1-21

"'I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants[a] to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25Only hold fast what you have until I come.
Revelation 2:19-25

   Does sexual sin go against the character of God?
   Is God ignorant or blind regarding such things?
   Can the Holy Spirit give revelation detailing such practices – both in terms of people’s actions as well as for illustrative purposes?
   Within the confines of Scriptural precedent, yes.

   So where does that leave Mark Driscoll? Not just in terms of the above video, but also regarding that specificity on sexuality has always been something that has made both him and Mars Hill Church the subject of criticism:

The following should be duly noted about Mark Driscoll’s approach towards the subject of sexuality:

1. He sets clear parameters: Driscoll defines only one valid form of sexuality that is acceptable in the eyes of God – intimacy between Man and Woman, joined in Holy Matrimony in covenant under the covering of God.

2. He does not discriminate: Following from the above definition, Driscoll allows for no exceptions at all and sees no practical differences:    

3. He calls those guilty of perversion to repentance: He does not mince his words in indicting people who commit such sin, and when it comes to is congregation(s), he is very direct in calling them to renounce such practices and put their trust in Jesus Christ.

4. He comforts the grieving with the grace of the gospel: As hard as he is on people who commit such actions, he is just as compassionate towards victims of sexual abuse as well as those who indeed are plagued with the shame of having been involved in such practices (willingly or otherwise).

   But does such specificity have a place within the church? Or are we to write it off as being too disgraceful to speak of (cf. Ephesians 5:19), thus we keep our mouths shut?
   The Apostle Paul gave clear instructions that the Law of God is not intended for the righteous, but rather it is to be brought to bear upon transgressors:

8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers [5th and 6th Commandments] , 10for adulterers and perverts [7th Commandment], for kidnappers [8th Commandment] and liars and perjurers [9th Commandment] —and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Timothy 1:8-11

It is interesting to note that Paul’s list of sins in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 directly copies the order of the Decalogue with regards to citing the 5th commandment through to the ninth. Paul gives Timothy clear instructions that the preaching or moral virtue was to come from only one source as opposed to having an arbitrary view of morality that pulls its values out of anywhere as some are inclined to suggest.

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality [8th Commandment], or of any kind of impurity, or of greed [10th Commandment], because these are improper for God's holy people. 4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater [2 Commandment]—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.
Ephesians 5:3-7

5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust
[7th Commandment], evil desires and greed [10th Commandment], which is idolatry [2nd Commandment]. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice [6th Commandment], slander [9th Commandment], and filthy language [3rd Commandment] from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other [9th Commandment], since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Colossians 3:5-10

1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder
[6th Commandment]. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel [10th Commandment]. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? [1st Commandment] Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:1-4

James instructs us that:

whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
James 2:10-13

Therefore, we are to treat sexual sin with as much severity and mercy as any other form of sin. Why then, is it considered a taboo topic? I dare say that some reasons may include:

a) Pastors who are ignorant of what God’s word actually says about biblical sexuality

b) Churches are ill-equipped to minister care to victims of rape, molestation and sexual assault

c) A false sense of piety motivated by self-righteousness

All too often if there is any talk about it from the pulpit, it is not so much done in a grace-centred manner pointing people to the hope of redemption, but is instead condemning and legalistic:

Such action (or inaction) at the hands of men called to preach the full counsel of God’s word can be compared to Jeremiah’s accusation of the priests and false prophets of old:

13 "For from the least to the greatest of them,
   everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest,
   everyone deals falsely.
14They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
   saying, 'Peace, peace,'
    when there is no peace.
15 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
   No, they were not at all ashamed;
   they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among those who fall;
    at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,"
 says the LORD.
Jeremiah 6:13-15

Tragically, when it comes to sex and relationships, the contemporary church is simply failing to be salt and light.
     In 1996, a survey conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York found that “eighteen percent of abortion patients describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians”. That is, of those who murdered their own unborn child, nearly one in five professed faith in Jesus Christ. That is a little difficult to reconcile with the fact that Christians are supposed to love God and to love others as much as they love themselves.
   In a 1999 national survey, George Barna found that the percentage of born-again Christians who had experienced divorce was slightly higher (26%) than that of non-Christians (22%). In Barna polls done regularly since the mid-1990s, that number has remained about the same.
“True Love Waits”, a program sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention, is one of the most famous evangelical efforts to reduce premarital sex among youth. Since 1993, 2.4 million young people have signed a pledge to wait until marriage to engage in sexual intercourse. Did these youthful believers keep their promises? In March 2004, researchers from Columbia and Yale Universities reported their findings taken over a seven-year period among a sample of twelve thousand teenagers who took the pledge. Sadly, they found that 88% of these pledgers reported having pre-marital sex; that is, only 12% kept their promise. The researchers also found that the occurrence of sexually transmitted diseases “were almost identical for the teenagers who took pledges and those who did not.”

   This may be one of the reasons why Mars Hill Church has been able to grow exponentially: instead of resorting to man-centred and pragmatic means of church growth as we see in the seeker-sensitive model(s), Mars Hill has instead put it’s foot forward in bringing the gospel to bear upon a legitimate need affecting not just young adults who are yet to know the love of God, but also professing Christians who are still under such bondage, treating not just the symptoms, but the causes.

Unfortunately, what we don’t get to see make it’s way to the blogosphere or viral video, or the social networks is what immediately happens after a sermon such the above clip is preached. That is, the dozens, if not hundreds of Mars Hill  congregants who come forward in need of counsel and ministry from the elders present. The following is an anonymous letter from a young lady who grew up in a Christian family and thought everything was alright until she visited Mars Hill in 2009:

Dear Pastor Mark,
   Please stop talking about Jesus. Please stop talking about sin.
   You keep ripping my little Christian family’s world to pieces, and your teaching keeps bringing out secrets.
   Through your teaching, God told me I needed to leave my home behind and follow him to Mars Hill. I was lonely and scared.
   Through your teaching, my visiting sisters decided to come back and hear more. Through your teaching, they were convicted. So one at a time, they told us their secrets.
   One of them is bulimic and cutting herself. The other has been getting drunk and sleeping with her secret boyfriend we knew nothing about. Our world is in pieces. We have all been crying non-stop. This pain is too much.
   Why did you have to talk about sin and Jesus?
   Now they have confessed and we are all shattered. We are all broken into little bits. My Dad had to go to the ER because his heart was giving him problems from all the stress and grief.
   I can’t stop bursting into tears. We are so messed up. We are clinging to one another for dear life.
And now, more than ever, we need to hear you talk about Jesus. More than ever, we need to hear you preach the Bible and the gospel. More than ever, we need to be reminded that the truth is that the Truth will indeed set us free.
   There is a “thank-you” in this pain, but I don’t understand it because this all hurts so badly. This Jesus from the Bible is alive today…he is the most painful and comforting person I have ever encountered.[xxxi]

   Speaking from personal experience, seeking to bring another believer who has fallen into sexual sin to a state of restoration is by no means a walk in the park. Anyone who aspires to minister with teenagers or young adults but is not willing to deal with issues such as sexual sin, broken families, drug addiction, depression and psychological trauma is only committing themselves to an exercise in futility that will fall flat on it’s face. You have to decide very early on in such an endeavour how much of your life you are willing to yield to the Holy Spirit so He may empower your gifting, heal the spiritual wounds of those in your charge and to also give your faith sufficient strength to carry the burden of those whose walk with God may not be as stable. Without this, one will only succumb to the temptations of frustration until you finally throw in the towel, leaving those entrusted to your care to fend for themselves.
   During a visit to Mars Hill, Christianity Today’s Colin Hansen brought many of the criticisms against Mark Driscoll before Wendy Alsup who leads Mars Hill’s Women’s Theology ministry:

Alsup brought along her sleeping infant for our interview in the "war room," where Mars Hill's sizable security detail meets and stores their equipment. It turned out to be an apt location. Alsup, thirty-seven, was plenty familiar with every charge leveled at Driscoll and the women who attend Mars Hill. Only a couple of minutes into our interview, Alsup began trembling with righteous indignation.
   "We'll always be open to criticism," she said, "because God has grown us faster than we can handle."   
   Open to criticism, yes. Happy about it? No.
   "We're in the ER after the World Trade Center here at Mars Hill," said Alsup, shaking. "We don't have ten people with big problems because they just got saved last week. We've got a thousand. And we are running to disciple them, to minister the Word to them, to teach them the gospel. If you're not going to come and help us, at least stop throwing rocks at our windows while we're trying to treat our patients."

Here's some food for thought courtesy of a secular British journalist:

"His style is that of the vulgar colloquial varied by rant... All the most solemn mysteries of our holy religion are by him rudely, roughly, and impiously handled. Mystery is vulgarised, sanctity profaned, common sense outraged; and decency disgusted... His rantings are interspersed with coarse anecdotes that split the ears of the groundlings; and this is popularity!"

For those who think that this may be an apt description of Mark Driscoll's teaching style, the quote is taken from The Essex Standard, April 18, 1855, describing the journalist's visit to

The Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, (at the time) pastored by Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
   The above article was actually included in Vol. 1 of Spurgeon's autobiography.
   Something to think about.

7. “Reformed-Continuationists”: Syncretism, convergence or ecumenicism?

7.1 This isn’t something new

At this point, many may be wondering whether the merger between Reformed Soteriology and Continuationist Pneumatology that Mark Driscoll and others are advocating is a valid combination. For the most, Reformed theology since the time of Luther and Calvin has been cessationist while Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Renewal have favoured [Wesleyen] arminianism respectively.
   The acceptance and assimilation of continuationist theology may seem like another quirk of the so-called “New Calvinism”, but this is not necessarily so.
   Duncan Campbell (1898-1972) was the passionate Presbyterian minister best known for his contribution to the Lewis Awakening, a series of revivals that occurred in the Hebrides islands during the early 1950s. Campbell drew controversy not just from his affirmation of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit as an experience subsequent to conversion, but because he believed that true revival was wholly an act of God’s providence as opposed to something that can achieved through human planning and initiative – a view that had become popular as a result of the ministry of Charles Finney.

   Perhaps the most celebrated expository preacher of the twentieth century was none other than Martyn Lloyd-Jones. As the senior pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, Lloyd-Jones was known for his passionate commitment to verse-by-verse expository preaching as well as contending for evangelical orthodoxy. While loved and remembered by many reformed theologians today, Lloyd-Jones (or as he came to be known due to his education in medicine, the “Doctor”) was also known for his unique pneumatology:

Yes, [Acts 2] was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. But we all get that now, and it is unconscious, we are not aware of it, it happens to us the moment we believe and we are regenerated. It is just that act of God which incorporates us into the Body of Christ. That is the baptism of the Spirit. So it is no use your praying for for some other baptism of the Spirit, or asking God to pour out His Spirit upon the church ... It is not surprising that, as that kind of preaching has gained currency, people have stopped praying for revival".[xxxiii]  

On the nature of the miraculous sign gifts, Lloyd-Jones was emphatic for their need within and outside the church today:

[Before Pentecost the apostles] were not yet fit to be witnesses ... [They] had been with the Lord during the three years of his ministry. They had heard his sermons, they had seen his miracles, they had seen him crucified on the cross, they had seen him dead and buried, and they had seen him after he had risen literally in the body from the grave. These were men who had been with im in the upper room at Jerusalem after his resurrection and to whom he had expounded the Scriptures, and yet it is to these men he says that they must tarry at Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high. The special purpose, the specific purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to enable us to witness, to bear testimony, and one of the ways in which that happens is through the giving of spiritual gifts (emphasis added).[xxxiv]

In spite of these viewpoints, “The Doctor” was openly sceptical of the Pentecostal teaching of his day:

It seems to be that the teaching of the Scripture itself, plus the evidence of the history of the church, establishes the fact that the baptism with the Spirit is not always accompanied by particular gifts.[xxxv]

Lloyd-Jones was also just as sceptical towards the use of emotionalist music arrangements in Sunday worship gatherings which would later become the norm under the Charismatic Renewal and the New Apostolic Reformation:

[The Spirit] does not need our help with all our singing and all our preliminaries and working up of emotions If the Spirit is Lord—and he is—he does not need these helps, and anything that tries to help the Spirit to produce a result is a contradiction of New Testament teaching.[xxxvi]

7.2 “Reformed-Continuationists”: Oil and Water?

   Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ tenure at Westminster Chapel lasted until 1968. Since then, subsequent pastors at Westminster such as R.T. Kendall and Greg Haslam have been known for affirming both a moderate Calvinism along with Continuationist pneumatology.
   This openness to Continuationism within Anglicanism can also be seen in the Alpha Course. While Alpha has been used across many churches of different denominations, it has also earned criticism for it’s final session on the subject of “How to be filled with the Holy Spirit”. Unlike other sessions which are taught via discussion over a dinner gathering, participants attend a weekend getaway dedicated to the subject matter.

   Terry Virgo, founder of the Newfrontiers Churches in the United Kingdom, started as the pastor of a conservative evangelical Church. As his tenure as a pastor grew, he started to teach on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

   Just as the Charismatic renewal during the 1970s saw a merger between the Pentecostal experience and evangelicalism, the 1990s also saw the advent of pastors and their churches who went the next step of blending such convictions with Calvinism.
   One famous example could be John Piper:  

A perusal of the sermon transcripts at will reveal that Piper, a staunch Reformed-Baptist, clearly affirms a continuationist position (albeit with cautionary scepticism) which he has held for most of his Christian life. With regards to his soteriology, Piper explains that his reformed convictions didn’t come about until seminary:

   When I entered seminary I believed in the freedom of my will, in the sense that it was ultimately self-determining. I had not learned this from the Bible; I absorbed it from the independent, self-sufficient, self-esteeming, self-exalting air that you and I breathe every day of our lives in America. The sovereignty of God meant that he can do anything with me that I give him permission to do. With this frame of mind I entered a class on Philippians with Daniel Fuller and class on the doctrine of salvation with James Morgan.
   In Philippians I was confronted with the intractable ground clause of chapter 2 verse 13: "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure," which made God the will beneath my will and the worker beneath my work. The question was not whether I had a will; the question was why I willed what I willed. And the ultimate answer – not the only answer – was God.
   In the class on salvation we dealt head on with the doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace. Romans 9 was the watershed text and the one that changed my life forever. Romans 9:11-12 said, "Though they [Jacob and Esau] were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call – she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’" And when Paul raised the question in verse 14, "Is there injustice on God's part?" He says, no, and quotes Moses (in verse 15): "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." And when he raises the question in verse 19, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" He answers in verse 21, "Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?"
   Emotions run high when you feel your man-centered world crumbling around you. I met Dr. Morgan in the hall one day. After a few minutes of heated argument about the freedom of my will, I held a pen in front of his face and dropped it to the floor. Then I said, with not as much respect as a student ought to have, "I [!] dropped it." Somehow that was supposed to prove that my choice to drop the pen was not governed by anything but my sovereign self.
   But thanks be to God’s mercy and patience, at the end of the semester I wrote in my blue book for the final exam, "Romans 9 is like a tiger going about devouring free-willers like me." That was the end of my love affair with human autonomy and the ultimate self-determination of my will. My worldview simply could not stand against the scriptures, especially Romans 9. And it was the beginning of a lifelong passion to see and savor the supremacy of God in absolutely everything.

   C.J. Mahaney from Sovereign Grace Ministries describes how his convictions as a “Reformed Charismatic” derive mainly from his experiences as a young believer delivered from the drug culture of the 70s:

Mahaney served as Senior Pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland from it’s beginnings in 1977 to 2004 where the role was handed to Joshua Harris, best known as the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Harris was initially brought up in a charismatic church that while having much enthusiasm about experiencing the gifts and presence of the Holy Spirit, was lacking in doctrinal instruction and conviction:

I loved so many things about my charismatic church. I loved the passion and emotional zeal that people had. I’d never seen people so excited about God. They raised their hands and danced during worship. They prayed for hours. They spoke about God and his Spirit with an expectation that he would break into the world at any moment. For a young man hungering for spiritual reality, this vision of God’s presence and power was extremely attractive. I wouldn’t trade my time in that church for anything. I encountered God in very powerful ways and learned about the work of the Holy Spirit there. But over time the continual focus on looking for a fresh move of the Spirit began to wear thin. I couldn’t shake the sense that something was missing. I realize now that I still hadn’t found what I needed most. I still hadn’t uncovered the value of finding and building on bedrock. I was shuffling along the surface, poking at but not digging into sound doctrine.

Things changed when Harris came into contact with C.J. Mahaney:

C.J. opened up a whole universe of books and rich theology that I never knew existed. It was like finding out that the most amazing party was being held in your basement but no one had bothered to tell you. Or like a child discovering a carnival in his own backyard. This is what I’d been longing for but had never known how to name. My soul had been craving good, solid, undiluted truth about God and the good news of his Son’s life, death, and resurrection. I didn’t need to be entertained. I didn’t primarily need to fall over at a prayer meeting. And I didn’t need lifeless information. I needed to know God. The authors I was discovering spoke about God in ways I’d never heard. They exulted in the God of Scripture who sovereignly ruled over the universe. He was a loving Father who saved men and women by sheer grace, all for his own praise and glory. His Son was the Savior whose atoning death rescued sinners from wrath. And it was this message of the gospel of grace for which C.J. reserved his greatest passion. Most preachers and zealous Christians I knew got fired up over what we needed to do for God. But C.J.’s greatest passion was reserved for exulting in what God had done for us. He loved to preach about the Cross and how Christ died in our place, as our substitute. For someone who had practically been born into church, I found this surprisingly new.

Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Reformed-Charismatic convictions can also be reflected in not just their teaching, but music style as well:

On the issue of being both “Reformed” and “Charismatic”, the statement of faith from the Australian branch of Sovereign Grace declares:

   While such a combination is not common, it is by no means theologically inconsistent. A cessationist perspective (i.e. a belief that the so-called sign gifts of the New Testament came to an end after the apostles) does not follow necessarily from the general tenets of Reformed theology. Indeed, a robust view of the sovereignty of God suggests that believers can expect to experience regularly what some theologians have called the active presence of God.
   The insistence that gifts such as prophecy were limited to the apostolic age most commonly arises from entirely understandable concerns about the issue of revelation. Scripture is truly, and must remain, the only source of inspired, inerrant, authoritative revelation from God for the faith and life of the church. However, New Testament teaching regarding spiritual gifts in no way implies that the gifts necessarily endanger the role of Scripture in the church's life. Our experience with spiritual gifts confirms this.
   The best way to prevent the undermining of Scripture's authority is, quite simply, to maintain and teach a high view of Scripture. Scripture must be allowed to function in a way that demonstrates that it is indeed God's normative revelation for the faith and life of the church. This includes allowing Scripture to govern the use of spiritual gifts. We strongly believe that, when the use of gifts is tested and governed by Scripture, two things will happen: God's people will be edified by the proper functioning of the gifts in accord with God's purposes, and Scripture will be protected as the only authoritative and normative rule and guide of all Christian life, practice, and doctrine.

Still, not all adherents of either reformed theology nor continuationism necessarily affirm such a merger. Consider the following clip from Phillip Jensen of the Anglican Church’s Sydney Archdiocese:

Phillip Jensen and Kel Richards - Reformed charismatics? from Audio Advice on Vimeo.

And the following clip from Calvary Chapel’s Chuck Smith where he clearly has no love for Calvinistic doctrine:

   As one who does personally affirm both a Calvinist soteriology as well as a continuationist pneumatology, I have heard the common objection from both my Reformed as well as my Pentecostal/Charismatic brethren that “You can’t be both!”

   “Historic Reformed theology has never been charismatic!”
   “Historic Pentecostalism has never been Reformed!”
   “The x Confession/Catechism says-“

   While both sides may be able and willing to articulate their theology to a high degree and cite relevant scriptures to back it up, what I am yet to hear is a systematic argument from scripture alone that demonstrates clearly why Calvinism must necessitate cessationism and/or why arminianism would hence therefore necessitate continuationism. If there is such a legitimate connection, what then, biblically, is the actual bridge?
   I’m yet to hear a crystal clear answer for such. So on what basis does either side argue apart from their own traditions? (Ironically, these people in the same breath will be just as quick to decry the visible disunity of the church).

7.3 Admission at one’s own risk

Matt Chandler relates how he became the pastor of The Village Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas in spite of deep personal resentment towards modern American “evangelicalism”:

   I went into itinerant ministry and got really bitter and angry. I said, “If this is what it is, I’m not playing.”
   Then, in study, I became convicted of my ecclesiology. I said, “Okay, maybe I should pastor.” I said, “We’ll plant a church, but we’re not doing it in Dallas. We’re going big. We’re going San Francisco. Hong Kong. Can’t-find-an-ichthus-on-a-car kind of place.” I gathered a team and talked about what we could do.
   At the time I was running a non-profit organization and called a woman who was on the board. She said, “Matt, I would like you to turn in your resume to First Baptist Church of Highland Village.” As the director of a non-profit organization, I was in a quandary because you need money. I knew of the church. My little sister had landed there and I often argued with my sister about why she was there. It was a weird hybrid of Baptist/Willow Creek style seeker-sensitive. The church was so schizophrenic theologically. For example, they were working on a constitution that would allow a woman to become an elder but wouldn’t allow a divorced man to become a deacon.
   So here was my plan: I decided to submit my resume and be brutally honest.
   “I’m a 28-year old Calvinist, complementarian, believe in the gifts of the Spirit, elder government, etc.”
    I thought this would be easy.
   I went to the first meeting and was brutally honest. The doctrine of women came up and I explained how I thought the doctrine works. I left and called my wife on the phone and said, “Checkmate. It’s over.”
   On the drive home I got a call from the head of the search committee asking if I could come back and teach on complementarianism.
   We passed that one, but I thought for sure the Calvinism would get them. I came in and they said, “What do you believe about predestination?”
    I said, “I believe it,” and thought I killed it there. There it went. I kept trying to not get the job. They asked if I could come and preach a sermon.
   Before I preached, we did Q&A. I walk up and do a Q&A. I had to go by slacks and do a Q&A with the whole church. The first question was, “Everybody buys a house knowing there is something about the house they are going to change. What is that thing here?”
   I said, “The system of government is unbiblical. Maybe wicked. Nobody brings a Bible to church. I have no idea where to start.”
   I get in the car, and here’s the thing. Up until this point I haven’t hardly prayed about this, because it’s not going to happen. I told my wife, “We’re going to get this job.” And sure enough, I got the job. We prayed and we thought, “Okay, let’s go and do what we can for a few years.” I had a unanimous vote and had a CV that explained clearly what I wanted to do with the church.
   We baptized a lot of people that first year. People would get in the water and share their testimonies. They would all say the same thing. They either had these stories of legalism or license, of being in church their whole lives and never understanding the gospel.
   In December of 2002, despite my anger towards evangelicals, I became the pastor of a church of evangelicals in what Christianity Today called the “center of the evangelical world.” Despite the fact that my heart had always burned for the prodigal, God sent me to the older brother.
   Sitting in those testimonies and those baptismal services, I saw that what I thought had been an enemy was really a casualty of religion.

For a church that embraces what usually typifies a “Willow Creek style Seeker-sensitive” bent, any one of the convictions that Chandler described would more than enough to land an aspiring pastoral candidate in hot water. Yet Chandler’s passion proved to be a blessing to the degree that in 2008, Outreach Magazine listed the Village Church as #23 among the top 100 fastest-growing churches.[xxxvii]   

   Sadly, such an admission of one’s convictions doesn’t always end on such a positive note. Consider the following testimony from a former Calvary Chapel pastor turned Presybyterian Church of America (PCA) elder:

On more than one occasion, upon hearing that I was removed from the ministry of Calvary Chapel in Hungary for my Calvinistic convictions, I have received the response, "No way! You're one of those guys? I've heard rumors about this, but never the official story... What happened?" So in the interest of setting the record straight, I'll offer my own version of what transpired in early 2000.

Please keep in mind, however, that I harbor no bitterness or ill-will toward Calvary Chapel or Chuck Smith; if our relationship had not been severed I would never have found my way to Westminster Seminary (where I received my M.Div.) or to the Presbyterian Church in America (where I am currently a minister).

So here goes....
 I began attending Calvary Costa Mesa in 1989 as a sophomore at Calvary Chapel High School. Upon graduating I, along with two others, was sent as a missionary from Calvary Chapel to Uganda, where I served until 1992. After my return I was hired on staff at CCCM as an assistant high school pastor, and I served in this capacity until 1994 when I departed, again as a Calvary missionary, to Hungary. I was the first CC missionary in Budapest, where I helped lay the ground work for the Calvary Chapel that would soon be planted there under the leadership of Greg Opean. As assistant pastor of Calvary Chapel of Budapest my responsibilities included preaching, administering and teaching in the Calvary Chapel Bible School which we had started, discipleship, and various other duties. I look back upon this time as one of the most blessed and happy periods of my life.

One Sunday morning in church in 1996 my eye caught a passage of Scripture that I had read countless times: "There are none who seek after God" (Rom 3:11). The power of this statement began to dawn on me as I realized that, if this is indeed true, then none could be saved unless God first sought them in some kind of effectual way. But the fact that some are saved and not all demanded that God draws some unto himself and not others (a notion horrifying to me at the time). Upon getting ahold of A.W. Pink's The Sovereignty of God and R.C. Sproul's Chosen by God, and after some weeks of restless nights wrestling with these ideas, I came to acquiesce in the "doctrines of grace" (albeit relunctantly).

Soon afterwards I sat down with Brian Brodersen, with whom I had developed a good friendship, and explained to him about this paradigm shift in my understanding of the Bible, and also let him know that I would submit to whatever decision about me that he thought appropriate. He told me that he had suspicions that I had become a Calvinist, and that he saw no need to ask me to step down. Instead, he suggested, we ought to keep in close communication about these things -- together with the other two newly-converted Calvinist Calvary pastors -- and try to coexist (a decision he later called "an experiment"). All seemed well for the next couple of years; each time I had a question, issue, or new development in my theology I would either sit down with or email Brian and we would hash it out.

Then in early 2000, seemingly out of nowhere, we received word from Brian that he was moving from London back to Costa Mesa and our current arrangement must come to an end: either we would have to renounce Calvinism or leave Calvary Chapel. This came as quite a shock to me, since only a few weeks earlier Brodersen had reiterated, in the strongest language possible, that we were "his guys," and that any negative feedback about us would have to go through him before it got to Chuck. Needless to say, the other two pastors and I were reeling from the news. For my own part, my plan was to spend the next six months raising up a Hungarian man to take over the Calvary I was now pastoring and to end my six-year ministry in Hungary in the right way, i.e. slowly, carefully, and with lots of good-byes.

A week later I received an email from a supporter who informed me that he had sent a check to Costa Mesa for me, but it had been returned with a letter from the missions pastor, Bob Haag, stating that my wife and I were no longer Calvary Chapel missionaries. This was the first I had heard of this, but a phone call to CCCM confirmed that this was the case. Bob told me that Chuck himself had called him to inform him of his decision, and that he (Bob) "had a letter he's been meaning to send me about it," and he hadn't called since he "didn't have long distance phone privileges" (something one would think would be an important detail for a missions pastor). With this new development, my wife and I had no choice but to give all our things away, pack, and leave a week or so later (on our own dime).

One of the (many) things that made this upheaval so difficult was that the man whose complaint to Chuck ended up being the final nail in our coffin was Al James, the pastor of a CC in Arizona who had never even met any of us. His main concern, it seemed, was to prove to Chuck how proudly he could wave the Calvary Chapel banner, and in the process, he caused half of the Hungarian Calvary Chapels to lose their pastors. To make matters worse, this same man was in the process of publicly defending another Arizona Calvary pastor who had, admittedly, been unfaithful to his wife (adultery, apparently, is OK as long as you stay out of the TULIPs).

There's much more that could be said, but I think I've said enough. My reason for agreeing to go on the record with this is so that those involved in Calvary Chapel can see the effects of following a single man, and the painful results of disagreeing with that man's ex cathedra pronouncements of what is "essential" to biblical faith and legitimate gospel ministry. When an organization as large and powerful as Calvary Chapel is utterly devoid of checks and balances or doctrinal, financial, and moral accountability, the results will not be surprising: abuse, power-struggles, and the oft-unspoken fear of raising even the smallest objection to the whims of the powers that be.

Rev. Jason J. Stellman
Pastor and Church Planter
Exile Presbyterian Church
Woodinville, WA
In response to the above clip from Chuck Smith where he and the leaders of Calvary Chapel openly denounce Calvinism, James White from Alpha and Omega ministries offers the following rebuttal:

James White has also engaged Calvary Chapel in the setting of formal debate, most notably in the following cross-examination of Calvary Chapel pastor George Bryson:

Not that I’m trying to single out Calvary Chapel, but with regards to their handling of soteriology, if under the circumstances of a formal debate, the theological position(s) of one of the debating parties fails to stand up to the authority of scripture, either they must be willing to admit that their teachings are unscriptural OR abandon the scriptures as authoritative altogether.
   White laments that Calvary Chapel’s emphasis on expository preaching and bible teaching can only serve to make the anti-calvinistic rhetoric of Church Smith and George Bryson backfire, resulting in increased curiosity from their congregants towards reformed theology:

Over the past few years I have experienced what has become a regular occurrence when traveling and speaking across the US, UK, and Australia. I will be approached by someone, most often a man, who tells me his story of being a member of a Calvary Chapel, following the exhortation to read and study the Scriptures, and coming to an understanding of God's sovereign grace and the perfection of the work of Christ on the cross.
   He will talk about how he began to ask questions, and very soon encountered a great deal of resistance, even being labeled a trouble maker. Many report they have left, and have found a home where the whole counsel of God is taught. Some are still there, fighting the good fight. I have stated now, a number of times, that the current Calvary Chapel leadership will continue producing Calvinists as long as they continue to
1) ignore the reality of the system they oppose (choosing to present shallow straw-man versions and responses, as we have documented so many times),
2) while encouraging their followers to believe in all the Bible says, to study it, and to apply it. Over the past year many of those who approach me (I had two or three do this just last weekend in Minneapolis) use this same terminology to describe their own experience.
   "You know how you say Calvary Chapel produces Calvinists? Well, that's me!"

7.4 How can Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches benefit from Calvinism?
Higher Standards for Church Discipline: When Mark Driscoll came to the University of Queensland in 2008 to do a lecture, he asked the audience, “How many of you are satisfied with your church’s standard of discipline?”
    In a room full of three hundred people, I would say that less than twenty hands went up.

   If it were indeed the case that a believer has bought into aberrant doctrine and practices which lead to gross sin, then the obvious response would be to meet with that person, go through the scriptures, and point to the right direction where necessary.
   On the other hand, if a person adheres to unbiblical doctrine and refuses to recant in spite of repeated admonitions from pastoral leaders, there is warrant for proper church discipline – the final step of which is excommunication, or complete removal from fellowship on the charge that the church no longer recognizes the guilty party as one of their own. We see this in Paul’s first letter to Timothy wherein Paul encourages Timothy to remain strong in spite of the church’s controversy with the judaizers, adding that he had to remove to two members on the edge of ruining their faith in God:   

18  This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19  holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20  among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
1 Timothy 1:18-20

Properly done, church disciplines serves three purposes:

1. Shows the guilty party that the church does not and will not identify their lifestyle as being consistant with what they consider to be genuine godliness

2. Sets an example to the church’s membershipas to what is tolerated and what is not, hence sympathizers are quickly silenced.

3. Shows the outside world why the church says and does what it does, that the church is indeed aware of the issues at hand, and is pro-active in responding internally.

   If the church holds an Arminian worldview whereby the saved can be lost, then the church will attempt to by any means retain these people in spite of the negative impact they may already have upon the church.
   A Calvinistic church would not do the same. The Calvinist church practices church discipline because they recognise that if a true Christian is living in sin for a period of time, he will turn to God following discipline. If he is a false convert, he will leave the church and not falsely console himself that he is saved when he isn't. He is not "innoculated to the gospel" message of repentance in the future because he is well aware that he is not saved in the first place as evident in his fruit. His identify as a false convert is made plain for him and everyone else to see.

   The Arminian church, therefore will not practise church discipline because it might turn the believer away from God and the believer might lose his salvation. If it’s possible to lose your salvation, the worst thing a church can do then is take someone, kick them out and leave them exposed in the wilderness, is it not?
   The Calvinist church understand that the elect WILL stay in the church, and that Godly disciple WILL correct and refine the church (not destroy it); Godly discipline edifies the church as well as the individual.
   A calvinistic understanding on soteriology would also interpret the parables such that they are recognised as speaking of false converts within the church, of whom the false will be exposed on the day of judgement. As a church, the calvinistic one would be alert in identifying the weeds among the tares, understanding that there are false converts within its fold. The Arminian church would typically view the parables as referring to two groups of believers who are both saved, but one is carnal and one is spirit-filled; church discipline is not practised.
   In application, the calvinistic church will not allow those of questionable character to serve in certain ministry because they may well be false converts. The Arminian church would not mind if that keeps them faithfully coming to church.

A safeguard against liberal influences:
Mark Driscoll himself notes that among American “evangelicals” the worldview has more in common with rank paganism than biblical Christianity:

According to Dr. Thomas Nettles

The doctrines of grace serve as a conserving factor for those central orthodox and evangelical doctrines that all true Christians hold dear. The doctrine of the deity of Christ, the doctrine of the necessity of salvation, the doctrine of the necessity of the atonement, the doctrine of justification by faith, the inspiration of the Scripture – all of these things have a much more secure and solid foundation on the doctrines of grace.

Historically, when the church has been under threat from Satan’s deceptions, the Arminians have always been quick to take the bigger beating while Calvinist have not only stood their ground, but charged forward in the ensuring counter-attack. Says George Grant:

Arminianism has real implications for the doctrine of Scripture. How can God superintend men’s words so carefully and so precisely as to ensure an inerrant Scripture if God is a God who allows absolute freedom and allows sinners like the apostle Paul, or sinners like the apostle Peter to make absolute choices?
   If the Arminian God is inspiring Scripture, we would expect it to be filled with some mistakes because that’s the nature of freedom. If, on the other hand, we have the sovereign God who exercises His good providence for the purpose of mercy upon His creatures, then we can expect that there are times when He does not allow freedom in order for a particular task to be accomplished, thus superintending every single word that the apostle Peter writes; though the apostle Peter, as we know, is prone to sin.

Thomas Nettles continues:

The Arminian says, “No, you have to have free will that operates on its own and divine sovereignty respecting free will.” If that is so, how can we be guaranteed that the persons who penned the Bible did not, at some time, exert their free will apart from the sovereignty of God and put some mistakes in it?
   And this is the common way that Arminianism leads. It leads to higher criticism, it leads to a man-centered understanding of the Bible and of inspiration, and eventually you lose the doctrine of inerrancy.[xl]

Also consider how the Apostle Peter describes the inspiration of Scripture:

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, his is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,?18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone own interpretation. 21For NO PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE WAS EVER PRODUCED BY THE WILL OF MAN, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:16-21

So what is the Bible? Does it represent a hallmark of mere human literary achievement? Or is it indeed the inspired word of God, that is without error or contradiction, having been inspired and preserved by God himself?

   If you adhere to the former, then there is a logical fallacy within your theology. If man's relationship with God is indeed fully conditional on the part of free will, and hence man at any time could fall into sin and thus lose his salvation altogether, why should we trust the inspiration of the Bible when in fact it's authors could have at any time simply lost their standing before God? Would not such a possibility open the door for the probability of the Bible not being fully inspired and innerant?
Indeed, we have every reason to suspect such:

- Moses was a murder
- David was an adulterous tyrant prone to emotional instability
- Peter was prone to having his “foot in his mouth”.
- Paul lacked gentleness in his relationships.

If we were to evaluate the Bible based on the merits of it’s authors, we have every reason to dismiss it’s claims to divine inspiration. But yet, we never see such suggested by the scripture authors themselves. Instead, Peter says that the Spirit of God moved through the authors to ensure that every word of scripture was set in place the exact way God wanted it – whether it be the historic narratives, the imprecatory Psalms, the prophecies, Paul’s letters, everything in the Bible.

   The one who wants to say that God never “violates” man’s free will is therefore under obligation to give account as to why they actually affirm the innerancy of scripture as opposed to holding a more liberal view that otherwise denies it.

Consideration of Regulative vs Normative application of Scripture: How worship is to be conducted in the context of a gathering of believers (on Sunday or elsewhere) has been the subject of much debate and controversy. Simply put, the question is “To what extent do we seek to apply and live out the Scripture?”
   This debate has usually caused believers to adopt one of two opinions:

Normative -
Corporate church worship services must include all the elements that Scripture commands and may include others so long as they are not prohibited by Scripture.

Regulative - Corporate church worship services must include all the elements that Scripture commands or are a good and necessary implication of a biblical text and nothing more, nothing less.

Expressions of the Normative Principle would probably be seen more in contemporary evangelical churches that on any given Sunday would feature Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), use of Multimedia, congregants wear smart-casual fashion.
   Expressions of the Regulative Principle can be found in the more conservative, “traditional” (I term I use loosely) churches such as Presbyterianism, Anglicanism and other Confessional churches. These churches will often be liturgical in nature and have a very rigid order of worship. (Whether these churches as they exist today genuinely do adhere to the regulative principle is debatable). 

Regarding worship forms, the Bible is clear that God is to be worshiped in ways that He deems acceptable. This explains why God judges those who seek to worship Him with either sinful forms externally (e.g., Lev. 10:1-2; Ezek. 8-9) and sinful hearts internally (e.g., Gen. 4; Isa. 1:11-17; Jer. 7:9-10; Mic. 6:6-8).
There are certain elements that Scripture prescribes for gathered corporate worship services as the church:
1.   Preaching (2 Tim. 4:2)
2.   Lord’s Table (1 Cor. 11:17-34)
3.   Prayer (1 Tim. 2:1)
4.   Reading Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13)
5.   Financial giving (2 Cor. 8-9)
6.   Singing and music (Col. 3:16)[xli]
The problem is that there is no clear prescription of an entire worship service in Scripture. Adherence to a set order of worship then, is nothing more than a man-made invention based on the interpretation of scripture, though not necessarily the black-and-white instruction of it.
   That being said, the majority of Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches today could easily be classified as holding to the Normative principle. For those who not only affirm, but practice the charismata in church service, the Bible very plain as to how that is to be done:

            Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
            Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
            Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
            Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
            What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
            As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
            Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But all things should be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14

While many continuationists are faithful in obeying 1 Corinthians 14 to the letter, others – especially those belonging to the Word of Faith Movement and the New Apostolic Reformation - for the sake of being more open to their churches “moving in the spirit” disregard it and allow anything to come forth without discernment or testing:

If there is any discernment, the basis for such would not be biblical as per the conditions set in 1 Corinthians 12-14, but rather more pragmatic in nature – Has the believer and church as a whole been able to succeed in attaining to the desired experience?  
   Attempts to scrutinize such manifestations are seen as legalistic, Pharisee-like and ultimately put God in the proverbial box, especially if and when the Bible itself is used as the standard of testing. The result being that the Bible is not held as the authority which provides the sole basis of our doctrine and practice, but rather an authority on a par with subjective experiences and testimonies.
   It is of no surprise then, that when you listen to the preaching of churches that seek out and promote the manifestations featured in the above videos, the treatment of scripture is more akin to the neo-orthodoxy of Karl Barth as opposed to an evangelical affirmation of inerrancy – it is no so much an outright denial of the inspiration of scripture as is the case with liberalism, but rather a challenge to the basis of it’s authority.

“The Bible is the concrete means by which the Church recollects God’s past revelation, is called to expectation of His future revelation, and is thus summoned and guided to proclamation and empowered for it. The Bible, then, is not in itself and as such God’s past revelation, just as Church proclamation is not in itself and as such the expected future revelation. The Bible, speaking to us and heard by us as God’s Word, bears witness to past revelation. Proclamation, speaking to us and heard by us as God’s Word, promises future revelation. The Bible is God’s Word as it really promises revelation. The promise in proclamation, however, rests on the attestation in the Bible.”
- Karl Barth. Church Dogmatics, Volume 1 (emphasis mine)

What Barth is essentially saying that the Holy Bible from Genesis through to Revelation is not God’s inspired revelation in of itself, but rather, it becomes God’s Word via empowered proclamation. Authority then, lies not in the content ontologically, but rather in hands of the one receiving it existentially. (Contrast this with Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:18
“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”) 

   Compare this with a quote from NAR leader Bill Johnson:

   Revelation that doesn't lead to a God encounter only serves to make me more religious. Unless Scripture leads me to Him, I only become better equipped to debate with those who disagree with my way of thinking.
   “Knowledge puffs up ...”25 Notice Paul didn't say unbiblical knowledge, or carnal knowledge. Knowledge, including that which comes from Scripture, has the potential to make me proud. So how can I protect myself from the pride that comes from knowledge, even when it's from the Bible? I must be certain that it takes me to Jesus!
   The pride that comes from mere Bible knowledge is divisive. It creates an appetite for one's own opinion. "He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him."26 Those trained without a revelation that takes us to Him are trained to speak from themselves, for their own glory. This drive for knowledge without an encounter with God wars against true righteousness. [xlii]

Johnson, like Barth, claims that the Bible on it’s own is powerless apart from “encounter”, going as far as to say that the Bible’s content in of itself is potentially dangerous to one’s spirituality. Again, the authority is seen not in the content, but the experience of the recipient.
   When this happens, what you get is a view of scripture and the ensuring application that is neither normative nor regulative, but is rather suggestive.

Shared accountability and responsibility among leadership:
How believers perceive the nature of salvation is going to have  profound effect upon how they perceive other believers, which in turn will effect how one views the church, and in turn how the church perceives believers.
   One of the pitfalls of Arminian theology – as well as Roman Catholicism, Mormonism or any syngergistic salvation system – is that as long as man has to contribute any quotient of his own will, effort or works towards keeping his salvation, there will always be those who in the process will prove strong, others weak
. Sooner or later, someone has to rise to the top of the proverbial ladder – either by persuasion, or by force.
   In the Old Testament, we see that the first form of government that God decrees is essentially what could be classed as a democracy: a constitution of common law applicable to all, enforced by representatives (the Judges). Power and authority with regards to the welfare of the state lay not with a single individual, but rather was shared among a plurality of appointed elders. This way, the people’s attention would be centered upon a single, trancendant seniority: God. Things fell apart however, when the people of Israel demanded that their head of state be a mortal just like them rather than a deity who ruled through sovereign providence:

 1When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.
 4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations." 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them."
 10So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men[a] and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."
 19But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, "No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles." 21And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. 22And the LORD said to Samuel, "Obey their voice and make them a king." Samuel then said to the men of Israel, "Go every man to his city." 
1 Samuel 8

Politically speaking, Arminianism leaves the door open for stateism, the idea that man-made government, independent of God, can help fashion some form of Edenic paradise. It’s no secret that a rigorous Calvinism, in large part, guided America’s founding fathers and kept them from entrusting power to the state, intentionally binding it with the checks and balances of our tri-cameral system of government.
   According to George Grant:

One of the things that Calvinism sees in the Scriptures is a kind of representative checks and balances system, where you have mixed government. It’s where the founding fathers really got the idea for the great experiment in freedom that we call “American Liberty”. It’s really Presbyterianism applied to the civil sphere. In that sense, Calvinism is probably the most influential theological strain in all of constitutional history. This has shaped America in peculiar ways. Because of the checks and balances, and the separation of powers, we have had a free economy. Because of that checks and balances and separation of powers, we’ve been able to develop a system of the rule of law. Prosperity has been able to flourish side-by-side with freedom, a very unique thing in the history of the world.
   One of the things that Calvinism does is it leans toward a republican style of government, in other words, a representative government where there are mixed powers, checks and balances and so forth. Whereas Arminianism is so individualistic, it leans much more to a sort of mass egalitarian democratic system. That language sounds good to us as Americans, but, in fact, what it leads to is chaos – absolute chaos, every man for himself. And when you have every man for himself, chaos, ultimately somebody is going to climb to the top and then what you’ve got is tyranny.

For the most, Reformed churches have largely held to an elder-based leadership structure as opposed to having leadership centred around a seniority. E.g., in the case of Mars Hill Church, while Mark Driscoll may be the founder and, as the primary preacher the “Public Face” of their Seattle churches, but as one among several elders, he only constitutes one vote in the overall decision-making processes that effect the whole church.
   To use an analogy, compare the differences between a single-engine business jet and a four-engine airliner. When worse comes to worse, should the engine of the single-engine business jet fail, the plane and it’s passengers are immediately doomed. On a four-engine ailerner on the other hand, should one out of three engines fail, the pilot need only shut it down and the plane continues to stay in the air with 25% less power.
   So to, a church with an elder-led government can be assured to have better security in the event that one of them may be disqualified. On the other hand, in a church governed by a single seniority (as is the case in “apostolic” churches where leadership is structured in a top-down pyramid structure), if the senior minister does fall into disqualifiable sin, the church may be powerless to act.

Stronger discernment towards the gift of Prophecy:
The continuation and practice of the gift of prophecy has dire implications for ecclesiology. If, in a church governed by a single hierarch in a pyramid structure as described previously, the Senior Minister is not discerning, what is to stop someone with the gift of prophecy acting as a malcontent, and abusing their gift for the sake of asserting a personal agenda? 
   On the other hand, if you have a church governed by a team of say, six elders, if a prophetic word is brought before the eldership and two of out the six feel that it does not fit the mould set out in scripture, you’ve just got a third of the leadership playing “devil’s advocate” while waving the NO-DEAL flag.

20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:20-21

Biblical Disciple-making vs Pragmatic Church Growth:

   Not surprisingly, the faith statements of seeker-friendly churches tend to be quite orthodox in their gospel presentation.

In practice however, this is not so.
As the name of the movement suggests, the underlying assumption of seeker-friendly churches is that unbelievers are seeking the truth. In an age of consumerism, seekers have been offered numerous religious and ideological products— they are shoppers looking for the religious system with which they feel most compatible. Because the “unchurched” are seeking answers, Christians must pitch Christianity in a way that will appeal to them— helping them to understand that Christianity is superior to any of the other products available.
   In contrast, the doctrine of Total Depravity argues exactly the opposite— that no one is truly seeking after God or is let alone capable of doing so on their own. In Scripture, unbelievers are portrayed not as those who earnestly seek God, but rather as the spiritually dead (Col. 2:13), the spiritually rebellious (Eph. 2:1-3), and the spiritually hardhearted (Eph. 4:18). Even though God's self-disclosure through nature and the conscience should cause men to seek Him (Acts 17:27-29), unbelievers have rejected the truth that they know, becoming "futile in their thoughts [so that] their foolish hearts were darkened" (Rom. 1:21).

   A second tenet of seeker-sensitive methodology is that believers need to think like unbelievers in order to reach the lost. To be effective, evangelists must begin by putting themselves in the shoes of the unchurched— purposefully making their messages relevant to the felt needs of the audience.
   In other words, believers need to understand the felt needs – material, emotional, physical etc. - of seekers if those seekers are to be effectively reached. By understanding the specific demographic and psychographic backgrounds of those in the audience, preachers can better appeal to their felt needs— showing the lost that the gospel is relevant to their current life situation.

   Are demographic, psychographic, and geographic considerations the keys to evangelism? Is thinking like an unbeliever the way to effectively reach him or her? Is knowing what the unsaved audience wants to hear the biblical method for preaching the gospel?
   The early church, for example, clearly defied the "target audience" approach of the contemporary seeker church— having been built by the Spirit rather than statistics.
   Moreover, Scripture never commands Christians to think like the unsaved, but rather commands exactly the opposite. Paul simply says

"This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart"
Ephesians 4:17-18

In other words, Christians are to stop thinking like unbelievers. In Romans 8:6-7, he puts it even more clearly,

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."

In light of this, believers are to avoid conformity with the world, allowing their minds to be transformed by God's truth (Rom. 12:2), preparing their minds for action (1 Pet. 1:13)— putting off the deeds and thoughts of the flesh (Eph. 4:22-24).
   Finally, the idea that anyone can lead anyone else to Christ, simply by unlocking the felt needs of the heart, is pure humanism at best. Only God has the ability to even know the heart (Jer. 17:9-10; Rev. 2:23), let alone change it. It is His Spirit who cleanses the heart (Titus 3:5); it is His Word that penetrates through layers of doubt and unbelief (Heb. 4:12); He is the one who calls sinners to Himself (Rom. 8:29-30)— having specifically chosen them before time began (Eph. 1:3-6). And while men are certainly His agents for preaching the gospel (Rom. 10:14-15), God is nonetheless sovereign in the entire process (Rom. 9:18).

   The seeker-friendly approach in it’s assumption that man is not fully corrupted and as such is capable of seeking the truth of God by his own initiative rejects the biblical doctrine of Total Depravity and in effect, leans more towards the doctrines of Pelagianism that were declared anathema almost 1500 years ago.
   For those that still want to endorse such an approach to ecclesiology, they must in turn respond to the burden of proof regarding how exactly do they intend to structure a fellowship gathering that is specifically tailored to a group of people which scripture makes abundantly clear as not existing in the sight of God.

   Thirdly, regardless of the passion of the pastors of seeker-fiendly churches towards both God and their desire to see souls won for Christ, one cannot escape the fact that shifting the church’s priority to building up attendance will always clash with building up disciples. Willow Creek Church led by Bill Hybels has long been regarded as the vanguard of the seeker-sensitive methodology. Yet surveys conducted by Willow’s leadership only revealed that while attracting congregants, the methodology falls apart in it’s attempts at long-term disciple-making:

Consider the following clip from Steven Furtick from Elevation Church where he openly pits soul-winning against in-depth discipleship:

Charles Spurgeon said:

   Our first care must be that the sheep should be gathered to the great Shepherd; there will be time enough afterwards to secure them for our various folds. To make proselytes, is a suitable labour for Pharisees: to beget men unto God, is the honourable aim of ministers of Christ.
   In the next place, we do not consider soul-winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year.
   This is easily done, and there are brethren who use great pains, not to say arts, to effect it; but if it be regarded as the Alpha and Omega of a minister's efforts, the result will be deplorable. By all means let us bring true converts into the church, for it is a part of our work to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded them; but still, this is to be done to disciples, and not to mere professors; and if care be not used, we may do more harm than good at this point. To introduce unconverted persons to the church, is to weaken and degrade it; and therefore an apparent gain may be a real loss.

Last year, I personally had the opportunity to visit an AOG megachurch the espoused the seeker-sensitive methodology.
First of all, I arrived early (8:15am) for the 9am service. The individual ministries were still setting up, so I sat in the Visitor’s Lounge and got a coffee. I was approached by perhaps three ushers who said a quick “hello” and asked if I was new.
   The Doors opened and I sat towards the back. One thing I noticed was that the congregation was very diverse racially (though still lots of aussies) as well as different age groups. The predominant age bracket was probably in the 30-60 range.
   Praise and Worship was pretty much standard, though to my disappointment, as sanguine as the Worship team appeared, the atmosphere of the congregation was very dry and unresponsive. Most of the men simply stood there with their hands in their pockets. A lot of hard work obviously goes into the preparation, but it just felt flat. I honestly wondered should I lift my hands as I sing? Not many people are doing that…
   Once worship finished, we sat down for Tithing (no communion). The pastor used Romans 12:1 MSG (Context?) to encourage the church to give, during which the Multimedia team played a message about the church’s annual finance report.

We then spent 5min going through prayer requests that had been handed in on flyers. I could see that definitely praying, but it felt rather shallow. I honestly wondered just how many people have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Although the church is Pentecostal, I couldn’t hear anyone pray in tongues.
The sermon – based on Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 - had some good points and it raised some rather interesting questions. However, much of the content was purely speculation and not actual exposition while less than 1/5 of the congregation brought their own Bible to church, and even fewer were taking notes. I understandably felt a little out of place with my iPod Touch in one hand, ESV Bible in the other.
   The pastor gave an altar call that was mainly sermon related. There was a call out to those who were “yet to know God”, but no mention of the gospel in of itself.
   As people were exiting the sanctuary, I made my way to the store to see what was for sale. It was mainly merchandise (attire, Music, books by the pastor). Practically nothing related to either practical Christian living and/or growth.
   I approached the information booth and asked the girl behind the desk about what the church had to offer regarding discipleship. She looked a bit stunned, but gave me some brochures for the onsite Bible-college as well as one-day courses ($160 per module). I found this a bit disturbing as it seemed that unless they had things like mentoring or small-group fellowships, very little was presented to suggest that this is a church committed to raising up disciples and making resources available at the “everyman” level.

Recapturing the wonder of the Glory of God within the Church:

Lamenting over the false teaching of the Word of Faith movement and the excesses of the New Apostolic Reformation, Charisma magazine editor J. Lee Grady lists fifteen areas where there is serious need for reform among continuationists:

1. Let's reform our theology. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is God and He is holy. He is not an "it." He is not a blob, a force, or an innate power. We must stop manipulating Him, commanding Him and throwing Him around.

2. Let's return to the Bible. The Word of God is the foundation for the Christian experience. Any dramatic experience, no matter how spiritual it seems, must be tested by the Word and the Holy Spirit's discernment. Visions, dreams, prophecies and encounters with angels must be in line with Scripture. If we don't test them we could end up spreading deception.

3. It's time for personal responsibility. We charismatics must stop blaming everything on demons. People are usually the problem.

4. Stop playing games. Spiritual warfare is a reality, but we are not going to win the world to Jesus just by shouting at demonic principalities. We must pray, preach and persevere to see ultimate victory.

5. Stop the foolishness. People who hit, slap or push others during prayer should be asked to sit down until they learn gentleness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

6. End all spiritual extortion now. Christian television ministries must cease and desist from all manipulative fundraising tactics. We must stop giving platforms to ministers who make outlandish claims of supernatural financial returns, especially when Scripture is twisted, deadlines are imposed and the poor are exploited.

7. No more Lone Rangers. Those who claim to be ministers of God - whether they are traveling evangelists, local pastors or heads of ministries - must be accountable to other leaders. Any who refuse to submit their lives to godly discipline should be corrected.

8. Expose the creeps. Churches should start doing background checks on traveling ministers. Preachers who have been hiding criminal records, lying about their past marriages, preying on women or refusing to pay child support should be exposed as charlatans and shunned if they do not repent.

9.  Stop faking the anointing. God is God, and He does not need our "help" to manifest Himself. That means we don't sprinkle glitter on ourselves to suggest God's glory is with us, hide fake jewels on the floor to prove we are anointed or pull chicken feathers out of our sleeves to pretend angels are in the room. This is lying to the Holy Spirit.

10. Let's return to purity. We've had enough scandals. The charismatic church must develop a system for the restoration of fallen ministers. Those who fall morally can be restored, but they must be willing to submit to a process of healing rather than rushing immediately back into the pulpit.

11. We need humility. Ministers who demand celebrity treatment, require lavish salaries, insist on titles or exhibit aloofness from others are guilty of spiritual pride.

12.  No more big shots. Apostles are the bondslaves of Christ, and should be the most impeccable models of humility. True apostles do not wield top-down, hierarchical authority over the church. They serve the church from the bottom up as true servants.

13. Never promote gifts at the expense of character. Those who operate in prophecy, healing and miracles must also exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. And while we continue to encourage the gift of tongues, let's make sure we don't treat it like some kind of badge of superiority. The world needs to see our love, not our glossolalia.

14.  Hold the prophets accountable. Those who refuse to take responsibility for inaccurate statements should not be given platforms. And "prophets" who live immoral lives don't deserve a public voice.

15. Let's make the main thing the main thing. The purpose of the Holy Spirit's anointing is to empower us to reach others. We are at a crossroads today: Either we continue off-course, entertained by our charismatic sideshows, or we throw ourselves into evangelism, church planting, missions, discipleship, and compassionate ministry that helps the poor and fights injustice. Churches that embrace this New Reformation will focus on God's priorities.[xliii]

What is the antidote to the sickness afflicting this influential portion of the Body of Christ?  Wholehearted return to the purity of The Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the proclamation that God is sovereign over everything in heaven and on earth, that He is holy, a consuming fire whose wrath will be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man, that He has satisfied the demands of justice in the sufferings and death of His Son on the cross, that man is completely dead in his trespasses and sins and cannot lift a finger to help himself, that what is impossible for man is possible with God, that He, and He alone, can make us alive again through Christ.
   Understanding this, it’s time that we were about our Father’s business, calling men of God everywhere – Calvinists and Arminians, Cessationists and Continuationists - to partake of and proclaim Gospel.


8. Conclusion: A Call for unity

So what is the body of Christ – both Calvinists (old and new) as well as continuationists – to make of Mark Driscoll? Obviously, where he and Mars Hill Church stands on various issues will not necessarily make him a perfect fit in different circles. So what are we to do? Should he be shunned, or embraced, not just as a Brother in Christ, but as a Comrade in Arms?
     The four areas of distinction Driscoll outlined:

1. Calvinistic Theology
2. Complementarianism
3. Spirit-filled living
4. Missional Ministry

To what extent, exactly, need these be the mountains upon which men shall dig their own graves while defending? To that I’d say: the moment that such things take precedent over the gospel that Jesus Christ died to give his church. When that happens, the churchbecomes like the church of Ephesus in the book of Revelation: while being faithful in teaching and refuting error, loses it’s first love.
   The sad truth is that there are many in the church today who are quick to make calls for unity, but the terms for such are purely their own instead of seeking the interests of all parties involved. When that happens, what get is not a genuine call for unity, but rather conformity, if not control. In the end, it must be the sovereign Christ, not pastors contending within the confines of denominationalism, who must determine the nature of His bride, the church.
   Yes, theology matters, and we need to get our theology right, not just for the sake of ourselves, but for the sake of the lost whom the church is called to reach out to. The British SAS (Special Air Services) have an admirable motto: “Who Dares Wins” – in battle, the victors are those who put their foot forward to do that which requires bravery, courage and tenacity. But in the war on terrorism, the SAS created a new motto to reflect the necessary changes in strategy: “Who plans Wins” – it doesn’t matter how brave and gutsy you are in a fight, if you don’t have the right info and plan ahead accordingly, you risk losing both the battle and innocent lives at risk.
   The book of Revelations portrays the returning Christ as a Conquering King mounted on his warhorse charging into battle with his armies behind him. There are many men of God who have been commissioned as soldiers in the Kingdom of Heaven with orders to engage, but instead have either disobeyed orders exchanged their commission for a desk-job at the “Pentegon” of modern churchianity. Among the Calvinists and Charismatics together, there both faithful soldiers as well as turncoats and deserters.
   In my daily commute to and from work, the bus I take will pass through what I’ve taken to calling “Worship Estates” that is, a single street or block of land where all of the houses of worship are clumped together within short (<200 meters) distance of each other. In what seems like a sick joke on the part of those in charge of real estate, one can often see two churches of different denominations side by side, even sharing the same parking lots. When I see this, I honestly can’t help but think “to what extent are these two neighbours actually… neighbors?” Do the congregants ever get to mix and mingle? Do they do outreach together? Pray together?
   Please understand that I’m not calling for a widespread ecumenism that ignores differences in doctrine. Where doctrine is compromised there is indeed room for separation, but the question is, on what issues? If two churches share the same passionate commitment to the purity of the gospel, yet differ on secondary matters, why try to widen an already existing wedge?

   As far as Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church goes, they have indeed been fruitful not just in terms of doctrinal faithfulness and having a high standard expected of its membership, but in also reproducing that standard, establishing not just victories in their chosen battlefield, but also beach heads from which other troops may rally, bases may be set up, new soldiers trained, and more missions planned.
   Currently, Mars Hill Church meets in ten campuses throughout the wider Seattle region, with centres in Oregon and Orange County to open later this year.

In ddition, on a monthly basis the Acts 29 Church Planting Network reviews churches and pastors who have the four distinctive Driscoll laid out for the purpose of advancing the Mars Hill vision.

   What I’m going to say next is bound to make a lot in the Christian blogosphere very angry – but reading a lot of the posts written about Mark Driscoll’s comments on the Cessationist/Charismatic issue, the majority of the authors have been neither ordained pastors, nor evangelists, nor church-planters, but rather over-educated pew-warmers who are writing with neither the support, nor covering of their local church, and have next to zero involvement in the Great Commission. These people may know a lot, they may have even gone to seminary, but how much of that learning has been applied in reaching the lost?
   What does your convictions about the Doctrines of Grace look like when you reach counsel parents whose infant child died of SIDS? How does your understanding of irresistible grace help the parent of a mentally challenged teenage son who’s afraid that they’ll never become sufficiently cognisant to understand sin and salvation? How will your belief about progressive sanctification comfort the eighteen year old girl getting her blood tested for infections after she comes home from Schoolies week?
   These thoughts may cause you to think “…Ouch! That’s a hard word, Ben.” But how much do you think it hurts the heart of Jesus when you take the convictions His Spirit has forged into your thinking and lock it inside with yourself in your neat little bombshelter instead getting out into the frontlines where the real action is?  
   I’m reminded of these lyrics by Keith Green:

Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Don't you care, don't you care
Are you gonna let them drown

How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the job's done

"Oh bless me Lord, bless me Lord"
You know it's all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear

But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds
And He cares for your needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in,
Oh, can't you see it's such a sin?

Cause He brings people to you door,
And you turn them away
As you smile and say,
"God bless you, be at peace"
And all heaven just weeps
Cause Jesus came to your door
You've left him out on the streets

Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay

God's calling and you're the one
But like Jonah you run
He's told you to speak
But you keep holding it in,
Oh can't you see it's such a sin?

The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just can't fight
Cause it's asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can't even get out of bed!

I’d like to conclude this blog spot with some humour packed with wisdom from Matt Chandler:


[iii]               There is controversy as to who really is the true founder of Pentecostalism – Seymour or Parnham. Many are inclined to disqualify Parnham ad hominim due to his endorsement of segregationism.

[v]                 R.A. Torrey. “Why God used D.L. Moody”.



[ix]                John Wimber. Power Evangelism. Hodder and Stoughton, 1985. Pg142.

[xi]                Wayne Grudem (ed.) Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? – 4 Views. Zondervan, 1996. Pg 177.

[xii]               Ibid. Pg236

[xiii]              Even among continuationist theologians, the gift of apostleship is subject to much controversy. Do I believe it can exist today? Short answer: yes. I am in agreement  with Samuel Storms as to what an Apostle today is and is not.

[xiv]              C. Peter Wagner. Your Spiritual Gifts Can Help Your Church Grow. Regal, 2005. Pg192.

[xvii]             Ibid.

[xviii]            Ibid.

[xx]               Ibid
[xxiii]            Ibid.

[xxvi]             Ibid.

[xxxii]            Collin Hansen. Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists . Crossway, 2008. Pg 147

[xxxiii]           Iain H. Murray, David Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1939-1981, p. 386.

[xxxiv]           Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The Sovereign Spirit. Pg 121.

[xxxv]            Ibid, 56.

[xxxvi]            Ibid, 137.

[xl] The Apologetics Group. Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism. 2004.


[xlii] Bill Johnson. When Heaven Invades Earth. Destiny Image, 2003. Pg 90.

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