Bondage to Particular person Leaders

The query concerning the cessation or continuation of particular revelation has very sensible ramifications for the Christian life, for God’s particular revelation carries nice authority. When folks ascribe that authority to mystical experiences, the outcomes are damaging to their religious lives, typically tragically so. Right here the saints should embrace the steadiness of biblical knowledge. We should not deny the truth of Christian expertise because the Holy Spirit works in our lives. Christianity just isn’t merely a set of prescribed beliefs and behaviors. It’s not lower than that, however it’s extra, for it engages the affections of the guts. The saints stroll with the dwelling God. Christ is actual to the believer, and his Spirit is our indwelling divine companion. Nonetheless, we additionally should not fall into experientialism, ascribing divine authority over our religion and obedience to religious experiences. The idea that God continues to grant particular revelation by way of private expertise fosters unhealthy experientialism.

First, continuationism tends to place folks in bondage to particular person leaders. Regardless of cautions and safeguards in accountable Pentecostal and charismatic church buildings, if persons are satisfied that somebody has a daily ministry of receiving direct revelations from God, they may ascribe uncommon authority to that individual. They may search his counsel extra fervently, hearken to him extra attentively, comply with his directions extra submissively, and assist his ministry extra generously. Granting such an individual the title of apostle or prophet aggravates the issue. Although evangelical theologians corresponding to Storms and Grudem labor to redefine prophecy, the second we name somebody a prophet, we invoke ideas of Moses and Elijah in these whose minds are marinated with Scripture.

Christianity just isn’t merely a set of prescribed beliefs and behaviors. It’s not lower than that, however it’s extra, for it engages the affections of the guts.

Somebody would possibly object that this criticism would additionally apply to prophets within the first century, thereby indicting God’s knowledge in giving the reward of prophecy then. Nonetheless, at the moment the dwelling apostles might confront and reprove abuses of prophetic ministry, supporting the ruling authority of the church’s elders whereas directing the church buildings in how you can use prophecy (cf. 1 Thess. 5:12–13, 19–22). At the moment, an acclaimed prophet can denounce trustworthy elders as unspiritual or unconverted, main many astray. Subsequently, we defend God’s folks from ecclesiastical tyranny once we train them that the presents of apostles and prophets have ceased. There may be grave hazard in permitting for prophets who obtain revelations instantly from God right this moment. Whereas some who declare such presents could also be honest Christians who stroll humbly with their God, others could open themselves to demonic affect. Jonathan Edwards, himself an important advocate of mighty works of God’s Spirit in revival, gave this warning:

And one misguided precept, than which scarce any has proved extra mischievous to the current wonderful work of God, is a notion that ’tis God’s method now in lately to information his saints, no less than some which might be extra eminent, by inspiration, or speedy revelation; and to give away to ’em what shall come to cross hereafter, or what it’s his will that they need to do, by impressions that he by his Spirit makes upon their minds, both with or with out texts of Scripture; whereby one thing is made identified to them, that isn’t taught within the Scripture because the phrases lie within the Bible.

By such a notion the Satan has an important door opened for him; and if as soon as this opinion ought to come to be absolutely yielded to and established within the church of God, Devil would have alternative thereby to arrange himself because the information and oracle of God’s folks, and to have his phrase considered their infallible rule, and so to guide ’em the place he would, and to introduce what he happy, and shortly to convey the Bible into neglect and contempt. Late expertise in some situations has proven that the tendency of this notion is to trigger individuals to esteem the Bible as a e book that’s in an important measure ineffective.

This error will defend and assist all errors. So long as an individual has a notion that he’s guided by speedy route from heaven, it makes him incorrigible and impregnable in all his misconduct: for what signifies it for poor blind worms of the mud to go to argue with a person, and endeavor to persuade him and proper him, that’s guided by the speedy counsels and instructions of the good Jehovah?1

Edwards mentioned that he had witnessed many such “prophecies,” typically by very godly Christians strolling in communion with God, and with the revelations accompanied by texts of Scripture—and but the prophecies got here to nothing. He exclaimed, “Why can’t we be contented with the divine oracles, that holy, pure Word of God, that we have in such abundance and such clearness, now since the canon of Scripture is completed?”2 Such contentment would do a lot to guard the church from conceited leaders who declare to be impressed by God.

Bondage to Presumptuous Beliefs

Second, continuationism tends to place folks in bondage to presumptuous beliefs. Somebody communicates to them a supposed revelation about their future well being, profession, marriage, youngsters, or ministry. This encourages them to hope and act with religion that God will do that. Nonetheless, their religion has no foundation in God’s Phrase, and subsequently, it’s presumption. They might fall into nice discouragement and doubt about God’s faithfulness when issues don’t go as they hope. Honest folks have had their hopes for therapeutic of medical issues shattered after they remained sick or disabled regardless of the assurances of contemporary “prophets.”

This downside is inherent within the continuationist view. Storms writes, “People often confuse praying expectantly with praying presumptuously. Prayer is presumptuous when the person claims healing without revelatory warrant,” by which he means “an explicit biblical assertion . . . or revelatory insight via a word of knowledge (cf. Acts 14:8–10), prophecy, or through a dream or vision.”3 In different phrases, if an individual receives a promise of therapeutic by way of a prophecy or dream, then he could transcend a basic expectation that God is sweet to really declare therapeutic by religion. This demonstrates a confidence in fashionable prophecies as God’s reliable phrase.4 Opposite to Storms, prayer is presumptuous if supplied with religion in something aside from God’s guarantees within the Holy Scriptures.

Bondage to Human Ideas, Impressions, and Emotions

Third, continuationism tends to place folks in bondage to human ideas, impressions, and emotions. The Christian life is definitely a lifetime of feeling. The Holy Spirit produces holy needs (Gal. 5:17) and holy enjoyment of God’s regulation (Rom. 7:22; Rom. distinction 8:7–9). The Spirit stirs God’s youngsters to cry out to their Father in religion and assures them of his love and acceptance (Rom. 8:15–16). Nonetheless, after they view their interior experiences as potential revelations or phrases from God, then they enslave themselves to subjective impressions and impulses. This ends in false guilt, legalism, and superstition, for our ideas and feelings are merely human, even when sanctified by God’s Spirit. We should always not lean on our personal understanding, however search our knowledge from the Phrase of God (Prov. 2:1–9; 3:5).

What’s the biblical foundation for this concept of inward revelation? Evangelical Christians generally justify their subjectivism with Paul’s instructing that God’s youngsters are “led by the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14; cf. Gal. 5:18). Nonetheless, when these texts are learn in context, we don’t discover Paul talking about interior divine promptings or impulses that reveal God’s will. As an alternative, the Spirit’s main is his effectual affect to attract God’s youngsters alongside the pathway of placing sin to loss of life, embracing love and holiness, and persevering by way of struggling within the hope of glory (Rom. 8:12–17; Gal. 5:19–24).5 Edwards mentioned that prophecy is a present that even depraved sinners like Balaam could obtain, however the main of the Spirit is a saving grace of God’s youngsters: “There is a more excellent way that the Spirit of God leads the sons of God, that natural men cannot have, and that is by inclining them to do the will of God, and go in the shining path of truth and Christian holiness, from an holy heavenly disposition, which the Spirit of God gives them.”6 After we expertise needs to obey God’s Phrase, then we should always definitely ascribe them to the sanctifying affect of the Spirit. Nonetheless, we should always not regard such needs as a revelation from God relating to his will. Sanctification just isn’t revelation, however the grace to obey revelation.

The Scriptures point out that particular revelation comes with divinely authoritative phrases, not imprecise impressions on the creativeness or feelings.7 Nonetheless, Grudem, quoting Timothy Ache, recommends {that a} prophet preface his prophecy with “I think the Lord is suggesting something like . . .”8 Storms relates a narrative by which a person talking to some noticed in his creativeness “a picture of a young boy dressed up like General MacArthur,” and therefore deduced (prophetically) that they’d a son named Douglas.9 Prophets don’t must guess concerning the that means of their visions, for they arrive with divine phrases of reality (Jer. 1:11–14). The Spirit didn’t give Philip a sense that he ought to method the Ethiopian’s chariot, however “said unto Philip, Go near” (Acts 8:29). The Spirit likewise mentioned to the prophets and lecturers in Antioch, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:1–3)

If we undertake with Storms and Grudem a view of prophecy as a combination of divine and human concepts, then we discover ourselves in a really unstable place. The lifetime of the believer is dominated by the revealed will of God; what shall the Christian do if that revelation is clouded, unclear, and fallible? Robertson writes, “On the one hand, prophecy is said to be based on a revelation that comes directly from God, uncovering the truth about persons or situations that otherwise could not be known. But on the other hand, these revelations are delivered by the prophet in such a garbled manner that the person addressed may choose to ignore them altogether if he wishes.”10 Are we to view such prophecies as counsel from sanctified however fallible males or as revelations from God? Robertson concludes, “This concept of prophecy has the potential for creating great uncertainty in the lives of God’s people.”11

Grudem appears to counsel that persevering with particular revelation is important for God to have “a personal relationship with his people, a relationship in which he communicated directly and personally with them.”12 Nonetheless, as Reformed experiential Christians, we strongly affirm the non-public relationship God has together with his folks aside from new revelations. God speaks to them by his Spirit by way of his Phrase. Christ is aware of his sheep, they know Christ, they hear their Shepherd’s voice, and so they comply with him (John 10:4, 14, 16, 27). The Bible isn’t just a textbook for theology and ethics, however the e book of God’s covenant together with his folks, by way of which he guides them as they stroll with him. They don’t want non-public revelations. They discover the written Phrase eminently private and sensible to information them: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).13

God directs his folks in his basic windfall over creation (1 Thess. 3:11) to the nice works that he ready for them to do (Eph. 2:10). He sovereignly guidelines over all issues in heaven and earth, together with the hearts of males.14 Like Nehemiah, we should always pray for God’s assist in all our labors, thank God for his good hand upon us to provide us success, and provides him glory for good concepts that he locations in our minds.15 All our talents and alternatives come from God (James 1:17). Each occasion of excellent timing is organized by his knowledge and energy.16 Nonetheless, we should always not consider our inward or outward experiences as “words” from God, for God’s goal in them is partially shrouded within the thriller of his decree. Windfall just isn’t particular revelation and it shouldn’t be handled as if it creates new obligations or affords new guarantees aside from God’s Phrase. Christians right this moment usually are not apostles or prophets, and so they shouldn’t be handled as if they’ve direct entry to the voice of God aside from Scripture.

Whereas smart choices require a consideration of factual info and an consciousness of our emotions and intuitions, these components don’t represent the authoritative norms to direct our beliefs and behaviors. Our ethical and religious knowledge comes from each day meditation upon God’s Phrase. Gaffin says, “Scripture reveals all that we need to have not only concerning the gospel and sound doctrinal and ethical principles, but also for the practical and pressing life issues about which we have to make decisions.”17 Discovering God’s knowledge requires the exhausting work of listening to the preached Phrase, praying, studying, learning, considering, obeying, struggling, and speaking with different believers whereas relying on the illumination of the Spirit. There is no such thing as a shortcut to knowledge by way of direct revelation. Knowledge should come by fixed engagement with God’s Phrase.

1. Edwards, Some Ideas Regarding the Revival, in WJE, 4:432–33.
2. Edwards, Some Ideas Regarding the Revival, in WJE, 4:433–34.
3. Storms, “A Third Wave View,” in AMGFT, 214.
4. Gaffin, “A Cessationist Response to C. Samuel Storms and Douglas A. Oss,” in AMGFT, 294
5. See Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, New Worldwide Commentary on the New Testomony (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996), 498–99.
6. Edwards, Some Ideas Regarding the Revival, in WJE, 4:436
7. Acts 16:6–7 states that Paul’s missionary group was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to go to Asia and that the Spirit wouldn’t enable them to go to Bithynia, nevertheless it doesn’t inform us how the Spirit communicated this, so nothing could be concluded from these texts about inward impressions. Equally, Isa. 30:21 just isn’t a promise of non-public steering by way of direct revelation, however of trustworthy lecturers (Isa. 20) who will inform God’s folks to be trustworthy to the covenant; cf. Deut. 5:32. It will also be an abuse of Scripture to say that God speaks within the believer’s coronary heart with “a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). The textual content cited describes an audible sound when God approached the prophet Elijah to speak verbally with him. It doesn’t pertain to the inward impressions of believers.
8. Grudem, The Present of Prophecy, 93.
9. Sam Storms, The Newbie’s Information to Religious Items (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 2002), 94.
10. Robertson, The Last Phrase, 90.
11. Robertson, The Last Phrase, 92.
12. Wayne Grudem and Ian Hamilton, “Prophecy in the Church Today,” moderated by Adrian Reynolds, Proclamation Belief: EMA 2010,, video place 6:57. See additionally
13. Cf. Gaffin, “A Cessationist View,” in AMGFT, 54
14. Ps. 135:6; Prov. 16:1, 9, 33; 21:1.
15. Neh. 2:4, 8, 12, 18, 20.
16. Est. 4:14; 6:1–11; Ps. 31:15; Eccl. 3:1–8, 11.
17. Gaffin, “A Cessationism Conclusion,” in AMGFT, 338.

This text is tailored from Reformed Systematic Theology: Quantity 1: Revelation and God by Joel R. Beeke and Paul M. Smalley.

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